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theological and the remainder works on history, philosophy, and philology. The seventeenth century, both in England and America, was manifestly an age of heavy literature.
With the reigns of Anne and the Georges, a new literary activity began to make itself felt. Localities occupied by Quakers, Moravians, Wesleyans, and Covenanters disclose large numbers of books of denominational piety, many of them in Dutch, German, and Gaelic. Among those in English were Ellwood's Life, Penn's No Cross, No Crown, Elias Hook's Spirits of the Martyrs Revived, Sewall's History, Barclay's Apology, Fox's Journal, and Boston's Fourfold State. The increased interest in agriculture, commerce, law, government, and housekeeping led the colonists to read books of a practical nature such as The Art of Cooking, The Complete Housewife, Miller's Gardener's Dictionary, Longley's Book of Gardening, Burrough's Navigation Book, Leadbetter's Dialling, Wright's Negotiator, Mathew's Concerning Computation of Time, Mair's Bookkeeping, and other brochures relating to commerce, as well as many works, too numerous to be cited here, on law, local practice of medicine, anatomy, surgery, surveying, and navigation. There were also many editions of the British statutes, law reports, proceedings of Parliament, and treatises on admiralty and marine matters, all of which were imported. Many of the leading men, particularly in the South, subscribed regularly to the London Magazine, the Gentleman's Magazine, Rider's Almanac, Eachard's Gazetteer, the Court Calendar, and other British periodical publications.
There was a close literary relation maintained between England and the colonies, and newspapers, books, and magazines were constantly sent by merchants across the Atlantic to their correspondents in America. An ever widening interest in public affairs was bringing in a steadily increasing number of histories, biographies, voyages, and travels – such as the histories of Rapin, Robertson, Mosheim, Raleigh, Clarendon, Burnet, Hume, Voltaire, and Salmon; the lives of Julius Cæsar, Oliver Cromwell, Louis XII, Marlborough, and Eugene of Savoy; and the voyages of Churchill and Anson. As time went on, an improving taste on the part of the colonists for poetry, essays, and fiction, and translations from the classics and forheign languages began to show itself. Among the chief poets were Chaucer, Milton, Dryden, and Pope, as well as such minor men as Gower, Butler, Donne, Waller, Herbert, Cowley, Congreve, and Prior. Among the essays popular in the colonies were those of Montaigne, Bacon, Swift, and Bolingbroke, as well as the contributions of Steele and Addison to the Tatler and the Spectator and of Johnson to the Rambler. In fiction we find the writings of Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Goldsmith, and Aphra Behn, and the romances, The Turkish Spy, The London Spy, and The Jewish Spy; and in the drama the works of Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, and Dryden. Among the translations from other languages were the Iliad and the Odyssey, Cervantes's Don Quixote, Lesage's Gil Blas and Le Diable Boiteux, Montesquieu's Lettres persanes, and the Mémoires of Cardinal de Retz, which was amazingly popular. For young people there were Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe, The Arabian Nights, and a great abundance of fables, gift books, and short histories.
As an indication of the range and variety of these colonial collections of books it is interesting to note that here and there were to be found such works as Hoyle's Games, Memoirs of Gamesters, Madox on the Exchequer, Harrington's Oceana, and even More's Utopia. As for law books, Robert Bell, the publisher of Philadelphia, imported in
1771 a thousand sets of the English edition of Blackstone's Commentaries, and himself issued a thousand sets more in four royal octavo volumes, which he sold by subscription. Henceforth we begin to find, for the first time, copies of Blackstone appearing in colonial libraries and inventories. In many of the private libraries were works in French, but rarely in other languages except among the Germans. Grey Elliott, an English official in Savannah, was apparently an exception, for he had two hundred volumes “in several languages,” but what these languages were we do not know. In all libraries were to be found works issued from the various presses in America. The books of Councilman Carter of Nomini Hall numbered 1503 volumes, and those of William Byrd, 3d, of which there were more than four thousand in many languages, constituted what was probably at that time the largest private library in America.
The practice of lending books was bound to be common in a country where they were rare and expensive and where neighborliness was a virtue. A number of lists which are in existence show the prevalence of the custom. The catalogue of the library of Godfrey Pole of Virginia (1716), containing 115 titles, shows that about thirty books were out on loan and that several others had been lent and returned. In colonial correspondence we come upon such notes as this from a Dr. Farquharson of Charleston to Peter Manigault in 1756, in which he says that he is sending back "the books and magazines and would be obliged for a reading of Mr. Pope's works.”
From lending books as a personal favor it was but a short step to the establishment of private circulating libraries. As early as the beginning of the eighteenth century the Reverend Thomas Bray, commissary of Maryland, had begun his series of “lending libraries" in "the Market Towns” for “any of the clergy to have recourse to or to borrow books out of, as there shall be occasion.” How many such lending libraries were actually established it is difficult to say, but there was one at Bath, North Carolina, and another at Annapolis. There appear to have been, particularly in the South, other collections quasi public in character, such as the private library of Edward Mosley of Edenton, which was thrown open for public use. These libraries differed from the circulating libraries of such booksellers as Garret Noël of New York and John Mein of Boston,