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 1760 Annual Register

This is another interesting early volume of this series that is full of history and curiosities. It includes major coverage of the French and Indian War and its related conflicts in Europe and India as well as the battles with Cherokee Indians in the Carolinas; character studies, including the recently departed George Frideric Handel of Messiah fame; articles on the "Assassins of Syria," and the "black hole of Calcutta;" book reviews, including a book on Scottish law that rebuts the various rationales for slavery in America and England; and reports on the death of George II and the ascension to the British throne of George III, who later bungled relations with the American colonies. Greater details are provided below.

The highlight of the war in North America include the French attempt to retake Quebec by marching General Levi’s army from Montreal lay siege to Quebec. But a British man of war gets to Quebec first after the French fleet is destroyed and  Levi raises the siege of Quebec. Later British Generals Amherst and Murray surround Montreal and it falls to British.

Edmund Burke writes, “And thus in the sixth year of the war, and the most severe struggles, was the vast country of Canada reduced to the king’s obedience.” (P59)

On Sir William Johnson Burke shows his admiration for civilized conduct in war, when he writes,

“he led into Canada an army of a thousand of the fiercest and most cruel savage, which are bred in America, without doing the smallest damage to the country, or offering the slightest injury to the persons of the inhabitant…The great victories by which he has advanced the interest of the nation, have done him less honour than this conduct, by which he has so advanced it character for humanity and moderation.”

There is an interesting article on the Cherokee war in the Carolinas which was incited by the French and some perceived slights to the Cherokees. The Indians went on a rampage in the Southern colonies, burning and murdering in the frontier settlements and Governor Lyttelton of Carolina led army of 1100 men 300 miles to quell the unrest. The Indians faced with this show of force requested a conference, acknowledged blame, and let Lyttelton dictate the terms of a peace treaty that including taking  20 Indian hostages to insure the terms of the treaty. Everything seemed to be resolved favorably,

 “But these perfidious barbarians, equally regardless of their faith, and of the safety of their countrymen, whose lives were pledged for their fidelity, broke out as soon as the army was removed, into their former ravages…”

There is considerable detail on the continuing battles in Europe among England, France, Prussia, The Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia.

As you would expect the death of George II and ascension of George III as King of England gets appropriate coverage, including the details of the funeral ceremonies. The coronation and wedding ceremonies of George III are contained in the 1761 volume.

Among the "Characters" covered are George Frideric Handel the famous composer of the Messiah who had died the previous year; Thurot, the famous French smuggler who on February 21 1760 lands 1000 men on the Irish coast near Carrickfergus and takes the English garrison there but sails away soon thereafter; and Milton’s apology for frequenting brothel houses,

"Natural History" reports include essays on why the Atlantic Ocean rushes into the Mediterranean through the straights of Gibraltar and  "An Account of the heat of the weather in Georgia."

"Useful Projects" include "The medicinal nature of Hemlock" and "maxims for the improvement of wind and water mills."

"Antiquities" include "An account of the first theatre that was ever built, called the theatre of Bacchus, at Athens" and "An Account of the Origin of Chivalry" by Voltaire.

The "Account of  Books" includes the popular novel The Life and Opinions of  Tristram Shandy which in 2005 was turned into a movie, of a sorts, "Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story." Also reviewed is An Inquiry into the beauties of Painting, by Daniel Webb.

 Burke has this to say about Fragments of ancient Poetry collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and translated from the Gallic or Erse language:

 “The love and study of antiquities is one of the most prevailing tastes of this age. With great expence and pains, and no less honour, some travellers have penetrated into the deserts of the East, and have pre­sented Europe with those magnificent scenes of the ruins of Palmyra and Balbec; some have given us an idea of the ancient grandeur of Egypt; some dig out those immense treasures of classi­cal antiquity from the mines of Herculaneum; and from some we still expect the genuine remains of Athens; others, at the same time, have been searching into our northern antiquities; and these fragments are no mean specimen of the effects of their labours.

 The northern nations have always been highly celebrated for their skill in poetry. We have seen specimens of that of Lapland and Denmark; but, before these, no piece from the Erse (the language of the Highland Scots and Irish) has appeared. Much has been said concerning the genuineness of these remarkable fragments. A dis­cussion of this kind is attended with great difficulties, and makes the inquirer run the risk of falling perpetually into mistakes; as we have not sufficient monuments of the arts, customs, and manners, of the times and countries in which these scenes are laid, to judge how far they agree with, or transgress, those only standards for that sort of criticism. But there is far less doubt of the merit, than of the au­thenticity, of these pieces. They are mostly dirges; arid are animated with a wild, passionate, and pathetic spirit of poetry.”

Concerning A System of the principles of tile Laws of Scotland, by George Wallace, Burke demonstrates his prior study of law and his sympathy with the anti-slavery movement by complimenting the book and quoting the anti-slavery arguments of Wallace:

 “The work before us is a piece of uncommon labour, research, and reach of thought. The laws of Scotland are here referred to, arid grounded upon, those of nature and nations; and the author has endeavoured to do, what, if it had been done with regard to the law of England, might be considered as an union of Lord Coke, with Grotius and Puffendorf. Tho’ his plan has limited him principally to the municipal laws of Scotland, there are several parts of so general a nature, and so well reasoned, that they cannot fail of giving general entertainment and instruction. Such in particular are his thought upon the servitude of the negroes in our plantations:

 ‘The principles on which the slaver of the negroes generally depends, are founded neither on captivity, sale, nor birth, on which alone it can be pretended to have any plausible foundation….men and their liberty are not in commerce; they are not either saleable or purchasable.”  Goes on attacking slavery and all its rationales, especially that it would mean economic ruin in America or England “ It is industry which is the real source of wealth…Industry, like necessity, in inventive, and fall on a thousand way of employing itself to the profit of the industrious. If one channel is dammed up [slavery], it will soon open another for itself.’

An interesting volume and another tour de force by Edmund Burke. The 1760 volume is also available as a part of the 1758 through 1791 set in a first edition and in the 1758 through 1773set in a later edition.

Price: $85

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