Time travel back to 1770 and Mary Ambler rightly sums up today, “A Rainy Day (very dull) if it were not for Books & knitting…would be at a great loss how to fill up the Day.”
Perhaps, Ambler was reading a collected edition of EIiza Haywood’s The Female Spectator (April 1744-May 1746), originally published in monthly installments but due to its popularity later circulated in collected editions. Haywood rightly points out the many uses of books in the following passage:
“What clods of earth should we have been but for reading!—how ignorant of every thing but the spot we tread upon!—Books are the channel through which all useful arts and sciences are conveyed.—By the help of books we sit at ease, and travel to the most distant parts; behold the customs and manners of all the different nations in the habitable globe; may take a view of heaven itself, and traverse all the wonders of the skies.—By books we learn to sustain calamity with patience, and bear prosperity with moderation.—By books we are enabled to compare past ages with present; to discover what in our fore-fathers was worthy imitation, and what should be avoided; to improve upon their virtues, and take warning by their errors.—It is books which dispel that gloomy melancholy our climate but too much inclines us to, and in its room diffuses an enlivening chearfulness.—In fine, we are indebted to books for every thing that can profit or delight us.”
Thanks to my aids in time travel—Michelle Marchetti Coughlin steered me to Kevin J. Hayes’ book, A Colonial Woman’s Bookshelf. Hayes’ book thoroughly examines the numerous books women either wrote or read during the colonial era. Over the summer, I hope to read many of the books that these women read and do a bit more of time traveling. Tomorrow more on the life of Eliza Haywood.
Kevin J. Hayes, A Colonial Woman’s Bookshelf, (The University of Tennessee Press, 1996), p.58, 69
Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, One Colonial Woman’s World The life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit, (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), p. 85.