Item #57057 Four-page autograph essay concerning the importance of the belles lettres. William Sheldon.

Four-page autograph essay concerning the importance of the belles lettres

Providence: January 25, 1812. Bifolium (approx. 13½" x 7½"), in ink and legible; paper toned, expert paper repair to two sections where the paper separated at folds with no loss of text. Approx. 1000 words. An apparently unpublished essay on the "belles lettres," probably intended for inclusion the Providence Gazette. Sheldon writes: "The classification of works of Literature is comparatively of modern invention; and it was not till later ages that the Belles Lettres, or polite Literature, has been considered as a distinct branch of learning; although almost all the works of antiquity appear to have merited that distinction. Many parts of the Bible, much of the writings of Aristotle and Plato, of Xenophon and Thucydides, of Livy and Tacitus, of Homer and Virgil, with those of the tribus luminibus Romanorum, and a thousand other authors, have as perfect a claim to be ranked among the Belles Lettres, as the most finished performance of Bellenden or Blair". Sheldon goes on to quote Rollins and other writers on the subject and concludes "that a knowledge of the Belles Lettres "is beneficial to all who have the means of acquiring it -- that they are beneficial to men of science in their various researches and operations--and that an acquaintance with them is indispensably necessary for statesmen for the Senate, the Lyceum, the Pulpit and the Bar." An Englishman, William Sheldon was educated at Oxford and came to America in 1795 to reside for a time in Norwich, Connecticut. After suffering a serious financial loss, due to ignorance of the operation of the usury law of the state, he published, in 1798, a pamphlet entitled, Cursory Remarks on the Laws Concerning Usury, Containing a Brief History of their Origin, Thoughts on their Connection with Religion, Their Moral Tendency and Justice, etc. Afterwards, he then lived in North Providence where he was the principal writer for John Carter's Providence Gazette and the author of several of the essays of the "Moralist" and the "Adelphiad," published in that paper. From March, 1809, to October, 1810, he was the editor of the Massachusetts Spy, and during that time assisted Isaiah Thomas in preparing his History of Printing. In 1809 he published in Worcester a History of the Heathen Gods, and Heroes of Antiquity, to which he added a new translation of the "Battle of the Gods and Giants." Isaiah Thomas wrote that "He (Sheldon) was laborious and indefatigable as a writer, but possessed more learning than taste, and his political prejudices were too strong to be overcome or to make him of great use to his party. He was fond of poetry and wrote with great ease, but little elegance. In 1812 he went to Jamaica, where he was for some time a private instructor, and afterwards returned to England." Sheldon was born in England, on November 17, 1762. He died in, London, England, June 28, 1822. Sabin cites only Sheldon’s work, Cursory Remarks. See: AAS: Transactions and Collections, Volume 9: "Diary of Isaiah Thomas." Item #57057

Price: $950.00

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