‘Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the
hand of time’—Voltaire
As he endured the arduous voyage home to Boston in 1733, Henry Price would, in all likelihood have found himself in need of something to read, if only to take his mind off the rough and tumble essential to a high seas journey during the in the eighteenth century. To be fair to history, the biographical details that still exist about this Anglo-American, who was destined to fell trees and father children well into is seventies, doesn’t suggest a particularly bookish man. Even so, and regardless of whether or not he was a ‘reader’ or not, what is indisputable was that there were certainly enough new titles stacked up in London bookshops to catch his eye, and relieve him of a guinea or two, before embarkation. For the enlightenment had impacted on literature too, and 1733’s output included Berkeley’s The Theory of Vision, Bowden’s Poetical Essays, A Description of Bath, Mary Chandler’s take on part of the country Price was leaving behind, and, if he was in the mood to improve his understanding of the world by studying the opinions of a foreigner, Voltaire’s Letters Concerning the English Nation.
To put it bluntly, Price was spoilt for choice, for the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries had already turned out to be a very fruit-