DescriptionEighteenth Century Description of America: John Lewis Guillemard Autograph Letter Signed. Three pages, 7.5" x 8.75", Philadelphia, March 31, 1795, to "Dr. [James] Lind [of] Windsor, Berks[shire]." Guillemard, an English natural philosopher, tours eastern America and praises its "Spirit of Commerce," but criticizes its philosophy, education, and politics. Toning with some separation along central fold. A modern notation rests below the signature.
Forty years before Alexis de Tocqueville published his famous observations of America, John Lewis Guillemard (1764-1844) toured the young nation, sending some of his own early observations to Dr. James Lind (1736-1812) of Windsor (not James Lind, who lived at the same time and developed a cure for scurvy). Guillemard writes in part, "This is a very interesting country: improving very rapidly and affording innumerable objects of curiosity. The most novel and worthy of research appear to be the Vegetables. The animals are of less distinguished rank and the Men of the least comparative worth. I have not seen the Indians. The Spirit of Commerce reigns with undivided Sway. Philosophy is at a low ebb and Learning still lower. In Politics the Americans are servile, Imitators of the Europeans." The English observer continues by describing Dr. Benjamin Rush's part in building "The Philadelphia Hospital for the reception of Lunatics." He further informs Dr. Lind of a "very valuable plant . . . in the back country of Virginia" which "Mr. Jefferson promised to send." Guillemard also writes about the prospect of his election as a member of the Royal Society of London ("In case any such thing should be done and it can with decency be stopped I had rather wait till I am better known, and deserve in some measure the guerdon of Science"). Two years after writing this letter, the visiting Englishman was chose to serve as a commissioner in America to defend British interests there. He was back in England by 1804 and, years after being accepted into the Royal Society, served as its president from 1827-1830.
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