Samuel Madden, Memoirs of the Twentieth Century (1733)

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General remarks

Physical description:

  • p.[i]: half title
  • p.[iii] title page
  • p.i-x Dedication to His Royal Highness, Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales etc."
  • p.1-31 Preface [the first]
  • p.[1]-214 "Memoirs of the Twentieth Century" - letters dating Nov. 3, 1997 to Feb. 25, 1997/98
  • 215-256 "Preface the Second"
  • p.257-504 letters dated from Feb 2. 1997/98 to May 1. 1998
  • p.505-527 "Preface the III"


The book presents a collection of letters to N—m, the editor's "Great Great Great Great Great Grandson", British Prime Minister at the end of the 20the century, together with N—m's answers. Beyond that they are all addressed to the Lord High Treasurer (was he the general receiver and sender of mail in the 1730s? the archive of state?). The correspondents are connected with places:

  • Stanhope, Constantinople
  • Hertford, Rome
  • Clare, Moscow
  • Herbert, Paris
  • N-m, Chelsea, London

It is difficult to offer personal details. N-m is suffering from age and infirmity, planing to retire (p.381), Stanhope, Constantinople has spent 25 years in Turkey, is married - and no longer up to date on improvements in Great Britain.

The dates of the individual letters seem to threaten the chronology - two factors interfere: Madden did not foresee the Calendar Act of 1750 which led to Great Britain's adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Dates are given almost throughout in "old style" with new years beginning in Mid-March, so that December 1997 can be followed by January 1997 - (January 1997/98, i.e. 1997 old style, 1998 new style should be clearer; Rome has introduced the Gregorian calendar already, as Madden observes). The arrangement follows beyond that the speed with which the letters arrived: a letter from Chelsea was faster than one from Mosow which needed three weeks to a month to reach London by coach.

Half title

Title page

Dedication to His Royal Highness, Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales etc.

Preface [the first]

p.1 Allusions to Don Quixote.

p.4 Promise of several volumes. The fist will be a "History of the XXth century".

p.5 English as it will be spoken in 1999 needed to be translated back into 18th-century English.

p.8 A celestial spirit offered the manuscript - the editor is the anscestor of the last British Prime Minister.

p.9-10 Writer of the preface is a from his mother's side a relative of Count Gabalais [the famous fictional esoteric character], whose wife had carnal knowledge of Ariel. Fascinated by Astrology, rich as heir of a fortune, 11 plan to spend one third on traveling - 3 years journey.

p.12 Went into politics and "bought" a seat in parliament. [Satirical remarks about his life as a politician who was not really interested in politics].

p.15 End of political career - left by his patron.

p.17 Grudge against Papists. Studies the Cabala, searches for the Philosopher's stone.

p.18 Visited by a spirit - on Jan. 20, 1712 - with information about the future.

p.19 praise of the line of Hannover - which is going to rule into the 20th century.

p.20 "letters writ by or to my Great Great Great Great Great Grandson, who would be chief Minister in the End of the 20th century."

p.22 Language had to be translated back into 18th century English. Text had to be modified where secrets of State were concerned.

p.23 Story will lead to the end of the world. The publication is designed to procure the author's family some of the fame the famous descendant will grant. The book will be disadvantageous to some families, whose fame did not last into the 20th century. Philosophers of State will have work do do, once the thing is published.

p.30 To avoid forgeries the words, syllables and letters have been counted.

Constantinople, Nov. 3, 1997: Stanhope (pp.1-28)

p.4 A history of Turkey. 19th century historians have done good work - and need not be recited. The modern history begins in 1949.

p.6 The Jesuits have subverted the Islamic hierarchy (as they did with the Chinese between 1660 and 1720). Printing presses employed to spread the Christian doctrine p.9 Bibles printed everywhere in the islamic world.

p.11 Turkish politics to improve the situation of state and defence.

p.14 British Merchants world's leading traders.

Rome, Nov. 7, 1997: Hertford (pp.28-53)

Mosco, Nov. 29, 1997: Clare (pp.54-74)

p.56-73 On the Laplanders and the business of making sunshine in Novogorod and parts of Muscovy. Benefits: Sunshine is made available for gardening in inhospitable climates; therefore, anything can be grown. Although the method is a secret, Clare is able to watch them and see the tools they use. It seems like devil’s work, yet Clare recognizes possible economic and health benefits for England that are more good than evil. England would have an advantage over the “good Catholics,” who would be afraid to implement this and will probably stick to their old methods.

Paris, Dec. 16, 1997: Herbert (pp.74-97)

Rome, Jan. 7, 1998: Hertford (pp.98-132)

London, Dec. 19, 1997: N—m to Stanhope (pp.132-153)

p.133 Answer to letter written Nov. 3. from Constantinople. The letters were read to the King.

p.137-152 On England's great achievements in the Arts and Sciences. Premium Models at Oxford and in the field of Music. The developments ar the results of projects - individual investments, not related to a slow change and to a chain of discoveries and improvements.

p.136 Cities in the Moon seen with new telescopes. Venus has Mountains and Seas. Plowing and Harvesting on the Moon observed - yet more Imagination than truth seen in the last statements.

p.141-6 Royal College at St. George at Oxford (description, improvements, and new regulations; prestigious college; four new professors: for agriculture and gardening, for weather (important discovery- quite exact weather engines pp. 143-4), for trades and mechanical arts.

p.146-8 Royal Printing House (no technological improvement; still use types), different topics of books

p.149-152 University life and structure

p.152 "poor deserted Greek church"

The resident in Constantinople has been away for 25 years and needs information on the improvements made within that time.

Mosco, Jan. 27, 1997/98: Clare (pp.153-182)

p.154-174 The Muscovites, who belonged to the Greek church, are on their way to Rome. The Jesuits have overcome opposition and have made changes in their religious doctrines and rites, making them compatible with theirs. It is then explained how the Jesuits did this. "The Greek church will soon veil her Mitre, to the Pope's Triple Crown." (p.154) The Jesuits gained respect with the Czar and the religious officials. (pp. 161-2) "The pious Fathers prepare the way for the papal authority by encouraging learning among the Nobility and Clergy of Russia." (p.173)

p.162 The Jesuits convinced the Czar to open 200 schools for the Muscovite youth and improved university education by giving premiums.

p.163-4 The Czar's religious officials, who earn more than 100£ per year, pay a 10% tax for the poor so that the poor receive 40£ per year.

p.165 Poor widows receive "one year's full profit of their Husband's living, after his decease, or ten pounds per annum for life".

p.168-9 The bishop should have a library for his clergy in order to improve their literacy.

p.175 The Czar passed a law stating that no one may work on Sunday and all should attend church.

p.176-8 The people have developed a mixed religion comparable to the Tartars and Morduites (both who are Jews and Christians, but are still pagans). The hope is that "this deluge of Infidelity, overspreading and overturning the old Foundations settled here in this Church, may contribute and give opportunity to the building up the papal Authority amidst the ruins and destructions of both". The plan is that "in so terrible a confusion, Rome and the worst of her corruptions will be preferred by the Clergy themselves, and all that have any remainder of Piety left, to no Religion at all".

Constantinople, February 25, 1997/98: Stanhope (pp.183-214)

p.183 The corresponder receives gifts: telescope, Carolina white wine, and silks.

p.185 The patriarch and several Greek priests are miserable in Constantinople. Pensions, clergy and books from England would be welcome.

p.186-193 New laws and regulations issued to prevent the spread of plagues. The preventative measures are interesting, for example certain trades should be evenly dispersed because they "are apt to infect the air" or wild dogs should be destroyed and a tax paid on house cats because they spread and breed infectious diseases.

p.194 All houses should be "built of one equal height and uniform model," which should keep streets neat and pleasing to the eye.

p.194-5 Schools opened for the instruction of sports.

p.195-6 Law that if a house goes to ruin, it is forfeited to the Grand Seignor and sold at a low price to anyone who will rebuild it.

p.196 Regulations to brew "pure and unmixed wine".

p.197 Law: severe penalties to anyone outside after one o'clock in order to prevent "Murders, robberies and Debaucheries of all kinds".

p.197 Conclusion that although there may be many advantages to an absolute monarchy like the one in Turkey, a limited monarchy is better. England is no "Empire of Slaves" and it does not make Gods of its ruler. The English are not dangerous to the state because they are "bound by Rules they have freely consented to".

p.203 The inhabitants of the Isle of Scio were heavily taxed. If they could not pay this, their family would be taken into slavery, so they stopped having children. The same happened to the people of Saguntus, the Roman colony of Spain, only they refused slavery by burning themselves, their family, and their wealth.

p.204-8 Correspondent sends two manuscripts in arabic, which were probably written in the 10th century: a translation of many of Cicero's Tusculan questions and two books of Cicero's De Gloria. Another manuscript is an arabic translation of Trogus Pompeius's History of the World in forty-four books. These manuscripts are being sent to be translated into Latin and to restore the "Commonwealth of Learning".

p.209-10 An African sect of Mahometans called Bumicilli believe they have "a knowledge of, and conversation with aerial Beings, and are engag'd in perpetual war with the Devils," but the correspondent believes they are actually vagrant thieves, fighting imaginary devils for a price.

Preface the second (pp.215-256)

London, Feb. 2, 1997/98: N—m to Hertford (pp.132-284)

p.157 Letter to Correspondent in Rome, Reference to letters of Nov. 7 and Jan. 7. These were read to the King in London.

p.176 Catholic bankers and traders helped the Russians set up more trade and manufacturing centers, which has brought wealth into the country.

p.181 "The savage nations in America indeed, are said to make war on their neighbors, who do not use the same customs and speak the same language."

p.184 The treaty in Constantinople "is perfected in every article".

p.188-9 The late emperor (of Turkey?), Achmet, set up regulations to prevent the spread of the plague.

p.202 Tyranny is destroying peace and happiness in the northern parts of the globe.

p.269 18th century English to be translated into modern English.

p.269-270 more schemes to improve theology in Britain - and again a Praemium system.

p.271-277 List of British Nobility, posts and ranking. 277 comparison of present list with mid 18th century lists. So many families washed away (yet others stayed!)

p.280 computations in history. 500 years a time continuum. Periodisations, construction of history.

Paris, Feb. 8, 1997/98: Herbert (pp.285-307)

p.285-292 Several new laws have been introduced in France to stop its moral downfall and "bring both the Clergy and the Nobility, to the legal restraints of Duty and Allegiance to the King." (p.285) - they had been using state money for their own interest and led an extremely dissipated life (ironic/sarcastic description of French fashion, food, music, mute servants from Turkey pp.300-304):

p.286 high taxes have been laid on all foreign products to support local trade and manufactures who had been suffering due to the nobility's preference of wearing and using foreign things.

p.287 French Gentleman have been stopped to travel abroad by severe taxes on the fifth of all their estates.

p.287 edict, that a male person between 30yrs and 50yrs can only hold a profitable employment or pension if he is married (to ban gentlemen's pleasures and debaucheries)

p.288 "Women shall be entitled for life, on full proof of the fact, to the third part of the Person's Estate who debauches her." Penalties are laid on all unwholesome nurses.

p.288 freedom from several taxes for those who have ten living children.

p.289 taking off taxes of plowed grounds and imposing taxes on all trades which are nourished by luxury and unprofitable for the commenwealth (perfumes, vintners, lawyers, jewellers...)

p.290-292 edict, constituting seven commissioners with high salary sworn to examine all public accounts of the nation, to prevent the continual frauds in managing the finances.

p.292-296 "low ebb of Religion" (p.292) in France set off by "the pretended heads of this Church, (...who) are picked out to disunite and disturb it (the Christian Sheepfold), in hopes thereby to shake the foundations of the Papal Power" (p. 295). Thus "Temporal Peers, and the Dukes and Barons of those places; who have these Preferments bestowed on them for life, as Pensions to oppose the Pope, and maintain the Quarrel of the Crown." (p.295) are treated with contempt on all occasions both by "the blind Infidelity of the Laity" and "the cold indifference and want of Zeal in some" (p.295) for their immoral and luxurious lives.

p.297 in several French universities salaries for "Professors of the King's Divinity" have been appointed.

p.298-300 Madden [who?] says he should set up a plan for all French schools and colleges where students and children are taught nothing.

Constantinople, April 16, 1998: Stanhope (pp.308-338)

Mosco, March. 8, 1997/98: Clare (pp.338-366)

p.340-350 The Jesuits have been successful in physic (or medicine) and have helped the public in many different ways. Practitioners have implemented new methods and have found ways to treat many diseases and disorders.

p. 350 Clare commends the Jesuits’ work, yet complains they do it with the wrong intentions, “to enslave those they pretend to serve, and establish the Empire of the Vatican, and all its superstitions and errors.” --satire

p.352-4 Clare relates how a man (genealogist) claims he is a descendant in a right line by Noah and is writing letters to the kings of the world that the world is rightly his to rule. His prospects are grim since he is stuck in an insane asylum.

p.358-59 Europe's crowned heads - made fun of as they found their legitimation on genealogies (which as all genealogies have to go back to Adam and Eve), a bunch of men confounding right and wrong, vice and virtue... - standard satire. More satire on 455

p.362-364 The Czar published an account of his travels through Europe - produced by ghost writers and filled with conventional accounts of curiosities.

London, Feb. 24, 1999 [1997/98]: N—m to Herbert (pp.366-386)

p.366 letter to resident at Paris, refernce to his letters from Dec. 16, and Feb. 8.

p.370-372 Big English fishing company - state run, financed by share holders, undersells the Baltic trading companies. However no structural development, simply project of a single company with scheme of regulations and money supply - Utopian in its tendencies to define how individuals working for the company have to live.

p.378-380 Frederick III (Great Britain), 19th century almost faced a revolution when living conditions deteriorated.

Rome, February 28, 1997/98: Hertford (pp.386-421)

'p.419 catholic France passed laws to increase population: taxes to be payed by those who do not get children to the advantage of young couples.

p.393 Paul IX, Ecclesiastical law, 1897, allowed subjects to refuse tributes and taxes if conceived as unjust.

p.397-402 lengthy portrait of present pope Innocent XIX.

p.413 Catholic monarchs under Jesuit observation.

p.416-417 Computation of the number of inhabitants the catholic countries lost through celibacy: 30 Million.

p.419 Catholic France passed laws to increase population: taxes to be payed by those who do not get children to the benefit of young couples.

London, April 5, 1998: N—m to Clare (pp.421-446)

p.421 reference to letters from Mosco No. 29th, Jan. 17th, March 8th. The reports of Laplanders not taken seriously. Again praemium scheme now connected with Frederick III.

p.424 Stories on Laplander's might be invented and humorous.

p.425-426 (Madden's personal project) a praemium-scheme - grants offered to the best students, implemented unter Frederick III beginning of 19th century. Also: grants to help 400 poor people with 50 lb per year.

p.427-430 Medicine - no real progress, just some better medicines and some good doctors esp in Great Britain. No new technologies, no new hospitals. 432 conventional satire on quacks etc. more: 474

p.433 New Northern war between Sweden and Russia under preparation.

p.434 Caravan to China already on its way, possibly to late to commission them to bring 30 painters and bakers (of porcelains) to England.

p.437-38 New parliament building in London. Venetian Habit introduced by Frederick II (mid 18th century?)

Paris, March 4, 1997/98: Herbert (pp.446-472)

p.449-450 France establishes inquisition. British ambassador against it.

p.450 Britain tries to move the weak French prince into a war against the Pope - in order to avoid a new inquisition in France.

p.457-459 humorous portrait of France's weak king (ruled by Mr. Melville, the British ambassador and the Jesuits). See also 467 .

p.460-462 Parliament in London turned into a court of European affairs. The Future: wars will be legitimate only if negotiations took place in London to avoid the escalating conflict.

p.469 South America has grown populous - plantations.

p.473 News still travel with the speed of ships (and horse carriages).

p.476-483 Turkish resorts. more on Constantinople etc. p495-496 .

Constantinople, May 1, 1998: Stanhope (pp.473-504)

p.485-489 Reports of Messiah raising a Jewish army in the centre of Africa, where the ten Tribes have survived and grown into a nation of 50 million inhabitants. A manifesto written by the Messia and spread by Jewish ambassadors (strange that they do not use the press to make it known). (Feel like this is the beginning of the volumes Madden failed to provide - what a pity!). 492 on Jewish superstitions (counterbalancing the previous reports). 488 Persia expecting the Saviour.

Preface the IIIrd (pp.505-527)

promise of a continuation. p.508-509 is the future foretold unlikely? Not at all - just consider history and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.


Samuel Madden

  • identified as "Chaplain in Ordinary" at court: Chamberlayne, John. Magnæ Britanniæ notitia: or, the present state of Great Britain; ... By John Chamberlayne, ... The thirty-first edition of the south part, called England; and the tenth of the north part, called Scotland. .. In two parts. .. London, 1735. p.118. ECCO
  • Baker, David Erskine. Biographia dramatica, or, a companion to the playhouse: ... By David Erskine Baker, Esq. A new edition: carefully corrected; .. and continued from 1764 to 1782. London, 1782, p.294. ECCO
  • Burdy, Samuel, The life of the late Rev. Philip Skelton, with some curious anecdotes (Dublin, 1792) ECCO pp 28, 32-41, 121
  • Jones, Stephen. A new biographical dictionary: ... The second edition, corrected: with considerable additions and improvements. London, 1796. ECCO
  • A new and general biographical dictionary: containing an historical, critical, ... London, 1795. 497pp. Vol. 7 of 8 ECCO
  • Library Ireland accessed 1 Nov 2007
  • Rosemary Richey, 'Madden, Samuel Molyneux (1686-1765)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 1 Nov 2007