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a year, to discontinue the collection; and each took away such books as belonged to him.
It was now that I first started the idea of establishing, by subscription, a public library. I drew up the proposals, had them engrossed in form by Brockden, the attorney, and my project succeeded, as will be seen in the sequel.
[The life of Dr. Franklin, as written by himself, so far as it has yet been communicated to the world, breaks off in this place. We understand that it was continued by him somewhat farther, and we hope that the remainder will, at some future period, be communicated to the public. We have no hesitation in supposing that every reader will find himself greatly interested by the frank simplicity and the philosophical discernment by which these pages are so eminently characterized. We have therefore thought proper, in order as much as possible to relieve his regret, to subjoin the following continuation, by one of the Doctor's intimate friends. It is extracted from an American periodical publication, and was written by the late Dr. Stuber, of Philadelphia.
The promotion of literature had been little attended to in Pennsylvania. Most of the inhabitants were too much immersed in business to think of scientific pursuits; and those few whose inclinations led them to study, found it difficult to gratify them, from the want of libraries sufficiently large. In such circumstances, the establishment of a public library was an important event. This was first set on foot by Franklin, about the year 1731. Fifty persons subscribed forty shillings each, and agreed to pay ten shillings annually. The number increased; and, in 1742, the company was incorporated by the name of "The Library Company of Philadelphia." "Several other companies were formed in this city in imitation of it. These were all at length united with the Library Company of Philadelphia, which thus received a considerable accession of books and property.
It now contains about eight thousand volumes on all subjects, a philosophical apparatus, and a well-chosen collection of natural and artificial curiosities. For its support the company now possessed landed property of considerable value. They have lately built an elegant house in Fifth-street, in the front of which will be erected a marble statue of their founder, Benjamin Franklin.
This institution was greatly encouraged by the friends of literature in America and in Great Britain. The Penn family distinguished themselves by their donations. Amongst the earliest friends of this institution must be mentioned the late Peter Collinson, the friend and companion of Dr. Franklin. He not only made considerable presents himself, and obtained others from his friends, but voluntarily undertook to manage the business of the Company in London, recommending books, purchasing, and shipping them. His extensive knowledge, and zeal for the promotion of science, enabled him to execute this important trust with the greatest advantage. He continued to perform these services for more than thirty years, and uniformly refused to accept of any compensation. During this time, he communicated to the directors every information relative to improvements and discoveries in the arts, agriculture, and philosophy.
The beneficial influence of this institution was soon evident. The terms of subscription to it were so moderate, that it was accessible to every one. Its advantages were not confined to the opulent. The citizens in the middle and lower walks of life were equally partakers of them. Hence a degree of information was extended amongst all classes of people. The example was soon followed. Libraries were es
tablished in various places, and they are now become very numerous in the United States, and particularly in Pennsylvania. It is to be hoped that they will be still more widely extended, and that information will be everywhere increased. This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them, cannot be enslaved. It is in the regions of ignorance that tyranny reigns. It flies before the light of science. Let the citizens of America, then, encourage institutions calculated to diffuse knowledge amongst the people; and amongst these, public libraries are not the least important.
In 1732, Franklin began to publish Poor Richard's Almanack. This was remarkable for the numerous and valuable concise maxims which it contained, all tending to exhort to industry and frugality. It was continued for many years. In the almanack for the last year all the maxims were collected in an address to the reader, entitled, "The Way to Wealth." This has been translated into various languages, and inserted in different publications. It has also been printed in a large sheet, and may be seen framed in many houses in this city. This address contains, perhaps, the best practical system of economy that ever has appeared. It is written in a manner intelligible to every one, and which cannot fail of convincing every reader of the justice and propriety of the remarks and advice which it contains. The demand for this almanack was so great, that ten thousand have been sold in one year; which must be considered as a very large number, especially when we reflect that this country was at that time but thinly peopled. It cannot be
doubted that the salutary maxims contained in these almanacks must have made a favourable impression upon many of the readers of them.
It was not long before Franklin entered upon his political career. In the year 1736, he was appointed clerk to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania; and was re-elected by succeeding assemblies for several years, until he was chosen a representative for the city of Philadelphia.
Bradford was possessed of some advantage over Franklin, by post-master, thereby havin opportunity of circulating his paper more extensively, and thus rendering it a better vehicle for advertisements, &c. Franklin, in his turn, enjoyed these advantages, by being appointed post-master of Philadelphia in 1737. Bradford, while in office, had acted ungenerously towards Franklin, preventing as much as possible the circulation of his paper. He had now an opportunity of retaliating; but his nobleness of soul prevented him from making use of it. The police of Philadelphia had early appointed watchmen, whose duty it was to guard the citizens against the midnight robber, and to give an immediate alarm in case of fire. This duty is, perhaps, one of the most important that can be committed to any set of men. The regulations, however, were not sufficiently strict. Franklin saw the dangers arising from this cause, and suggested an alteration, so as to oblige the guardians of the night to be more watchful over the lives and property of the citizens. The propriety of this was immediately perceived, and a reform was effected.
There is nothing more dangerous to growing cities than fires. Other causes operate slowly, and almost imperceptibly; but these in a moment render ab
ortive the labours of ages. On this account there should be in all cities ample provisions to prevent fires from spreading. Franklin early saw the necessity of these; and, about the year 1738, formed the first fire company in this city. This example was soon followed by others; and there are now numerous fire companies in the city and liberties. To these may be attributed in a great degree the activity in extinguishing fires for which the citizens of Philadelphia are distinguished, and the inconsiderable damage which this city has sustained from this Some time after, Franklin suggested the plan of an association for insuring houses from losses by fire, which was adopted; and the association continues to this day. The advantages experienced from it have been great.
From the first establishment of Pennsylvania, a spirit of dispute appears to have prevailed amongst its inhabitants. During the life-time of William Penn, the constitution had been three times altered. After this period, the history of Pennsylvania is little else than a recital of the quarrels between the proprietaries, or their governors, and the Assembly. The proprietaries contended for the right of exempting their lands from taxes; to which the Assembly would by no means consent. This subject of dispute interfered in almost every question, and prevented the most salutary laws from being enacted. This at times subjected the people to great inconveniences. In the year 1744, during a war between France and Great Britain, some French and Indians had made inroads upon the frontier inhabitants of the province, who were unprovided for such an attack. It became necessary that the citizens should arm for their defence. Governor Thomas