Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

not if they had really changed their minds, or if it was merely an artifice, supposing our affections to be too far engaged for us to desist, and that we should contrive to marry secretly, which would leave them at liberty to give or not as they pleased. But, suspecting this motive, I never went again to their house.

Sometime after, Mrs. Godfrey informed me that they were favourably disposed towards me, and wished me to renew the acquaintance; but I declared a firm resolution never to have any thing more to do with the family. The Godfreys expressed some resentment at this; and as we could no longer agree, they changed their residence, leaving me in possession of the whole house. I then resolved to take no more lodgers. This affair having turned my thoughts to marriage, I looked around me, and made overtures of alliance in other quarters; but I soon found that the profession of a printer, being generally looked upon as a poor trade, I could expect no money with a wife, at least, if I wished her to possess any other charm. Meanwhile, that passion of youth, so difficult to govern, had often drawn me into intrigues with despicable women who fell in my way; which were not unaccompanied with expense and inconvenience, besides the perpetual risk of injuring my health, and catching a disease which I dreaded above all things. But I was fortunate enough to escape this danger.

As a neighbour and old acquaintance, I had kept up a friendly intimacy with the family of Miss Read. Her oa rents' had retained an affection for me fron. dw time'ot my lodging in their house. I was often invited thither; they consulted me about their affairs, and I had been sometimes serviceable to them. I was touched with the unhappy situation of their daughter, who was almost always melancholy, and continually seeking solitude. I regarded my fnrgetfulness ant inconstancy, during my abode in London, as the principal part of her misfortune, though her mother had die candour to attribute the fault to herself, rather than to me, because, after having prevented our marriage previously to my departure, sue had mduced her to marry another in my absence.

Our mutual affection revived; but there existed great obstacles to our union. Her marriage was cop . ■idered, indeed, as not being valid, the man having, it was said, a former wife still living in England; but of this it was difficult to obtain a proof at so great a distance; and though a report prevailed of his being dead, yet we had no certainty of it; and, supposing it to be true, he had left many debts, for the payment of which his successor might be sued. We ventured, nevertheless, in spite of all these difficulties; aml I married her on the 1st of September, 1730. None of the inconveniences we had feared happened to us. She proved to me a good and faithful companion, and contributed essentially to the success of my shop. We prospered together, and it was our mutual study to render each other happy. Thus I corrected, as well as I could, this great error of my youth.

Our club was not at that time established at a 'avem. We held our meetings at the house of Mr. Grace, who appropriated a room to the purpose. Some member observed one day that as our books were frequently quoted in the course of our discussions, it would be convenient to have them collected in the room in which we assembled, in order to be consulted upon occasion . and that, by thus forming a common library of out mdividual collections, each would have the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would nearly be the same as if he possessed them all himself. The idea was approved, and we accordingly brought such books as we thought we could spare, which were placed at the end of the club-room. They amounted not to so majy as we expected; and though we made considerable use of them, yet some inconveniences resultmg, faim want of care, it was agreed, after about a year, to discontinue the collection; and each took away iucn riooS.s 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 ti.e 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 ara co emmently characterized. We have therefore thought proper, in order as much as possible to relieve his regret, to subjoin the following continuation by on* , of the Doctor's intimate friends. It is extracted from an American periodical publication, and was written by the late Dr. Stuber* of Philadelphia.

i Dr.' Stuber was born io Philadelphia, of German parents. He was sent, at nn early age, la the university, where hit renins, diligence, and amiable temper, soon acquired him the particular notice and favour of those under whose immediate direcuon he was placed. After parsmg through the common course cf study, in a much shorter time man usual, he left the university, at the age of sixteen, with great reputauon. Not long after, he entered on the study of physic; and the zeal with which he pursued it, and (he advances he made, gave his friends reason to form the most flattermg prospects of his future emmence and usefulness in his profession. As Dr. Slub-r'l circumstances were viiy moderate, he did not thmk this pursuit well calculated to answer them. He therefore relinquished it. after he had obtained a degree In the profession, and qualified himself to practice with credit and success; and immediately entered on the study of thr law. While m punu't of the last mentioned obiect, he was prevented, by a premature death,front rea-iujr the fruit ot those talents with which ha was endowed! and of a youth spent m the ardent and successful nursuit of useful and elegant literatim.

Thu promotion of literature had been little attended to in Pennsylvama. Most of the inhabitants were too much immersed in business to think of sci. ent'fic pursuits; and those few, whose inclinations Jed t'.jem to study, found it difficult to gratify them, torn 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 I742, 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 pro. peity 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 bo 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, ami uniformly refused to accept of any compensation. During this time,he communicated to the director! •very mformation 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 established 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 wellinformed 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 people; and amongst these public libraries are not the least invpor'ant.

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 on 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 almanac was so great, that ten thousand

« ZurückWeiter »