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their friends, the body of the Quakers, on the other, by a compliance contrary to their principles; using a variety of evasions to avoid complying, and modes of disguising the compliance, when it became unavoidable. The common mode at last was, to grant money under the phrase of its being " for the King's use," and never to inquire how it was applied.
But, if the demand was not directly from the crown, that phrase was found not so proper, and some other was to be invented. Thus, when powder was wanting (I think it was for the garrison at Louisburg), and the government of New England solicited a grant of some from Pennsylvania, which was much urged on the House by Governor Thomas, they would not grant money to buy powder, because that was an ingredient of war; but they voted an aid to New England of three thousand pounds, to be put into the hands of the Governor, and appropriated it for the purchase of bread, flour, wheat, or other grain. Some of the Council, desirous of giving the House still further embarrassment, advised the Governor not to accept provision, as not being the thing he had demanded; but he replied, “I shall take the money, for I understand very well their meaning; other grain is gunpowder;" which he accordingly bought, and they never objected to it.
It was in allusion to this fact, that, when in our fire company we feared the success of our proposal in favor of the lottery, and I had said to a friend of mine, one of our members, “If we fail, let us move the purchase of a fire engine with the money; the Quakers can have no objection to that; and then, if you nominate me and I you as a committee for that purpose, we will buy a great gun, which is certainly a fire engine;” “I see,” said he, “you have improved by being so long in the Assembly; your equivocal project would be just a match for their wheat or other grain."
Those embarrassments that the Quakers suffered, from having established and published it as one of their principles, that no kind of war was lawful, and which, being once published, they could not afterwards, however they might change their minds, easily get rid of, reminds me of what I think a more prudent conduct in another sect among us; that of the Dunkers. I was acquainted with one of its founders, Michael Weffare, soon after it appeared. He complained to me, that they were grievously calumniated by the zealots of other persuasions, and charged with abominable principles and practices, to which they were utter strangers. I told him this had always been the case with new sects, and that, to put a stop to such abuse, I imagined it might be well to publish the articles of their belief, and the rules of their discipline. He said that it had been proposed among them, but not agreed to, for this reason; “ When we were first drawn together as a society,” said he, “it had pleased God to enlighten our minds so far as to see that some doctrines, which were esteemed truths, were errors; and that others, which we had esteemed errors, were real truths. From time to time He has been pleased to afford us further light, and our principles have been improving, and our errors diminishing. Now we are not sure, that we are arrived at the end of this progression, and at the perfection of spiritual or theological knowledge; and we fear, that, if we should once print our confession of faith, we should feel ourselves as if bound and confined by it, and perhaps be unwilling to receive further improvement; and our successors still more so, as conceiving what their elders and
founders had done to be something sacred, never to be departed from.”
This modesty in a sect is perhaps a singular instance in the history of mankind, every other sect supposing itself in possession of all truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong; like a man travelling in foggy weather; those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side; but near him all appear clear; though in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them. To avoid this kind of embarrassment, the Quakers have of late years been gradually declining the public service in the Assembly and in the magistracy, choosing rather to quit their power than their principle.
In order of time, I should have mentioned before, that having, in 1742, invented an open stove for the better warming of rooms, and at the same time saving fuel, as the fresh air admitted was warmed in entering, I made a present of the model to Mr. Robert Grace, one of my early friends, who, having an iron-furnace, found the casting of the plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in demand. To promote that demand, I wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled, “An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvanian Fire-places; wherein their Construction and Manner of Operation are particularly explained ; their Advantages above every other Method of warming Rooms demonstrated; and all Objections that have been raised against the Use of them, answered and obviated,” &c.* This pamphlet had a good effect; Governor Thomas was so pleased with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declined it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz. That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.
* Sce Vol. VI. p. 34.
An ironmonger in London, however, assuming a good deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his own, and making some small changes in the machine, which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it there, and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it. And this is not the only instance of patents taken out of my inventions by others, though not always with the same success; which I never contested, as having no desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes. The use of these fire-places in very many houses, both here in Pennsylvania, and the neighbouring States, has been, and is, a great saving of wood to the inhabitants.
Proposals relating to the Education of Youth. — Subscriptions for that
Object. — An Academy established. — Appointed one of the Trustees for managing it. — Partnership with David Hall. - Electrical Experiments. — Chosen a Member of the Assembly. – A Commissioner for making a Treaty with the Indians. — Pennsylvania Hospital. — Writes in Favor of it, and procures Subscriptions. — Advice to Gilbert Tennent. Suggests Plans for cleaning, paving, and lighting the Streets of Philadelphia. — Project for cleaning the Streets of London. — Appointed Postmaster-general for America. Receives the Degree of Master of Arts from Harvard and Yale Colleges.
PEACE being concluded, and the Association business therefore at an end, I turned my thoughts again to the affair of establishing an academy. The first step I took was to associate in the design a number of active friends, of whom the Junto furnished a good part; the next was to write and publish a pamphlet, entitled, Proposals relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania.* This I distributed among the principal inhabitants gratis ; and as soon as I could suppose their minds a little prepared by the perusal of it, I set on foot a subscription for opening and supporting an academy; it was to be paid in quotas yearly for five years; by so dividing it I judged the subscription might be larger; and I believe it was so, amounting to no less, if I remember right, than five thousand pounds.f
The same paper is mentioned above, p. 143. It appears not to have been printed when it was first written. See APPENDIX, No. III. Editor.
† Other great benefactions for this institution were subsequently obtained, both in America and Great Britain, through the influence of Dr. Franklin; who, on his return to Philadelphia from England, in 1775, carried thence two large gold medals, given by Mr. Sargent, one of his friends, to be bestowed as prizes on such scholars as should distinguish themselves by writing on subjects to be proposed to them by the trustees or governors of the college. Dr. Franklin, one of the trus