« ZurückWeiter »
reserve a ps that no air ch are colds, object of so tightensequence of was a principals
his new invented Penusylvania Fireplace, in which he minutely and accurately states the advantages of different kinds of fireplaces; and endeavours to show, that the one which he describes is to be preferred to any other. This contrivance has given rise to the open stoves now in general use, which, however, differ from it in construction, particularly in not having an air-box at the back, through which a constant supply of air, warmed in its passage, is thrown into the room. The advantages of this are, that as a stream of warm air is continually flowing into the room, less fuel is necessary to preserve a proper temperature, and the room may be so tightened as that no air may enter through the cracks --the consequence of which are colds, toothaches, &c.
Although philosophy was a principal object of Franklin's pursuit for several years, he confined himself not to this. In the year 1747, he became a member of the general assembly of Pennsylvania, as a burgess for the city of Philadelphia Warm disputes subsisted at this time between the Assembly and the Proprietaries ; each contending for what they conceived to be their just rights. Franklin, a friend to the rights of man from his infancy, soon distinguished himself a steady opponent of the unjust schemes of the proprietaries. He was soon looked up to as the head of the opposition; and to him have been attributed many of the spirited replies of the Assembly to the messages of the governors. His influence in the body was very great. This arose not from any superior powers of eloquence; he spoke but seldom, and he never was known to make any thing like an elaborate harangue. His speeches often consisted of a single sentence, of a well told story, the moral of which was obviously to the point. He neyer attempted the flowery field of oratory. His manner was plain and mild. His style in speaking was, like that of his writings, simple, unadorned, and remarkably concise. With this plain manner, and his penetrating and solid judgment, he was able to confound the most eloquent and subtle of his adversaries, to confirm the opinions of his friends, and to make converts of the unprejudiced who had opposed him. With a single observation, he has rendered of no avail an elegant and lengthy discourse, and determined the fate of a question of importance.
But he was not contented with thus supporting the rights of the people. He wished to render them permanently secure, which can only be done by making their value properly known; and this must depend upon increasing and extending information to every class of ment. We have already seen that he was the founder
of the public library, which contributed greatly towards improving the minds of the citizens. But this was not sofficient. The schools then subsisting were in general of little utility. The teachers were men ill qualified for the important duty which they had undertaken ; and, after all, nothing more could be obtained than the rudiments of a common English education. Franklin drew up a plan of an academy, to be erected in the city of Philadelphia, suited to the state of an infant country ; but in this as in all his plans, he confined not his views to the present time only. He looked forward to the period when an institution on an enlarged plan would become necessary. With this view, he considered his academy as “a foundation for posterity to erect a seminary of learning more extensive, and suitable to future circumstances.” In pursuance of this plan, the constitutions were drawn up and signed on the 13th of November, 1749. In these, twenty-four of the most respectable citizens of Philadelphia were named as trustees. In the choice of these, and in the formation of his plan, Franklin is said to have consulted chiefly with Thomas Hopkinson, Esg. the Rev. Richard Peters, then secretary of the province, Tench Francis, Esq. attorney general, and Dr. Phineas Bond.
The following article shows a spirit of benevolence worthy of imitation; and for the honour of our city, we hope that it continues to be in force.
« In case of the disability of the rector, or any master (established on the foundation by receiving a certain salary) through sickness, or any other natural infirmity, whereby he may be reduced to poverty, the trustees shall have power to contribute to his support, in proportion to his distress and merit, and the stock in their hands."
The last clause of the fundamental rule is expressed in language so tender and benevolent, so truly parental, that it will do everlasting honour to the hearts and heads of the founders. ." It is hoped and expected that the trustees will make it their pleasure, and in some degree their business, to visit the academy often; to encourage and countenance the youth, to countenance and assist the masters, and, by all means in their power, advance the usefulness and reputation of the design ; that they will look on the students as, in some measure, their own children, treat them with familiarity and affection ; and when they have behaved well, gone through their studies, and are to enter the world, they shall zealously unite, and make all the interest that can be made to promote and establish them, whether in business,
offices, marriages, or any other thing for their advantage, in preference to all other persons whatsoever, even of equal merit.”
The constitution being signed and made public, with the names of the gentlemen proposing themselves as trustees and founders, the design was so well approved of by the public spirited citizens of Philadelphia, that the sum of eight hundred pounds per annum, for five years, was in the course of a few weeks subscribed for carrying it into execution; and in the beginning of January following (viz. 1750) three of the schools were opened, namely, the Latin and Greek schools, the Mathematical school, and the English school. In pursuance of an article in the original plan, a school for educating sixty boys and thirty girls (in the charter since called the Charitable School) was opened ; and, amidst all the difficulties with which the trustees have struggled in respect to their funds, has still been continued full for the space of forty years; so that allowing three years education for each boy and girl admitted into it, which is the general rule, at least twelve hundred children have received in it the chief part of their education, who might otherwise, in a great measure, have been left without the means of instruction. And many of those who have been thus educated, are now to be found among the most useful and reputable citizens of this state.
This institution, thus successfully begun, continued daily to flourish, to the great satisfaction of Dr. Franklin; who, notwithstanding the multiplicity of his other engagements and pursuits, at that busy stage of his life, was a constant attendant at the monthly visitations and examinations of the schools, and made it his parzicular study, by means of his extensive correspondence abroad, to advance the reputation of the seminary, and to draw students and scholars to it from different parts of America and the West Indies. Through the interposition of his benevolent and learned friend, Peter Collinson, of London, upon the application of the trustees, a charter of incorporation, dated July 13, 1753, was obtained from the honourable proprietors of Pennsylvania, Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, Esqrs. accompanied with a liberal benefaction of five hundred pounds sterling; and Dr. Franklin now began in good earnest to please himself with the hopes of a speedy accomplishment of his original design, viz, the establishment of a perfect institution, upon the plan of the European colleges and universities ; for which his academy was intended as a nursery or foundation. To elucidate this fact, is a matter of considerable impor
hshment of rent or hiuself wir
tance in respect to the memory and character of Dr Franklin as a philosopher, and as the friend and patron of learning and science ; for notwithstanding what is expressly declared by him in the preamble to the constitutions, viz. that the academy was begun for “teaching the Latin and Greek languages, with all usefu) branches of the arts and sciences, suitable to the state of an infant country, and laying a foundation for posterity to erect a seminary of learning more extensive, and suitable to their future circumstances;" yet it has been suggested of late, as upon Dr. Franklin's authority, that the Latin and Greek, or the dead languages are an incumbrance upon a scheme of Hberal education, and that the engrafting or founding a college, or more extensive seminary, upon his academy, was without his approbation or agency, and gave him discontent. If the reverse of this does not already appear from what has been quoted above, the following letters will put the matter beyond dispute. They were written by him to a gentleman, who had at that time published the idea of a college, suited to the circumstances of a young country, (meaning New York) a copy of which having been sent to Dr. Franklin for his opinion, gave rise to that correspondence which terminated about a year afterwards, in erecting the college upon the foundation of the academy, and establishing that gentleman at the head of both, where he still continues, after a period of thirty-six years, to preside with distinguished reputation.
From these letters also, the state of the academy, at that time, will be seen.
« PHILAD. APRIL 19, 1753. « SIR: I received your favour of the 11th intant, with your new* piece on EDUCATION, which I shall carefully peruse, and give you my sentiments of it, as you de sire, by next post.
"I believe the young gentlemen, your pupils, may be entertained and instructed here, in mathematics and philosophy, to satisfaction. Mr. Alisont (who was educated at Glasgow) has been long accustomed to teach the latter, and Mr. Grewt the former; and I think their pupils make great progress. Mr. Alison has the care of the Latin and Greek school, but as he has now
* A general idea of the college of Marania.
† The Rev. and learned Mr. Francis Alison wards D. D. and vice-provost of the college.
t Mr. Theophilus Grew, afterwards professor of mathematics in the college.
three good assistants,* he can very well afford some hours every day for the instruction of those who are engaged in higher studies. The mathematical school is pretty.well furnished with instruments. The English library is a good one; and we have belonging to it a middling apparatus for experimental philosophy, and propose speedily to complete it. The Loganian library, one of the best collections in America, will shortly be opened ; so that neither books nor instruments will be wanting; and as we are determined always to give good salaries, we have reason to believe we may have always an opportunity of choosing good masters; upon which, indeed, the success of the whole depends. We are obliged to you for your kind offers in this respect, and when you are settled in England, we may occasionally make use of your friendship and judgment.
“If it suits your convenience to visit Philadelphia before you return to Europe, I shall be extremely glad to see and converse with you here, as well as to correspond with you after your settlement in England; for an acquaintance and communication with men of learning, virtue, and public spirit, is one of my greatest enjoyments.
* I do not know whether you ever happened to see the first proposals I made for erecting this academy. I send them enclosed. They had (however imperfect) the desired success, being followed by a subscription of four thousand pounds, towards carrying them into execution. And as we are fond of receiving advice, and are daily improving by experience, I am in hopes we shall, in a few years, see a perfect institution. "I am very respectfully, &c.
B. FRANKLIN. “ Mr. W. Smith, Long Island.”
PHILAD. MAY 3, 1753. « SIR: Mr. Peters has just now been with me, and we have compared notes on your new piece. We find nothing in the scheme of education, however excellent, but what is, in our opinion, very practicable. The great difficulty will be to find the Aratus, and other suitable
Thompson, a Mr. Jacob he principa, which ha model, in
* Those asssistants were at that time, Mr. Charles Thompson, afterwards Secretary to Congress, Mr. Paul Jackson, and Mr. Jacob Duche.
The name given to the principal or head of the ideal college, the system of education in which hath nevertheless been nearly realized, or followed as a model, in the college and academy of Philadelphia, and some other American seminaries, for many years past.