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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 our individual 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 many as we expected; and though we made considerable use of them, yet some inconveniences resulting, from want of care, it was agreed, after about 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 * Dr. Stuber was born in Philadelphia, of German pa
He was sent, at an early age, to the university where his genius, diligence, and amiable temper soon acquired him the particular notice and favor of those under whose immediate direction he was placed. After passing through the common course of study, in a much shorter time than usual, he left the university, at the age of sixteen, with great reputation. Not long after, he entered on the study of physic; and the zeal with which he pursued it, and the advances he made, gave his friends reason to form the most flattering prospects of his future eminence and usefulness in his profession. As Dr. Stuber's circumstances were very moderate, he did not think this pursuit well cal. culated to answer them. He therefore relinquished it, after he had obtained a degree in the profession, and qualified himself to practise with credit and success; and immediately entered on the study of the law. While in pursuit of the last-mentioned object he was prevented, by a premature death, from reaping the fruit of those talents with which he was endowed, and of a youth spent in the ardent and buc cessful pursuit of useful and elegant livrature.
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 inentioned 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. ring this time, he communi. cated 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
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 Pennslyvania. It is to be hoped that they will be still more widely extended, and that information will be every where 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 Almanac. This was reinarkable 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 almanac 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 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 almanacs must have made a favorable 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 advantages over Franklin, by being Post-master, thereby having an opportunity of circulating bis 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 sug. gested an alteration, so as to oblige the guar dians of the night to be more watchful over the lives and property of the citizens. The proprie