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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 good beginning towards a collection of natural and artificial curiosities, besides landed property of considerable value. The company 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 correspondent 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 cheapness of terms rendered it 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 class
es of people, which is very unusual in other places. 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 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 themn, 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 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 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 reelected 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 postmaster, thereby having an 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 postmaster 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
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 abortive 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 this city and liberties. To these may be attributed in a great degree the activity in extinguishing fires, for which the citi
zens of Philadelphia are distinguished, and the inconsiderable damage which this city has sustained from this cause. 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 land from taxes; to which the asse
ssembly 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 recommended to the assembly, who were then sitting, to pass a militia law. To this they would agree only upon condition that he should give his assent to certain laws, which appeared to them calculated to promote the interest of the people. As he thought these laws would be injurious to the proprietaries, he refused his assent to them; and the assembly broke up without passing a militia law. The situation of the province was at this time truly alarming: exposed to the continual inroads of an enemy, and destitute of every means of defence. At this crisis Franklin stepped forth, and proposed to a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia, a plan of a voluntary association for the defence of the province. This was approved of, and signed by twelve hundred persons im. mediately. Copies of it were circulated throughout the province; and in a short time the number of signers amounted to ten thousand. Franklin was chosen colo-, nel of the Philadelphia regiment; but he did not think proper to accept of the honour.
Pursuits of a different nature now occupied the greatest part of his attention for some years. He engaged in a course of electrical experiments, with all the ardour and thirst for discovery which characterized the philosophers of that day. Of all the branches of experimental philosophy, electricity had been least explored. The attractive power of amber is mentioned by Theophrastus and Pliny, and, from them, by later naturalists. In the year 1600, Gilbert, an English physician, enlarged considerably the catalogue of substances which have the property of attracting light bodies. Boyle, Otto Guericke, a burgomaster of Magdeburgh, celebrated as the inventor of the air pump, Dr. Wall, and sir Isaac Newton added some facts; Guericke first observed the repulsive power of electricity, and the light and noise produced by it.
In 1709, Hawkesbec communicated some important observations and experiments to the world. For several years electricity was entirely neglected, until Mr. Gray applied himself to it, in 1728, with great assidui. ty. He and his friend Mr. Wheeler, made a great variety of experiments; in which they demonstrated that electricity may be communicated from one body to another, even without being in contact, and in this way may be conducted to a great distance. Mr. Gray afterwards found, that by suspending rods of iron by silk or hair lines, and bringing an excited tube under them, sparks might be drawn, and a light perceived at the extremities in the dark. M. Du Faye, intendant of the French king's gardens, made a number of experiments, whiclı added not a little to the science. He made the discovery of two kinds of electricity, which he called vitreous and resinous; the former produced by rubbing glass, the latter from excited sulphur, sealing wax, &c. But this idea he afterwards gave up as erroneous. Between the year 1732 and 1749, Defaguliers made a num