ePub 版

judgment, he was able to confound the most elos quent 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 sin. gle observation, he has rendered of no avail an ele. gant 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 men. We have already seen that he was the founder of the public library, which con. tributed greatly towards improving the minds of the citizens. But this was not sufficient. The @chools then subsisting were in general of little utjo hity. The teachers were men ill qualified for the important duty which they had undertaken ; and, after all, nothing more could be obtained than the pudiments of a common English education. FrankJin drew up a plan of an academy, to be erected in the city of Philadelphia, suited to the state of an jnfant country;" but in this, as in all his plans, he confined not his view 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 Ikearning, more extensive, and suitable to future cirs sumstances.” In pursuance of this plan, the cons stitutions were drawn up and signed on the 13th of November 1749. In these, iwenty-four of the most respectable citizens of Philadelphia were namá od as trustees. In the choice of these, and in the formation of his plau, Franklin is. said to have

consulted chiefly with Thomas Hopkinson, Esq. Rev. Richard Peters, then secretary of the province, Tench Francis, Esq: attorney-general, and Dr. Phineas Bond.

The following article shews a spirit of benevo lence worthy of imitation; and for the honor of our city, we hope that it continues to be in force. . In case of the inability of the rector, or any master, (established on the foundation by receiving a certain salary) through sickness, or any other nas tural infirmity, whereby he may be reduced to po verty, 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 their fundamental rules is exa pressed in language so tender and benevolent, so truly paternal, that it will do everlasting honor 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 en. courage and countenance the youth, 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 bes baved 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 est mblish them, whether in business, offices, marriages, or any other ching for their advantage, preferable to all other persons whatsoever, even of equal merit.

The constitutions being signed and made public, with the names of the gentlemen proposing the mo *lves 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 the plan into exe ecution; and in the beginning of January following (viz. 1750] three of the schools were opened, name. ly, the Latin and Greek school, the-Mathematica) and the English schools. In pursuance of an arti. cle 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 with 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 ad'mit. ted into it, which is the general rule, at least twelve hundred children have received in it the chief pait of their education, who might otherwise, in a great measuie, have been left without the means of instruction. And many of those who have been this educated, are now to be found among the most use." ful and resputable citizens of this state.

The institution, thus successfully begun, contin, ued 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 particular 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 Collin. son, of London, upon the application of the trus. tes, a charter of incorporation, dated July 13, 1753,

was obtained from the honorable proprietors of Pennsylvania, Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, Esqs. 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 origi. nal design, viz. the establishment of a perfect in. stitution, upon the plan of the European colleges and universities; for which his academy was in. tended as a nursery or foundation. To elucidate this fact, is a matter of considerable importance in respect to the memory and character of Dr. Frank lin, 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 the useful branches of the arts and sciences, suitable to the state of our infant country, and laying a foun. dation for posterity to erect a seminary of learning more extensive and suitable to their future circum. stances;" 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 liberal education, and that the engrafting or founding a college, or more extensive seminary, upon his academy, was without his approbas tion 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 erect ing 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.

PHILADELPHIA, April 19, 1753.


I téceived your favor of the 11th instant, with your new* piece on Education, which I shall care fully peruse, and give you my sentimeats of it, as 'you desire, by the next post.

I believe the young gentlemen, your pupils, may be entertained and instructed here, in mathematics. and philosophy, to satisfaction. Mr. Alisunt (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. Ali son has the care of the Latin and Greek school, but ös he has now three good assistants, f 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;

* A general idea of the college of Marania.

of The Rey, and learned Mr. Francis Alison, after. wards D. D. and vice-provost of the college.

Mr. Theophilus Grew, afterwards professor of mathematics in the college.

$ Those assistants were at that time Mr. Charles. Thomson, late secretary of congress, Mr. Paul Jacksort, and Mr. Jacob Duche.

« 上一頁繼續 »