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dustry and the application of his great natural talents to business, he soon was enabled to procure a press, and to stand upon his own footing.
This account of his low beginnings, it is hoped, will not scandalize any of his respectable fraternity. No, Gentlemen*; but you will exult in it when you consider to what eminence he raised himself, and raised his country, by the right use of the press. When you consider that the Press was the great instrument which he employed to draw the attention of Pennsylvania to habits of virtue and industry; to the institution of societies for the promotion of agriculture, commerce, and the mechanic arts; to the founding of schools, libraries, and hospitals, for the diffusion of useful knowledge, and the advance. ment of humanity—when you consider this, you will “ go and do likewise;" you will, with professional joy and pride, observe, that from the torch which Franklin kindled by the means of his press, in the New World, Sparks have been already “ stolen” (as the Abbe Fauchet beautifully expresses it) “which are lighting up the sacred flame of liberty,
(virtue and wisdom) over the entire face of the globe.” Be it your part still to feed that torch by
and in danger of being taken into custody, as a runaway servant. Sunday morning, between 8 and 9 o'clock, he landed at market-street wharf, in a very dirty condition, in the clothes in which he had travelled from New-York; weary and hungry, having been without rest and food for sometime, a perfect stranger to every body, and his whole stock of cash consisting of a Dutch dollar. Such was the entry of Benjamin Franklin into Philadelphia. From such beginnings did he rise to the highest eminence and respectability, not only in America, but amongst all civilized nations.
• This part was more immediately addressed to the printers of Philadelphia, who attended as a body, at the delivery of this oration.
means of the press, till its divine Aame reaches the skies!
For the purpose of aiding his press, and increasing the materials of information, one of the first societies formed by Dr. Franklin, was in the year 1728, about the 22d of his age, and was called the Junto. It consisted of a select number of his younger friends, who met weekly for the “ Discussion of questions in morality, politics, and natural philosophy.” The number was limited to twelve members, who were bound together in all the ties of friendship, and engaged to assist each other, not only in the mutual communication of knowledge, but in all their worldly undertakings. This society, after having subsisted forty years, and having contributed to the formation of some very grcat men, besides Dr. Franklin himself, became at last the foundation of the American Philosophical Society, now assembled to pay the debtof gratitude to his memory. A book containing many
of the questions discussed by the Junto was, on the formation of the American Philosophical Society, delivered into my hands, for the purpose of being digested, and in due time published among the transactions of that body. Many of the questions are curious and curiously handled; such as the following:
Is sound an entity or body?
Is self-interest the rudder that steers mankind; the universal monarch to whoni all are tributaries?
Which is the best form of government, and what was that form which first prevailed among mankind?
Can any one particular form of government suit all mankind?
What is the reason that the tides rise higher in the bay of Fundy than in the bay of Delaware?
Is the emission of paper money safe?
What is the reason that men of the greatest knowledge are not the most happy?
How may the possession of the lakes be improved to our advantage?
Why are tumultuous, uneasy sensations united with our desires ?
Whether it ought to be the aim of philosophy to eradicate the passions?
How may smoaky chimnies be best cured?
Why does the flame of a candle tend upwards in a spire?
Which is least criminal, a bad action joined with a good intention, or a good action with a bad intention?
Is it consistent with the principles of liberty in a free government, to punish a man as a libeller, when he speaks the truth?
These, and such similar questions of a very mixt nature, being proposed in one evening, were generally discussed the succeeding evening, and the substance of the arguments entered in their books.
But Dr. Franklin did not rest satisfied with the institution of this literary club for the improvement of himself and a few of his select friends. He ceeded year
year, in the projecting and establishing other institutions for the benefit of the community at large.
Thus, in 1731, he set on foot the “ Library company of the city of Philadelphia,” a most important institution to all ranks of people; giving them access, at a small expense, to books on every useful subject; amounting in the whole to near ten thousand volumes and the number daily encreasing. The affairs of the company have been managed from the beginning by directors of the most respectable characters. Their estate is now of very considerable value; they have erected an elegant house, and over the front door of the building, have prepared a niche for the statue of their venerable founder; who, after the establishment of this company, still proceeded to promote other establishments and associations, such as fire-companies; the nightly-watch for the city of Philadelphia; a plan for cleaning, lighting and ornamenting the streets; and an association for insuring houses against damages by fire; to which, as collateral, he soon afterwards added his plan for improving chimnies and fire places, which was first printed at Philadelphia in 1745, entitled “ An account of the new invented Pennsylvania fire places;" which gave rise to the open stoves now in general use, to the comfort of thousands, who, assembled round them in the wintry night, bless the name of the inventor which they yet bear!
The next institution, in the foundation of which he was the principal agent, was the academy and charitable school of the city of Philadelphia; the plan of which he drew up and published in the year 1749, as“ suitable to the state of an infant country:" but looking forward, as he did in all his plans, to a more improved state of society, he declared this academy to be “ intended as a foundation for posterity to erect into a college or seminary of learning more extensive, and suitable to future circumstances;” and the same was accordingly erected into a college, or seminary of universal learning, upon the most enlarged and liberal plan, about five years afterwards.*
The Pennsylvania Hospital is the next monument of his philanthropy and public spirit; for the establishment and endowment of which, he was happily instrumental in obtaining a legislative sanction and grant, by his great influence in the general assembly, in the
These various institutions, which do so much honour to Pennsylvania, he projected and saw established during the first twenty years of his residence in this state. Many more must have been his good offices and actions among his friends and fellow citi. zens during that period, which were done in secret, and of which no record remains: but they went before him to another world, and are written in durable characters by the pen of the recording Angel.
A life so assiduously employed in devising and executing schemes for the public good, could not fail to aid him in his political career. He first became clerk of the general assembly, and then a member of the same for the city of Philadelphia, for the space of fourteen years successively.
• It will be mentioned in another place, what countenance and assistance the author of this oration derived from Dr l'ranklin in digesting the plan of education, and erecting this institution into a college or seminary of universal learning.