« PreviousContinue »
not if they had really changed their minds, or if it was merely an artifice, supposing our affections
to be too far engaged for us to desist, and that we should contrive to marry secretly, which would leave them at liberty to give or not, as they pleased. But, sus. pecting this motive, I never went again to their house.
Soine time after, Mrs. Godfrey informed me that they were favourabiy disposed toward me, and wish. ed me to renew the acquaintance; but I declared a firm resolution never to have ar.y thing more to do with the family. The Godfreys expressed some reBentment at this; and as we could no longer agree, they changed their residence, leaving me in possession of the whole house. I then resolved to take no more lodgers. This affair having turned my thoughts to mariage, I looked around me, and made overtures of alliance in other quarters; but I soon found that the profession of a printer, being generally looked upon as a poor trade, I could expect no money with a wife, at least, if I wished her to possess any other charm. Meanwhile, that passion of youth, so difficult to govern, had often drawn me into intrigues with _despicable women who fell in my way; which were not unaccompanier, with expense and inconvenience, besides the perpolual risk of injuring my health, and catching a disease which I dreaded above all things But I v!us fortunate enough to escape this danger.
As a neighbour and old acquaintance, I had kept up a friendly intimacy with the family of Miss Read. Her parents had retained an affection for me fron, che time of niy lodging in their house. I was often in vited thither; they consulted me about their affairs, and I had been soinetimes serviceable to them. I was bouched with the unhappy situation of their daugler er, who was almost always melancholy, and continu ally secking solitude. I regarded my forgetfulness and inconstancy, during my abode in London, as the prin cipal part of her misfortune, though her mother had the candour to attribute the fauit to berself, ratha than to me, hocause, after having prevented our maz. riage previously to my departure, she had induced ber to marry another in my absence.
Our mutual affection revived; but there aistod
great obstacles to our union. Her marriage was considered, indeed, as not being valid, the man having, it was said, a former wife still living in England; but of this it was difficult to obtain a proof.at so great a distance; and though a report prevailed of his being dead, yet we bail to certainty of it; and, supposing it to be true,
he had left many debts, for the payment of which his successor might be sued. We ventured, nevertheless, in spite of all these difficulties; and I married her on thie 1st of September, 1730. None of the inconveniences we had feared, happened to us. She proved 10 me a good and faithful companion, and contributeri essentially to the success of my shop. We prospered together, and it was our inutual study to render each vther happy. Thus I corrected, as well as I coulil, this great error of my youth. Our club was not at that tinie established at a ra.
We held our meetings at the house of Mr. Grace, who appropriated a room to the purpose. Somc inem ser observed, one day, that as our books were frequently quoted in the course of our discus. sions, 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 individua! 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 aproved, and we accordingly brought such books as we inought we could spare, which were placed at the end of the club-rooin. They amounted not to su masy 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, in discontinue the collection; and each took away uucn bool.s as belonged to hiin.
It was now that I first started the idea of establishng, by subscription, a public library. I drew up tho croposals, had thein engrossed in form by Brockuen, no attorney, and my project succeeded, as will be wer. in the sequel. **
[The life of Dr. Franklin, as written by himself, so tar as it has yet been communicated to the .vorld, breaks off in this place. We understand that t was continued by him somewhat farther, and we hope that the remainder will, at some future period, be coinniunicated to the public. We have no hesitaticn in supposing, that every reader will find himself greatly interested by the frank simplicity, and the philijsophical discernment by which these pages are so emmena'y characterized. We have therefore though, proper, in order, as much as possible. to relieve his regret, to subjoin the following continuation by ono of the Doctor's intiinate friends. It is extracted from an American periodical publication, and was writteo by the lata Dr. Suber,* of Philadelphia.
* Dr. Stuber was born in Philadelphia, of German parents. He was sent, at an early age, to the university, where his Genius, diligence, and amiable temper, scoo acquired him the particular notice and favour of those under whose im. mediate direction he was placed. After passing through the common course of study, is a much shorter time tnan 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 ad. vances he made, gave his friends reason to form the most flattering prospects of his future eminence and usefulness in his profession. As Dr. Swbor's circumstances were very moderate, he did not think this pursuit well calculated to an swer them. He therefore relinquished it, after he had obo tained a degree in the profession, and qualified himself to practice 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 preosture death, from ceaping the fruit of those talents with which he was e dowed, and of a youth spent in the ardeat and successfiel qursuit of useful and elegant literature,
Tux promotion of literature had been little me tended to in Pennsylvania. Most of the inhabitants were too much immersed in business to think of sci. entific pursuits; and those few, whose inclinations led tesem to study, found it dificult to gratify them, from the want of libraries sufficiently large. In sucha circumstances, the establishnient of a public library was an inportant 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 nunber increased; and in 1742, the company was incorporated by the name of “ The Library Company of Philadelphia.". Se. veral other companies ivere formed in this city in irritation of it. These were all at length united with the Library Company of Philadelphia, which thus re. ceived a considerable accession of books and property. It now contains about eight thousand volumes on all subjects, a philosophicai 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 Fiftlı-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 theinselves by their donations. Amongst the earliest friends of this insti. tution, inust be mentioned, the late Peter Collinson the friend and companion of Dr. Franklin. He no only made considerable preser.ls himself, and obtain. ed others from his frier.ds, but voluntarily undertook w manage the business of the Company in London, recommending Looks, purchasing and shipping them. His extensive knowledge, and zeal for the proniotion of science, enabled him to execute this important Lust 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
very infornation relative to improvements and dis coveries in the arts, agriculture, and philosuphy.
The beneficial influence of this institution was soon evident. The terms of subscription to it were so mo derate, that it was accessible to every one. Its advan. tages were not confined to the opulont. The citizens in the iniddle and lower walks of life were equally partakers of them. Hence a degree of informativo was cxtended 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 Pennsylvania. It is w be hoped that they will be still more widely extended, and that information will. be every where increased. This will be the best se. curity for inaintaining 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 rrigns. It flies before the light of science. Let the citizens of America, then, encourage institutions calculated to diffuse knowledge ansongst people; and amongst these, public libraries are not the least inn portant.
In 1732, Franklin began to publish Poor Richards Almanac. This was remarkable for the numerous and valuable concise maxims wl.ich it contained, al cending to exhort to industry and frugality. It was continued for many years. In the almanac for the last year, all the maxins 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, ar.d 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 convinc. ing every reader of the justice and propriety of tho remarks and advice which it contains. The demand for this alnianac was so great, that ten thousand