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was hired, and the school opened the same year. Of this institution a leading feature was the perfect education of youth in the English language; a subject upon which Franklin was strenuous all his days. In choosing the rector, it was enjoined that 'great regard is to be had to his polite speaking, writing, and understanding, the English tongue.'
The original house of the institution was soon too small for the students; and the preaching-house formerly named was finally appropriated to their use. It was built, Franklin informs us, for no particular sect; while the moving cause of its erection was a want of public accommodation for Mr Whitfield, the subscribers to the building agreed that it was to be opened for the use of any respectable religious teacher; so that, Franklin drily observes, “had the mufti of Constantinople sent a missionary to preach Mahometanism in Philadelphia, he would have found a pulpit at his service. Through this general designation of the building, Franklin, on the demise of one of the original trustees, was chosen in his place, as 'a man of no sect;' and at the period when the academy wanted better accommodation, the building being rarely required for its first purposes, and its funds being in arrears, a fair compromise was suggested between the parties. The trustees of the building ceded it to the academy, who paid all its debts, and agreed to keep open, for ever, a capacious public hall for the use of any preacher requiring it, on the terms of the original trust.
This institution was deservedly popular, not only in Philadelpbia and other parts of America, but also in Ergiand ; and many considerable donations were acwordingly bestowed upon it. Two large gold medals were brought over from friends in England by Dr Franklin (in 1775) as prizes for such young gentlemen as should compose the best essays on subjects to be proposed by the college. For one of them there were five competitors, who wrote upon the following subject " The motives to and advantages of a perpe
tual union between Britain and her colonies:" and the essays were of such great merit, that they were not only published in all parts of America, but afterwards reprinted in England. Such an institution had long been a desideratum in the colonies, and now became valued in proportion to its importance. It was filled with able professors. Its funds were continually in· creased by contributions from England, to the period of the separation of the colonies, and land, &c. was granted for its use by the proprietaries, and also by the assembly; and finally the trustees were incorporated by charter. Thus arose the university of Philadelphia, the seat of American literature and science, which has supplied the United States with its most eminent scholars, competitors in scientific attainments with the literati of the world
It is here due to Franklin to observe that, to the close of life, he was peculiarly tenacious of the primary design of this academy, namely, to afford the young people of Philadelphia an accurate acquaintance with the English tongue, and to cultivate amongst them superior correctness and delicacy of taste in English composition. Even when stepping into the grave, in 1789, he declaims against the too great preponderance of Greek and Latin, and “ the starvation" of the English part of the scheme of education; and imagines himself surrounded by the departed spirits of his dear friends, the original founders, urging him to use the only tongue of theirs now left, in demanding that justice for the next generation which had been denied, he says, to the present. Many of his reflections on this subject are sensible, but some prejudices were also mingled with it; attributable, in a great degree, to the contracted sphere of his own education. Justice perhaps requires us to insert here, from his observations on the original intentions of the founders of the academy (1789) the following illustration of his opinions:-.
" The origin of Latin and Greek schools among the different nations of Europe is known to have been this—that until between three and four hundred years past, there were no books in any other language; all the knowledge then contained in books, viz. the theology, the jurisprudence, the physic, the art-military, the politics, the mathematics, and mechanics, the natural and moral philosophy, the logic and rhetoric, the chemistry, the pharmacy, the architecture, and every other branch of science, being in those languages, it was of course necessary to learn them, as the gates through which men must pass to get at that knowledge.
“ The books then existing were manuscript, and these consequently so dear, that only the few wealthy, inclined to learning, could afford to purchase them. The common people were not even at the pains of learning to read, because, after taking that pains, they would have nothing to read that they could understand, without learning the ancients' languages, nor then, without money to purchase the manuscripts. And so few were the learned readers sixty years after the invention of printing, that it appears, by letters still extant between the printers in 1499, that they could not throughout Europe find purchasers for more than three hundred copies of any ancient authors. But printing beginning now to make books cheap, the readers increased so much as to make it worth while to write and print books in the valgar tongues. At first these were chiefly books of devotion, and little histories; gradually several branches of science began to appear in the common languages; and, at this day, the whole body of science, consisting not only of translations from all the vuluable ancients, but of all the new modern discoveries, is to be met with in these languages; so that learning the ancient, for the purpose of acquiring knowledge, is become absolutely unnecessary.
“But there is in mankind an unaccountable prejudice in favour of ancient customs and habitudes, which inclines to a continuance of them after the circumstances, which formerly made them useful, cease to exist. A
multitude of instances might be given; but it may suffice to mention one. Hats were once thought an useful part of dress; they kept the head warm, and screened it from the violent impression of the sun's rays, and from the rain, snow, hail, &c. Though, by the way, this was not the more ancient opinion or practice, for among all the remains of antiquity, the bustos, statues, basso-relievos, medals, &c., which are infinite, there is no representative of a human figure with a cap or hat on, nor any covering for the head, unless it be the head of a soldier, who has a helmet, but that is evidently not a part of dress for health, but as a protection from the strokes of a weapon.
“At what time hats were first introduced, we know not; but in the last century they were universally worn throughout Europe. Gradually however, as the wearing of wigs and of hair nicely dressed prevailed, the putting on of hats was disused by genteel people, lest the curious arrangements of the curls and powdering should be disordered ; and umbrellas began to supply their place; yet still our considering the hat as a part of dress continues so far to prevail, that a man of fashion is not thought dressed without having one, or something like one, about him, which he carries under his arm! So that there are a multitude of the politer people in all the courts and capital cities of Europe, who have never seen their fathers before them wear a hat otherwise than as a chapeau bras, though the utility of such a mode of wearing it is by no means apparent, and it is attended not only with some expence, but with a degree of constant trouble.
“The still prevailing custom of having schools for teaching generally our children, in these days, the Latin and Greek languages, I consider therefore in no other light than as the chapeau bras of modern literature.”
During the year 1745, while the mother country was shaken to the centre by the last rebellion in favour of the Stuarts, Mr Franklin was meditating that complete retirement from public life to learned leisure, which his easy circumstances and philosophical taste alike suggested. He contracted a partnership in his printing business with David Hall, one of his most intelligent workmen, on the express condi. tion of his retiring from all active management of its concerns: a connexion in which he found all his views fully answered, he says, for a period of eighteen years. About this time he became acquainted at Boston with a Mr Spence, from Europe, who first exhibited to him a few electrical experiments; and, by a happy concurrence of events, an old acquaintance of his in England, Peter Collinson, esų. J. K. S., presented, at the same period, to the Philadelphia Library Company an electric tube, accompanied with directions for its use. Franklin entered eagerly upon attempting the experiments he had seen, and readily acquired the practice of those described in the papers from England. He declares that, for his own part, he never was so totally engrossed with any object of study before; and that, being willing to diffuse the information he obtained as fast as he had made it his own, his house was for: some time continually full of friends and acquaintances, crowding to see the wonders of the new science. Thus commenced the important researches of our author into this science. We shall b'ave occasion to return to this topic more at lengt'..
Ai present the local interests of the provinces were pressed upon his consideration, and began to be committed largely to his management. He was elected a member of the Pennsylvanian assembly, and allowed to vacate his seat as clerk in favour of his son: the governor placed him in the commission of the peace; while the corporation of Philadelphia called him into the common council, and he was shortly after chosen an alderman of the city. None of these honours, he declares, did he ever seek; but he admits they gratified his ambition. The clerkship of the assembly had become wearisome to his active mind;