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ARCHIMEDES AND FRANKLIN.
INTRODUCTORY TO A COURSE ON THE
APPLICATION OF SCIENCE TO ART,
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
Massachusetts Charitable Merhauic Association,
NOVEMBER 29, 1853.
BY ROBERT C. WINTHROP.
Boston, DECEMBER 8, 1853. Hon. ROBERT C. WINTHROP :
Dear Sir,-At a meeting of the Government of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, held last evening, the Lecture Committee were instructed to present to you, in behalf of the Association, the thanks of the Board for the eloquent and interesting address delivered by you on the evening of the 29th ult. as the Introductory Lecture to the present course.
They were also further instructed to request a copy for the press, and to make all necessary arrangements for its publication and distribution to the members and the public.
The Committee hope it will suit your convenience to furnish us the manuscript at an early day, in order that it may awaken the public sentiment of our city, to the propriety of erecting a Statue of Franklin in the place of his birth. The force and pertinence with which you urged this measure in your address, will serve to quicken the hearts of our people in its behalf; and its publication no doubt will be followed by that energetic action which will secure the final success of the project.
Truly yours, &c.,
F. W. LINCOLN, JR.
Boston, 14 DECEMBER, 1853. GENTLEMEN :
I am greatly gratified by the proceedings of the Government of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, in reference to the Introductory Lecture which I had the honor to deliver before them on the 29th ult.
I cannot hesitate a moment to place my manuscript at their disposal, and I pray you to present to them, and to accept for yourselves, my sincere thanks for the very kind and complimentary terms in which the request was made and communicated. Believe me, gentlemen,
With true regard,
Your friend and servant,
ROBERT C. WINTHROP.
F. W. LINCOLN, JR.
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A CHARMING story which has come down to us in reference to the great orator, philosopher, and patriot of ancient Rome,--and which he has not thought it unworthy to tell briefly of himself, in one of his Tusculan Disputations,-may form a not inappropriate introduction to the Lecture which I am here this evening to deliver.
While Cicero was quæstor in Sicily,—the first public office which he ever held, and the only one to which he was then eligible, being but just thirty years old, (for the Roman laws required for one of the humblest of the great offices of state the very same age which our American Constitution requires for one of the highest,)-he paid a visit to Syracuse, then among the greatest cities of the world.
The magistrates of the city, of course, waited on him at once, to offer their services in showing him the lions of the place, and requested him to specify anything which he would like particularly to see. Doubtless, they .supposed that he would ask immediately to be conducted to some one of their magnificent temples, that he might behold and admire those splendid works of art with which, -notwithstanding that Marcellus had made it his glory to carry not a few of them away with him for the decoration of the Imperial City,--Syracuse still abounded, and which soon after tempted the cupidity, and fell a prey to the rapacity, of the infamous Verres.
Or, haply, they may have thought that he would be curious to see and examine the ear of Dionysius, as it was called,-a huge cavern, cut out of the solid rock in the shape of a human ear, two hundred and fifty feet long and eighty feet high, in which that execrable tyrant confined all persons who came within the range of his suspicion,—and which was so ingeniously contrived and constructed, that Dionysius, by applying his own ear to a small hole, where the sounds were collected as upon a tympanum, could catch every syllable that was uttered in the cavern below, and could deal out his proscription and his vengeance accordingly, upon all who might dare to dispute his authority, or to complain of his cruelty.
Or they may have imagined, perhaps, that he would be impatient to visit at once the sacred fountain of Arethusa, and the seat of those Sicilian Muses whom Virgil so soon after invoked in commencing that most inspired of all uninspired compositions, which Pope has. so nobly paraphrased in his glowing and glorious Eclogue -the Messiah.
To their great astonishment, however, Cicero's first request was, that they would take him to see the tomb of Archimedes. To his own still greater astonishment, as we may well believe, they told him in reply, that they knew nothing about the tomb of Archimedes, and had no idea where it was to be found, and they even positively denied that any such tomb was still remaining
But Cicero understood perfectly well what he was , talking about. He remembered the exact description of the tomb. He remembered the very verses which had been inscribed on it. He remembered the sphere and the cylinder which Archimedes had himself requested to have wrought upon it, as the chosen emblems of his eventful life.
And the great orator forth with resolved to make search for it himself.
Accordingly, he rambled out into the place of their ancient sepulchres, and, after a careful investigation, he came at last to a spot overgrown with shrubs and bushes, where presently he descried the top of a small column just rising above the branches. Upon this little column the sphere and the cylinder were at length found carved, the inscription was painfully decyphered, and the tomb of Archimedes stood revealed to the reverent homage of the illustrious Roman quæstor.
This was in the year 76 before the birth of Saviour. Archimedes died about the year 212 before Christ. One hundred and thirty-six years, only, had thus elapsed since the death of this celebrated person, before his tombstone was buried up beneath briars and brambles, and before the place and even the existence of it were forgotten, by the magistrates of the very city, of which he was so long the proudest ornament in peace, and the most effective defender in war,
What a lesson to human pride, what a commentary on human gratitude, was here ! It is an incident almost precisely like that which the admirable and venerable Dr. Watts imagined or imitated, as the topic of one of his most striking and familiar Lyrics :
I do not learn, however, that Cicero was cured of his