Imágenes de páginas

and is still standing. The Friends had their meeting houses, but these were plain buildings which did not attract attention. They had also their lovely alms-house in Walnut street, still existing and reminding us of an eastern edifice by the garden in the middle of the area, surrounded with modest but comfortable dwellings. The old Court House in Market street, once called the Great Town House, now in the possession of the watchmen and clerks of the markets, had had more than twenty years' existence; and the prison, with a work-house annexed to it, was situated at the corner of Third and High streets, to which the markets then extended. The immortal State House was in a course of building, but was not finished until the year 1735. Meanwhlie, the legislature of the province held its sittings in private houses. Between the Schuylkill and the improved parts of the town, there were gentlemen's country seats, and tracts of woodland, some of which existed so late as 1777, when the British took possession of our city, and cut down all the trees to serve as fuel for themselves and their army.

Such was the external appearance of our noble city in the year 1732. Peace and concord reigned within it, under the mild and wise administration of Governor Gordon, who had succeeded Sir William Keith. Our illustrious founder had now been dead fourteen years, but his spirit had not forsaken us. His able and faithful secretary, Logan, still had considerable influence in the affairs of the government. The manners of the people were simple, their morals pure, and literature and science were held in deserved esteem. Men of genius already appeared whose names were destined to go to posterity.

Observe that young man whom you see walking along Second street, his eyes fixed upon the ground and his mind absorbed in contemplation His name is Anthony Bene


zet. He is a native of France and a member of the Society of Friends. He resides at Germantown, where his time is devoted to the instruction of youth. Though only nineteen years of age, and though he has been but one year in this country, he is already distinguished for his sincere piety, his Christian humility, and above all, for his ardent desire for the happiness of mankind. He has seen with horror and indignation the effects of slavery, at this time existing in Pennsylvania, and is now meditating a plan for the emancipation of the African race. To that important object he will devote the unremitting labours of a long and useful life; he will live to see those labours crowned with success, and after his death his name will long be held in veneration by successive generations: he will be numbered among the benefactors of mankind.

Not far from him you see a plain looking man dressed in a grayish jacket, carrying in one hand a pot of white paint, and in the other a painter's brush. He is a poor glazier by trade, and his name is Thomas Godfrey. Don't trust to his mean appearance, he is one of nature's own nobility. He is a profound mathematician, and for his learning is indebted to himself alone. This evening, after his work is done, he will be studying the Principia of the great Newton, for the understanding of which he has taught himself the Latin language, having had no other than the most common school education. By the mere force of his genius, he has made an improvement in the quadrant commonly used for taking altitudes at sea, which will be adopted by all the maritime nations, and be the means of rendering navigation much easier and safer than it was before. His friend and patron, Logan, has communicated this discovery to a person in London, who, by his neglect, will suffer another to claim and obtain the honour of the invention; so that the improved instrument,


which should be called Godfrey's will be known by the name of Hadley's Quadrant. Americans one day will vindicate the honour of their ingenious countryman.

Inferior, but not mean geniuses are also to be found in our rising city. I see Nicholas Scull, the geographer, who published the first correct map of Pennsylvania; I see Ralph, who, though he will never reach a very high grade, will, nevertheless, be distinguished in England as a poet, an historian, and a political writer. He was unjustly treated by the illustrious Pope, whose vanity would not suffer the little birds to sing, and showed jealousy when he ought to have bestowed encouragement and kindness. Others of lesser note might be named, who, not wanting in talents, left nothing behind them by which to be remembered by posterity.

But who is he whom I see advancing with a brisk but steady pace, and who seems to be observing every thing as he goes along? His dress is simple, and may even be called plain; yet you can see he is no common man: genius flashes from his eyes, and intelligence beams in his

, countenance. He is the printer of the Pennsylvania Gazette, at the new printing office, near the market. He came here a poor lad from Boston, his native place, only a few years ago; went to England, where he perfected himself in his trade, then returned here, and after serving some time as a journeyman to one Keimer, and afterwards working in partnership with one Meredith, he has lately set up for himself, and his paper is fast getting the start of the old weekly Mercury, published by Andrew Bradford. The people are pleased with the moral pieces of his composition, with which his columns are frequently enriched. He gives them excellent advice, as well as in the Almanac which he publishes every year under the title of Poor Richard, the only Almanac, perhaps, that will ever be famed in after times. Young Franklin, for he is no more than twenty-six years old, is very popular among the citizens, and Philadelphia is already indebted to him for some valuable establishments. He has founded a public library, which will increase with time and be an ornament to our city; he has, moreover, collected all the young men of talents that he could find, and with them formed an association for the promotion of useful knowledge, which will last more than forty years under the modest name of the Junto, and afterwards uniting itself with another body of men assembled for a similar purpose, will be known through the world as an American Philosophical Society, of which (though at that time residing in Europe) he will be chosen the first president. So much he has already done, but his career is not run. He will be the first philosopher and statesman of his age -a new but guiltless Prometheus, he will steal the celestial fire and direct the forked lightning at his will. Europe

will admire his talents, and shower upon him her scientific and literary laurels. As a statesman and a patriot he will not be less distinguished. At the end of this half century we shall see him full of years and honours, numbered

among the greatest men of our country, and his name will be handed down to posterity by the side of those of William Penn and of Washington.





How sweet the south-wind plays around my brow!-
How merciful in God, to temper thus,
The burning sunbeam, with the cooling breeze!
Man marks, ungrateful, with a frowning eye
The transitory storm, where Mercy rides,
To dissipate the idle dreams of life,
While skies unclouded and the dewy breeze,
Nor warm his heart, nor bend his stubborn knee!
He notes with scowling and with angry eye,
The man, who holds a pittance from his kind,
Yet censures not himself, while he denies
His thanks to God, that but increase his stores.

my heart saddens, when it thinks on man.
How gay yon plough-boy whistling to his team,
As slowly plodding o'er the broken earth,
He tells to air, the furrows he has made!
The morn of life is thine! poor, simple lad!
And mild and sweet the breeze, that fans thy locks! -
Yet ere another moon, the storm may howl,
And rudely beat on thy unsheltered head.
To day the pine-clad mountains bound thy hopes,
Thy ev'ry wish: but soon the villain's smile
May poison every source of pure delight.
'Thy ear may close upon the village bell,
That now on Sabbath leads thee to thy God-
Thy littlc feet may then beguile thee far
From every simple scene thy home had known,

« AnteriorContinuar »