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squares or circles,1 or any thing to avoid weariness ; and I conceived my becoming a member, would enlarge my power of doing good. I would not however insinuate that my ambition was not flattered by all these promotions: it certainly was; for considering my low beginning, they were great things to me: and they were still more pleasing, as being so many spontaneous testimonies of the public good opinion, and by me entirely unsolicited.
The office of justice of the peace I tried a little, by attending a few courts, and sitting on the bench to hear causes; but finding that more knowledge of the common law than I possessed was necessary to act in that station with credit, I gradually withdrew from it; excusing myself by my being obliged to attend the higher duties of a legislator in the assembly. My election to this trust was repeated every year for ten years, without my ever asking any elector for his vote, or signifying either directly or indirectly any desire of being chosen. On taking my seat in the house, my son was appointed their clerk.
The year following, a treaty being to be held with the Indians at Carlisle, the Governor sent a message to the House, proposing that they should nominate some of their members, to be joined with some members of council, as commissioners for that purpose. The House named the Speaker, (Mr. Norris) and myself; and being commissioned we went to Carlisle, and met the Indians accordingly. As those people are extremely apt to get drunk, and when so are very quarrelsome and disorderly, we strictly forbade the selling any liquor to them: and when they complained of this restriction, we told them, that if they would continue sober during the treaty, we would give them plenty of rum when the business was over. They promised this, and they kept their promise, because they could get norms, and the treaty was conducted very orderly, and concluded to mutual satisfaction. They then claimed and received the rum; this was in the afternoon; they were near 100 men, women, and children, and were lodged in temporary cabins, built in the form of a square just without the town. In the evening hearing a great noise among them, the commissioners walked to see what was the matter; we found they had made a great bonfire in the middle of the square: they were all drunk, men and women, quarrelling and fighting. Their dark coloured bodies, half-naked, seen only by the gloomy light of the bonfire, running after and beating one another with firebrands, accompanied by their horrid yellings, formed a scene the most resembling our ideas of hell that could well be imagined; there was no appeasing the tumult, and we retired to our lodging. At midnight a number of them came thundering at our door, demand
1 Sec several of these, in " Papers on Subjects of Philosophy, fyc."
Vol. I. N
ing more rum, of which we took no notice. The next day, sensible they had misbehaved in giving us that disturbance, they sent three of their old counsellors to make their apology. The orator acknowledged the fault, but laid it upon the rum; and then endeavoured to excuse the rum, by saying, "The Great Spirit who made all things, made every thing for some use, and whatever use he designed any thing for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when he made rum, he said, 'Let This be For The Indians To Get Drunk With;' and it must be so." And indeed if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for the cultivators of the earth, it seems not impossible that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea coast.
In 1751, Dr. Thomas Bond, a particular friend of mine, conceived the idea of establishing a hospital in Philadelphia, (a very beneficent design, which has been ascribed to me, but was originally and truly his) for the reception and cure of poor sick persons, whether inhabitants of the province or strangers. He was zealous and active in endeavouring to procure subscriptions for it; but the proposal being a novelty in America, and at first not well understood, he met but with little success. At length he came to me with the compliment, that he found there was no such a thing as carrying a public spirited project through without my being concerned in it. "For," said he, " I am often asked by those to whom I propose subscribing, Have you consulted Franklin on this business? And what does he think of it? And when I tell them that I have not, (supposing it rather out of your line) they do not subscribe, but say, they will consider it" I inquired into the nature and probable utility of this scheme, and receiving from him a very satisfactory explanation, I not only subscribed to it myself, but engaged heartily in the design of procuring subscriptions from others: previous however to the solicitation, I endeavoured to prepare the minds of the people, by writing on the subject in the newspapers, which was my usual custom in such cases, but which Dr. Bond had omitted. The subscriptions afterwards were more free and generous; but beginning to flag, I saw they would be insufficient without some assistance from the assembly, and therefore proposed to petition for it; which was done. The country members did not at first relish the project; they objected that it could only be serviceable to the city, and therefore the citizens alone should be at the expence of it; and they doubted whether the citizens themselves generally approved of it. My allegation on the contrary, that it met with such approbation as to leave no doubt of our being able to raise .£2000 by voluntary donations, they considered as a most extravagant supposition, and utterly impossible. On this I formed my plan; and asking leave to bring in a bill for incorporating the contributors according to the prayer of their petition, and granting them it blank sum of money; which leave was obtained chiefly on the consideration, that the House could throw the bill out if they did not like it, I drew it so as to make the important clause a conditional; viz. "And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that when the said contributors shall have met and chosen their managers and treasurer, and shall have raised by their contributions a capital stock of .£2000 value, (the yearly interest of which is to be applied to the accommodation of the sick poor in the said hospital, and of charge for diet, attendance, advice, and medicines,) and shall make the same appear to the satisfaction of the Speaker of the Assembly for the time being; that then it shall and may be lawful for the said Speaker, and he is hereby required to sign an order on the Provincial Treasurer, for the payment of two thousand pounds in two yearly payments, to the Treasurer of the said Hospital, to be applied to the founding, building, and finishing of the same." This condition carried the bill through; for the members who had opposed the grant, and now conceived they might have the credit of being charitable without the expence, agreed to its passage: and then in soliciting subscriptions among the people, we urged the conditional promise of the law as an additional motive to give, since every man's donation would be doubled: thus the clause worked both ways. The subscriptions accordingly soon exceeded the requisite sum, and we claimed and received the public gift, which enabled us to carry the design into execution. A convenient and handsome building was soon erected, the institution has by constant experience been found useful, and flourishes to this day; and I do not remember any of my political manoeuvres, the success of which at the time gave me more pleasure; or wherein, after thinking of it, I more easily excused myself for having made some use of cunning.
It was about this time, that another projector, the Rev. Gilbert Tennent, came to me with a request that I would assist him in procuring a subscription for erecting a new meeting-house. It was to be for the use of a congregation he had gathered among the Presbyterians, who were originally disciples of Mr. Whitfield. Unwilling to make myself disagreeable to my fellow citizens, by too frequently soliciting their contributions, I absolutely refused. He then desired I would furnish him with a list of the names of persons I knew by experience to be generous and public spirited. I thought it would be unbecoming in me, after their kind compliance w: my solicitations, to mark them out to be worried by other beggars, and ther refused to give such a list. He then desired I would at least give him my i^J
-efore x y advice. That I will readily do, said I; and, in the first place, I advise you to apply to all those who you know will give something; next, to those who you are uncertain whether they will give any thing or not; and shew them the list of those who have given: and lastly, do not neglect those who you are sure will give nothing; for in some of them you may be mistaken. He laughed and thanked me, and said he would take my advice. He did so, for he asked of every body: and he obtained a much larger sum than he expected, with which he erected the capacious and elegant meeting-house that stands in Arch Street.
Our city, though laid out with a beautiful regularity, the streets large, straight, and crossing each other at right angles, had the disgrace of suffering those streets to remain long unpaved, and in wet weather the wheels of heavy carriages ploughed them into a quagmire, so that it was difficult to cross them; and in dry weather the dust was offensive. I had lived near what was called the Jersey Market, and saw with pain the inhabitants wading in mud, while purchasing their provisions. A strip of ground down the middle of that market was at length paved with brick, so that being once in the market they had firm footing; but were often over shoes in dirt to get there. By talking and writing on the subject, I was at length instrumental in getting the street paved with stone between the market and the brick foot pavement that was on the side next the houses. This for some time gave an easy access to the market dry-shod; but the rest of the street not being paved, whenever a carriage came out of the mud upon this pavement, it shook off and left its dirt upon it, and it was soon covered with mire, w hich was not removed, the city as yet having no scavengers. After some inquiry I found a poor industrious man who was willing to undertake keeping the pavement clean, by sweeping it twice a week, carrying off the dirt from before all the neighbours' doors, for the sum of sixpence per month, to be paid by each house. I then wrote and printed a paper setting forth the advantages to the neighbourhood that might be obtained from this small expence; the greater ease in keeping our houses clean, so much dirt not being brought in by people's feet; the benefit to the shops by more custom, as buyers could more easily get at them; and by not having in windy weather the dust blown in upon their goods, &c, &c, I sent one of these papers to each house, and in a day or two went round to see who would subscribe an agreement to pay these sixpences; it was unanimously signed, and for a time well executed. All the inhabitants of the city were delighted with the cleanliness of the pavement that surrounded the market, it being a convenience to all, and this raised a general desire to have all the streets paved; and made the people more willing to submit to a tax for that purpose. After some time I drew a bill for paving the city,1 and brought it into the Assembly. It was just before I went to England, in 1757, and did not pass till I was gone, and then with an alteration in the mode of assessment, which I thought not for the better; but with an additional provision for lighting as well as paving the streets, which was a great improvement. It was by a private person, the late Mr. John Clifton, giving a sample of the utility of lamps, by placing one at his door, that the people were first impressed with the idea of lighting all the city. The honor of this public benefit has also been ascribed to me, but it belongs truly to that gentleman. I did but follow his example, and have only some merit to claim respecting the form of our lamps, as differing from the globe lamps we were at first supplied with from London. They were found inconvenient in these respects: they admitted no air below; the smoke therefore did not readily go out above, but circulated in the globe, lodged on its inside, and soon obstructed the light they were intended to afford; giving besides the daily trouble of wiping them clean: and an accidental stroke on one of them would demolish it, and render it totally useless. I therefore suggested the composing them of four flat panes, with a long funnel above to draw up the smoke, and crevices admitting air below to facilitate the ascent of the smoke; by this means they were kept clean, and did not grow dark in a few hours, as the London lamps do, but continued bright 'till morning; and an accidental stroke would generally break but a single pane easily repaired. I have sometimes wondered that the Londoners did not, from the effect holes in the bottom of the globe-lamps used at Vauxhall, have in keeping them clean, learn to have such holes in their street lamps. But these holes being made for another purpose, viz. to communicate flame more suddenly to the wick by a little flax hanging down through them, the other use of letting in air, seems not to have been thought of: and therefore, after the lamps have been lit a few hours, the streets of London are very poorly illuminated.
The mention of these improvements puts me in mind of one I proposed, when in London, to Dr. Fothergill, who was among the best men I have known, and a great promoter of useful projects. I had observed that the streets, when dry, were never swept, and the light dust carried away; but it was suffered to accumulate 'till wet weather reduced it to mud; and then, after lying some days so deep on the pavement that there was no crossing but in paths kept clean by poor people with brooms, it was with great labour raked together and thrown up into carts open above, the
* Sec Votes of the Pennsylvania Assembly.