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Creed: and this written during his last illness and only a short time previous to his death. Other papers expressive of his religious sentiments, will be found in the projected volume of a selection of his Philosophical, Political, and Miscellaneous Writings.
The following epitaph was written by Dr. Franklin for himself, when he was only twenty three years of age, as appears by the original (with various corrections) found among his papers, and from which this is a faithful copy.
[Epitaph written 1728.]
(Like the cover of an old book,
Its contents torn out,
And stript of its lettering and gilding)
Lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be lost,
For it will (as he believed) appear once more,
In a new, and more elegant edition,
Revised and corrected
Among Dr. Franklin's papers were also found the following lines, written likewise by himself, six years previous to his decease; and entitled
B. F.'s Adieu!
If Life's compared to a Feast,
Near fourscore years I've been a guest:
I've been regaled with the best,
And feel quite satisfied.
Landlord, I thank ye! Friends, good night.
The following are extracts from the will and codicil of Dr. Franklin
"With regard to my books, those I had in France and those I left in Philadelphia, being now assembled together here, and a catalogue made of them, it is my intention to dispose of the same as follows. My History of the Academy of Sciences in sixty or seventy volumes quarto, I give to the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, of which I have the honor to be president. My collection in folio of Les Arts et les Metiers, I give to the American Philosophical Society established in New England, of which I am a member. My quarto edition of the same Arts et Metiers, I give to the Library Company of Philadelphia. —Such and so many of my books as I shall mark on the said catalogue with the name of my grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache, I do hereby give to him, and such and so many of my books as I shall mark in the said catalogue with the name of my grandson William Bache, I do hereby give to him, and such as shall be marked with the name of Jonathan Williams, I hereby give to my cousin of that name.—The residue and remainder of all my books, manuscripts, and papers, I do give to my grandson William Temple Franklin. My share in the Library Company of Philadelphia, I give to my grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache, confiding that he will permit his brothers and sisters to share in the use of it.
I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar schools established there: I therefore give one hundred pounds sterling to my executors, to be by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to the managers or directors of the free schools in my native town of Boston, to be by them, or those person or persons who shall have the superintendance and management of the said schools, put out to interest, and so continued at interest for ever, which interest annually shall be laid out in silver medals, and given as honorary rewards annually by the directors of the said free-schools for the encouragement of scholarship in the said schools, belonging to the said town, in such manner as to the discretion of the select men of the said town shall seem meet.—Out of the salary that may remain due to me as president of the state, I do give the sum of two thousand pounds to my executors, to be by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to such person or persons as the legislature of this state by an act of assembly shall appoint to receive the same in trust, to be employed for making the river Schuylkill navigable.
"During the number of years I was in business as a stationer, printer, and postmaster, a great many small sums became due to me for books, advertisements, postage of letters and other matters, which were not collected, when in 1757 I was sent by the assembly to England as their agent, and by subsequent appointments continued there till 1775, when on my return I was immediately engaged in the affairs of congress, and sent to France in 1776, where I remained nine years, not returning till 1785, and the said debts not being demanded in such a length of time are become in a manner obsolete, yet are nevertheless justly due. These, as they are stated in my great folio ledger E, I bequeath to the contributors of the Pennsylvania hospital, hoping that those debtors, and the descendants of such as are deceased, who now as I find make some difficulty of satisfying such antiquated demands, as just debts, may however be induced to pay or give them as charity to that excellent institution. I am sensible that much must inevitably be lost, but I hope something considerable may be received. It is possible, too, that some of the parties charged may have existing old unsettled accounts against me, in which case the managers of the said hospital will allow and deduct the amount or pay the balances if they find it against me. , >
a I request my friends Henry Hill, esquire, John Jay, esquire, Francis Hopkinson, esquire, and Mr. Edward Duffield of Benfield, in Philadelphia county, to be the executors of this my last will and testament, and I hereby nominate and appoint them for that purpose.
I would have my body buried with as little expense or ceremony as may be."
Philadelphia, July 17, 1778.
"I Benjamin Franklin, in the foregoing or annexed last will and testament named, having further considered the same, do think proper to make and publish the following codicil or addition thereto.
It having long been a fixed political opinion of mine, that in a democratical state, there ought to be no offices of profit, for the reasons I had given in an article of my drawing in our constitution ; it was my intention when I accepted the office of president to devote the appointed salary to some public uses; accordingly, I had already, before I made my will in July last, given large sums of it to colleges, schools, building of churches, 8tc. and in that will I bequeathed two thousand pounds more to the state, for the purpose of making Schuylkill navigable: but understanding since, that such a sum will do but little towards accomplishing such a work, and that the project is not likely to be undertaken for many years to come, and having entertained another idea that I hope may be more extensively useful, I do hereby revoke and annul that bequest, and direct that the certificates I have for what remains due to me of that salary, be sold towards raising the sum of two thousand pounds sterling, to be disposed of as I am now . about to order.
It has been an opinion, that he who receives an estate from his ancestors, is under some kind of obligation to transmit the same to his posterity; this obligation does not lie on me who never inherited a shilling from any ancestor or relation. I shall, however, if it is not diminished by some accident before my death, leave a considerable estate among my descendants and relations. The above observation is made merely as some apology to my family, for my making bequests that do not appear to have any immediate relation to their advantage.
I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar schools established there: I have therefore already considered those schools in my will. But I am also under obligations to the state of Massachusetts, for having, unasked, appointed me formerly their agent in England, with a handsome salary, which continued some years, and although I accidentally lost in their service, by transmitting Governor Hutchinson's letters, much more than the amount of what they gave me, I do not think that ought in the least to diminish my gratitude.—I have considered that among artisans good apprentices are most likely to make good citizens, and having myself been bred to a manual art, printing, in my native town, and afterwards assisted to set up my business in Philadelphia by kind loans of money from two friends there, which was the foundation of my fortune, and of all the utility in life that may be ascribed to me, I wish to be useful, even after my death, if possible, in forming and advancing other young men that may be serviceable to their country in both those towns.— To this end I devote two thousand pounds sterling, which I give, one thousand thereof to the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in Massachusetts, and the other thousand to the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia, in trust to and for the uses, intents, and purposes hereinafter mentioned and declared.—The said sum of one thousand pounds sterling, if accepted by the inhabitants of the town of Boston, shall be managed under the direction of the select men, united with the ministers of the oldest episcopalian, congregational, and presbyterian churches in that town, who are to let out the same upon interest at five per cent, per annum, to such young married artificers, under the age of twenty-five years, as have served an apprenticeship in the said town, and faithfully fulfilled the duties required in their indentures, so as to obtain a good moral character from at least two respectable citizens, who are willing to become their sureties in a bond with the applicants for the repayment of the monies so lent with interest, according to the terms hereinafter prescribed, all which bonds are to be taken for Spanish milled dollars or the value thereof in current gold coin, and the managers shall keep a bound book or books wherein shall be entered the names of those who shall apply for and receive the benefit of this institution, and of their sureties, together with the sums lent, the dates, and other necessary and proper records respecting the business and concerns of this institution. And as these loans are intended to assist young married artificers in setting up their business, they are to be proportioned by the discretion of the managers, so as not to exceed sixty pounds sterling to one person, nor to be less than fifteen pounds. And if the number of appliers so entitled, should be so large as that the sum will not suffice to afford to each as much as might otherwise not be improper, the proportion to each shall be diminished, so as to afford to every one some assistance. These aids may therefore be small at first; but as the capital increases by the accumulated interest, they will be more ample. And in order to serve as many as possible in their turn, as well as to make the repayment of the principal borrowed more easy, each borrower shall be obliged to pay, with the yearly interest, one tenth part of the principal; which sums of principal and interest so paid in, shall be again let out to fresh borrowers.—And as it is presumed that there will always be found in Boston virtuous and benevolent citizens willing to bestow a part of their time in doing good to the rising generation by superintending and managing this institution gratis, it is hoped that no part of the money will at any time be dead, or be diverted to other purposes, but be continually augmenting by the interest, in which case there may in time be more than the occasion in Boston shall require, and then some may be spared to the neighboring or other towns in the said state of Massachusetts who may desire to have it, such towns engaging to pay punctually the interest and the. proportions of the principal annually to the inhabitants of the town of Boston. If this plan is executed, and succeeds as is projected, without interruption for one hundred years, the sum will then be one hundred and thirty-one thou* sand pounds, of which I would have the managers of the donations to the town of Boston, then lay out at their discretion one hundred thousand pounds in public works, which may be judged of most general utility to the inhabitants; such as fortifications, bridges, aqueducts, public buildings, baths, pavements, or whatever may make living in the town more convenient to its people, and render it more agreeable to strangers, resorting thither for health or a temporary residence.—The remaining thirty-one thousand pounds I would have continued to be let out on interest in the manner above directed for another hundred years, as I hope it will have been found that the institution has had a good effect on the conduct of youth, and been of service to many worthy characters and useful citizens. At the end of this second term, if no unfortunate accident has prevented the operation, the sum will be four million and sixty-one thousand pounds sterling, of which I leave one million sixty-one thousand pounds to the disposition of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, and three millions to the disposition of the government of the state, not presuming to carry my views farther.
All the directions herein given respecting the disposition and management of the donation to the inhabitants of Boston, I would have observed respecting that to the inhabitants of Philadelphia, only as Philadelphia is incorporated, I request the corporation of that city to undertake the management agreeably to the said directions, and I do hereby vest them with full and ample powers for that purpose: and having considered that the covering its ground-plat with buildings and pavements, which carry off most of the rain, and prevent its soaking into the earth and renewing and purifying the springs, whence the water of the wells must gradually grow worse, and in time be unfit for use, as I find has happened in all old cities, I recommend that at the end of the first hundred years, if not done before, the corporation of the city employ a part of the hundred thousand pounds in bringing by pipes the water of Wissahickon Creek into the town, so as to supply the inhabitants, which I apprehend may be done without great difficulty, the level of that creek being much above that of the city, and may be made higher by a dam; I also recommend making the Schuylkill completely navigable. At the end of the second hundred years, I would have the disposition of the four million and sixty-one thousand pounds divided between the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia and the government of Pennsylvania, in the same manner as herein directed with respect to that of the inhabitants of Boston and the government of Massachusetts.—It is my desire that this institution should take place and begin to operate within one year after my decease, for which purpose due notice should be publicly given previous to the expiration of that year, that those for whose benefit this establishment is intended, may make their respective applications; and I hereby direct my executors, the sur