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ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN,
The conception and plan of the Royal Institution of Great Britain are to be regarded as exclusively Count Rumford's. Although he was one of the most zealous and laborious Fellows of the Royal Society, he saw that without trespassing at all upon the range, wide as it was, that was recognized by his associates, there was room for an Institution whose aims should be more practical and popular, coming into direct contact with the agricultural, the mechanical, and the domestic life of the people. To Rumford, then, belongs the signal honor of creating an Institution which has a most creditable history, and which has been the medium for bringing forward, through the opportunities there afforded them, many men who have won the highest distinctions in practical science.
In the Library of the Massachusetts Historical Society is a pamphlet of fifty pages entitled: Proposals for forming by Subscription, in the Metropolis of the British Empire, a Public Institution for diffusing the Knowledge and facilitating the general Introduction of useful Mechanical Inventions and Improvements, and for teaching, by courses of Philosophical Lectures and Experiments, the Application of Science to the Common Purposes of Life.' This copy, bearing the autograph of Count Rumford, was presented by him. To his Excellency John Adams,' as from one of the Managers of the Institution,' and was printed in London in 1799. The Introduction, signed by Rumford, is dated from Brompton Row, 4th March, in that year, and makes nearly half of the pamphlet, giving a very admirable account of the origin of the Institution. Dr. Franklin himself never wrote an essay indicating a more practical sagacity, or expressed in a more direct and forcible style of lucid composition, than characterize this piece of Rumford's. His aim, he says, is to bring about a cordial embrace between science and art, by enlightening and removing prejudice against changes, inventions, and improvements, and by establishing relations of helpful intercourse between philosophers and practical workmen. He would engage their united efforts for the improvement of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, and for the increase of domestic comfort. He says: "The preëminence of any people is, and ought ever to be, estimated by the state of taste, industry, and mechanical improvement among them.'
The writer adds a brief account of the history of these · Proposals,' and of the causes which gave rise to them. He avows that he had long been in the habit of regarding all useful improvements as dependent upon mechanical agencies and the perfection of machinery, with skill in the management of it, and of considering that the profit to be thus gained was the chief incitement to industry. The plan which he now offers to the public is the result of his own meditations as to the means that might most wisely be employed to facilitate the general introduction of such improvements.
In the beginning of the year 1796 I gave a faint sketch of this plan in my second Essay; but being under the necessity of returning soon to Germany, I had not the leisure to pursue it farther at that time; and I was obliged to content myself with having merely thrown out a loose idea, as it were by accident, which I thought might possibly attract attention. After my return to Munich, I opened myself more fully on the subject in my correspondence with my friends in this country (England), and particularly in my letters to Thomas Bernard, Esq., who is one of the founders and most active members of the Society for bettering the Condition and increasing the Comforts of the Poor.
The Count subjoins, in a note, three letters of his to Mr. Bernard, dated at Munich, 28th April, 1797, 13th May, 1798, and 8th June, 1798. The first of these letters returns the writer's grateful acknowledgments for the honor done him by his election as a member of the Society for bettering the condition of the poor. It closes with a characteristic suggestion that visible examples, 'by models,' will advance its objects better than will any thing that can be said or written. The third letter emphasizes a well-pointed hint, that indolent, selfish, and luxurious persons must either be allured or shamed into action,' and that it is very desirable to make benevolence fashionable. The writer also expresses his interest in his correspondent's plan with regard to Bridewell. A well-arranged House of Industry is much wanted in London.' He closes by asking Mr. Bernard 'to read once more the Proposals published in my second Essay. I really think that a public establishment like that there described, might easily be formed in London, and that it would produce infinite good. I will come to London to assist you in its execution whenever you will in good earnest undertake it.'
Returning to England in September, 1798, the Count says he found Mr. Bernard very solicitous for an attempt for the immediate execution of the plan. After several consultations that were held in Mr. Bernard's apartments in the Foundling Hospital, and at the house of the Lord Bishop of Durham, at which several gentlemen assisted who are well known as zealous promoters of useful improvements, it was agreed that Mr. Bernard should report to the Committee of the Society for bettering the Condition of the Poor the general result of these consultations, and the unanimous desire of the gentlemen who assisted at them that means might be devised for making an attempt to carry the scheme proposed into execution.'
On the 31st of January, 1799, the Count presented to the Committee of the above named Society an elaborate and complete working plan for an Industrial Institution, which they unanimously approved. The plan was presented, and circulated widely among prominent men in London, soliciting suggestions and coöperation.
Fifty-eight most respectable names had been sent in before arrangements could be made for a meeting of the subscribers; and this hearty response induced some change in the plan in respect to the first choice of managers, and in regard to an application for a charter before any further organization.
Count Rumford, at this stage of the business, and before a meeting of the subscribers had been held, addressed to them a pamphlet containing all the matters that have been thus summarized. It was dated from Brompton Row, 4th March, 1799, and was intended to prepare them for the meeting soon to follow. He expressed his readiness to take any part that might be desired.
The Proposals,' &c., evidently from the pen of the Count, are then set forth in the pamphlet, and contain a complete plan for the organization, administration, and support of the Institution, with minute specifications of its objects, when carried into details.
Those objects, first stated comprehensively, are the speedy and general diffusion of the knowledge of all new and useful improvements, in whatever quarter of the world they may originate; and teaching the application of scientific discoveries to the improvement of arts and manufactures in this country, and to the increase of domestic comfort and convenience. Efforts were to be made to confine the Institution to its proper limits, to give it a solid foundation, and to make it an ornament to the capital and an honor to the nation. Spacious and airy rooms were to be provided for receiving and exhibiting such new mechanical inventions and improvements, especially such contrivances for increasing conveniences and comforts, for promoting domestic economy, improving public taste, and advancing useful industry, as should be thought worthy of notice.
Perfect and full-sized models of all such mechanical inventions and improvements as would serve these ends were to be provided and placed in a repository. The following are the specifications: Cottage fireplaces and kitchen utensils for cottagers; a farm-house kitchen, with its furnishings; a complete kitchen, with utensils, for the house of a gentleman of fortune ; a laundry, including boilers, washing, ironing, and drying rooms, for a gentleman's house, or for a public hospital; the most approved German, Swedish, and Russian stoves for heating rooms and passages. In order that visitors might receive the utmost practical benefit from seeing these models, the peculiar merit in each of them should, as far as was possible, be exbibited in action. Open chimney fireplaces, with ornamental and economical grates, and ornamental stoves, made to represent elegant chimney-pieces, for balls and for drawing and eating rooms, were to be exbibited, with fires in them. It was proposed, likewise, to exbibit working models, on a reduced scale, of that most curious and most useful machine, the steam-engine;' also, of brewers' boilers, with improved fireplaces; of distillers' coppers, with improved condensers; of large boilers for the kitchens of hospitals; and of ships' coppers, with improved fireplaces. Models also were to illustrate and to suggest improvements in ventilating apparatus ; in hot-houses, lime-kilns, and steam-boilers for preparing food for stall-fed cattle; in the planning of cottages, spinning-wheels, and Jooms adapted to the circumstances of the poor;' models of newly invented machines and implements of husbandry; models of bridges of various constructions; and, comprehensively, models of all such other machines and nseful instruments as the managers of the Institution shall deem worthy of the pablic notice.'
The second great object of the Institution, namely, 'teaching the applications of science to the useful purposes of life,' was to be secured by fitting up a lecture-room for philosophical lectures and experiments with a complete laboratory and philosophical apparatus, and all necessary instruments for chemical and other experiments. This lecture-room is to be used for no other purposes but those of natural philosophy and philosophical chemistry, and it is to be made comfortable and salubrious for subscribers. The most eminent and distinguished expounders of science are to be exclusively engaged, and the managers are to be strictly responsible for their rigid restriction of their discourses to the subjects committed to them. If there is room, non-subscribers may be admitted for a small fee.
After the first printing and distribution of these · Proposals,' and before the Institution had received its charter-title, a general meeting of the proprietors was held at the house of Sir Joseph Banks, in Soho Square, March 7, 1799, the host occupying the chair. It was then found that fifty-eight persons had made themselves proprietors by the contribution of fifty guineas each. The list contains many distinguished names of scientific men, gentlemen, members of Parliament and of the nobility, including one bishop.
It was then decided at once to choose the committee of managers, who should be instructed to apply to bis Majesty for a charter for the Institution, to lay an outline of its plan before the Right Honorable Mr. Pitt and his Grace the Duke of Portland, to send it forth to the public, and to publish the proceedings in the newspapers. We turn now to another contemporary publication which presents to us the organized completion of the establishment in the conception and initiation of which Count Rumford had exercised sach ingenuity and practical wisdom, and in whose service he had been 80 zealously engaged. It is a publication in quarto form, of ninetytwo pages, bearing the following title: The Prospectus, Charter, Ordinances, and By-Laws of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Together with Lists of the Proprietors and Subscribers; and an Appendix. London. Printed for the Royal Institution. 1800.' It bears a vignette of the corporate seal of the Institution, which is a flourishing and fruit-bearing tree sprouting out of a mural crown, the circle being surmounted by the Royal crown of Britain. The King appears as Patron, the officers of the Institution were appointed by him at its formation, the Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham being President; the Earls of Morton and Egremont, and Sir Joseph Banks, Vice-Presidents; the Earls of Bessborough, Egremont, and of Morton, being respectively the first-named on each of the three classes of Managers,-on the first of which, to serve for three years, is Count Rumford. The Duke of Bridgewater, Viscount Palmerston, and Earl Spencer, lead each of the three classes of Visitors. The whole list proves with what a power of patronage, as well as with what popularity and enthusiasm, the enterprise was initiated. Dr. Thomas Garnett, Prof. of Natural Phil. osophy and Chemistry, T. Bernard, Esq., Treas. Home and Foreign Secretary, Legal Council, a Solicitor, and a Clerk, complete the list.
The charter of the Institntion passed the royal seals on the 13th of January, 1800. The twenty-fifth day of the coming March was appointed for organization under it. Count Rumford is named among the grantees, and its provisions conform substantially to its own well-wrought plan already described. The ordinances, by-laws, and regulations of the Institution, which are likewise for the most part adjusted to that plan, and provide for carrying it into details of efficiency and practical benefit, indicate the agency of the masterspirit of the whole enterprise. Precautions are taken to guard against the influences of jealousy and favoritism in its membership and administration, and to hold it strictly and generously to its prime purposes of benefiting the public by research, the diffusion of scientific knowledge, and the service of the more homely and economical interests of humanity. The managers are to furnish the laboratory, the workshop, and the repository of the establishment in the most complete manner, and to provide an able chemist as a teaching and demonstrating professor, and also to engage other