Page images


On the 12th of July, 1796, Count Rumford, then in London, addressed a communication to the Hon. John Adams, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of which the following paragraph is the substance:

SIR, -Desirous of contributing efficaciously to the advancement of a branch of science which has long employed my attention, and wbich appears to me to be of the highest importance to mankind, and wishing at the same time to leave a lasting testimony of my respect for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, I take the liberty to request that the Academy would do me the honor to accept Five Thousand Dollars, three per cent. stock in the funds of the United States of North America, which stock I have actually purchased, and which I beg leave to transfer to the Fellows of the Academy, to the end that the interest of the same may be by them, and by their successors, received from time to time, forever, and the amount of the same applied and given once every second year, as a premium, to the author of the most important discovery or useful improvement, which shall be made and published by printing, or in any way made known to the public, in any part of the Continent of America, or in any of the American Islands, during the preceding two years, on Heat, or on Light; the preference always being given to such discoveries as shall, in the opinion of the Academy, tend most to promote the good of mankind.

Count Rumford, who had been made a member of the Royal Society of London, on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks, in 1779, had been elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy in May, 1789. By this donation* he testified, in a highly liberal manner, his interest in the cause of scientific discovery and improvement in the useful arts in the country of his birth, and to men who constitute its membership. Down to 1839, not a single award of the Rumford Medal had been made. Dr. Ellis remarks: “The Academy took immediate measures to circulate through the public prints the knowledge that it had an honorable award at its disposal for all who were entitled to receive it.' The correspondence and applications on its files, and the numerous reports of its investigating committees, prove that there has been no lack of notoriety as to the facts and objects of its trusteeship, nor of a disposition to do full justice to all who sought a hearing from it. But no award was made prior to 1836.

In 1829, a Committee of the Academy submitted a report on the condition of the fund, and a plan for the better realization of the intentions of the founder. By constant accumulation the fund has now increased to the sum of nearly $20,000. The history of science in other countries unites with our own experience to convince us that Count Rumford's plan, contemplating the assignment of a biennial premium for important discoveries or useful improve.

In the same year Count Rumford donated to the Royal Society, London, the sum of £1,000 (now £2,430), the interest of wbich to be applied to the same objects and on the same conditions as bis donation to the American Academy. Among the recipients of the Roynl Society's Rumford Medal are mentioned Rumford, Leslie. Day, Brewster, Fresnel, Forbes, Biot, Melloni, Faraday, Mayo, Arnott, Jamin, Kindoff, and Tyndall.

ment on light and heat first made public within two years preceding, and interrupted only by "occasional non-adjudications," is absolutely impracticable.' To relieve the Trustees of embarrassment, the Supreme Judicial Court was authorized by the Legislature to make award of a gold and silver medal to the author of any

important discovery or useful improvement on heat or on light, calculated to promote the good of mankind.

And it is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed, that the plaintiffs may appropriate from time to time, as the same can advantageously be done, the residue of the income of said fund hereafter to be received, and not so as aforesaid awarded in premiums, to the purchase of such books and papers and philosophical apparatus (to be the property of said Academy), and in making such publications or procuring such lectures, experiments, or investigations, as shall in their opinion best facilitate and encourage the making of discoveries .and improvements which may merit the premiums 80 as aforesaid to be by them awarded. And that the books, papers, and apparatus so purchased shall be used, and such lectures, experiments, and investigations be delivered and made, either in the said Academy or elsewhere, as the plaintiffs shall think best adapted to promote such discoveries and improvements as aforesaid, and either by the Rumford Professor of Harvard University or by any other person or persons, as to the plaintiffs shall from time to time seem best.

In the year 1839, the Academy gave, from the interest of the Rumford Fund, the sum of six hundred dollars to Dr. Hare, of Philadelphia, in consideration of his invention of the compound blowpipe and his improvements in galvanic apparatus.

The Rumford Medal was awarded by the Academy, in 1862, to John B. Ericsson for his caloric engine. In 1865, the Medal was awarded to Daniel Treadwell, former Rumford Professor in Harvard College, for improvements in the management of heat. On Febraary 26, 1867, the Medal was presented to Alvan Clark for improvement in the lens of the refracting telescope.

On January 11, 1870, the Medal was presented to George H. Corliss of Providence, R. I., for improvements in the steam-engine. The Rumford Fund, in 1870, exceeded $37,000.

LAST WILL BENEFACTION TO HARVARD COLLEGE. Count Rumford executed his last will and testament while he was on a visit at the château of his friend, Daniel Parker, Esq., at Draveil, September 28, 1812. The testator describes himself as * Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, Knight of the illustrious orders of the White Eagle and of St. Stanislaus, Lieutenant-General in the service of his Majesty the King of Bavaria, residing now at Auteuil, Department of Paris.' He appoints Baron Delessert and Mr. Parker his executors. Lafayette is one of the three witnesses.

To Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he bequeathed an annuity of one thousand dollars, with the reversion of the annuity of four hundred to his daughter, and also the reversion of his whole estate, certain specified annuities being reserved :

[ocr errors]

'For the purpose of founding, under the direction and government of the Corporation, Overseers, and Governors of that University, a new institution and professorship, in order to teach by regular courses of academical and public lectures, accompanied with proper experiments, the utility of the physical and mathematical sciences for the improvement of the useful arts, and for the ex. tension of the industry, prosperity, happiness, and well-being of Society.

'I give and bequeath to the Government of the United States of North America, all my Books, Plans, and Designs relating to Military affairs, to be deposited in the Library, or in the Museum of the Military Academy of the United States, as soon as an Academy of this nature shall have been established.

The Rumford Professorship of Physical and Mathematical Sciences was established in the College by the Corporation in October, 1816, and statutes provided for it were approved by the Overseers. Jacob Bigelow, M. D., a highly distinguished physician of Boston, and a gentleman of large culture in art and science, was elected and confirmed as the first Rumford Professor, and was inaugurated on the 11th of the following December. On this occasion Dr. Bigelow dolivered a most appropriate, and instructive address.

"To the country of his birth Count Rumford has bequeathed his fortune and his fame. The lessons of patriotism which we (officers and students of the Col. lege) should learn from his memorable life are important and convincing. It should teach us to respect ourselves, to value our resources, to cultivate our talents. Let those who would depreciate our native genius recollect that he was an American. Let those who would make us the dependents and tributaries of the Old world recollect that he has instructed mankind. Let those who would despond as to our future destinies remember that his eye, which had wandered over the continent and capitals of Europe, settled at last upon the rising prospects of the Western world. For one who is destined to labor in the path that he has marked out, and to follow with his eyes though not with his steps, the brilliancy of such a career, it may suffice to acknowledge that he is not indifferent to the honor that has befallen him; that he is sensible of the magnitude of the example before him; that he believes that the true end of philosophy is to be useful to mankind; and that he will cheerfully and anxiously enter upon the duties that await him; happy if by his efforts he can hope to add a nameless stone to the monument of philanthropy and science that commemorates the name of him of whom it may in truth be said that he lived for the world, and that he died for his country.

The lectures delivered by Prof. Bigelow were published in Boston, in 1829, in a volume entitled the Elements of Technology. He was succeeded in the Professorship by Daniel Treadwell (1834-45;) by Eben Norton Horsford (1847-63), and Wolcott Gibbs (1863).

The Rumford Professorship Fund was credited by the Treasurer of Harvard College in 1870 at $52,848.

Count Rumford died at his own residence at Auteuil on the 21st of August, 1814 at the age of sixty-one. M. Benjamin Delessert pronounced an address over his grave on the 24th, and Baron Cuvier delivered an éloge upon the deceased before his associates of the French Institute in January, 1815, in which he does justice to his genius in science and his eminently successful labors.

As an author, the American Academy of Sciences have erected the most ap. propriate monument in issuing a complete and splendid edition of Rumford's Essays and other publications with his Life, by Rev. George Ellis, D. D., which leaves nothing to desire for a full understanding of the career and character of Benjamin Thompson, Baronet, and Count of Rumford.

The grave of Rumford in the cemetery of Auteuil is marked by a horizontal stone, on which stands a perpendicular monument six feet high, six in width, and three and a half in thickness; both are of marble, on which are inscriptions—giving his official titles in Bavaria, France, and England. His most appropriate and significant monuments are in Munich-in the Maximillian Strasse, and at the entrance of the English Garden, itself the fitting memorial of bis public spirit. In the Life by Mr. Ellis is a letter from the United States Consul (G. Henry Horstmann) describing the Statues and the Garden or Park:

"The bronze statue of Count Rumford stands in the Maximillian Strasse, the finest street of Munich, perhaps of any city of Europe. It is at this part four hundred feet wide, planted with quadruple rows of trees, the crimson-blossomed wild chestnut, and the American sycamore, with wide parterres of flowers and grass-plots on either side the pavement, and shady walks between, furnished with garden sofas for pedestrians. The monument stands in front of the new government offices, an imposing building in Italian Gothic, with some seven hundred feet front. To the right of this statue stands one to General Deroy. On the opposite side of the street, and in front of the National Museum,-a large edifice of the same dimensions as the before mentioned building, -stand in symmetrical positions, Frauenhofer, the astronomer and inventor, and Schel. ling, the philosopher, the tutor of King Maximillian, erected, as the inscription says, by his 'grateful scholar.' These four memorials are all of uniform size, the figures being ten feet, English, standing on granite pedestals of eleven feet in height. The statue of Count Rumford was modeled by Professor Caspar Zumbusch, of Munich, was cast at the Royal Bronze Foundry here, by Ferdinand von Müller, and was erected in 1867. The inscription on the front of the pedestal is :


von Rumford.

and on the reverse :

Errichtet von

von Bayen.
'On a scroll in the hand of Rumford is inscribed, —

Englische Garten

Architecte.' Scarcely a city in the world can boast a finer park than that which owes its existence to the creative mind of Count Rumford; and every citizen of Munich feels grateful to the man through whose labor a dreary waste of pebbly strand and marshy ground has been converted into a garden, bearing on its broad breast the stateliest forest trees, groves of shady elms and beeches, with wide stretches of undulating lawns between, and enlivened with streams of water, now meandering under wide-spreading branches of overarching bushes, and at the foot of towering hemlocks, now stretching out into a wide lake with green islands in its center, and now dashing over rocks in roaring cascades, and all supplied by arms of the rushing Isar, which have been led here to beautify the spot.

'The English Garden, as it is called, is a park of six hundred acres. Its length is three and a half English miles, its breadth about one and a half miles. It was planned and carried out in 1789, by Count Rumford, at that time one of the Ministers of the Elector Carl Theodore. It was subsequently enlarged and improved by Maximillian Joseph, the first King of Bavaria, and was further embellished with monuments by his son, Ludwig the First. Scarcely more than a hundred paces from the Ludwig Strasse, one of the handsomest avenues of the city, it commences, so that a few steps bring one from the bustle and noise of a crowded street into the midst of quiet rural scenery. At the entrance from this point stands a marble statue of Youth, by Schwanthaler the elder, its inscription intimating that communion with nature freshly strengthens one for every duty. Farther on, following the carriage road to the right, is the monument to the memory of Rumford. It is of sandstone, with allegorical figures of Plenty and Peace upon its face, and on the opposite side a medallion portrait of Rumford.'


STEPHEN GIRARD.* STEPHEN GIRARD, the founder of the College for Orphans in Philadelphia which bears his name, was born near Bordeaux, France, May 24, 1750—the eldest of the five children of Captain Pierre Girard, a mariner of reputable social position, who gave his boys, except Stephen, a college education. This son was taught only the ordinary rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and before he was fourteen, he entered the world in the capacity of a cabinboy-sailing between Bordeaux and the French West Indies—attaining with his majority the rank of first mate, or licutenant of his vessel. IIe had improved his opportunity, and through the influence of his father, although he was below the legal age (25) for command, and had not served his two years in the royal navy, he took command of a inerchant ship at the age of twenty-three, and with a cargo of his own, in the purchase of which he was aided by his father, he sailed again for the West Indies. Disposing of his cargo, he took in the products of the island and sailed for New York, where he arrived in July, 1774-and benceforth his lot was cast in America as Mariner and Merchant.' For two years he plied between New York and New Orleans, as mate or commander of a sloop. In May, 1776, he lost his reckoning in a fog between the Capes of Delawarc Bay, in which plight he learned from an American captain, that British cruisers were abroad, and that his only safety was to push up the Bay and run for Philadelphia. Borrowing five dollars which he had not in pocket, he purchased the services of a pilot, and early in May he found refuge alongside the wharf near the foot of Walnut street—and in that locality, having taken the oath of allegiance in 1777, he found his residence and activity for nearly sixty years. Commencing with small resources, and doing any business which he could make

from damaged cordage and bottling wine, to small commercial ventures, and purchasing real estate in small lots, he labored on with his hands and his wits through the risks and vicissitudes of the Revolutionary War till 1790, when his property was valued at $30,000.


* Memoir in North American Review, fur January, 1865.

« PreviousContinue »