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By way of preparation for the accomplishment of his object, he first laid before the Junto, and then before the public, a full and valuable paper on the general subject of fires, calling attention to the manner in which houses and other buildings are often exposed to them by injudicious arrangements in their structure, as well as by the personal heedlessness of their occupants ; and suggesting various modes of avoiding such hazards beforehand, as well as different means of extinguishing the flames when kindled.
The publication of this paper was shortly followed by the actual organization of a fire-company, and by other measures for security against fires. At Franklin's suggestions, also, the members of the company were to provide themselves with leathern buckets, for supplying water, and with sacks and baskets for saving goods, and to take them to every fire. They agreed also to meet, from time to time, to communicate facts and exchange views in relation to fires and the best way to encounter them.
The value of this association was soon felt to be so great, that others like it were successively formed, until a numerous and efficient force for the protection of the city was the result; and more than fifty years after, when Franklin was relating these transactions, he took occasion to observe, with a gratification he was well entitled to enjoy, that the Union Fire-Company, the first one formed, was still existing, though all its original members were dead, except himself and another person a year older than himself.
Such were some of the services rendered to the community by Franklin in his early manhood. It was the constant tendency of his mind to apply principles to practice -- his strongly-marked disposition and ability to be useful, guided by an enlightened and sincere public spirit, which won for him the esteem and confidence of society, and laid the foundation of that influence with his fellow-citizens, which, to their advantage and the creait of their good sense, not less than to his own honor, he ultimately enjoyed, to an extent not attained by any of his cotemporaries, and probably never surpassed.
REV. GEORGE WHITEFIELD.
WHITEFIELD-RELIGIOUS VIEWS - ACADEMIES AND SCIEN
TIFIC ASSOCIATIONS — MILITARY DEFENCE, AND THE
QUAKERS - WESTERN POSTS THE FRANKLIN STOVE.
In his own narrative of this period of his life, Franklin has given an interesting sketch of that celebrated popular preacher, the Rev. George Whitefield, who made his first appearance in this country in the year
1739. As Whitefield, including his various visits, was a good deal in Philadelphia, Franklin became intimately acquainted with him ; and though never one of his converts, he was deeply impressed by the earnest and exciting eloquence of the preacher, and held him in high esteem as a thoroughly sincere, honest, warm-hearted, benevolent man.
When Whitefield first presented himself in Philadelphia, the clergy of that city freely admitted him into their pulpits ; but for some reason not specifically stated, they pretty soon took offence, and closed their churches against him, so that he was compelled for a time to address the people in the fields. This, however, being found not only inconvenient and uncomfortable, but hazardous to health, a proposal was started among some of his more zealous and active admirers to build an inde. pendent meeting-house, to which not only Whitefield, but
any other preacher of whatever denomination, should have free access. The
proposal instantly took, and subscriptions were speedily obtained sufficient to purchase
ground and erect a plain, substantial edifice, a hundred feet in length by seventy in width. The work was soon done, and the whole property conveyed, in due legal form, to trustees, to be held for “the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion," who should wish to present to the public his views on any religious subject whatever; the purpose, in providing such a house, not being the accommodation of any particular sect, but the people generally.
After some time spent in Philadelphia, Whitefield, proceeded southward as far as Georgia, preaching at all the principal places on his way. Georgia had been organized as a colony only about six years ; and its first settlers, as described by Franklin, “ instead of being hardy, industrious husbandmen, accustomed to labór— the only sort of people fit for such an enterprise” – consisted chiefly of " families of broken shopkeepers and other insolvent debtors,” unqualified both by character and habits for clearing away forests and converting a wilderness into a fruitful country, or for encountering the privations and the various exigencies of a new settlement. The natural consequences of such a beginning speedily followed. These first colonists rapidly perished, leaving a large number of helpless children, whose destitute and wretched condition so deeply moved the quick sympathies of Whitefield, that he straightway resolved upon the project of erecting, in the new colony, an asylum for the
support and education of its numerous orphans; and again turning his face northward, he pressed the subject upon his hearers as he advanced, and everywhere so successfully, that, before reaching Philadelphia, he had gathered a large amount of contributions in behalf of the undertaking.
On reaching Philadelphia, Whitefield broached his plans and proceedings to Franklin. The latter, though
EFFECT OF PREACHING.
concurring in the object proposed, showed his better judgment and more practical good sense, by advising that, inasmuch as neither mechanics nor materials for the work could be furnished in Georgia, instead of incurring the heavy and needless cost of sending everything to the new settlement, it would be wiser, in every respect, not only for the early completion of a suitable edifice, but for the proper management of the institution afterward, to erect the asylum in Philadelphia, and bring the children thither. But Whitefield rejected this judicious advice, and persisted in his preconceived course with such stubbornness, that Franklin, offended at his obstinacy, determined he would give nothing in aid of the undertaking. To this determination, however, he did not long adhere; and he has himself related the manner in which it was overcome, as an illustration of the power of Whitefield's preaching. The anecdote is too interesting to be omitted, and is best told in his own words.
“I happened soon after," says Franklin, “to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the copper. Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably, that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all.”
Another hearer who agreed with Franklin in relation to the asylum, no less a man than Thomas Hopkinson, the father of Francis, was swayed in like manner by the same sermon. To secure himself against the influence of the preacher, he had purposely omitted to bring any money with him; but as the discourse drew to an