Page images

“ Alabaster, and under this bust on a block of polished mar« ble an inscription, of which the following is a translation.

“To him,
* Who rooted out the greatest of public evils,

“ Idleness and mendicity;
“ Relieved and instructed the poor,

“ And founded many institutions
“ For the education of our youth.

“Go, wanderer,
“ And strive to equal him
“In genius and activity,

“And us

“ In gratitude." This instance of public esteem, as it has not a parallel in history, would be a rich reward to a man, who sought for splendid honors only ; but, to the real philanthropist and a great man, is far inferior to one visit to the house of industry,

Sir Benjamin established military gardens in all the garrisons throughout the Elector's circle. In these the officers and soldiers in garrison amused themselves in horticulture, and whatever emoluments they could receive from cultivating a small tract of land were their own, as a reward for their industry.

The services, which the sovereign had received from the unwearied application of Sir Benjamin, were partially compensated by the honors, occasionally bestowed upon him. At this time the Elector gave him a regiment of artillery, and conferred on him the rank of Lieutenant General of his armies.

In the year 1791 he was created a Count of the holy Roman Empire, and honored with the order of the white eagle. After he received the title of Count, he chose to bear the name of Rumford, which Concord in New Hampshire, the place, where he married, and where his estate was situated, formerly bore. · Count Rumford made proposals to the Elector for improving the breed of horses in Bavaria and the Palatinate. The proposal was accepted with approbation. The object of this improvement was to furnish a sufficient number of the most valuable horses for the army, for the cavalry, artillery, and baggage. But the jealousy of the peasantry, aided by the malicious insinuations of persons, who opposed every plan of improvement, in which Rumford was engaged, prevented this scheme from being carried into the full success, which had been contemplated.

His attempts to improve the breed of horned cattle were much more successful, though more confined. In the English garden, which is above six English miles in circumference, he made a farm, and stocked it with thirty of the finest cows, collected from Switzerland, Flanders, Tyrol, and other places upon the continent, famous for the breed of cattle. From this farm all the calves, which are produced, are distributed through the country to persons, who will buy them," with a promise to rear them," at the same low price, at which the ordinary calves are purchased. This establishment has produced a surprising change through the country. Every arrangement is made, that can render a visit to the farm and stables amusing and interesting, and it has become a fashionable resort for amusement.

Another alteration in the police was to lessen the evils, atattendant on usury. Many supernumerary clerks, secretaries, counsellers, &c. had been appointed under government for many years, who, serving without pay, or with only small allowance, were obliged to anticipate their salaries to support their expenses ; and to pay their debts were obliged to apply to Jews and other usurers, who would lend at an exorbitant interest, requiring the mortgage of their debtor's salaries for many months in advance for security. This distress, notwithstanding the severe laws against usury, had become very alarming. To provide a' remedy the military chest was rea sorted to, in which money to a considerable amount was deposited, and remained unproductive. From this chest any person, in the actual receipt of a salary or pension, in any

Vol. II. No. 2.


civil or military department, received his pay in advance, discounting interest at the rate of five per cent. per annum, or one twelfth part of the interest, commonly extorted by the Jews and other usurers upon these occasions. This has produced a salutary change, and furnished a complete remedy for the evil.

The labor and study, to which his numerous occupations subjected him, now produced a sensible effect on his health. But loss of health was not the only misfortune, he was obliged to encounter. Although he had zealously devoted his time and services in the most disinterested manner to promote the public good, there were not wanting enemies, who envied him his success and his honest fame. Attempts were made to render his schemes abortive, and frustrate the sanguine expectations of his industry. The anxiety and embarrassment, which this opposition produced, hastened his decline. He however persevered, completed his plans, and silenced those, who opposed him.

To recover from the depression thus brought upon him, he procured liberty to visit Italy. Count Rumford travelled over all staly and part of Switzerland, and returned, after a journey of sixteen months, to Bavaria in August 1794. He had peen attacked by sickness, which prevented his resuming the business of his department upon his return; but he attended to his studies, and prepared his five first essays for publication.

In the month of September 1795, after an absence of more than eleven years, he returned to England, principally for the purpose of publishing his essays. He wished also to direct the English nation towards the plans of public and domestic economy, which he had formed and realized in Germany.

Lord Pelham, then secretary of state in Ireland, invited him to Dublin, and in the spring of 1796 the Count complied with his request. He introduced many important improvements into the hospitals, public institutions, and houses of industry, and left many models of mechanical inventions. Here every testimony of honor and gratitude was bestowed upon him. He was elected an honorary member of the “ Royal academy of Ireland,” and of the society for the en“ couragement of arts and manufactures, and after he left the country the grand jury of the county of Dublin sent him a letter of thanks. He also received official letters, filled with the most flattering expressions of respect and gratitude, from the lord mayor of the city, and the lord lieutenant of Ireland.

On his return he suggested and directed several alterations in the foundling hospital, and presented several machines to the board of agriculture.

In July 1796 the Count placed in the English funds £ 1000 sterling, the interest of which was to be appropriated to purchasing medals, as a premium to the author nf the most useful essay upon light and heat, the prize to be adjudged by the Royal society of Great Britain. A similar donation was vested in the American funds for the same purpose, and the prize to be adjudged by the American academy of arts and science. The following is the letter, which the president received on this occasion.

“SIR, “ Desirous of contributing efficaciously to the advance“ment of a science, which has long employed my attention, “ and which appears to me to be of the highest importance “ to mankind ; and wishing at the same time to leave a last“ ing testimony of my respect for the American academy of “ arts and science, I take the liberty to request, that the acad“emy would do me the honor to accept of five thousand “ dollars three per cent. stock in the funds of the United “ States of North America, which stock I have actually pur“ chased, 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 give. 6c en, once every second year, as a premium to the author of * the most important discovery, or useful improvement, which

“s 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 opin“ion of the academy tend most to promote the good of “ mankind.

“With regard to the formalities to be observed by the a“ cademy in their decisions on the comparative merits of “ those discoveries, which, in the opinion of the academy, “may entitle their authors to be considered, as competitors “ for this biennial premium, the academy will be pleased " to adopt such regulations, as they in their wisdom may “ judge to be proper and necessary. But in regard to the “ form, in which this premium is conferred, I take the liber“ ty to request, that it may always be given in two medals, “ struck in the same dye, the one of gold and the other of sil“ ver, and of such dimensions, that both of them together “ may be just equal in intrinsic value to the amount of the “ interest of the aforesaid five thousand dollars stock during “ two years ; that is to say, that they may together be of the “ value of three hundred dollars.

“ The academy will be pleased to order such device or “ inscription to be engraved on the dye, they shall cause to “ be prepared for striking these medals, as they may judge “ proper

“ If during any term of two years, reckoning from the “ last adjudication, or from the last period for the adjudica“ tion of this premium by the academy, no new discovery “ or improvement should be made in any part of America “ relative to either of the subjects in question, heat, or light, “ which in the opinion of the academy shall be of sufficient “ importance to deserve this premium ; in that case it is my “ desire, that the premium may not be given, but that the “ value of it may be reserved, and, being laid out in the pur& chase of additional stock in the American funds, may be « employed to augment the capital of this premium ; and that

« PreviousContinue »