The Old Philadelphia Library

DO you ever associate houses with their occupants ? I know one which is the embodiment in brick and mortar of the singularities of its builder and owner. He, its master, is rough, angular, and brusk. His dwelling juts upon the street in an obtrusive way, and jostles its neighbors with its staring bay-windows ; while its sharp corners and steep roofs seem to take a perverse pleasure in driving the rain from its accustomed perpendicular fall. It hurls the snow and the hail from its mailed sides with an aspect like that of the lord of the domicile when engaged in the contests of every-day life.

in the same way there is an individuality about libraries which is sometimes very impressive ; for I have noticed that they partake of the intellectual peculiarities of the people conducting or frequenting them. There is, for instance, an atmosphere of perfect repose about the Philadelphia Library which is in harmony with the well-balanced characteristics of the quiet citizens who thread its galleries with decorous mien. Once within its walls, your foot falls lightly on the clean wooden floor, and your voice instinctively drops to a whisper which cannot drown the solemn ticking of the Protector’s clock, whose tireless hands have measured with unerring truth the lapse of time and the progress of humanity from Cromwell’s day to ours. The books, both new and old, repose with a proper air within the plain white cases ; though here and there one more brilliant than the rest in its outside garb glistens through the wired fronts. The hereditary librarian sits calmly before the time-honored desk of William Penn, but rises with the perfect courtesy of a gentleman of the olden school to answer the inquiries which such surroundings naturally suggest. That portrait of the founder of the State, —just opposite in the rear room, — which follows us with its eyes in the strange way peculiar to some pictures, is a striking contrast to the youthful likeness of the same person clad in armor which hangs in the hall of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. On the canvas before 11s Penn is represented as a man in the. prime of life, with a florid complexion and a round English face, while his costume is that of a Friend. Yet the warlike figure is the only authenticated representation of the Man of Peace !

It was to the family motto, In Pace Para Helium, inscribed upon the breast of the latter, that Kossuth pointed, while closing a powerful appeal on behalf of Hungary, and cried with fiery eloquence : “ Even your great founder calls to you from the past, — ' In Peace Prepare for War! ’ ”

The pleasant face above the neighboring alcove was limned by a master’s hand. In the latter part of the last century it happened that Benjamin West was visiting his friend, the Reverend Samuel Preston,—an English clergyman residing at Chevening, in Kent, — who possessed a fine collection of books. While examining the choice editions in his friend’s library one morning, West said in a familiar manner which their close intimacy permitted ; “ By the way, Preston, you have no children ; what is to be done with these volumes when you are gone ? ”

“It has never occurred to me to make any disposition of them,” was the reply.

“ Then, my friend, leave them to our library in Philadelphia ; for, strange as it may appear to you, we have there a respectable array of authors, and your gift would be highly prized.”

The suggestion was adopted, and, upon the reverend gentleman’s decease, his rare and costly books were forwarded to the Library Company, with a portrait of the donor painted by Benjamin West, and presented to the corporation by Mrs. West.

We must not forget to pay our tribute of respect, in passing, to the genius and virtues of James Logan, fitly commemorated in yonder portrait, whose thoughtful eyes and intellectual lineaments would arouse the interest of even a stranger to his fame. As founder of the Loganian Library, he is intimately associated with our present theme. Distinguished as a scholar not less than as a statesman, he was the friend and patron of ingenious men, and constantly exerted himself to procure for merit its deserved applause. Dr. Franklin experienced his protection and friendship in his early career ; and it was to Logan that Godfrey first imparted his ideas of the quadrant.

Logan owned Stenton, that stately house, still standing a few miles out of town, in whose mysterious chambers we have spent delightful hours. This mansion had been erected with elaborate care, and when it was finally completed, in 1727, its owner, who had been for years engaged in collecting a library of choice works, removed his treasures to the spacious room there, which lie had specially designed to hold them. On one occasion Thomas Godfrey, who was a painter and glazier by trade, was mating some repairs at Stenton ; while thus engaged, he observed, accidentally, a piece of fallen glass, which suggested an idea to his reflecting mind, and caused him to leave his work and go into Logan’s library, where he took down a volume of Newton. While absorbed in his studies he was surprised by Mr. Logan, who inquired the cause ot his search, and succeeded in drawing him into a conversation in which Godfrey acquitted himself so well as to secure the admiration and zealous friendship of Logan, who from that moment took the deepest interest in his plans and aspirations.

Of the many interesting relics scattered about the Philadelphia Library we can only select a few. Before leaving the pictures, however, we must call attention to a curiously prophetic one, painted in 1792, by S. Jennings, a pupil of Benjamin West, which represents the Genius of American Liberty Teaching the Blacks. The writingdesk of William Penn within the enclosure was at Iris manor of Pennsbury on the Delaware. From its secret drawer the librarian takes a variety of interesting memorials ; among others an original pitcher portrait of Washington. On the wall near at hand hangs an accurate copy of the cast taken by Houdon from Washington’s face in life. The original was formerly in the possession of Dr. John Redmond Cose. From where we now stand may be seen above, in the gallery, a colossal bust of Minerva, six feet in height, which was behind the speaker’s chair when the first Congress was held in Philadelphia.

A foreigner, a man of letters, who was in Philadelphia in the fall of the year 1748, thus speaks of the condition of the library, which was then, according to the official minutes, in the “ upper room of the westernmost office of the State-House,” the use of which had been lately granted to the company by the Assembly : —

“On one side of this building—-the State-PIouse — stands the Library,which was first begun in the year 1742,1 on a public-spirited plan, formed and put in execution by the learned Mr. Franklin. For he persuaded first the most substantial people in town to pay forty shillings at the outset, and afterwards annually ten shillings, all in Pennsylvania currency, towards purchasing all kinds of useful books.There is already a fine' collection of excellent works, most of them English, many French and Latin, but few in any other language. The subscribers were so kind to me as to order the librarian, during my stay here, to lend me every book which I should want, without requiring any payment.Besides the books, several mathematical and physical instruments, and a large collection of natural curiosities, were to be seen in it. Several little libraries were founded in the town on the same footing, or nearly, with this.”

The reference above to the many excellent works in French, possessed by the library at that early day, reminds us of an amusing incident which occurred a short time ago.

The librarian received from a wellknown source of literary intelligence in New York a very long and elaborate letter, describing an original copy of the History of New France, by Charlevoix, which was, in the correspondent’s opinion, of great value on account of its rarity and age, — “being one hundred and twenty-three years old.” The communication concluded by offering the three volumes to the library for three hundred dollars.

The following is the answer despatched by the returning mail : —

“ SIR, — In reply to your favor I would state, that about the time of the publication of Charlevoix’s Nouvelle France (1744), this Institution procured a copy, and still has it in perfect preservation.

“ Your obedient servant,


Librarian Philadelphia Library Company.”

No one acquainted with the early history of letters in Philadelphia can fail lo attribute a large share of the intellectual activity of the city, in its infancy, to the enlightened example of James Logan, who inspired all about him with a genuine thirst for learning.

The influence of his teachings upon the early life and subsequent career ot Benjamin Franklin was certainly very great. In 1744 Franklin printed Logan’s translation of Cicero’s De Senectute, the Preface of which concludes with these memorable words : “ I shall add to these few lines my hearty wish that this first translation of a classic in this Western world may be followed with many others, and be a happy omen that Philadelphia shall become the seat of the American Muses.”

From the early records of the Library Company it is evident that, from the outset, Mr. Logan’s advice was constantly required and cheerfully given. The library itself seems to have had its origin in the Junto which Dr. Franklin mentions in his Autobiography. We will let him tell the story in his own way: “ About this time (1730), our club meeting, not at a tavern, but in a little room of Mr. Grace’s set apart for that purpose, a proposition was made by me, that, since our books were often referred to in our disquisitions upon the queries, it might be convenient to us to have them all together where we met. that upon occasion they might be consulted; and by thus clubbing onr books in a common library we should, while we liked to keep them together, h ive etch of us the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if eich owned the whole. It was liked and agreed to, and we filled one end ot the room with such books as we could best spare. Tlie number was not so great as we expected ; and though they had been of great use. yet some inconveniences occurring for want of flue care of them, the collection, after about a year, was separated, and each took his books home again.

“And now I set on foot my first project of a public nature, — that for asubscription.library. I drew up the proposals, got them put into form by our great scrivener, Brockden, and, by the help of my friends in the Junto, procured fifty subscribers of forty shillings each to begin with, and ten shillings a year for fifty years, the term our company was to continue. Wc afterward obtained a charter, the company being increased to one hundred ; this was the mother of all the North American subscription libraries, now so numerous.”

Tlie instrument of association was dated July I, 1731, and the directors and treasurer therein appointed held their first meeting on the 8th of November following, and made choice of William Coleman as their treasurer, and of Joseph Ereintnall as their secretary, whose first entry is in tlie following words : —

“ The minutes of me, Joseph Ereintnall, secretary to tlie directors ct the Library Company of Philadelphia, with such of the minutes of tlie sa >ic directors as they order me to make, begun on the 8th day of November, 1731. By virtue of the deed or instrument of the said company, dated the first day of July last. The said instrument being completed by fiftysubscriptions, I subscribed my name to the following summons or notice which Benjamin Franklin sent by a messenger, viz. : —

“‘To Benjamin Franklin, Thomas ITopkinson, William Parsons, Philip Sing, Jun., Thomas Godfrey, Anthony Nicholas, Thomas Cadwalader, John Jones, Jun., Robert Grace, and Isaac Penington.

“ ' GENTLEMEN : — The subscription to the library being completed, you, the directors appointed in the instrument, are desired to meet this evening at five o’clock, at the house of Nicholas Scull, to take bond of the treasurer for thefaithful performance of his trust, and to consider of and appoint a proper time for the payment ol tlie money subscribed, and other matters relating to the said library.

“‘Jos. EREINTNALL, Secy. “' Philadelphia, 8th November, 1731.’ ”

It will be observed that several of the names in the above list of directors are identical with those of prominent members of the Junto ; and this identity is further noticeable in the list of subscribers to the articles of association. The first man who signed these was Robert Grace, whom Franklin describes as “a young gentleman of some fortune, generous, lively, and witty ; a lover of punning, and of his friends.” The library, in fact, was afterwards opened in the chamber of a house belonging to him.

The second signer of the articles was Thomas Hopkinson, the father ot Francis Hopkinson the poet, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This share is an excellent illustration of one of the most striking characteristics of this ancient library, — the regular descent of shares in families, through several generations, for more than a century.

The first owner of share No. 2, as we have just remarked, was Thomas Hopkinson, who acquired it in 1731 ; next came bis son Francis Hopkinson, who took possession in 1762 ; to be followed in 1813 by his son Judge Joseph Hopkinson, who left it in 1844 to his son Francis Hopkinson, who now holds it by direct male descent, one hundred and thirty-six years having elapsed since his ancestor first took it.

The third signer of the articles was Benjamin Franklin ; his share descended to Benjamin Franklin Bache, and is still in the family. The other members of the Junto who also signed were Joseph Breintnall, the secretary before mentioned, who stands fifth on the company’s books ; and is mentioned in Franklin’s account of the Junto as “a good-natured, friendly, middle-aged man, a great lover of poetry, reading all lie could meet with, and writing some that was tolerable ; very ingenious in making little knickknackeries, and of sensible conversation ” ; Thomas Godfrey, the great mathematician, and inventor of the so-called Hadley’s Quadrant, the seventh shareholder; William Maugridge, “ a most exquisite mechanic, and a solid, sensible man,” the twentyninth signer ; thirty-fourth, William Parsons, who had “acquired a considerable share of mathematics, which he first studied with a view to astrology, and afterward laughed at it ” ; thirty-sixth, William Scull, afterwards surveyor-general, “who loved books, and sometimes made a few verses,” and whose share is now in the hands of his descendant, Gideon D. Scuil ; fifty-fifth, Stephen Potts;'and lastly, William Coleman, the fifty-second signer, “ who had,” says Dr. Franklin, “the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of almost any man 1 ever met with.” He became afterwards a merchant of great note, and one of the provincial judges.

Of course the greater portion of the subscribers were not members of the Junto, which was merely a club for mutual improvement, originated by Benjamin Franklin.

An examination of the list of shareholders of the Library Company discloses the fact that the corporation embraced a large majority of those who were distinguished in Philadelphia by learning, fortune, or high social position. It is not a little singular that Franklin should have drawn within the circle of his influence at that early day those who were above him in the social scale, — a point as carefully weighed then as now in the good City of Brotherly Love, where the distinctions of class have existed with unabated force since the foundations of the place were laid. The youthful printer must even then have possessed the infinite tact, real wisdom, and engaging manners which years afterwards secured for the aged philosopher the admiration and homage of the French court.

Among the names taken at random from the original minutes are the following, most of which are still prominent : —

William Rawle acquired share 42 in 1732 ; he appears to have been the first American donor, having presented, on the 12th March, 1733, “six volumes or books of the works of Mr. Edmund Spenser.” His son Francis succeeded him in 1769; who was followed in 1786 by his son William Rawle, the eminent lawyer and author. The share is still in his family. William Logan held share 98 in 1747, and Gustavus G. Logan is to-day its possessor. Samuel Norris owned share 64 in 1734, and it descended in 1741 to Isaac, in 1746 to Charles, and is now the property of Samuel Norris, Samuel Coates had share 67 in 1736, and it is now in the hands of Dr. Benjamin H. Coates, his descendant. John Smith, the son-inlaw of james Logan, purchased share 94 in 1744; and it is nowin the name of his descendant, Lloyd P. Smith, the hereditary librarian. Bishop White in 1777 received No. 52, William Coleman’s share in 1733, and the children of Thomas H. White still keep it. The Hamilton family, in the persons of James, William, and James Hamilton, held share 57 one hundred and nineteen years, and forfeited it in 1853. Share 16S was owned by Colonel William Bradford in 1769 ; it fell, in 1782, to his son William Bradford, Attorney-General of the United States under Washington, and passed, through Thomas Bradford, to its present possessor, William Bradford. Dr. Thomas Cadwalader, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, father of the two Revolutionary officers General John and Colonel Lambert Cadwalader, was a director of the company in 1731, and his descendants are still shareholders. Governor Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, acquired share 244 in 3777, and it is still in the family. Share 135 was purchased one hundred and twenty years ago by the great-grandfather of its present owner, Judge John M. Read. Share 18 became the property of John Biddle in 1762, and it is today in the hands of Edward C. Biddle. James Bingham took share 38 in 1741, but it was forfeited by his son William Bingham in 1782. Share 43 was held by Dr. William Shippen in 1761, by Thomas Lee Shippen . in 1794, and in 1819 by Dr. William Shippen, who left it to Mrs. Mary Louisa Shippen. Joseph Fox, Jr. was the original purchaser in 1769 of share No. 129; in 1792 it fell to Samuel M. Fox, who left it, in 1843, to Joseph M. Fox ; from whom it passed, in 1847, to George Fox, the present holder. Colonel James Read bought share 350, in 17C9; his grandson still keeps it. No. 378 was owned in 1773 by Dr. Adam Kuhn, in whose family it still remains. In 1777 Cadwallader Evans was possessed of share 437, and his family now own that share.

The noted Parson Duché, who attempted to persuade Washington to forsake the cause of the Colonics, became a subscriber in 1732.2

Another remarkable feature in the Philadelphia Library Company is the long tenure of office. Benjamin Franklin was a director, having previously served as librarian, 28 years : Thomas Cadwalader, 29 years ; Evan Morgan, 24 years ; Samuel Rhoads, 32 years ; J. Read, 29 years ; Mordecai Lewis, 20 years ; Josiah Hewes, 30 years ; Richard Wistar, 37 years ; John Ivaighn, 43 years; T. Parke, 57 years; James Gibson, 57 years ; J. P. Norris was an officer 47 years, from 1793 to 1840, and his son, Dr. George W. Norris, succeeded him. that year, and is still a director ; Nicholas Wain occupied that position from 1767 to 1771 ; Robert Wain, from 1799 to 1836, and his son Lewis Wain from that date until his recent decease, when he was succeeded by S. Morris Wain; Zachariah Poulson was an officer of the company 59 years.

Prior to the present incumbent, Lloyd P. Smith, who has held the office seventeen years, there have been Gnly three librarians of the Philadelphia Library, since 1735 : Z. Poulson, George Campbell, and John Jay Smith. The custodians of the Loganian collection will be noted hereafter.

The agents of the board of directors in England also present an instance of the almost hereditary character of that appointment. From 1783 to 1353, Joseph Woods, his son, grandson, and great-grandson, acted in succession as agents of the company in England ; one of them holding the office, which in every way was without charge, for forty-one years. Nor should it be forgotten that their predecessor in that position, William Dihvyn, a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, now the home of the radical Stevens, was declared by Clarkson to be the real originator of the abolition of the slave-trade.

The hereditary characteristics of the Loganian Library, which was united with the Philadelphia Library Company in 1792, are also curiously marked. The founder, James Logan, was born, in 1674, at Lurgan, in Ireland, although his family was of ancient Scotch descent. His great-grandfather was that Sir Robert Logan, Baron of Restalrig, In Scotland, whose strange and illegal accusation in 1608, several years after his death, for an alleged participation in the “Gowrie Conspiracy,”and the singular trial of whose mouldering remains are among the most mysterious transactions of James’s reign.

The Quaker principles and varied virtues of James Logan having attracted the attention of William Penn, a few months before his second departure for America he succeeded in inducing Logan to act as his secretary, and finally to accompany him to Pennsylvania in 1699. Through a long career in this new field as Secretary, Chief Justice, Commissioner of Property, President of the Council, and acting Governor of the Province, Logan’s abilities shone with ever-increasing brilliancy. At his death, in 1751, he bequeathed to the city of Philadelphia, with a liberal endowment, the classical library, worth at that time $ 10,000 in gold, which still bears his name and has greatly increased in value. I say “ bequeathed,” for such was the intention of James Logan, but his signature was wanting to the deed ; his sons William and James Logan, John Smith, and Hannah his wife, the surviving daughter of James Logan,however, complied with his intention, and are entitled to grateful remembrance for the free-will act which they were not necessarily obliged to perform.

In accordance with Mr. Logan’s views, they executed a perpetual deed of trust, which conveyed the books, the library building at the northwest corner of Sixth and Walnut Streets, in which the Loganian Library was kept from 1750 to 1792, with certain funds derived from lands leased for one hundred and twenty-one years, for the support of the institution, to Israel Pemberton, William Allen, Richard Peters, and Benjamin Franklin, their heirs and assigns forever. On condition, however, “ that there should be a perpetual succession of trustees, part of whom should be of the descendants ot the said James Logan the elder, preferring the male line to the female, as long as any of his descendants remained ; that one of his male descendants, taken in priority of birth, and preferring the male line to the female, should be librarian of the said public library, with a power of employing deputies.” Further: “And whereas some ages hence it may become difficult to know who are intituled to be trustees and librarians within the intent and meaning of the testator, to prevent the difficulty as much as is in the power of the parties hereto, it is agreed that the librarian for the time being shall in a place or places appropriated for that purpose in the said folio-bound book enter the names, days of birth, days of marriage, and to whom, and days of death, of all the descendants of the testator, from time to time as they happen, with such precision by giving a number to each descendant, and giving the numbers of the parents as well as the names, that there may be no room left for. mistake of the whole descent of each (which by the similarity of names there would be without numbers).And it is agreed that this present indenture, after it is recorded and entered in the Said folio book, and all other writings herein recited or mentioned, shall be carefully kept in a box or drawer in the said library, under two locks, whereof the key of one to be kept by the librarian, and the key of the other lock by the senior trustee, or such other of them as the majority of them may direct”

In 1792, .at the instance of James Logan, the son, the only surviving trustee, the Legislature of Pennsylvania passed an act vesting the property of the Loganian Library in the Library Company of Philadelphia, subject to the conditions in the original deed ot trust. In accordance with one oi the provisions in that instrument, an accurate record of the founder s descendants continues to be kept in the “ folso-bound book ” ; and the trustees published in the last supplement to the catalogue a “ Genealogical Table, showing the names of persons entitled (under the founder’s last will) to the office of hereditary librarian of the Loganian Library; and also (under the act of Assembly) to the position of hereditary trustee, with the right of appointing two others.”

The librarians, from 1760 to 1792, were William Logan, and James Logan, 2d. Since then Zachariali Poulson, George Campbell, John Jay Smith, and Lloyd P. Smith have held the office. Their terms of service were respectively six years, sixteen years, fourteen years, twenty-three years, twenty-two years, seventeen years. George Campbell, whose term of service was within two years of a quarter of a century, was never, during that long period, even once, prevented by sickness from attending to his daily duties. The present librarian, and bis father and predecessor, John Jay Smith, are descendants of John Smith, an eminent merchant of Philadelphia, who married the daughter of James Logan ; hence their hereditary right to be custodians of the collection founded by their ancestor.

The original Loganian Library building, figured on the title-page of the newsupplementary catalogue, stood near the corner of Sixth and Walnut streets, — the whole square of ground between Sixth and Seventh and Walnut streets belonging to Logan. We have heard one of bis descendants say that his father sold a great slice ot it, on Chestnut and Seventh streets, for a box of Irish linens to go to housekeeping with. The square, now worth millions, was originally sold because the rentsdid not pay the taxes. It is the old story of the proprietary Penns, — always in want of money, and selling whole ing had a cosey back yard, easily accessible by climbing a board fence ; and there all the school-boy battles were fought by the young Quakers of the notdistant classical academy of Proud, the historian of Pennsylvania.

At present the Loganian collection embraces between ten and eleven thousand volumes,— many of them very rare ; some, in fact, unique.

As we have seen, the Philadelphia Library furnishes scores of instances illustrating the truth of an idea which is every day becoming more apparent, namely, that a republican form of government is far more conducive to the healthy growth and development, not of individuals merely, but of families, than the carefully digested rules of a monarchy. In England, for example, some one man may win for himself unlimited fame, and a peerage. The latter will halo his family, throughout each succeeding generation, as long as the race exists. No matter whether his descendants are good, bad, or indifferent, the laws of the land will sustain them in the high position originally acquired by creditable deeds. In America, on thecontrary, where the spirit of our institutions is in direct opposition to the preservation of influence when original excellence has departed, there is every incentive to personal exertion ; and hence our country contains, in proportion to its age, a larger number of family names than any other can boast which have been honored in their several generations for characteristic virtues.

Philadelphia and its vicinity, perhaps, has more persons than any other American community who hold the same comfortable position to-day which their ancestors originally occupied. This is true not merely of the professional and wealthy classes : it applies no less strongly to mechanics and artisans. One finds families in which a certain trade has been banded down for half a dozen generations.

The city, indeed, has a stability of character in some respects peculiar to itself. The architecture partakes of the characteristics which were its distinguishing features from its very infancy. An air of genteel antiquity envelops the town and its inhabitants. A stranger almost instinctively falls into the oiled grooves of a preservative civilization, and lays aside the corroding cares which afflict the more changeable citizens of New York. It sometimes requires a little while for the adjustment, as the following anecdote will show. On one occasion a gentleman from New York called in a great hurry at a certain bank in Philadelphia, about midday. Finding it closed he went away, supposing that the building was undergoing repairs. Happening, however, to pass it again the same afternoon, he noticed, to his astonishment, that the doors were open. On entering he expressed his surprise that a bank should be closed between twelve and two in the day ; and said, moreover, that it bad caused him some inconvenience.

“ You should have known better, sir,” was the reply ; “ for such has been our daily custom for more than a hundred years.”

I have lying before me a volume entitled “ The Charter, Laws, and Catalogue of Books of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Communiter bona prof it adore Dcihn cst. Philadelphia: Printed by B. Franklin, and D. Hall. MDCCLVII.” Its pages are very suggestive, but I have only time to note that the name of the donor of each volume is annexed to the title in the catalogue. James Logan’s gifts are numerous. Hesselius, the painter, whose portraits are to be found among the old families of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, appears most appropriately in the list as the giver of a folio entitled “ Historia Insignium Illustrium, seu Operis Heraldici Pars Specialis, Ec. Authore Philippo Jacobo Spcnero. Francofurti ad Moenum, 1680.”

I have gleaned from the original minutes, and from other sources, some interesting particulars of the history of the library from this period.3 In T752 “a noble present ot anlient medals” was received through Mr. Peters from Mr. Grey, member of Parliament from Colchester. In 1763 the celebrated John Dickinson, author of the “ Farmer’s Letters,” was elected a member of the board of trustees. In 1769 the Union Library Company was united to the Philadelphia Library Company; and in 1771 another junction was formed with the Association Library. In 1773 the books were removed to Carpenter’s Hall ; and the next year, when Congress met there, the librarian was directed to furnish the members with such books as they might desire. Two unsuccessful efforts were made in May and June, 1776, to convene the members to authorize the directors “to remove the books out of town should the British army approach it.” It does not appear, however, that the company sustained any loss from those composing that force. On the contrary, it is a pleasure to be able to say that the English officers, without exception, left deposits and paid hire for the books borrowed by them, As we shall presently discover, the Library Company, in their turn, were enabled, nearly a century later, to perform an act of generosity to the British government, which has laid the English nation under lasting obligations.

In 1777 the library room was occupied by sick soldiery. By the will of the Hon. William Logan, the library received the same year a very handsome bequest of books of ancient authors.

At a general meeting held June I, 17S9, over which Bishop White presided, it was determined to erect a suitable building, as soon as one hundred new members could be procured.

The list having been completed, the corner-stone of the present edifice, now standing on Fifth and Library Streets, was laid with appropriate ceremonies. By the 30th of December, 1790, the books were all removed to their new home.

In 179 r the directors again tendered to the President and Congress the free use of the books in the library; and General Washington, through his Secretary, Tobias Lear, returned thanks for the attention in a very handsome note. In 1792 an additional building, immediately in the rear, was erected by the Philadelphia Library Company for the accommodation of the Loganian collection.

Dr. Franklin, who, as we have seen, was one of the principal founders of the Philadelphia Library, acted as the company’s agent in London from 1761 to 1775. His last letter thence to the -directors is dated “ London, February 5th, 1775.” The inscription on the corner-stone of the present building declares that the library was instituted “ at the instance of Benjamin Franklin.” When William Bingham, the maternal grandfather of Lord Ashburton, heard of the intention of the directors to erect a statue of Dr. Franklin, in recognition of his eminent services, he immediately volunteered to furnish it at his own expense. A bust was accordingly procured from the Pennsylvania Hospital, and transmitted to Italy with a drawing of the figure. The statue in clue time arrived, and was placed in the niche in irontof the building, where it still stands. The likeness was considered an excellent one by the contemporaries of this eminent man. It gives perhaps the most perfect idea of the general appearance and bearing of the philosopher and statesman, — as Houdon’s statue of Washington is the most accurate presentment of the Father of his Country.

Ho account of the Philadelphia Library would be complete without some reference to the treasures it contains.

The total number of volumes is about eighty-one thousand. In this enumeration, each volume of pamphlets is counted as one book only. If the system pursued in some famous collections was resorted to, the figures would have to be largely increased. Of early printed books, the following deserve especial notice : Augustinus de Vita Christiana, printed in 1459, by Fust and Schoyfier, the inventors of printing; two works from the press of Pynson, and three from that of Wynkyn de Worde; a copy of Caxton’s “Golden Legend"; a Vulgate Bible, only two hundred copies of which were printed at Rome by Sweynheym and Pannartz, in 1471, — pronounced fort rare ” by Brunet, — another from the press of Koburger, at Nuremberg, in 1475 ; an English version printed by Grafton, in 1539; and a Nouveau Testament, printed by Barthclemy and Buyer, at Lyons, about 1480 ; a noble edition of Per reforest, — “ de tons Ies romans de chevalerie le plus estime,” — in six volumes, folio, Paris, 1531 ; an early German version, with numerous woodcuts, of Reynard the Fox, — Rcynkc Voss dc aide, Rostock, 1549,— and Copland’s edition of Caxton’s Rccucill of the Histories of Troye, London, 1553.

Most of these early printed works are from the private collection of William Mackenzie, Esq., of Philadelphia, who died in 1829, and bequeathed to the library all his books printed before 1800. Among them I omitted to mention until now the one most interesting to bibliomaniacs, namely, a glorious copy on vellum of the first Italian translation of Pliny’s “ Natural History.”This exquisitely printed folio, “ emphatically the glory of Janson’s press,” cette edition magnijique, as Brunet calls it, would Ire valuable enough if printed on paper ; but it appears to be the one copy which Janson struck off on vellum. Brunet says : “ Un exemplaire imprime sur VELIN, avec les lettres initialcs peintes.offert a 900 fr. MacCarthy. ” Mackenzie undoubtedly bought it at a sale of Mac Garth y’s books, as he wras a collector at that time.

A “ Siamese Treatise on the SmallPox,” and a “ Chinese and Japanese Dictionary,” are worthy of notice in passing.

Of works relating to antiquities, we remember Lepsius’s, Rosselini’s, Denon’s, and Vyse’s Egypt ; Botta’s and Bayard’s folio plates of Nineveh ; Kingsborough’s Mexico ; eight folio volumes of plates on Herculaneum ; Piranesi’s works; Il Vaticano ; Meyrick on Ancient Armor ; Dugdale’s Monasiicon ; and Le Roux de Lincy’s Hotel de Ville de Paris.

In the department of Belles-Lettres and History, the collection of French, Spanish, and Italian books embraces most of the standard authors. The edition of the French classics, in thirtytwo large quarto volumes, entitled Collection du Dauphin, —a beautiful specimen of typography, — and Lanclino’s rare et recherche! edition of Dante, Venice, 1512, may be mentioned in this connection. The German library is not so full, but it embraces many valuable works. The collection of Spanish authors is the most complete, and perhaps the finest, of any public library in this country. Among the choice volumes are, El Conde Lucanor, by the Prince Don Juan Manuel (Sevilla, 1575), described by Ticknor as "one of the rarest books in the world ” ; an unmutilated edition of Celestina, the first Spanish dramatic work of note (1599); the Chronicle of the Cid (Burgos, 1593). and the Chronicle of Ring Alfonso (1604). It contains also the excellent reprint of the ancient “ Spanish Chronicles ” (1787), and Zurita’s A nales de la Corona de A ragon, with the supplement of Argensola. Not tomention the better-known names of Calderon, Lope de Vega, and the other early dramatists, it may be said that all the modern authors of consequence, and many others of less note, have been added to it. The Spanish writers on America are equally well represented.

In the large collection of English works may be found a complete set ot the “English County Histories”; oi the “Royal Society’s Transactions”; the “ Gentleman’s Magazine,” commenced in 1731, the same year the library was founded; the “Annual Register”; the several series of the “Parliamentary Debates”; and other periodicals, some of them continued for more than a century; also, the voluminous publications of the Record Commission, -— a remarkable collection of seven hundred English pamphlets, in thirty-six volumes, quarto, published during the Revolutionary period from 1620 to 1720, which, with “Somers’s Tracts,” the “ llarleinn Miscellany,” and the publications of the various learned societies, eminently deserve the attention of the student.

In the department of works relatingto America the library may, without the least exaggeration, be said to be very rich. In fact, no writer of the history of our own country should consider his investigations complete until he has consulted the rare sources of information within these walls.

The sets of newspapers, from the first number of the first paper published in Philadelphia, continuously to the present time, include a set of Bradford’s “American Mercury.” from 1719 to 1745; the “ Pennsylvania Gazette” (published successively by Samuel Keimer, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, and Hall and Sellers), complete from 1728 to 1804 ; the “ Pennsylvania Journal,” frons 1747 to 1793; the “ Pennsylvania Packet ” (afterwards “ Poulson’s Advertiser”), under various names, from 1771 to the present time ; the “ Federal ” and “ Philadelphia Gazette ” from 1788 to 1843 , and the “ United States Gazette,” now the “ North American,” from 1791 to the present time. These are a few of the many catalogued.

After the newspapers may be mentioned the inestimable collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, and manuscripts collected by Pierre du Simitiere, before, during, and after the Revolution, and purchased for the company. A portion of these pamphlets, and the larger part of the broadsides, are believed to be unique. With these may be classed the four hundred volumes, besides many unarranged scraps, and numerous water-color and india-ink pictures, recently left to the library by the late Charles A. Poulson. The Beschrcibung von Pennsylvania, Frankfurt und Leipzig, 1704. by Pastorius, the personal friend of William Penn, and the founder of Germantown, is believed to be the only copy in the United States ; with it is bound up a German translation of Gabriel Thomas’s Pennsylvania, and Faulkner’s Curieuse Naehricht von Pennsylvania, 1702.

H. J. Winckelmann’s Der Amcricanischen netten Welt Beschrcibung, Oldenburg, 1664, with woodcuts, is a most curious and extremely rare publication. Other German works on America, not often met with in this country, are Coltfriedt’s Historia Autipodum, Frankfurt, 1655, and Dapper’s Unbckannte Neue Welt, Amsterdam, 1673; both have numerous fine plates and maps. Campanius’s Kart Bcskrifning om Provincien with Swerige uti America, som un förtjden af the Engelske kallas Vennsylvani; 1702, with curious plates and maps, is one of the few copies known to exist. The esteem in which it is held as a scarce work may be estimated by the fact that not long since the Prime Minister of Sweden, Count Manderstrdm, sent a copy to the Historical Society of Delaware, with a letter referring to its extreme rarity. Ovalle’s Histdrica Relacion del Reyna de Chile, with the map and all the plates, is also very choice.

“Jones’s Present State of Virginia,” London, 1724, is bound up with " The Present State of Virginia and the College, by Messieurs Hartwell, Blair, and Chilton,” London, 1727.

Plantagenet’s “ New Albion,” “Leah and Rachel,” and other scarce books, were reprinted in Force’s Historical Tracts, from copies in the Philadelphia Library.

There is also to be seen a very curious volume of “ Publications of the Enemy in Philadelphia in 1777 and 1778.”

The library possesses two copies of Aitken’s Bible, of 1782, published under the patronage of Congress, and “Poor Richard’s Almanac” from 1733 to 1747, both very rare. There are in it also two copies of the Rev. John Eliot’s Indian Bible. A single copy of this work was sold at the “ Allan sale ” in New York for $825. Two copies of Smith’s “ Virginia,” folio, “ Haklru t’s Voyages,” and “De Bry’s America,” must not be forgotten.

Of manuscripts, the most ancient is an exemplar of the entire Bible, on parchment, of the date of 1016(?). The most beautiful is an illuminated Psalter on fine vellum, and in perfect preservation ; it appears to be a specimen of German aft of the early part of the fifteenth century. Henry’s manuscript Indian Dictionary, and an unpublished autobiography of John Pitch, are interesting.

It is nearly seventy years since the grandson of a former Lord High Chancellor of Ireland, whose romantic story was charmingly told in a recent number of the Atlantic, under the title of “The Strange Friend,” sent as a gift to the Philadelphia Library Company, when on the eve of his departure from America, a large number of manuscripts relating to Irish state affairs, together with some books of less importance. On the flight of James II. to France, these papers had been committed to the custody of his Chancellor. The change of dynasty by violence occasioned confusion and trouble, and they remained, until presented to the Philadelphia Library, in the custody oi his family, who did not consider that the succeeding government had any legal title to them. They continued to be kept in the library in the original box in which they had been sent ; and were entirely unappreciated, and in fact nearly forgotten, when the librarianship of the joint collection tell to the Logan heir, John Jay Smith, Esq., lather of the present incumbent. Mr. Smith immediately had the valuable documents properly arranged, bound, and catalogued.

One of the pages had contained the autograph of Queen Elizabeth, but it was filched by some vandal collector, with no more veneration in his composition than the rogue who stole Byron’s note from the urn in Sir Walter Scott’s drawing-room. Several other royal signatures met the same fate, and figured but lately, it is said, in a sale of autographs in New York.

The thoughtful care of Mr. Smith, in having the manuscripts properly preserved in volumes, effectually protected them from further depredations.

During the recent visit of Mr. Hepworth Dixon to this country his attention was called to these five volumes of manuscripts by the present librarian, Mr. Lloyd Ik Smith. An examination made it evident that they were a part of the national archives of Great Britain They consisted of four volumes of official correspondence relating to Ireland, bearing the royal sign manual of James I. and the signatures of the Lords of his Privy Council, addressed to the Lord Deputy of Ireland. The fifth volume contained the original manuscript of the Marquis of Clanricarde’s Memoirs from October 23, 1641, to August 30, 1643. It was further ascertained through Mr. Dixon, who was familiar with the state papers in the Rolls House in London, that .the series of letters of which these volumes were a part is preserved in London in the custody of the Master of the Rolls. As the minutes clearly showed that the manuscripts were given to the Library Company without any reservation or trust, there seemed to be a manifest propriety in restoring them to the British government as a portion of their public archives. The directors, therefore, through the librarian, made a formal offer to that effect to Lord Romilly, the Master of the Rolls. The offer was immediately transmitted to the Lords of the Treasury, and was by them gratefully accepted.

In the course of his reply to Mr. Smith, Lord Romilly says : “ I cannot conclude without expressing to yourself personally, or without begging also through you to express to the Library Company of Philadelphia, my deep sense of the obligation conferred by them on the British nation, and my conviction that this, and acts of a similar character, will rivet more closely the ties of friendship and respect which already bind our countries together.”

Thus the courtesy of the English officers in 1777 was returned with interest to their whole nation in 1867.

The manuscripts were transmitted in safety to London through the late lamented Sir Frederick Bruce, who deemed them of sufficient value to induce him to forward them to his government by a special messenger. In his letter to the Company Sir Frederick remarked : “ The Lord Commissioners request the acceptance by the directors, for deposit in the Philadelphia Library, of a complete set of the Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages, and of the Calendars of State Papers, as well as of the several facsimiles made by the process of photozincography, and published by their authority under the direction of the Master of the Rolls.”

This munificent gift, consisting of one hundred and fifty-six volumes, all handsomely bound in levant morocco, was received on the 6th of May last; and it will continue to be henceforth an object of the highest interest to the jurist and the historical scholar.

An unintentional error concerning the Company’s gift to the British Government crept into Lord Romilly’s letter of the 30th April last, addressed to the editor of the “ London Times.” In the course of that communication the Master of the Rolls said : “ A case has been received by me containing the four volumes in question, and also the original manuscript of the Marquis of Clanricarde’s Memoirs, from October 23, 1641, to August 30, 1643, mentioned in Mr. Hardy’s valuable Report on the Carte and Carew Papers, and which has long been supposed to be lost. This work was actually presented to Mr. Dixon for himself, who as soon as be discovered its contents, and that it belonged to the same set of state papers, thought proper to restore it to the series from which he considered it unfit that it should be separated. I need scarcely say that it is of great value,”

This statement is calculated to create an erroneous impression, owing doubtless to a misapprehension on the part of Mr. Dixon, who in Fact asked for the manuscript; the directors, however, declined to give it, except to the British authorities; and instructed the librarian to embody their views in a letter, which was forwarded to Mr. Dixon on the 14th of December, 1866. The following paragraph from that epistle clearly defines their position : “ The Diary of Clanricafde being a gift, they [the directors] did not feel authorized to part with it to any private person, but, as it appears to be also official in its character, and a part of the Irish state papers, I am directed to add it to the manuscript letters, and return the whole to the Master of the Rolls, in whose office you will be able to consult it.”

Within a few weeks the following memorials have also been presented to the library: An excellent oil painting of Station, Logan’s Country Seat,” by Edmund Lewis ; a characteristic portrait of Dr. Franklin ; and an admirable likeness of the Duke of Brunswick, who first sold soldiers to George III. Underneath the latter, in very appropriate propinquity, lies a thirteeninch mortar shell, which was fired from the right batteries of General Washington’s second parallel, during the siege of York town, in October, 1781, It was exhumed three years since, under the direction of the gallant BrigadierGeneral Isaac J. Wistar.

So much matter has crowded upon my attention in the review of the history of the Library Company of Philadelphia, that this sketch has outrun my intention. If, however, I have really succeeded in awakening an interest in this venerable institution, the following words of one whose accurate learning is proverbial will be readily appreciated : “ No library I have ever seen, not even the Bodleian, has left such traces on my imagination as the Old Philadelphia, which I want to see again.”

  1. It was in reality founded in 1731.
  2. The following were also among the members during the last century : Alexander GraydOil, the father of the author of Graydon’s Memoirs,, in 1736; Lewis Evans, in 1745 Abraham Taylor, in 1747 ; Isaac Peningtoti, in 1732 ; Anthony llenezet, in 1734 ; Charles Willing, in 1736 ; William Allen, Chief Justice, in 1737: Samuel McCall, in 1741; William Piuinstead, in 1735; Richard Peters, in 173S; Israel Pemberton, in 1740; Dr, Pitmens Bond, in 1740; Lynford Gardner, in 1746 ; Tench Francis, in 1751 ; the Rev. Dr, Francis Allison, in 1752 ; Daniel Wistar, in 1762 ; Jacob Lewis, in 1764 ; Joseph Swift, in 1766 : William Chancellor, in 1769 ; Thomas Wharton, in .1769; George Clymcr, the signer, in 1769 ; Thomas Carpenter, in 1769; Andrew Robeson, in 1774 ; John Dickinson, in 1762 ; Matthew Clarkson, in 1771 : Sharp Delany, in 1772 ; James Wilson, the signer, in J77S ; General Walter Stewart, in 1789; Colonel plonry Hill, in 1789; Commodore John Nicholson, Continental Navy, in 1789 ; Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury under Washington, in 1790 ; and John Penn, in 1769.
  3. I desire to acknowledge my obligations to Mr. Lloyd P. Smith, the present accomplished librarian, and to his father, John Jay Smith, Ksq., the well-known author of several valuable works, for access to original sources of information, as well as for many acts of personal courtesy.