Famous Americans of Recent Times eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 624 pages of information about Famous Americans of Recent Times.

It is a question with political economists, whether, upon the whole, such endowments as this are a good or an evil to a community.  There is now a considerable party in England, among whom are several clergymen of the Established Church, who think it would be better for England if every endowment were swept away, and thus to each succeeding generation were restored the privilege of supporting all its poor, caring for all its sick, and educating all its young.  Dr. Chalmers appears to have been inclined to an opinion like this.  It will be long, however, before this question becomes vital in America.  Girard College must continue for generations to weigh heavily on Philadelphia, or to lighten its burdens.  The conduct of those who have charge of it in its infancy will go far to determine whether it shall be an argument for or against the utility of endowments.  Meanwhile, we advise gentlemen who have millions to leave behind them not to impose difficult conditions upon the future, which the future may be unable or unwilling to fulfil; but either to bestow their wealth for some object that can be immediately and easily accomplished, or else imitate the conduct of that respectable and public-spirited man who left five pounds towards the discharge of his country’s debt.

[Footnote 1:  The facts which follow I received from the lips and from the papers of this revered man, now no more.—­J.P.]

[Footnote 2:  Mr. Duane.]


A few years ago it seemed probable that the people of the United States would be supplied with news chiefly through the agency of newspapers published in the city of New York.  We were threatened with a paper despotism similar to that formerly exercised in Great Britain by the London Times; since, when one city furnishes a country with newspapers, one newspaper is sure, at length, to gain such a predominance over others that its proprietor, if he is equal to his position, wields a power greater than ought to be intrusted to an individual.  There have been periods when the director of the London Times appeared to be as truly the monarch of Great Britain as Henry VIII. once was, or as William Pitt during the Seven Years’ War.  It was, we believe, the opinion of the late Mr. Cobden, which Mr. Kinglake confirms, that the editor of the London Times could have prevented the Crimean War.  Certainly he conducted it.  Demosthenes did not more truly direct the resources of Athens against Philip, than did this invisible and anonymous being those of the British Empire against Russia.  The first John Walter, who was to journalism what James Watt was to the steam-engine, had given this man daily access to the ear of England; and to that ear he addressed, not the effusions of his own mind, but the whole purchasable eloquence of his country.  He had relays of Demosthenes.  The man controlling such a press, and fit to control

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Famous Americans of Recent Times from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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