Francke, Augustus Herman

, a learned and pious German divine, and a great benefactor to his country, was born at Lubeck, March 12, O. S. 1663. His father, John Francke, was then one of the magistrates of Lubeck, and afterwards entered into the service of Ernest the Pious, duke of Saxe Gotha, as counsellor of the court and of justice. His mother, Anne Gloxin, was the daughter of one of the oldest burgomasters of Lubeck. Young Francke had the misfortune to lose his father in 1670, when he was between six and seven years old, and at this early age had shown such a pious disposition, that he was intended for the church, and with this view his mother placed him under the instructions of a private tutor. His proficiency in classical studies was such, th.‘t at the age of fourteen he vvas considered as well qualified to go to the university. It was not, however, until 1679, that he went to that of Erfurt, and from thence to Kiel, where he st-idied some years under Kortholt and Morhoff. In 1682, he returned to Gotha, and visited Hamburgh in his way, where he remained two months to improve his knowledge of the Hebrew language, under Esdras Edzardi. In 1684 he went to Leipsic, and took his degree of M. A. in the following year. During his stay l;ere, he formed a society for literary conversation among his friends, which | long subsisted under the name of “Collegium Philobiblicum,” their favourite topic being the study of the* Holy Scriptures. Some time after he went to Wittemberg, where he was received with great respect by the literati of that university, and thence to Luueburg, where he attended the divinity lectures of the celebratd Sandhagen. From Lunebourg he returned to Leipsic, and gave a course of lectures on the holy scriptures, practical as well as critical, which were frequented by above three hundred students. This success, with a more than common earnestness and seriousness in his method and address, occasioned some jealousy, and created him enemies likewise at Erfurt, whither, in 1690, he was invited to become pastor of St. Austin. The objection to him was that of pietism, and it increased with so much violence, that in 1691 he was deprived of his charge, and ordered to quit the city within two days. How little he deserved this treatment, had already appeared in some of his writings, and was more manifest afterwards in his conduct and services.

The court of Gotha, uninfluenced by these clamours, and convinced of his innocence and worth, lost no time in offering a suitable employment for his talents. He was About the same time offered a professorship in the college of Cobourg, and another at Weimar, but he preferred the offers made to him by the elector of Brandenbourg, (afterwards Frederic I. of Prussia), the very day that he was ordered to quit Erfurt. The university of Halle, in Saxony, had been just founded, and Mr. Francke was in 1691 appointed professor of the Greek and oriental languages, and pastor of Glaucha, a suburb of Halle. In 1698 he resigned Iiis professorship of the languages for that of divinity, but although he had a principal hand in establishing the new university, which soon became pre-eminent among the eminaries of Germany, he acquired greater fame as the founder of the celebrated school, hospital, or rather col* lege, for the poor at Glaucha. The wholehistory of education does not produce an instance more remarkable in its origin and progress than this singular foundation, by the labour, industry, and perseverance, of professor Francke.

There was a very ancient custom in the city and neighbourhood of Halle, for such persons as give relief to the poor, to appoint a particular day on which they were to come to their doors to receive it. When professor Fraucke came to | be settled at Glaucha, he readily adopted this practice^ and fixed on Thursday as his day. But, as his profession led him, he endeavoured to confer with the poor on the subject of religion, in which he found them miserably deficient, and incapable of giving their children any religious instruction whatever. His first contrivance to supply their temporal wants was by supplicating the charity of well-disposed students; but finding that mode inconvenient, he contented himself with fixing up a box in his parlour, with one or two suitable texts of scripture over it. In 1695, when this box had been set up about a quarter of a year, he found in it the donation of a single person amounting to 1 8.s. 6d. English, which he immediately determined should be the foundation of a charity, school. Unpromising as such a scheme might appear, he began the same day by purchasing eight-shillings-worth of school-books, and then engaged a student to teach the poor children two hours each day. He met at first with the common fate of such benevolent attempts; most of the children making away with the books entrusted to them, and deserting the school; for this, however, the remedy was easy, in obliging the children to leave them behind them; but still his pious endeavours were in a great measure frustrated by the impressions made on their minds in school being effaced by their connections abroad. To remedy this greater evil, he resolved to single out some of the children, and to undertake their maintenance, as well as instruction. Such of the children, accordingly, as seemed most promising, he put out to persons of known integrity and piety to be educated by them, as he had as yet no house to receive them. The report of so excellent a design, induced a person of quality to contribute the sum of 1000 crowns, and another 400, which served to purchase a house into which twelve orphans, the whole number he had selected, were removed, and a student of divinity appointed master and teacher. This took place in 1696. The number of children, however, which demanded his equal sympathy, increasing, he conceived the project of buildiopr an hospital, such as might contain about two hundreirpeople, and this at a time, he informs us, when he hauf not so much in hand as would answer the cost of a small cottage, and when his project was consequently looked upon as visionary and absurd. His reliance on Providence, however, was so firm, that having procured | piece of ground, he laid the foundation stone on July 5, 1698, and within the space of a year the workmen were ready to cover it with the roof. During this time as well as the time it subsequently required to complete it, the expences were defrayed from casual donations. He never appears to have had any kind of annual subscription, or other help on which the least dependence could be placed; he sometimes knew the names of his benefactors, but more generally they were totally unknown to him, and yet one succeeded another at short intervals, and often when he was reduced to the utmost distress. By such unforeseen and unexpected supplies, an establishment was formed, in which, in 1727, 2196 children were provided for, under 130 teachers. The whole progress of this great work, as related by professor Francke, is beyond measure astonishing and unprecedented; for he had applied none of the methods which have since been found useful in the foundation of similar establishments, and appears to have had nothing to support his zeal, but the strongest confidence in the goodness of Providence; and although the assistance he received was great in the aggregate, it not unfrequently happened that his mornings were passed in anxious fears lest the subjects of his care might want bread in the day. These supplies consisted principally in money, but many to whom that mode of contribution was inconvenient, sent in provisions, clothing, and utensils of various sorts, and a very considerable number sold trinkets of all kinds, lace, jewels, plate^ &c. for the benefit of an hospital, the good effects of which were now strikingly visible, as its progress advanced. Some very considerable contributions came even from England, in consequence of a short account of the hospital having been sent over and published there in 1705. Dr. White Kennett, in particular, noticed it with high commendation, from the pulpit, and added that “nothing in the world seemed to him more providential, or rather more miraculous.” In the following year, 1706, it had grownup, not only into an hospital for orphans, and a refuge for many other distresse’d objects, but into a kind of university, in which all th^ languages and sciences were taught, and a printing-house established on a liberal plan, an infirmary, &c.

The establishment of this great undertaking fills up many years of professor Francke’s history. The remaining | events of his life are but few. He associated with himself John Anastasius Freylinghausen, in his charge as pastor, and had him and other men of character and talents as assistants in his school. The variety of his employments, however, injured his health, although he derived occasional benefit from travelling. One instance of his pious zeal is thus recorded: The duke Maurice, of Saxe-Zeitz, had embraced the Roman catholic religion, and professor Francke, at the request of the duchess, went to his court iti 1718, and in several, conferences so completely satisfied his mind, as to induce him to make a public profession of his return to the Protestant church. Francke’s death was occasioned by profuse sweats, which were checked by degrees, but followed by a retention of urine, and a paralytic attack, which proved fatal June 8, 1727. Amidst much weakness and pain, ie lectured as late as the 15th of May preceding. It would be difficult to name a man more generally regretted. Halle, Elbing, Jena, DeUxPonts, Augsbourgh, Tubingen, even Erfurt, where he was-so shamefully persecuted, Leipsio, Dresden, Wittemberg, &c. all united in expressing their sense of his worth, by culogiums written by the most eminent professors of these schools. By his wife, Anne Magdalene, the daughter of Otho Henry de Worm, a person of distinction, he left Gotthelf Augustus Francke, professor of divinity and pastor of the church of Notre- Dame, and a daughter who was married to M. Freylinghausen. In his learning, talents, eloquence, and piety, all his contemporaries seem agreed. As a public benefactor he has had few equals.

The history of his celebrated Orphan house has been long known in this country, in a translation by Dr. Josiali Woodward, under the title of “Pietas Hallensis,” Lond. 1707, 12mo, often reprinted, with some of his devotional tracts. These last were generally published by professor Francke in German. His Latin works are, 1. “Manuductio ad lectionem Scripture Sacrse,Halle, 1693. Of this an improved translation by William Jaques, was published in 1813, 8vo. 2. “Observationes Biblicae menstrua: iti Versionern Germanicam Biblionun Lutheri,Halle, 1695, 12mo. 3. “De Emphasibus Sac. Script,” ibid. 1698, 4to. 4. “Idea studii Theologise,” ibid. 1712, 12mo. 5. “Praelectiones Hertneneuticae,” ibid. 1712, 8vo. 6. “Monita Pastoralia Theologica,” ibid. 1717,’ 12mo. 7. “Method us studi! Theologici,” ibid. | 8vo. 8. “Introductio ad lectionem Prophetarnrti,” ibid.* 1724, 8vo. 9. “Commentatio de’scopo librorum veteris et novi Testament!,” ibid. 8vo. 1

1 Bibl. Germanique, vol. XVIII. —Niceron, vol. XIV. —Moreri. Pietas Hallensis.