Coram, Capt. Thomas

, an eminent philanthropist, was born about 1668, bred to the sea, and spent the first part of his life as master of a vessel trading to our colonies. While he resided in that part of the metropolis which is the common residence of sea-faring people, business often obliged him to come early into the city and return late; when he had frequent occasions of seeing young children | exposed, through the indigence or cruelty of their parents. This excited his compassion so far, that he projected the Foundling Hospital; in which humane design he laboured seventeen years, and at last, by his sole application, obtained the royal charter for it. He was highly instrumental in promoting another good design, viz. the procuring a bounty upon naval stores imported from the colonies; and was eminently concerned in setting on foot the colonies of Georgia and Nova Scotia. His last charitable design, in which he lived to make some progress, but not to complete, was a scheme for uniting the Indians in North America more closely to the British interest, by an establishment for the education of Indian girls. Indeed he spent a great part of his life in serving the public, and with so total a disregard to his private interest, that towards the latter part of it he was himself supported by the voluntary subscriptions of public-spirited persons; at the head of whom was that truly amiable and benevolent prince Frederic, late prince of Wales. When Dr. Brocklesby applied to the good old man, to know whether his setting on foot a subscription for his benefit would not offend him, he received this noble answer: “I have not wasted the little wealth, of which I was formerly possessed, in self-indulgence or vain expences, and am not ashamed to confess that, in this my old age, I am poor.

This singular and memorable man died at his lodgings near Leicester-square, March 29, 1751, in his 84th year; and was interred, pursuant to his desire, in the vault under the chapel of the Foundling-hospital, where an ample inscription perpetuates his memory, as Hogarth’s portrait has preserved his honest countenance.

The Foundling Hospital, for several years after its institution, was an eminently popular object: numbers of affluent persons were ardent to encourage it, and the benefactions to the hospital flowed in, in a very great abundance. It was at length taken under the direction of parliament, and, from 1756 to 1759, annual and liberal grants were made for its support; in consequence of which children were poured in from every part of the kingdom. This circumstance, after some time, excited a general alarm. It was suggested, that the children, being cut off from all intercourse with their fathers and mothers, would, when they grew up, be aliens in their native land, without any tisible obligations, and consequently without 'affections, | It was farther suggested, that they might look upon themselves as a kind of independent beings in society; and that, if they were permitted to increase as they had lately done, no one could tell what harm might ensue to the state, when there were such numbers who could scarcely be said to be connected with the body politic. Nay, it was asked, whether they might not, in time, rise like the slaves of Rome, and throw the kingdom into confusion? Sentiments of this nature were first thrown out to the world by a Mr. Massie, a political writer of that period. In a pamphlet, entitled “A plan for the establishment of Charity-houses for exposed or deserted women and girls, and for penitent prostitutes,” and which was printed in 1758, he introduced some observations concerning the Foundling Hospital, shewing the ill consequences of its receiving public support. Afterwards, in 1759, he made a second attack upon the Hospital, in a tract written solely for that purpose. In this tract, the good man’s zeal upon the subject led him to several extravagancies and absurdities: but his general principles, concerning the evil that might arise from bringing up large multitudes of people who were not bound to society by the common ties of private and domestic affection, had a powerful influence on the public mind. The indiscriminate admission of infants into the Hospital was put a stop to; parliamentary support was withdrawn; and the institution was left to be maintained, as it now is very handsomely, by the generosity of individuals. 1

1 Biog. Brit.