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City Charter:   History of Bishop Berkeley


"Westward the course of empire takes its way
The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day:
Time's noblest offspring is the last."

George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, a distinguished Irish philosopher and writer, after whom Berkeley California is named, was born at Dysert Castle, near Thomastown, Ireland, March 12, 1685.  Educated in Trinity College, Dublin, he was appointed in Episcopal prelate, and devoted himself to literature and to philanthropic efforts to establish in America a college for the education and conversion of the Indians to Christianity.  He lived nearly four years in Rhode Island, respected, esteemed and beloved by the people of early New England.  The British government neglected to furnish the promised funds for the college, and, having exhausted much of his own fortune in his benevolent design, Bishop Berkeley was compelled to return to his native land.  So powerfully impressed had he become with the great future of the American colonies that he wrote the famous poem, "Destiny of America," the concluding stanza of which is quoted above.  Alexander Pope, his intimate friend, declared he was "possessed of every virtue." He died January 14, 1753, at Oxford, England.


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