Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 158

different languages, might be
lengthened greatly by mistranslations, and thence misconceptions of
one another's meaning, much of one of the abbe's letters being founded
on an error in the translation, I concluded to let my papers shift for
themselves, believing it was better to spend what time I could spare
from public business in making new experiments, than in disputing
about those already made. I therefore never answered M. Nollet, and
the event gave me no cause to repent my silence; for my friend M. le
Roy, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, took up my cause and refuted
him; my book was translated into the Italian, German, and Latin
languages; and the doctrine it contain'd was by degrees universally
adopted by the philosophers of Europe, in preference to that of the
abbe; so that he lived to see himself the last of his sect, except
Monsieur B----, of Paris, his _eleve_ and immediate disciple.

What gave my book the more sudden and general celebrity, was the
success of one of its proposed experiments, made by Messrs. Dalibard
and De Lor at Marly, for drawing lightning from the clouds. This
engag'd the public attention everywhere. M. de Lor, who had an
apparatus for experimental philosophy, and lectur'd in that branch of
science, undertook to repeat what he called the _Philadelphia
Experiments_; and, after they were performed before the king and
court, all the curious of Paris flocked to see them. I will not swell
this narrative with an account of that capital experiment, nor of the
infinite pleasure I receiv'd in the success of a similar one I made
soon after with a kite at Philadelphia, as both are to be found in the
histories of electricity.

Dr. Wright, an English physician, when at Paris, wrote to a friend,
who was of the Royal Society, an account of the high esteem my
experiments were in among the learned abroad, and of their wonder that
my writings had been so little noticed in England. The society, on
this, resum'd the consideration of the letters that had been read to
them; and the celebrated Dr. Watson drew up a summary account of them,
and of all I had afterwards sent to England on the subject, which he
accompanied with some praise of the writer. This summary was then
printed in their Transactions; and some members of the society in
London, particularly the very ingenious Mr. Canton, having verified
the experiment of procuring lightning from the clouds by a pointed
rod, and acquainting them with the success, they soon made me more
than amends for the slight with which they had

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 of 2] With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

Page 25
"He was a man of sense, and more deserving than most others in the same post; but, as he was of a modest disposition, he constantly declined, and made great difficulties of engaging himself in public business.
Page 31
From hence also is deduced that admirable art of drawing sundials on any place, howsoever situate, and for any part of the world, to point out the exact time of the day, the sun's declination, altitude, amplitude, azimuth, and other astronomical matters.
Page 55
It would be here of no moment, whether the time of their happiness were measured by _days_ or _hours_, by _months_ or _years_, or by _periods_ of the most immeasurable length: these swiftly-flowing streams bear no proportion to that ocean of infinity where they.
Page 70
I thought this might be in favour of Old England, and that now we should get a good price for our grain, which would bring millions among us, and make us flow.
Page 76
dreadful summoners grace!" This ceremony completed and the house thoroughly evacuated, the next operation is to smear the walls and ceilings of every room and closet with brushes dipped in a solution of lime, called _white wash_; to pour buckets of water over every floor, and scratch all the partitions and wainscots with rough brushes wet with soapsuds and dipped in stonecutter's sand.
Page 86
My affairs went on smoothly while a bachelor; but of late I have met with some difficulties, of which I take the freedom to give you an account.
Page 88
If she can conform.
Page 91
I have been thinking what would be a suitable present for me to make, and for you to receive, as I hear you are grown a celebrated beauty.
Page 107
In the mean time, every act of oppression will sour their tempers, lessen greatly, if not annihilate, the profits of your commerce with them, and hasten their final revolt; for the seeds of liberty are universally found there, and nothing can eradicate them.
Page 108
"MY DEAR FRIEND, "I received your excellent paper on the preferable use of oxen in agriculture, and have put it in the way of being communicated to the public here.
Page 109
--1 Kings iv.
Page 119
Page 132
Here you would know and enjoy what posterity will say of Washington.
Page 152
This man sent home to you, one after another, five of your best generals baffled, their heads bare of laurels, disgraced even in the opinion of their employers.
Page 162
"I am glad to hear that Mr.
Page 171
"MY VERY DEAR FRIEND, "I lately received your kind letter, enclosing one from Miss Kitty Shipley, informing me of the good bishop's decease, which afflicted me greatly.
Page 173
Such instances seem to show that the good sometimes enjoy, in dying, a foretaste of.
Page 184
The earth itself may sometimes be the cause of its own shaking; when the roots or basis of some large mass being dissolved, or worn away by a fluid underneath, it sinks into the same, and, with its weight, occasions a tremour.
Page 223
This, indeed, I have not tried, but I should guess it would rather be driven off through the vessel, especially if the vessel be metal, as being a better conductor than air; and so one should find the basin warmer after such mixture.
Page 225
In yours of May 19, which I have before me, you speak of the ease with which salt water may be made fresh by distillation, supposing it to be, as I had said, that in evaporation the air would take up water, but not the salt that was mixed with it.