Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 4

as fast as that Wind,
and over Hedges, Ditches & even Waters. It has been even fancied that
in time People will keep such Globes anchored in the Air, to which by
Pullies they may draw up Game to be preserved in the Cool & Water to be
frozen when Ice is wanted. And that to get Money, it will be contrived
to give People an extensive View of the Country, by running them up in
an Elbow Chair a Mile high for a Guinea &c. &c.

B. F.


PASSY, Oct. 8, 1783.


The Publick were promised a printed particular Account of the Rise
& Progress of the Balloon Invention, to be published about the End
of last month. I waited for it to send it to you, expecting it would
be more satisfactory than anything I could write; but it does not
appear. We have only at present the enclosed Pamphlet, which does
not answer the expectation given us. I send you with it some prints.
That of the Balloon raised at Versailles is said to be an exact
representation. I was not present, but am told it was filled in about
ten minutes by means of burning Straw. Some say water was thrown into
the flame, others that it was Spirits of Sal Volatile. It was supposed
to have risen about 200 Toises: But did not continue long at that
height, was carried horizontally by the Wind, and descended gently
as the Air within grew cooler. So vast a Bulk when it began to rise
so majestically in the Air struck the spectators with surprise and
Admiration. The Basket contained a sheep, a duck, and a Cock, who,
except the Cock, received no hurt by the fall.

The Duke de Crillon made a feast last week in the Bois de Boulogne,
just by my habitation, on occasion of the Birth of two Spanish Princes;
after the Fireworks we had a Balloon of about 5 feet Diameter filled
with permanent inflammable Air. It was dismissed about One aClock in
the Morning. It carried under it a large Lanthorn with inscriptions on
its sides. The Night was quite calm and clear, so that it went right
up. The appearance of the light diminished gradually till it appeared
no bigger than one of the Stars, and in about twenty minutes I lost
sight of it entirely. It fell the next Day on the other side of the
same Wood near the Village Boulogne, about half after twelve, having
been suspended in the Air eleven hours and a half. It lodged in

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Text Comparison with Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

Page 5
Lay two books on two glasses, back towards back, two or three Inches distant.
Page 6
_I am_, &c.
Page 7
By breathing on it.
Page 9
After such strong spark, neither of them discover any electricity.
Page 14
_ we may take away part of it from one of the sides, provided we throw an equal quantity into the other.
Page 15
Page 21
Water being electrified, the vapours arising from it will be equally electrified; and floating in the air, in the form of clouds, or otherwise, will retain that quantity of electrical fire, till they meet with other clouds or bodies not so much electrified, and then will communicate as beforementioned.
Page 24
So that the greatest part of the water raised from the land is let fall on the land again; and winds blowing from the land to the sea are dry; there being little use for rain on the sea, and to rob the land of its moisture, in order to rain on the sea, would not appear reasonable.
Page 26
Page 30
'Tis supposed, that all kinds of common matter do not attract and retain the electrical, with equal strength and force; for reasons to be given hereafter.
Page 34
And as in plucking the hairs from the horse's tail, a degree of strength insufficient to pull away a handful at once, could yet easily strip it hair by hair; so a blunt body presented cannot draw off a number of particles at once, but a pointed one, with no greater force, takes them away easily, particle by particle.
Page 37
If the electrical stand be kept clean and dry, a man standing on it when such clouds are passing low, might be electrified and afford sparks, the rod drawing fire to him from a cloud.
Page 38
The manner is this: Take leaf gold, leaf silver, or leaf gilt copper, commonly called leaf brass or _Dutch_ gold: cut off from the leaf long narrow strips the breadth of a straw.
Page 41
Page 43
If so, there must be a great quantity in glass, because a great quantity is thus discharged even from very thin glass.
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more of this electrical fluid than other common matter: That when it is blown, as it cools, and the particles of common fire leave it, its pores become a vacuum: That the component parts of glass are extremely small and fine, I guess from its never showing a rough face when it breaks, but always a polish; and from the smallness of its particles I suppose the pores between them must be exceeding small, which is the reason that Aqua-fortis, nor any other menstruum we have, can enter to separate them and dissolve the substance; nor is any fluid we know of, fine enough to enter, except common fire, and the electrical fluid.
Page 45
--Glass, a body extremely elastic (and perhaps its elasticity may be owing in some degree to the subsisting of so great a quantity of this repelling fluid in its pores) must, when rubbed, have its rubbed surface somewhat stretched, or its solid parts drawn a little farther asunder, so that the vacancies in which the electrical fluid resides, become larger, affording room for more of that fluid, which is immediately attracted into it from the cushion or hand rubbing, they being supply'd from the common stock.
Page 49
I have already made this paper too long, for which I must crave pardon, not having now time to make it shorter.
Page 50
Hang two cork balls by flaxen threads to the prime conductor; then touch the coating of the bottle, and they will be electrified and recede from each other.
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The whole illustrated with Notes and References to the principal Geographers whose different Sentiments are cited and examined.