Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 8

Air, will carry up a greater Weight than the other,
which tho' vastly bigger was filled with an Air that could scarcely be
more than twice as light. Thus the great Bulk of one of these Machines,
with the short duration of its Power, & the great Expence of filling
the other will prevent the Inventions being of so much Use, as some may
expect, till Chemistry can invent a cheaper light Air producible with
more Expedition.

But the Emulation between the two Parties running high, the Improvement
in the Construction and Management of the Balloons has already made
a rapid Progress; and one cannot say how far it may go. A few Months
since the Idea of Witches riding thro' the Air upon a Broomstick, and
that of Philosophers upon a Bag of Smoke, would have appeared equally
impossible and ridiculous.

These Machines must always be subject to be driven by the Winds.
Perhaps Mechanic Art may find easy means to give them progressive
Motion in a Calm, and to slant them a little in the Wind.

I am sorry this Experiment is totally neglected in England where
mechanic Genius is so strong. I wish I could see the same Emulation
between the two Nations as I see between the two Parties here. Your
Philosophy seems to be too bashful. In this Country we are not so much
afraid of being laught at. If we do a foolish thing, we are the first
to laugh at it ourselves, and are almost as much pleased with a _Bon
Mot_ or a good _Chanson_, that ridicules well the Disappointment of
a Project, as we might have been with its Success. It does not seem
to me a good reason to decline prosecuting a new Experiment which
apparently increases the Power of Man over Matter, till we can see to
what Use that Power may be applied. When we have learnt to manage it,
we may hope some time or other to find Uses for it, as Men have done
for Magnetism and Electricity of which the first Experiments were mere
Matters of Amusement.

This Experience is by no means a trifling one. It may be attended with
important Consequences that no one can foresee. We should not suffer
Pride to prevent our progress in Science. Beings of a Rank and Nature
far superior to ours have not disdained to amuse themselves with making
and launching Balloons, otherwise we should never have enjoyed the
Light of those glorious objects that rule our Day & Night, nor have had
the Pleasure of riding round the Sun ourselves upon the

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

Page 0
Page 20
Page 85
--Where then is the mighty vis inertiæ, and what is its strength; when the greatest assignable mass of matter will give way to, or be moved by the _least_ assignable force? Suppose two globes, equal to the sun and to one another, exactly equipoised in Jove's balance; suppose no friction in the centre of motion, in the beam or elsewhere: if a musketo then were to light on one of them, would he not give motion to them both, causing one to descend and the other to rise? If it is objected, that the force of gravity helps one globe to descend, I answer, the same force opposes the other's rising: here is an equality that leaves the whole motion to be produced by the musketo, without whom those globes would not be moved at all.
Page 95
Page 110
At length being at Clapham, where there is, on the common, a large pond, which I observed one day to be very rough with the wind, I fetched out a cruet of oil, and dropt a little of it on the water.
Page 171
I know by experience, that it is a great comfort to a swimmer, who has a considerable distance to go, to turn himself sometimes on his back, and to vary in other respects the means of procuring a progressive motion.
Page 188
A false back of four inch (or, in shallow small chimneys, two inch) brick work is to be made in the chimney, four inches or more from the true back; from the top of this false back a closing is to be made over to the breast of the chimney, that no air may pass into the chimney, but what goes under the false back, and up behind it.
Page 217
a free issue from the funnel, must push out of its way or oblige the air that is over it to rise.
Page 224
_Notes for the Letter upon Chimneys.
Page 231
_ [52] See Notes at the end of the Letter, No.
Page 272
progress, the study of our tongue might become much more general.
Page 278
| es |This sound is formed by the breath | | | .
Page 288
Smith's hands, for the purpose of being digested, and in due time published among the transactions of that body.
Page 289
The master then to read the piece with the proper modulations of voice, due emphasis, and suitable action, where action is required; and put the youth on imitating his manner.
Page 290
Speeches and scenes in our best tragedies and comedies (avoiding every thing, that could injure the morals of youth) might likewise be got by rote, and the boys exercised in delivering or acting them: great care being taken to form their manner after the truest models.
Page 324
I have land, and raise corn.
Page 345
It was against granting the petition of the sect called erika, or purists, who prayed for the abolition of piracy and slavery, as being unjust.
Page 357
Page 369
_ _God_, saying in America respecting, iii.
Page 395
been added, or removed, in the index.