Expériences et observations sur l'électricité faites à Philadelphie en Amérique

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 104

des exhalaisons de la
mer; ayant beaucoup de feu électrique, ils soutiennent fortement leur
eau, s'élèvent à une grande hauteur, & poussés par les vents peuvent la
conduire du milieu de l'Océan au milieu du plus vaste continent.

17. Ces nuages électrisés étant poussés par les vents, sont attirés par
les montagnes auxquelles ils communiquent leur feu électrique: alors les
particules d'eau se rapprochent & tombent en rosée, si l'air est peu
chargé; mais s'il est fort chargé, le feu électrique sort tout à la fois
d'un nuage entier, & en l'abandonnant il brille comme un éclair & fait
un bruit violent; dans ce cas les particules d'eau se réunissent faute
de ce feu, & tombent en grosses ondées.

18. Lorsqu'une montagne attire ainsi les nuées, & tire le feu électrique
du premier nuage qui l'aborde, celui qui suit, lorsqu'il approche du
premier actuellement dépouillé de son feu, lui lance le sien, & commence
à déposer son eau propre. Le premier nuage communiquant ce nouveau feu à
la montagne, un troisiéme nuage survient, & tous les autres arrivant
successivement agissent de la même manière sur ceux qui les précèdent &
sur la montagne, d'aussi loin qu'ils s'étendent en arrière, ce qui peut
être sur une étendue de pays de quelques centaines de lieuës.

19. Delà viennent les déluges de pluyes, les tonnerres, les éclairs
presque perpétuels sur les montagnes les plus élevées, du pied
desquelles les plus grands rivières tirent leurs sources.

20. Quoique les endroits voisins des hautes montagnes soient ceux où le
tonnerre est le plus fréquent, ce ne sont pas les seuls qui y soient
sujets; il se fait aussi entendre dans les pays plats & unis, & les
nuages de mer y déposent leurs eaux sans y être arrêtés par les
montagnes. Mais dans ce cas ce sont les nuages de terre qui font
l'office des montagnes. Ceux-ci non-électrisés & beaucoup moins élevés
venant à passer sous ceux-là qui sont électrisés & fort élevés, les
attirent, en reçoivent le feu électrique, & par ce moyen sont contraints
les uns & les autres de laisser tomber subitement les eaux dont ils
étoient chargés.

21. Personne ne doute que les corps électrisés ne soient entourés d'une
atmosphère électrique d'une étenduë considérable & précisément de la
même figure que ces corps. On peut même rendre cette atmosphère visible
en excitant au-dessous du corps électrisé une fumée de résine bien
séche. L'attraction & la répulsion se font dans toute l'étenduë de cette
atmosphère, quoique le feu électrique ne puisse se communiquer de si
loin, du moins avec bruit; c'est pour cette raison qu'un nuage de terre
non-électrisé venant à

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