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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 112

chez moi la même odeur, & mes
domestiques s'en sont apperçus sans que je leur aie rien dit.»

«Voilà, Monsieur, un récit fait à la hâte, mais naïf & vrai que
j'atteste, & vous pouvez assurer que je suis prêt à rendre témoignage de
cet événement dans toutes occasions. Coiffier a été le premier qui a
fait l'expérience, & l'a répétée plusieurs fois; ce n'est qu'à
l'occasion de ce qu'il a vû qu'il m'a envoyé prier de venir. S'il étoit
besoin d'autres témoins que de lui & moi, vous les trouveriez. Coiffier
presse pour partir.»

«Je suis avec une respectueuse considération, Monsieur, votre, &c. signé
Raulet, Prieur de Marly. 10. _Mai_ 1752.»

On voit par le détail de cette lettre que le fait est assez bien
constaté pour ne laisser aucun doute à ce sujet. Le porteur m'a assuré
de vive voix qu'il avoit tiré pendant près d'un quart-d'heure avant que
M. le Prieur arrivât, en présence de cinq ou six personnes, des
étincelles beaucoup plus fortes & plus bruyantes que celles dont il est
parlé dans la lettre. Ces premières personnes arrivant successivement
n'osoient approcher qu'à dix ou douze pas de la machine, & à cette
distance, malgré le plein soleil, ils voyoient les étincelles & en
entendoient le bruit.

Il ne parut point d'aigrette lumineuse à la pointe de la verge de fer;
il y en avoit cependant une, & Coiffier m'a dit y avoir apperçu une
très-foible lueur; mais d'abord la lumière du soleil, & ensuite
l'opacité de la grêle la dérobèrent bientôt à la vûe; d'ailleurs il y a
toute apparence que l'aigrette seroit plus visible à la pointe d'une
verge de fer qui ne seroit point isolée.

La comparaison des odeurs du tonnerre & de l'électricité n'a point
échapé à mes recherches pour en tirer une preuve de leur identité; mais
comme je ne connois point assez l'odeur du météore, je n'ai pas voulu
m'y arrêter. Pour l'odeur de soufre dont il est parlé dans la lettre,
elle pourroit bien être la même que celle de phosphore que l'on sent
après de violentes explosions dans certaines expériences électriques.
Quand on ne connoît pas bien distinctement l'une & l'autre, il est fort
aisé de s'y méprendre.

Enfin il me paroît évidemment prouvé par l'expérience de Marly que le
tonnerre est pour le moins aussi propre que le globe de verre à
communiquer l'électricité aux corps non-électriques, & que les corps
originairement électriques, comme le verre & la soye, retiennent aussi
bien cette électricité naturelle que celle qu'on excite
artificiellement. Je ne doute même point, & je crois que personne n'en
doutera, que si l'orage duroit quelque

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