Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

By Benjamin Franklin

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reflections, to a
probable cause of those phaenomena, which are at once the most awful, and,
hitherto, accounted for with the least verisimilitude._

_He exhibits to our consideration, an invisible, subtile matter,
disseminated through all nature in various proportions, equally unobserved,
and, whilst all those bodies to which it peculiarly adheres are alike
charged with it, inoffensive._

_He shews, however, that if an unequal distribution is by any means brought
about; if there is a coacervation in one part of space, a less proportion,
vacuity, or want, in another; by the near approach of a body capable of
conducting the coacervated part to the emptier space, it becomes perhaps
the most formidable and irresistible agent in the universe. Animals are in
an Instant struck breathless, bodies almost impervious by any force yet
known, are perforated, and metals fused by it, in a moment._

_From the similar effects of lightening and electricity our author has been
led to make some propable conjectures on the cause of the former; and at
the same time, to propose some rational experiments in order to secure
ourselves, and those things on which its force is often directed, from its
pernicious effects; a circumstance of no small importance to the publick,
and therefore worthy of the utmost attention._

_It has, indeed, been of late the fashion to ascribe every grand or unusual
operation of nature, such as lightening and earthquakes, to electricity;
not, as one would imagine, from the manner of reasoning on these occasions,
that the authors of these schemes have, discovered any connection betwixt
the cause and effect, or saw in what manner they were related; but, as it
would seem, merely because they were unacquainted with any other agent, of
which it could not positively be said the connection was impossible._

_But of these, and many other interesting circumstances, the reader will be
more satisfactorily informed in the following letters, to which he is
therefore referred by_

_The_ EDITOR.




[Illustration]




LETTER I.

FROM

Mr BENJ. FRANKLIN, in _Philadelphia_.

TO

Mr PETER COLLINSON, F.R.S. _London_.

_July 28, 1747_.

_SIR_,

THE necessary trouble of copying long letters, which perhaps when they come
to your hands may contain nothing new, or worth your reading (so quick is
the progress made with you in Electricity) half discourages me from writing
any more on that subject. Yet I cannot forbear adding a few observations on
M. _Muschenbroek_'s wonderful bottle.

1. The non-electric contain'd in the bottle differs when electrised from a
non-electric electrised out of the bottle, in this: that the electrical
fire of the latter is accumulated _on its surface_, and forms an electrical
atmosphere round it of considerable extent: but the

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 1 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 37
Understanding that Colonel French had brought on board the governor's despatches, I asked the captain for those letters that were to be under my care; he said all were put into the bag together, and he could not then come at them, but before we landed in England I should have an opportunity of picking them out; so I was satisfied for the present, and we proceeded on our voyage.
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This, and my being esteemed a pretty good _rig-ite_, that is, a jocular verbal satirist, supported my consequence in the society.
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For the incidents of the voyage I refer you to my journal, where you will find them all minutely related.
Page 49
I am sensible I am no workman: if you like it, your skill in the business shall be set against the stock I furnish, and we will share the profits equally.
Page 51
Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of the sermons which had been preached at Boyle's Lectures.
Page 67
Not that I think the work would have no other merit and use in the world; far from it: but the first is of such vast importance, that I know nothing that can equal it.
Page 73
For the furtherance of human happiness, I have always maintained that it is necessary to prove that man is not even at present a vicious and detestable animal; and still more to prove that good management may greatly amend him; and it is for much the same reason that I am anxious to see the opinion established, that there are fair characters among the individuals of the race; for the moment that all men, without exception, shall be conceived abandoned, good people will cease .
Page 96
The advantages proposed were the improvement of so many more young citizens by the use of our institutions; our better acquaintance with the general sentiments of the inhabitants on any occasion, as the junto member might propose what queries we should desire, and was to report to the _Junto_ what passed in his separate club: the promotion of our particular interests in business by more extensive recommendation, and the increase of our influence in public affairs, and our power of doing good by spreading through the several clubs the sentiments of the _Junto_.
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This pamphlet had a good effect.
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that the dust would fly into the windows of shops and houses.
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, and readily paid my account of disbursements; thanking me repeatedly, and requesting my farther assistance in sending provisions after him.
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"And so they may," answered my informer, "if you let the parties choose for themselves:" which, indeed, I could not deny.
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It was about the beginning of April that I came to New-York, and I think it was near the end of June before we sailed.
Page 142
" "How so?" "I have called here this and every morning these two weeks past for his lordship's letters, and they are not yet ready.
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They killed small birds, and set spirits on fire.
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_ By the regulations of last year, the rate of postage was generally abated near thirty per cent.
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_Q.
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But the wickedness cannot be covered; the guilt will lie on the whole land, till justice is done on the murderers.
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A father and his family, the latter united by interest and affection, the former to be revered for the wisdom of his institutions and the indulgent use of his authority, was the form it was at first presented in.
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p.