Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 24

Hence clouds formed by vapours raised from fresh waters within land,
from growing vegetables, moist earth, &c. more speedily and easily deposite
their water, having but little electrical fire to repel and keep the
particles separate. 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.

27. But clouds formed by vapours raised from the sea, having both fires,
and particularly a great quantity of the electrical, support their water
strongly, raise it high, and being moved by winds may bring it over the
middle of the broadest continent from the middle of the widest ocean.

28. How these ocean clouds, so strongly supporting their water, are made to
deposite it on the land where 'tis wanted, is next to be considered.

29. If they are driven by winds against mountains, those mountains being
less electrified attract them, and on contact take away their electrical
fire (and being cold, the common fire also;) hence the particles close
towards the mountains and towards each other. If the air was not much
loaded, it only falls in dews on the mountain tops and sides, forms
springs, and descends to the vales in rivulets, which united make larger
streams and rivers. If much loaded, the electrical fire is at once taken
from the whole cloud; and, in leaving it, flashes brightly and cracks
loudly; the particles instantly coalescing for want of that fire, and
falling in a heavy shower.

30. When a ridge of mountains thus dams the clouds, and draws the
electrical fire from the cloud first approaching it; that which next
follows, when it comes near the first cloud, now deprived of its fire,
flashes into it, and begins to deposite its own water; the first cloud
again flashing into the mountains; the third approaching cloud, and all the
succeeding ones, acting in the same manner as far back as they extend,
which may be over many hundred miles of country.

31. Hence the continual storms of rain, thunder, and lightning on the
east-side of the _Andes_, which running north and south, and being vastly
high, intercept all the clouds brought against them from the _Atlantic_
ocean by the trade winds, and oblige them to deposite their waters, by
which the vast rivers _Amazons_, _La Plata_, and _Oroonoko_ are formed,
which return the water into the same sea, after

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