Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 28

surface of your body; whereas, if
your clothes were dry, it would go thro' the body.

Hence a wet rat cannot be killed by the exploding electrical bottle, when a
dry rat may.

46. Common fire is in all bodies, more or less, as well as electrical fire.
Perhaps they may be different modifications of the same element; or they
may be different elements. The latter is by some suspected.

47. If they are different things, yet they may and do subsist together in
the same body.

48. When electrical fire strikes thro' a body, it acts upon the common fire
contained in it, and puts that fire in motion; and if there be a sufficient
quantity of each kind of fire, the body will be inflamed.

49. When the quantity of common fire in the body is small, the quantity of
the electrical fire (or the electrical stroke) should be greater: if the
quantity of common fire be great, less electrical fire suffices to produce
the effect.

50. Thus spirits must be heated before we can fire them by the electrical
spark. If they are much heated a small spark will do; if not, the spark
must be greater.

51. Till lately we could only fire warm vapours; but now we can burn hard
dry rosin. And when we can procure greater electrical sparks, we may be
able to fire not only unwarm'd spirits, as lightning does, but even wood,
by giving sufficient agitation to the common fire contained in it, as
friction we know will do.

52. Sulphureous and inflammable vapours arising from the earth, are easily
kindled by lightning. Besides what arise from the earth, such vapours are
sent out by stacks of moist hay, corn, or other vegetables, which heat and
reek. Wood rotting in old trees or buildings does the same. Such are
therefore easily and often fired.

53. Metals are often melted by lightning, tho' perhaps not from heat in the
lightning, nor altogether from agitated fire in the metals.--For as
whatever body can insinuate itself between the particles of metal, and
overcome the attraction by which they cohere (as sundry menstrua can) will
make the solid become a fluid, as well as fire, yet without heating it: so
the electrical fire, or lightning, creating a violent repulsion between the
particles of the metal it passes thro', the metal is fused.

54. If you would, by a violent fire, melt off the end of a nail, which is
half driven into a door, the heat given the whole nail before a part would
melt, must burn the board it sticks in. And

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