Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 42

greatest quantity. This latter position may seem
a paradox to some, being contrary to the hitherto received opinion; and
therefore I shall now endeavour to explain it.

28. In order to this, let it first be considered, _that we cannot, by any
means we are yet acquainted with, force the electrical fluid thro' glass_.
I know it is commonly thought that it easily pervades glass, and the
experiment of a feather suspended by a thread in a bottle hermetically
sealed, yet moved by bringing a nibbed tube near the outside of the bottle,
is alledged to prove it. But, if the electrical fluid so easily pervades
glass, how does the vial become _charged_ (as we term it) when we hold it
in our hands? Would not the fire thrown in by the wire pass through to our
hands, and so escape into the floor? Would not the bottle in that case be
left just as we found it, uncharged, as we know a metal bottle so attempted
to be charged would be? Indeed, if there be the least crack, the minutest
solution of continuity in the glass, though it remains so tight that
nothing else we know of will pass, yet the extremely subtile electrical
fluid flies through such a crack with the greatest freedom, and such a
bottle we know can never be charged: What then makes the difference between
such a bottle and one that is sound, but this, that the fluid can pass
through the one, and not through the other?[8]

29. It is true there is an experiment that at first sight would be apt to
satisfy a slight observer, that the fire thrown into the bottle by the
wire, does really pass thro' the glass. It is this: place the bottle on a
glass stand, under the prime conductor; suspend a bullet by a chain from
the prime conductor, till it comes within a quarter of an inch right over
the wire of the bottle; place your knuckle on the glass stand, at just the
same distance from the coating of the bottle, as the bullet is from its
wire. Now let the globe be turned, and you see a spark strike from the
bullet to the wire of the bottle, and the same instant you see and feel an
exactly equal spark striking from the coating on your knuckle, and so on
spark for spark. This looks as if the whole received by the bottle was
again discharged from it. And yet the bottle by this means is charged![9]
And therefore the fire that thus leaves

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 2
So I might, besides correcting the faults, change some sinister accidents and events of it for others more favorable.
Page 4
, of his own poetry, consisting of little occasional pieces addressed to his friends and relations, of which the following, sent to me, is a specimen.
Page 18
now that I was rather lucky in my judges, and that perhaps they were not really so very good ones as I then esteem'd them.
Page 27
In the mean time the intention was to be kept a secret, and I went on working with Keimer as usual, the governor sending for me now and then to dine with him, a very great honor I thought it, and conversing with me in the most affable, familiar, and friendly manner imaginable.
Page 39
Ralph and I were inseparable companions.
Page 53
They had me to their houses, introduced me to their friends, and show'd me much civility; while he, tho' the master, was a little neglected.
Page 54
childhood piously in the Dissenting way.
Page 83
{ 10 } { 11 } { 12 } NIGHT.
Page 88
Page 93
I have already mention'd that I had only one year's instruction in a Latin school, and that when very young, after which I neglected that language entirely.
Page 94
; for, tho', after spending the same time, they should quit the study of languages and never arrive at the Latin, they would, however, have acquired another tongue or two, that, being in modern use, might be serviceable to them in common life.
Page 98
Associates in this scheme were presently found, amounting to thirty.
Page 102
Critics attack'd his writings violently, and with so much appearance of reason as to diminish the number of his votaries and prevent their encrease; so that I am of opinion if he had never written any thing, he would have left behind him a much more numerous and important sect, and his reputation might in that case have been still growing, even after his death, as there being nothing of his writing on which to found a censure and give him a lower character, his proselytes would be left at liberty to feign for him as great a variety of excellence as their enthusiastic admiration might wish him to have possessed.
Page 103
Peters, who was out of employ, a fit person to superintend such an institution, I communicated the project to him; but he, having more profitable views in the service of the proprietaries, which succeeded, declin'd the undertaking; and, not knowing another at that time suitable for such a trust, I let the scheme lie a while dormant.
Page 119
" I bid her sweep the whole street clean, and I would give her a shilling; this was at nine o'clock; at 12 she came for the shilling.
Page 128
Page 129
Clair, the hussar, with a body of soldiers, will immediately enter the province for the purpose, which I shall be sorry to hear, because I am very sincerely and truly your friend and well-wisher, B.
Page 144
In the West India islands, indeed, it was with difficulty the experiments could be made, from the general moisture of the air.
Page 153
While we stood there, the ship mended her pace, and soon left her neighbour far behind, which prov'd clearly what our captain suspected, that she was loaded too much by the head.
Page 161
1749 Appointed a Commissioner to trade with the Indians.