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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 151

grand idea of ascertaining the
truth of his doctrine by actually drawing down the lightning, by means
of sharp-pointed iron rods raised into the region of the clouds. Even in
this uncertain state, his passion to be useful to mankind displays
itself in a powerful manner. Admitting the identity of electricity and
lightning, and knowing the power of points in repelling bodies charged
with electricity, and in conducting their fire silently and
imperceptibly, he suggested the idea of securing houses, ships, &c.,
from being damaged by lightning, by erecting pointed rods, that should
rise some feet above the most elevated part, and descend some feet into
the ground or the water. The effect of these, he concluded, would be
either to prevent a stroke by repelling the cloud beyond the striking
distance, or by drawing off the electrical fire which it contained; or,
if they could not effect this, they would at least conduct the electric
matter to the earth, without injury to the building.

It was not until the summer of 1752 that he was enabled to complete his
grand and unparalleled discovery by experiment. The plan which he had
originally proposed was to erect on some high tower or other elevated
place a sentry-box, from which should rise a pointed iron rod, insulated
by being fixed in a cake of resin. Electrified clouds passing over this
would, he conceived, impart to it a portion of their electricity, which
would be rendered evident to the senses by sparks being emitted when a
key, the knuckle, or other conductor was presented to it. Philadelphia
at this time afforded no opportunity of trying an experiment of this
kind. While Franklin was waiting for the erection of a spire, it
occurred to him that he might have more ready access to the region of
clouds by means of a common kite. He prepared one by fastening two cross
sticks to a silk handkerchief, which would not suffer so much from the
rain as paper. To the upright stick was affixed an iron point. The
string was, as usual, of hemp, except the lower end, which was silk.
Where the hempen string terminated a key was fastened. With this
apparatus, on the appearance of a thunder-gust approaching, he went out
into the commons, accompanied by his son, to whom alone he communicated
his intentions, well knowing the ridicule which, too generally for the
interest of science, awaits unsuccessful experiments in philosophy. He
placed himself under a shade to avoid the rain; his kite was raised; a
thunder-cloud passed over it; no sign of electricity appeared. He almost
despaired of success,

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 0
In 1748 he sold his business in order to get leisure for study, having now acquired comparative wealth; and in a few years he had made discoveries that gave him a reputation with the learned throughout Europe.
Page 21
has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other book, except perhaps the Bible.
Page 26
Bradford had not been bred to it, and was very illiterate; and Keimer, tho' something of a scholar, was a mere compositor, knowing nothing of presswork.
Page 28
I prais'd it much, the happy life I led in it, expressing strongly my intention of returning to it; and, one of them asking what kind of money we had there, I produc'd a handful of silver, and spread it before them, which was a kind of raree-show they had not been us'd to, paper being the money of Boston.
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In this passage Mr.
Page 48
[5] The "Journal" was printed by Sparks, from a copy made at Reading in 1787.
Page 50
He went directly, sign'd the indentures, was put into the ship, and came over, never writing a line to acquaint his friends what was become of him.
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Bradford still printed the votes, and laws, and other publick business.
Page 62
I never went out a fishing or shooting; a book, indeed, sometimes debauch'd me from my work, but that was seldom, snug, and gave no scandal; and, to show that I was not above my business, I sometimes brought home the paper I purchas'd at the stores thro' the streets on a wheelbarrow.
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Proceeding thus to the last, I could go thro' a course compleat in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year.
Page 81
" I used also sometimes a little prayer which I took from Thomson's Poems, viz.
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My list of virtues contain'd at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having.
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, and I adopted, instead of them, I conceive, I apprehend, or I imagine a thing to be so or so; or it so appears to me at present.
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I generally carried my points.
Page 90
The bringing all these scatter'd counsels thus into a focus enabled them to make greater impression.
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as those preceding languages had greatly smooth'd my way.
Page 101
" He reply'd, that if I made that kind offer for Christ's sake, I should not miss of a reward.
Page 118
I ask'd who employ'd her to sweep there; she said, "Nobody, but I am very poor and in distress, and I sweeps before gentlefolkses doors, and hopes.
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I was at the entertainment given by the city of New York to Lord Loudoun, on his taking upon him the command.
Page 159
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