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 154

asserted, that the honour of completing the
experiment with the electrical kite does not belong to Franklin. Some
late English paragraphs have attributed it to some Frenchman, whose name
they do not mention: and the Abbe Bertholon gives it to M. de Romas,
assessor to the presideal of Nerac: the English paragraphs probably
refer to the same person. But a very slight attention will convince us
of the injustice of this procedure: Dr. Franklin's experiment was made
in June, 1752, and his letter, giving an account of it, is dated October
19, 1752. M. de Romas made his first attempt on the 14th of May, 1753,
but was not successful until the 7th of June, a year after Franklin had
completed the discovery, and when it was known to all the philosophers
in Europe.

Besides these great principles, Franklin's letters on electricity
contain a number of facts and hints which have contributed greatly
towards reducing this branch of knowledge to a science. His friend, Mr.
Kinnersley, communicated to him a discovery of the different kinds of
electricity, excited by rubbing glass and sulphur. This, we have said,
was first observed by M. du Faye, but it was for many years neglected.
The philosophers were disposed to account for the phenomena rather from
a difference in the quantity of electricity collected, and even Du Faye
himself seems at last to have adopted this doctrine. Franklin at first
entertained the same idea; but, upon repeating the experiment, he
perceived that Mr. Kinnersley was right; and that the _vitreous_ and
_resinous_ electricity of Du Faye were nothing more than the _positive_
and _negative_ states which he had before observed; and that the glass
globe charged _positively_, or increased the quantity of electricity on
the prime conductor, while the globe of sulphur diminishes its natural
quantity, or charged _negatively_. These experiments and observations
opened a new field for investigation, upon which electricians entered
with avidity, and their labours have added much to the stock of our

In September, 1752, Franklin entered upon a course of experiments to
determine the state of electricity in the clouds. From a number of
experiments he formed this conclusion: "That the clouds of a
thunder-gust are most commonly in a negative state of electricity, but
sometimes in a positive state;" and from this it follows, as a necessary
consequence, "that, for the most part, in thunder-strokes, it is the
earth that strikes into the clouds, and not the clouds that strike into
the earth." The letter containing these observations is dated in
September, 1753; and yet the discovery of ascending thunder has been
said to be of a

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

Page 1
During the delay he visited the ancient home of his family, and made the acquaintance of men of mark, receiving also that degree of Doctor of Civil Law by which he came to be known as Dr.
Page 16
As we parted without settling the point, and were not to see each other again for some time, I sat down to put my arguments in writing, which I copied fair and sent to him.
Page 17
My time for these exercises and for reading was at night after work, or before it began in the morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the printing house alone, evading as much as I could the common attendance on public worship, which my father used to exact of me when I was under.
Page 18
[30] While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English grammar (I think it was Greenwood's), at the end of which there were two little sketches of the arts of rhetoric and logic, the latter finishing with a specimen of a dispute in the Socratic method;[31] and soon after I procured Xenophon's "Memorable Things of Socrates," wherein there are many instances of the same method.
Page 25
I have since found that it 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 58
But I was scarce fifteen when, after doubting by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of revelation itself.
Page 70
I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that room, where they would not only be ready to.
Page 78
Conceiving then that, agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras in his "Golden Verses,"[111] daily examination would be necessary, I contrived the following method for conducting that examination.
Page 88
"That the different views of these different parties occasion all confusion.
Page 99
I thereupon wrote a paper to be read in Junto, representing these irregularities, but insisting more particularly on the inequality of this six-shilling tax of the constables respecting the circumstances of those who paid it, since a poor widow housekeeper, all whose property to be guarded by the watch did not perhaps exceed the value of fifty pounds, paid as much as the wealthiest merchant, who had thousands of pounds' worth of goods in his stores.
Page 102
to be affected by the preacher.
Page 108
Logan, who had always been of that sect, was one who wrote an address to them, declaring his approbation of defensive war and supporting his opinion by many strong arguments.
Page 123
The House approved the nomination, and provided the goods for the present, though they did not much like treating out of the provinces; and we met the other commissioners at Albany about the middle of June.
Page 130
Page 133
Clair, the hussar,[168] 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 wellwisher, B.
Page 138
the discharge of the servants of three poor farmers of Lancaster County that he had enlisted, reminding him of the late general's orders on that head.
Page 147
] [Footnote 173: The historian and philosopher.
Page 148
Fothergill wrote the preface.
Page 150
The society, on this, resumed the consideration of the letters that had been read to them; and the celebrated Dr.
Page 157
It has been remarked, as an imperfection in the art of ship building, that it can never be known, till she is tried, whether a new ship will or will not be a good sailer; for that the model of a good sailing ship has been exactly followed in a new one, which has proved, on the contrary, remarkably dull.