Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 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 130


* * * * *

"_Dr. Priestley._

"Passy, February 8, 1780.


"Your kind letter of September 27 came to hand but very lately, the
bearer having stayed long in Holland.

"I always rejoice to hear of your being still employed in experimental
researches into nature, and of the success you meet with. The rapid
progress _true_ science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes
that I was born so soon: it is impossible to imagine the height to which
may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter; we
may perhaps learn to deprive large masses of their gravity, and give
them absolute levity for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may
diminish its labour and double its produce; all diseases may by sure
means be prevented or cured (not excepting even that of old age), and
our lives lengthened at pleasure even beyond the antediluvian standard.
Oh! that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement; that men
would cease to be wolves to one another; and that human beings would at
length learn what they now improperly call humanity!

"I am glad that my little paper on the Aurora Borealis pleased. If it
should occasion farther inquiry, and so produce a better hypothesis, it
will not be wholly useless.


* * * * *

[Enclosed in the foregoing letter; being an answer to a separate
paper received from Dr. Priestley]

"I have considered the situation of that person very attentively; I
think that, with a little help from the _Moral Algebra_, he

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

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The recent bi-centenary of Franklin's birth, which coincided with the revival of interest in balloons, makes this a timely topic, especially since Franklin's descriptions of the first balloon ascensions are almost unknown and do not appear among his philosophical papers.
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[3] [1] The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, collected and edited by Albert Henry Smyth, Volume IX, New York, 1906.
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Since writing the above, I am favour'd with your kind Letter of the 25th.
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Montgolfier's Way will not cost more than half a Crown.
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) PASSY, Oct.
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I send you enclosed the Proposals, which it is said are already subscribed to by a considerable number and likely to be carried into execution.
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but there was at the same time a good deal of Anxiety for their Safety.
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This Balloon of only 26 feet diameter being filled with Air ten times lighter than common.
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When we have learnt to manage it, we may hope some time or other to find Uses for it, as Men have done for Magnetism and Electricity of which the first Experiments were mere Matters of Amusement.
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With great and sincere Esteem, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obed^t & most humble Servant, B.
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When it arrived at its height, which I suppose might be 3 or 400 Toises, it appeared to have only horizontal Motion.
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" Both Bigelow and Smyth give another paragraph in the Postscript, beyond the signature "B.
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Some superscripts were silently converted to regular characters (i.
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" in "Sir JOSEPH BANKS, Bar^t.