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 154

* * *

"_George Wheatley._

"Passy, May 23, 1785.


"I sent you a few lines the other day with the medallion, when I should
have written more, but was prevented by the coming in of a _bavard_, who
worried me till evening. I bore with him, and now you are to bear with
me: for I shall probably _bavarder_ in answering your letter.

"I am not acquainted with the saying of Alphonsus, which you allude to
as a sanctification of your rigidity in refusing to allow me the plea of
old age as an excuse for my want of exactness in correspondence. What
was that saying? You do not, it seems, feel any occasion for such an
excuse, though you are, as you say, rising 75. But I am rising (perhaps
more properly falling) 80, and I leave the excuse with you till you
arrive at that age; perhaps you may then be more sensible of its
validity, and see fit to use it for yourself.

"I must agree with you that the gout is bad, and that the stone is
worse. I am happy in not having them both together, and I join in your
prayer that you may live till you die without either. But I doubt the
author of the epitaph you send me was a little mistaken, when he,
speaking of the world, says that

"'He ne'er cared a pin
What they said or may say of the mortal within.'

"It is so natural to wish to be well spoken of, whether alive or dead,
that I imagine he could not be quite exempt from that desire; and that
at least he wished to be thought a wit, or he would not have given
himself the trouble of writing so good an epitaph to leave behind him.
Was it not as worthy of his care that the world should say he was an
honest and a good man? I like better the concluding sentiment in the old
song, called the _Old Man's Wish_,

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Text Comparison with Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

Page 1
_ _It has, indeed, been of late the fashion to ascribe every grand or unusual operation of nature, such as lightening and earthquakes, to electricity; not, as one would imagine, from the manner of reasoning on these occasions, that the authors of these schemes have, discovered any connection betwixt the cause and effect, or saw in what manner they were related; but, as it would seem, merely because they were unacquainted with any other agent, of which it could not positively be said the connection was impossible.
Page 9
If they touch while electrising, the equality is never destroy'd, the fire only circulating.
Page 11
Page 13
When a bottle is charged in the common way, its _inside_ and _outside_ surfaces stand ready, the one to give fire by the hook, the other to receive it by the coating; the one is full, and ready to throw out, the other empty and extremely hungry; yet as the first will not _give out_, unless the other can at the same instant _receive in_; so neither will the latter receive in, unless the first can at the same instant give out.
Page 15
We then took two plates of lead of equal dimensions, but less than the glass by two inches every way, and electrified the glass between them, by electrifying the uppermost lead; then separated the glass from the lead, in doing which, what little fire might be in the lead was taken out and the glass being touched in the electrified parts with a finger, afforded only very small pricking sparks, but a great number of them might be taken from different places.
Page 17
On the principle, in s 7, that hooks of bottles, differently charged, will attract and repel differently, is made, an electrical wheel, that turns with considerable strength.
Page 18
'Tis made of a thin round plate of window-glass, seventeen inches diameter, well gilt on both sides, all but two inches next the edge.
Page 20
There is one experiment more which surprizes us, and is not hitherto satisfactorily accounted for; it is this.
Page 21
Page 24
If much loaded, the electrical fire is at once taken from the whole cloud; and, in leaving it, flashes brightly and cracks loudly; the particles instantly coalescing for want of that fire, and falling in a heavy shower.
Page 25
In the collision they shake off and drop their water, which represents rain.
Page 36
But if a needle be stuck on the end of the punch, its point upwards, the scale, instead of drawing nigh to the punch and snapping, discharges its fire silently through the point, and rises higher from the punch.
Page 37
On the top of some high tower or steeple, place a kind of sentry-box, (as in FIG.
Page 38
The biggest animal we have yet killed or try'd to kill with the electrical stroke, was a well-grown pullet.
Page 42
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.
Page 46
Page 48
And besides, when the globe is filled with cinnamon, or other non-electric, no electrical fluid can be obtain'd from its outer surface, for the reason before-mentioned.
Page 50
For the globe then draws the electrical fire out of the outside surface of the phial, and forces it, through the prime conductor and wire of the phial, into the inside surface.
Page 51
We soon found that it was only necessary for one of them to stand on wax.
Page 52
of studying it; with its Analysis or Division into Species, according to former Authors, and a new Plan, shewing the Errors and Defects of those by Varenius, Sanson, la Mattiniere, Pere Castel, etc.