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 186


Thunder, which is the effect of the trembling of the air, caused by the
same vapours dispersed through it, has force enough to shake our houses;
and why there may not be thunder and lightning under ground, in some
vast repositories there, I see no reason; especially if we reflect that
the matter which composes the noisy vapour above us is in much larger
quantities under ground.

That the earth abounds in cavities everybody allows; and that these
subterraneous cavities are, at certain times and in certain seasons,
full of inflammable vapours, the damps in mines sufficiently witness,
which, fired, do everything as in an earthquake, save in a lesser

Add that the pyrites alone, of all the known minerals, yields this
inflammable vapour, is highly probable; for that no mineral or ore
whatsoever is sulphurous, but as it is wholly or in part a pyrites, and
that there is but one species of brimstone which the pyrites naturally
and only yields. The _sulphur vive_, or natural brimstone, which is
found in and about the burning mountains, is certainly the effects of
sublimation, and those great quantities of it said to be found about the
skirts of volcanoes is only an argument of the long duration and
vehemence of those fires. Possibly the pyrites of the volcanoes, or
burning mountains, may be more sulphurous than ours; and, indeed, it is
plain that some of ours in England are very lean, and hold but little
sulphur; others again very much, which may be some reason why England is
so little troubled with earthquakes, and Italy, and almost all round the
Mediterranean Sea, so much; though another reason is, the paucity of
pyrites in England.

Comparing our earthquakes, thunder, and lightning, with theirs, it is
observed that there it lightens almost daily, especially in summer-time,
here seldom; there thunder and lightning is of long duration, here it is
soon over; there the earthquakes are frequent, long, and terrible, with
many paroxysms in a day, and that for many days; here very short, a few
minutes, and scarce perceptible. To this purpose the subterraneous
caverns in England are small and few compared to the vast vaults in
those parts of the world; which is evident from the sudden disappearance
of whole mountains and islands.

Dr. Woodward gives us another theory of earthquakes. He endeavours to
show that the subterraneous heat or fire (which is continually elevating
water out of the abyss, to furnish the earth with rain, dew, springs,
and rivers), being stopped in any part of the earth, and so diverted
from its ordinary course by some accidental glut or

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

Page 12
When too much is added, it precipitates in rain.
Page 19
I have mentioned my objections, and, as truth is my pursuit, shall be glad to be informed.
Page 28
If it happens at sea, the water under and between _a a a a_ and _b b b b_ will be violently agitated and driven about, and parts of it raised with the spiral current, and thrown about so as to form a bush-like appearance.
Page 86
What is equal celerity but a _measuring the same space by moving bodies in the same time_?--Now if 1 _a_ impelled by 1 _f_ measures 100 yards in a minute; and in 2 _a_ impelled by 1 _f_, each _a_ measures 50 yards in a minute, which added make 100; are not the celerities as the.
Page 112
The smallest wave once raised does not immediately subside, and leave the neighbouring water quiet: but in subsiding raises nearly as much of the water next to it, the friction of the parts making little difference.
Page 115
Another party, in the barge, plied to windward of the long-boat, as far from her as she was from the shore, making trips of about half a mile each, pouring oil continually out of a large stone-bottle, through a hole in the cork, somewhat bigger than a goose-quill.
Page 143
Page 193
Page 214
Suppose then a building whose side A happens to be exposed to the wind, and forms a kind of dam against its progress.
Page 234
_ A, the bottom plate which lies flat upon the hearth, with its partitions, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, (Plate X.
Page 273
We are sensible, that when a question is met with in the reading, there is a proper variation to be used in the management of the voice.
Page 280
| | b |Bees.
Page 288
Smith observes are curious and curiously handled, and he selects the above as answering the description.
Page 293
up next to the best, and another to the third.
Page 300
[80] ESQ.
Page 346
"I repeat the question, what is to be done with them? I have heard it suggested, that they may be planted in the wilderness, where there is plenty of land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free state.
Page 349
_Of the natural Support of this Court.
Page 351
how it creates hurricanes, _ibid.
Page 378
119, note.
Page 393
' has been replaced by '123,321_l.