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 194

of it; but does not extend to the making or
creating new matter, or annihilating the old. Thus, if fire be an
original element or kind of matter, its quantity is fixed and permanent
in the universe. We cannot destroy any part of it, or make addition to
it; we can only separate it from that which confines it, and so set it
at liberty; as when we put wood in a situation to be burned, or
transfer it from one solid to another, as when we make lime by burning
stone, a part of the fire dislodged in the fuel being left in the stone.
May not this fluid, when at liberty, be capable of penetrating and
entering into all bodies, organized or not, quitting easily in totality
those not organized, and quitting easily in part those which are; the
part assumed and fixed remaining till the body is dissolved?

Is it not this fluid which keeps asunder the particles of air,
permitting them to approach, or separating them more in proportion as
its quantity is diminished or augmented?

Is it not the greater gravity of the particles of air which forces the
particles of this fluid to mount with the matters to which it is
attached, as smoke or vapour?

Does it not seem to have a greater affinity with water, since it will
quit a solid to unite with that fluid, and go off with it in vapour,
leaving the solid cold to the touch, and the degree measurable by the

The vapour rises attached to this fluid, but at a certain height they
separate, and the vapour descends in rain, retaining but little of it,
in snow or hail less. What becomes of that fluid? Does it rise above our
atmosphere, and mix with the universal mass of the same kind?

Or does a spherical stratum of it, denser, as less mixed with air,
attracted by this globe, and repelled or pushed up only to a certain
height from its surface by the greater weight of air, remain there
surrounding the globe, and proceeding with it round the sun?

In such case, as there may be a continuity of communication of this
fluid through the air quite down to the earth, is it not by the
vibrations given to it by the sun that light appears to us? And may it
not be that every one of the infinitely small vibrations, striking
common matter with a certain force, enters its substance, is held there
by attraction, and augmented by succeeding vibrations till the matter
has received as much as their force

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

Page 3
Touch the wire of the phial repeatedly with your finger, and at every touch you will see the.
Page 9
Page 10
Upon the table, over which he hangs, we stick a wire upright as high as the phial and wire, two or three inches from the spider; then we animate him by setting the electrified phial at the same distance on the other side of him; he will immediately fly to the wire of the phial, bend his legs in touching it, then spring off, and fly to the wire in the table; thence again to the wire of the phial, playing with his legs against both in a very entertaining manner, appearing perfectly alive to persons unacquainted.
Page 11
This we find very commodious, as the machine takes up but little room, is portable, and may be enclosed in a tight box, when not in use.
Page 12
8, 9, 10, 11.
Page 13
the bottle by one part, and did not enter in again by another; then, if a man standing on wax, and holding the bottle in one hand, takes the spark by touching the wire hook with the other, the bottle being thereby _discharged_, the man would be _charged_; or whatever fire was lost by one, would be found in the other, since there is no way for its escape: But the contrary is true.
Page 20
allowing (for the reasons before given, s 8, 9, 10,) that there is no more electrical fire in a bottle after charging, than before, how great must be the quantity in this small portion of glass! It seems as if it were of its very substance and essence.
Page 23
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 26
Page 27
motion, and leaping from body to body, or from particle to particle thro' the air.
Page 28
Sulphureous and inflammable vapours arising from the earth, are easily kindled by lightning.
Page 31
Suspend them by silk lines from the ceiling.
Page 36
Suspend the beam by a packthread from the cieling, so that the bottom of the scales may be about a foot from the floor: The scales will move round in a circle by the untwisting of the packthread.
Page 39
And though I have taken up the pieces of glass between my fingers immediately after this melting, I never could perceive the least warmth in them.
Page 41
Take care in cutting your leaf to leave no little ragged particles on the edges, which sometimes form points where you would not have them.
Page 49
For if it was fine enough to come with the electrical fluid through the body of one person, why should it stop on the skin of another? But I shall never have done, if I tell you all my conjectures, thoughts, and imaginations, on the nature and operations of this electrical fluid, and relate the variety of little experiments we have try'd.
Page 52
Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Surgery at Paris.
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