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 206

time to time, till I
am almost ashamed to resume the subject, not knowing but you may have
forgot what has been said upon it.

Nothing certainly can be more improving to a searcher into nature than
objections judiciously made to his opinion, taken up, perhaps, too
hastily: for such objections oblige him to restudy the point, consider
every circumstance carefully, compare facts, make experiments, weigh
arguments, and be slow in drawing conclusions. And hence a sure
advantage results; for he either confirms a truth before too slightly
supported, or discovers an error, and receives instruction from the
objector.

In this view I consider the objections and remarks you sent me, and
thank you for them sincerely; but, how much soever my inclinations lead
me to philosophical inquiries, I am so engaged in business, public and
private, that those more pleasing pursuits are frequently interrupted,
and the chain of thought necessary to be closely continued in such
disquisitions is so broken and disjointed, that it is with difficulty I
satisfy myself in any of them; and I am now not much nearer a conclusion
in this matter of the spout than when I first read your letter.

Yet, hoping we may, in time, sift out the truth between us, I will send
you my present thoughts, with some observations on your reasons on the
accounts in the _Transactions_, and on other relations I have met with.
Perhaps, while I am writing, some new light may strike me, for I shall
now be obliged to consider the subject with a little more attention.

I agree with you, that, by means of a vacuum in a whirlwind, water
cannot be supposed to rise in large masses to the region of the clouds;
for the pressure of the surrounding atmosphere could not force it up in
a continued body or column to a much greater height than thirty feet.
But if there really is a vacuum in the centre, or near the axis of
whirlwinds, then, I think, water may rise in such vacuum to that height,
or to a less height, as the vacuum may be less perfect.

I had not read Stuart's account, in the _Transactions_, for many years
before the receipt of your letter, and had quite forgot it; but now, on
viewing his draughts and considering his descriptions, I think they seem
to favour _my hypothesis_; for he describes and draws columns of water
of various heights, terminating abruptly at the top, exactly as water
would do when forced up by the pressure of the atmosphere into an
exhausted tube.

I must, however, no longer call it

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

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