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 40

contention but the
perfections and imperfections of foreign music. I turned my head from
them to an old gray-headed one, who was single on another leaf, and
talking to himself. Being amused with his soliloquy, I put it down in
writing, in hopes it will likewise amuse her to whom I am so much
indebted for the most pleasing of all amusements, her delicious company
and heavenly harmony.

"It was," said he, "the opinion of learned philosophers of our race, who
lived and flourished long before my time, that this vast world, the
Moulin Joy, could not itself subsist more than eighteen hours; and I
think there was some foundation for that opinion, since, by the apparent
motion of the great luminary that gives life to all nature, and which in
my time has evidently declined considerably towards the ocean at the end
of our earth, it must then finish its course, be extinguished in the
waters that surround us, and leave the world in cold and darkness,
necessarily producing universal death and destruction. I have lived
seven of those hours, a great age, being no less than four hundred and
twenty minutes of time. How very few of us continue so long! I have seen
generations born, flourish, and expire! My present friends are the
children and grandchildren of the friends of my youth, who are now,
alas, no more! And I must soon follow them; for, by the course of
nature, though still in health, I cannot expect to live above seven or
eight minutes longer. What now avails all my toil and labour in amassing
honey-dew on this leaf, which I cannot live to enjoy? What the political
struggles I have been engaged in for the good of my compatriot
inhabitants of this bush, or my philosophical studies for the benefit of
our race in general! for, in politics, what can laws do without morals?
Our present race of ephemerae will in a course of minutes become corrupt
like those of other and older bushes, and, consequently, as wretched.
And in philosophy how small our progress! Alas! art is long and life is
short! My friends would comfort me with the idea of a name they say I
shall leave behind me; and they tell me I have lived long enough to
nature and to glory. But what will fame be to an ephemera who no longer
exists? And what will become of all history in the eighteenth hour, when
the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly, shall come to its end and
be buried in universal ruin?"

To me, after all

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

Page 1
[Illustration] LETTER I.
Page 3
From a bent wire (_a_) sticking in the table, let a small linen thread (_b_) hang down within half an inch of the electrised phial (_c_).
Page 5
Page 6
Lay the book on a glass or wax; and on the other end of the gold lines, set the bottle electrised: then bend the springing wire, by pressing it with a stick of wax till its ring approaches the ring of the bottle wire; instantly there is a strong spark and stroke, and the whole line of gold, which completes the communication between the top and bottom of the bottle, will appear a vivid flame, like the sharpest lightning.
Page 7
A blunt body must be brought within an inch, and draw a spark, to produce the same effect.
Page 8
A person standing on wax, and rubbing the tube, and another person on wax drawing the fire; they will both of them, (provided they do not stand so as to touch one another) appear to be electrised, to a person standing on the floor; that is, he will perceive a spark on approaching each of them with his knuckle.
Page 12
See s.
Page 17
A small upright shaft of wood passes at right angles through a thin round board, of about twelve inches diameter, and turns on a sharp point of iron fixed in the lower end, while a strong wire in the upper-end passing thro' a small hole in a thin brass plate, keeps the shaft truly vertical.
Page 18
Two small hemispheres of wood are then fixed with cement to the middle of the upper and under sides, centrally opposite, and in each of them a thick strong wire eight or ten inches long, which together make the axis of the wheel.
Page 19
--The thimbles are well fixed, and in so exact a circle, that the bullets may pass within a very small distance of each of them.
Page 24
When a ridge of mountains thus dams the clouds, and draws the electrical fire from the cloud first approaching it; that which next follows, when it comes near the first cloud, now deprived of its fire, flashes into it, and begins to deposite its own water; the first cloud again flashing into the mountains; the third approaching cloud, and all the succeeding ones, acting in the same manner as far back as they extend, which may be over many hundred miles of country.
Page 29
the melted part would burn the floor it dropp'd on.
Page 35
Attempt to draw off the electricity with a blunt body, as a bolt of iron round at the end and smooth (a silversmith's iron punch, inch-thick, is what I use) and you must bring it within the distance of three inches before you can do it, and then it is done with a stroke and crack.
Page 41
Thus the difference of distance is always proportioned to the difference of acuteness.
Page 42
This latter position may seem a paradox to some, being contrary to the hitherto received opinion; and therefore I shall now endeavour to explain it.
Page 43
That this electrical fluid or fire is strongly attracted by glass, we know from the quickness and violence with which it is resumed by the part that had been deprived of it, when there is an opportunity.
Page 45
For experiments favouring (if I may not say confirming) this hypothesis, I must, to avoid repetition, beg leave to refer you back to what is said of the electrical phial in my former papers.
Page 49
I have also smelt the electrical fire when drawn through gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, wood, and the human body, and could perceive no difference; the odour is always the same where the spark does not burn what it strikes; and therefore I imagine it does not take that smell from any quality of the bodies it passes through.
Page 51
Of the Nature and Principles of Geography; its ancient and present State in all Nations, its Usefulness to Persons of all Professions, and the Method.
Page 52
There is added a copious Index of the Terms contained in the Work, answering the End of a Dictionary of General Geography.