The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 1 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 120

which they have
not been translated; and, as if this were not sufficient to make
them properly known, a translation of them has lately been made into
Latin. It is not easy to say, whether we are most pleased with the
simplicity and perspicuity with which these letters are written, the
modesty with which the author proposes every hypothesis of his own,
or the noble frankness with which he relates his mistakes, when they
were corrected by subsequent experiments._

_"Though the English have not been backward in acknowledging the
great merit of this philosopher, he has had the singular good fortune
to be, perhaps, even more celebrated abroad than at home; so that,
to form a just idea of the great and deserved reputation of Dr.
Franklin, we must read the foreign publications on the subject of
electricity; in many of which the terms_ Franklinism, Franklinist,
_and the_ Franklinian system, _occur in almost every page. In
consequence of this, Dr. Franklin's principles bid fair to be handed
down to posterity as equally expressive of the true principles of
electricity, as the Newtonian philosophy is of the true system of
nature in general."_







_Philadelphia, March 28, 1747._


Your kind present of an electric tube, with directions for using it,
has put several of us[15] on making electrical experiments, in which
we have observed some particular phenomena that we look upon to be
new. I shall therefore communicate them to you in my next, though
possibly they may not be new to you, as among the numbers daily
employed in those experiments on your side the water, it is probable
some one or other has hit on the same observations. For my own part,
I never was before engaged in any study that so totally engrossed my
attention and my time as this has lately done; for what with making
experiments when I can be alone, and repeating them to my friends and
acquaintance, who, from the novelty of the thing, come continually
in crowds to see them, I have, during some months past, had little
leisure for any thing else.

I am, &c.



[15] i. e. of the _Library-Company_, an institution of the author's,
founded 1730. To which company the present was made[16].

[16] Where notes occur without a signature, in the Philosophical, or
other Papers, they are generally notes of the author.--EDITOR.


_Wonderful Effect of Points.--Positive and negative
Electricity.--Electrical Kiss.--Counterfeit Spider.--Simple and
commodious electrical Machine._

Last Page Next Page

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

Page 4
thread instantly attracted by the bottle.
Page 6
FRANKLIN, in _Philadelphia_.
Page 9
These appearances we attempt to account for thus.
Page 10
--We fire spirits with the wire of the phial.
Page 12
But if the phials were charged, the one through the hook, and the other[3] through the coating, the ball, when it is repelled from one hook, will be as strongly attracted by the other, and play vigorously between them, 'till both phials are nearly discharged.
Page 17
--But if another bottle which had been charged through the coating be placed near the same wheel, its wire will attract the thimble repelled by the first, and thereby double the force that carries the wheel round; and not only taking out the fire that had been communicated to the thimbles by the first bottle, but even robbing them of their natural quantity, instead of being repelled when they come again towards the first bottle, they are more strongly attracted, so that the wheel mends its pace, till it goes with great rapidity twelve or fifteen rounds in a minute, and with such strength, as that the weight of one hundred _Spanish_ dollars with which we once loaded.
Page 18
The self-moving wheel, though constructed on the same principles, appears more surprising.
Page 19
And when the spark is drawn through paper, all round the hole made by it, the paper will be blacked by the smoke, which sometimes penetrates several of the leaves.
Page 22
The particles of water rising in vapours, attach themselves to particles of air.
Page 23
Page 28
Page 30
So is the case between the electrical and common matter.
Page 31
This affords another occasion of adoring that wisdom which has made all things by weight and measure! 11.
Page 33
Now if you would draw off this atmosphere with any blunt smooth body, and approach the middle of the side A, B, you must come very near before the force of your attracter exceeds the force or power with which that side holds its atmosphere.
Page 34
and receive what is so discharged.
Page 40
From the before mentioned law of electricity, that points, as they are more or less acute, draw on and throw off the electrical fluid with more or less power, and at greater or less distances, and in larger or smaller quantities in the same time, we may see how to account for the situation of the leaf of gold suspended between two plates, the upper one continually electrified, the under one in a person's hand standing on the floor.
Page 44
When the glass has received and, by its attraction, forced closer together so much of this electrified fluid, as that the power of attracting and condensing in the one, is equal to the power of expansion in the other, it can imbibe no more, and that remains its constant whole quantity; but each surface would receive more, if the repellency of what is in the opposite surface did not resist its entrance.
Page 50
If the phial really exploded at both ends, and discharged fire from both coating and wire, the balls would be _more_ electrified and recede _farther_: for none of the fire can escape, the wax handle preventing.
Page 51
Page 13, line 15.
Page 52
The History of Comets from the earliest Account of those kinds of Planets to the present Time; wherein the Sentiments of the Ancient and Modern Philosophers are occasionally displayed.