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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 153

If more is
added, it lies without upon the surface, and forms what we call an
electrical atmosphere; and then the body is said to be electrified.

8. It is supposed, that all kinds of common matter do not attract and
retain the electrical, with equal strength and force, for reasons
to be given hereafter. And that those called electrics _per se_, as
glass, &c. attract and retain it strongest, and contain the greatest

9. We know that the electrical fluid is _in_ common matter, because
we can pump it _out_ by the globe or tube. We know that common
matter has near as much as it can contain, because, when we add a
little more to any portion of it, the additional quantity does not
enter, but forms an electrical atmosphere. And we know that common
matter has not (generally) more than it can contain, otherwise all
loose portions of it would repel each other, as they constantly do
when they have electric atmospheres.

10. The beneficial uses of this electric fluid in the creation we are
not yet well acquainted with, though doubtless such there are, and
those very considerable; but we may see some pernicious consequences
that would attend a much greater proportion of it. For, had this
globe we live on, as much of it in proportion as we can give to a
globe of iron, wood, or the like, the particles of dust and other
light matters that get loose from it, would, by virtue of their
separate electrical atmospheres, not only repel each other, but be
repelled from the earth, and not easily be brought to unite with it
again; whence our air would continually be more and more clogged with
foreign matter, and grow unfit for respiration. This affords another
occasion of adoring that wisdom which has made all things by weight
and measure!

11. If a piece of common matter be supposed entirely free from
electrical matter, and a single particle of the latter be brought
nigh, it will be attracted, and enter the body, and take place in the
centre, or where the attraction is every way equal. If more particles
enter, they take their places where the balance is equal between the
attraction of the common matter, and their own mutual repulsion. It
is supposed they form triangles, whose sides shorten as their number
encreases; till the common matter has drawn in so many, that its
whole power of compressing those triangles by attraction, is equal to
their whole power of expanding themselves by repulsion; and then will
such piece of matter receive no more.

12. When part of

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