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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 180

Air obstructs, in some degree,
its motion. An electric atmosphere cannot be communicated at so
great a distance, through intervening air, by far, as through a
vacuum.--Who knows then, but there may be, as the ancients thought,
a region of this fire above our atmosphere, prevented by our air,
and its own too great distance for attraction, from joining our
earth? Perhaps where the atmosphere is rarest, this fluid may be
densest, and nearer the earth where the atmosphere grows denser,
this fluid may be rarer; yet some of it be low enough to attach
itself to our highest clouds, and thence they becoming electrified,
may be attracted by, and descend towards the earth, and discharge
their watry contents, together with that etherial fire. Perhaps the
_auroræ boreales_ are currents of this fluid in its own region, above
our atmosphere, becoming from their motion visible. There is no end
to conjectures. As yet we are but novices in this branch of natural
knowledge.

You mention several differences of salts in electrical experiments.
Were they all equally dry? Salt is apt to acquire moisture from a
moist air, and some sorts more than others. When perfectly dried by
lying before a fire, or on a stove, none that I have tried will
conduct any better than so much glass.

New flannel, if dry and warm, will draw the electric fluid from
non-electrics, as well as that which has been worn.

I wish you had the convenience of trying the experiments you seem to
have such expectations from, upon various kinds of spirits, salts,
earth, &c. Frequently, in a variety of experiments, though we miss
what we expected to find, yet something valuable turns out, something
surprising, and instructing, though unthought of.

I thank you for communicating the illustration of the theorem
concerning light. It is very curious. But I must own I am much in
the _dark_ about _light_. I am not satisfied with the doctrine that
supposes particles of matter called light, continually driven off
from the sun's surface, with a swiftness so prodigious! Must not
the smallest particle conceivable have, with such a motion, a force
exceeding that of a twenty-four pounder, discharged from a cannon?
Must not the Sun diminish exceedingly by such a waste of matter; and
the planets, instead of drawing nearer to him, as some have feared,
recede to greater distances through the lessened attraction. Yet
these particles, with this amazing motion, will not drive before
them, or remove, the least and lightest dust they meet with: And the
Sun, for aught we know, continues of his antient dimensions, and his
attendants move in their antient

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

Page 0
They have corrections in the author's hand-writing and, except for a few words, are quite legible.
Page 1
It was afterwards filled with the inflammable Air that is produced by pouring Oil of Vitriol upon Filings of Iron, when it was found to have a tendency upwards so strong as to be capable of lifting a Weight of 39 Pounds, exclusive of its own Weight which was 25 lbs.
Page 2
The Multitude separated, all well satisfied and delighted with the Success of the Experiment, and amusing one another with discourses of the various uses it may possibly be apply'd to, among which many were very extravagant.
Page 3
They say the filling of it in M.
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F.
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a tree, and was torn in getting it down; so that it cannot be ascertained whether it burst when above, or not, tho' that is supposed.
Page 6
_ That is against the Trees of one of the Walks.
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Montgolfier the very ingenious Inventor.
Page 8
In this Country we are not so much afraid of being laught at.
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) PASSY, Nov.
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Between One & Two aClock, all Eyes were gratified with seeing it rise majestically from among the Trees, and ascend gradually above the Buildings, a most beautiful Spectacle! When it was about 200 feet high, the brave Adventurers held out and wav'd a little white Pennant, on both Sides their Car, to salute the Spectators, who return'd loud Claps of Applause.
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FRANKLIN P.
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" Part of the valedictory and the signature are omitted by Bigelow and Smyth, but the former gives an "Extract of the Proposals" for the balloon of which I have no copy.
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27th instead of 27^th).
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" "Aiant encor" might be "Ayant encore", as printed in the "Journal des scavans" of January 1784, but was not corrected here; p.