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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 193

receive from the earth a flash of the
electric fluid; which flash, to supply a great extent of cloud, must
sometimes contain a very great quantity of that fluid.

Or such a cloud, passing over woods of tall trees, may from the
points and sharp edges of their moist top leaves, receive silently
some supply.

A cloud being by any means supplied from the earth, may strike into
other clouds that have not been supplied, or not so much supplied;
and those to others, till an equilibrium is produced among all the
clouds that are within striking distance of each other.

The cloud thus supplied, having parted with much of what it first
received, may require and receive a fresh supply from the earth,
or from some other cloud, which by the wind is brought into such a
situation as to receive it more readily from the earth.

Hence repeated and continual strokes and flashes till the clouds have
all got nearly their natural quantity as clouds, or till they have
descended in showers, and are united again with this terraqueous
globe, their original.

Thus, thunder-clouds are generally in a negative state of electricity
compared with the earth, agreeable to most of our experiments; yet
as by one experiment we found a cloud electrised positively, I
conjecture that, in that case, such cloud, after having received
what was, in its rare state, only its _natural quantity_, became
compressed by the driving winds, or some other means, so that part
of what it had absorbed was forced out, and formed an electric
atmosphere around it in its denser state. Hence it was capable of
communicating positive electricity to my rod.

To show that a body in different circumstances of dilatation and
contraction is capable of receiving and retaining more or less of
the electric fluid on its surface, I would relate the following
experiment: I placed a clean wine glass on the floor, and on it a
small silver can. In the can I put about three yards of brass chain;
to one end of which I fastened a silk thread, which went right up to
the cieling, where it passed over a pulley, and came down again to
my hand, that I might at pleasure draw the chain up out of the can,
extending it till within a foot of the cieling, and let it gradually
sink into the can again.--From the cieling, by another thread of
fine raw silk, I suspended a small light lock of cotton, so as that
when it hung perpendicularly, it came in contact with the side of
the can.--Then approaching the wire of

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with 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

Page 22
He met him, and accosted him in so winning a manner, that he first obliged him to hearken to his discourse.
Page 37
He that kills a breeding-sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation.
Page 50
The whole hemisphere will shine brighter, and pleasure spring up in every corner of thy heart.
Page 61
A Swedish minister, having assembled the chiefs of the Susquehanna Indians, made a sermon to them, acquainting them with the principal historical facts on which our religion is founded; such as the fall of our first parents by eating an apple; the coming of Christ to repair the mischief; his miracles and sufferings, &c.
Page 66
As he had formed a design to lay aside parliaments and subvert the popular part of the constitution, he very well knew that the form of government could not be altered without laying a restraint on freedom of speech and the liberty of the press: therefore he issued his royal mandate, under the great seal of England, whereby he commanded his subjects, under pain of his displeasure, not to prescribe to him any time for parliaments.
Page 70
of _liberty_; who, from an intrinsic love to mankind, left them that invaluable legacy, his immortal discourses on government, was for these very discourses murdered by the hands of lawless power.
Page 90
Page 95
The messenger says he left the letters at your house, and saw you afterward at Mr.
Page 113
the friends of America were run upon and hurt by them, and how much the Grenvillians triumphed.
Page 137
Page 143
I wrote with that, and hope it came to hand.
Page 146
"I join with you most cordially in rejoicing at the return of peace.
Page 151
It would be one of the noblest amusements.
Page 152
The Parliament, too, believed the stories of another foolish general, I forget his name, that the Yankees never _felt bold_.
Page 173
His sermon before the Society for Propagating the Gospel, and "_his speech intended to be spoken_," are proofs of his ability as well as his humanity.
Page 174
You will then, my dear friend, consider this as probably the last line to be received from me, and as a taking leave.
Page 184
The slate, which forms the roof of this coalmine, is impressed in many places with the figures of leaves and branches of fern, which undoubtedly grew at the surface when the slate was in the state of sand on the banks of the sea.
Page 190
Agricola increases the number, and makes four kinds, which Albertus Magnus again reduces to three, viz.
Page 198
The lower end of the rod should enter the earth so deep as to come at the moist part, perhaps two or three feet; and if bent when under the surface so as to go in a horizontal line six or eight feet from the wall, and then bent again downward three or four feet, it will prevent damage to any of the stones of the foundation.
Page 240
The question you ask me is a very sensible one, and I shall be glad if I can give you a satisfactory answer.