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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 195

former papers relating to
_positive_ and _negative_ electricity, with such other relative ones
as shall occur to them, that it may be certainly known whether the
electricity communicated by a glass globe, be _really positive_. And
also I would request all who may have an opportunity of observing the
recent effects of lightning on buildings, trees, &c. that they would
consider them particularly with a view to discover the direction. But
in these examinations, this one thing is always to be understood,
viz. that a stream of the electric fluid passing through wood,
brick, metal, &c. while such fluid passes in _small quantity_, the
mutually repulsive power of its parts is confined and overcome by the
cohesion of the parts of the body it passes through, so as to prevent
an explosion; but when the fluid comes in a quantity too great to
be confined by such cohesion, it explodes, and rends or fuses the
body that endeavoured to confine it. If it be wood, brick, stone,
or the like, the splinters will fly off on that side where there is
least resistance. And thus, when a hole is struck through pasteboard
by the electrified jar, if the surfaces of the pasteboard are not
confined or compressed, there will be a bur raised all round the hole
on both sides the pasteboard; but if one side be confined, so that
the bur cannot be raised on that side, it will be all raised on the
other, which way soever the fluid was directed. For the bur round the
outside of the hole, is the effect of the explosion every way from
the centre of the stream, and not an effect of the direction.

In every stroke of lightning, I am of opinion that the stream of the
electric fluid, moving to restore the equilibrium between the cloud
and the earth, does always previously find its passage, and mark out,
as I may say, its own course, taking in its way all the conductors
it can find, such as metals, damp walls, moist wood, &c. and will go
considerably out of a direct course, for the sake of the assistance
of good conductors; and that, in this course, it is actually moving,
though silently and imperceptibly, before the explosion, in and among
the conductors; which explosion happens only when the conductors
cannot discharge it as fast as they receive it, by reason of their
being incomplete, dis-united, too small, or not of the best materials
for conducting. Metalline rods, therefore, of sufficient thickness,
and extending from the highest part of an edifice to the ground,
being of the

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

Page 1
I have long been of opinion that the _foundations of the future grandeur and stability of the British empire lie in America_; and though, like other foundations, they are low and little now, they are, nevertheless, broad and strong enough to support the greatest political structure that human wisdom ever yet erected.
Page 8
The notes one of my uncles (who had the same kind of curiosity in collecting family anecdotes) once put into my hands furnished me with several particulars relating to our ancestors.
Page 36
So he swore he would make me row, or throw me overboard; and coming along, stepping on the thwarts,[53] toward me, when he came up and struck at me I clutched him, and, rising, pitched him headforemost into the river.
Page 38
He was to preach the doctrines, and I was to confound all opponents.
Page 51
Denham among the tradesmen to purchase various articles, and seeing them packed up, doing errands, calling upon workmen to dispatch, etc.
Page 52
] [Footnote 63: A pistole was a Spanish gold coin worth about four dollars.
Page 61
William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but loving reading, had acquired a considerable share of mathematics, which he first studied with a view to astrology that he afterward laughed at.
Page 68
She brought me word they had no such sum to spare.
Page 71
When we were about to sign the above-mentioned articles, which were to be binding on us, our heirs, etc.
Page 81
Accept my kind offices to thy other children as the only return in my power for thy continual favors to me.
Page 84
, I found extremely difficult to acquire.
Page 100
And, it being found inconvenient to assemble in the open air, subject to its inclemencies, the building of a house to meet in was no sooner proposed, and persons appointed to receive contributions, but sufficient sums were soon received to procure the ground and erect the building, which was one hundred feet long and seventy broad, about the size of Westminster Hall;[126] and the work was carried on with such spirit as to be finished in a much shorter time than could have been expected.
Page 104
I therefore, in 1743, drew up a proposal for establishing an academy, and at that time thinking the Rev.
Page 107
We eight punctually attended the meeting; but though we thought that some of the Quakers would join us, we were by no means sure of a majority.
Page 108
He put into my hands sixty pounds to be laid out in lottery tickets for the battery, with directions to apply what prizes might be drawn wholly to that service.
Page 145
No such honor had been paid him when in the province, nor to any of his governors, and he said it was only proper to princes of the blood royal; which may be true for aught I know, who was, and still am, ignorant of the etiquette in such cases.
Page 147
] [Footnote 168: A member of the light cavalry.
Page 153
His answer was: "I have given out that she is to sail on Saturday next; but I may let you know, _entre nous_,[192] that if you are there by Monday morning, you will be in time, but do not delay longer.
Page 157
After many conjectures respecting the cause, when we were near another ship almost as dull as ours, which, however, gained upon us, the captain ordered all hands to come aft, and stand as near the ensign staff[197] as possible.
Page 170
But this they might have known before, if they had taken his advice.