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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 207

very strong electrical shock upon a
turkey, that gentleman accordingly has been so very obliging as to
send an account of it, which is to the following purpose.

He made first several experiments on fowls, and found, that two
large thin glass jars gilt, holding each about six gallons, were
sufficient, when fully charged, to kill common hens outright; but
the turkeys, though thrown into violent convulsions, and then lying
as dead for some minutes, would recover in less than a quarter of
an hour. However, having added three other such to the former two,
though not fully charged, he killed a turkey of about ten pounds
weight, and believes that they would have killed a much larger. He
conceited, as himself says, that the birds killed in this manner eat
uncommonly tender.

In making these experiments, he found, that a man could, without
great detriment, bear a much greater shock than he had imagined: for
he inadvertently received the stroke of two of these jars through his
arms and body, when they were very near fully charged. It seemed
to him an universal blow throughout the body from head to foot, and
was followed by a violent quick trembling in the trunk, which went
off gradually, in a few seconds. It was some minutes before he could
recollect his thoughts, so as to know what was the matter; for he
did not see the flash, though his eye was on the spot of the prime
conductor, from whence it struck the back of his hand; nor did he
hear the crack, though the by-standers said it was a loud one; nor
did he particularly feel the stroke on his hand, though he afterwards
found it had raised a swelling there, of the bigness of half a
pistol-bullet. His arms and the back of the neck felt somewhat numbed
the remainder of the evening, and his breast was sore for a week
after as if it had been bruised. From this experiment may be seen the
danger, even under the greatest caution, to the operator, when making
these experiments with large jars; for it is not to be doubted, but
several of these fully charged would as certainly, by increasing
them, in proportion to the size, kill a man, as they before did a

_N. B._ The original of this letter, which was read at the Royal
Society, has been mislaid.


_Differences in the Qualities of Glass.--Account of Domien, an
Electrician and Traveller.--Conjectures respecting the Pores of
Glass.--Origin of the Author's Idea of drawing

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

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FOOTNOTE: [6] Perkins.
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