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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 257

the end of a small glass tube, with sealing-wax, the same
effects are produced. The flat side of the small stone gives the
signs of positive electricity; the high side gives the signs of
negative electricity.


I suspended the small stone by a silk thread.

I heated it as it hung, in boiling water.

I heated the large one in boiling water.

Then I brought the large stone near to the suspended small one.

Which immediately turned its flat side to the side B of the large
stone, and would cling to it.

I turned the ring, so as to present the side A of the large stone, to
the flat side of the small one.

The flat side was repelled, and the small stone, turning quick,
applied its high side to the side A of the large one.

This was precisely what ought to happen, on the supposition that the
flat side of the small stone, when heated in water, is positive, and
the high side negative; the side A of the large stone positive, and
the side B negative.

The effect was apparently the same as would have been produced, if
one magnet had been suspended by a thread, and the different poles of
another brought alternately near it.

I find that the face A, of the large stone, being coated with
leaf-gold (attached by the white of an egg, which will bear dipping
in hot water) becomes quicker and stronger in its effect on the cork
ball, repelling it the instant it comes in contact; which I suppose
to be occasioned by the united force of different parts of the face,
collected and acting together through the metal.

I am, &c.



[78] Dr. Heberden. _Editor._


_New Observation relating to Electricity in the Atmosphere._

_Cambridge, N. E. Sept. 29, 1762._


There is an observation relating to electricity in the atmosphere,
which seemed new to me, though perhaps it will not to you: however,
I will venture to mention it. I have some points on the top of
my house, and the wire where it passes within-side the house is
furnished with bells, according to your method, to give notice of
the passage of the electric fluid. In summer, these bells, generally
ring at the approach of a thunder-cloud; but cease soon after it
begins to rain. In winter, they sometimes though not very often, ring
while it is snowing; but never, that I remember, when it rains. But
what was unexpected to me was, that, though the bells had not

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