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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 263

downwards three or four feet, it will
prevent damage to any of the stones of the foundation.

A person apprehensive of danger from lightning, happening during the
time of thunder to be in a house not so secured, will do well to
avoid sitting near the chimney, near a looking glass, or any gilt
pictures or wainscot; the safest place is in the middle of the room
(so it be not under a metal lustre suspended by a chain) sitting in
one chair and laying the feet up in another. It is still safer to
bring two or three mattrasses or beds into the middle of the room,
and, folding them up double, place the chair upon them; for they not
being so good conductors as the walls, the lightning will not chuse
an interrupted course through the air of the room and the bedding,
when it can go through a continued better conductor, the wall. But
where it can be had, a hammock or swinging bed, suspended by silk
cords equally distant from the walls on every side, and from the
cieling and floor above and below, affords the safest situation a
person can have in any room whatever; and what indeed may be deemed
quite free from danger of any stroke by lightning.

B. FRANKLIN.

_Paris, Sept. 1767._




FROM J. W.[81] ESQ. PROFESSOR OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY AT CAMBRIDGE, IN
NEW ENGLAND, JAN. 6, 1768.

_St. Bride's Steeple.--Utility of Electrical Conductors to
Steeples.--Singular kind of Glass tube._


"**** I have read in the Philosophical Transactions the account of the
effects of lightning on St. Bride's steeple. It is amazing to me,
that after the full demonstration you had given, of the identity of
lightning and of electricity, and the power of metalline conductors,
they should ever think of repairing that steeple without such
conductors. How astonishing is the force of prejudice even in an age
of so much knowledge and free enquiry!"


ANSWER TO THE ABOVE.

**** It is perhaps not so extraordinary that unlearned men, such as
commonly compose our church vestries, should not yet be acquainted
with, and sensible of the benefits of metal conductors in averting
the stroke of lightning, and preserving our houses from its violent
effects, or that they should be still prejudiced against the use
of such conductors, when we see how long even philosophers, men
of extensive science and great ingenuity, can hold out against
the evidence of new knowledge, that does not square with their
preconceptions; and how long men can retain a practice that is
conformable to their prejudices, and expect a benefit

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