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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 264

from such
practice, though constant experience shows its inutility. A late
piece of the Abbé Nollet, printed last year in the memoirs of the
French Academy of Sciences, affords strong instances of this: for
though the very relations he gives of the effects of lightning in
several churches and other buildings show clearly, that it was
conducted from one part to another by wires, gildings, and other
pieces of metal that were _within_, or connected with the building,
yet in the same paper he objects to the providing metalline
conductors _without_ the building, as useless or dangerous.[82] He
cautions people not to ring the church bells during a thunder-storm,
lest the lightning, in its way to the earth, should be conducted down
to them by the bell ropes,[83] which are but bad conductors; and yet
is against fixing metal rods on the outside of the steeple, which
are known to be much better conductors, and which it would certainly
chuse to pass in, rather than in dry hemp. And though for a thousand
years past bells have been solemnly consecrated by the Romish
church[84], in expectation that the sound of such blessed bells would
drive away those storms, and secure our buildings from the stroke
of lightning; and during so long a period, it has not been found by
experience, that places within the reach of such blessed sound, are
safer than others where it is never heard; but that on the contrary,
the lightning seems to strike steeples of choice, and that at the
very time the bells are ringing[85]; yet still they continue to bless
the new bells, and jangle the old ones whenever it thunders.--One
would think it was now time to try some other trick;--and ours is
recommended (whatever this able philosopher may have been told to the
contrary) by more than twelve years experience, wherein, among the
great number of houses furnished with iron rods in North America, not
one so guarded has been materially hurt with lightning, and several
have been evidently preserved by their means; while a number of
houses, churches, barns, ships, &c. in different places, unprovided
with rods, have been struck and greatly damaged, demolished or burnt.
Probably the vestries of our English churches are not generally well
acquainted with these facts; otherwise, since as good protestants
they have no faith in the blessing of bells, they would be less
excusable in not providing this other security for their respective
churches, and for the good people that may happen to be assembled
in them during a tempest, especially as those buildings, from their
greater height, are more exposed to the

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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1780 Appoints Paul Jones commander of the "Alliance.
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