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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 277

too, were found more capable of voluntary motion, and seemed
to receive strength. A man, for instance, who could not the first day
lift the lame hand from off his knee, would the next day raise it
four or five inches, the third day higher; and on the fifth day was
able, but with a feeble languid motion, to take off his hat. These
appearances gave great spirits to the patients, and made them hope
a perfect cure; but I do not remember that I ever saw any amendment
after the fifth day; which the patients perceiving, and finding
the shocks pretty severe, they became discouraged, went home, and
in a short time relapsed; so that I never knew any advantage from
electricity in palsies that was permanent. And how far the apparent
temporary advantage might arise from the exercise in the patients
journey, and coming daily to my house, or from the spirits given by
the hope of success, enabling them to exert more strength in moving
their limbs, I will not pretend to say.

Perhaps some permanent advantage might have been obtained, if the
electric shocks had been accompanied with proper medicine and
regimen, under the direction a skilful physician. It may be, too,
that a few great strokes, as given in my method, may not be so proper
as many small ones; since by the account from Scotland of a case, in
which two hundred shocks from a phial were given daily, it seems,
that a perfect cure has been made. As to any uncommon strength
supposed to be in the machine used in that case, I imagine it could
have no share in the effect produced; since the strength of the shock
from charged glass, is in proportion to the quantity of surface of
the glass coated; so that my shocks from those large jars, must have
been much greater than any that could be received from a phial held
in the hand.

I am, with great respect, Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,


_Electrical Experiments on Amber._

_Saturday, July 3, 1762._

To try, at the request of a friend, whether amber finely powdered
might be melted and run together again by means of the electric
fluid, I took a piece of small glass tube, about two inches and a
half long, the bore about one-twelfth of an inch diameter, the glass
itself about the same thickness; I introduced into this tube some
powder of amber, and with two pieces of wire nearly fitting the
bore, one inserted at one end, the other at

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