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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 286

of electricity, by employing a greater or less number of
jars. As six jars, however, discharged at once, are capable of giving
a very violent shock, the operator must be very circumspect, lest he
should happen to make the experiment on his own flesh, instead of
that of the fowl.



[92] This letter has no date, but the one to which it is an answer is
dated May 1, 1773. _Editor._


_In Answer to some Queries concerning the Choice of Glass for the
Leyden Experiment._

_London, June 1, 1773._


I wish, with you, that some chemist (who should, if possible, be at
the same time an electrician) would, in pursuance of the excellent
hints contained in your letter, undertake to work upon glass with
the view you have recommended. By means of a perfect knowledge of
this substance, with respect to its electrical qualities, we might
proceed with more certainty, as well in making our own experiments,
as in repeating those, which have been made by others in different
countries, which I believe have frequently been attended with
different success on account of differences in the glass employed,
thence occasioning frequent misunderstandings and contrariety of

There is another circumstance much to be desired with respect to
glass, and that is, that it should not be subject to break when
highly charged in the Leyden experiment. I have known eight jars
broken out of twenty, and at another time, twelve out of thirty-five.
A similar loss would greatly discourage electricians desirous of
accumulating a great power for certain experiments.--We have never
been able hitherto to account for the cause of such misfortunes. The
first idea which occurs is, that the positive electricity, being
accumulated on one side of the glass, rushes violently through it, in
order to supply the deficiency on the other side and to restore the
equilibrium. This however I cannot conceive to be the true reason,
when I consider, that a great number of jars being united, so as to
be charged and discharged at the same time, the breaking of a single
jar will discharge the whole; for, if the accident proceeded from the
weakness of the glass, it is not probable, that eight of them should
be precisely of the same degree of weakness, as to break every one
at the same instant, it being more likely, that the weakest should
break first, and, by breaking, secure the rest; and again, when it is
necessary to produce a certain effect, by means of the whole charge
passing through a determined circle (as,

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with A Book of Gems Choice selections from the writings of Benjamin Franklin

Page 30
Men may turn away from him, and some will, as some did.
Page 34
There is nothing to hinder us, if we have the faith and love and zeal, from carrying it forward to any extent.
Page 38
But then the word “Easter” is found in _one place_ in the common version.
Page 87
Page 96
This apology is dangerous because it acknowledges that the creed contains and sets forth what the party believes—its faith.
Page 100
Page 106
The mission of infidels is to risk, and induce all men to risk the loss of everything, without the possibility of gaining anything in this world, or the world to come.
Page 124
As we sing sometimes, “The doors of gospel grace stand open night and day.
Page 125
In a case stated by our Lord himself, an application is made for the mitigation of torment after death.
Page 130
How ineffable the bliss! How unutterable the joys! of a state where we shall not only be free from all the afflictions that encompass us here, but see the Lord and dwell with him forevermore! How invaluable the rich boon proposed to man, through the Lord Jesus Christ! What everlasting obligations we are under to love God and serve him! Let us put our everlasting trust in the Lord, our strength and our Redeemer.
Page 152
But he can not work in the kingdom till he is in it, and it is a sham, a pretense and hypocrisy to act toward him as if he were in the kingdom, an insincerity before the people that leads to a false impression with some, and destroys the confidence with others.
Page 158
Men who want good indorsers should be good men.
Page 187
He does not have Victor Emmanuel to bow down and kiss his great toe, nor to come and crave favors of him.
Page 193
of God, till he finds himself cut off, if not literally by the action of a church, that which is equally as fatal, the general turning away from him, and utter failure in any sense to support him.
Page 217
The result is that in one case the truth itself is believed and admired, while in the other case the fine theory is the only thing seen, and the preacher who delivered it the only object adored.
Page 241
” Acts x.
Page 256
So shall it be at the coming of the Son of man.
Page 258
They will hear them ringing out the old watchwords, “It is written,” “Thus saith the Lord,” etc.
Page 262
We knew but little about the matters of which he talked, and really did not desire to say enough to discover to him how little we did know.
Page 266