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.

B. FRANKLIN.

FOOTNOTE:

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




TO M. DUBOURG.

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


_London, June 1, 1773._

SIR,

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
opinions.

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,

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BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.