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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 295

this surface, I say, appeared rather better electrised
thereby, and more proper to produce all the effects of an actual
electric body." _P._ 68.

The Abbé does not tell us what those effects were, all the effects
I could never observe, and those that are to be observed can easily
be accounted for, by supposing that side to be entirely destitute
of electric matter. The most sensible effect of a body charged with
electricity is, that when you present your finger to it, a spark will
issue from it to your finger: now when a phial, prepared for the
Leyden experiment, is hung to the gun-barrel or prime-conductor, and
you turn the globe in order to charge it; as soon as the electric
matter is excited, you can observe a spark to issue from the external
surface of the phial to your finger, which, Mr. Franklin says, is
the natural electric matter of the glass driven out by that received
by the inner surface from the conductor. If it be only drawn out by
sparks, a vast number of them may be drawn; but if you take hold of
the external surface with your hand, the phial will soon receive all
the electric matter it is capable of, and the outside will then be
entirely destitute of its electric matter, and no spark can be drawn
from it by the finger: here then is a want of that effect which all
bodies, charged with electricity, have. Some of the effects of an
electric body, which I suppose the Abbé has observed in the exterior
surface of a charged phial, are that all light bodies are attracted
by it. This is an effect which I have constantly observed, but do not
think that it proceeds from an attractive quality in the exterior
surface of the phial, but in those light bodies themselves, which
seem to be attracted by the phial. It is a constant observation,
that when one body has a greater charge of electric matter in it
than another (that is in proportion to the quantity they will hold)
this body will attract that which has less: now, I suppose, and it
is a part of Mr. Franklin's system, that all those light bodies
which appear to be attracted, have more electric matter in them than
the external surface of the phial has, wherefore they endeavour to
attract the phial to them, which is too heavy to be moved by the
small degree of force they exert, and yet being greater than their
own weight, moves them to the phial. The following experiment will
help the

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