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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 84

first shewed signs of electricity. On the 10th of May, 1752,
a thunder cloud passed over it, in the absence of M. D'Alibard, and
a number of sparks were drawn from it by Coiffier, joiner, with whom
D'Alibard had left directions how to proceed, and by M. Raulet, the
prior of Marly-la-ville. An account of this experiment was given to
the Royal Academy of Sciences, by M. D'Alibard, in a Memoir dated May
13th, 1752. On the 18th of May, M. de Lor proved equally successful
with the apparatus erected at his own house. These philosophers soon
excited those of other parts of Europe to repeat the experiment;
amongst whom, none signalised themselves more than Father Beccaria,
of Turin, to whose observations science is much indebted. Even the
cold regions of Russia were penetrated by the ardor for discovery.
Professor Richman bade fair to add much to the stock of knowledge on
this subject, when an unfortunate flash from his conductor, put a
period to his existence. The friends of science will long remember
with regret, the amiable martyr to electricity.

By these experiments Franklin's theory was established in the
most convincing manner. When the truth of it could no longer
be doubted, envy and vanity endeavoured to detract from its
merit. That an American, an inhabitant of the obscure city of
Philadelphia, the name of which was hardly known, should be able
to make discoveries, and to frame theories, which had escaped
the notice of the enlightened philosophers of Europe, was too
mortifying to be admitted. He must certainly have taken the idea
from some one else. An American, a being of an inferior order, make
discoveries!--Impossible. It was said, that the Abbé Nollet, 1748,
had suggested the idea of the similarity of lightning and electricity
in his _Leçons de Physique_. It is true that the Abbé mentions the
idea, but he throws it out as a bare conjecture, and proposes no
mode of ascertaining the truth of it. He himself acknowledges, that
Franklin first entertained the bold thought of bringing lightning
from the heavens, by means of pointed rods fixed in the air. The
similarity of lightning and electricity is so strong, that we need
not be surprised at notice being taken of it, as soon as electrical
phenomena became familiar. We find it mentioned by Dr. Wall and
Mr. Grey, while the science was in its infancy. But the honour of
forming a regular theory of thunder-gusts, of suggesting a mode of
determining the truth of it by experiments, and of putting these
experiments in practice, and thus establishing the theory upon a firm
and solid

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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business of the utmost importance, but should send the letters to me on board, wished me heartily a good voyage and a speedy return, etc.
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Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
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{11} .
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6.
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_Paris, Sept.