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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 85

basis, is incontestibly due to Franklin. D'Alibard, who
made the first experiments in France, says, that he only followed the
tract which Franklin had pointed out.

It has been of late asserted, that the honour of completing the
experiment with the electrical kite, does not belong to Franklin.
Some late English paragraphs have attributed it to some Frenchman,
whose name they do not mention; and the Abbé Bertholon gives it to M.
de Romas, assessor to the presideal of Nerac; the English paragraphs
probably refer to the same person. But a very slight attention will
convince us of the injustice of this procedure: Dr. Franklin's
experiment was made in June 1752; and his letter, giving an account
of it, is dated October 19, 1752. M. de Romas made his first attempt
on the 14th of May, 1753, but was not successful until the 7th of
June; a year after Franklin had completed the discovery, and when it
was known to all the philosophers in Europe.

Besides these great principles, Franklin's letters on electricity
contain a number of facts and hints, which have contributed greatly
towards reducing this branch of knowledge to a science. His friend
Mr. Kinnersley communicated to him a discovery of the different
kinds of electricity, excited by rubbing glass and sulphur. This,
we have said, was first observed by M. Du Faye; but it was for many
years neglected. The philosophers were disposed to account for the
phenomena, rather from a difference in the quantity of electricity
collected, and even Du Faye himself seems at last to have adopted
this doctrine. Franklin at first entertained the same idea; but upon
repeating the experiments, he perceived that Mr. Kinnersley was
right; and that the _vitreous_ and _resinous_ electricity of du Faye
were nothing more than the _positive_, and _negative_ states which he
had before observed; and that the glass globe charged _positively_ or
increased the quantity of electricity on the prime conductor, while
the globe of sulphur diminished its natural quantity, or charged
_negatively_. These experiments and observations opened a new field
for investigation, upon which electricians entered with avidity; and
their labours have added much to the stock of our knowledge.

In September, 1752, Franklin entered upon a course of experiments,
to determine the state of electricity in the clouds. From a number
of experiments he formed this conclusion:--"That the clouds of a
thunder-gust are most commonly in a negative state of electricity,
but sometimes in a positive state;" and from this it follows, as a
necessary consequence, "that, for the most part, in thunder-strokes,
it is the earth that strikes into the clouds, and not the

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 of 2] With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

Page 14
_ Work while it is called to-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered to-morrow.
Page 23
' "'I see, then,' said Socrates, 'that we shall not engage in war so soon; for the greatness of the undertaking will hinder you from maturely weighing all the consequences of it in the beginning of your government.
Page 28
Though crows and ravens do the same, Unlucky birds of hateful name, Ravens or crows might fill their places, And swallow corn and eat carcases, Then, if their tombstone, when they die, Be n't taught to flatter and to lie.
Page 45
To explain this.
Page 52
Everybody has not this two-legged instrument; but every one, with a little attention, may observe signs of that carping, fault-finding disposition, and take the same resolution of avoiding the acquaintance of those infected with it.
Page 88
I expect my dear home next Friday, and, as your paper is taken at the house where she is, I hope the reading of this will prepare her mind for the above surprising revolutions.
Page 99
I would not have him put the Franklin arms on it; but the soapboiler's arms he has a right to use, if he thinks fit.
Page 103
It found me under much agitation of mind on the very important subject it treated.
Page 104
I fear it will be a mischievous one.
Page 107
While reading it, I made a few remarks as I went along.
Page 169
What those documents were I have not been informed, nor can I readily conceive, as all the vouchers existing there had been examined by Mr.
Page 181
If it miscarried, I will send another.
Page 200
Hence water will dissolve in air, as salt in water.
Page 203
Hadley, in the Philadelphia Transactions, wherein this hypothesis of explaining the tradewinds first appeared.
Page 206
In this view I consider the objections and remarks you sent me, and thank you for them sincerely; but, how much soever my inclinations lead me to philosophical inquiries, I am so engaged in business, public and private, that those more pleasing pursuits are frequently interrupted, and the chain of thought necessary to be closely continued in such disquisitions is so broken and disjointed, that it is with difficulty I satisfy myself in any of them; and I am now not much nearer a conclusion in this matter of the spout than when I first read your letter.
Page 215
Let us adore Him with praise and thanksgiving.
Page 223
Page 231
Superficial minds are apt to despise those who make that part of the creation their study as mere triflers; but certainly the world has been much obliged to them.
Page 234
I provided a trough of planed boards fourteen feet long, six inches wide, and six inches deep in the clear, filled with water within half an inch of the edge, to represent a canal.
Page 235
Not having a watch that shows seconds, in order to measure the time taken up by the boat in passing from end to end, I counted as fast as I could count to ten repeatedly, keeping an account of the number of tens on my fingers.