The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 177

induced
me to omit the practice. But talking afterwards with Mr. James, a
letter-founder in the same Close, and asking him if his people, who
worked over the little furnaces of melted metal, were not subject to
that disorder; he made light of any danger from the effluvia, but
ascribed it to particles of the metal swallowed with their food by
slovenly workmen, who went to their meals after handling the metal,
without well washing their fingers, so that some of the metalline
particles were taken off by their bread and eaten with it. This
appeared to have some reason in it. But the pain I had experienced
made me still afraid of those effluvia.

Being in Derbyshire at some of the furnaces for smelting of lead
ore, I was told, that the smoke of those furnaces was pernicious to
the neighbouring grass and other vegetables; but I do not recollect
to have heard any thing of the effect of such vegetables eaten by
animals. It may be well to make the enquiry.

In America I have often observed, that on the roofs of our
shingled-houses, where moss is apt to grow in northern exposures,
if there be any thing on the roof painted with white lead, such as
balusters, or frames of dormant windows, &c. there is constantly a
streak on the shingles from such paint down to the eaves, on which
no moss will grow, but the wood remains constantly clean and free
from it. We seldom drink rain-water that fall on our houses; and
if we did, perhaps the small quantity of lead descending from such
paint might not be sufficient to produce any sensible ill-effect
on our bodies. But I have been told of a case in Europe, I forget
the place, where a whole family was afflicted with what we call
the dry-belly-ach, or _colica pictorum_, by drinking rain-water.
It was at a country-seat, which, being situated too high to have
the advantage of a well, was supplied with water from a tank, which
received the water from the leaded roofs. This had been drank several
years without mischief, but some young trees planted near the house
growing up above the roof, and shedding their leaves upon it, it
was supposed, that an acid in those leaves had corroded the lead
they covered, and furnished the water of that year with its baneful
particles and qualities.

When I was in Paris with Sir John Pringle in 1767, he visited _La
Charité_, an hospital particularly famous for the cure of that
malady, and brought from thence a pamphlet, containing a list of
the names of

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