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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 20

I have not been able to differ from you
in sentiment concerning any thing else in your _Suppositions_. In the
present case I lie open to conviction, and shall be the gainer when
informed. If I am right, you will know that, without my adding any
more. Too much said on a merely speculative matter, is but a robbery
committed on practical knowledge. Perhaps I am too much pleased with
these dry notions: however, by this you will see that I think it
unreasonable to give you more trouble about them, than your leisure
and inclination may prompt you to.

I am, &c.

Since my last I considered, that, as I had begun with the reasons of
my dissatisfaction about the ascent of water in spouts, you would not
be unwilling to hear the whole I have to say, and then you will know
what I rely upon.

What occasioned my thinking all spouts descend, is, that I found some
did certainly do so. A difficulty appeared concerning the ascent of
so heavy a body as water, by any force I was apprised of, as probably
sufficient. And, above all, a view of Mr. Stuart's portraits of
spouts, in the _Philosophical Transactions_.

Some observations on these last will include the chief part of my
difficulties. Mr. Stuart has given us the figures of a number
observed by him in the Mediterranean: all with some particulars which
make for my opinion, if well drawn.

The great spattering, which relators mention in the water where the
spout descends, and which appears in all his draughts, I conceive to
be occasioned by drops descending very thick and large into the place.

On the place of this spattering, arises the appearance of a bush,
into the centre of which the spout comes down. This bush I take to
be formed by a spray, made by the force of these drops, which being
uncommonly large, and descending with unusual force by a stream of
wind descending from the cloud with them, increases the height of
the spray: which wind being repulsed by the surface of the waters
rebounds and spreads; by the first raising the spray higher than it
otherwise would go; and by the last making the top of the bush appear
to bend outwards (_i. e._) the cloud of spray is forced off from the
trunk of the spout, and falls backward.

The bush does the same where there is no appearance of a spout
reaching it; and is depressed in the middle, where the spout is
expected. This, I imagine, to be from numerous drops of the spout

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The subject is profound, and so is the treatment.