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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 23

too tedious, I would have observed a little
upon, in my own way, as, I think, this would argue against the
ascent, &c. but I must pass it, not only for the reason mentioned,
but want of room besides.

As to Mr. Stuart's ocular demonstration of the ascent in his great
perpendicular spout, the only one it appears in, I say, as to this,
what I have written supposes him mistaken, which, yet, I am far from

The force of an airy vortex, having less influence on the solid drops
of water, than on the interspersed cloudy vapours, makes the last
whirl round swifter, though it descend slower: and this might easily
deceive, without great care, the most unprejudiced person.


[5] Water-Spouts.


_Water-Spouts and Whirlwinds compared._

Read at the Royal Society, June 24, 1756.

_Philadelphia, Feb. 4, 1753._


I ought to have written to you, long since, in answer to yours of
October 16, concerning the water-spout; but business partly, and
partly a desire of procuring further information, by enquiry among my
seafaring acquaintance, induced me to postpone writing, from time to
time, till I am now almost ashamed to resume the subject, not knowing
but you may have forgot what has been said upon it.

Nothing certainly, can be more improving to a searcher into nature,
than objections judiciously made to his opinion, taken up, perhaps,
too hastily: for such objections oblige him to re-study the
point, consider every circumstance carefully, compare facts, make
experiments, weigh arguments, and be slow in drawing conclusions.
And hence a sure advantage results; for he either confirms a truth,
before too slightly supported; or discovers an error, and receives
instruction from the objector.

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 enquiries, 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.

Yet, hoping we may, in time, sift out the truth between us, I will
send you my present thoughts, with some observations on your reasons
on the accounts in the _Transactions_, and on other relations I have
met with. Perhaps, while I am writing, some new light may strike me,
for I

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

Page 0
None of the letters appear in Sparks' edition of Franklin's Works, and while all but one are included in the collections compiled by Bigelow and Smyth, there are numerous inaccuracies, some of which will be specified hereafter.
Page 1
[2] Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, compiled and edited by John Bigelow, Volume VIII, New York, 1888.
Page 2
It diminished in Apparent Magnitude as it rose, till it enter'd the Clouds, when it seem'd to me scarce bigger than an Orange, and soon after became invisible, the Clouds concealing it.
Page 3
I just now learn, that some observers say, the Ball was 150 Seconds in rising, from the Cutting of the Cord till hid in the Clouds; that its height was then about 500 Toises, but, being moved out of the Perpendicular by the Wind, it had made a Slant so as to form a Triangle, whose Base on the Earth was about 200 Toises.
Page 4
Page 5
I say this in answer to your Question; for I did not indeed write them with a view of their being inserted.
Page 6
_La Machine poussee par le Vent s'est dirigee sur une des Allees du Jardin.
Page 7
_ That is, in plain English, _burning more straw_; for tho' there is a little Mystery made, concerning the kind of Air with which the Balloon is filled, I conceive it to be nothing more than hot Smoke or common Air rarify'd, tho' in this I may be mistaken.
Page 8
A few Months since the Idea of Witches riding thro' the Air upon a Broomstick, and that of Philosophers upon a Bag of Smoke, would have appeared equally impossible and ridiculous.
Page 9
) PASSY, Dec.
Page 10
Means were used, I am told, to prevent the great Balloon's rising so high as might indanger its Bursting.
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_Letter of November 21.
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_ This has never been published so far as I know.
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Robert, two Brothers,"; p.