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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 33

a league and a half distance.

I think I formerly read in Dampier, or some other voyager, that a
spout, in its progressive motion, went over a ship becalmed, on the
coast of Guinea, and first threw her down on one side, carrying away
her foremast, then suddenly whipped her up, and threw her down on the
other side, carrying away her mizen-mast, and the whole was over in
an instant. I suppose the first mischief was done by the fore-side of
the whirl, the latter by the hinder-side, their motion being contrary.

I suppose a whirlwind, or spout, may be stationary, when the
concurring winds are equal; but if unequal, the whirl acquires a
progressive motion, in the direction of the strongest pressure.

When the wind that gives the progressive motion becomes stronger
below than above, or above than below, the spout will be bent, and,
the cause ceasing, straiten again.

Your queries, towards the end of your paper, appear judicious,
and worth considering. At present I am not furnished with facts
sufficient to make any pertinent answer to them; and this paper has
already a sufficient quantity of conjecture.

Your manner of accommodating the accounts to your hypothesis of
descending spouts, is, I own, ingenious, and perhaps that hypothesis
may be true. I will consider it farther, but, as yet, I am not
satisfied with it, though hereafter I may be.

Here you have my method of accounting for the principal phenomena,
which I submit to your candid examination.

And as I now seem to have almost written a book, instead of a letter,
you will think it high time I should conclude; which I beg leave to
do, with assuring you, that

I am, Sir, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

FOOTNOTE:

[6] Perkins. _Editor._




DOCTOR M----[7], TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, ESQ. AT PHILADELPHIA.

_Description of a Water-Spout at Antigua._

Read at the Royal Society, June 24, 1756.


_New-Brunswick, November 11, 1752._

SIR,

I am favoured with your letter of the 2d instant, and shall, with
pleasure, comply with your request, in describing (as well as my
memory serves me) the water-spout I saw at Antigua; and shall think
this, or any other service I can do, well repaid, if it contributes
to your satisfaction in so curious a disquisition.

I had often seen water-spouts at a distance, and heard many strange
stories of them, but never knew any thing satisfactory of their
nature or cause, until that which I saw at Antigua; which convinced
me that a water-spout is a whirlwind, which becomes visible in all
its dimensions by the water it carries

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