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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 42

and, therefore, ascend; for the rarefied air inclosed,
may more fall short of the same bulk of common air, in weight, than
the watery coat exceeds a like bulk of common air in gravity.

This was the objection in my mind, though, I must confess, I know
not how to account for the watery coat's encompassing the air, as
above-mentioned, without allowing the attraction between air and
water, which the gentleman supposes; so that I do not know but
that this objection, examined by that sagacious genius, will be an
additional confirmation of the hypothesis.

The gentleman observes, "that a certain quantity of moisture should
be every moment discharged and taken away from the lungs; and
hence accounts for the suffocating nature of snuffs of candles, as
impregnating the air with grease, between which and water there is
a natural repellency; and of air that hath been frequently breathed
in, which is overloaded with water, and, for that reason, can take
no more air. Perhaps the same observation will account for the
suffocating nature of damps in wells."

But then if the air can support and take off but such a proportion of
water, and it is necessary that water be so taken off from the lungs,
I queried with myself how it is we can breathe in an air full of
vapours, so full as that they continually precipitated. Do not we see
the air overloaded, and casting forth water plentifully when there is
no suffocation?

The gentleman again observes, "That the air under the equator, and
between the tropics, being constantly heated and rarefied by the
sun, rises; its place is supplied by air from northern and southern
latitudes, which, coming from parts where the air and earth had
less motion, and not suddenly acquiring the quicker motion of the
equatorial earth, appears an east wind blowing westward; the earth
moving from west to east, and slipping under the air."

In reading this, two objections occurred to my mind:

First, that it is said, the trade-wind doth not blow in the forenoon,
but only in the afternoon.

Secondly, that either the motion of the northern and southern air
towards the equator is so slow, as to acquire almost the same motion
as the equatorial air when it arrives there, so that there will be no
sensible difference; or else the motion of the northern and southern
air towards the equator, is quicker, and must be sensible; and then
the trade-wind must appear either as a south-east or north-east wind:
south of the equator, a south-east wind; north of the equator, a
north-east. For the apparent wind must be

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

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