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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 335

it is done, however, in proportion, and
many putrid disorders hence have their origin. It is recorded of
Methusalem, who, being the longest liver, may be supposed to have
best preserved his health, that he slept always in the open air; for,
when he had lived five hundred years, an angel said to him: "Arise,
Methusalem, and build thee an house, for thou shalt live yet five
hundred years longer." But Methusalem answered and said, "If I am to
live but five hundred years longer it is not worth while to build
me an house--I will sleep in the air, as I have been used to do."
Physicians, after having for ages contended, that the sick should
not be indulged with fresh air, have at length discovered, that it
may do them good. It is therefore to be hoped, that they may in
time discover likewise, that it is not hurtful to those who are in
health, and that we may be then cured of the _aërophobia_, that at
present distresses weak minds, and make them choose to be stifled and
poisoned, rather than leave open the window of a bed-chamber, or put
down the glass of a coach.

Confined air, when saturated with perspirable matter[187], will
not receive more; and that matter must remain in our bodies, and
occasion diseases: but it gives some previous notice of its being
about to be hurtful, by producing certain uneasinesses, slight
indeed at first, such as, with regard to the lungs, is a trifling
sensation, and to the pores of the skin a kind of restlessness,
which is difficult to describe, and few that feel it know the
cause of it. But we may recollect, that sometimes, on waking in
the night, we have, if warmly covered, found it difficult to get
asleep again. We turn often without finding repose in any position.
This figettiness, to use a vulgar expression for want of a better,
is occasioned wholly by an uneasiness in the skin, owing to the
retension of the perspirable matter--the bed-clothes having received
their quantity, and, being saturated, refusing to take any more.
To become sensible of this by an experiment, let a person keep his
position in the bed, but throw off the bed-clothes, and suffer fresh
air to approach the part uncovered of his body; he will then feel
that part suddenly refreshed; for the air will immediately relieve
the skin, by receiving, licking up, and carrying off, the load of
perspirable matter that incommoded it. For every portion of cool air,
that approaches the warm skin, in receiving its part of that vapour,
receives therewith

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

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The recent bi-centenary of Franklin's birth, which coincided with the revival of interest in balloons, makes this a timely topic, especially since Franklin's descriptions of the first balloon ascensions are almost unknown and do not appear among his philosophical papers.
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There it was held down by a Cord till 5 in the afternoon, when it was to be let loose.
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But possibly it may pave the Way to some Discoveries in Natural Philosophy of which at present we have no Conception.
Page 3
Among the Pleasanteries Conversation produces on this Subject, some suppose Flying to be now invented, and that since Men may be supported in the Air, nothing is wanted but some light handy Instruments to give and direct Motion.
Page 4
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With great esteem and respect, for yourself and the Society; I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant, B.
Page 6
Multitudes in Paris saw the Balloon passing; but did not know there were Men with it, it being then.
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conveying Intelligence into, or out of a besieged Town, giving Signals to distant Places, or the like.
Page 8
It does not seem to me a good reason to decline prosecuting a new Experiment which apparently increases the Power of Man over Matter, till we can see to what Use that Power may be applied.
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Balloon we now inhabit.
Page 10
When it arrived at its height, which I suppose might be 3 or 400 Toises, it appeared to have only horizontal Motion.
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_Letter of August 30.
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"The Journal of the first Aerial Voyage," here mentioned, was written by the Marquis d'Arlandes to M.
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7, added missing "t" to "than" in "more satisfactory than anything"; p.