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Title: The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, [Vol 1 of 3]
Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, [Vol 1 of 3]" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


  This is Volume 1 of a 3-volume set. The other two volumes are also
  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  More detail can be found at the end of the book.

  [Illustration: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, L.L.D.

  _Publish'd April 1, 1806; by Longman, Rees, Hurst, & Orme,
  Paternoster Row._]


  VOL. 1.

  [Illustration: (Engraved by W. & G. Cooke.)]


  for Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, Paternoster Row, London.



  VOL. I.





_The works of Dr. Franklin have been often partially collected, never
before brought together in one uniform publication._

_The first collection was made by Mr. Peter Collinson in the year
1751. It consisted of letters, communicated by the author to the
editor, on one subject, electricity, and formed a pamphlet only,
of which the price was half-a-crown. It was enlarged in 1752, by a
second communication on the same subject, and in 1754, by a third,
till, in 1766, by the addition of letters and papers on other
philosophical subjects, it amounted to a quarto volume of 500 pages._

_Ten years after, in 1779, another collection was made, by a
different editor, in one volume, printed both in quarto and octavo,
of papers not contained in the preceding collection, under the title
of Political, Miscellaneous, and Philosophical Pieces._

_In 1787, a third collection appeared in a thin octavo volume,
entitled Philosophical and Miscellaneous Papers._

_And lastly, in 1793, a fourth was published, in two volumes,
crown octavo, consisting of Memoirs of Dr. Franklin's Life, and
Essays humourous, moral and literary, chiefly in the Manner of the

_In the present volumes will be found all the different collections
we have enumerated, together with the various papers of the same
author, that have been published in separate pamphlets, or inserted
in foreign collections of his works, or in the Transactions of our
own or of foreign philosophical societies, or in our own or foreign
newspapers and magazines, as far as discoverable by the editor, who
has been assisted in the research by a gentleman in America. Among
these papers some, we conceive, will be new to the English reader on
this side of the Atlantic; particularly a series of essays entitled
The Busy-Body, written, as Dr. Franklin tells us in his Life, when he
was an assiduous imitator of Addison; and a pamphlet, entitled Plain
Truth, with which he is said to have commenced his political career
as a writer. We hoped to have been enabled to add, what would have
been equally new, and still more acceptable, a genuine copy of the
Life of our author, as written by himself; but in this hope we are
disappointed, and we are in consequence obliged to content ourselves
with a translation, which has been already before the public, from
a copy in the French language, coming no farther down than the year
1731; and a continuation of his history from that period, by the late
Dr. Stuber of Philadelphia._

_The character of Dr. Franklin, as a philosopher, a politician,
and a moralist, is too well known to require illustration, and
his writings, from their interesting nature, and the fascinating
simplicity of their style, are too highly esteemed, for any apology
to be necessary for so large a collection of them, unless it should
be deemed necessary by the individual to whom Dr. Franklin in his
will consigned his manuscripts: and to him our apology will consist
in a reference to his own extraordinary conduct._

_In bequeathing his papers, it was no doubt the intention of the
testator, that the world should have the chance of being benefited
by their publication. It was so understood by the person in
question, his grandson, who, accordingly, shortly after the
death of his great relative, hastened to London, the best mart
for literary property, employed an amanuensis for many months in
copying, ransacked our public libraries that nothing might escape,
and at length had so far prepared the works of Dr. Franklin for the
press, that proposals were made by him to several of our principal
booksellers for the sale of them. They were to form three quarto
volumes, and were to contain all the writings, published and
unpublished, of Franklin, with Memoirs of his Life, brought down by
himself to the year 1757, and continued to his death by the legatee.
They were to be published in three different languages, and the
countries corresponding to those languages, France, Germany, and
England, on the same day. The terms asked for the copyright of the
English edition were high, amounting to several thousand pounds,
which occasioned a little demur; but eventually they would no doubt
have been obtained. Nothing more however was heard of the proposals
or the work, in this its fair market. The proprietor, it seems,
had found a bidder of a different description in some emissary of
government, whose object was to withhold the manuscripts from the
world, not to benefit it by their publication; and they thus either
passed into other hands, or the person to whom they were bequeathed
received a remuneration for suppressing them. This at least has been
asserted, by a variety of persons, both in this country and America,
of whom some were at the time intimate with the grandson, and not
wholly unacquainted with the machinations of the ministry; and the
silence, which has been observed for so many years respecting the
publication, gives additional credibility to the report._

_What the manuscripts contained, that should have excited the
jealousy of government, we are unable, as we have never seen them,
positively to affirm; but, from the conspicuous part acted by the
author in the American revolution and the wars connected with it, it
is by no means difficult to guess; and of this we are sure, from his
character, that no disposition of his writings could have been more
contrary to his intentions or wishes._

_We have only to add, that in the present collection, which is
probably all that will ever be published of the works of this
extraordinary man, the papers are methodically arranged, the moral
and philosophical ones according to their subjects, the political
ones, as nearly as may be, according to their dates; that we have
given, in notes, the authorities for ascribing the different pieces
to Franklin; that where no title existed, to indicate the nature of a
letter or paper, we have prefixed a title; and lastly, that we have
compiled an index to the whole, which is placed at the beginning,
instead of, as is usual, at the end of the work, to render the
volumes more equal._

_April 7, 1806._


  VOL. I.




  Introductory Letter.                                               169

  Wonderful effect of points.--Positive and negative
  electricity.--Electrical kiss.--Counterfeit spider.--Simple and
  commodious electrical machine.                                     170

  Observations on the Leyden bottle, with experiments proving the
  different electrical state of its different surfaces.              179

  Further experiments confirming the preceding observations.--Leyden
  bottle analysed.--Electrical battery.--Magical Picture.--Electrical
  wheel or jack.--Electrical feast.                                  187

  Observations and suppositions, towards forming a new hypothesis,
  for explaining the several phenomena of thunder-gusts.             203

  Introductory letter to some additional papers.                     216

  Opinions and conjectures, concerning the properties and effects
  of the electrical matter, and the means of preserving buildings,
  ships, &c. from lightning, arising from experiments and
  observations made at Philadelphia, 1749.--Golden fish.--Extraction
  of effluvial virtues by electricity impracticable.                 217

  Additional experiments: proving that the Leyden bottle has no more
  electrical fire in it when charged, than before: nor less when
  discharged: that in discharging, the fire does not issue from the
  wire and the coating at the same time, as some have thought, but
  that the coating always receives what is discharged by the wire,
  or an equal quantity: the outer surface being always in a negative
  state of electricity, when the inner surface is in a positive
  state.                                                             245

  Accumulation of the electrical fire proved to be in the electrified
  glass.--Effect of lightning on the needle of compasses,
  explained.--Gunpowder fired by the electric flame.                 247

  Unlimited nature of the electric force.                            250

  The terms, electric per se, and non-electric, improper.--New
  relation between metals and water.--Effects of air in electrical
  experiments.--Experiment for discovering more of the qualities of
  the electric fluid.                                                252

  Mistake, that only metals and water were conductors,
  rectified.--Supposition of a region of electric fire above our
  atmosphere.--Theorem concerning light.--Poke-weed a cure for
  cancers.                                                           256

  New experiments.--Paradoxes inferred from them.--Difference in
  the electricity of a globe of glass charged, and a globe of
  sulphur.--Difficulty of ascertaining which is positive and which
  negative.                                                          261

  Probable cause of the different attractions and repulsions of the
  two electrified globes mentioned in the two preceding letters.     264

  Reasons for supposing, that the glass globe charges positively,
  and the sulphur negatively.--Hint respecting a leather globe for
  experiments when travelling.                                     _ibid._

  Electrical kite.                                                   267

  Hypothesis, of the sea being the grand source of lightning,
  retracted.--Positive, and sometimes negative, electricity of the
  clouds discovered.--New experiments and conjectures in support of
  this discovery.--Observations recommended for ascertaining the
  direction of the electric fluid.--Size of rods for conductors to
  buildings.--Appearance of a thunder-cloud described.               269

  Additional proofs of the positive and negative state of electricity
  in the clouds.--New method of ascertaining it.                     284

  Electrical experiments, with an attempt to account for their
  several phenomena, &c.                                             286

  Experiments made in pursuance of those made by Mr. Canton, dated
  December 6, 1753; with explanations, by Mr. Benjamin Franklin.     294

  Turkey killed by electricity.--Effect of a shock on the operator
  in making the experiment.                                          299

  Differences in the qualities of glass.--Account of Domien, an
  electrician and traveller.--Conjectures respecting the pores of
  glass.--Origin of the author's idea of drawing down lightning.--No
  satisfactory hypothesis respecting the manner in which clouds
  become electrified.--Six men knocked down at once by an electrical
  shock.--Reflections on the spirit of invention.                    301

  Beccaria's work on electricity.--Sentiments of Franklin on pointed
  rods, not fully understood in Europe.--Effect of lightning on the
  church of Newbury, in New England.--Remarks on the subject.        309

  Notice of another packet of letters.                               313

  Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Boston, to Benjamin
  Franklin, Esq. concerning the crooked direction, and the source of
  lightning, and the swiftness of the electric fire.                 314

  Observations on the subjects of the preceding letter.--Reasons for
  supposing the sea to be the grand source of lightning.--Reasons for
  doubting this hypothesis.--Improvement in a globe for raising the
  electric fire.                                                     320

  Effect of lightning on captain Waddel's compass, and the Dutch
  church at New York.                                                324

  Proposal of an experiment to measure the time taken up by an
  Electric spark, in moving through any given space.                 327

  Experiments on boiling water, and glass heated by boiling
  water.--Doctrine of repulsion in electrised bodies
  doubted.--Electricity of the atmosphere at different
  heights.--Electrical horse-race.--Electrical thermometer.--In
  what cases the electrical fire produces heat.--Wire lengthened by
  electricity.--Good effect of a rod on the house of Mr. West, of
  Philadelphia.                                                      331

  Answer to some of the foregoing subjects.--How long the Leyden
  bottle may be kept charged.--Heated glass rendered permeable by the
  electric fluid.--Electrical attraction and repulsion.--Reply to
  other subjects in the preceding paper.--Numerous ways of kindling
  fire.--Explosion of water.--Knobs and points.                      343

  Accounts from Carolina (mentioned in the foregoing letter) of the
  effects of lightning on two of the rods commonly affixed to houses
  there, for securing them against lightning.                        361

  Mr. William Maine's account of the effects of the lightning on his
  rod, dated at Indian Land, in South Carolina, Aug. 28, 1760.       362

  On the electricity of the tourmalin.                               369

  New observation relating to electricity in the atmosphere.         373

  Flash of lightning that struck St. Bride's steeple.                374

  Best method of securing a powder magazine from lightning.          375

  Of lightning, and the methods (now used in America) of securing
  buildings and persons from its mischievous effects.                377

  St. Bride's steeple.--Utility of electrical conductors to
  Steeples.--Singular kind of glass tube.                            382

  Experiments, observations, and facts, tending to support the
  opinion of the utility of long pointed rods, for securing
  buildings from damage by strokes of lightning.                     383

  On the utility of electrical conductors.                           400

  On the effects of electricity in paralytic cases.                  401

  Electrical experiments on amber.                                   403

  On the electricity of the fogs in Ireland.                         405

  Mode of ascertaining, whether the power, giving a shock to those
  who touch either the Surinam eel, or the torpedo, be electrical.   408

  On the analogy between magnetism and electricity.                  410

  Concerning the mode of rendering meat tender by electricity.       413

  Answer to some queries concerning the choice of glass for the
  Leyden experiment.                                                 416

  Concerning the Leyden bottle.                                      418


  No. 1. Account of experiments made in electricity at Marly.        420

  A more particular account of the same, &c.                         422

  Letter of Mr. W. Watson, F. R. S. to the Royal Society, concerning
  the electrical experiments in England upon thunder-clouds.         427

  No. 2. Remarks on the Abbé Nollet's Letters to Benjamin Franklin,
  Esq. of Philadelphia, on electricity.                              430


  PLATE I.     Electrical Experiments                   facing page  182

  PLATE II.    Electrical Air Thermometer                            336

  PLATE III.   Cavendish Experiment                                  348

  PLATE IV.    Lightning Rod Experiments                             388


  _Page._  _Line._

    2         10:                  for true, read me.
    5          5:                  for was born, read who was born.
   20          1:                  for Tryon, read Tyron's.
  _ib._        7 from the bottom:  for put to blush, read put to the blush.
  _ib._        4 from the bottom:  for myself, read by myself.
   15          4:                  for collection, read works.
   21          9 from the bottom:  for or, read nor.
   25          4 from the bottom:  for pasquenades, read pasquinades.
   28          7:                  dele the.
  _ib._       12:                  for printer, read a printer.
   28          3 from the bottom:  for my old favourite work, Bunyan's
                                   Voyages, read my old favourite Bunyan.
   40          5:                  for money, read in money.
   44          3:                  for Bernet, read Burnet.
  _ib._       17:                  for unabled, read unable.
   50         19:                  for ingenuous, read ingenious.
   67          5:                  dele bridge.
   80          3 from the bottom:  for into, read into which.
  235         21:                  substitute + for *.
  264          2:                  for course read cause.




I have amused myself with collecting some little anecdotes of my
family. You may remember the enquiries I made, when you were with
me in England, among such of my relations as were then living; and
the journey I undertook for that purpose. To be acquainted with the
particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to
you, I flatter myself will afford the same pleasure to you as to me.
I shall relate them upon paper: it will be an agreeable employment
of a week's uninterrupted leisure, which I promise myself during
my present retirement in the country. There are also other motives
which induce me to the undertaking. From the bosom of poverty and
obscurity, in which I drew my first breath, and spent my earliest
years, I have raised myself to a state of opulence and to some degree
of celebrity in the world. A constant good fortune has attended me
through every period of life to my present advanced age; and my
descendants may be desirous of learning what were the means of which
I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of providence,
have proved so eminently successful. They may also, should they ever
be placed in a similar situation, derive some advantage from my

When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed,
I sometimes say to myself, that, were the offer made me, I would
engage to run again, from beginning to end, the same career of life.
All I would ask, should be the privilege of an author, to correct,
in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could wish,
likewise if it were in my power, to change some trivial incidents
and events for others more favourable. Were this, however, denied
me, still would I not decline the offer. But since a repetition of
life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, so
nearly resembles it, as to call to mind all its circumstances, and,
to render their remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By
thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural
in old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely
follow my bent, without being tiresome to those who, from respect
to my age, might think themselves obliged to listen to me; as they
will be at liberty to read me or not as they please. In fine--and I
may as well avow it, since nobody would believe me were I to deny
it--I shall perhaps, by this employment, gratify my vanity. Scarcely
indeed have I ever read or heard the introductory phrase, "_I may
say without vanity_," but some striking and characteristic instance
of vanity has immediately followed. The generality of men hate
vanity in others, however strongly they may be tinctured with it
themselves: for myself, I pay obeisance to it wherever I meet with
it, persuaded that it is advantageous, as well to the individual whom
it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its influence.
Of consequence, it would in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a
man should count his vanity among the other sweets of life, and give
thanks to providence for the blessing.

And here let me with all humility acknowledge, that to divine
providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed.
It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I
have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My faith in
this respect leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that
the divine goodness will still be exercised towards me, either by
prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by
giving me fortitude to support any melancholy reverse, which may
happen to me, as to so many others. My future fortune is unknown
but to Him in whose hand is our destiny, and who can make our very
afflictions subservient to our benefit.

One of my uncles, desirous, like myself, of collecting anecdotes
of our family, gave me some notes, from which I have derived many
particulars respecting our ancestors. From these I learn, that
they had lived in the same village (Eaton in Northamptonshire,)
upon a freehold of about thirty acres, for the space at least of
three hundred years. How long they had resided there prior to that
period, my uncle had been unable to discover; probably ever since
the institution of surnames, when they took the appellation of
Franklin, which had formerly been the name of a particular order of

This petty estate would not have sufficed for their subsistence, had
they not added the trade of blacksmith, which was perpetuated in the
family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son having been uniformly
brought up to this employment: a custom which both he and my father
observed with respect to their eldest sons.

In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their
births, marriages, and deaths, earlier than the year 1555; the
parish register not extending farther back than that period. This
register informed me, that I was the youngest son of the youngest
branch of the family, counting five generations. My grandfather,
Thomas, who was born in 1598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to
continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury in Oxfordshire, where
his son John, who was a dyer, resided, and with whom my father was
apprenticed. He died, and was buried there: we saw his monument in
1758. His eldest son lived in the family house at Eaton, which he
bequeathed, with the land belonging to it, to his only daughter; who,
in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher of Wellingborough, afterwards
sold it to Mr. Estead, the present proprietor.

My grandfather had four surviving sons, Thomas, John, Benjamin, and
Josias. I shall give you such particulars of them as my memory will
furnish, not having my papers here, in which you will find a more
minute account, if they are not lost during my absence.

Thomas had learned the trade of a blacksmith under his father; but
possessing a good natural understanding, he improved it by study,
at the solicitation of a gentleman of the name of Palmer, who was
at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who
encouraged, in like manner, all my uncles to cultivate their minds.
Thomas thus rendered himself competent to the functions of a country
attorney; soon became an essential personage in the affairs of the
village; and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprise,
as well relative to the county as the town of Northampton. A variety
of remarkable incidents were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoying
the esteem and patronage of Lord Halifax, he died, January 6, 1702,
precisely four years before I was born. The recital that was made
us of his life and character, by some aged persons of the village,
struck you, I remember, as extraordinary, from its analogy to what
you knew of myself. "Had he died," said you, "just four years later,
one might have supposed a transmigration of souls."

John, to the best of my belief, was brought up to the trade of a

Benjamin served his apprenticeship in London to a silk-dyer. He was
an industrious man: I remember him well; for, while I was a child,
he joined my father at Boston, and lived for some years in the house
with us. A particular affection had always subsisted between my
father and him; and I was his godson. He arrived to a great age. He
left behind him two quarto volumes of poems in manuscript, consisting
of little fugitive pieces addressed to his friends. He had invented
a short-hand, which he taught me, but having never made use of it,
I have now forgotten it. He was a man of piety, and a constant
attendant on the best preachers, whose sermons he took a pleasure in
writing down according, to the expeditory method he had devised. Many
volumes were thus collected by him. He was also extremely fond of
politics, too much so, perhaps, for his situation. I lately found in
London a collection which he had made of all the principal pamphlets
relative to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717. Many volumes
are wanting, as appears by the series of numbers; but there still
remain eight in folio, and twenty-four in quarto and octavo. The
collection had fallen into the hands of a second-hand bookseller,
who, knowing me by having sold me some books, brought it to me. My
uncle, it seems, had left it behind him on his departure for America,
about fifty years ago. I found various notes of his writing in the
margins. His grandson, Samuel, is now living at Boston.

Our humble family had early embraced the Reformation. They remained
faithfully attached during the reign of Queen Mary, when they were
in danger of being molested on account of their zeal against popery.
They had an English bible, and, to conceal it the more securely,
they conceived the project of fastening it, open, with pack-threads
across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of the close-stool. When
my great-grandfather wished to read to his family, he reversed the
lid of the close-stool upon his knees, and passed the leaves from one
side to the other, which were held down on each by the pack-thread.
One of the children was stationed at the door, to give notice if
he saw the proctor (an officer of the spiritual court) make his
appearance: in that case, the lid was restored to its place, with the
Bible concealed under it as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle

The whole family preserved its attachment to the Church of England
till towards the close of the reign of Charles II. when certain
ministers, who had been ejected as nonconformists, having held
conventicles in Northamptonshire, they were joined by Benjamin and
Josias, who adhered to them ever after. The rest of the family
continued in the episcopal church.

My father, Josias, married early in life. He went, with his wife and
three children, to New England, about the year 1682. Conventicles
being at that time prohibited by law, and frequently disturbed,
some considerable persons of his acquaintance determined to go
to America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exercise of their
religion, and my father was prevailed on to accompany them.

My father had also by the same wife, four children born in America,
and ten others by a second wife, making in all seventeen. I remember
to have seen thirteen seated together at his table, who all arrived
to years of maturity, and were married. I was the last of the sons,
and the youngest child, excepting two daughters. I was born at
Boston in New England. My mother, the second wife, was Abiah Folger,
daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first colonists of New England,
of whom Cotton Mather makes honourable mention, in his Ecclesiastical
History of that province, as "_a pious and learned Englishman_," if
I rightly recollect his expressions. I have been told of his having
written a variety of little pieces; but there appears to be only one
in print, which I met with many years ago. It was published in the
year 1675, and is in familiar verse, agreeably to the taste of the
times and the country. The author addresses himself to the governors
for the time being, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favour
of the anabaptists, quakers, and other sectaries, who had suffered
persecution. To this persecution he attributes the war with the
natives, and other calamities which afflicted the country, regarding
them as the judgments of God in punishment of so odious an offence,
and he exhorts the government to the repeal of laws so contrary to
charity. The poem appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a
pleasing simplicity. I recollect the six concluding lines, though
I have forgotten the order of words of the two first; the sense of
which was, that his censures were dictated by benevolence, and that,
of consequence, he wished to be known as the author; because, said
he, I hate from my very soul dissimulation:

    From Sherburn,[2] where I dwell,
        I therefore put my name,
    Your friend, who means you well,


My brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. With
respect to myself, I was sent, at the age of eight years, to a
grammar-school. My father destined me for the church, and already
regarded me as the chaplain of the family. The promptitude with which
from my infancy I had learned to read, for I do not remember to have
been ever without this acquirement, and the encouragement of his
friends, who assured him that I should one day certainly become a man
of letters, confirmed him in this design. My uncle Benjamin approved
also of the scheme, and promised to give me all his volumes of
sermons, written, as I have said, in the short-hand of his invention,
if I would take the pains to learn it.

I remained, however, scarcely a year at the grammar-school, although,
in this short interval, I had risen from the middle to the head of my
class, from thence to the class immediately above, and was to pass,
at the end of the year, to the one next in order. But my father,
burdened with a numerous family, found that he was incapable, without
subjecting himself to difficulties, of providing for the expences
of a collegiate education; and considering besides, as I heard
him say to his friends, that persons so educated were often poorly
provided for, he renounced his first intentions, took me from the
grammar-school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic,
kept by a Mr. George Brownwell, who was a skilful master, and
succeeded very well in his profession by employing gentle means only,
and such as were calculated to encourage his scholars. Under him I
soon acquired an excellent hand; but I failed in arithmetic, and made
therein no sort of progress.

At ten years of age, I was called home to assist my father in his
occupation, which was that of a soap-boiler and tallow-chandler;
a business to which he had served no apprenticeship, but which he
embraced on his arrival in New England, because he found his own,
that of dyer, in too little request to enable him to maintain his
family, I was accordingly employed in cutting the wicks, filling the
moulds, taking care of the shop, carrying messages, &c.

This business displeased me, and I felt a strong inclination for a
sea life; but my father set his face against it. The vicinity of the
water, however, gave me frequent opportunities, of venturing myself
both upon and within it, and I soon acquired the art of swimming, and
of managing a boat. When embarked with other children, the helm was
commonly deputed to me, particularly on difficult occasions; and, in
every other project, I was almost always the leader of the troop,
whom I sometimes involved in embarrassments. I shall give an instance
of this, which demonstrates an early disposition of mind for public
enterprises, though the one in question was not conducted by justice.

The mill-pond was terminated on one side by a marsh, upon the borders
of which we were accustomed to take our stand, at high water, to
angle for small fish. By dint of walking, we had converted the place
into a perfect quagmire. My proposal was to erect a wharf that
should afford us firm footing; and I pointed out to my companions
a large heap of stones, intended for the building a new house near
the marsh, and which were well adapted for our purpose. Accordingly,
when the workmen retired in the evening, I assembled a number of my
play-fellows, and by labouring diligently, like ants, sometimes four
of us uniting our strength to carry a single stone, we removed them
all, and constructed our little quay. The workmen were surprised the
next morning at not finding their stones; which had been conveyed
to our wharf. Enquiries were made respecting the authors of this
conveyance; we were discovered; complaints were exhibited against us;
and many of us underwent correction on the part of our parents; and
though I strenuously defended the utility of the work, my father at
length convinced me, that nothing which was not strictly honest could
be useful.

It will not, perhaps, be uninteresting to you to know what a sort of
man my father was. He had an excellent constitution, was of a middle
size, but well made and strong, and extremely active in whatever he
undertook. He designed with a degree of neatness, and knew a little
of music. His voice was sonorous and agreeable; so that when he sung
a psalm or hymn, with the accompaniment of his violin, as was his
frequent practice in an evening, when the labours of the day were
finished, it was truly delightful to hear him. He was versed also in
mechanics, and could, upon occasion, use the tools of a variety of
trades. But his greatest excellence was a sound understanding and
solid judgment, in matters of prudence, both in public and private
life. In the former, indeed, he never engaged, because his numerous
family, and the mediocrity of his fortune, kept him unremittingly
employed in the duties of his profession. But I well remember,
that the leading men of the place used frequently to come and ask
his advice respecting the affairs of the town, or of the church to
which he belonged, and that they paid much deference to his opinion.
Individuals were also in the habit of consulting him in their private
affairs, and he was often chosen arbiter between contending parties.

He was fond of having at his table, as often as possible,
some friends or well-informed neighbours, capable of rational
conversation, and he was always careful to introduce useful or
ingenious topics of discourse, which might tend to form the minds
of his children. By this means he early attracted our attention
to what was just, prudent, and beneficial in the conduct of life.
He never talked of the meats which appeared upon the table, never
discussed whether they were well or ill dressed, of a good or bad
flavour, high-seasoned or otherwise, preferable or inferior to this
or that dish of a similar kind. Thus accustomed, from my infancy, to
the utmost inattention as to these objects, I have been perfectly
regardless of what kind of food was before me; and I pay so little
attention to it even now, that it would be a hard matter for me
to recollect, a few hours after I had dined, of what my dinner
had consisted. When travelling, I have particularly experienced
the advantage of this habit; for it has often happened to me to
be in company with persons, who, having a more delicate, because
a more exercised taste, have suffered in many cases considerable
inconvenience; while, as to myself, I have had nothing to desire.

My mother was likewise possessed of an excellent constitution. She
suckled all her ten children, and I never heard either her or my
father complain of any other disorder than that of which they died:
my father at the age of eighty-seven, and my mother at eighty-five.
They are buried together at Boston, where, a few years ago, I placed
a marble over their grave, with this inscription:

                           "Here lie
  JOSIAS FRANKLIN and ABIAH his wife: They lived together with reciprocal
  affection for fifty-nine years; and without private fortune,
  without lucrative employment, by assiduous labour and honest industry,
  decently supported a numerous family, and educated with success,
  thirteen children, and seven grand children. Let this example, reader,
  encourage thee diligently to discharge the duties of thy calling, and to
  rely on the support of divine providence,
                     He was pious and prudent,
                     She discreet and virtuous.
  Their youngest son, from a sentiment of filial duty, consecrates
                            this stone
                         to their memory."

I perceive, by my rambling digressions, that I am growing old. But
we do not dress for a private company as for a formal ball. This
deserves, perhaps, the name of negligence.

To return. I thus continued employed in my father's trade for
the space of two years; that is to say, till I arrived at twelve
years of age. About this time my brother John, who had served his
apprenticeship in London, having quitted my father, and being
married and settled in business on his own account at Rhode Island,
I was destined, to all appearance to supply his place, and be
a candle-maker all my life: but my dislike of this occupation
continuing, my father was apprehensive, that, if a more, agreeable
one were not offered me, I might play the truant and escape to
sea; as, to his extreme mortification, my brother Josias had done.
He therefore took me sometimes to see masons, coopers, braziers,
joiners, and other mechanics, employed at their work; in order to
discover the bent of my inclination, and fix it if he could upon
some occupation that might retain me on shore. I have since, in
consequence of these visits, derived no small pleasure from seeing
skilful workmen handle their tools; and it has proved of considerable
benefit to have acquired thereby sufficient knowledge to be able
to make little things for myself, when I have had no mechanic at
hand, and to construct small machines for my experiments, while the
idea I have conceived has been fresh and strongly impressed on my

My father at length decided that I should be a cutler, and I was
placed for some days upon trial with my cousin Samuel, son of my
uncle Benjamin, who had learned this trade in London, and had
established himself at Boston. But the premium he required for my
apprenticeship displeasing my father, I was recalled home.

From my earliest years I had been passionately fond of reading, and I
laid out in books all the money I could procure. I was particularly
pleased with accounts of voyages. My first acquisition was Bunyan's
works in small separate volumes. These I afterwards sold in order
to buy an historical collection by R. Burton, which consisted of
small cheap volumes, amounting in all to about forty or fifty. My
father's little library was principally made up of books of practical
and polemical theology. I read the greatest part of them. I have
since often regretted that at a time when I had so great a thirst
for knowledge, more eligible books had not fallen into my hands, as
it was then a point decided that I should not be educated for the
church. There was also among my father's books, Plutarch's Lives,
in which I read continually, and I still regard as advantageously
employed the time devoted to them. I found besides a work of De
Foe's, entitled an Essay on Projects, from which, perhaps, I derived
impressions that have since influenced some of the principal events
of my life.

My inclination for books at last determined my father to make me
a printer, though he had already a son in that profession. My
brother had returned from England in 1717, with a press and types,
in order to establish a printing-house at Boston. This business
pleased me much better than that of my father, though I had still a
predilection for the sea. To prevent the effects which might result
from this inclination, my father was impatient to see me engaged
with my brother. I held back for some time; at length, however, I
suffered myself to be persuaded, and signed my indentures, being then
only twelve years of age. It was agreed that I should serve as an
apprentice to the age of twenty-one, and should receive journeyman's
wages only during the last year.

In a very short time I made great proficiency in this business, and
became very serviceable to my brother. I had now an opportunity of
procuring better books. The acquaintance I necessarily formed with
booksellers' apprentices, enabled me to borrow a volume now and then,
which I never failed to return punctually and without injury. How
often has it happened to me to pass the greater part of the night
in reading by my bed-side, when the book had been lent me in the
evening, and was to be returned the next morning, lest it might be
missed or wanted!

At length, Mr. Matthew Adams, an ingenious tradesman, who had a
handsome collection of books, and who frequented our printing-house,
took notice of me. He invited me to see his library, and had the
goodness to lend me any books I was desirous of reading. I then took
a strange fancy for poetry, and composed several little pieces. My
brother, thinking he might find his account in it, encouraged me, and
engaged me to write two ballads. One, called the Light-house Tragedy,
contained an account of the shipwreck of captain Worthilake and his
two daughters; the other was a sailor's song on the capture of the
noted pirate called _Teach_, or _Blackbeard_. They were wretched
verses in point of style, mere blind-men's ditties. When printed, he
dispatched me about the town to sell them. The first had a prodigious
run, because the event was recent, and had made a great noise.

My vanity was flattered by this success; but my father checked my
exultation, by ridiculing my productions, and telling me that
versifiers were always poor. I thus escaped the misfortune of being
a very wretched poet. But as the faculty of writing prose has been
of great service to me in the course of my life, and principally
contributed to my advancement, I shall relate by what means, situated
as I was, I acquired the small skill I may possess in that way.

There was in the town another young man, a great lover of books,
of the name of John Collins, with whom I was intimately connected.
We frequently engaged in dispute, and were indeed so fond of
argumentation, that nothing was so agreeable to us as a war of words.
This contentious temper, I would observe by the bye, is in danger of
becoming a very bad habit; and frequently renders a man's company
insupportable, as being no otherwise capable of indulgence than by
an indiscriminate contradiction. Independently of the acrimony and
discord it introduces into conversation, it is often productive of
dislike, and even hatred, between persons to whom friendship is
indispensibly necessary. I acquired it by reading, while I lived with
my father, books of religious controversy. I have since remarked,
that men of sense seldom fall into this error: lawyers, fellows of
universities, and persons of every profession educated at Edinburgh,

Collins and I fell one day into an argument, relative to the
education of women; namely, whether it was proper to instruct them in
the sciences, and whether they were competent to the study. Collins
supported the negative, and affirmed that the task was beyond their
capacity. I maintained the opposite opinion, a little perhaps for
the pleasure of disputing. He was naturally more eloquent than I;
words flowed copiously from his lips; and frequently I thought
myself vanquished, more by his volubility than by the force of his
arguments. We separated without coming to an agreement upon this
point, and as we were not to see each other again for some time, I
committed my thoughts to paper, made a fair copy, and sent it him.
He answered, and I replied. Three or four letters had been written
by each, when my father chanced to light upon my papers and read
them. Without entering into the merits of the cause, he embraced the
opportunity of speaking to me upon my manner of writing. He observed,
that though I had the advantage of my adversary in correct spelling
and pointing, which I owed to my occupation, I was greatly his
inferior in elegance of expression, in arrangement, and perspicuity.
Of this he convinced me by several examples. I felt the justice of
his remarks, became more attentive to language, and resolved to make
every effort to improve my style.

Amidst these resolves an odd volume of the Spectator fell into my
hands. This was a publication I had never seen. I bought the volume,
and read it again and again. I was enchanted with it, thought the
style excellent, and wished it were in my power to imitate it. With
this view I selected some of the papers, made short summaries of the
sense of each period, and put them for a few days aside. I then,
without looking at the book, endeavoured to restore the essays to
their due form, and to express each thought at length, as it was in
the original, employing the most appropriate words that occurred to
my mind. I afterwards compared my Spectator with the original; I
perceived some faults, which I corrected: but I found that I wanted
a fund of words, if I may so express myself, and a facility of
recollecting and employing them, which I thought I should by that
time have acquired, had I continued to make verses. The continual
need of words of the same meaning, but of different lengths for the
measure, or of different sounds for the rhyme, would have obliged me
to seek for a variety of synonymes, and have rendered me master of
them. From this belief, I took some of the tales of the Spectator and
turned them into verse; and after a time, when I had sufficiently
forgotten them, I again converted them into prose.

Sometimes also I mingled all my summaries together; and a few weeks
after, endeavoured to arrange them in the best order, before I
attempted to form the periods and complete the essays. This I did
with a view of acquiring method in the arrangement of my thoughts.
On comparing afterwards my performance with the original, many
faults were apparent, which I corrected; but I had sometimes the
satisfaction to think, that, in certain particulars of little
importance, I had been fortunate enough to improve the order of
thought or the style; and this encouraged me to hope that I should
succeed, in time, in writing decently in the English language, which
was one of the great objects of my ambition.

The time which I devoted to these exercises, and to reading, was
the evening after my day's labour was finished, the morning before
it began, and Sundays when I could escape attending divine service.
While I lived with my father, he had insisted on my punctual
attendance on public worship, and I still indeed considered it as a
duty, but a duty which I thought I had no time to practise.

When about sixteen years of age, a work of Tyron's fell into my
hands, in which he recommends vegetable diet. I determined to observe
it. My brother being a bachelor, did not keep house, but boarded
with his apprentices in a neighbouring family. My refusing to eat
animal food was found inconvenient, and I was often scolded for my
singularity. I attended to the mode in which Tryon prepared some of
his dishes, particularly how to boil potatoes and rice, and make
hasty puddings. I then said to my brother, that if he would allow
me per week half what he paid for my board, I would undertake to
maintain myself. The offer was instantly embraced, and I soon found
that of what he gave me, I was able to save half. This was a new fund
for the purchase of books; and other advantages resulted to me from
the plan. When my brother and his workmen left the printing-house
to go to dinner, I remained behind; and dispatching my frugal meal,
which frequently consisted of a biscuit only, or a slice of bread and
a bunch of raisins, or a bun from the pastry-cook's, with a glass of
water, I had the rest of the time, till their return, for study; and
my progress therein was proportioned to that clearness of ideas, and
quickness of conception, which are the fruit of temperance in eating
and drinking.

It was about this period, that having one day been put to the blush
for my ignorance in the art of calculation, which I had twice failed
to learn while at school, I took Cocker's Treatise of Arithmetic, and
went through it by myself with the utmost ease. I also read a book of
navigation by Seller and Sturmy, and made myself master of the little
geometry it contains, but I never proceeded far in this science.
Nearly at the same time I read Locke on the Human Understanding, and
the Art of Thinking, by Messrs. du Port Royal.

While labouring to form and improve my style, I met with an English
Grammar, which I believe was Greenwood's, having at the end of it
two little essays on rhetoric and logic. In the latter I found a
model of disputation, after the manner of Socrates. Shortly after I
procured Xenophon's work, entitled Memorable Things of Socrates, in
which are various examples of the same method. Charmed to a degree of
enthusiasm with this mode of disputing, I adopted it, and renouncing
blunt contradiction, and direct and positive argument, I assumed
the character of an humble questioner. The perusal of Shaftsbury
and Collins had made me a sceptic; and being previously so as to
many doctrines of Christianity, I found Socrates's method to be
both safest for myself, as well as the most embarrassing to those
against whom I employed it. It soon afforded me singular pleasure; I
incessantly practised it; and became very adroit in obtaining, even
from persons of superior understanding, concessions of which they did
not foresee the consequence. Thus I involved them in difficulties
from which they were unable to extricate themselves, and sometimes
obtained victories, which neither my cause nor my arguments merited.

This method I continued to employ for some years; but I afterwards
abandoned it by degrees, retaining only the habit of expressing
myself with modest diffidence, and never making use, when I
advanced any proposition which might be controverted, of the words
_certainly_, _undoubtedly_, or any others that might give the
appearance of being obstinately attached to my opinion. I rather
said, I imagine, I suppose, or it appears to me, that such a thing
is so or so, for such and such reasons; or it is so, if I am not
mistaken. This habit has, I think, been of considerable advantage
to me, when I have had occasion to impress my opinion on the minds
of others, and persuade them to the adoption of the measures I have
suggested. And since the chief ends of conversation are, to inform or
be informed, to please or to persuade, I could wish that intelligent
or well-meaning men would not themselves diminish the power they
possess of being useful, by a positive and presumptuous manner of
expressing themselves, which scarcely ever fails to disgust the
hearer, and is only calculated to excite opposition, and defeat every
purpose for which the faculty of speech has been bestowed on man. In
short, if you wish to inform, a positive and dogmatical manner of
advancing your opinion may provoke contradiction, and prevent your
being heard with attention. On the other hand, if, with a desire of
being informed, and of benefiting by the knowledge of others, you
express yourselves as being strongly attached to your own opinions,
modest and sensible men, who do not love disputation, will leave you
in tranquil possession of your errors. By following such a method,
you can rarely hope to please your auditors, conciliate their
good-will, or work conviction on those whom you may be desirous of
gaining over to your views. Pope judiciously observes,

    Men must be taught, as if you taught them not,
    And things unknown propos'd--as things forgot.

And in the same poem he afterwards advises us

    To speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence.

He might have added to these lines, one that he has coupled
elsewhere, in my opinion, with less propriety. It is this:

    For want of modesty is want of sense.

If you ask why I say with _less propriety_, I must give you the two
lines together:

    Immodest words admit of _no defence_,
    For want of decency is want of sense.

Now want of sense, when a man has the misfortune to be so
circumstanced, is it not a kind of excuse for want of modesty?
And would not the verses have been more accurate if they had been
constructed thus:

    Immodest words admit _but this defence_,
    That want of decency is want of sense.

But I leave the decision of this to better judges than myself.

In 1720, or 1721, my brother began to print a new public paper. It
was the second that made its appearance in America, and was entitled,
"The New England Courant." The only one that existed before was the
"Boston News Letter." Some of his friends, I remember, would have
dissuaded him from this undertaking, as a thing that was not likely
to succeed; a single newspaper being, in their opinion, sufficient
for all America. At present, however, in 1771, there are no less than
twenty-five. But he carried his project into execution, and I was
employed in distributing the copies to his customers, after having
assisted in composing and working them off.

Among his friends he had a number of literary characters, who,
as an amusement, wrote short essays for the paper, which gave it
reputation and increased the sale. These gentlemen frequently came
to our house. I heard the conversation that passed, and the accounts
they gave of the favourable reception of their writings with the
public. I was tempted to try my hand among them; but, being still a
child as it were, I was fearful that my brother might be unwilling
to print in his paper any performance of which he should know me to
be the author. I therefore contrived to disguise my hand, and having
written an anonymous piece, I placed it at night under the door of
the printing-house, where it was found the next morning. My brother
communicated it to his friends, when they came as usual to see him,
who read it, commented upon it within my hearing, and I had the
exquisite pleasure to find that it met with their approbation, and
that in the various conjectures they made respecting the author, no
one was mentioned who did not enjoy a high reputation in the country
for talents and genius. I now supposed myself fortunate in my judges,
and began to suspect that they were not such excellent writers as I
had hitherto supposed them. Be this as it may, encouraged by this
little adventure, I wrote, and sent to press in the same way, many
other pieces, which were equally approved: keeping the secret till my
slender stock of information and knowledge for such performances was
pretty completely exhausted, when I made myself known.

My brother, upon this discovery, began to entertain a little more
respect for me; but he still regarded himself as my master, and
treated me as an apprentice. He thought himself entitled to the same
services from me, as from any other person. On the contrary, I
conceived that in many instances, he was too rigorous, and that, on
the part of a brother, I had a right to expect greater indulgence.
Our disputes were frequently brought before my father; and either
my brother was generally wrong, or I was the better pleader of the
two, for judgment was commonly given in my favour. But my brother
was passionate, and often had recourse to blows--a circumstance
which I took in very ill part. This severe and tyrannical treatment
contributed, I believe, to imprint on my mind that aversion to
arbitrary power, which during my whole life I have ever preserved. My
apprenticeship became insupportable to me, and I continually sighed
for an opportunity of shortening it, which at length unexpectedly

An article inserted in our paper, upon some political subject which
I have now forgotten, gave offence to the assembly. My brother was
taken into custody, censured, and ordered into confinement for a
month, because, as I presume, he would not discover the author. I was
also taken up, and examined before the council; but though I gave
them no satisfaction, they contented themselves with reprimanding,
and then dismissed me; considering me probably as bound, in quality
of apprentice, to keep my master's secrets.

The imprisonment of my brother kindled my resentment, notwithstanding
our private quarrels. During its continuance, the management of the
paper was entrusted to me, and I was bold enough to insert some
pasquinades against the governors, which highly pleased my brother,
while others began to look upon me in an unfavourable point of view,
considering me as a young wit inclined to satire and lampoon.

My brother's enlargement was accompanied with an arbitrary order
from the house of the assembly, "That James Franklin should no
longer print the newspaper entitled 'The New England Courant.'"
In this conjuncture, we held a consultation of our friends at the
printing-house, in order to determine what was proper to be done.
Some proposed to evade the order, by changing the title of the paper:
but my brother, foreseeing inconveniences that would result from this
step, thought it better that it should be in future printed in the
name of Benjamin Franklin; and to avoid the censure of the assembly,
who might charge him with still printing the paper himself under
the name of his apprentice, it was resolved that my old indentures
should be given up to me, with a full and entire discharge written
on the back, in order to be produced upon an emergency; but that, to
secure to my brother the benefit of my service, I should sign a new
contract, which should be kept secret during the remainder of the
term. This was a very shallow arrangement. It was, however, carried
into immediate execution, and the paper continued, in consequence,
to make its appearance for some months in my name. At length a new
difference arising between my brother and me, I ventured to take
advantage of my liberty, presuming that he would not dare to produce
the new contract. It was undoubtedly dishonourable to avail myself
of this circumstance, and I reckon this action as one of the first
errors of my life; but I was little capable of estimating it at its
true value, embittered as my mind had been by the recollection of the
blows I had received. Exclusively of his passionate treatment of me,
my brother was by no means a man of an ill temper, and perhaps my
manners had too much impertinence not to afford it a very natural

When he knew that it was my determination to quit him, he wished
to prevent my finding employment elsewhere. He went to all the
printing-houses in the town, and prejudiced the masters against
me--who accordingly refused to employ me. The idea then suggested
itself to me of going to New York, the nearest town in which there
was a printing-office. Farther reflection confirmed me in the design
of leaving Boston, where I had already rendered myself an object of
suspicion to the governing party. It was probable, from the arbitrary
proceedings of the assembly in the affair of my brother, that, by
remaining, I should soon have been exposed to difficulties, which I
had the greater reason to apprehend, as, from my indiscreet disputes
upon the subject of religion, I began to be regarded by pious souls
with horror, either as an apostate or an atheist. I came, therefore,
to a resolution: but my father, in this instance siding with my
brother, presumed that if I attempted to depart openly, measures
would be taken to prevent me. My friend Collins undertook to favour
my flight. He agreed for my passage with the captain of a New York
sloop, to whom he represented me as a young man of his acquaintance,
who had an affair with a girl of bad character, whose parents wished
to compel me to marry her, and that of consequence I could neither
make my appearance, nor go off publicly. I sold part of my books
to procure a small sum of money, and went privately on board the
sloop. By favour of a good wind, I found myself in three days at New
York, nearly three hundred miles from my home, at the age only of
seventeen years, without knowing an individual in the place, and
with very little money in my pocket.

The inclination I had felt for a sea-faring life had entirely
subsided, or I should now have been able to gratify it; but having
another trade, and believing myself to be a tolerable workman, I
hesitated not to offer my services to old Mr. William Bradford, who
had been the first printer in Pennsylvania, but had quitted that
province on account of a quarrel with George Keith, the governor.
He could not give me employment himself, having little to do, and
already as many persons as he wanted; but he told me that his son,
a printer at Philadelphia, had lately lost his principal workman,
Aquilla Rose, who was dead, and that if I would go thither, he
believed that he would engage me. Philadelphia was a hundred miles
farther. I hesitated not to embark in a boat in order to repair, by
the shortest cut of the sea, to Amboy, leaving my trunk and effects
to come after me by the usual and more tedious conveyance. In
crossing the bay we met with a squall, which shattered to pieces our
rotten sails, prevented us from entering the Kill, and threw us upon
Long Island.

During the squall, a drunken Dutchman, who like myself was a
passenger in the boat, fell into the sea. At the moment that he was
sinking, I seized him by the fore-top, saved him, and drew him on
board. This immersion sobered him a little, so that he fell asleep,
after having taken from his pocket a volume, which he requested me to
dry. This volume I found to be my old favourite Bunyan, in Dutch, a
beautiful impression on fine paper, with copper-plate engravings--a
dress in which I had never seen it in its original language. I
have since learned that it has been translated into almost all the
languages of Europe, and next to the Bible, I am persuaded, it is
one of the books which has had the greatest spread. Honest John is
the first, that I know of, who has mixed narrative and dialogue
together; a mode of writing very engaging to the reader, who in the
most interesting passages, finds himself admitted as it were into the
company, and present at the conversation. De Foe has imitated it with
success in his Robinson Crusoe, his Moll Flanders, and other works;
as also Richardson in his Pamela, &c.

In approaching the island, we found that we had made a part of the
coast where it was not possible to land, on account of the strong
breakers produced by the rocky shore. We cast anchor and veered the
cable towards the shore. Some men, who stood upon the brink, halloed
to us, while we did the same on our part; but the wind was so high,
and the waves so noisy, that we could neither of us hear each other.
There were some canoes upon the bank, and we called out to them, and
made signs to prevail on them to come and take us up; but either they
did not understand us, or they deemed our request impracticable, and
withdrew. Night came on, and nothing remained for us but to wait
quietly the subsiding of the wind; till when, we determined, that is,
the pilot and I, to sleep if possible. For that purpose we went below
the hatches along with the Dutchman, who was drenched with water. The
sea broke over the boat, and reached us in our retreat, so that we
were presently as completely drenched as he.

We had very little repose during the whole night: but the wind
abating the next day, we succeeded in reaching Amboy before it was
dark, after having passed thirty hours without provisions, and with
no other drink than a bottle of bad rum, the water upon which we
rowed being salt. In the evening I went to bed with a very violent
fever. I had somewhere read that cold water, drank plentifully, was a
remedy in such cases. I followed the prescription, was in a profuse
sweat for the greater part of the night, and the fever left me. The
next day I crossed the river in a ferryboat, and continued my journey
on foot. I had fifty miles to walk, in order to reach Burlington,
where I was told I should find passage-boats that would convey me to
Philadelphia. It rained hard the whole day, so that I was wet to the
skin. Finding myself fatigued about noon, I stopped at a paltry inn,
where I passed the rest of the day and the whole night, beginning
to regret that I had quitted my home. I made besides so wretched
a figure, that I was suspected to be some runaway servant. This I
discovered by the questions that were asked me; and I felt that I
was every moment in danger of being taken up as such. The next day,
however, I continued my journey, and arrived in the evening at an
inn, eight or ten miles from Burlington, that was kept by one Dr.

This man entered into conversation with me while I took some
refreshment, and perceiving that I had read a little, he expressed
towards me considerable interest and friendship. Our acquaintance
continued during the remainder of his life. I believe him to have
been what is called an itinerant doctor; for there was no town in
England, or indeed in Europe, of which he could not give a particular
account. He was neither deficient in understanding or literature,
but he was a sad infidel; and, some years after, wickedly undertook
to travesty the Bible, in burlesque verse, as Cotton has travestied
Virgil. He exhibited, by this means, many facts in a very ludicrous
point of view, which would have given umbrage to weak minds, had his
work been published, which it never was.

I spent the night at his house, and reached Burlington the next
morning. On my arrival, I had the mortification to learn that
the ordinary passage-boats had sailed a little before. This was
on a Saturday, and there would be no other boat till the Tuesday
following. I returned to the house of an old woman in the town who
had sold me some gingerbread to eat on my passage, and I asked
her advice. She invited me to take up my abode with her till an
opportunity offered for me to embark. Fatigued with having travelled
so far on foot, I accepted her invitation. When she understood that
I was a printer, she would have persuaded me to stay at Burlington,
and set up my trade; but she was little aware of the capital that
would be necessary for such a purpose! I was treated while at her
house with true hospitality. She gave me with the utmost good-will,
a dinner of beef-steaks, and would accept of nothing in return but a
pint of ale.

Here I imagined myself to be fixed till the Tuesday in the ensuing
week; but walking out in the evening by the river side, I saw a
boat with a number of persons in it approach. It was going to
Philadelphia, and the company took me in. As there was no wind, we
could only make way with our oars. About midnight, not perceiving
the town, some of the company were of opinion that we must have
passed it, and were unwilling to row any farther; the rest not
knowing where we were, it was resolved that we should stop. We
drew towards the shore, entered a creek, and landed near some old
palisades, which served us for fire-wood, it being a cold night in
October. Here we stayed till day, when one of the company found
the place in which we were to be Cooper's creek, a little above
Philadelphia; which in reality we perceived the moment we were out of
the creek. We arrived on Sunday about eight or nine o'clock in the
morning, and landed on Market-street wharf.

I have entered into the particulars of my voyage, and shall in like
manner describe my first entrance into this city, that you may be
able to compare beginnings so little auspicious, with the figure I
have since made.

On my arrival at Philadelphia I was in my working dress, my best
cloaths being to come by sea. I was covered with dirt; my pockets
were filled with shirts and stockings; I was unacquainted with a
single soul in the place, and knew not where to seek for a lodging.
Fatigued with walking, rowing, and having passed the night without
sleep, I was extremely hungry, and all my money consisted of a
Dutch dollar, and about a shilling's worth of coppers, which I gave
to the boatmen for my passage. As I had assisted them in rowing,
they refused it at first; but I insisted on their taking it. A man
is sometimes more generous when he has little, than when he has
much money; probably because, in the first case, he is desirous of
concealing his poverty.

I walked towards the top of the street, looking eagerly on both
sides, till I came to Market-street, where I met a child with a
loaf of bread. Often had I made my dinner on dry bread. I enquired
where he had bought it, and went straight to the baker's shop which
he pointed out to me. I asked for some biscuits, expecting to find
such as we had at Boston; but they made, it seems, none of that sort
at Philadelphia. I then asked for a three-penny loaf; they made no
loaves of that price. Finding myself ignorant of the prices, as well
as of the different kinds of bread, I desired him to let me have
three penny-worth of bread of some kind or other. He gave me three
large rolls. I was surprised at receiving so much: I took them,
however, and having no room in my pockets, I walked on with a roll
under each arm, eating the third. In this manner I went through
Market-street to Fourth-street, and passed the house of Mr. Read, the
father of my future wife. She was standing at the door, observed me,
and thought with reason, that I made a very singular and grotesque

I then turned the corner, and went through Chesnut-street, eating my
roll all the way; and having made this round, I found myself again on
Market-street wharf, near the boat in which I arrived. I stepped into
it to take a draught of the river water; and finding myself satisfied
with my first roll, I gave the other two to a woman and her child,
who had come down the river with us in the boat, and was waiting to
continue her journey. Thus refreshed, I regained the street, which
was now full of well-dressed people, all going the same way. I joined
them, and was thus led to a large Quaker's meeting-house near the
market-place. I sat down with the rest, and after looking round
me for some time, hearing nothing said, and being drowsy from my
last night's labour and want of rest, I fell into a sound sleep. In
this state I continued till the assembly dispersed, when one of the
congregation had the goodness to wake me. This was consequently the
first house I entered, or in which I slept, at Philadelphia.

I began again to walk along the street by the river side; and looking
attentively in the face of every one I met, I at length perceived a
young quaker whose countenance pleased me. I accosted him, and begged
him to inform me where a stranger might find a lodging. We were then
near the sign of the three Mariners. They receive travellers here,
said he, but it is not a house that bears a good character; if you
will go with me, I will shew you a better one. He conducted me to
the Crooked-billet, in Water-street. There I ordered something for
dinner, and during my meal a number of curious questions were put
to me; my youth and appearance exciting the suspicion of my being a
runaway. After dinner my drowsiness returned, and I threw myself upon
a bed without taking off my cloaths, and slept till six o'clock in
the evening, when I was called to supper. I afterwards went to bed at
a very early hour, and did not awake till the next morning.

As soon as I got up I put myself in as decent a trim as I could,
and went to the house of Andrew Bradford the printer. I found his
father in the shop, whom I had seen at New York. Having travelled
on horseback, he had arrived at Philadelphia before me. He
introduced me to his son, who received me with civility, and gave
me some breakfast; but told me he had no occasion at present for a
journeyman, having lately procured one. He added, that there was
another printer newly settled in the town, of the name of Keimer,
who might perhaps employ me; and that in case of refusal, I should be
welcome to lodge at his house, and he would give me a little work now
and then, till something better should offer.

The old man offered to introduce me to the new printer. When we were
at his house: "Neighbour," said he, "I bring you a young man in the
printing business; perhaps you may have need of his services."

Keimer asked me some questions, put a composing stick in my hand
to see how I could work, and then said, that at present he had
nothing for me to do, but that he should soon be able to employ me.
At the same time taking old Bradford for an inhabitant of the town
well-disposed towards him, he communicated his project to him, and
the prospect he had of success. Bradford was careful not to discover
that he was the father of the other printer; and from what Keimer
had said, that he hoped shortly to be in possession of the greater
part of the business of the town, led him by artful questions, and by
starting some difficulties, to disclose all his views, what his hopes
were founded upon, and how he intended to proceed. I was present, and
heard it all. I instantly saw that one of the two was a cunning old
fox, and the other a perfect novice. Bradford left me with Keimer,
who was strangely surprised when I informed him who the old man was.

I found Keimer's printing materials to consist of an old damaged
press, and a small fount of worn-out English letters, with which
he himself was at work upon an elegy on Aquila Rose, whom I have
mentioned above, an ingenious young man, and of an excellent
character, highly esteemed in the town, secretary to the assembly,
and a very tolerable poet. Keimer also made verses, but they were
indifferent ones. He could not be said to write in verse, for his
method was to set the lines as they flowed from his muse; and as he
worked without copy, had but one set of letter-cases, and the elegy
would probably occupy all his types, it was impossible for any one
to assist him. I endeavoured to put his press in order, which he had
not yet used, and of which indeed he understood nothing: and having
promised to come and work off his elegy as soon as it should be
ready, I returned to the house of Bradford, who gave me some trifle
to do for the present, for which I had my board and lodging.

In a few days Keimer sent for me to print off his elegy. He had now
procured another set of letter-cases, and had a pamphlet to re-print,
upon which he set me to work.

The two Philadelphia printers appeared destitute of every
qualification necessary in their profession. Bradford had not
been brought up to it, and was very illiterate. Keimer, though
he understood a little of the business, was merely a compositor,
and wholly incapable of working at the press. He had been one of
the French prophets; and knew how to imitate their supernatural
agitations. At the time of our first acquaintance he professed no
particular religion, but a little of all upon occasion. He was
totally ignorant of the world, and a great knave at heart, as I had
afterwards, an opportunity of experiencing.

Keimer could not endure that, working with him, I should lodge at
Bradford's. He had indeed a house, but it was unfurnished; so that
he could not take me in. He procured me a lodging at Mr. Read's, his
landlord, whom I have already mentioned. My trunk and effects being
now arrived, I thought of making, in the eyes of Miss Read, a more
respectable appearance than when chance exhibited me to her view,
eating my roll, and wandering in the streets.

From this period I began to contract acquaintance with such young
people of the town as were fond of reading, and spent my evenings
with them agreeably, while at the same time I gained money by my
industry, and, thanks to my frugality, lived contented. I thus forgot
Boston as much as possible, and wished every one to be ignorant of
the place of my residence, except my friend Collins, to whom I wrote,
and who kept my secret.

An incident however arrived, which sent me home much sooner than
I had proposed. I had a brother-in-law, of the name of Robert
Holmes, master of a trading sloop from Boston to Delaware. Being at
Newcastle, forty miles below Philadelphia, he heard of me, and wrote
to inform me of the chagrin which my sudden departure from Boston
had occasioned my parents, and of the affection which they still
entertained for me, assuring me that, if I would return, every thing
should be adjusted to my satisfaction; and he was very pressing in
his entreaties. I answered his letter, thanked him for his advice,
and explained the reasons which had induced me to quit Boston, with
such force and clearness, that he was convinced I had been less to
blame than he had imagined.

Sir William Keith, governor of the province, was at Newcastle at
the time. Captain Holmes, being by chance in his company when he
received my letter, took occasion to speak of me, and showed it him.
The governor read it, and appeared surprised when he learned my age.
He thought me, he said, a young man of very promising talents, and
that, of consequence, I ought to be encouraged; that there were at
Philadelphia none but very ignorant printers, and that if I were to
set up for myself, he had no doubt of my success; that, for his own
part, he would procure me all the public business, and would render
me every other service in his power. My brother-in-law related all
this to me afterwards at Boston; but I knew nothing of it at the
time; when one day Keimer and I being at work together near the
window, we saw the governor and another gentleman, colonel French, of
Newcastle, handsomely dressed, cross the street, and make directly
for our house. We heard them at the door, and Keimer believing it
to be a visit to himself, went immediately down: but the governor
enquired for me, came up stairs, and, with a condescension and
politeness to which I had not at all been accustomed, paid me many
compliments, desired to be acquainted with me, obligingly reproached
me for not having made myself known to him on my arrival in the town,
and wished me to accompany him to a tavern, where he and colonel
French were going to taste some excellent Madeira wine.

I was, I confess, somewhat surprised, and Keimer appeared
thunderstruck. I went, however, with the governor and the colonel to
a tavern at the corner of Third-street, where, while we were drinking
the Madeira, he proposed to me to establish a printing-house. He set
forth the probabilities of success, and himself, and colonel French
assured me that I should have their protection and influence in
obtaining the printing of the public papers of both governments; and
as I appeared to doubt whether my father would assist me in this
enterprize, Sir William said that he would give me a letter to him,
in which he would represent the advantages of the scheme, in a light
which he had no doubt would determine him. It was thus concluded that
I should return to Boston by the first vessel, with the letter of
recommendation, from the governor to my father. Meanwhile the project
was to be kept secret, and I continued to work for Keimer as before.

The governor sent every now and then to invite me to dine with him. I
considered this as a very great honour; and I was the more sensible
of it, as he conversed with me in the most affable, familiar, and
friendly manner imaginable.

Towards the end of April 1724, a small vessel was ready to sail for
Boston. I took leave of Keimer, upon the pretext of going to see my
parents. The governor gave me a long letter, in which he said many
flattering things of me to my father; and strongly recommended the
project of my settling at Philadelphia, as a thing which could not
fail to make my fortune.

Going down the bay we struck on a flat, and sprung a leak. The
weather was very tempestuous, and we were obliged to pump without
intermission; I took my turn. We arrived, however, safe and sound at
Boston, after about a fortnight's passage.

I had been absent about seven complete months, and my relations,
during that interval, had received no intelligence of me; for my
brother-in-law, Holmes, was not yet returned, and had not written
about me. My unexpected appearance surprized the family; but they
were all delighted at seeing me again, and, except my brother,
welcomed me home. I went to him at the printing-house. I was better
dressed than I had ever been while in his service: I had a complete
suit of clothes, new and neat, a watch in my pocket, and my purse was
furnished with nearly five pounds sterling in money. He gave me no
very civil reception; and having eyed me from head to foot, resumed
his work.

The workmen asked me with eagerness where I had been, what sort of a
country it was, and how I liked it. I spoke in the highest terms of
Philadelphia, the happy life we led there, and expressed my intention
of going back again. One of them asking what sort of money we had,
I displayed before them a handful of silver, which I drew from my
pocket. This was a curiosity to which they were not accustomed, paper
being the current money at Boston. I failed not after this to let
them see my watch; and at last, my brother continuing sullen and
out of humour, I gave them a shilling to drink, and took my leave.
This visit stung my brother to the soul; for when, shortly after, my
mother spoke to him of a reconciliation, and a desire to see us upon
good terms, he told her that I had so insulted him before his men,
that he would never forget or forgive it: in this, however, he was

The governor's letter appeared to excite in my father some surprize;
but he said little. After some days, captain Holmes being returned,
he showed it him, asking him if he knew Keith, and what sort of a
man he was: adding, that, in his opinion, it proved very little
discernment to think of setting up a boy in business, who for three
years to come would not be of an age to be ranked in the class of
men. Holmes said every thing he could in favour of the scheme; but my
father firmly maintained its absurdity, and at last gave a positive
refusal. He wrote, however, a civil letter to Sir William, thanking
him for the protection he had so obligingly offered me, but refusing
to assist me for the present, because he thought me too young to be
entrusted with the conduct of so important an enterprise, and which
would require so considerable a sum of money.

My old comrade Collins, who was a clerk in the post-office, charmed
with the account I gave of my new residence, expressed a desire of
going thither; and while I waited my father's determination, he set
off before me by land for Rhode Island, leaving his books, which
formed a handsome collection in mathematics and natural philosophy,
to be conveyed with mine to New York, where he purposed to wait for

My father, though he could not approve Sir William's proposal, was
yet pleased that I had obtained so advantageous a recommendation as
that of a person of his rank, and that my industry and economy had
enabled me to equip myself so handsomely in so short a period. Seeing
no appearance of accommodating matters between my brother and me, he
consented to my return to Philadelphia, advised me to be civil to
every body, to endeavour to obtain general esteem, and avoid satire
and sarcasm, to which he thought I was too much inclined; adding,
that with perseverance and prudent economy, I might, by the time I
became of age, save enough to establish myself in business; and that
if a small sum should then be wanting, he would undertake to supply

This was all I could obtain from him, except some trifling presents,
in token of friendship from him and my mother. I embarked once more
for New York, furnished at this time with their approbation and
blessing. The sloop having touched at Newport in Rhode Island, I
paid a visit to my brother John, who had for some years been settled
there, and was married. He had always been attached to me, and he
received me with great affection. One of his friends, whose name
was Vernon, having a debt of about thirty-six pounds due to him in
Pennsylvania, begged me to receive it for him, and to keep the money
till I should hear from him: accordingly he gave me an order for that
purpose. This affair occasioned me, in the sequel, much uneasiness.

At Newport we took on board a number of passengers; among whom
were two young women, and a grave and sensible quaker lady with
her servants. I had shown an obliging forwardness in rendering the
quaker some trifling services, which led her, probably, to feel an
interest in my welfare; for when she saw a familiarity take place,
and every day increase, between the two young women and me, she took
me aside and said: "Young man, I am in pain for thee. Thou hast no
parent to watch over thy conduct, and thou seemest to be ignorant of
the world, and the snares to which youth is exposed. Rely upon what
I tell thee: those are women of bad characters; I perceive it in
all their actions. If thou dost not take care, they will lead thee
into danger. They are strangers to thee, and I advise thee, by the
friendly interest I take in thy preservation, to form no connection
with them." As I appeared at first not to think quite so ill of them
as she did, she related many things she had seen and heard, which
had escaped my attention, but which convinced me that she was in the
right. I thanked her for her obliging advice, and promised to follow

When we arrived at New York, they informed me where they lodged,
and invited me to come and see them. I did not however go, and it
was well I did not; for the next day, the captain missing a silver
spoon and some other things which had been taken from the cabin, and
knowing these women to be prostitutes, procured a search-warrant,
found the stolen goods upon them, and had them punished. And thus,
after having been saved from one rock concealed under water, upon
which the vessel struck during our passage, I escaped another of a
still more dangerous nature.

At New York I found my friend Collins, who had arrived some time
before. We had been intimate from our infancy, and had read the same
books together; but he had the advantage of being able to devote
more time to reading and study, and an astonishing disposition for
mathematics, in which he left me far behind him. When at Boston, I
had been accustomed to pass with him almost all my leisure hours. He
was then a sober and industrious lad; his knowledge had gained him a
very general esteem, and he seemed to promise to make an advantageous
figure in society. But, during my absence, he had unfortunately
addicted himself to brandy, and I learned, as well from himself as
from the report of others, that every day since his arrival at New
York he had been intoxicated, and had acted in a very extravagant
manner. He had also played, and lost all his money; so that I was
obliged to pay his expences at the inn, and to maintain him during
the rest of his journey; a burthen that was very inconvenient to me.

The governor of New York, whose name was Burnet, hearing the captain
say, that a young man who was a passenger in his ship had a great
number of books, begged him to bring me to his house. I accordingly
went, and should have taken Collins with me, had he been sober. The
governor treated me with great civility, shewed me his library,
which was a very considerable one, and we talked for some time upon
books and authors. This was the second governor who had honoured me
with his attention, and to a poor boy, as I was then, these little
adventures did not fail to be pleasing.

We arrived at Philadelphia. On the way I received Vernon's money,
without which we should have been unable to have finished our journey.

Collins wished to get employment as a merchant's clerk, but either
his breath or his countenance betrayed his bad habit; for, though he
had recommendations he met with no success, and continued to lodge
and eat with me, and at my expence. Knowing that I had Vernon's
money, he was continually asking me to lend him some of it, promising
to repay me as soon as he should get employment. At last he had drawn
so much of this money, that I was extremely alarmed at what might
become of me, should he fail to make good the deficiency. His habit
of drinking did not at all diminish, and was a frequent source of
discord between us; for when he had drank a little too much, he was
very head-strong.

Being one day in a boat together on the Delaware, with some other
young persons, he refused to take his turn in rowing. You shall row
for me, said he, till we get home.--No, I replied, we will not row
for you.--You shall, said he, or remain upon the water all night. As
you please.--Let us row, said the rest of the company; what signifies
whether he assists or not. But, already angry with him for his
conduct in other respects, I persisted in my refusal. He then swore
that he would make me row, or would throw me out of the boat; and he
made up to me. As soon as he was within my reach, I took him by the
collar, gave him a violent thrust, and threw him head foremost into
the river. I knew that he was a good swimmer, and was therefore under
no apprehensions for his life. Before he could turn himself, we were
able, by a few strokes of our oars, to place ourselves out of his
reach; and whenever he touched the boat, we asked him if he would row
striking his hands at the same time with the oars, to make him let go
his hold. He was nearly suffocated with rage, but obstinately refused
making any promise to row. Perceiving, at length, that his strength
began to be exhausted, we took him into the boat, and conveyed
him home in the evening completely drenched. The utmost coldness
subsisted between us after this adventure. At last the captain of
a West-India ship, who was commissioned to procure a tutor for the
children of a gentleman at Barbadoes, meeting with Collins, offered
him the place. He accepted it, and took his leave of me, promising to
discharge the debt he owed me with the first money he should receive;
but I have heard nothing of him since.

The violation of the trust reposed in me by Vernon, was one of the
first great errors of my life; and it proves that my father was not
mistaken when he supposed me too young to be intrusted with the
management of important affairs. But Sir William, upon reading his
letter, thought him too prudent. There was a difference, he said,
between individuals: years of maturity were not always accompanied
with discretion, neither was youth in every instance devoid of
it. Since your father, added he, will not set you up in business,
I will do it myself. Make out a list of what will be wanted from
England, and I will send for the articles. You shall repay me when
you can. I am determined to have a good printer here, and I am sure
you will succeed. This was said with so much seeming cordiality,
that I suspected not for an instant the sincerity of the offer. I
had hitherto kept the project, with which Sir William had inspired
me, of settling in business, a secret at Philadelphia, and I still
continued to do so. Had my reliance on the governor been known,
some friend better acquainted with his character than myself, would
doubtless have advised me not to trust him; for I afterwards learned
he was universally known to be liberal of promises, which he had no
intention to perform. But having never solicited him, how could I
suppose his offers to be deceitful?--On the contrary, I believed him
to be the best man in the world.

I gave him an inventory of a small printing-office, the expence
of which I had calculated at about a hundred pounds sterling. He
expressed his approbation; but asked, if my presence in England, that
I might choose the characters myself, and see that every article
was good in its kind, would not be an advantage? You will also be
able, said he, to form some acquaintance there, and establish a
correspondence with stationers and booksellers. This I acknowledged
was desirable. That being the case, added he, hold yourself in
readiness to go with the Annis. This was the annual vessel, and the
only one, at that time, which made regular voyages between the ports
of London and Philadelphia. But the Annis was not to sail for some
months. I therefore continued to work with Keimer, unhappy respecting
the sum which Collins had drawn from me, and almost in continual
agony at the thoughts of Vernon, who fortunately made no demand of
his money till several years after.

In the account of my first voyage from Boston to Philadelphia,
I omitted, I believe, a trifling circumstance, which will not,
perhaps, be out of place here. During a calm which stopped us above
Block Island, the crew employed themselves in fishing for cod, of
which they caught a great number. I had hitherto adhered to my
resolution of not eating any thing that had possessed life; and I
considered on this occasion, agreeably to the maxims of my master
Tryon, the capture of every fish as a sort of murder, committed
without provocation, since these animals had neither done, nor were
capable of doing the smallest injury to any one that should justify
the measure. This mode of reasoning I conceived to be unanswerable.
Meanwhile, I had formerly been extremely fond of fish; and when one
of these cod was taken out of the frying-pan, I thought its flavour
delicious. I hesitated some time between principle and inclination,
till at last recollecting, that when the cod had been opened, some
small fish were found in its belly, I said to myself, if you eat one
another, I see no reason why we may not eat you. I accordingly dined
on the cod with no small degree of pleasure, and have since continued
to eat like the rest of mankind, returning only occasionally to
my vegetable plan. How convenient does it prove to be a _rational
animal_, that knows how to find or invent a plausible pretext for
whatever it has an inclination to do!

I continued to live upon good terms with Keimer, who had not the
smallest suspicion of my projected establishment. He still retained
a portion of his former enthusiasm; and, being fond of argument, we
frequently disputed together. I was so much in the habit of using my
Socratic method, and had so frequently puzzled him by my questions,
which appeared at first very distant from the point in debate, yet
nevertheless led to it by degrees, involving him in difficulties and
contradictions from which he was unable to extricate himself, that he
became at last ridiculously cautious, and would scarcely answer the
most plain and familiar question without previously asking me--What
would you infer from that? Hence he formed so high an opinion of my
talents for refutation, that he seriously proposed to me to become
his colleague in the establishment of a new religious sect. He was to
propagate the doctrine by preaching, and I to refute every opponent.

When he explained to me his tenets, I found many absurdities which
I refused to admit, unless he would agree in turn to adopt some of
my opinions. Keimer wore his beard long, because Moses had somewhere
said, "Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard." He likewise
observed the Sabbath; and these were with him two very essential
points. I disliked them both: but I consented to adopt them,
provided he would agree to abstain from animal food. I doubt, said
he, whether my constitution will be able to support it. I assured
him on the contrary he would find himself the better for it. He was
naturally a glutton, and I wished to amuse myself by starving him. He
consented to make trial of this regimen, if I would bear him company;
and in reality we continued it for three months. A woman in the
neighbourhood prepared and brought us our victuals, to whom I gave a
list of forty dishes; in the composition of which there were entered
neither flesh nor fish. This fancy was the more agreeable to me as it
turned to good account; for the whole expence of our living did not
exceed for each eighteen pence a week.

I have since that period observed several Lents with the greatest
strictness, and have suddenly returned again to my ordinary diet,
without experiencing the smallest inconvenience; which has led me to
regard as of no importance the advice commonly given, of introducing
gradually such alterations of regimen.

I continued it cheerfully, but poor Keimer suffered terribly.
Tired of the project, he sighed for the fleshpots of Egypt. At
length he ordered a roast pig, and invited me and two of our female
acquaintance to dine with him; but the pig being ready a little too
soon, he could not resist the temptation, and eat it all up before we

During the circumstances I have related, I had paid some attentions
to Miss Read. I entertained for her the utmost esteem and affection;
and I had reason to believe that these sentiments were mutual. But
we were both young, scarcely more than eighteen years of age; and
as I was on the point of undertaking a long voyage, her mother
thought it prudent to prevent matters being carried top far for the
present, judging that, if marriage was our object, there would be
more propriety in it after my return, when, as at least I expected, I
should be established in my business. Perhaps, also, she thought my
expectations were not so well founded as I imagined.

My most intimate acquaintance at this time were Charles Osborne,
Joseph Watson, and James Ralph: young men who were all fond of
reading. The two first were clerks to Mr. Charles Brockdon, one
of the principal attornies in the town, and the other clerk to a
merchant. Watson was an upright, pious, and sensible young man: the
others were somewhat more loose in their principles of religion,
particularly Ralph, whose faith, as well as that of Collins, I had
contributed to shake; each of whom made me suffer a very adequate
punishment. Osborne was sensible, and sincere and affectionate in
his friendships, but too much inclined to the critic in matters of
literature. Ralph was ingenious and shrewd, genteel in his address,
and extremely eloquent. I do not remember to have met with a more
agreeable speaker. They were both enamoured of the muses, and had
already evinced their passion by some small poetical productions.

It was a custom with us to take a charming walk on Sundays, in the
woods that border the Skuylkil. Here we read together, and afterwards
conversed on what we read. Ralph was disposed to give himself up
entirely to poetry. He flattered himself that he should arrive at
great eminence in the art, and even acquire a fortune. The sublimest
poets, he pretended, when they first began to write, committed as
many faults as himself. Osborne endeavoured to dissuade him, by
assuring him that he had no genius for poetry, and advised him to
stick to the trade in which he had been brought up. In the road of
commerce, said he, you will be sure, by diligence and assiduity,
though you have no capital, of so far succeeding as to be employed
as a factor; and may thus, in time, acquire the means of setting
up for yourself. I concurred in these sentiments, but at the same
time expressed my approbation of amusing ourselves sometimes with
poetry, with a view to improve our style. In consequence of this it
was proposed, that, at our next meeting, each of us should bring a
copy of verses of his own composition. Our object in this competition
was to benefit each other by our mutual remarks, criticisms, and
corrections; and as style and expression were all we had in view, we
excluded every idea of invention, by agreeing that our task should be
a version of the eighteenth psalm, in which is described the descent
of the Deity.

The time of our meeting drew near, when Ralph called upon me, and
told me that his performance was ready. I informed him that I had
been idle, and, not much liking the task, had done nothing. He shewed
me his piece, and asked me what I thought of it. I expressed myself
in terms of warm approbation; because it really appeared to have
considerable merit. He then said, Osborne will never acknowledge
the smallest degree of excellence in any production of mine. Envy
alone dictates to him a thousand animadversions. Of you he is not so
jealous: I wish, therefore, you would take the verses, and produce
them as your own. I will pretend not to have had leisure to write
any thing. We shall then see in what manner he will speak of them.
I agreed to this little artifice, and immediately transcribed the
verses to prevent all suspicion.

We met. Watson's performance was the first that was read; it had
some beauties, but many faults. We next read Osborne's, which was
much better. Ralph did it justice, remarking a few imperfections,
and applauding such parts as were excellent. He had himself nothing
to show. It was now my turn. I made some difficulty; seemed as if
I wished to be excused; pretended that I had had no time to make
corrections, &c. No excuse, however, was admissible, and, the piece
must be produced. It was read, and re-read. Watson and Osborne
immediately resigned the palm, and united in applauding it. Ralph
alone made a few remarks, and proposed some alterations; but I
defended my text. Osborne agreed with me, and told Ralph that he was
no more able to criticise than he was able to write.

When Osborne was alone with me, he expressed himself still more
strongly in favour of what he considered as my performance. He
pretended that he had put some restraint upon himself before,
apprehensive of my construing his commendation into flattery. But
who would have supposed, said he, Franklin to be capable of such a
composition? What painting--what energy--what fire! He has surpassed
the original. In his common conversation he appears not to have a
choice of words; he hesitates, and is at a loss--and yet, good God,
how he writes!

At our next meeting Ralph discovered the trick we had played Osborne,
who was rallied without mercy.

By this adventure Ralph was fixed in his determination of becoming a
poet. I left nothing unattempted to divert him from his purpose; but
he persevered, till at last the reading of Pope[3] effected his cure:
he became, however, a very tolerable prose-writer. I shall speak more
of him hereafter; but as I shall probably have no farther occasion
to mention the other two, I ought to observe here that Watson died a
few years after in my arms. He was greatly regretted, for he was the
best of our society. Osborne went to the islands, where he gained
considerable reputation as a barrister, and was getting money; but he
died young. We had seriously engaged, that whoever died first should
return (if possible) and pay a friendly visit to the survivor, to
give him an account of the other world--but he has never fulfilled
his engagement.

The governor appeared to be fond of my company, and frequently
invited me to his house. He always spoke of his intention of
settling me in business, as a point that was decided. I was to take
with me letters of recommendation to a number of his friends, and
particularly a letter of credit, in order to obtain the necessary sum
for the purchase of my press, types, and paper. He appointed various
times for me to come for these letters, which would certainly be
ready, and when I came, always put me off to another day.

These successive delays continued till the vessel, whose departure
had been several times deferred, was on the point of setting sail;
when I again went to Sir William's house, to receive my letters and
take leave of him. I saw his secretary, Dr. Bard, who told me that
the governor was extremely busy writing, but that he would be down at
Newcastle before the vessel, and that the letters would be delivered
to me there.

Ralph, though he was married and had a child, determined to accompany
me in this voyage. His object was supposed to be the establishing a
correspondence with some mercantile houses, in order to sell goods
by commission; but I afterwards learned that, having reason to be
dissatisfied with the parents of his wife, he proposed to himself to
leave her on their hands, and never return to America again.

Having taken leave of my friends, and interchanged promises of
fidelity with Miss Read, I quitted Philadelphia. At Newcastle the
vessel came to anchor. The governor was arrived, and I went to his
lodgings. His secretary received me with great civility, told me on
the part of the governor that he could not see me then, as he was
engaged in affairs of the utmost importance, but that he would send
the letters on board, and that he wished me, with all his heart, a
good voyage, and speedy return. I returned, somewhat astonished, to
the ship, but still without entertaining the slightest suspicion.

Mr. Hamilton, a celebrated barrister of Philadelphia, had taken a
passage to England for himself and his son, and, in conjunction with
Mr. Denham, a quaker, and Messrs. Oniam and Russel, proprietors of a
forge in Maryland, had agreed for the whole cabin, so that Ralph and
I were obliged to take up our lodging with the crew. Being unknown
to every body in the ship, we were looked upon as of the common
order of people: but Mr. Hamilton and his son, (it was James, who
was afterwards governor,) left us at Newcastle, and returned to
Philadelphia, where he was recalled at a very great expence, to plead
the cause of a vessel that had been seized; and just as we were about
to sail, colonel French came on board, and shewed me many civilities.
The passengers upon this paid me more attention, and I was invited,
together with my friend Ralph, to occupy the place in the cabin which
the return of the Mr. Hamiltons had made vacant; an offer which we
very readily accepted.

Having learned that the dispatches of the governor had been brought
on board by colonel French, I asked the captain for the letters that
were to be entrusted to my care. He told me that they were all put
together in the bag, which he could not open at present; but before
we reached England, he would give me an opportunity of taking them
out. I was satisfied with this answer, and we pursued our voyage.

The company in the cabin were all very sociable, and we were
perfectly well off as to provisions, as we had the advantage of the
whole of Mr. Hamilton's, who had laid in a very plentiful stock.
During the passage, Mr. Denham contracted a friendship for me, which
ended only with his life: in other respects the voyage was by no
means an agreeable one, as we had much bad weather.

When we arrived in the river, the captain was as good as his word,
and allowed me to search in the bag for the governor's letters. I
could not find a single one with my name written on it, as committed
to my care; but I selected six or seven, which I judged from the
direction to be those that were intended for me; particularly one to
Mr. Basket the king's printer, and another to a stationer, who was
the first person I called upon. I delivered him the letter as coming
from governor Keith. "I have no acquaintance (said he) with any such
person;" and opening the letter, "Oh, it is from Riddlesden!" he
exclaimed. "I have lately discovered him to be a very arrant knave,
and wish to have nothing to do either with him or his letters." He
instantly put the letter into my hand, turned upon his heel, and left
me, to serve some customers.

I was astonished at finding these letters were not from the governor.
Reflecting, and putting circumstances together, I then began to doubt
his sincerity. I rejoined my friend Denham, and related the whole
affair to him. He let me at once into Keith's character, told me
there was not the least probability of his having written a single
letter; that no one who knew him ever placed any reliance on him, and
laughed at my credulity in supposing that the governor would give me
a letter of credit, when he had no credit for himself. As I showed
some uneasiness respecting what step I should take, he advised me to
try to get employment in the house of some printer. You may there,
said he, improve yourself in business, and you will be able to settle
yourself the more advantageously when you return to America.

We knew already as well as the stationer, attorney Riddlesden to be
a knave. He had nearly ruined the father of Miss Read, by drawing
him in to be his security. We learned from his letter, that he was
secretly carrying on an intrigue, in concert with the governor, to
the prejudice of Mr. Hamilton, who it was supposed would by this
time be in Europe. Denham, who was Hamilton's friend, was of opinion
that he ought to be made acquainted with it; and in reality, the
instant he arrived in England, which was very soon after, I waited on
him, and, as much from good-will to him, as from resentment against
the governor, put the letter into his hands. He thanked me very
sincerely, the information it contained being of consequence to him;
and from that moment bestowed on me his friendship, which afterwards
proved on many occasions serviceable to me.

But what are we to think of a governor who could play so scurvy a
trick, and thus grossly deceive a poor young lad, wholly destitute of
experience? It was a practice with him. Wishing to please every body,
and having little to bestow, he was lavish of promises. He was in
other respects sensible and judicious, a very tolerable writer, and
a good governor for the people; though not so for the proprietaries,
whose instructions he frequently disregarded. Many of our best laws
were his work, and established during his administration.

Ralph and I were inseparable companions. We took a lodging together
at three and sixpence a-week, which was as much as we could afford.
He met with some relations in London, but they were poor, and not
able to assist him. He now, for the first time, informed me of his
intention to remain in England, and that he had no thoughts of ever
returning to Philadelphia. He was totally without money; the little
he had been able to raise having barely sufficed for his passage. I
had still fifteen pistoles remaining; and to me he had from time to
time recourse, while he tried to get employment.

At first, believing himself possessed of talents for the stage,
he thought of turning actor; but Wilkes, to whom he applied,
frankly advised him to renounce the idea, as it was impossible
he should succeed. He next proposed to Roberts, a bookseller in
Paternoster-row, to write a weekly paper in the manner of the
Spectator, upon terms to which Roberts would not listen. Lastly, he
endeavoured to procure employment as a copyist, and applied to the
lawyers and stationers about the Temple; but he could find no vacancy.

As to myself, I immediately got engaged at Palmer's, at that time
a noted printer in Bartholomew-close, with whom I continued nearly
a year. I applied very assiduously to my work; but I expended with
Ralph almost all that I earned. Plays, and other places of amusement
which we frequented together, having exhausted my pistoles, we lived
after this from hand to mouth. He appeared to have entirely forgotten
his wife and child, as I also, by degrees, forgot my engagements
with Miss Read, to whom I never wrote more than one letter, and that
merely to inform her that I was not likely to return soon. This
was another grand error of my life, which I should be desirous of
correcting were I to begin my career again.

I was employed at Palmer's on the second edition of Woolaston's
Religion of Nature. Some of his arguments appearing to me not to
be well-founded, I wrote a small metaphysical treatise, in which
I animadverted on those passages. It was entitled a "Dissertation
on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain." I dedicated it to my
friend Ralph, and printed a small number of copies. Palmer upon this
treated me with more consideration, and regarded me as a young man of
talents; though he seriously took me to task for the principles of my
pamphlet, which he looked upon as abominable. The printing of this
work was another error of my life.

While I lodged in Little Britain I formed acquaintance with a
bookseller of the name of Wilcox, whose shop was next door to me.
Circulating libraries were not then in use. He had an immense
collection of books of all sorts. We agreed that, for a reasonable
retribution, of which I have now forgotten the price, I should have
free access to his library, and take what books I pleased, which I
was to return when I had read them. I considered this agreement as a
very great advantage; and I derived from it as much benefit as was in
my power.

My pamphlet falling into the hands of a surgeon, of the name
of Lyons, author of a book entitled, "Infallibility of Human
Judgment," was the occasion of a considerable intimacy between us.
He expressed great esteem for me, came frequently to see me, in
order to converse upon metaphysical subjects, and introduced me to
Dr. Mandeville, author of the Fable of the Bees, who had instituted
a club at a tavern in Cheapside, of which he was the soul: he was
a facetious and very amusing character. He also introduced me, at
Batson's coffee-house, to Dr. Pemberton, who promised to give me
an opportunity of seeing Sir Isaac Newton, which I very ardently
desired; but he never kept his word.

I had brought some curiosities with me from America; the principal of
which was a purse made of the asbestos, which fire only purifies.
Sir Hans Sloane hearing of it, called upon me, and invited me to his
house in Bloomsbury-square, where, after showing me every thing that
was curious, he prevailed on me to add this piece to his collection;
for which he paid me very handsomely.

There lodged in the same house with us a young woman, a milliner,
who had a shop by the side of the Exchange. Lively and sensible,
and having received an education somewhat above her rank, her
conversation was very agreeable. Ralph read plays to her every
evening. They became intimate. She took another lodging, and he
followed her. They lived for some time together; but Ralph being
without employment, she having a child, and the profits of her
business not sufficing for the maintenance of three, he resolved
to quit London, and try a country school. This was a plan in which
he thought himself likely to succeed; as he wrote a fine hand, and
was versed in arithmetic and accounts. But considering the office
as beneath him, and expecting some day to make a better figure in
the world, when he should be ashamed of its being known that he had
exercised a profession so little honourable, he changed his name,
and did me the honour to assume mine. He wrote to me soon after his
departure, informing me that he was settled at a small village in
Berkshire. In his letter he recommended Mrs. T***, the milliner,
to my care, and requested an answer, directed to Mr. Franklin,
school-master, at N***.

He continued to write to me frequently, sending me large fragments
of an epic poem he was composing, and which he begged of me to
criticise and correct. I did so, but not without endeavouring to
prevail on him to renounce this pursuit. Young had just published one
of his Satires. I copied and sent him a great part of it; in which
the author demonstrates the folly of cultivating the muses, from the
hope, by their instrumentality, of rising in the world. It was all to
no purpose; paper after paper of his poem continued to arrive every

Meanwhile Mrs. T*** having lost, on his account, both her friends
and her business, was frequently in distress. In this dilemma she had
recourse to me; and to extricate her from difficulties, I lent her
all the money I could spare. I felt a little too much fondness for
her. Having at that time no ties of religion, and taking advantage of
her necessitous situation, I attempted liberties, (another error of
my life,) which she repelled with becoming indignation. She informed
Ralph of my conduct; and the affair occasioned a breach between
us. When he returned to London, he gave me to understand that he
considered all the obligations he owed me as annihilated by this
proceeding; whence I concluded that I was never to expect the payment
of what money I had lent him, or advanced on his account. I was the
less afflicted at this, as he was wholly unable to pay me; and as, by
losing his friendship, I was relieved at the same time from a very
heavy burden.

I now began to think of laying by some money. The printing-house of
Watts, near Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, being a still more considerable
one than that in which I worked, it was probable I might find it
more advantageous to be employed there. I offered myself, and was
accepted; and in this house I continued during the remainder of my
stay in London.

On my entrance I worked at first as a pressman, conceiving that I had
need of bodily exercise, to which I had been accustomed in America,
where the printers work alternately as compositors and at the press.
I drank nothing but water. The other workmen, to the number of about
fifty, were great drinkers of beer. I carried occasionally a large
form of letters in each hand, up and down stairs, while the rest
employed both hands to carry one. They were surprised to see, by this
and many other examples, that the _American Aquatic_, as they used
to call me, was stronger than those who drank porter. The beer-boy
had sufficient employment during the whole day in serving that house
alone. My fellow pressman drank every day a pint of beer before
breakfast, a pint with bread and cheese for breakfast, one between
breakfast and dinner, one at dinner, one again about six o'clock in
the afternoon, and another after he had finished his day's work. This
custom appeared to me abominable; but he had need, he said, of all
this beer, in order to acquire strength to work.

I endeavoured to convince him that the bodily strength furnished by
the beer, could only be in proportion to the solid part of the barley
dissolved in the water of which the beer was composed; that there was
a larger portion of flour in a penny loaf, and that consequently if
he ate this loaf, and drank a pint of water with it, he would derive
more strength from it than from a pint of beer. This reasoning,
however, did not prevent him from drinking his accustomed quantity
of beer, and paying every Saturday night a score of four or five
shillings a-week for this cursed beverage; an expence from which I
was wholly exempt. Thus do these poor devils continue all their lives
in a state of voluntary wretchedness and poverty.

At the end of a few weeks, Watts having occasion for me above stairs
as a compositor, I quitted the press. The compositors demanded of me
garnish money a-fresh. This I considered as an imposition, having
already paid below. The master was of the same opinion, and desired
me not to comply. I thus remained two or three weeks out of the
fraternity. I was consequently looked upon as excommunicated; and
whenever I was absent, no little trick that malice could suggest
was left unpractised upon me. I found my letters mixed, my pages
transposed, my matter broken, &c. &c. all which was attributed to
the spirit that haunted the chapel,[4] and tormented those who were
not regularly admitted. I was at last obliged to submit to pay,
notwithstanding the protection of the master; convinced of the folly
of not keeping up a good understanding with those among whom we are
destined to live.

After this I lived in the utmost harmony with my fellow-labourers,
and soon acquired considerable influence among them. I proposed
some alterations in the laws of the chapel, which I carried without
opposition. My example prevailed with several of them to renounce
their abominable practice of bread and cheese with beer; and they
procured, like me, from a neighbouring house, a good basin of warm
gruel, in which was a small slice of butter, with toasted bread and
nutmeg. This was a much better breakfast, which did not cost more
than a pint of beer, namely, three halfpence, and at the same time
preserved the head clearer. Those who continued to gorge themselves
with beer, often lost their credit with the publican, from neglecting
to pay their score. They had then recourse to me, to become security
for them; _their light_, as they used to call it, _being out_.
I attended at the pay-table every Saturday evening, to take up
the little sum which I had made myself answerable for; and which
sometimes amounted to nearly thirty shillings a-week.

This circumstance, added to my reputation of being a tolerable good
_gabber_, or, in other words, skilful in the art of burlesque, kept
up my importance in the chapel. I had besides recommended myself to
the esteem of my master by my assiduous application to business,
never observing Saint Monday. My extraordinary quickness in composing
always procured me such work as was most urgent, and which is
commonly best paid; and thus my time passed away in a very pleasant

My lodging in Little Britain being too far from the printing-house,
I took another in Duke-street, opposite the Roman Catholic chapel.
It was at the back of an Italian warehouse. The house was kept by a
widow, who had a daughter, a servant, and a shop-boy; but the latter
slept out of the house. After sending to the people with whom I
lodged in Little Britain, to enquire into my character, she agreed to
take me in at the same price, three and sixpence a-week; contenting
herself, she said, with so little, because of the security she should
derive, as they were all women, from having a man lodger in the

She was a woman rather advanced in life, the daughter of a clergyman.
She had been educated a Protestant; but her husband, whose memory she
highly revered, had converted her to the Catholic religion. She had
lived in habits of intimacy with persons of distinction; of whom she
knew various anecdotes as far back as the time of Charles II. Being
subject to fits of the gout, which often confined her to her room,
she was sometimes disposed to see company. Hers was so amusing to me,
that I was glad to pass the evening with her as often as she desired
it. Our supper consisted only of half an anchovy a piece, upon a
slice of bread and butter, with half a pint of ale between us. But
the entertainment was in her conversation.

The early hours I kept, and the little trouble I occasioned in the
family, made her loth to part with me; and when I mentioned another
lodging I had found, nearer the printing-house, at two shillings
a week, which fell in with my plan of saving, she persuaded me to
give it up, making herself an abatement of two shillings: and thus
I continued to lodge with her, during the remainder of my abode in
London, at eighteen pence a week.

In a garret of the house there lived, in the most retired manner, a
lady seventy years of age, of whom I received the following account
from my landlady. She was a Roman Catholic. In her early years she
had been sent to the continent, and entered a convent with the
design of becoming a nun; but the climate not agreeing with her
constitution, she was obliged to return to England, where, as there
were no monasteries, she made a vow to lead a monastic life, in
as rigid a manner as circumstances would permit. She accordingly
disposed of all her property to be applied to charitable uses,
reserving to herself only twelve pounds a year; and of this small
pittance she gave a part to the poor, living on water gruel, and
never making use of fire but to boil it. She had lived in this garret
a great many years, without paying rent to the successive Catholic
inhabitants that had kept the house; who indeed considered her abode
with them as a blessing. A priest came every day to confess her. I
have asked her, said my landlady, how, living as she did, she could
find so much employment for a confessor? To which she answered, that
it was impossible to avoid vain thoughts.

I was once permitted to visit her. She was cheerful and polite, and
her conversation agreeable. Her apartment was neat; but the whole
furniture consisted of a mattress, a table, on which were a crucifix
and a book, a chair, which she gave me to sit on, and over the
mantle-piece a picture of St. Veronica displaying her handkerchief,
on which was seen the miraculous impression of the face of Christ,
which she explained to me with great gravity. Her countenance was
pale, but she had never experienced sickness; and I may adduce her as
another proof how little is sufficient to maintain life and health.

At the printing house I contracted an intimacy with a sensible
young man of the name of Wygate, who, as his parents were in good
circumstances, had received a better education than is common among
printers. He was a tolerable Latin scholar, spoke French fluently,
and was fond of reading. I taught him, as well as a friend of his,
to swim, by taking them twice only into the river; after which they
stood in need of no farther assistance. We one day made a party to go
by water to Chelsea, in order to see the College, and Don Soltero's
curiosities. On our return, at the request of the company, whose
curiosity Wygate had excited, I undressed myself, and leaped into
the river. I swam from near Chelsea the whole way to Blackfriars,
exhibiting, during my course, a variety of feats of activity and
address, both upon the surface of the water, as well as under it.
This sight occasioned much astonishment and pleasure to those to
whom it was new. In my youth I took great delight in this exercise.
I knew, and could execute, all the evolutions and positions of
Thevenot; and I added to them some of my own invention, in which I
endeavoured to unite gracefulness and utility. I took a pleasure in
displaying them all on this occasion, and was highly flattered with
the admiration they excited.

Wygate, besides his being desirous of perfecting himself in this art,
was the more attached to me from there being, in other respects, a
conformity in our tastes and studies. He at length proposed to me to
make the tour of Europe with him, maintaining ourselves at the same
time by working at our profession. I was on the point of consenting,
when I mentioned it to my friend Mr. Denham, with whom I was glad
to pass an hour whenever I had leisure. He dissuaded me from the
project, and advised me to think of returning to Philadelphia, which
he was about to do himself. I must relate in this place a trait of
this worthy man's character.

He had formerly been in business at Bristol, but failing, he
compounded with his creditors, and departed for America, where, by
assiduous application as a merchant, he acquired in a few years
a very considerable fortune. Returning to England in the same
vessel with myself, as I have related above, he invited all his
old creditors to a feast. When assembled, he thanked them for the
readiness with which they had received his small composition; and,
while they expected nothing more than a simple entertainment, each
found under his plate, when it came to be removed, a draft upon a
banker for the residue of his debt, with interest.

He told me that it was his intention to carry back with him to
Philadelphia a great quantity of goods, in order to open a store;
and he offered to take me with him in the capacity of clerk, to
keep his books, in which he would instruct me, copy letters, and
superintend the store. He added, that as soon as I had acquired a
knowledge of mercantile transactions, he would improve my situation,
by sending me with a cargo of corn and flour to the American islands,
and by procuring me other lucrative commissions; so that, with good
management and economy, I might in time begin business with advantage
for myself.

I relished these proposals. London began to tire me; the agreeable
hours I had passed at Philadelphia presented themselves to my mind,
and I wished to see them revive. I consequently engaged myself to Mr.
Denham, at a salary of fifty pounds a year. This was, indeed less
than I earned as a compositor, but then I had a much fairer prospect.
I took leave therefore, as I believed for ever, of printing, and gave
myself up entirely to my new occupation, spending all my time either
in going from house to house with Mr. Denham to purchase goods, or
in packing them up, or in expediting the workmen, &c. &c. When every
thing, however, was on board, I had at last a few days leisure.

During this interval, I was one day sent for by a gentleman, whom I
knew only by name. It was Sir William Wyndham. I went to his house.
He had by some means heard of my performances between Chelsea and
Blackfriars, and that I had taught the art of swimming to Wygate and
another young man in the course of a few hours. His two sons were on
the point of setting out on their travels; he was desirous that they
should previously learn to swim, and offered me a very liberal reward
if I would undertake to instruct them. They were not yet arrived
in town, and the stay I should make was uncertain; I could not
therefore accept his proposal. I was led, however, to suppose from
this incident, that if I had wished to remain in London, and open a
swimming school, I should perhaps have gained a great deal of money.
This idea struck me so forcibly that, had the offer been made sooner,
I should have dismissed the thought of returning as yet to America.
Some years after, you and I had a more important business to settle
with one of the sons of Sir William Wyndham, then Lord Egremont. But
let us not anticipate events.

I thus passed about eighteen months in London, working almost without
intermission at my trade, avoiding all expence on my own account,
except going now and then to the play, and purchasing a few books.
But my friend Ralph kept me poor. He owed me about twenty-seven
pounds, which was so much money lost; and when considered as taken
from my little savings, was a very great sum. I had, notwithstanding
this, a regard for him, as he possessed many amiable qualities. But
though I had done nothing for myself in point of fortune, I had
increased my stock of knowledge, either by the many excellent books
I had read, or the conversation of learned and literary persons with
whom I was acquainted.

We sailed from Gravesend the 23d of July, 1726. For the incidents
of my voyage I refer you to my Journal, where you will find all its
circumstances minutely related. We landed at Philadelphia on the 11th
of the following October.

Keith had been deprived of his office of governor, and was succeeded
by Major Gordon. I met him walking in the streets as a private
individual. He appeared a little ashamed at seeing me, but passed on
without saying any thing.

I should have been equally ashamed myself at meeting Miss Read, had
not her family, justly despairing of my return after reading my
letter, advised her to give me up, and marry a potter, of the name
of Rogers; to which she consented: but he never made her happy,
and she soon separated from him, refusing to cohabit with him, or
even bear his name, on account of a report which prevailed, of his
having another wife. His skill in his profession had seduced Miss
Read's parents; but he was as bad a subject as he was excellent as a
workman. He involved himself in debt, and fled, in the year 1727 or
1728, to the West Indies, where he died.

During my absence Keimer had taken a more considerable house, in
which he kept a shop, that was well supplied with paper, and various
other articles. He had procured some new types, and a number of
workmen; among whom, however, there was not one who was good for any
thing; and he appeared not to want business.

Mr. Denham took a warehouse in Water-street, where we exhibited our
commodities. I applied myself closely, studied accounts, and became
in a short time very expert in trade. We lodged and ate together. He
was sincerely attached to me, and acted towards me as if he had been
my father. On my side, I respected and loved him. My situation was
happy; but it was a happiness of no long duration.

Early in February, 1727, when I entered into my twenty-second year,
we were both taken ill. I was attacked with a pleurisy, which had
nearly carried me off; I suffered terribly, and considered it as
all over with me. I felt indeed a sort of disappointment when I
found myself likely to recover, and regretted that I had still to
experience, sooner or later, the same disagreeable scene again.

I have forgotten what was Mr. Denham's disorder; but it was a tedious
one, and he at last sunk under it. He left me a small legacy in his
will, as a testimony of his friendship; and I was once more abandoned
to myself in the wide world, the warehouse being confided to the care
of testamentary executor, who dismissed me.

My brother-in-law, Holmes, who happened to be at Philadelphia,
advised me to return to my former profession; and Keimer offered me
a very considerable salary if I would undertake the management of
his printing-office, that he might devote himself entirely to the
superintendence of his shop. His wife and relations in London had
given me a bad character of him; and I was loth, for the present, to
have any concern with him. I endeavoured to get employment as a clerk
to a merchant; but not readily finding a situation, I was induced to
accept Keimer's proposal.

The following were the persons I found in his printing-house:

Hugh Meredith, a Pennsylvanian, about thirty-five years of age.
He had been brought up to husbandry, was honest, sensible, had
some experience, and was fond of reading; but too much addicted to

Stephen Potts, a young rustic, just broke from school, and of
rustic education, with endowments rather above the common order,
and a competent portion of understanding and gaiety; but a little
idle. Keimer had engaged these two at very low wages, which he had
promised to raise every three months a shilling a week, provided
their improvement in the typographic art should merit it. This future
increase of wages was the bait he had made use of to ensnare them.
Meredith was to work at the press, and Potts to bind books, which he
had engaged to teach them, though he understood neither himself.

John Savage, an Irishman, who had been brought up to no trade, and
whose service, for a period of four years, Keimer had purchased of
the captain of a ship. He was also to be a pressman.

George Webb, an Oxford scholar, whose time he had in like manner
bought for four years, intending him for a compositor. I shall speak
more of him presently.

Lastly, David Harry, a country lad, who was apprenticed to him.

I soon perceived that Keimer's intention, in engaging me at a price
so much above what he was accustomed to give, was, that I might form
all these raw journeymen and apprentices, who scarcely cost him any
thing, and who, being indentured, would, as soon as they should be
sufficiently instructed, enable him to do without me. I nevertheless
adhered to my agreement. I put the office in order, which was in the
utmost confusion, and brought his people by degrees, to pay attention
to their work, and to execute it in a more masterly style.

It was singular to see an Oxford scholar in the condition of a
purchased servant. He was not more than eighteen years of age,
and the following are the particulars he gave me of himself. Born
at Gloucester, he had been educated at a grammar-school, and had
distinguished himself among the scholars by his superior style of
acting, when they represented dramatic performances. He was a member
of a literary club in the town; and some pieces of his composition,
in prose as well as in verse, had been inserted in the Gloucester
papers. From hence he was sent to Oxford, where he remained about
a year: but he was not contented, and wished above all things to
see London, and become an actor. At length, having received fifteen
guineas to pay his quarter's board, he decamped with the money, from
Oxford, hid his gown in a hedge, and travelled to London. There,
having no friend to direct him, he fell into bad company, soon
squandered his fifteen guineas, could find no way of being introduced
to the actors, became contemptible, pawned his cloaths, and was in
want of bread. As he was walking along the streets, almost famished
with hunger, and not knowing what to do, a recruiting-bill was put
into his hand, which offered an immediate treat and bounty-money to
whoever was disposed to serve in America. He instantly repaired to
the house of rendezvous, inlisted himself, was put on board a ship
and conveyed to America, without ever writing a line to inform his
parents what was become of him. His mental vivacity, and good natural
disposition, made him an excellent companion; but he was indolent,
thoughtless, and to the last degree imprudent.

John, the Irishman, soon ran away. I began to live very agreeably
with the rest. They respected me, and the more so as they found
Keimer incapable of instructing them, and as they learned something
from me every day. We never worked on a Saturday, it being Keimer's
Sabbath, so that I had two days a week for reading.

I increased my acquaintance with persons of information and knowledge
in the town. Keimer himself treated me with great civility, and
apparent esteem; and I had nothing to give me uneasiness but my debt
to Vernon, which I was unable to pay, my savings as yet being very
little. He had the goodness, however, not to ask me for the money.

Our press was frequently in want of the necessary quantity of letter,
and there was no such trade as that of letter-founder in America. I
had seen the practice of this art at the house of James, in London,
but had at the time paid it very little attention; I however,
contrived to fabricate a mould. I made use of such letters as we had
for punches, founded new letters of lead in mattrices of clay, and
thus supplied in a tolerable manner the wants that were most pressing.

I also, upon occasion, engraved various ornaments, made ink, gave an
eye to the shop--in short, I was in every respect the _factotum_. But
useful as I made myself, I perceived that my services became every
day of less importance, in proportion as the other men improved;
and when Keimer paid me my second quarter's wages, he gave me to
understand they were too heavy, and that he thought I ought to make
an abatement. He became by degrees less civil, and assumed more the
tone of master. He frequently found fault, was difficult to please,
and seemed always on the point of coming to an open quarrel with me.

I continued, however, to bear it patiently, conceiving that his ill
humour was partly occasioned by the derangement and embarrassment of
his affairs. At last a slight incident broke our connection. Hearing
a noise in the neighbourhood, I put my head out at the window, to see
what was the matter. Keimer being in the street, observed me, and in
a loud and angry tone bid me to mind my work; adding some reproachful
words, which piqued me the more, as they were uttered in the street;
and the neighbours, whom the same noise attracted to the windows,
were witnesses of the manner in which I was treated. He immediately
came up to the printing-room, where he continued to exclaim against
me. The quarrel became warm on both sides, and he gave me notice to
quit him at the expiration of three months, as had been agreed upon
between us; regretting that he was obliged to give me so long a term.
I told him that his regret was superfluous, as I was ready to quit
him instantly; and I took my hat and came out of the house, begging
Meredith to take care of some things which I left, and bring them to
my lodgings.

Meredith came to me in the evening. We talked for some time upon the
quarrel that had taken place. He had conceived a great veneration
for me, and was sorry I should quit the house, while he remained in
it. He dissuaded me from returning to my native country, as I began
to think of doing. He reminded me that Keimer owed more than he
possessed; that his creditors began to be alarmed; that he kept his
shop in a wretched state, often selling things at prime cost for the
sake of ready money, and continually giving credit without keeping
any accounts; that of consequence he must very soon fail, which would
occasion a vacancy from which I might derive advantage. I objected my
want of money. Upon which he informed me that his father had a very
high opinion of me, and, from a conversation that had passed between
them, he was sure he would advance whatever might be necessary to
establish us, if I was willing to enter into partnership with him.
"My time with Keimer," added he, "will be at an end next spring. In
the mean time we may send to London for our press and types. I know
that I am no workman; but if you agree to the proposal, your skill in
the business will be balanced by the capital I shall furnish, and we
will share the profits equally." His proposal was reasonable, and I
fell in with it. His father, who was then in town, approved of it. He
knew that I had some ascendancy over his son, as I had been able to
prevail on him to abstain for a long time from drinking brandy; and
he hoped that, when more closely connected with him, I should cure
him entirely of this unfortunate habit.

I gave the father a list of what it would be necessary to import
from London. He took it to a merchant, and the order was given. We
agreed to keep the secret till the arrival of the materials, and
I was in the mean time to procure work, if possible, in another
printing-house; but there was no place vacant, and I remained idle.
After some days, Keimer having the expectation of being employed
to print some New Jersey money-bills, that would require types and
engravings which I only could furnish, and fearful that Bradford, by
engaging me, might deprive him of this undertaking, sent me a very
civil message, telling me that old friends ought not to be disunited
on account of a few words, which were the effect only of a momentary
passion, and inviting me to return to him. Meredith persuaded me to
comply with the invitation, particularly as it would afford him more
opportunities of improving himself in the business, by means of my
instructions. I did so; and we lived upon better terms than before
our separation.

He obtained the New Jersey business; and, in order to execute it, I
constructed a copper-plate printing-press! the first that had been
seen in the country. I engraved various ornaments and vignettes for
the bills; and we repaired to Burlington together, where I executed
the whole to the general satisfaction; and he received a sum of money
for this work, which enabled him to keep his head above water for a
considerable time longer.

At Burlington I formed an acquaintance with the principal personages
of the province; many of whom were commissioned by the assembly to
superintend the press, and to see that no more bills were printed
than the law had prescribed. Accordingly they were constantly with
us, each in his turn; and he that came, commonly brought with him
a friend or two to bear him company. My mind was more cultivated
by reading than Keimer's; and it was for this reason, probably,
that they set more value on my conversation. They took me to their
houses, introduced me to their friends, and treated me with the
greatest civility; while Keimer, though master, saw himself a little
neglected. He was, in fact, a strange animal, ignorant of the common
modes of life, apt to oppose with rudeness generally received
opinions, an enthusiast in certain points of religion, disgustingly
unclean in his person, and a little knavish withal.

We remained there nearly three months, and at the expiration of
this period I could include in the list of my friends, Judge Allen,
Samuel Bustil, secretary of the province, Isaac Pearson, Joseph
Cooper, several of the Smiths, all members of the assembly, and Isaac
Decon, inspector-general. The last was a shrewd and subtle old man.
He told me, that, when a boy, his first employment had been that of
carrying clay to the brick-makers; that he did not learn to write
till he was somewhat advanced in life; and that he was afterwards
employed as an underling to a surveyor, who taught him his trade,
and that by industry he had at last acquired a competent fortune.
"I foresee," said he one day to me, "that you will soon supplant
this man," speaking of Keimer, "and get a fortune in the business at
Philadelphia." He was wholly ignorant at the time, of my intention of
establishing myself there, or any where else. These friends were very
serviceable to me in the end, as was I also, upon occasion, to some
of them; and they have continued ever since their esteem for me.

Before I relate the particulars of my entrance into business, it may
be proper to inform you what was at that time the state of my mind
as to moral principles, that you may see the degree of influence they
had upon the subsequent events of my life.

My parents had given me betimes religious impressions; and I received
from my infancy a pious education in the principles of Calvinism.
But scarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after
having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found
them combated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt
of revelation itself. Some volumes against deism fell into my hands.
They were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's
lecture. It happened that they produced on me an effect precisely
the reverse of what was intended by the writers; for the arguments
of the deists, which were cited in order to be refuted, appeared
to me much more forcible than the refutation itself. In a word, I
soon became a perfect deist. My arguments perverted some other young
persons, particularly Collins and Ralph. But in the sequel, when I
recollected that they had both used me extremely ill, without the
smallest remorse; when I considered the behaviour of Keith, another
free-thinker, and my own conduct towards Vernon and Miss Read, which
at times gave me great uneasiness, I was led to suspect that this
doctrine, though it might be true, was not very useful. I began to
entertain a less favourable opinion of my London pamphlet to which I
had prefixed as a motto, the following lines of Dryden:

    Whatever is--is right; though purblind man
    Sees but a part of the chain, the nearest link,
    His eyes not carrying to the equal beam
    That poises all above.

And of which the object was to prove, from the attributes of God,
his goodness, wisdom, and power, that there could be no such thing
as evil in the world; that vice and virtue did not in reality exist,
and were nothing more than vain distinctions. I no longer regarded it
as so blameless a work as I had formerly imagined; and I suspected
that some error must have imperceptibly glided into my argument, by
which all the inferences I had drawn from it had been affected, as
frequently happens in metaphysical reasonings. In a word, I was at
last convinced that truth, probity, and sincerity in transactions
between man and man, were of the utmost importance to the happiness
of life; and I resolved from that moment, and wrote the resolution in
my journal, to practise them as long as I lived.

Revelation, indeed, as such, had no influence on my mind; but I was
of opinion that, though certain actions could not be bad merely
because revelation had prohibited them, or good because it enjoined
them, yet it was probable that those actions were prohibited because
they were bad for us, or enjoined because advantageous in their
nature, all things considered. This persuasion, divine providence,
or some guardian angel, and perhaps a concurrence of favourable
circumstances co-operating, preserved me from all immorality, or
gross and _voluntary_, injustice, to which my want of religion was
calculated to expose me, in the dangerous period of youth, and in
the hazardous situations in which I sometimes found myself, among
strangers, and at a distance from the eye and admonitions of my
father. I may say _voluntary_, because the errors into which I had
fallen, had been in a manner the forced result either of my own
inexperience, or the dishonesty of others. Thus, before I entered
on my new career, I had imbibed solid principles, and a character
of probity. I knew their value; and I made a solemn engagement with
myself never to depart from them.

I had not long returned from Burlington before our printing materials
arrived from London. I settled my accounts with Keimer, and quitted
him, with his own consent, before he had any knowledge of our plan.
We found a house to let near the market. We took it; and to render
the rent less burdensome, (it was then twenty-four pounds a year, but
I have since known it let for seventy,) we admitted Thomas Godfrey, a
glazier, with his family, who eased us of a considerable part of it;
and with him we agreed to board.

We had no sooner unpacked our letters, and put our press in order,
than a person of my acquaintance, George House, brought us a
countryman, whom he had met in the streets enquiring for a printer.
Our money was almost exhausted by the number of things we had
been obliged to procure. The five shillings we received from this
countryman, the first fruits of our earnings, coming so seasonably,
gave me more pleasure than any sum I have since gained; and the
recollection of the gratitude I felt on this occasion to George
House, has rendered me often more disposed, than perhaps I should
otherwise have been, to encourage young beginners in trade.

There are in every country morose beings, who are always
prognosticating ruin. There was one of this stamp at Philadelphia.
He was a man of fortune, declining in years, had an air of wisdom,
and a very grave manner of speaking. His name was Samuel Mickle. I
knew him not; but he stopped one day at my door, and asked me if I
was the young man who had lately opened a new printing-house. Upon
my answering in the affirmative, he said he was very sorry for me,
as it was an expensive undertaking, and the money that had been
laid out upon it would be lost, Philadelphia being a place falling
into decay; its inhabitants having all, or nearly all of them,
been obliged to call together their creditors. That he knew, from
undoubted fact, the circumstances which might lead us to suppose the
contrary, such as new buildings, and the advanced price of rent, to
be deceitful appearances, which, in reality, contributed to hasten
the general ruin; and he gave me so long a detail of misfortunes,
actually existing, or which were soon to take place, that he left me
almost in a state of despair. Had I known this man before I entered
into trade, I should doubtless never have ventured. He continued,
however, to live in this place of decay, and to declaim in the same
style, refusing for many years to buy a house because all was going
to wreck; and in the end I had the satisfaction to see him pay five
times as much for one as it would have cost him had he purchased it
when he first began his lamentations.

I ought to have related, that, during the autumn of the preceding
year, I had united the majority of well-informed persons of my
acquaintance into a club, which we called by the name of the _Junto_,
and the object of which was to improve our understandings. We met
every Friday evening. The regulations I drew up, obliged every member
to propose, in his turn, one or more questions upon some point of
morality, politics, or philosophy, which were to be discussed by
the society; and to read, once in three months, an essay of his
own composition, on whatever subject he pleased. Our debates were
under the direction of a president, and were to be dictated only by
a sincere desire of truth; the pleasure of disputing, and the vanity
of triumph having no share in the business; and in order to prevent
undue warmth, every expression which implied obstinate adherence to
an opinion, and all direct contradiction, were prohibited, under
small pecuniary penalties.

The first members of our club were Joseph Breintnal, whose occupation
was that of a scrivener. He was a middle-aged man, of a good natural
disposition, strongly attached to his friends, a great lover of
poetry, reading every thing that came in his way, and writing
tolerably well, ingenious in many little trifles, and of an agreeable

Thomas Godfrey, a skilful, though self-taught mathematician, and
who was afterwards the inventor of what now goes by the name of
Hadley's quadrant; but he had little knowledge out of his own line,
and was insupportable in company, always requiring, like the majority
of mathematicians that had fallen in my way, an unusual precision
in every thing that is said, continually contradicting, or making
trifling distinctions; a sure way of defeating all the ends of
conversation. He very soon left us.

Nicholas Scull, a surveyor, and who became afterwards,
surveyor-general. He was fond of books, and wrote verses.

William Parsons, brought up to the trade of a shoe-maker, but who,
having a taste for reading, had acquired a profound knowledge of
mathematics. He first studied them with a view to astrology, and
was, afterwards, the first to laugh at his folly. He also became

William Mawgridge, a joiner, and very excellent mechanic; and in
other respects a man of solid understanding.

Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb, of whom I have already

Robert Grace, a young man of fortune; generous, animated, and witty;
fond of epigrams, but more fond of his friends.

And lastly, William Coleman, at that time a merchant's clerk, and
nearly of my own age. He had a cooler and clearer head, a better
heart, and more scrupulous morals, than almost any other person
I have ever met with. He became a very respectable merchant, and
one of our provincial judges. Our friendship subsisted, without
interruption, for more than forty years, till the period of his
death; and the club continued to exist almost as long.

This was the best school of politics and philosophy that then existed
in the province; for our questions, which were read a week previous
to their discussion, induced us to peruse attentively such books
as were written upon the subjects proposed, that we might be able
to speak upon them more pertinently. We thus acquired the habit of
conversing more agreeably; every object being discussed conformably
to our regulations, and in a manner to prevent mutual disgust. To
this circumstance may be attributed the long duration of the club;
which I shall have frequent occasion to mention as I proceed.

I have introduced it here, as being one of the means on which I had
to count for success in my business, every member exerting himself
to procure work for us. Breintnal, among others, obtained for us,
on the part of the Quakers, the printing of forty sheets of their
history; of which the rest was to be done by Keimer. Our execution
of this work was by no means masterly; as the price was very low.
It was in folio, upon _pro patria_ paper, and in the _pica_ letter,
with heavy notes in the smallest type. I composed a sheet a-day, and
Meredith put it to the press. It was frequently eleven o'clock at
night, sometimes later, before I had finished my distribution for the
next day's task; for the little things which our friends occasionally
sent us, kept us back in this work: but I was so determined to
compose a sheet a-day, that one evening, when my form was imposed,
and my day's work, as I thought, at an end, an accident having broken
this form, and deranged two complete folio pages, I immediately
distributed, and composed them anew before I went to bed.

This unwearied industry, which was perceived by our neighbours,
began to acquire us reputation and credit. I learned, among other
things, that our new printing-house being the subject of conversation
at a club of merchants, who met every evening, it was the general
opinion that it would fail; there being already two printing-houses
in the town, Keimer's and Bradford's. But Dr. Bard, whom you and I
had occasion to see, many years after, at his native town of St.
Andrew's, in Scotland, was of a different opinion. "The industry of
this Franklin, (said he,) is superior to any thing of the kind I
ever witnessed. I see him still at work when I return from the club
at night, and he is at it again in the morning before his neighbours
are out of bed." This account struck the rest of the assembly, and
shortly after, one of its members came to our house, and offered to
supply us with articles of stationary; but we wished not as yet to
embarrass ourselves with keeping a shop. It is not for the sake of
applause that I enter so freely into the particulars of my industry,
but that such of my descendants as shall read these memoirs may know
the use of this virtue, by seeing in the recital of my life the
effects it operated in my favour.

George Webb, having found a friend who lent him the necessary sum to
buy out his time of Keimer, came one day to offer himself to us as
a journeyman. We could not employ him immediately; but I foolishly
told him, under the rose, that I intended shortly to publish a
new periodical paper, and that we should then have work for him.
My hopes of success, which I imparted to him, were founded on the
circumstance, that the only paper we had in Philadelphia at that
time, and which Bradford printed, was a paltry thing, miserably
conducted, in no respect amusing, and which yet was profitable. I
consequently supposed that a good work of this kind could not fail
of success. Webb betrayed my secret to Keimer, who, to prevent me,
immediately published the _prospectus_ of a paper that he intended to
institute himself, and in which Webb was to be engaged.

I was exasperated at this proceeding, and, with a view to counteract
them, not being able at present to institute my own paper, I wrote
some humourous pieces in Bradford's, under the title of the Busy
Body[5]; and which was continued for several months by Breintnal.
I hereby fixed the attention of the public upon Bradford's paper;
and the _prospectus_ of Keimer, which we turned into ridicule, was
treated with contempt. He began, notwithstanding, his paper; and
after continuing it for nine months, having at most not more than
ninety subscribers, he offered it me for a mere trifle. I had for
some time been ready for such an engagement; I therefore instantly
took it upon myself, and, in a few years, it proved extremely
profitable to me.

I perceive that I am apt to speak in the first person, though our
partnership still continued. It is, perhaps, because, in fact, the
whole business devolved upon me. Meredith was no compositor, and
but an indifferent pressman; and it was rarely that he abstained
from hard drinking. My friends were sorry to see me connected with
him; but I contrived to derive from it the utmost advantage the case

Our first number produced no other effect than any other paper
which had appeared in the province, as to type and printing; but
some remarks, in my peculiar style of writing, upon the dispute
which then prevailed between governor Burnet and the Massachusetts
assembly, struck some persons as above mediocrity, caused the paper
and its editors to be talked of, and in a few weeks, induced them to
become our subscribers. Many others followed their example; and our
subscription continued to increase. This was one of the first good
effects of the pains I had taken to learn to put my ideas on paper. I
derived this farther advantage from it, that the leading men of the
place, seeing in the author of this publication a man so well able
to use his pen, thought it right to patronize and encourage me.

The votes, laws, and other public pieces, were printed by Bradford.
An address of the house of assembly to the governor had been executed
by him in a very coarse and incorrect manner. We reprinted it
with accuracy and neatness, and sent a copy to every member. They
perceived the difference; and it so strengthened the influence of our
friends in the assembly, that we were nominated its printer for the
following year.

Among these friends I ought not to forget one member in particular,
Mr. Hamilton, whom I have mentioned in a former part of my narrative,
and who was now returned from England. He warmly interested
himself for me on this occasion, as he did likewise on many others
afterwards; having continued his kindness to me till his death.

About this period Mr. Vernon reminded me of the debt I owed him, but
without pressing me for payment. I wrote a handsome letter on the
occasion, begging him to wait a little longer, to which he consented;
and as soon as I was able I paid him, principal and interest, with
many expressions of gratitude; so that this error of my life was in a
manner atoned for.

But another trouble now happened to me, which I had not the smallest
reason to expect. Meredith's father, who, according to our agreement,
was to defray the whole expence of our printing materials, had
only paid a hundred pounds. Another hundred was still due, and the
merchant being tired of waiting, commenced a suit against us. We
bailed the action, but with the melancholy prospect, that, if the
money was not forthcoming at the time fixed, the affair would come
to issue, judgment be put in execution, our delightful hopes be
annihilated, and ourselves entirely ruined; as the type and press
must be sold, perhaps, at half their value, to pay the debt.

In this distress, two real friends, whose generous conduct I
have never forgotten, and never shall forget while I retain the
remembrance of any thing, came to me separately, without the
knowledge of each other, and without my having applied to either of
them. Each offered me whatever money might be necessary to take the
business into my own hands, if the thing was practicable, as they
did not like I should continue in partnership with Meredith, who,
they said, was frequently seen drunk in the streets, and gambling
at ale-houses, which very much injured our credit. These friends
were William Coleman and Robert Grace. I told them, that while there
remained any probability that the Merediths would fulfil their part
of the compact, I could not propose a separation, as I conceived
myself to be under obligations to them for what they had done
already, and were still disposed to do, if they had the power; but,
in the end, should they fail in their engagement, and our partnership
be dissolved, I should then think myself at liberty to accept the
kindness of my friends.

Things remained for some time in this state. At last, I said one
day to my partner, "Your father is, perhaps, dissatisfied with your
having a share only in the business, and is unwilling to do for two,
what he would do for you alone. Tell me frankly if that be the case,
and I will resign the whole to you, and do for myself as well as I
can."--"No, (said he,) my father has really been disappointed in his
hopes; he is not able to pay, and I wish to put him to no farther
inconvenience. I see that I am not at all calculated for a printer;
I was educated as a farmer, and it was absurd in me to come here,
at thirty years of age, and bind myself apprentice to a new trade.
Many of my countrymen are going to settle in North Carolina, where
the soil is exceedingly favourable. I am tempted to go with them,
and to resume my former occupation. You will doubtless find friends
who will assist you. If you will take upon yourself the debts of the
partnership, return my father the hundred pounds he has advanced, pay
my little personal debts, and give me thirty pounds and a new saddle,
I will renounce the partnership, and consign over the whole stock to

I accepted this proposal without hesitation. It was committed to
paper, and signed and sealed without delay. I gave him what he
demanded, and he departed soon after for Carolina, from whence he
sent me, in the following year, two long letters, containing the best
accounts that had yet been given of that country, as to climate,
soil, agriculture, &c. for he was well versed in these matters. I
published them in my newspaper, and they were received with great

As soon as he was gone, I applied to my two friends, and not wishing
to give a disobliging preference to either of them, I accepted
from each, half what he had offered me, and which it was necessary
I should have. I paid the partnership debts, and continued the
business on my own account; taking care to inform the public, by
advertisement, of the partnership being dissolved. This was, I
think, in the year 1729, or thereabout.

Nearly at the same period, the people demanded a new emission of
paper money; the existing and only one that had taken place in the
province, and which amounted to fifteen thousand pounds, being soon
to expire. The wealthy inhabitants, prejudiced against every sort of
paper currency, from the fear of its depreciation, of which there
had been an instance in the province of New England, to the injury
of its holders, strongly opposed the measure. We had discussed this
affair in our Junto, in which I was on the side of the new emission;
convinced that the first small sum, fabricated in 1723, had done
much good in the province, by favouring commerce, industry, and
population, since all the houses were now inhabited, and many others
building; whereas I remembered to have seen, when I first paraded
the streets of Philadelphia eating my roll, the majority of those
in Walnut-street, Second-street, Fourth-street, as well as a great
number in Chesnut and other streets, with papers on them signifying
that they were to be let; which made me think at the time that the
inhabitants of the town were deserting it one after another.

Our debates made me so fully master of the subject, that I wrote
and published an anonymous pamphlet, entitled, "An Enquiry into the
Nature and Necessity of a Paper currency." It was very well received
by the lower and middling class of people; but it displeased the
opulent, as it increased the clamour in favour of the new emission.
Having, however, no writer among them capable of answering it,
their opposition became less violent; and there being in the house
of assembly a majority for the measure, it passed. The friends I
had acquired in the house, persuaded that I had done the country
essential service on this occasion, rewarded me by giving me the
printing of the bills. It was a lucrative employment, and proved a
very seasonable help to me; another advantage which I derived from
having habituated myself to write.

Time and experience so fully demonstrated the utility of paper
currency, that it never after experienced any considerable
opposition; so that it soon amounted to 55,000_l._ and in the year
1739, to 80,000_l._ It has since risen, during the last war, to
350,000_l._, trade, buildings and population, having in the interval
continually increased: but I am now convinced that there are limits
beyond which paper money would be prejudicial.

I soon after obtained, by the influence of my friend Hamilton, the
printing of the Newcastle paper money, another profitable work,
as I then thought it, little things appearing great to persons of
moderate fortune; and they were really great to me, as proving great
encouragements. He also procured me the printing of the laws and
votes of that government, which I retained as long as I continued in
the business.

I now opened a small stationer's shop. I kept bonds and agreements of
all kinds, drawn up in a more accurate form than had yet been seen in
that part of the world; a work in which I was assisted by my friend
Breintnal. I had also paper, parchment, pasteboard, books, &c. One
Whitemash, an excellent compositor, whom I had known in London, came
to offer himself, I engaged him: and he continued constantly and
diligently to work with me. I also took an apprentice, the son of
Aquila Rose.

I began to pay, by degrees, the debt I had contracted; and, in order
to insure my credit and character as a tradesman, I took care not
only to be _really_ industrious and frugal, but also to avoid every
appearance of the contrary. I was plainly dressed, and never seen in
any place of public amusement. I never went a fishing or hunting. A
book, indeed, enticed me sometimes from my work, but it was seldom,
by stealth, and occasioned no scandal; and to show that I did not
think myself above my profession, I conveyed home, sometimes in a
wheelbarrow, the paper I purchased at the warehouses.

I thus obtained the reputation of being an industrious young man, and
very punctual in his payments. The merchants who imported articles
of stationary solicited my custom; others offered to furnish me with
books, and my little trade went on prosperously.

Meanwhile the credit and business of Keimer diminishing every day,
he was at last forced to sell his stock to satisfy his creditors;
and he betook himself to Barbadoes, where he lived for sometime in
a very impoverished state. His apprentice, David Harry, whom I had
instructed while I worked for Keimer, having bought his materials,
succeeded him in the business. I was apprehensive, at first, of
finding in Harry a powerful competitor, as he was allied to an
opulent and respectable family; I therefore proposed a partnership,
which, happily for me, he rejected with disdain. He was extremely
proud, thought himself a fine gentleman, lived extravagantly, and
pursued amusements which suffered him to be scarcely ever at home; of
consequence he became in debt, neglected his business, and business
neglected him. Finding in a short time nothing to do in the country,
he followed Keimer to Barbadoes, carrying his printing materials with
him. There the apprentice employed his old master as a journeyman.
They were continually quarrelling; and Harry still getting in debt,
was obliged at last to sell his press and types, and return to his
old occupation of husbandry in Pennsylvania. The person who purchased
them employed Keimer to manage the business; but he died a few years

I had now at Philadelphia no competitor but Bradford, who, being in
easy circumstances, did not engage in the printing of books, except
now and then as workmen chanced to offer themselves; and was not
anxious to extend his trade. He had, however, one advantage over me,
as he had the direction of the post-office, and was of consequence
supposed to have better opportunities of obtaining news. His paper
was also supposed to be more advantageous to advertising customers;
and in consequence of that supposition, his advertisements were
much more numerous than mine: this was a source of great profit to
him, and disadvantageous to me. It was to no purpose that I really
procured other papers, and distributed my own, by means of the post;
the public took for granted my inability in this respect; and I was
indeed unable to conquer it in any other mode than by bribing the
post-boys, who served me only by stealth, Bradford being so illiberal
as to forbid them. This treatment of his excited my resentment; and
my disgust was so rooted, that, when I afterwards succeeded him in
the post-office, I took care to avoid copying his example.

I had hitherto continued to board with Godfrey, who, with his wife
and children, occupied part of my house, and half of the shop for
his business; at which indeed he worked very little, being always
absorbed by mathematics. Mrs. Godfrey formed a wish of marrying
me to the daughter of one of her relations. She contrived various
opportunities of bringing us together, till she saw that I was
captivated; which was not difficult, the lady in question possessing
great personal merit. The parents encouraged my addresses, by
inviting me continually to supper, and leaving us together, till at
last it was time to come to an explanation. Mrs. Godfrey undertook
to negociate our little treaty. I gave her to understand, that I
expected to receive with the young lady a sum of money that would
enable me at least to discharge the remainder of the debt for my
printing materials. It was then, I believe, not more than a hundred
pounds. She brought me for answer, that they had no such sum at their
disposal. I observed that it might easily be obtained, by a mortgage
on their house. The reply to this was, after a few days interval,
that they did not approve of the match; that they had consulted
Bradford, and found that the business of a printer was not lucrative;
that my letters would soon be worn out, and must be supplied with new
ones; that Keimer and Harry had failed, and that, probably, I should
do so too. Accordingly they forbade me the house, and the young lady
was confined. I know not if they had really changed their minds, or
if it was merely an artifice, supposing our affections to be too
far engaged for us to desist, and that we should contrive to marry
secretly, which would leave them at liberty to give or not as they
pleased. But, suspecting this motive, I never went again to their

Some time after, Mrs. Godfrey informed me that they were very
favourably disposed towards me, and wished me to renew the
acquaintance; but I declared a firm resolution never to have any
thing more to do with the family. The Godfreys expressed some
resentment at this: and as we could no longer agree, they changed
their residence, leaving me in possession of the whole house. I
then resolved to take no more lodgers. This affair having turned
my thoughts to marriage, I looked around me, and made overtures of
alliance in other quarters: but I soon found that the profession of a
printer being generally looked upon as a poor trade, I could expect
no money with a wife, at least, if I wished her to possess any other
charm. Meanwhile, that passion of youth, so difficult to govern, had
often drawn me into intrigues with despicable women who fell in my
way; which were not unaccompanied with expence and inconvenience,
besides the perpetual risk of injuring my health, and catching a
disease which I dreaded above all things. But I was fortunate enough
to escape this danger.

As a neighbour and old acquaintance, I had kept up a friendly
intimacy with the family of Miss Read. Her parents had retained
an affection for me from the time of my lodging in their house. I
was often invited thither; they consulted me about their affairs,
and I had been sometimes serviceable to them. I was touched with
the unhappy situation of their daughter, who was almost always
melancholy, and continually seeking solitude. I regarded my
forgetfulness and inconstancy, during my abode in London, as the
principal cause of her misfortune, though her mother had the candour
to attribute the fault to herself, rather than to me, because after
having prevented our marriage previously to my departure, she had
induced her to marry another in my absence.

Our mutual affection revived; but there existed great obstacles
to our union. Her marriage was considered, indeed, as not being
valid, the man having, it was said, a former wife still living in
England; but of this it was difficult to obtain a proof at so great
a distance; and though a report prevailed of his being dead, yet we
had no certainty of it; and supposing it to be true, he had left
many debts, for the payment of which his successor might be sued. We
ventured, nevertheless, in spite of all these difficulties; and I
married her on the 1st of September, 1730. None of the inconveniences
we had feared happened to us. She proved to me a good and faithful
companion, and contributed essentially to the success of my shop. We
prospered together, and it was our mutual study to render each other
happy. Thus I corrected, as well as I could, this great error of my

Our club was not at that time established at a tavern. We held our
meetings at the house of Mr. Grace, who appropriated a room to
the purpose. Some member observed one day, that as our books were
frequently quoted in the course of our discussions, it would be
convenient to have them collected in the room in which we assembled,
in order to be consulted upon occasion; and that, by thus forming a
common library of our individual collections, each would have the
advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would
nearly be the same as if he possessed them all himself. The idea
was approved, and we accordingly brought such books as we thought
we could spare, which were placed at the end of the club-room.
They amounted not to so many as we expected; and through we made
considerable use of them, yet some inconveniences resulting, from
want of care, it was agreed, after about a year, to discontinue the
collection; and each took away such books as belonged to him.

It was now that I first started the idea of establishing, by
subscription, a public library, I drew up the proposals, had them
ingrossed in form by Brockden the attorney, and my project succeeded,
as will be seen in the sequel.

  [The life of Dr. Franklin, as written by himself, so far as it
  has yet been communicated to the world, breaks off in this place.
  We understand that it was continued by him somewhat farther,
  and we hope that the remainder will, at some future period, be
  communicated to the public. We have no hesitation in supposing that
  every reader will find himself greatly interested by the frank
  simplicity and the philosophical discernment by which these pages
  are so eminently characterized. We have therefore thought proper,
  in order as much as possible to relieve his regret, to subjoin the
  following continuation, by one of the Doctor's intimate friends.
  It is extracted from an American periodical publication, and was
  written by the late Dr. Stuber,[6] of Philadelphia.]

The promotion of literature had been little attended to in
Pennsylvania. Most of the inhabitants were too much immersed in
business to think of scientific pursuits; and those few, whose
inclinations led them to study, found it difficult to gratify them,
from the want of libraries sufficiently large. In such circumstances,
the establishment of a public library was an important event. This
was first set on foot by Franklin, about the year 1731. Fifty persons
subscribed forty shillings each, and agreed to pay ten shillings
annually. The number increased; and in 1742, the company was
incorporated by the name of "The Library Company of Philadelphia."
Several other companies were formed in this city in imitation of
it. These were all at length united with the Library Company of
Philadelphia, which thus received a considerable accession of books
and property. It now contains about eight thousand volumes on all
subjects, a philosophical apparatus, and a well-chosen collection of
natural and artificial curiosities. For its support the company now
possesses landed property of considerable value. They have lately
built an elegant house in Fifth-street, in the front of which will be
erected a marble statue of their founder, Benjamin Franklin.

This institution was greatly encouraged by the friends of literature
in America and in Great Britain. The Penn family distinguished
themselves by their donations. Amongst the earliest friends of
this institution must be mentioned the late Peter Collinson,
the friend and correspondent of Dr. Franklin. He not only made
considerable presents himself, and obtained others from his friends,
but voluntarily undertook to manage the business of the Company
in London, recommending books, purchasing and shipping them. His
extensive knowledge, and zeal for the promotion of science, enabled
him to execute this important trust with the greatest advantage.
He continued to perform these services for more than thirty years,
and uniformly refused to accept of any compensation. During this
time, he communicated to the directors every information relative to
improvements and discoveries in the arts, agriculture, and philosophy.

The beneficial influence of this institution was soon evident. The
terms of subscription to it were so moderate that it was accessible
to every one. Its advantages were not confined to the opulent. The
citizens in the middle and lower walks of life were equally partakers
of them. Hence a degree of information was extended amongst all
classes of people. The example was soon followed. Libraries were
established in various places, and they are now become very numerous
in the United States, and particularly in Pennsylvania. It is to
be hoped that they will be still more widely extended, and that
information will be every where increased. This will be the best
security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well informed
men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has
given them, cannot be enslaved. It is in the regions of ignorance
that tyranny reigns. It flies before the light of science. Let the
citizens of America, then, encourage institutions calculated to
diffuse knowledge amongst the people; and amongst these, public
libraries are not the least important.

In 1732, Franklin began to publish Poor Richard's Almanack. This
was remarkable for the numerous and valuable concise maxims which
it contained, all tending to exhort to industry and frugality. It
was continued for many years. In the almanack for the last year, all
the maxims were collected in an address to the reader, entitled, The
Way to Wealth. This has been translated into various languages, and
inserted in different publications. It has also been printed on a
large sheet, and may be seen framed in many houses in this city. This
address contains, perhaps, the best practical system of economy that
ever has appeared. It is written in a manner intelligible to every
one, and which cannot fail of convincing every reader of the justice
and propriety of the remarks and advice which it contains. The demand
for this almanack was so great, that ten thousand have been sold in
one year; which must be considered as a very large number, especially
when we reflect, that this country was, at that time, but thinly
peopled. It cannot be doubted that the salutary maxims contained in
these almanacks must have made a favourable impression upon many of
the readers of them.

It was not long before Franklin entered upon his political career.
In the year 1736, he was appointed clerk to the general assembly
of Pennsylvania, and was re-elected by succeeding assemblies for
several years, until he was chosen a representative for the city of

Bradford, the printer, mentioned above, was possessed of some
advantages over Franklin, by being post-master, thereby having an
opportunity of circulating his paper more extensively, and thus
rendering it a better vehicle for advertisements, &c. Franklin, in
his turn, enjoyed these advantages, by being appointed post-master
of Philadelphia in 1737. Bradford, while in office, had acted
ungenerously towards Franklin, preventing as much as possible the
circulation of his paper. He had now an opportunity of retaliating;
but his nobleness of soul prevented him from making use of it.

The police of Philadelphia had early appointed watchmen, whose duty
it was to guard the citizens against the midnight robber, and to
give an immediate alarm in case of fire. This duty is, perhaps, one
of the most important that can be committed to any set of men. The
regulations, however, were not sufficiently strict. Franklin saw the
dangers arising from this cause, and suggested an alteration, so as
to oblige the guardians of the night to be more watchful over the
lives and property of the citizens. The propriety of this was
immediately perceived, and a reform was effected.

There is nothing more dangerous to growing cities than fires. Other
causes operate slowly, and almost imperceptibly; but these in a
moment render abortive the labours of ages. On this account there
should be, in all cities, ample provisions to prevent fires from
spreading. Franklin early saw the necessity of these; and, about
the year 1728, formed the first fire company in this city. The
example was soon followed by others; and there are now numerous fire
companies in the city and liberties. To these may be attributed in
a great degree the activity in extinguishing fires, for which the
citizens of Philadelphia are distinguished, and the inconsiderable
damage this city has sustained from this cause. Some time after,
Franklin suggested the plan for an association for insuring houses
from losses by fire, which was adopted; and the association continues
to this day. The advantages experienced from it have been great.

From the first settlement of Pennsylvania, a spirit of dispute
appears to have prevailed among its inhabitants. During the life-time
of William Penn, the constitution had been three times altered. After
this period the history of Pennsylvania is little else than a recital
of the quarrels between the proprietaries, or their governors,
and the assembly. The proprietaries contended for the right of
exempting their land from taxes; to which the assembly would by no
means consent. This subject of dispute interfered in almost every
question, and prevented the most salutary laws from being enacted.
This at times subjected the people to great inconveniences. In the
year 1774, during a war between France and Great Britain, some
French and Indians had made inroads upon the frontier inhabitants
of the province, who were unprovided for such an attack. It became
necessary that the citizens should arm for their defence. Governor
Thomas recommended to the assembly, who were then sitting, to pass
a militia law. To this they would agree only upon condition, that
he should give his assent to certain laws, which appeared to them
calculated to promote the interests of the people. As he thought
these laws would be injurious to the proprietaries, he refused his
assent to them; and the assembly broke up without passing a militia
bill. The situation of the province was at this time truly alarming:
exposed to the continual inroad of an enemy, and destitute of every
means of defence. At this crisis Franklin stepped forth, and proposed
to a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia, a plan of a voluntary
association for the defence of the province. This was approved
of, and signed by twelve hundred persons immediately. Copies were
circulated without delay through the province; and in a short time
the number of signatures amounted to ten thousand. Franklin was
chosen colonel of the Philadelphia regiment; but he did not think
proper to accept of the honour.

Pursuits of a different nature now occupied the greatest part of
his attention for some years. He engaged in a course of electrical
experiments, with all the ardor and thirst for discovery which
characterized the philosophers of that day. Of all the branches of
experimental philosophy, electricity had been least explored. The
attractive power of amber is mentioned by Theophrastus and Pliny,
and from them, by later naturalists. In the year 1600, Gilbert, an
English physician, enlarged considerably the catalogue of substances
which have the property of attracting light bodies. Boyle, Otto
Guericke, a burgomaster of Magdeburg, celebrated as the inventor
of the air-pump, Dr. Wall, and Sir Isaac Newton added some facts.
Guericke first observed the repulsive power of electricity, and the
light and noise produced by it. In 1709, Hawkesbec communicated
some important observations and experiments to the world. For
several years electricity was entirely neglected, until Mr. Grey
applied himself to it, in 1728, with great assiduity. He and his
friend Mr. Wheeler, made a great variety of experiments, in which
they demonstrated, that electricity may be communicated from one
body to another, even without being in contact, and in this way may
be conducted to a great distance. Mr. Grey afterwards found, that,
by suspending rods of iron by silk or hair lines, and bringing
an excited tube under them, sparks might be drawn, and a light
perceived at the extremities in the dark. M. du Faye, intendant
of the French king's gardens, made a number of experiments, which
added not a little to the science. He made the discovery of two
kinds of electricity, which he called _vitreous_ and _resinous_; the
former produced by rubbing glass, the latter from excited sulphur,
sealing-wax, &c. But this he afterwards gave up as erroneous. Between
the years 1739 and 1742, Desaguliers made a number of experiments,
but added little of importance. He first used the terms _conductors_
and _electrics per se_. In 1742, several ingenious Germans engaged
in this subject, of these the principal were, professor Boze
of Wittemberg, professor Winkler of Leipsic, Gordon, a Scotch
Benedictine monk, professor of philosophy at Erfurt, and Dr. Ludolf,
of Berlin. The result of their researches astonished the philosophers
of Europe. Their apparatus was large, and by means of it they were
enabled to collect large quantities of the electric fluid, and thus
to produce phenomena which had been hitherto unobserved. They killed
small birds, and set spirits on fire. Their experiments excited the
curiosity of other philosophers. Collinson, about the year 1745,
sent to the Library Company of Philadelphia, an account of these
experiments, together with a tube, and directions how to use it.
Franklin, with some of his friends, immediately engaged in a course
of experiments, the result of which is well known. He was enabled
to make a number of important discoveries, and to propose theories
to account for various phenomena, which have been universally
adopted, and which bid fair to endure for ages. His observations
he communicated in a series of letters, to his friend Collinson,
the first of which is dated March 28, 1747. In these he shews the
power of points in drawing and throwing off the electrical matter,
which had hitherto escaped the notice of electricians. He also made
the grand discovery of a _plus_ and _minus_, or of a _positive_ and
_negative_ state of electricity. We give him the honour of this,
without hesitation; although the English have claimed it for their
countryman, Dr. Watson. Watson's paper is dated January 21, 1748;
Franklin's July 11, 1747: several months prior. Shortly after,
Franklin, from his principles of the plus and minus state, explained,
in a satisfactory manner, the phenomena of the Leyden phial, first
observed by Mr. Cuneus, or by professor Muschenbroeck, of Leyden,
which had much perplexed philosophers. He shewed clearly, that when
charged, the bottle contained no more electricity than before, but
that as much was taken from one side as was thrown on the other;
and that, to discharge it, nothing was necessary but to produce a
communication between the two sides, by which the equilibrium might
be restored, and that then no signs of electricity would remain.
He afterwards demonstrated, by experiments, that the electricity
did not reside in the coating, as had been supposed, but in the
pores of the glass itself. After a phial was charged, he removed
the coating, and found that upon applying a new coating, the shock
might still be received. In the year 1749, he first suggested his
idea of explaining the phenomena of thunder-gusts, and of the aurora
borealis, upon electrical principles. He points out many particulars
in which lightning and electricity agree; and he adduces many
facts, and reasonings from facts, in support of his positions. In
the same year he conceived the astonishingly bold and grand idea of
ascertaining the truth of his doctrine, by actually drawing down
the lightning, by means of sharp-pointed iron rods, raised into the
region of the clouds. Even in this uncertain state, his passion
to be useful to mankind, displayed itself in a powerful manner.
Admitting the identity of electricity and lightning, and knowing the
power of points in repelling bodies charged with electricity, and in
conducting their fire silently and imperceptibly, he suggested the
idea of securing houses, ships, &c. from being damaged by lightning,
by erecting pointed rods, that should rise some feet above the most
elevated part, and descend some feet into the ground or the water.
The effect of these, he concluded, would be either to present a
stroke by repelling the cloud beyond the striking distance, or by
drawing off the electrical fire which it contained; or, if they could
not effect this, they would at least conduct the electric matter to
the earth, without any injury to the building.

It was not until the summer of 1752, that he was enabled to complete
his grand and unparalleled discovery by experiment. The plan, which
he had originally proposed, was, to erect on some high tower, or
other elevated place, a centry-box, from which should rise a pointed
iron rod, insulated by being fixed in a cake of resin. Electrified
clouds passing over this, would, he conceived, impart to it a
portion of their electricity, which would be rendered evident to the
senses by sparks being emitted, when a key, the knuckle, or other
conductor was presented to it. Philadelphia at this time afforded
no opportunity of trying an experiment of this kind. While Franklin
was waiting for the erection of a spire, it occurred to him that he
might have more ready access to the region of clouds by means of a
common kite. He prepared one by fastening two cross sticks to a silk
handkerchief, which would not suffer so much from the rain as paper.
To the upright stick was affixed an iron point. The string was, as
usual, of hemp, except the lower end, which was silk. Where the
hempen string terminated, a key was fastened. With this apparatus, on
the appearance of a thunder-gust approaching, he went out into the
commons, accompanied by his son, to whom alone he communicated his
intentions, well knowing the ridicule which, too generally for the
interest of science, awaits unsuccessful experiments in philosophy.
He placed himself under a shade, to avoid the rain--his kite was
raised--a thunder-cloud passed over it--no sign of electricity
appeared. He almost despaired of success, when, suddenly, he observed
the loose fibres of his string to move towards an erect position. He
now presented his knuckle to the key, and received a strong spark.
How exquisite must his sensations have been at this moment! On this
experiment depended the fate of his theory. If he succeeded, his
name would rank high among those who had improved science; if he
failed, he must inevitably be subjected to the derision of mankind,
or, what is worse, their pity, as a well-meaning man, but a weak,
silly projector. The anxiety with which he looked for the result
of his experiment, may be easily conceived. Doubts and despair
had begun to prevail, when the fact was ascertained in so clear a
manner, that even the most incredulous could no longer withhold
their assent.--Repeated sparks were drawn from the key, a phial
was charged, a shock given, and all the experiments made which are
usually performed with electricity.

About a month before this period, some ingenious Frenchman had
completed the discovery in the manner originally proposed by Dr.
Franklin. The letters which he sent to Mr. Collinson, it is said,
were refused a place in the Transactions of the Royal Society of
London. However this may be, Collinson published them in a separate
volume, under the title of "New Experiments and Observations on
Electricity, made at Philadelphia, in America." They were read
with avidity, and soon translated into different languages. A very
incorrect French translation fell into the hands of the celebrated
Buffon, who, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which the work
laboured, was much pleased with it, and repeated the experiments
with success. He prevailed on his friend, M. D'Alibard, to give his
countrymen a more correct translation of the works of the American
electrician. This contributed much towards spreading a knowledge
of Franklin's principles in France. The king, Louis XV., hearing
of these experiments, expressed a wish to be a spectator of them.
A course of experiments was given at the seat of the D'Ayen, at
St. Germain, by M. de Lor. The applauses which the king bestowed
upon Franklin, excited in Buffon, D'Alibard, and De Lor, an earnest
desire of ascertaining the truth of his theory of thunder-gusts.
Buffon erected his apparatus on the tower of Montbar, M. D'Alibard
at Marly-la-ville, and De Lor at his house in the _Estrapade_ at
Paris, some of the highest ground in that capital. D'Alibard's
machine first shewed signs of electricity. On the 10th of May, 1752,
a thunder cloud passed over it, in the absence of M. D'Alibard, and
a number of sparks were drawn from it by Coiffier, joiner, with whom
D'Alibard had left directions how to proceed, and by M. Raulet, the
prior of Marly-la-ville. An account of this experiment was given to
the Royal Academy of Sciences, by M. D'Alibard, in a Memoir dated May
13th, 1752. On the 18th of May, M. de Lor proved equally successful
with the apparatus erected at his own house. These philosophers soon
excited those of other parts of Europe to repeat the experiment;
amongst whom, none signalised themselves more than Father Beccaria,
of Turin, to whose observations science is much indebted. Even the
cold regions of Russia were penetrated by the ardor for discovery.
Professor Richman bade fair to add much to the stock of knowledge on
this subject, when an unfortunate flash from his conductor, put a
period to his existence. The friends of science will long remember
with regret, the amiable martyr to electricity.

By these experiments Franklin's theory was established in the
most convincing manner. When the truth of it could no longer
be doubted, envy and vanity endeavoured to detract from its
merit. That an American, an inhabitant of the obscure city of
Philadelphia, the name of which was hardly known, should be able
to make discoveries, and to frame theories, which had escaped
the notice of the enlightened philosophers of Europe, was too
mortifying to be admitted. He must certainly have taken the idea
from some one else. An American, a being of an inferior order, make
discoveries!--Impossible. It was said, that the Abbé Nollet, 1748,
had suggested the idea of the similarity of lightning and electricity
in his _Leçons de Physique_. It is true that the Abbé mentions the
idea, but he throws it out as a bare conjecture, and proposes no
mode of ascertaining the truth of it. He himself acknowledges, that
Franklin first entertained the bold thought of bringing lightning
from the heavens, by means of pointed rods fixed in the air. The
similarity of lightning and electricity is so strong, that we need
not be surprised at notice being taken of it, as soon as electrical
phenomena became familiar. We find it mentioned by Dr. Wall and
Mr. Grey, while the science was in its infancy. But the honour of
forming a regular theory of thunder-gusts, of suggesting a mode of
determining the truth of it by experiments, and of putting these
experiments in practice, and thus establishing the theory upon a firm
and solid basis, is incontestibly due to Franklin. D'Alibard, who
made the first experiments in France, says, that he only followed the
tract which Franklin had pointed out.

It has been of late asserted, that the honour of completing the
experiment with the electrical kite, does not belong to Franklin.
Some late English paragraphs have attributed it to some Frenchman,
whose name they do not mention; and the Abbé Bertholon gives it to M.
de Romas, assessor to the presideal of Nerac; the English paragraphs
probably refer to the same person. But a very slight attention will
convince us of the injustice of this procedure: Dr. Franklin's
experiment was made in June 1752; and his letter, giving an account
of it, is dated October 19, 1752. M. de Romas made his first attempt
on the 14th of May, 1753, but was not successful until the 7th of
June; a year after Franklin had completed the discovery, and when it
was known to all the philosophers in Europe.

Besides these great principles, Franklin's letters on electricity
contain a number of facts and hints, which have contributed greatly
towards reducing this branch of knowledge to a science. His friend
Mr. Kinnersley communicated to him a discovery of the different
kinds of electricity, excited by rubbing glass and sulphur. This,
we have said, was first observed by M. Du Faye; but it was for many
years neglected. The philosophers were disposed to account for the
phenomena, rather from a difference in the quantity of electricity
collected, and even Du Faye himself seems at last to have adopted
this doctrine. Franklin at first entertained the same idea; but upon
repeating the experiments, he perceived that Mr. Kinnersley was
right; and that the _vitreous_ and _resinous_ electricity of du Faye
were nothing more than the _positive_, and _negative_ states which he
had before observed; and that the glass globe charged _positively_ or
increased the quantity of electricity on the prime conductor, while
the globe of sulphur diminished its natural quantity, or charged
_negatively_. These experiments and observations opened a new field
for investigation, upon which electricians entered with avidity; and
their labours have added much to the stock of our knowledge.

In September, 1752, Franklin entered upon a course of experiments,
to determine the state of electricity in the clouds. From a number
of experiments he formed this conclusion:--"That the clouds of a
thunder-gust are most commonly in a negative state of electricity,
but sometimes in a positive state;" and from this it follows, as a
necessary consequence, "that, for the most part, in thunder-strokes,
it is the earth that strikes into the clouds, and not the clouds that
strike into the earth." The letter containing these observations is
dated in September, 1753; and yet the discovery of ascending thunder
has been said to be of a modern date, and has been attributed to the
Abbé Bertholon, who published his memoir on the subject in 1776.

Franklin's letters have been translated into most of the European
languages, and into Latin. In proportion as they have become known,
his principles have been adopted. Some opposition was made to his
theories, particularly by the Abbé Nollet, who was, however, but
feebly supported, while the first philosophers in Europe stepped
forth in defence of Franklin's principles, amongst whom D'Alibard and
Beccaria were the most distinguished. The opposition has gradually
ceased, and the Franklinian system is now universally adopted, where
science flourishes.

The important practical use which Franklin made of his discoveries,
the securing of houses from injury by lightning, has been already
mentioned. Pointed conductors are now very common in America; but
prejudice has hitherto prevented their general introduction into
Europe, notwithstanding the most undoubted proofs of their utility
have been given. But mankind can with difficulty be brought to lay
aside practices, or to adopt new ones. And perhaps we have more
reason, to be surprised, that a practice however rational, which was
proposed about forty years ago, should in that time have been adopted
in so many places, than that it has not universally prevailed. It is
only by degrees that the great body of mankind can be led into new
practices, however salutary their tendency. It is now nearly eighty
years since inoculation was introduced into Europe and America; and
it is so far from being general at present, that it will, require one
or two centuries to render it so.

In the year 1745, Franklin published an account of his new-invented
Pennsylvania fire-places, in which he minutely and accurately states
the advantages of different kinds of fire-places; and endeavours to
show that the one which he describes is to be preferred to any other.
This contrivance has given rise to the open stoves now in general
use, which, however, differ from it in construction, particularly in
not having an air-box at the back, through which a constant supply of
air, warmed in its passage, is thrown into the room. The advantages
of this are, that as a stream of warm air is continually flowing into
the room, less fuel is necessary to preserve a proper temperature,
and the room may be so tightened as that no air may enter through
cracks--the consequence of which are colds, tooth-aches, &c.

Although philosophy was a principal object of Franklin's pursuit for
several years, he confined himself not to this. In the year 1747, he
became a member of the general assembly of Pennsylvania, as a burgess
for the city of Philadelphia. Warm disputes subsisted at this time
between the assembly and the proprietaries; each contending for
what they conceived to be their just rights. Franklin, a friend to
the rights of man from his infancy, soon distinguished himself as a
steady opponent of the unjust schemes of the proprietaries. He was
soon looked up to as the head of the opposition; and to him have
been attributed many of the spirited replies of the assembly, to the
messages of the governors. His influence in the body was very great.
This arose not from any superior powers of eloquence; he spoke but
seldom, and he never was known to make any thing like an elaborate
harangue. His speeches often consisted of a single sentence, or
of a well-told story, the moral of which was always obviously to
the point. He never attempted the flowery fields of oratory. His
manner was plain and mild. His style in speaking was, like that of
his writings, simple, unadorned, and remarkably concise. With this
plain manner, and his penetrating and solid judgment, he was able to
confound the most eloquent and subtle of his adversaries, to confirm
the opinions of his friends, and to make converts of the unprejudiced
who had opposed him. With a single observation, he has rendered of no
avail an elegant and lengthy discourse, and determined the fate of a
question of importance.

But he was not contented with thus supporting the rights of the
people. He wished to render them permanently secure, which can
only be done by making their value properly known; and this must
depend upon increasing and extending information to every class of
men. We have already seen that he was the founder of the public
library, which contributed greatly towards improving the minds
of the citizens. But this was not sufficient. The schools then
subsisting were in general of little utility. The teachers were men
ill qualified for the important duty which they had undertaken; and,
after all, nothing more could be obtained than the rudiments of a
common English education. Franklin drew up a plan of an academy, to
be erected in the city of Philadelphia, suited to "the state of an
infant country;" but in this, as in all his plans, he confined not
his views to the present time only. He looked forward to the period
when an institution on an enlarged plan would become necessary. With
this view, he considered his academy as "a foundation for posterity
to erect a seminary of learning more extensive, and suitable to
future circumstances." In pursuance of this plan, the constitutions
were drawn up and signed on the 13th of November, 1749. In these,
twenty-four of the most respectable citizens of Philadelphia were
named as trustees. In the choice of these, and in the formation of
his plan, Franklin is said to have consulted chiefly with Thomas
Hopkinson, Esq; the Rev. Richard Peters, then secretary of the
province, Tench Francis, Esq. attorney-general, and Dr. Phineas Bond.

The following article shews a spirit of benevolence worthy of
imitation; and, for the honour of our city, we hope that it continues
to be in force.

"In case of the disability of the _rector_, or any master
(established on the foundation by receiving a certain salary) through
sickness, or any other natural infirmity, whereby he may be reduced
to poverty, the trustees shall have power to contribute to his
support, in proportion to his distress and merit, and the stock in
their hands."

The last clause of the fundamental rules is expressed in language so
tender and benevolent, so truly parental, that it will do everlasting
honour to the hearts and heads of the founders.

"It is hoped and expected that the trustees will make it their
pleasure, and in some degree their business, to visit the academy
often; to encourage and countenance the youth, to countenance and
assist the masters, and, by all means in their power, advance the
usefulness and reputation of the design; that they will look on
the students as, in some measure, their own children, treat them
with familiarity and affection; and when they have behaved well,
gone through their studies, and are to enter the world, they shall
zealously unite, and make all the interest that can be made to
promote and establish them, whether in business, offices, marriages,
or any other thing for their advantage, in preference to all other
persons whatsoever, even of equal merit."

The constitutions being signed and made public, with the names of
the gentlemen proposing themselves as trustees and founders, the
design was so well approved of by the public-spirited citizens of
Philadelphia, that the sum of eight hundred pounds per annum, for
five years, was in the course of a few weeks subscribed for carrying
it into execution; and in the beginning of January following (viz.
1750) three of the schools were opened, namely, the Latin and
Greek schools, the Mathematical school, and the English school.
In pursuance of an article in the original plan, a school for
educating sixty boys and thirty girls (in the charter since called
the Charitable School) was opened; and amidst all the difficulties
with which the trustees have struggled in respect to their funds,
has still been continued full for the space of forty years; so that
allowing three years education for each boy and girl admitted into
it, which is the general rule, at least twelve hundred children
have received in it the chief part of their education, who might
otherwise, in a great measure, have been left without the means of
instruction. And many of those who have been thus educated, are now
to be found among the most useful and reputable citizens of this

The institution, thus successfully begun, continued daily to
flourish, to the great satisfaction of Dr. Franklin; who,
notwithstanding the multiplicity of his other engagements and
pursuits, at that busy stage of his life, was a constant attendant
at the monthly visitations and examinations of the schools, and made
it his particular study, by means of his extensive correspondence
abroad, to advance the reputation of the seminary, and to draw
students and scholars to it from different parts of America and
the West Indies. Through the interposition of his benevolent and
learned friend, Peter Collinson, of London, upon the application
of the trustees, a charter of incorporation, dated July 13, 1753,
was obtained from the honourable proprietors of Pennsylvania,
Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, Esqrs. accompanied with a liberal
benefaction of five hundred pounds sterling; and Dr. Franklin now
began in good earnest to please himself with the hopes of a speedy
accomplishment of his original design, viz. the establishment of
a perfect institution, upon the plan of the European colleges and
universities; for which his academy was intended as a nursery or
foundation. To elucidate this fact, is a matter of considerable
importance in respect to the memory and character of Dr. Franklin
as a philosopher, and as the friend and patron of learning and
science; for, notwithstanding what is expressly declared by him in
the preamble to the constitutions, viz. that the academy was begun
for "teaching the Latin and Greek languages, with all useful branches
of the arts and sciences, suitable to the state of an infant country,
and laying a foundation for posterity to erect a seminary of learning
more extensive, and suitable to their future circumstances;" yet it
has been suggested of late, as upon Dr. Franklin's authority, that
the Latin and Greek, or the dead languages, are an incumbrance upon
a scheme of liberal education, and that the engrafting or founding a
college, or more extensive seminary, upon his academy, was without
his approbation or agency, and gave him discontent. If the reverse
of this does not already appear from what has been quoted above,
the following letters will put the matter beyond dispute. They were
written by him to a gentleman, who had at that time published the
idea of a college, suited to the circumstances of a young country
(meaning New-York) a copy of which having been sent to Dr. Franklin
for his opinion, gave rise to that correspondence which terminated
about a year afterwards, in erecting the college upon the foundation
of the academy, and establishing that gentleman at the head of both,
where he still continues, after a period of thirty-six years, to
preside with distinguished reputation.

From these letters also, the state of the academy, at that time, will
be, seen.


[1] As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common name of an
order or rank in England, see Judge Fortesque, _De laudibus legum
Angliæ_, written about the year 1412, in which is the following
passage, to shew that good juries might easily be formed in any part
of England:

"Regio etiam ilia, ita respersa refertaque est _posessoribus
terrarum_ et agrorum, quod in ea, villula tam parva reperiri non
poterit, in qua non est _miles_, _armiger_, vel pater-familias,
qualis ibidem _franklin_ vulgariter nuncupatur, magnis ditatus
possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes et alii _valecti_ plurimi,
suis patrimoniis sufficientes, ad faciendum juratam, in forma

"Moreover, the same country is so filled and replenished with landed
menne, that therein so small a thorpe cannot be found wherein
dwelleth not a knight, an esquire, or such a householder as is there
commonly called a _franklin_, enriched with great possessions; and
also other freeholders and many yeomen, able for their livelihoods to
make a jury in form aforementioned."


Chaucer too, calls his country gentleman a _franklin_; and, after
describing his good housekeeping, thus characterizes him:

    This worthy franklin bore a purse of silk
    Fix'd to his girdle, white as morning milk;
    Knight of the shire, first justice at th' assize,
    To help the poor, the doubtful to advise.
    In all employments, generous, just he prov'd,
    Renown'd for courtesy, by all belov'd.

[2] Town in the island of Nantucket.

[3] Probably the Dunciad, where we find him thus immortalized by the

    Silence, ye wolves, while Ralph to Cynthia howls,
    And makes night hideous--answer him, ye owls!

[4] Printing houses in general are thus denominated by the workmen:
the _spirit_ they call by the name of _Ralph_.

[5] A manuscript note in the file of the American Mercury, preserved
in the Philadelphia library, says, that Franklin wrote the five first
numbers, and part of the eighth.

[6] Dr. Stuber was born in Philadelphia, of German parents. He was
sent, at an early age, to the university, where his genius, diligence
and amiable temper, soon acquired him the particular notice and
favour of those under whose immediate direction he was placed. After
passing through the common course of study, in a much shorter time
than usual, he left the university, at the age of sixteen, with great
reputation. Not long after, he entered on the study of physic; and
the zeal with which he pursued it, and the advances he made, gave
his friends reason to form the most flattering prospects of his
future eminence and usefulness in the profession. As Dr. Stuber's
circumstances were very moderate, he did not think this pursuit well
calculated to improve them. He therefore relinquished it, after he
had obtained a degree in the profession, and qualified himself to
practise with credit and success; and immediately entered on the
study of the law. While in pursuit of the last mentioned object, he
was prevented by a premature death from reaping the fruit of those
talents with which he was endowed, and of a youth spent in the ardent
and successful pursuit of useful and elegant literature.

  "_Philad. April 19th, 1753._


"I received your favour of the 11th instant, with your new[7] piece
on _Education_, which I shall carefully peruse, and give you my
sentiments of it, as you desire, by next post.

"I believe the young gentlemen, your pupils, may be entertained and
instructed here, in mathematics and philosophy, to satisfaction. Mr.
Alison[8] (who was educated at Glasgow) has been long accustomed
to teach the latter, and Mr. Grew[9] the former; and I think their
pupils make great progress. Mr. Alison has the care of the Latin and
Greek school, but as he has now three good assistants,[10] he can
very well afford some hours every day for the instruction of those
who are engaged in higher studies. The mathematical school is pretty
well furnished with instruments. The English library is a good one;
and we have belonging to it a middling apparatus for experimental
philosophy, and propose speedily to complete it. The Loganian
library, one of the best collections in America, will shortly be
opened; so that neither books nor instruments will be wanting; and
as we are determined always to give good salaries, we have reason to
believe we may have always an opportunity of choosing good masters;
upon which indeed, the success of the whole depends. We are obliged
to you for your kind offers in this respect, and when you are settled
in England, we may occasionally make use of your friendship and

"If it suits your conveniency to visit Philadelphia before you return
to Europe, I shall be extremely glad to see and converse with you
here, as well as to correspond with you after your settlement in
England; for an acquaintance and communication with men of learning,
virtue, and public spirit, is one of my greatest enjoyments.

"I do not know whether you ever happened to see the first proposals
I made for erecting this academy. I send them inclosed. They had
(however imperfect) the desired success, being followed by a
subscription of four thousand pounds, towards carrying them into
execution. And as we are fond of receiving advice, and are daily
improving by experience, I am in hopes we shall, in a few years, see
a _perfect institution_.

    "I am, very respectfully, &c.

        "B. FRANKLIN.

  "_Mr. W. Smith, Long-Island._"


[7] A general idea of the college of Mirania.

[8] The Rev. and learned Mr. Francis Alison, afterwards D. D. and
vice-provost of the college.

[9] Mr. Theophilus Grew, afterwards professor of mathematics in the

[10] Those assistants were at that time Mr. Charles Thomson, late
secretary to congress, Mr. Paul Jackson, and Mr. Jacob Duche.

  "_Philad. May 3d, 1753._


"Mr. Peters has just now been with me, and we have compared notes on
your new piece. We find nothing in the scheme of education, however
excellent, but what is, in our opinion, very practicable. The
great difficulty will be to find the Aratus[11], and other suitable
persons, to carry it into execution; but such may be had if proper
encouragement be given. We have both received great pleasure in the
perusal of it. For my part, I know not when I have read a piece that
has more affected me--so noble and just are the sentiments, so warm
and animated the language; yet as censure from your friends may be
of more use, as well as more agreeable to you than praise, I ought
to mention, that I wish you had omitted not only the quotation from
the Review[12], which you are now justly dissatisfied with, but those
expressions of resentment against your adversaries, in pages 65 and
79. In such cases, the noblest victory is obtained by neglect, and by
shining on.

"Mr. Allen has been out of town these ten days; but before he went he
directed me to procure him six copies of your piece. Mr. Peters has
taken ten. He proposed to have written to you; but omits it, as he
expects so soon to have the pleasure of seeing you here. He desires
me to present his affectionate compliments to you, and to assure
you that you will be very welcome to him. I shall only say, that
you may depend on my doing all in my power to make your visit to
Philadelphia agreeable to you.

    "I am, &c.

        "B. FRANKLIN.

  "_Mr. Smith._"


[11] The name given to the principal or head of the ideal college,
the system of education in which hath nevertheless been nearly
realized, or followed as a model, in the college and academy of
Philadelphia, and some other American seminaries, for many years past.

[12] The quotation alluded to (from the London Monthly Review for
1749,) was judged to reflect too severely on the discipline and
government of the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and
was expunged from the following editions of this work.

  "_Philad. Nov. 27th, 1753._


"Having written you fully, _via_ Bristol, I have now little to
add. Matters relating to the academy remain in _statu quo_. The
trustees would be glad to see a rector established there, but they
dread entering into new engagements till they are got out of debt;
and I have not yet got them wholly over to my opinion, that a good
professor, or teacher of the higher branches of learning, would
draw so many scholars as to pay great part, if not the whole of his
salary. Thus, unless the proprietors (of the province) shall think
fit to put the finishing hand to our institution, it must, I fear,
wait some few years longer before it can arrive at that state of
perfection, which to me it seems now capable of; and all the pleasure
I promised myself in seeing you settled among us, vanishes into smoke.

"But good Mr. Collinson writes me word, that no endeavours of his
shall be wanting; and he hopes, with the archbishop's assistance, to
be able to prevail with our proprietors[13]. I pray God grant them

"My son presents his affectionate regards, with, dear Sir,

    "Your's, &c.

        "B. FRANKLIN.

"P. S. I have not been favoured with a line from you since your
arrival in England."


[13] Upon the application of archbishop Herring and P. Collinson,
Esq. at Dr. Franklin's request, (aided by the letters of Mr. Allen
and Mr. Peters,) the Hon. Thomas Penn, Esq. subscribed an annual sum,
and afterwards gave at least 5000_l._ to the founding or engrafting the
college upon the academy.

  "_Philad. April 18th, 1754._


"I have had but one letter from you since your arrival in
England, which was but a short one, _via_ Boston, dated October
18th, acquainting me that you had written largely by Captain
Davis.--Davis was lost, and with him your letters, to my great
disappointment.--Mesnard and Gibbon have since arrived here, and I
hear nothing from you. My comfort is, an imagination that you only
omit writing because you are coming, and propose to tell me every
thing _viva voce_. So not knowing whether this letter will reach you,
and hoping either to see or hear from you by the Myrtilla, Captain
Budden's ship, which is daily expected, I only add, that I am, with
great esteem and affection

    "Your's, &c.

      "B. FRANKLIN.

  "_Mr. Smith._"

About a month after the date of this last letter, the gentleman to
whom it was addressed arrived in Philadelphia, and was immediately
placed at the head of the seminary; whereby Dr. Franklin and the
other trustees were enabled to prosecute their plan, for perfecting
the institution, and opening the college upon the large and liberal
foundation on which it now stands; for which purpose they obtained
their additional charter, dated May 27th, 1755.

Thus far we thought it proper to exhibit in one view Dr. Franklin's
services in the foundation and establishment of this seminary. He
soon afterwards embarked for England, in the public service of his
country; and having been generally employed abroad, in the like
service, for the greatest part of the remainder of his life, (as
will appear in our subsequent account of the same) he had but few
opportunities of taking any further active part in the affairs of
the seminary, until his final return in the year 1785, when he found
its charters violated, and his ancient colleagues, the original
founders, deprived of their trust, by an act of the legislature; and
although his own name had been inserted amongst the new trustees,
yet he declined to take his seat among them, or any concern in the
management of their affairs, till the institution was restored by
law to its original owners. He then assembled his old colleagues at
his own house, and being chosen their president, all their future
meetings were, at his request, held there, till within a few months
of his death, when with reluctance, and at their desire, lest he
might be too much injured by his attention to their business, he
suffered them to meet at the college.

Franklin not only gave birth to many useful institutions himself,
but he was also instrumental in promoting those which had originated
with other men. About the year 1752, an eminent physician of this
city, Dr. Bond, considering the deplorable state of the poor when
visited with disease, conceived the idea of establishing an hospital.
Notwithstanding very great exertions on his part, he was able to
interest few people so far in his benevolent plan, as to obtain
subscriptions from them. Unwilling that his scheme should prove
abortive, he sought the aid of Franklin, who readily engaged in
the business, both by using his influence with his friends, and by
stating the advantageous influence of the proposed institution in his
paper. These efforts were attended with success. Considerable sums
were subscribed; but they were still short of what was necessary.
Franklin now made another exertion. He applied to the assembly; and,
after some opposition, obtained leave to bring in a bill, specifying,
that as soon as two thousand pounds were subscribed, the same sum
should be drawn from the treasury by the speaker's warrant, to be
applied to the purposes of the institution. The opposition, as the
sum was granted upon a contingency which they supposed would never
take place, were silent, and the bill passed. The friends of the plan
now redoubled their efforts, to obtain subscriptions to the amount
stated in the bill, and were soon successful. This was the foundation
of the Pennsylvanian Hospital, which, with the Bettering-house, and
Dispensary, bears ample testimony of the humanity of the citizens of

Dr. Franklin had conducted himself so well in the office of
post-master, and had shown himself to be so well acquainted with
the business of that department, that it was thought expedient to
raise him to a more dignified station. In 1753 he was appointed
deputy post-master general for the British colonies. The profits
arising from the postage of letters formed no inconsiderable part
of the revenue, which the crown of Great Britain derived from these
colonies. In the hands of Franklin, it is said, that the post-office
in America, yielded annually thrice as much as that of Ireland.

The American colonies were much exposed to depredations on their
frontiers, by the Indians; and more particularly whenever a war took
place between France and England. The colonies, individually, were
either too weak to take efficient measures for their own defence,
or they were unwilling to take upon themselves the whole burden of
erecting forts and maintaining garrisons, whilst their neighbours,
who partook equally with themselves of the advantages, contributed
nothing to the expence. Sometimes also the disputes, which subsisted
between the governors and assemblies, prevented the adoption of means
of defence; as we have seen was the case in Pennsylvania in 1745.
To devise a plan of union between the colonies, to regulate this
and other matters, appeared a desirable object. To accomplish this,
in the year 1754, commissioners from New Hampshire, Massachussets,
Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, met at Albany.
Dr. Franklin attended here, as a commissioner from Pennsylvania,
and produced a plan, which, from the place of meeting, has been
usually termed, "The Albany plan of Union." This proposed, that
application should be made for an act of parliament, to establish
in the colonies a general government, to be administered by a
president-general, appointed by the crown, and by a grand council,
consisting of members, chosen by the representatives of the different
colonies; their number to be in direct proportion to the sums paid
by each colony into the general treasury, with this restriction,
that no colony should have more than seven, nor less than two
representatives. The whole executive authority was committed to
the president-general. The power of legislation was lodged in the
grand council and president-general jointly; his consent being made
necessary to passing a bill into a law. The power vested in the
president and council was, to declare war and peace, and to conclude
treaties with the Indian nations; to regulate trade with, and to make
purchases of vacant lands from them, either in the name of the crown,
or of the union; to settle new colonies, to make laws for governing
these until they should be erected into separate governments; and
to raise troops, build forts, and fit out armed vessels, and to use
other means for the general defence; and, to effect these things, a
power was given to make laws, laying such duties, imposts, or taxes,
as they should find necessary, and as would be least burdensome
to the people. All laws were to be sent to England for the king's
approbation; and unless disapproved of within three years, were to
remain in force. All officers in the land or sea service were to be
nominated by the president-general, and approved of by the general
council; civil officers were to be nominated by the council, and
approved of by the president. Such are the outlines of the plan
proposed, for the consideration of the congress, by Dr. Franklin.
After several days' discussion, it was unanimously agreed to by the
commissioners, a copy transmitted to each assembly, and one to the
king's council. The fate of it was singular. It was disapproved of by
the ministry of Great Britain, because it gave too much power to the
representatives of the people; and it was rejected by every assembly,
as giving to the president-general, the representative of the crown,
an influence greater than appeared to them proper, in a plan of
government intended for freemen. Perhaps this rejection, on both
sides, is the strongest proof that could be adduced of the excellence
of it, as suited to the situation of America and Great Britain at
that time. It appears to have steered exactly in the middle between
the opposite interests of both.

Whether the adoption of this plan would have prevented the separation
of America from Great Britain, is a question which might afford much
room for speculation. It may be said, that, by enabling the colonies
to defend themselves, it would have removed the pretext upon which
the stamp-act, tea-act, and other acts of the British parliament,
were passed; which excited a spirit of opposition, and laid the
foundation for the separation of the two countries. But, on the other
hand, it must be admitted, that the restriction laid by Great Britain
upon our commerce, obliging us to sell our produce to her citizens
only, and to take from them various articles, of which, as our
manufactures were discouraged, we stood in need, at a price greater
than that for which they could have been obtained from other nations,
must inevitably produce dissatisfaction, even though no duties were
imposed by the parliament; a circumstance which might still have
taken place. Besides, as the president-general was to be appointed
by the crown, he must, of necessity, be devoted to its views, and
would, therefore, refuse his assent to any laws, however salutary
to the community, which had the most remote tendency to injure the
interests of his sovereign. Even should they receive his assent, the
approbation of the king was to be necessary; who would indubitably,
in every instance, prefer the advantage of his home dominions to
that of his colonies. Hence would ensue perpetual disagreements
between the council and the president-general, and thus, between
the people of America and the crown of Great Britain:--While the
colonies continued weak, they would be obliged to submit, and as soon
as they acquired strength they would become more urgent in their
demands, until, at length, they would shake off the yoke, and declare
themselves independent.

Whilst the French were in possession of Canada, their trade with
the natives extended very far; even to the back of the British
settlements. They were disposed, from time to time, to establish
posts within the territory, which the English claimed as their own.
Independent of the injury to the fur trade, which was considerable,
the colonies suffered this further inconvenience, that the Indians
were frequently instigated to commit depredations on their frontiers.
In the year 1753, encroachments were made upon the boundaries of
Virginia. Remonstrances had no effect. In the ensuing year, a body
of men were sent out under the command of Mr. Washington, who,
though a very young man, had, by his conduct in the preceding year,
shewn himself worthy of such an important trust. Whilst marching
to take possession of the post at the junction of the Allegany and
Monongahela, he was informed that the French had already erected
a fort there. A detachment of their men marched against him. He
fortified himself as strongly as time and circumstances would
admit. A superiority of numbers soon obliged him to surrender _Fort
Necessity_. He obtained honourable terms for himself and men, and
returned to Virginia. The government of Great Britain now thought
it necessary to interfere. In the year 1755, General Braddock, with
some regiments of regular troops, and provincial levies, was sent
to dispossess the French of the posts upon which they had seized.
After the men were all ready, a difficulty occurred, which had nearly
prevented the expedition. This was the want of waggons. Franklin now
stepped forward, and with the assistance of his son, in a little time
procured a hundred and fifty. Braddock unfortunately fell into an
ambuscade, and perished, with a number of his men. Washington, who
had accompanied him as an aid-de-camp, and had warned him, in vain,
of his danger, now displayed great military talents in effecting a
retreat of the remains of the army, and in forming a junction with
the rear, under colonel Dunbar, upon whom the chief command now
devolved. With some difficulty they brought their little body to a
place of safety; but they found it necessary to destroy their waggons
and baggage, to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy. For
the waggons which he had furnished, Franklin had given bonds to a
large amount. The owners declared their intention of obliging him to
make a restitution of their property. Had they put their threats in
execution, ruin must inevitably have been the consequence. Governor
Shirley, finding that he had incurred these debts for the service of
government, made arrangements to have them discharged, and released
Franklin from his disagreeable situation.

The alarm spread through the colonies, after the defeat of Braddock,
was very great. Preparations to arm were every where made. In
Pennsylvania, the prevalence of the Quaker interest prevented the
adoption of any system of defence, which would compel the citizens
to bear arms. Franklin introduced into the assembly a bill for
organizing a militia, by which every man was allowed to take arms or
not, as to him should appear fit. The Quakers, being thus left at
liberty, suffered the bill to pass; for although their principles
would not suffer them to fight, they had no objection to their
neighbours fighting for them. In consequence of this act a very
respectable militia was formed. The sense of impending danger infused
a military spirit in all, whose religious tenets were not opposed to
war. Franklin was appointed colonel of a regiment in Philadelphia,
which consisted of 1200 men.

The north-western frontier being invaded by the enemy, it became
necessary to adopt measures for its defence. Franklin was directed
by the governor to take charge of this. A power of raising men,
and of appointing officers to command them, was vested in him. He
soon levied a body of troops, with which he repaired to the place
at which their presence was necessary. Here he built a fort, and
placed a garrison in such a posture of defence, as would enable them
to withstand the inroads, to which the inhabitants had previously
been exposed. He remained here for some time, in order the more
completely to discharge the trust committed to him. Some business of
importance at length rendered his presence necessary in the assembly,
and he returned to Philadelphia.

The defence of her colonies was a great expence to Great Britain.
The most effectual mode of lessening this was, to put arms into the
hands of the inhabitants, and to teach them their use. But England
wished not that the Americans should become acquainted with their
own strength. She was apprehensive, that, as soon as this period
arrived, they would no longer submit to that monopoly of their trade,
which to them was highly injurious, but extremely advantageous to the
mother-country. In comparison with the profits of this, the expence
of maintaining armies and fleets to defend them was trifling. She
fought to keep them dependent upon her for protection; the best plan
which could be devised for retaining them in peaceable subjection.
The least appearance of a military spirit was therefore to be guarded
against, and, although a war then raged, the act for organizing a
militia was disapproved of by the ministry. The regiments which had
been formed under it were disbanded, and the defence of the province
entrusted to regular troops.

The disputes between the proprietaries and the people continued in
full force, although a war was raging on the frontiers. Not even
the sense of danger was sufficient to reconcile, for ever so short
a time, their jarring interests. The assembly still insisted upon
the justice of taxing the proprietary estates, but the governors
constantly refused their assent to this measure, without which no
bill could pass into a law. Enraged at the obstinacy, and what
they conceived to be unjust proceedings of their opponents, the
assembly at length determined to apply to the mother-country for
relief. A petition was addressed to the king, in council, stating
the inconveniencies under which the inhabitants laboured, from the
attention of the proprietaries to their private interests, to the
neglect of the general welfare of the community, and praying for
redress. Franklin was appointed to present this address, as agent
for the province of Pennsylvania, and departed from America in June,
1757. In conformity to the instructions which he had received from
the legislature, he held a conference with the proprietaries who
then resided in England, and endeavoured to prevail upon them to
give up the long contested point. Finding that they would harken to
no terms of accommodation, he laid his petition before the Council.
During this time governor Denny assented to a law imposing a tax,
in which no discrimination was made in favour of the estates of the
Penn family. They, alarmed at this intelligence, and Franklin's
exertions, used their utmost endeavours to prevent the royal sanction
being given to this law, which they represented as highly iniquitous,
designed to throw the burden of supporting government upon them, and
calculated to produce the most ruinous consequences to them and their
posterity. The cause was amply discussed before the privy Council.
The Penns found here some strenuous advocates; nor were there wanting
some who warmly espoused the side of the people. After some time
spent in debate, a proposal was made, that Franklin should solemnly
engage, that the assessment of the tax should be so made, as that the
proprietary estates should pay no more than a due proportion. This
he agreed to perform; the Penn family withdrew their opposition, and
tranquillity was thus once more restored to the province.

The mode in which this dispute was terminated is a striking proof
of the high opinion entertained of Franklin's integrity and honour,
even by those who considered him as inimical to their views. Nor
was their confidence ill-founded. The assessment was made upon the
strictest principles of equity; and the proprietary estates bore only
a proportionable share of the expences of supporting government.

After the completion of this important business, Franklin remained
at the court of Great Britain, as agent for the province of
Pennsylvania. The extensive knowledge which he possessed of the
situation of the colonies, and the regard which he always manifested
for their interests, occasioned his appointment to the same office by
the colonies of Massachussets, Maryland, and Georgia. His conduct,
in this situation, was such as rendered him still more dear to his

He had now an opportunity of indulging in the society of those
friends, whom his merits had procured him while at a distance. The
regard which they had entertained for him was rather increased by
a personal acquaintance. The opposition which had been made to his
discoveries in philosophy gradually ceased, and the rewards of
literary merit were abundantly conferred upon him. The Royal Society
of London, which had at first refused his performances admission into
its transactions, now thought it an honour to rank him amongst its
fellows. Other societies of Europe were equally ambitious of calling
him a member. The university of St. Andrew's, in Scotland, conferred
upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws. Its example was followed by
the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford. His correspondence was
sought for by the most eminent philosophers of Europe. His letters
to these abound with true science, delivered in the most simple
unadorned manner.

The province of Canada was at this time in the possession of the
French, who had originally settled it. The trade with the Indians,
for which its situation was very convenient, was exceedingly
lucrative. The French traders here found a market for their
commodities, and received in return large quantities of rich
furs, which they disposed of at a high price in Europe. Whilst
the possession of this country was highly advantageous to France,
it was a grievous inconvenience to the inhabitants of the British
colonies. The Indians were almost generally desirous to cultivate the
friendship of the French, by whom they were abundantly supplied with
arms and ammunition. Whenever a war happened, the Indians were ready
to fall upon the frontiers: and this they frequently did, even when
Great Britain and France were at peace. From these considerations, it
appeared to be the interest of Great Britain to gain the possession
of Canada. But the importance of such an acquisition was not well
understood in England. Franklin about this time published his
Canada pamphlet, in which he, in a forcible manner, pointed out the
advantages which would result from the conquest of this province.

An expedition against it was planned, and the command given to
General Wolfe. His success is well known. At the treaty in 1762,
France ceded Canada to Great Britain, and by her cession of
Louisiana, at the same time, relinquished all her possessions on the
continent of America.

Although Dr. Franklin was now principally occupied with political
pursuits, he found time for philosophical studies. He extended
his researches in electricity, and made a variety of experiments,
particularly on the tourmalin. The singular properties which this
stone possesses of being electrified on one side positively and on
the other negatively, by heat alone, without friction, had been but
lately observed.

Some experiments on the cold produced by evaporation, made by Dr.
Cullen, had been communicated to Dr. Franklin, by Professor Simpson,
of Glasgow. These he repeated, and found, that, by the evaporation
of æther in the exhausted receiver of an air-pump, so great a degree
of cold was produced in a summer's day, that water was converted
into ice. This discovery he applied to the solution of a number of
phenomena, particularly a singular fact, which philosophers had
endeavoured in vain to account for, viz. that the temperature of the
human body, when in health, never exceeds 96 degrees of Fahrenheit's
thermometer, though the atmosphere which surrounds it may be heated
to a much greater degree. This he attributed to the increased
perspiration, and consequent evaporation, produced by the heat.

In a letter to Mr. Small, of London, dated in May, 1760, Dr. Franklin
makes a number of observations, tending to show that, in North
America, north-east storms begin in the south-west parts. It appears,
from actual observations, that a north-east storm, which extended a
considerable distance, commenced at Philadelphia near four hours
before it was felt at Boston. He endeavoured to account for this,
by supposing that, from heat, some rarefaction takes place about
the gulph of Mexico, that the air further north rushes in, and is
succeeded by the cooler and denser air still farther north, and that
thus a continual current is at length produced.

The tone produced by rubbing the brim of a drinking-glass with a wet
finger, had been generally known. A Mr. Puckeridge, an Irishman,
by placing on a table a number of glasses of different sizes, and
tuning them by partly filling them with water, endeavoured to form an
instrument capable of playing tunes. He was prevented by an untimely
end, from bringing his invention to any degree of perfection. After
his death some improvements were made upon his plan. The sweetness of
the tones induced Dr. Franklin to make a variety of experiments; and
he at length formed that elegant instrument which he has called the

In the summer of 1762, he returned to America. On his passage he
observed the singular effect produced by the agitation of a vessel,
containing oil, floating on water. The surface of the oil remains
smooth and undisturbed, whilst the water is agitated with the utmost
commotion. No satisfactory explanation of this appearance has, we
believe, ever been given.

Dr. Franklin received the thanks of the assembly of Pennsylvania,
"as well for the faithful discharge of his duty to that province in
particular, as for the many and important services done to America in
general, during his residence in Great Britain." A compensation of
5000_l._, Pennsylvania currency, was also decreed him for his services
during six years.

During his absence he had been annually elected member of the
assembly. On his return to Pennsylvania he again took his seat in
this body, and continued a steady defender of the liberties of the

In December 1762, a circumstance which caused great alarm in the
province took place. A number of Indians had resided in the county of
Lancaster, and conducted themselves uniformly as friends to the white
inhabitants. Repeated depredations on the frontiers had exasperated
the inhabitants to such a degree, that they determined on revenge
upon every Indian. A number of persons, to the number of about 120,
principally inhabitants of Donegal and Peckstang or Paxton township,
in the county of York, assembled; and, mounted on horseback,
proceeded to the settlement of these harmless and defenceless
Indians, whose number had now been reduced to about twenty. The
Indians had received intelligence of the attack which was intended
against them, but disbelieved it. Considering the white people as
their friends, they apprehended no danger from them. When the party
arrived at the Indian settlement, they found only some women and
children, and a few old men, the rest being absent at work. They
murdered all whom they found, and amongst others the chief Shaheas,
who had been always distinguished for his friendship to the whites.
This bloody deed excited much indignation in the well-disposed part
of the community.

The remainder of these unfortunate Indians, who by absence, had
escaped the massacre, were conducted to Lancaster, and lodged in
the gaol as a place of security. The governor issued a proclamation
expressing the strongest disapprobation of the action, offering
a reward for the discovery of the perpetrators of the deed, and
prohibiting all injuries to the peaceable Indians in future. But,
notwithstanding this, a party of the same men shortly after marched
to Lancaster, broke open the gaol, and inhumanly butchered the
innocent Indians, who had been placed there for security. Another
proclamation was issued, but it had no effect. A detachment marched
down to Philadelphia, for the express purpose of murdering some
friendly Indians, who had been removed to the city for safety. A
number of the citizens armed in their defence. The quakers, whose
principles are opposed to fighting, even in their own defence, were
most active upon this occasion. The rioters came to Germantown. The
governor fled for safety to the house of Dr. Franklin, who, with
some others, advanced to meet the Paxton boys, as they were called,
and had influence enough to prevail upon them to relinquish their
undertaking, and return to their homes.

The disputes between the proprietaries and the assembly, which, for
a time, had subsided, were again revived. The proprietaries were
dissatisfied with the concessions made in favour of the people, and
made great struggles to recover the privilege of exempting their
estates from taxation, which they had been induced to give up.

In 1763, the assembly passed a militia-bill, to which the governor
refused to give his assent, unless the assembly would agree to
certain amendments which he proposed. These consisted in increasing
the fines, and in some cases, substituting death for fines. He wished
too, that the officers should be appointed altogether by himself,
and not be nominated by the people, as the bill had proposed. These
amendments the assembly considered as inconsistent with the spirit of
liberty. They would not adopt them--the governor was obstinate, and
the bill was lost.

These, and various other circumstances, encreased the uneasiness
which subsisted between the proprietaries and the assembly, to such
a degree, that, in 1764, a petition to the king was agreed to by
the house, praying an alteration from a _proprietary_ to a _regal_
government. Great opposition was made to this measure, not only in
the house, but in the public prints. A speech of Mr. Dickenson on
the subject was published, with a preface by Dr. Smith, in which
great pains were taken to show the impropriety and impolicy of this
proceeding. A speech of Mr. Galloway, in reply to Mr. Dickenson,
was published, accompanied with a preface by Dr. Franklin, in
which he ably opposed the principles laid down in the preface to
Mr. Dickenson's speech. This application to the throne produced no
effect. The proprietary government was still continued.

At the election of a new assembly, in the fall of 1764, the friends
of the proprietaries made great exertions to exclude those of the
adverse party; and they obtained a small majority in the city of
Philadelphia. Franklin now lost his seat in the house, which he had
held for fourteen years. On the meeting of the assembly, it appeared
there was still a decided majority of Franklin's friends. He was
immediately appointed provincial agent, to the great chagrin of his
enemies, who made a solemn protest against his appointment, which was
refused admission upon the minutes, as being unprecedented. It was,
however, published in the papers, and produced a spirited reply from
him, just before his departure for England.

The disturbances produced in America by Mr. Grenville's stamp-act,
and the opposition made to it, are well known. Under the marquis
of Rockingham's administration, it appeared expedient to endeavour
to calm the minds of the colonists; and the repeal of the odious
tax was contemplated. Amongst other means of collecting information
on the disposition of the people to submit to it, Dr. Franklin was
called to the bar of the house of commons. The examination which
he underwent was published, and contains a striking account of the
extent and accuracy of his information, and the facility with which
he communicated his sentiments. He represented facts in so strong a
point of view, that the inexpediency of the act must have appeared
clear to every unprejudiced mind. The act, after some opposition, was
repealed, about a year after it was enacted, and before it had ever
been carried into execution.

In the year 1766, he made a visit to Holland and Germany, and
received the greatest marks of attention from men of science. In
his passage through Holland he learned from the watermen the effect
which a diminution of the quantity of water in canals has, in
impeding the progress of boats. Upon his return to England, he was
led to make a number of experiments, all of which tended to confirm
the observation. These, with an explanation of the phenomenon, he
communicated in a letter to his friend, Sir John Pringle, which will
be found among his philosophical pieces.

In the following year he travelled into France, where he met a no
less favorable reception than he had experienced in Germany. He was
introduced to a number of literary characters, and to the king, Louis

Several letters written by Hutchinson, Oliver, and others, to persons
in eminent stations in Great Britain, came into the hands of Dr.
Franklin. These contained the most violent invectives against the
leading characters of the state of Massachussets, and strenuously
advised the prosecution of vigorous measures, to compel the people
to obedience to the measures of the ministry. These he transmitted
to the legislature, by whom they were published. Attested copies of
them were sent to Great Britain, with an address, praying the king
to discharge from office persons who had rendered themselves so
obnoxious to the people, and who had shown themselves so unfriendly
to their interests. The publication of these letters produced a
duel between Mr. Whately and Mr. Temple, each of whom was suspected
of having been instrumental in procuring them. To prevent any
farther disputes on this subject, Dr. Franklin, in one of the public
papers, declared that he had sent them to America, but would give no
information concerning the manner in which he had obtained them--nor
was this ever discovered.

Shortly after, the petition of the Massachussets assembly was taken
up for examination, before the privy council. Dr. Franklin attended,
as agent for the assembly; and here a torrent of the most violent
and unwarranted abuse was poured upon him by the solicitor-general,
Wedderburne, who was engaged as council for Oliver and Hutchinson.
The petition was declared to be scandalous and vexatious, and the
prayer of it refused.

Although the parliament of Great Britain had repealed the stamp-act,
it was only upon the principle of expediency. They still insisted
upon their right to tax the colonies; and, at the same time that
the stamp-act was repealed, an act was passed, declaring the
right of parliament to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever.
This language was used even by the most strenuous opposers of the
stamp-act: and, amongst others, by Mr. Pitt. This right was never
recognized by the colonists; but, as they flattered themselves that
it would not be exercised, they were not very active in remonstrating
against it. Had this pretended right been suffered to remain
dormant, the colonists would cheerfully have furnished their quota
of supplies, in the mode to which they had been accustomed; that
is, by acts of their own assemblies, in consequence of requisitions
from the secretary of state. If this practice had been pursued, such
was the disposition of the colonies towards their mother-country,
that, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which they laboured,
from restraints upon their trade, calculated solely for the benefit
of the commercial and manufacturing interests of Great Britain,
a separation of the two countries might have been a far distant
event. The Americans, from their earliest infancy, were taught to
venerate a people from whom they were descended; whose language,
laws, and manners, were the same as their own. They looked up to them
as models of perfection; and, in their prejudiced minds, the most
enlightened nations of Europe were considered as almost barbarians,
in comparison with Englishmen. The name of an Englishman conveyed to
an American the idea of every thing good and great. Such sentiments
instilled into them in early life, what but a repetition of unjust
treatment could have induced them to entertain the most distant
thought of separation! The duties on glass, paper, leather, painters'
colours, tea, &c. the disfranchisement of some of the colonies;
the obstruction to the measures of the legislature in others, by
the king's governors; the contemptuous treatment of their humble
remonstrances, stating their grievances, and praying a redress of
them, and other violent and oppressive measures, at length excited an
ardent spirit of opposition. Instead of endeavouring to allay this
by a more lenient conduct, the ministry seemed resolutely bent upon
reducing the colonies to the most slavish obedience to their decrees.
But this only tended to aggravate. Vain were all the efforts made
use of to prevail upon them to lay aside their designs, to convince
them of the impossibility of carrying them into effect, and of the
mischievous consequences which must ensue from a continuance of the
attempts. They persevered, with a degree of inflexibility scarcely

The advantages which Great Britain derived from her colonies were
so great, that nothing but a degree of infatuation, little short of
madness, could have produced a continuance of measures calculated to
keep up a spirit of uneasiness, which might occasion the slightest
wish for a separation. When we consider the great improvements in the
science of government, the general diffusion of the principles of
liberty amongst the people of Europe, the effects which these have
already produced in France, and the probable consequences which will
result from them elsewhere, all of which are the offspring of the
American revolution, it cannot but appear strange, that events of so
great moment to the happiness of mankind, should have been ultimately
occasioned by the wickedness or ignorance of a British ministry.

Dr. Franklin left nothing untried to prevail upon the ministry to
consent to a change of measures. In private conversations, and in
letters to persons in government, he continually expatiated upon
the impolicy and injustice of their conduct towards America; and
stated, that, notwithstanding the attachment of the colonists to
the mother-country, a repetition of ill treatment must ultimately
alienate their affections. They listened not to his advice. They
blindly persevered in their own schemes, and left to the colonists
no alternative, but opposition, or unconditional submission. The
latter accorded not with the principles of freedom, which they had
been taught to revere. To the former they were compelled, though
reluctantly, to have recourse.

Dr. Franklin, finding all efforts to restore harmony between Great
Britain and her colonies useless, returned to America in the year
1775; just after the commencement of hostilities. The day after his
return he was elected by the legislature of Pennsylvania a delegate
to congress. Not long after his election a committee was appointed,
consisting of Mr. Lynch, Mr. Harrison, and himself, to visit the camp
at Cambridge, and, in conjunction with the commander in chief, to
endeavour to convince the troops, whose term of enlistment was about
to expire, of the necessity of their continuing in the field, and
persevering in the cause of their country.

In the fall of the same year he visited Canada, to endeavour to unite
them in the common cause of liberty; but they could not be prevailed
upon to oppose the measures of the British government. M. Le Roy,
in a letter annexed to Abbé Fauchet's eulogium of Dr. Franklin,
states, that the ill success of this negociation was occasioned, in a
great degree, by religious animosities, which subsisted between the
Canadians and their neighbours, some of whom had at different times
burnt their chapels.

When Lord Howe came to America, in 1776, vested with power to treat
with the colonists, a correspondence took place between him and
Dr. Franklin, on the subject of a reconciliation. Dr. Franklin was
afterwards appointed, together with John Adams, and Edward Rutledge,
to wait upon the commissioners, in order to learn the extent of their
powers. These were found to be only to grant pardons upon submission.
Such terms which could not be accepted; and the object of the
commissioners was not obtained.

The momentous question of independence was shortly after brought
into view, at a time when the fleets and armies, which were sent to
enforce obedience, were truly formidable. With an army, numerous
indeed, but ignorant of discipline, and entirely unskilled in
the art of war, without money, without a fleet, without allies,
and with nothing but the love of liberty to support them, the
colonists determined to separate from a country, from which they had
experienced a repetition of injury and insult. In this question, Dr.
Franklin was decidedly in favour of the measure proposed, and had
great influence in bringing others to his sentiments.

The public mind had been prepared for this event, by Mr. Paine's
celebrated pamphlet, _Common Sense_. There is good reason to
believe that Dr. Franklin had no inconsiderable share, at least, in
furnishing materials for this work.

In the convention which assembled at Philadelphia in 1776, for
the purpose of establishing a new form of government for the
state of Pennsylvania, Dr. Franklin was chosen president. The
late constitution of this state, which was the result of their
deliberations, may be considered as a digest of his principles of
government. The single legislature, and the plural executive, seem to
have been his favourite tenets.

In the latter end of 1776, Dr. Franklin was appointed to assist in
the negociation which had been set on foot by Silas Deane at the
court of France. A conviction of the advantages of a commercial
intercourse with America, and a desire of weakening the British
empire by dismembering it, first induced the French court to listen
to proposals of an alliance. But they shewed rather a reluctance
to the measure, which, by Dr. Franklin's address, and particularly
by the success of the American arms against general Burgoyne, was
at length overcome; and in February, 1778, a treaty of alliance,
offensive and defensive, was concluded; in consequence of which
France became involved in the war with Great Britain.

Perhaps no person could have been found more capable of rendering
essential services to the United States at the court of France, than
Dr. Franklin. He was well known as a philosopher, and his character
was held in the highest estimation. He was received with the greatest
marks of respect by all the literary characters; and this respect was
extended amongst all classes of men. His personal influence was hence
very considerable. To the effects of this were added those of various
performances which he published, tending to establish the credit and
character of the United States. To his exertions in this way, may, in
no small degree, be ascribed the success of the loans negociated in
Holland and France, which greatly contributed to bring the war to a

The repeated ill success of their arms, and more particularly the
capture of Cornwallis and his army, at length convinced the British
nation of the impossibility of reducing the Americans to subjection.
The trading interest particularly became clamorous for peace. The
ministry were unable longer to oppose their wishes. Provisional
articles of peace were agreed to, and signed at Paris on the 30th of
November, 1782, by Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Laurens,
on the part of the United States; and by Mr. Oswald on the part of
Great Britain. These formed the basis of the definitive treaty, which
was concluded the 3d of September, 1783, and signed by Dr. Franklin,
Mr. Adams, and Mr. Jay, on the one part, and by Mr. David Hartly on
the other.

On the third of April, 1783, a treaty of amity and commerce, between
the United States and Sweden, was concluded at Paris, by Dr. Franklin
and the Count Von Krutz.

A similar treaty with Prussia was concluded in 1785, not long before
Dr. Franklin's departure from Europe.

Dr. Franklin did not suffer his political pursuits to engross his
whole attention. Some of his performances made their appearance in
Paris. The object of these was generally the promotion of industry
and economy.

In the year 1784, when animal magnetism made great noise in the
world, particularly at Paris, it was thought a matter of such
importance, that the king appointed commissioners to examine into
the foundation of this pretended science. Dr. Franklin was one of
the number. After a fair and diligent examination, in the course of
which Mesmer repeated a number of experiments, in the presence of
the commissioners, some of which were tried upon themselves, they
determined that it was a mere trick, intended to impose upon the
ignorant and credulous--Mesmer was thus interrupted in his career to
wealth and fame, and a most insolent attempt to impose upon the human
understanding baffled.

The important ends of Dr. Franklin's mission being completed by the
establishment of American independence, and the infirmities of age
and disease coming upon him, he became desirous of returning to
his native country. Upon application to congress to be recalled,
Mr. Jefferson was appointed to succeed him in 1785. Some time in
September of the same year Dr. Franklin arrived in Philadelphia. He
was shortly after chosen member of the supreme executive council for
the city; and soon after was elected president of the same.

When a convention was called to meet in Philadelphia, in 1787, for
the purpose of giving more energy to the government of the union, by
revising and amending the articles of confederation, Dr. Franklin was
appointed a delegate from the State of Pennsylvania. He signed the
constitution which they proposed for the union, and gave it the most
unequivocal marks of his approbation.

A society for political enquiries, of which Dr. Franklin was
president, was established about this period. The meetings were
held at his house. Two or three essays read in this society were
published. It did not long continue.

In the year 1787, two societies were established in Philadelphia,
founded on the principles of the most liberal and refined
humanity--_The Philadelphia Society for alleviating the miseries
of public prisons; and the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the
abolition of slavery, the relief of free negroes unlawfully held in
bondage, and the improvement of the condition of the African race._
Of each of these Dr. Franklin was president. The labours of these
bodies have been crowned with great success; and they continue to
prosecute, with unwearied diligence, the laudable designs for which
they were established.

Dr. Franklin's increasing infirmities prevented his regular
attendance at the council-chamber; and, in 1788, he retired wholly
from public life.

His constitution had been a remarkably good one. He had been little
subject to disease, except an attack of the gout occasionally, until
about the year 1781, when he was first attacked with symptoms of the
calculous complaint, which continued during his life. During the
intervals of pain from this grievous disease, he spent many cheerful
hours, conversing in the most agreeable and instructive manner. His
faculties were entirely unimpaired, even to the hour of his death.

His name, as president of the abolition society, was signed to the
memorial presented to the house of representatives of the United
States, on the 12th of February, 1789, praying them to exert the full
extent of power vested in them by the constitution, in discouraging
the traffic of the human species. This was his last public act. In
the debates to which this memorial gave rise, several attempts were
made to justify the trade. In the Federal Gazette of March 25th,
there appeared an essay, signed Historicus, written by Dr. Franklin,
in which he communicated a speech, said to have been delivered in
the Divan of Algiers, in 1687, in opposition to the prayer of the
petition of a sect called _Erika_, or purists, for the abolition of
piracy and slavery. This pretended African speech was an excellent
parody of one delivered by Mr. Jackson, of Georgia. All the arguments
urged in favour of negro slavery, are applied with equal force to
justify the plundering and enslaving of Europeans. It affords, at
the same time, a demonstration of the futility of the arguments in
defence of the slave trade, and of the strength of mind and ingenuity
of the author, at his advanced period of life. It furnished too, a no
less convincing proof of his power of imitating the style of other
times and nations, than his celebrated parable against persecution.
And as the latter led many persons to search the scriptures with a
view to find, it, so the former caused many persons to search the
book-stores and libraries, for the work from which it was said to be

In the beginning of April following, he was attacked with a fever
and complaint of his breast, which terminated his existence. The
following account of his last illness was written by his friend and
physician, Dr. Jones.

"The stone, with which he had been afflicted for several years, had
for the last twelve months confined him chiefly to his bed; and
during the extremely painful paroxysms, he was obliged to take large
doses of laudanum to mitigate his tortures--still, in the intervals
of pain, he not only amused himself with reading and conversing
cheerfully with his family, and a few friends who visited him, but
was often employed in doing business of a public as well as private
nature, with various persons who waited on him for that purpose; and
in every instance displayed, not only that readiness and disposition
of doing good, which was the distinguishing characteristic of his
life, but the fullest and clearest possession of his uncommon mental
abilities; and not unfrequently indulged himself in those _jeux
d'esprit_ and entertaining anecdotes, which were the delight of all
who heard him.

"About sixteen days before his death, he was seized with a feverish
indisposition, without any particular symptoms attending it, till
the third or fourth day, when he complained of a pain in the left
breast, which increased till it became extremely acute, attended
with a cough and laborious breathing. During this state, when the
severity of his pains sometimes drew forth a groan of complaint,
he would observe--that he was afraid he did not hear it as he
ought--acknowledged his grateful sense of the many blessings he had
received from the Supreme Being, who had raised him from small and
low beginnings to such high rank and consideration among men--and
made no doubt but his present afflictions were kindly intended to
wean him from a world, in which he was no longer fit to act the part
assigned him. In this frame of body and mind he continued till five
days before his death, when his pain and difficulty of breathing
entirely left him, and his family were flattering themselves with
the hopes of his recovery, when an imposthumation, which had formed
itself in his lungs, suddenly burst and discharged a great quantity
of matter, which he continued to throw up while he had sufficient
strength to do it, but, as that failed, the organs of respiration
became gradually oppressed--a calm lethargic state succeeded--and, on
the 17th of April, 1790, about eleven o'clock at night, he quietly
expired, closing a long and useful life of eighty-four years and
three months."

It may not be amiss to add to the above account, that Dr. Franklin,
in the year 1735, had a severe pleurisy, which terminated in an
abscess of the left lobe of his lungs, and he was then almost
suffocated with the quantity and suddenness of the discharge. A
second attack of a similar nature happened some years after this,
from which he soon recovered, and did not appear to suffer any
inconvenience in his respiration from these diseases.

The following epitaph on himself, was written by him many years
previous to his death:--



















With regard to my books, those I had in France, and those I left in
Philadelphia, being now assembled together here, and a catalogue made
of them, it is my intention to dispose of the same as follows:

My "History of the Academy of Sciences," in sixty or seventy volumes
quarto, I give to the philosophical society of Philadelphia, of which
I have the honour to be president. My collection in folio of "_Les
Arts et les Metiers_," I give to the American philosophical society,
established in New England, of which I am a member. My quarto edition
of the same, "_Arts et Metiers_," I give to the library company
of Philadelphia. Such and so many of my books as I shall mark, in
the said catalogue, with the name of my grandson Benjamin Franklin
Bache, I do hereby give to him: and such and so many of my books,
as I shall mark in the said catalogue with the name of my grandson
William Bache, I do hereby give to him: and such as shall be marked
with the name of Jonathan Williams, I hereby give to my cousin of
that name. The residue and remainder of all my books, manuscripts,
and papers, I do give to my grandson William Temple Franklin. My
share in the library company of Philadelphia I give to my grandson
Benjamin Franklin Bache, confiding that he will permit his brothers
and sisters to share in the use of it.

I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in
literature to the free grammar-schools established there. I therefore
give one hundred pounds sterling to my executors, to be by them,
the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to the managers or
directors of the free-schools in my native town of Boston, to be by
them, or the person or persons who shall have the superintendance
and management of the said schools, put out to interest, and so
continued at interest for ever; which interest annually shall be
laid out in silver medals, and given as honorary rewards annually
by the directors of the said free-schools, for the encouragement of
scholarship in the said schools, belonging to the said town, in such
manner as to the discretion of the select men of the said town shall
seem meet.

Out of the salary that may remain due to me, as president of the
state, I give the sum of two thousand pounds to my executors, to be
by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to such person
or persons as the legislature of this state, by an act of assembly,
shall appoint to receive the same, in trust, to be employed for
making the Schuylkil navigable.

During the number of years I was in business as a stationer, printer,
and post-master, a great many small sums became due to me for books,
advertisements, postage of letters, and other matters, which were not
collected, when, in 1757, I was sent by the assembly to England as
their agent--and, by subsequent appointments, continued there till
1775--when, on my return, I was immediately engaged in the affairs of
congress, and sent to France in 1776, where I remained nine years,
not returning till 1785; and the said debts not being demanded in
such a length of time, are become in a manner obsolete, yet are
nevertheless justly due.--These as they are stated in my great
folio ledger, E, I bequeath to the contributors of the Pennsylvania
hospital; hoping that those debtors, and the descendants of such as
are deceased, who now, as I find, make some difficulty of satisfying
such antiquated demands as just debts, may, however, be induced to
pay or give them as charity to that excellent institution. I am
sensible that much must inevitably be lost; but I hope something
considerable may be recovered. It is possible too, that some of the
parties charged may have existing old unsettled accounts against me:
in which case the managers of the said hospital will allow and deduct
the amount, or pay the balance, if they find it against me.

I request my friends, Henry Hill, Esq. John Jay, Esq. Francis
Hopkinson, Esq. and Mr. Edward Duffield, of Bonfield, in Philadelphia
county, to be the executors of this my last will and testament, and I
hereby nominate and appoint them for that purpose.

I would have my body buried with as little expence or ceremony as may


  July 17, 1778.


I BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, in the foregoing or annexed last will and
testament, having further considered the same, do think proper to
make and publish the following codicil, in addition thereto.

It having long been a fixed and political opinion of mine, that in a
democratical state, there ought to be no offices of profit, for the
reasons I had given in an article of my drawing in our constitution,
it was my intention, when I accepted the office of president, to
devote the appointed salary to some public use; accordingly I had
already, before I made my last will in July last, given large sums of
it to colleges, schools, building of churches, &c.; and in that will
I bequeathed two thousand pounds more to the state, for the purpose
of making the Schuylkil navigable; but understanding since, that such
a sum will do but little, towards accomplishing such a work, and that
project is not likely to be undertaken for many years to come--and
having entertained another idea, which I hope may be more extensively
useful, I do hereby revoke and annul the bequest, and direct that
the certificates I have of what remains due to me of that salary, be
sold towards raising the sum of two thousand pounds sterling, to be
disposed of as I am now about to order.

It has been an opinion, that he who receives an estate from his
ancestors, is under some obligation to transmit the same to
posterity. This obligation lies not on me, who never inherited a
shilling from any ancestor or relation. I shall, however, if it is
not diminished by some accident before my death, leave a considerable
estate among my descendants and relations. The above observation is
made merely as some apology to my family, for my making bequests that
do not appear to have any immediate relation to their advantage.

I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in
literature to the free grammar schools established there. I have,
therefore, considered those schools in my will.

But I am also under obligations to the state of Massachussets, for
having, unasked, appointed me formerly their agent, with a handsome
salary, which continued some years; and although I accidentally lost
in their service, by transmitting governor Hutchinson's letters, much
more than the amount of what they gave me, I do not think that ought
in the least to diminish my gratitude. I have considered that, among
artisans, good apprentices are most likely to make good citizens, and
having myself been bred to a manual art, printing, in my native town,
and afterwards assisted to set up my business in Philadelphia by kind
loans of money from two friends there, which was the foundation of
my fortune, and of all the utility in life that may be ascribed to
me--I wish to be useful even after my death, if possible, in forming
and advancing other young men, that may be serviceable to their
country in both these towns.

To this end I devote two thousand pounds sterling, which I give,
one thousand thereof to the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in
Massachussets, and the other thousand to the inhabitants of the
city of Philadelphia, in trust, to and for the uses, intents, and
purposes, herein after mentioned and declared.

The said sum of one thousand pounds sterling, if accepted by the
inhabitants of the town of Boston, shall be managed under the
direction of the select men, united with the ministers of the oldest
episcopalian, congregational, and presbyterian churches in that town,
who are to let out the same at five per cent. per annum, to such
young married artificers, under the age of twenty-five years, as have
served an apprenticeship in the said town, and faithfully fulfilled
the duties required in their indentures, so as to obtain a good moral
character from at least two respectable citizens, who are willing to
become sureties in a bond, with the applicants, for the re-payment of
the money so lent, with interest, according to the terms hereinafter
prescribed; all which bonds are to be taken for Spanish milled
dollars, or the value thereof in current gold coin: and the manager
shall keep a bound book, or books, wherein shall be entered the
names of those who shall apply for, and receive the benefit of this
institution, and of their sureties, together with the sums lent,
the dates, and other necessary and proper records, respecting the
business and concerns of this institution: and as these loans are
intended to assist young married artificers, in setting up their
business, they are to be proportioned by the discretion of the
managers, so as not to exceed sixty pounds sterling to one person,
nor to be less than fifteen pounds.

And if the number of appliers so entitled should be so large as that
the sum will not suffice to afford to each as much as might otherwise
not be improper, the proportion to each shall be diminished, so as
to afford to every one some assistance. These aids may, therefore,
be small at first, but as the capital increases by the accumulated
interest, they will be more ample. And in order to serve as many as
possible in their turn, as well as to make the re-payment of the
principal borrowed more easy, each borrower shall be obliged to pay
with the yearly interest, one tenth part of the principal; which sums
of principal and interest so paid in, shall be again let out to fresh
borrowers. And it is presumed, that there will be always found in
Boston virtuous and benevolent citizens, willing to bestow a part of
their time in doing good to the rising generation, by superintending
and managing this institution gratis; it is hoped that no part of the
money will at any time lie dead, or be diverted to other purposes,
but be continually augmenting by the interest, in which case, there
may in time be more than the occasion in Boston may require; and
then some may be spared to the neighbouring or other towns, in the
said state of Massachusetts, which may desire to have it, such towns
engaging to pay punctually the interest, and the proportion of the
principal annually to the inhabitants of the town of Boston. If
this plan is executed, and succeeds, as projected, for one hundred
years, the sum will then be one hundred and thirty thousand pounds,
of which I would have the managers of the donation to the town of
Boston then lay out, at their discretion, one hundred thousand pounds
in public works, which may be judged of most general utility to the
inhabitants; such as fortifications, bridges, aqueducts, public
buildings, baths, pavements, or whatever may make living in the
town more convenient to its people, and render it more agreeable to
strangers resorting thither for health, or a temporary residence. The
remaining thirty-one thousand pounds I would have continued to be let
out to interest, in the manner above directed, for one hundred years;
as I hope it will have been found that the institution has had a good
effect on the conduct of youth, and been of service to many worthy
characters and useful citizens. At the end of this second term, if
no unfortunate accident has prevented the operation, the sum will
be four millions and sixty-one thousand pounds sterling, of which I
leave one million and sixty-one thousand pounds to the disposition
and management of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, and the
three millions to the disposition of the government of the state--not
presuming to carry my views farther.

All the directions herein given respecting the disposition and
management of the donation to the inhabitants of Boston, I would
have observed respecting that to the inhabitants of Philadelphia;
only, as Philadelphia is incorporated, I request the corporation
of that city to undertake the management, agreeable to the said
directions: and I do hereby vest them with full and ample powers
for that purpose. And having considered that the covering its
ground-plat with buildings and pavements, which carry off most of
the rain, and prevent its soaking into the earth, and renewing and
purifying the springs, whence the water of the wells must gradually
grow worse, and in time be unfit for use, as I find has happened in
all old cities; I recommend, that, at the end of the first hundred
years, if not done before, the corporation of the city employ a part
of the hundred thousand pounds in bringing by pipes the water of
Wissahickon-creek into the town, so as to supply the inhabitants,
which I apprehend may be done without great difficulty, the level
of that creek being much above that of the city, and may be made
higher by a dam. I also recommend making the Schuylkil completely
navigable. At the end of the second hundred years, I would have
the disposition of the four millions and sixty-one thousand pounds
divided between the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia and the
government of Pennsylvania, in the same manner as herein directed
with respect to that of the inhabitants of Boston and the government
of Massachusetts. It is my desire that this institution should
take place, and begin to operate within one year after my decease,
for which purpose due notice should be publicly given, previous
to the expiration of that year, that those for whose benefit this
establishment is intended may make their respective applications:
and I hereby direct my executors, the survivor or survivors of them,
within six months after my decease, to pay over the said sum of two
thousand pounds sterling to such persons as shall be duly appointed
by the select men of Boston, and the corporation of Philadelphia,
to receive and take charge of their respective sums of one thousand
pounds each, for the purposes aforesaid. Considering the accidents
to which all human affairs and projects are subject in such a
length of time, I have, perhaps, too much flattered myself with a
vain fancy, that these dispositions, if carried into execution, will
be continued without interruption, and have the effects proposed:
I hope, however, that if the inhabitants of the two cities should
not think fit to undertake the execution, they will at least accept
the offer of these donations, as a mark of my good will, token of
my gratitude, and testimony of my desire to be useful to them even
after my departure. I wish, indeed, that they may both undertake to
endeavour the execution of my project, because I think, that, though
unforeseen difficulties may arise, expedients will be found to remove
them, and the scheme be found practicable. If one of them accepts the
money with the conditions, and the other refuses, my will then is,
that both sums be given to the inhabitants of the city accepting;
the whole to be applied to the same purposes, and under the same
regulations directed for the separate parts; and, if both refuse, the
money remains of course in the mass of my estate, and it is to be
disposed of therewith, according to my will made the seventeenth day
of July, 1788.

My fine crab-tree walking-stick, with a gold head curiously wrought
in the form of the cap of Liberty, I give to my friend, and the
friend of mankind, General Washington. If it was a sceptre, he has
merited it, and would become it.


[14] This epitaph first appeared in a Boston news-paper established
and printed by Dr. Franklin. E.




_It may not be improper to present the reader with the following
extract from the preface to the first edition of Dr. Franklin's
papers on electricity, which, as we have stated in the advertisement,
formed a pamphlet only._

_"The following observations and experiments were not drawn up with a
view to their being made public, but were communicated at different
times, and most of them in letters, written on various topics, as
matters only of private amusement._

_"But some persons, to whom they were read, and who had themselves
been conversant in electrical disquisitions, were of opinion, they
contained so many curious and interesting particulars relative
to this affair, that it would be doing a kind of injustice to
the public, to confine them solely to the limits of a private

_"The editor was therefore prevailed upon to commit such extracts of
letters and other detached pieces as were in his hands to the press,
without waiting for the ingenious author's permission so to do; and
this was done with the less hesitation, as it was apprehended the
author's engagements in other affairs would scarce afford him leisure
to give the public his reflections and experiments on the subject,
finished with that care and precision, of which the treatise before
us shows he is alike studious and capable."_

_With respect to the general merit and originality of the experiments
and hypothesis of Dr. Franklin, as described and explained in these
letters, the following is the testimony of one of the first natural
philosophers of his age--the late Dr. Priestly, in his History of

_"Nothing was ever written upon the subject of electricity which was
more generally read and admired in all parts of Europe than these
letters. There is hardly any European language into which they have
not been translated; and, as if this were not sufficient to make
them properly known, a translation of them has lately been made into
Latin. It is not easy to say, whether we are most pleased with the
simplicity and perspicuity with which these letters are written, the
modesty with which the author proposes every hypothesis of his own,
or the noble frankness with which he relates his mistakes, when they
were corrected by subsequent experiments._

_"Though the English have not been backward in acknowledging the
great merit of this philosopher, he has had the singular good fortune
to be, perhaps, even more celebrated abroad than at home; so that,
to form a just idea of the great and deserved reputation of Dr.
Franklin, we must read the foreign publications on the subject of
electricity; in many of which the terms_ Franklinism, Franklinist,
_and the_ Franklinian system, _occur in almost every page. In
consequence of this, Dr. Franklin's principles bid fair to be handed
down to posterity as equally expressive of the true principles of
electricity, as the Newtonian philosophy is of the true system of
nature in general."_







  _Philadelphia, March 28, 1747._


Your kind present of an electric tube, with directions for using it,
has put several of us[15] on making electrical experiments, in which
we have observed some particular phenomena that we look upon to be
new. I shall therefore communicate them to you in my next, though
possibly they may not be new to you, as among the numbers daily
employed in those experiments on your side the water, it is probable
some one or other has hit on the same observations. For my own part,
I never was before engaged in any study that so totally engrossed my
attention and my time as this has lately done; for what with making
experiments when I can be alone, and repeating them to my friends and
acquaintance, who, from the novelty of the thing, come continually
in crowds to see them, I have, during some months past, had little
leisure for any thing else.

  I am, &c.



[15] i. e. of the _Library-Company_, an institution of the author's,
founded 1730. To which company the present was made[16].

[16] Where notes occur without a signature, in the Philosophical, or
other Papers, they are generally notes of the author.--EDITOR.


  _Wonderful Effect of Points.--Positive and negative
  Electricity.--Electrical Kiss.--Counterfeit Spider.--Simple and
  commodious electrical Machine._

  _Philadelphia, July 11, 1747._


In my last I informed you that, in pursuing our electrical enquiries,
we had observed some particular phenomena, which we looked upon to
be new, and of which I promised to give you some account, though I
apprehended they might not possibly be new to you, as so many hands
are daily employed in electrical experiments on your side the water,
some or other of which would probably hit on the same observations.

The first is the wonderful effect of pointed bodies, both in _drawing
off_ and _throwing off_ the electrical fire. For example,

Place an iron shot of three or four inches diameter on the mouth of
a clean dry glass bottle. By a fine silken thread from the cieling,
right over the mouth of the bottle, suspend a small cork-ball, about
the bigness of a marble; the thread of such a length, as that the
cork-ball may rest against the side of the shot. Electrify the shot,
and the ball will be repelled to the distance of four or five inches,
more or less, according to the quantity of electricity.--When in this
state, if you present to the shot the point of a long, slender, sharp
bodkin, at six or eight inches distance, the repellency is instantly
destroyed, and the cork flies to the shot. A blunt body must be
brought within an inch, and draw a spark to produce the same effect.
To prove that the electrical fire is _drawn off_ by the point, if
you take the blade of the bodkin out of the wooden handle, and fix
it in a stick of sealing-wax, and then present it at the distance
aforesaid, or if you bring it very near, no such effect follows; but
sliding one finger along the wax till you touch the blade, and the
ball flies to the shot immediately.--If you present the point in the
dark, you will see, sometimes at a foot distance and more, a light
gather upon it, like that of a fire-fly, or glow-worm; the less sharp
the point, the nearer you must bring it to observe the light; and at
whatever distance you see the light, you may draw off the electrical
fire, and destroy the repellency.--If a cork-ball so suspended be
repelled by the tube, and a point be presented quick to it, though
at a considerable distance, it is surprising to see how suddenly it
flies back to the tube. Points of wood will do near as well as those
of iron, provided the wood is not dry; for perfectly dry wood will no
more conduct electricity than sealing-wax.

To shew that points will _throw off_[17] as well as _draw off_ the
electrical fire; lay a long sharp needle upon the shot, and you
cannot electrise the shot so as to make it repel the cork-ball.--Or
fix a needle to the end of a suspended gun-barrel, or iron-rod, so as
to point beyond it like a little bayonet[18]; and while it remains
there, the gun-barrel, or rod, cannot by applying the tube to the
other end be electrised so as to give a spark, the fire continually
running out silently at the point. In the dark you may see it make
the same appearance as it does in the case before-mentioned.

The repellency between the cork-ball and the shot is likewise
destroyed. 1. By sifting fine sand on it; this does it gradually.
2. By breathing on it. 3. By making a smoke about it from burning
wood[19]. 4. By candle-light, even though the candle is at a foot
distance: these do it suddenly.--The light of a bright coal from
a wood fire; and the light of a red-hot iron do it likewise; but
not at so great a distance. Smoke from dry rosin dropt on hot iron,
does not destroy the repellency; but is attracted by both shot and
cork-ball, forming proportionable atmospheres round them, making them
look beautifully, somewhat like some of the figures in Burnet's or
Whiston's Theory of the Earth.

_N.B._ This experiment should be made in a closet, where the air is
very still, or it will be apt to fail.

The light of the sun thrown strongly on both cork and shot by
a looking-glass for a long time together, does not impair the
repellency in the least. This difference between fire-light and
sun-light is another thing that seems new and extraordinary to us[20].

We had for some time been of opinion, that the electrical fire was
not created by friction, but collected, being really an element
diffused among, and attracted by other matter, particularly by water
and metals. We had even discovered and demonstrated its afflux to
the electrical sphere, as well as its efflux, by means of little
light windmill-wheels made of stiff paper vanes, fixed obliquely, and
turning freely on fine wire axes.

Also by little wheels of the same matter, but formed like
water-wheels. Of the disposition and application of which wheels,
and the various phenomena resulting, I could, if I had time, fill
you a sheet[21]. The impossibility of electrising one's self (though
standing on wax) by rubbing the tube, and drawing the fire from it;
and the manner of doing it, by passing the tube near a person or
thing standing on the floor, &c. had also occurred to us some months
before Mr. Watson's ingenious _Sequel_ came to hand, and these were
some of the new things I intended to have communicated to you.--But
now I need only mention some particulars not hinted in that piece,
with our reasonings thereupon: though perhaps the latter might well
enough be spared.

1. A person standing on wax, and rubbing the tube, and another person
on wax drawing the fire, they will both of them (provided they do
not stand so as to touch one another) appear to be electrised, to a
person standing on the floor; that is, he will perceive a spark on
approaching each of them with his knuckle.

2. But if the persons on wax touch one another during the exciting of
the tube, neither of them will appear to be electrised.

3. If they touch one another after exciting the tube, and drawing the
fire as aforesaid, there will be a stronger spark between them than
was between either of them and the person on the floor.

4. After such strong spark, neither of them discover any electricity.

These appearances we attempt to account for thus: We suppose, as
aforesaid, that electrical fire is a common element, of which every
one of the three persons abovementioned has his equal share, before
any operation is begun with the tube. _A_, who stands on wax and
rubs the tube, collects the electrical fire from himself into the
glass; and his communication with the common stock being cut off
by the wax, his body is not again immediately supplied. _B_,(who
stands on wax likewise) passing his knuckle along near the tube,
receives the fire which was collected by the glass from _A_; and
his communication with the common stock being likewise cut off, he
retains the additional quantity received.--To _C_, standing on the
floor, both appear to be electrised: for he having only the middle
quantity of electrical fire, receives a spark upon approaching _B_,
who has an over quantity; but gives one to _A_, who has an under
quantity. If _A_ and _B_ approach to touch each other, the spark is
stronger, because the difference between them is greater: After such
touch there is no spark between either of them and _C_, because the
electrical fire in all is reduced to the original equality. If they
touch while electrising, the equality is never destroyed, the fire
only circulating. Hence have arisen some new terms among us; we say
_B_, (and bodies like circumstanced) is electrised _positively_; _A_,
_negatively_. Or rather, _B_ is electrised _plus_; _A_, _minus_. And
we daily in our experiments electrise bodies _plus_ or _minus_, as
we think proper.--To electrise _plus_ or _minus_, no more needs to
be known than this, that the parts of the tube or sphere that are
rubbed, do, in the instant of the friction, attract the electrical
fire, and therefore take it from the thing rubbing: the same parts
immediately, as the friction upon them ceases, are disposed to give
the fire they have received, to any body that has less. Thus you may
circulate it, as Mr. Watson has shewn; you may also accumulate or
subtract it, upon, or from any body, as you connect that body with
the rubber or with the receiver, the communication with the common
stock being cut off. We think that ingenious gentleman was deceived
when he imagined (in his _Sequel_) that the electrical fire came down
the wire from the cieling to the gun-barrel, thence to the sphere,
and so electrised the machine and the man turning the wheel, &c. We
suppose it was _driven off_, and not brought on through that wire;
and that the machine and man, &c. were electrised _minus_; _i. e._
had less electrical fire in them than things in common.

As the vessel is just upon sailing, I cannot give you so large an
account of American electricity as I intended: I shall only mention
a few particulars more.--We find granulated lead better to fill the
phial with, than water, being easily warmed, and keeping warm and
dry in damp air.--We fire spirits with the wire of the phial.--We
light candles, just blown out, by drawing a spark among the smoke
between the wire and snuffers.--We represent lightning, by passing
the wire in the dark, over a china plate that has gilt flowers, or
applying it to gilt frames of looking-glasses, &c.--We electrise a
person twenty or more times running, with a touch of the finger on
the wire, thus: He stands on wax. Give him the electrised bottle in
his hand. Touch the wire with your finger, and then touch his hand
or face; there are sparks every time[22].--We encrease the force of
the electrical kiss vastly, thus: Let _A_ and _B_ stand on wax; or
_A_ on wax, and _B_ on the floor; give one of them the electrised
phial in hand; let the other take hold of the wire; there will be
a small spark; but when their lips approach, they will be struck
and shock'd. The same if another gentleman and lady, _C_ and _D_,
standing also on wax, and joining hands with _A_ and _B_, salute or
shake hands. We suspend by fine silk thread a counterfeit spider,
made of a small piece of burnt cork, with legs of linnen thread, and
a grain or two of lead stuck in him, to give him more weight. Upon
the table, over which he hangs, we stick a wire upright, as high as
the phial and wire, four or five inches from the spider: then we
animate him, by setting the electrified phial at the same distance
on the other side of him; he will immediately fly to the wire of
the phial, bend his legs in touching it, then spring off, and fly
to the wire in the table, thence again to the wire of the phial,
playing with his legs against both, in a very entertaining manner,
appearing perfectly alive to persons unacquainted. He will continue
this motion an hour or more in dry weather.--We electrify, upon wax
in the dark, a book that has a double line of gold round upon the
covers, and then apply a knuckle to the gilding; the fire appears
every where upon the gold like a flash of lightning: not upon the
leather, nor, if you touch the leather instead of the gold. We rub
our tubes with buckskin, and observe always to keep the same side to
the tube, and never to sully the tube by handling; thus they work
readily and easily, without the least fatigue, especially if kept in
tight pasteboard cases, lined with flannel, and sitting close to the
tube[23]. This I mention, because the European papers on electricity
frequently speak of rubbing the tube as a fatiguing exercise. Our
spheres are fixed on iron axes, which pass through them. At one end
of the axis there is a small handle, with which you turn the sphere
like a common grind-stone. This we find very commodious, as the
machine takes up but little room, is portable, and may be enclosed in
a tight box, when not in use. It is true, the sphere does not turn
so swift as when the great wheel is used: but swiftness we think
of little importance, since a few turns will charge the phial, &c.

  I am, &c.



[17] This power of points to _throw off_ the electrical fire, was
first communicated to me by my ingenious friend Mr. Thomas Hopkinson,
since deceased, whose virtue and integrity, in every station of life,
public and private, will ever make his memory dear to those who knew
him, and knew how to value him.

[18] This was Mr. Hopkinson's experiment, made with an expectation
of drawing a more sharp and powerful spark from the point, as from a
kind of focus, and he was surprised to find little or none.

[19] We suppose every particle of sand, moisture, or smoke, being
first attracted and then repelled, carries off with it a portion
of the electrical fire; but that the same still subsists in those
particles, till they communicate it to something else, and that it is
never really destroyed. So when water is thrown on common fire, we do
not imagine the element is thereby destroyed or annihilated, but only
dispersed, each particle of water carrying off in vapour its portion
of the fire, which it had attracted and attached to itself.

[20] This different effect probably did not arise from any difference
in the light, but rather from the particles separated from the
candle, being first attracted and then repelled, carrying off the
electric matter with them; and from the rarefying the air, between
the glowing coal or red-hot iron, and the electrised shot, through
which rarefied air the electric fluid could more readily pass.

[21] These experiments with the wheels, were made and communicated
to me by my worthy and ingenious friend Mr. Philip Syng; but we
afterwards discovered that the motion of those wheels was not owing
to any afflux or efflux of the electric fluid, but to various
circumstances of attraction and repulsion. 1750.

[22] By taking a spark from the wire, the electricity within the
bottle is diminished; the outside of the bottle then draws some from
the person holding it, and leaves him in the negative state. Then
when his hand or face is touched, an equal quantity is restored to
him from the person touching.

[23] Our tubes are made here of green glass, 27 or 30 inches long, as
big as can be grasped.

[24] This simple easily-made machine was a contrivance of Mr. Syng's.


  _Observations on the Leyden Bottle, with Experiments proving the
  different electrical State of its different Surfaces._

  _Philadelphia, Sept. 1, 1747._


The necessary trouble of copying long letters, which, perhaps, when
they come to your hands, may contain nothing new, or worth your
reading, (so quick is the progress made with you in electricity) half
discourages me from writing any more on that subject. Yet I cannot
forbear adding a few observations on M. Muschenbroek's wonderful

1. The non-electric contained in the bottle differs, when electrised,
from a non-electric electrised out of the bottle, in this: that the
electrical fire of the latter is accumulated _on its surface_, and
forms an electrical atmosphere round it of considerable extent; but
the electrical fire is crowded _into the substance_ of the former,
the glass confining it[25].

2. At the same time that the wire and the top of the bottle, &c.
is electrised _positively_ or _plus_, the bottom of the bottle is
electrised _negatively_ or _minus_, in exact proportion: _i. e._
whatever quantity of electrical fire is thrown in at the top, an
equal quantity goes out of the bottom[26]. To understand this,
suppose the common quantity of electricity in each part of the
bottle, before the operation begins, is equal to 20; and at every
stroke of the tube, suppose a quantity equal to 1 is thrown in; then,
after the first stroke, the quantity contained in the wire and upper
part of the bottle will be 21, in the bottom 19. After the second,
the upper part will have 22, the lower 18, and so on, till, after 20
strokes, the upper part will have a quantity of electrical fire equal
to 40, the lower part none: and then the operation ends: for no more
can be thrown into the upper part, when no more can be driven out of
the lower part. If you attempt to throw more in, it is spewed back
through the wire, or flies out in loud cracks through the sides of
the bottle.

3. The equilibrium cannot be restored in the bottle by _inward_
communication or contact of the parts; but it must be done by a
communication formed _without_ the bottle, between the top and
bottom, by some non-electric, touching or approaching both at the
same time; in which case it is restored with a violence and quickness
inexpressible; or, touching each alternately, in which case the
equilibrium is restored by degrees.

4. As no more electrical fire can be thrown into the top of the
bottle, when all is driven out of the bottom, so in a bottle not
yet electrised, none can be thrown into the top, when none _can_
get out at the bottom; which happens either when the bottom is too
thick, or when the bottle is placed on an electric _per se_. Again,
when the bottle is electrised, but little of the electrical fire can
be _drawn out_ from the top, by touching the wire, unless an equal
quantity can at the same time _get in_ at the bottom[27]. Thus, place
an electrised bottle on clean glass or dry wax, and you will not,
by touching the wire, get out the fire from the top. Place it on a
non-electric, and touch the wire, you will get it out in a short
time; but soonest when you form a direct communication as above.

So wonderfully are these two states of electricity, the _plus_ and
_minus_, combined and balanced in this miraculous bottle! situated
and related to each other in a manner that I can by no means
comprehend! If it were possible that a bottle should in one part
contain a quantity of air strongly comprest, and in another part a
perfect vacuum, we know the equilibrium would be instantly restored
_within_. But here we have a bottle containing at the same time
a _plenum_ of electrical fire, and a _vacuum_ of the same fire;
and yet the equilibrium cannot be restored between them but by a
communication _without!_ though the _plenum_ presses violently to
expand, and the hungry vacuum seems to attract as violently in order
to be filled.

5. The shock to the nerves (or convulsion rather) is occasioned by
the sudden passing of the fire through the body in its way from the
top to the bottom of the bottle. The fire takes the shortest[28]
course, as Mr. Watson justly observes: But it does not appear from
experiment that in order for a person to be shocked, a communication
with the floor is necessary: for he that holds the bottle with one
hand, and touches the wire with the other, will be shocked as much,
though his shoes be dry, or even standing on wax, as otherwise. And
on the touch of the wire, (or of the gun-barrel, which is the same
thing) the fire does not proceed from the touching finger to the
wire, as is supposed, but from the wire to the finger, and passes
through the body to the other hand, and so into the bottom of the

_Experiments confirming the above._


Place an electrised phial on wax; a small cork-ball suspended by a
dry silk thread held in your hand, and brought near to the wire,
will first be attracted, and then repelled: when in this state of
repellency, sink your hand, that the ball may be brought towards
the bottom of the bottle; it will be there instantly and strongly
attracted, till it has parted with its fire.

If the bottle had a _positive_ electrical atmosphere, as well as the
wire, an electrified cork would be repelled from one as well as from
the other.

[Illustration: (of the experiments below)

  _Plate I._        _Vol. I. page 182._

_Published as the Act directs, April 1, 1806, by Longman, Hurst, Rees
& Orme, Paternoster Row._]


FIG. 1. From a bent wire (_a_) sticking in the table, let a small
linen thread (_b_) hang down within half an inch of the electrised
phial (_c_). Touch the wire or the phial repeatedly with your finger,
and at every touch you will see the thread instantly attracted by
the bottle. (This is best done by a vinegar cruet, or some such
bellied-bottle). As soon as you draw any fire out from the upper
part, by touching the wire, the lower part of the bottle draws an
equal quantity in by the thread.


FIG. 2. Fix a wire in the lead, with which the bottom of the bottle
is armed (_d_) so as that bending upwards, its ring-end may be level
with the top or ring-end of the wire in the cork (_e_) and at three
or four inches distance. Then electrise the bottle, and place it on
wax. If a cork suspended by a silk thread (_f_) hang between these
two wires, it will play incessantly from one to the other, till the
bottle is no longer electrised; that is, it fetches and carries fire
from the top to the bottom[29] of the bottle, till the equilibrium is


FIG. 3. Place an electrised phial on wax; take a wire (_g_) in
form of a _C_, the ends at such a distance when bent, as that the
upper may touch the wire of the bottle, when the lower touches the
bottom: stick the outer part on a stick of sealing-wax (_h_), which
will serve as a handle; then apply the lower end to the bottom of
the bottle, and gradually bring the upper end near the wire in the
cork. The consequence is, spark follows spark till the equilibrium
is restored. Touch the top first, and on approaching the bottom,
with the other end, you have a constant stream of fire from the wire
entering the bottle. Touch the top and bottom together, and the
equilibrium will instantly be restored, the crooked wire forming the


FIG. 4. Let a ring of thin lead, or paper, surround a bottle (_i_)
even at some distance from or above the bottom. From that ring let a
wire proceed up, till it touch the wire of the cork (_k_). A bottle
so fixt cannot by any means be electrised: the equilibrium is never
destroyed: for while the communication between the upper and lower
parts of the bottle is continued by the outside wire, the fire only
circulates: what is driven out at bottom, is constantly supplied
from the top[30]. Hence a bottle cannot be electrised that is foul
or moist on the outside, if such moisture continue up to the cork or


Place a man on a cake of wax, and present him the wire of the
electrified phial to touch, you standing on the floor, and holding
it in your hand. As often as he touches it, he will be electrified
_plus_; and any one standing on the floor may draw a spark from him.
The fire in this experiment passes out of the wire into him; and at
the same time out of your hand into the bottom of the bottle.


Give him the electrical phial to hold; and do you touch the wire; as
often as you touch it he will be electrified _minus_, and may draw a
spark from any one standing on the floor. The fire now passes from
the wire to you, and from him into the bottom of the bottle.


Lay two books on two glasses, back towards back, two or three inches
distant. Set the electrified phial on one, and then touch the wire;
that book will be electrified _minus_; the electrical fire being
drawn out of it by the bottom of the bottle. Take off the bottle, and
holding it in your hand, touch the other with the wire; that book
will be electrified _plus_; the fire passing into it from the wire,
and the bottle at the same time supplied from your hand. A suspended
small cork-ball will play between these books till the equilibrium is


When a body is electrised _plus_, it will repel a positively
electrified feather or small cork-ball. When _minus_ (or when in the
common state) it will attract them, but stronger when _minus_ than
when in the common state, the difference being greater.


Though, as in _Experiment_ VI, a man standing on wax may be
electrised a number of times by repeatedly touching the wire of an
electrised bottle (held in the hand of one standing on the floor)
he receiving the fire from the wire each time: yet holding it in his
own hand, and touching the wire, though he draws a strong spark, and
is violently shocked, no electricity remains in him; the fire only
passing through him, from the upper to the lower part of the bottle.
Observe, before the shock, to let some one on the floor touch him to
restore the equilibrium in his body; for in taking hold of the bottom
of the bottle, he sometimes becomes a little electrised _minus_,
which will continue after the shock, as would also any _plus_
electricity, which he might have given him before the shock. For
restoring the equilibrium in the bottle, does not at all affect the
electricity in the man through whom the fire passes; that electricity
is neither increased nor diminished.


The passing of the electrical fire from the upper to the lower
part[31] of the bottle, to restore the equilibrium, is rendered
strongly visible by the following pretty experiment. Take a book
whose covering is filletted with gold; bend a wire of eight or ten
inches long, in the form of (_m_) Fig. 5; slip it on the end of
the cover of the book, over the gold line, so as that the shoulder
of it may press upon one end of the gold line, the ring up, but
leaning towards the other end of the book. Lay the book on a glass
or wax[32], and on the other end of the gold lines set the bottle
electrised; then bend the springing wire, by pressing it with a
stick of wax till its ring approaches the ring of the bottle wire,
instantly there is a strong spark and stroke, and the whole line
of gold, which completes the communication, between the top and
bottom of the bottle, will appear a vivid flame, like the sharpest
lightning. The closer the contact between the shoulder of the wire,
and the gold at one end of the line, and between the bottom of the
bottle and the gold at the other end, the better the experiment
succeeds. The room should be darkened. If you would have the whole
filletting round the cover appear in fire at once, let the bottle and
wire touch the gold in the diagonally opposite corners.

  I am, &c.



[25] See this opinion rectified in § 16 and 17 of the next letter.
The fire in the bottle was found by subsequent experiments not to be
contained in the non-electric, but _in the glass_. 1748.

[26] What is said here, and after, of the _top_ and _bottom_ of the
bottle, is true of the _inside_ and _outside_ surfaces, and should
have been so expressed.

[27] See the preceding note, relating to _top_ and _bottom_.

[28] Other circumstances being equal.

[29] _i. e._ from the inside to the outside.

[30] See the preceding note, relating to _top_ and _bottom_.

[31] _i. e._ From the _inside_ to the _outside_.

[32] Placing the book on glass or wax is not necessary to produce the
appearance; it is only to show that the visible electricity is not
brought up from the common stock in the earth.


  _Farther Experiments confirming the preceding Observations.--Leyden
  Bottle analysed.--Electrical Battery.--Magical Picture.--Electrical
  Wheel or Jack.--Electrical Feast._

  _Philadelphia, 1748._


§ 1. There will be the same explosion and shock if the electrified
phial is held in one hand by the hook, and the coating touched with
the other, as when held by the coating, and touched at the hook.

2. To take the charged phial safely by the hook, and not at the same
time diminish its force, it must first be set down on an electric
_per se_.

3. The phial will be electrified as strongly, if held by the hook,
and the coating applied to the globe or tube; as when held by the
coating, and the hook applied[33].

4. But the _direction_ of the electrical fire being different in the
charging, will also be different in the explosion. The bottle charged
through the hook, will be discharged through the hook; the bottle
charged through the coating, will be discharged through the coating,
and not otherways; for the fire must come out the same way it went in.

5. To prove this, take two bottles that were equally charged through
the hooks, one in each hand: bring their hooks near each other, and
no spark or shock will follow; because each hook is disposed to
give fire, and neither to receive it. Set one of the bottles down
on glass, take it up by the hook, and apply its coating to the hook
of the other; then there will be an explosion and shock, and both
bottles will be discharged.

6. Vary the experiment, by charging two phials equally, one through
the hook, the other through the coating: hold that by the coating
which was charged through the hook; and that by the hook which was
charged through the coating: apply the hook of the first to the
coating of the other, and there will be no shock or spark. Set that
down on glass which you held by the hook, take it up by the coating,
and bring the two hooks together: a spark and shock will follow, and
both phials be discharged.

In this experiment the bottles are totally discharged, or the
equilibrium within them restored. The _abounding_ of fire in one of
the hooks (or rather in the internal surface of one bottle) being
exactly equal to the _wanting_ of the other: and therefore, as each
bottle has in itself the _abounding_ as well as the _wanting_,
the wanting and abounding must be equal in each bottle. See § 8,
9, 10, 11. But if a man holds in his hands two bottles, one fully
electrified, the other not at all, and brings their hooks together,
he has but half a shock, and the bottles will both remain half
electrified, the one being half discharged, and the other half

7. Place two phials equally charged on a table at five or six inches
distance. Let a cork-ball, suspended by a silk thread, hang between
them. If the phials were both charged through their hooks, the
cork, when it has been attracted and repelled by the one, will not
be attracted, but equally repelled by the other. But if the phials
were charged, the one through the hook, and the other[34] through
the coating, the ball, when it is repelled from one hook, will be as
strongly attracted by the other, and play vigorously between them,
fetching the electric fluid from the one, and delivering it to the
other, till both phials are nearly discharged.

8. When we use the terms of _charging_ and _discharging_ the phial,
it is in compliance with custom, and for want of others more
suitable. Since we are of opinion that there is really no more
electrical fire in the phial after what is called its _charging_,
than before, nor less after its _discharging_; excepting only the
small spark that might be given to, and taken from the non-electric
matter, if separated from the bottle, which spark may not be equal to
a five hundredth part of what is called the explosion.

For if, on the explosion, the electrical fire came out of the bottle
by one part, and did not enter in again by another, then, if a man,
standing on wax, and holding the bottle in one hand, takes the spark
by touching the wire hook with the other, the bottle being thereby
_discharged_, the man would be _charged_; or whatever fire was lost
by one, would be found in the other, since there was no way for its
escape: but the contrary is true.

9. Besides, the phial will not suffer what is called a _charging_,
unless as much fire can go out of it one way, as is thrown in by
another. A phial cannot be charged standing on wax or glass, or
hanging on the prime conductor, unless a communication be formed
between its coating and the floor.

10. But suspend two or more phials on the prime conductor, one
hanging on the tail of the other; and a wire from the last to the
floor, an equal number of turns of the wheel shall charge them all
equally, and every one as much as one alone would have been. What is
driven out at the tail of the first, serving to charge the second;
what is driven out of the second charging the third; and so on. By
this means a great number of bottles might be charged with the same
labour, and equally high, with one alone; were it not that every
bottle receives new fire, and loses its old with some reluctance, or
rather gives some small resistance to the charging, which in a number
of bottles becomes more equal to the charging power, and so repels
the fire back again on the globe, sooner in proportion than a single
bottle would do.

11. When a bottle is charged in the common way, its _inside_ and
_outside_ surfaces stand ready, the one to give fire by the hook,
the other to receive it by the coating; the one is full, and ready
to throw out, the other empty and extremely hungry; yet as the
first will not _give out_, unless the other can at the same instant
_receive in_; so neither will the latter receive in, unless the first
can at the same instant give out. When both can be done at once, it
is done with inconceivable quickness and violence.

12. So a straight spring (though the comparison does not agree in
every particular) when forcibly bent, must, to restore itself,
contract that side which in the bending was extended, and extend that
which was contracted; if either of these two operations be hindered,
the other cannot be done. But the spring is not said to be _charged_
with elasticity when bent, and discharged when unbent; its quantity
of elasticity is always the same.

13. Glass, in like manner, has, within its substance, always the
same quantity of electrical fire, and that a very great quantity in
proportion to the mass of glass, as shall be shewn hereafter.

14. This quantity, proportioned to the glass, it strongly and
obstinately retains, and will have neither more nor less, though it
will suffer a change to be made in its parts and situation; _i. e._
we may take away part of it from one of the sides, provided we throw
an equal quantity into the other.

15. Yet when the situation of the electrical fire is thus altered in
the glass; when some has been taken from one side, and some added to
the other, it will not be at rest or in its natural state, till it
is restored to its original equality. And this restitution cannot
be made through the substance of the glass, but must be done by a
non-electric communication formed without, from surface to surface.

16. Thus, the whole force of the bottle, and power of giving a
shock, is in the GLASS ITSELF; the non-electrics in contact with the
two surfaces, serving only to _give_ and _receive_ to and from the
several parts of the glass; that is, to give on one side, and take
away from the other.

17. This was discovered here in the following manner: Purposing to
analyse the electrified bottle, in order to find wherein its strength
lay, we placed it on glass, and drew out the cork and wire which
for that purpose had been loosely put in. Then taking the bottle
in one hand, and bringing a finger of the other near its mouth, a
strong spark came from the water, and the shock was as violent as
if the wire had remained in it, which shewed that the force did not
lie in the wire. Then to find if it resided in the water, being
crowded into and condensed in it, as confined by the glass, which
had been our former opinion, we electrified the bottle again, and
placing it on glass, drew out the wire and cork as before; then
taking up the bottle, we decanted all its water into an empty bottle,
which likewise stood on glass; and taking up that other bottle, we
expected, if the force resided in the water, to find a shock from
it; but there was none. We judged then that it must either be lost
in decanting, or remain in the first bottle. The latter we found to
be true; for that bottle on trial gave the shock, though filled up
as it stood with fresh unelectrified water from a tea-pot.--To find,
then, whether glass had this property merely as glass, or whether
the form contributed any thing to it; we took a pane of sash-glass,
and laying it on the hand, placed a plate of lead on its upper
surface; then electrified that plate, and bringing a finger to it,
there was a spark and shock. We then took two plates of lead of equal
dimensions, but less than the glass by two inches every way, and
electrified the glass between them, by electrifying the uppermost
lead; then separated the glass from the lead, in doing which, what
little fire might be in the lead was taken out, and the glass being
touched in the electrified parts with a finger, afforded only very
small pricking sparks, but a great number of them might be taken from
different places. Then dextrously placing it again between the leaden
plates, and compleating a circle between the two surfaces, a violent
shock ensued.--Which demonstrated the power to reside in glass as
glass, and that the non-electrics in contact served only, like the
armature of a loadstone, to unite the force of the several parts, and
bring them at once to any point desired: it being the property of a
non-electric, that the whole body instantly receives or gives what
electrical fire is given to or taken from any one of its parts.

18. Upon this we made what we called an _electrical-battery_,
consisting of eleven panes of large sash-glass, armed with thin
leaden plates, pasted on each side, placed vertically, and supported
at two inches distance on silk cords, with thick hooks of leaden
wire, one from each side, standing upright, distant from each other,
and convenient communications of wire and chain, from the giving
side of one pane, to the receiving side of the other; that so the
whole might be charged together, and with the same labour as one
single pane; and another contrivance to bring the giving sides,
after charging, in contact with one long wire, and the receivers
with another, which two long wires would give the force of all the
plates of glass at once through the body of any animal forming the
circle with them. The plates may also be discharged separately, or
any number together that is required. But this machine is not much
used, as not perfectly answering our intention with regard to the
ease of charging, for the reason given, _Sec. 10._ We made also of
large glass panes, magical pictures, and self-moving animated wheels,
presently to be described.

19. I perceive by the ingenious Mr. Watson's last book, lately
received, that Dr. Bevis had used, before we had, panes of glass to
give a shock[35]; though, till that book came to hand, I thought to
have communicated it to you as a novelty. The excuse for mentioning
it here is, that we tried the experiment differently, drew different
consequences from it (for Mr. Watson still seems to think the fire
_accumulated on the non-electric_ that is in contact with the glass,
p. 72) and, as far as we hitherto know, have carried it farther.

20. The magical picture[36] is made thus. Having a large metzotinto
with a frame and glass, suppose of the KING (God preserve him) take
out the print, and cut a pannel out of it near two inches distant
from the frame all round. If the cut is through the picture it is not
the worse. With thin paste, or gum-water, fix the border that is cut
off on the inside the glass, pressing it smooth and close; then fill
up the vacancy by gilding the glass well with leaf-gold, or brass.
Gild likewise the inner edge of the back of the frame all round,
except the top part, and form a communication between that gilding
and the gilding behind the glass: then put in the board, and that
side is finished. Turn up the glass, and gild the fore side exactly
over the back gilding, and when it is dry, cover it, by pasting on
the pannel of the picture that hath been cut out, observing to bring
the correspondent parts of the border and picture together, by which
the picture will appear of a piece, as at first, only part is behind
the glass, and part before. Hold the picture horizontally by the
top, and place a little moveable gilt crown on the king's head. If
now the picture be moderately electrified, and another person take
hold of the frame with one hand, so that his fingers touch its inside
gilding, and with the other hand endeavour to take off the crown, he
will receive a terrible blow, and fail in the attempt. If the picture
were highly charged, the consequence might perhaps be as fatal[37] as
that of high treason, for when the spark is taken through a quire of
paper laid on the picture by means of a wire communication, it makes
a fair hole through every sheet, that is, through forty-eight leaves,
though a quire of paper is thought good armour against the push of
a sword, or even against a pistol bullet, and the crack is exceeding
loud. The operator, who holds the picture by the upper end, where
the inside of the frame is not gilt, to prevent its falling, feels
nothing of the shock, and may touch the face of the picture without
danger, which he pretends is a test of his loyalty.--If a ring of
persons take the shock among them, the experiment is called, _The

21. On the principle, in _Sec. 7_, that hooks of bottles, differently
charged, will attract and repel differently, is made an electrical
wheel, that turns with considerable strength. A small upright shaft
of wood passes at right angles through a thin round board, of about
twelve inches diameter, and turns on a sharp point of iron, fixed
in the lower end, while a strong wire in the upper end, passing
through a small hole in a thin brass plate, keeps the shaft truly
vertical. About thirty _radii_ of equal length, made of sash-glass,
cut in narrow strips, issue horizontally from the circumference of
the board, the ends most distant from the centre, being about four
inches apart. On the end of every one, a brass thimble is fixed. If
now the wire of a bottle electrified in the common way, be brought
near the circumference of this wheel, it will attract the nearest
thimble, and so put the wheel in motion; that thimble, in passing
by, receives a spark and thereby being electrified is repelled, and
so driven forwards; while a second being attracted, approaches the
wire, receives a spark, and is driven after the first, and so on till
the wheel has gone once round, when the thimbles before electrified
approaching the wire, instead of being attracted as they were at
first, are repelled, and the motion presently ceases.--But if
another bottle, which had been charged through the coating, be placed
near the same wheel, its wire will attract the thimble repelled by
the first, and thereby double the force that carries the wheel round;
and not only taking out the fire that had been communicated to the
thimbles by the first bottle, but even robbing them of their natural
quantity, instead of being repelled when they come again towards the
first bottle, they are more strongly attracted, so that the wheel
mends its pace, till it goes with great rapidity twelve or fifteen
rounds in a minute, and with such strength, as that the weight of one
hundred Spanish dollars with which we once loaded it, did not seem in
the least to retard its motion.--This is called an electrical jack;
and if a large fowl were spitted on the upright shaft, it would be
carried round before a fire with a motion fit for roasting.

22. But this wheel, like those driven by wind, water, or weights,
moves by a foreign force, to wit, that of the bottles. The
self-moving wheel, though constructed on the same principles, appears
more surprising. It is made of a thin round plate of window-glass,
seventeen inches diameter, well gilt on both sides, all but two
inches next the edge. Two small hemispheres of wood are then fixed
with cement to the middle of the upper and under sides, centrally
opposite, and in each of them a thick strong wire eight or ten
inches long, which together make the axis of the wheel. It turns
horizontally on a point at the lower end of its axis, which rests on
a bit of brass cemented within a glass salt-cellar. The upper end
of its axis passes through a hole in a thin brass plate cemented to
a long strong piece of glass, which keeps it six or eight inches
distant from any non-electric, and has a small ball of wax or metal
on its top, to keep in the fire. In a circle on the table which
supports the wheel, are fixed twelve small pillars of glass, at
about four inches distance, with a thimble on the top of each. On
the edge of the wheel is a small leaden bullet, communicating by
a wire with the gilding of the _upper_ surface of the wheel; and
about six inches from it is another bullet, communicating in like
manner with the _under_ surface. When the wheel is to be charged
by the upper surface, a communication must be made from the under
surface to the table. When it is well charged it begins to move; the
bullet nearest to a pillar moves towards the thimble on that pillar,
and passing by electrifies it, and then pushes itself from it; the
succeeding bullet, which communicates with the other surface of the
glass, more strongly attracts that thimble, on account of its being
before electrified by the other bullet; and thus the wheel encreases
its motion till it comes to such a height as that the resistance of
the air regulates it. It will go half an hour, and make one minute
with another twenty turns in a minute, which is six hundred turns
in the whole; the bullet of the upper surface giving in each turn
twelve sparks to the thimbles, which makes seven thousand two hundred
sparks: and the bullet of the under surface receiving as many from
the thimbles; those bullets moving in the time near two thousand five
hundred feet.--The thimbles are well fixed, and in so exact a circle,
that the bullets may pass within a very small distance of each of
them.--If instead of two bullets you put eight, four communicating
with the upper surface, and four with the under surface, placed
alternately, which eight, at about six inches distance, completes the
circumference, the force and swiftness will be greatly increased, the
wheel making fifty turns in a minute; but then it will not continue
moving so long.--These wheels may be applied, perhaps, to the ringing
of chimes,[38] and moving of light-made orreries.

23. A small wire bent circularly, with a loop at each end; let one
end rest against the under surface of the wheel, and bring the other
end near the upper surface, it will give a terrible crack, and the
force will be discharged.

24. Every spark in that manner drawn from the surface of the wheel,
makes a round hole in the gilding, tearing off a part of it in coming
out; which shews that the fire is not accumulated on the gilding, but
is in the glass itself.

25. The gilding being varnished over with turpentine varnish, the
varnish, though dry and hard, is burnt by the spark drawn through
it, and gives a strong smell and visible smoke. And when the spark
is drawn thro' paper, all round the hole made by it, the paper will
be blacked by the smoke, which sometimes penetrates several of the
leaves. Part of the gilding torn off is also found forcibly driven
into the hole made in the paper by the stroke.

26. It is amazing to observe in how small a portion of glass a
great electrical force may lie. A thin glass bubble, about an inch
diameter, weighing only six grains, being half filled with water,
partly gilt on the outside, and furnished with a wire hook, gives,
when electrified, as great a shock as a man can well bear. As the
glass is thickest near the orifice, I suppose the lower half, which
being gilt was electrified and gave the shock, did not exceed two
grains; for it appeared, when broken, much thinner than the upper
half.--If one of these thin bottles be electrified by the coating,
and the spark taken out through the gilding, it will break the glass
inwards, at the same time that it breaks the gilding outwards.

27. And allowing (for the reasons before given, § 8, 9, 10,) that
there is no more electrical fire in a bottle after charging, than
before, how great must be the quantity in this small portion of
glass! It seems as if it were of its very substance and essence.
Perhaps if that due quantity of electrical fire so obstinately
retained by glass, could be separated from it, it would no longer
be glass; it might lose its transparency, or its brittleness, or
its elasticity.--Experiments may possibly be invented hereafter, to
discover this.

27. We were surprised at the account given in Mr. Watson's book, of a
shock communicated through a great space of dry ground, and suspect
there must be some metalline quality in the gravel of that ground;
having found that simple dry earth, rammed in a glass tube, open at
both ends, and a wire hook inserted in the earth at each end, the
earth and wires making part of a circuit, would not conduct the least
perceptible shock, and indeed when one wire was electrified the other
hardly shewed any signs of its being in connection with it[39]. Even
a thoroughly wet packthread sometimes fails of conducting a shock,
though it otherwise conducts electricity very well. A dry cake of
ice, or an icicle held between two in a circle, likewise prevents the
shock, which one would not expect, as water conducts it so perfectly
well.--Gilding on a new book, though at first it conducts the shock
extremely well, yet fails after ten or a dozen experiments, though it
appears otherwise in all respects the same, which we cannot account

28. There is one experiment more which surprises us, and is not
hitherto satisfactorily accounted for; it is this: Place an iron
shot on a glass stand, and let a ball of damp cork, suspended by a
silk thread, hang in contact with the shot. Take a bottle in each
hand, one that is electrified through the hook, the other through
the coating: Apply the giving wire to the shot, which will electrify
it _positively_, and the cork shall be repelled: then apply the
requiring wire, which will take out the spark given by the other;
when the cork will return to the shot: Apply the same again, and take
out another spark, so will the shot be electrified _negatively_,
and the cork in that case shall be repelled equally as before. Then
apply the giving wire to the shot, and give the spark it wanted, so
will the cork return: Give it another, which will be an addition to
its natural quantity, so will the cork be repelled again: And so
may the experiment be repeated as long as there is any charge in
the bottles. Which shews that bodies, having less than the common
quantity of electricity, repel each other, as well as those that have

Chagrined a little that we have been hitherto able to produce nothing
in this way of use to mankind; and the hot weather coming on, when
electrical experiments are not so agreeable, it is proposed to put
an end to them for this season, somewhat humorously, in a party of
pleasure, on the banks of _Skuylkil_[41]. Spirits, at the same time,
are to be fired by a spark sent from side to side through the river,
without any other conductor than the water; an experiment which we
some time since performed, to the amazement of many[42].

A turkey is to be killed for our dinner by the _electrical shock_,
and roasted by the _electrical jack_, before a fire kindled by
the _electrified bottle_: when the healths of all the famous
electricians in England, Holland, France, and Germany are to be drank
in _electrified bumpers_[43], under the discharge of guns from the
_electrical battery_.


[33] This was a discovery of the very ingenious Mr. Kinnersley, and
by him communicated to me.

[34] To charge a bottle commodiously through the coating, place it on
a glass stand; form a communication from the prime conductor to the
coating, and another from the hook to the wall or floor. When it is
charged, remove the latter communication before you take hold of the
bottle, otherwise great part of the fire will escape by it.

[35] I have since heard that Mr. Smeaton was the first who made use
of panes of glass for that purpose.

[36] Contrived by Mr. Kinnersley.

[37] We have since found it fatal to small animals, though not to
large ones. The biggest we have yet killed is a hen. 1750.

[38] This was afterwards done with success by Mr. Kinnersley.

[39] Probably the ground is never so dry.

[40] We afterwards found that it failed after one stroke with a large
bottle; and the continuity of the gold appearing broken, and many of
its parts dissipated, the electricity could not pass the remaining
parts without leaping from part to part through the air, which always
resists the motion of this fluid, and was probably the cause of the
gold's not conducting so well as before; the number of interruptions
in the line of gold, making, when added together, a space larger,
perhaps, than the striking distance.

[41] The river that washes one side of Philadelphia, as the Delaware
does the other; both are ornamented with the summer habitations of
the citizens, and the agreeable mansions of the principal people of
this colony.

[42] As the possibility of this experiment has not been easily
conceived, I shall here describe it.--Two iron rods, about three
feet long, were planted just within the margin of the river, on the
opposite sides. A thick piece of wire, with a small round knob at
its end, was fixed on the top of one of the rods, bending downwards,
so as to deliver commodiously the spark upon the surface of the
spirit. A small wire fastened by one end to the handle of the spoon,
containing the spirit, was carried a-cross the river, and supported
in the air by the rope commonly used to hold by, in drawing the
ferry-boats over. The other end of this wire was tied round the
coating of the bottle; which being charged, the spark was delivered
from the hook to the top of the rod standing in the water on that
side. At the same instant the rod on the other side delivered a spark
into the spoon, and fired the spirit; the electric fire returning to
the coating of the bottle, through the handle of the spoon and the
supported wire connected with them.

That the electric fire thus actually passes through the water, has
since been satisfactorily demonstrated to many by an experiment of
Mr. Kinnersley's, performed in a trough of water about ten feet long.
The hand being placed under water in the direction of the spark
(which always takes the strait or shortest course, if sufficient, and
other circumstances are equal) is struck and penetrated by it as it


  _Observations and Suppositions, towards forming a new Hypothesis,
  for explaining the several Phenomena of Thunder-Gusts._[44]


Non-electric bodies, that have electric fire thrown into them, will
retain it till other electrics, that have less, approach; and then it
is communicated by a snap, and becomes equally divided.

2. Electrical fire loves water, is strongly attracted by it, and they
can subsist together.

3. Air is an electric _per se_, and when dry will not conduct the
electrical fire; it will neither receive it, nor give it to other
bodies: otherwise no body surrounded by air, could be electrified
positively and negatively: for should it be attempted positively, the
air would immediately take away the overplus; or negatively, the air
would supply what was wanting.

4. Water being electrified, the vapours arising from it will be
equally electrified; and floating in the air, in the form of clouds,
or otherwise, will retain that quantity of electrical fire, till they
meet with other clouds or bodies not so much electrified, and then
will communicate as before-mentioned.

5. Every particle of matter electrified is repelled by every other
particle equally electrified. Thus the stream of a fountain,
naturally dense and continual, when electrified, will separate and
spread in the form of a brush, every drop endeavouring to recede from
every other drop. But on taking out the electrical fire they close

6. Water being strongly electrified (as well as when heated by common
fire) rises in vapours more copiously; the attraction of cohesion
among its particles being greatly weakened, by the opposite power of
repulsion introduced with the electrical fire; and when any particle
is by any means disengaged, it is immediately repelled, and so flies
into the air.

7. Particles happening to be situated as _A_ and _B_, (FIG. VI.
_representing the profile of a vessel of water_) are more easily
disengaged than _C_ and _D_, as each is held by contact with three
only, whereas _C_ and _D_ are each in contact with nine. When the
surface of the water has the least motion, particles are continually
pushed into the situation represented by _A_ and _B_.

8. Friction between a non-electric and an electric _per se_ will
produce electrical fire; not by _creating_, but _collecting_ it:
for it is equally diffused in our walls, floors, earth, and the
whole mass of common matter. Thus the whirling glass globe, during
its friction against the cushion, draws fire from the cushion, the
cushion is supplied from the frame of the machine, that from the
floor on which it stands. Cut off the communication by thick glass or
wax, placed under the cushion, and no fire can be _produced_, because
it cannot be _collected_.

9. The ocean is a compound of water, a non-electric, and salt an
electric _per se_.

10. When there is a friction among the parts near its surface, the
electrical fire is collected from the parts below. It is then plainly
visible in the night; it appears in the stern and in the wake of
every sailing vessel; every dash of an oar shews it, and every surf
and spray: in storms the whole sea seems on fire.--The detached
particles of water then repelled from the electrified surface,
continually carry off the fire as it is collected; they rise and form
clouds, and those clouds are highly electrified, and retain the fire
till they have an opportunity of communicating it.

11. The particles of water, rising in vapours, attach themselves to
particles of air.

12. The particles of air are said to be hard, round, separate and
distant from each other; every particle strongly repelling every
other particle, whereby they recede from each other, as far as common
gravity will permit.

13. The space between any three particles, equally repelling each
other, will be an equilateral triangle.

14. In air compressed, these triangles are smaller; in rarified air
they are larger.

15. Common fire, joined with air, increases the repulsion, enlarges
the triangles, and thereby makes the air specifically lighter. Such
air, among denser air, will rise.

16. Common fire, as well as electrical fire, gives repulsion to the
particles of water, and destroys their attraction of cohesion; hence
common fire, as well as electrical fire, assists in raising vapours.

17. Particles of water, having no fire in them, mutually attract each
other. Three particles of water then, being attached to the three
particles of a triangle of air, would, by their mutual attraction
operating against the air's repulsion, shorten the sides and lessen
the triangle, whereby that portion of air made denser, would sink to
the earth with its water, and not rise to the formation of a cloud.

18. But if every particle of water attaching itself to air brings
with it a particle of common fire, the repulsion of the air being
assisted and strengthened by the fire, more than obstructed by the
mutual attraction of the particles of water, the triangle dilates,
and that portion of air, becoming rarer and specifically lighter,

19. If the particles of water bring electrical fire when they attach
themselves to air, the repulsion between the particles of water
electrified, joins with the natural repulsion of the air, to force
its particles to a greater distance, whereby the triangles are
dilated, and the air rises, carrying up with it the water.

20. If the particles of water bring with them portions of _both
sorts_ of fire, the repulsion of the particles of air is still more
strengthened and increased, and the triangles farther enlarged.

21. One particle of air may be surrounded by twelve particles of
water of equal size with itself, all in contact with it; and by more
added to those.

22. Particles of air, thus loaded, would be drawn nearer together by
the mutual attraction of the particles of water, did not the fire,
common or electrical, assist their repulsion.

23. If air, thus loaded, be compressed by adverse winds, or by being
driven against mountains, &c. or condensed by taking away the fire
that assisted it in expanding; the triangles contract, the air with
its water will descend as a dew; or, if the water surrounding one
particle of air comes in contact with the water surrounding another,
they coalesce and form a drop, and we have rain.

24. The sun supplies (or seems to supply) common fire to vapours,
whether raised from earth or sea.

25. Those vapours, which have both common and electrical fire in
them, are better supported than those which have only common fire in
them; for when vapours rise into the coldest region above the earth,
the cold will not diminish the electrical fire, if it doth the common.

26. Hence clouds, formed by vapours, raised from fresh waters within
land, from growing vegetables, moist earth, &c. more speedily and
easily deposite their water, having but little electrical fire to
repel and keep the particles separate. So that the greatest part of
the water raised from the land, is let fall on the land again; and
winds blowing from the land to the sea are dry; there being little
use for rain on the sea, and to rob the land of its moisture, in
order to rain on the sea, would not appear reasonable.

27. But clouds, formed by vapours raised from the sea, having both
fires, and particularly a great quantity of the electrical, support
their water strongly, raise it high, and being moved by winds, may
bring it over the middle of the broadest continent from the middle of
the widest ocean.

28. How these ocean clouds, so strongly supporting their water, are
made to deposite it on the land where it is wanted, is next to be

29. If they are driven by winds against mountains, those mountains
being less electrified attract them, and on contact take away their
electrical fire (and being cold, the common fire also;) hence the
particles close towards the mountains and towards each other. If the
air was not much loaded, it only falls in dews on the mountain tops
and sides, forms springs, and descends to the vales in rivulets,
which, united, make larger streams and rivers. If much loaded,
the electrical fire is at once taken from the whole cloud; and,
in leaving it, flashes brightly and cracks loudly; the particles
instantly coalescing for want of that fire, and falling in a heavy

30. When a ridge of mountains thus dams the clouds, and draws the
electrical fire from the cloud first approaching it; that which next
follows, when it comes near the first cloud, now deprived of its
fire, flashes into it, and begins to deposite its own water; the
first cloud again flashing into the mountains; the third approaching
cloud, and all succeeding ones, acting in the same manner as far back
as they extend, which may be over many hundred miles of country.

31. Hence the continual storms of rain, thunder, and lightning on
the east side of the Andes, which running north and south, and being
vastly high, intercept all the clouds brought against them from the
Atlantic ocean by the trade winds, and oblige them to deposite their
waters, by which the vast rivers Amazons, La Plata, and Oroonoko
are formed, which return the water into the same sea, after having
fertilized a country of very great extent.

32. If a country be plain, having no mountains to intercept the
electrified clouds, yet it is not without means to make them deposite
their water. For if an electrified cloud, coming from the sea,
meets in the air a cloud raised from the land, and therefore not
electrified; the first will flash its fire into the latter, and
thereby both clouds shall be made suddenly to deposite water.

33. The electrified particles of the first cloud close when they lose
their fire; the particles of the other clouds close in receiving
it: in both, they have thereby an opportunity of coalescing into
drops.--The concussion, or jerk given to the air, contributes also to
shake down the water, not only from those two clouds, but from others
near them. Hence the sudden fall of rain immediately after flashes of

34. To shew this by an easy experiment: Take two round pieces of
pasteboard two inches diameter; from the centre and circumference of
each of them suspend by fine silk threads eighteen inches long, seven
small balls of wood, or seven peas equal in goodness: so will the
balls appending to each pasteboard, form equal equilateral triangles,
one ball being in the centre, and six at equal distances from that,
and from each other; and thus they represent particles of air.
Dip both sets in water, and some adhering to each ball, they will
represent air loaded. Dexterously electrify one set, and its ball
will repel each other to a greater distance, enlarging the triangles.
Could the water supported by seven balls come into contact, it would
form a drop or drops so heavy as to break the cohesion it had with
the balls, and so fall. Let the two sets then represent two clouds,
the one a sea cloud electrified, the other a land cloud. Bring them
within the sphere of attraction, and they will draw towards each
other, and you will see the separated balls close thus; the first
electrified ball that comes near an unelectrified ball by attraction
joins it, and gives it fire; instantly they separate, and each flies
to another ball of its own party, one to give, the other to receive
fire; and so it proceeds through both sets, but so quick as to be in
a manner instantaneous. In the cohesion they shake off and drop their
water, which represents rain.

35. Thus when sea and land clouds would pass at too great a distance
for the flash, they are attracted towards each other till within that
distance; for the sphere of electrical attraction is far beyond the
distance of flashing.

36. When a great number of clouds from the sea meet a number of
clouds raised from the land, the electrical flashes appear to strike
in different parts; and as the clouds are jostled and mixed by the
winds, or brought near by the electrical attraction, they continue
to give and receive flash after flash, till the electrical fire is
equally diffused.

37. When the gun-barrel, (in electrical experiments) has but little
electrical fire in it, you must approach it very near with your
knuckle before you can draw a spark. Give it more fire, and it will
give a spark at a greater distance. Two gun-barrels united, and as
highly electrified, will give a spark at a still greater distance.
But if two gun-barrels electrified will strike at two inches
distance, and make a loud snap, to what a great distance may 10,000
acres of electrified cloud strike and give its fire, and how loud
must be that crack?

38. It is a common thing to see clouds at different heights passing
different ways, which shews different currents of air one under the
other. As the air between the tropics is rarefied by the sun, it
rises, the denser northern and southern air pressing into its place.
The air so rarefied and forced up, passes northward and southward,
and must descend in the polar regions, if it has no opportunity
before, that the circulation may be carried on.

39. As currents of air, with the clouds therein, pass different ways,
it is easy to conceive how the clouds, passing over each other,
may attract each other, and so come near enough for the electrical
stroke. And also how electrical clouds may be carried within land
very far from the sea, before they have an opportunity to strike.

40. When the air, with its vapours raised from the ocean between
the tropics, comes to descend in the polar regions, and to be in
contact with the vapours arising there, the electrical fire they
brought begins to be communicated, and is seen in clear nights,
being first visible where it is first in motion, that is, where
the contact begins, or in the most northern part; from thence the
streams of light seem to shoot southerly, even up to the zenith of
northern countries. But though the light seems to shoot from the
north southerly, the progress of the fire is really from the south
northerly, its motion beginning in the north, being the reason that
it is there seen first.

For the electrical fire is never visible but when in motion, and
leaping from body to body, or from particle to particle through the
air. When it passes through dense bodies it is unseen. When a wire
makes part of the circle, in the explosion of the electrical phial,
the fire, though in great quantity, passes in the wire invisibly; but
in passing along a chain, it becomes visible as it leaps from link to
link. In passing along leaf gilding it is visible: for the leaf-gold
is full of pores; hold a leaf to the light and it appears like a
net, and the fire is seen in its leaping over the vacancies.--And as
when a long canal filled with still water is opened at one end, in
order to be discharged, the motion of the water begins first near
the opened end, and proceeds towards the close end, though the water
itself moves from the close towards the opened end: so the electrical
fire discharged into the polar regions, perhaps from a thousand
leagues length of vaporised air, appears first where it is first
in motion, _i. e._ in the most northern part, and the appearance
proceeds southward, though the fire really moves northward. This is
supposed to account for the _aurora borealis_.

41. When there is great heat on the land, in a particular region
(the sun having shone on it perhaps several days, while the
surrounding countries have been screened by clouds) the lower air is
rarefied and rises, the cooler denser air above descends; the clouds
in that air meet from all sides, and join over the heated place; and
if some are electrified, others not, lightning and thunder succeed,
and showers fall. Hence thunder-gusts after heats, and cool air after
gusts; the water and the clouds that bring it, coming from a higher
and therefore a cooler region.

42. An electrical spark, drawn from an irregular body at some
distance is scarcely ever strait, but shows crooked and waving in the
air. So do the flashes of lightning; the clouds being very irregular

43. As electrified clouds pass over a country, high hills and high
trees, lofty towers, spires, masts of ships, chimneys, &c. as so many
prominencies and points, draw the electrical fire, and the whole
cloud discharges there.

44. Dangerous, therefore, is it to take shelter under a tree, during
a thunder-gust. It has been fatal to many, both men and beasts.

45. It is safer to be in the open field for another reason. When the
cloaths are wet, if a flash in its way to the ground should strike
your head, it may run in the water over the surface of your body;
whereas, if your cloaths were dry, it would go through the body,
because the blood and other humours, containing so much water, are
more ready conductors.

Hence a wet rat cannot be killed by the exploding electrical bottle,
when a dry rat may[45].

46. Common fire is in all bodies, more or less, as well as electrical
fire. Perhaps they may be different modifications of the same
element; or they may be different elements. The latter is by some

47. If they are different things, yet they may and do subsist
together in the same body.

48. When electrical fire strikes through a body, it acts upon the
common fire contained in it, and puts that fire in motion; and if
there be a sufficient quantity of each kind of fire, the body will be

49. When the quantity of common fire in the body is small, the
quantity of the electrical fire (or the electrical stroke) should be
greater: if the quantity of common fire be great, less electrical
fire suffices to produce the effect.

50. Thus spirits must be heated before we can fire them by the
electrical spark.[46] If they are much heated, a small spark will do;
if not, the spark must be greater.

51. Till lately we could only fire warm vapours; but now we can burn
hard dry rosin. And when we can procure greater electrical sparks,
we may be able to fire not only unwarmed spirits, as lightning does,
but even wood, by giving sufficient agitation to the common fire
contained in it, as friction we know will do.

52. Sulphureous and inflammable vapours, arising from the earth,
are easily kindled by lightning. Besides what arise from the earth,
such vapours are sent out by stacks of moist hay, corn, or other
vegetables, which heat and reek. Wood, rotting in old trees or
buildings, does the same. Such are therefore easily and often fired.

53. Metals are often melted by lightning, though perhaps not from
heat in the lightning, nor altogether from agitated fire in the
metals.--For as whatever body can insinuate itself between the
particles of metal, and overcome the attraction by which they cohere
(as sundry menstrua can) will make the solid become a fluid, as
well as fire, yet without heating it: so the electrical fire, or
lightning, creating a violent repulsion between the particles of the
metal it passes through, the metal is fused.

54. If you would, by a violent fire, melt off the end of a nail,
which is half driven into a door, the heat given the whole nail,
before a part would melt, must burn the board it sticks in; and the
melted part would burn the floor it dropped on. But if a sword can
be melted in the scabbard, and money in a man's pocket by lightning,
without burning either, it must be a cold fusion[47].

55. Lightning rends some bodies. The electrical spark will strike a
hole through a quire of strong paper.

56. If the source of lightning, assigned in this paper, be the true
one, there should be little thunder heard at sea far from land. And
accordingly some old sea-captains, of whom enquiry has been made, do
affirm, that the fact agrees perfectly with the hypothesis; for that
in crossing the great ocean, they seldom meet with thunder till they
come into soundings; and that the islands far from the continent have
very little of it. And a curious observer, who lived thirteen years
at Bermudas, says, there was less thunder there in that whole time
than he has sometimes heard in a month at Carolina.


[43] An _electrified bumper_ is a small thin glass tumbler, nearly
filled with wine, and electrified as the bottle. This when brought to
the lips gives a shock, if the party be close shaved, and does not
breath on the liquor.--April 29, 1749.

[44] Thunder-gusts are sudden storms of thunder and lightning, which
are frequently of short duration, but sometimes produce mischievous

[45] This was tried with a bottle, containing about a quart. It is
since thought that one of the large glass jars, mentioned in these
papers, might have killed him, though wet.

[46] We have since fired spirits without heating them, when the
weather is warm. A little, poured into the palm of the hand, will be
warmed sufficiently by the hand, if the spirit be well rectified.
Ether takes fire most readily.

[47] These facts, though related in several accounts, are now
doubted; since it has been observed that the parts of a bell-wire
which fell on the floor, being broken and partly melted by lightning,
did actually burn into the boards. (See Philosophical Transactions,
Vol. LI. part I.) And Mr. Kinnersley has found that a fine iron wire,
melted by Electricity, has had the same effect.


  _Introductory Letter to some additional Papers._

  _Philadelphia, July 29, 1750._


As you first put us on electrical experiments, by sending to our
Library Company a tube, with directions how to use it; and as our
honorable Proprietary enabled us to carry those experiments to a
greater height, by his generous present of a complete electrical
apparatus; it is fit that both should know, from time to time, what
progress we make. It was in this view I wrote and sent you my former
papers on this subject, desiring, that as I had not the honour of a
direct correspondence with that bountiful benefactor to our library,
they might be communicated to him through your hands. In the same
view I write and send you this additional paper. If it happens to
bring you nothing new, (which may well be, considering the number of
ingenious men in Europe, continually engaged in the same researches)
at least it will shew, that the instruments put into our hands are
not neglected; and that if no valuable discoveries are made by us,
whatever the cause may be, it is not want of industry and application.

  I am, Sir,

  Your much obliged humble Servant,


  _Opinions and Conjectures, concerning the Properties and
  Effects of the electrical Matter, and the Means of preserving
  Buildings, Ships, &c. from Lightning, arising from Experiments and
  Observations made at Philadelphia, 1749.--Golden Fish.--Extraction
  of effluvial Virtues by Electricity impracticable._

§ 1. The electrical matter consists of particles extremely subtile
since it can permeate common matter, even the densest metals, with
such ease and freedom as not to receive any perceptible resistance.

2. If any one should doubt whether the electrical matter passes
through the substance of bodies, or only over and along their
surfaces, a shock from an electrified large glass jar, taken through
his own body, will probably convince him.

3. Electrical matter differs from common matter in this, that the
parts of the latter mutually attract, those of the former mutually
repel each other. Hence the appearing divergency in a stream of
electrified effluvia.

4. But though the particles of electrical matter do repel each other,
they are strongly attracted by all other matter[48].

5. From these three things, the extreme subtilty of the electrical
matter, the mutual repulsion of its parts, and the strong attraction
between them and other matter, arise this effect, that, when a
quantity of electrical matter is applied to a mass of common matter,
of any bigness or length, within our observation (which hath not
already got its quantity) it is immediately and equally diffused
through the whole.

6. Thus, common matter is a kind of spunge to the electrical fluid.
And as a spunge would receive no water, if the parts of water were
not smaller than the pores of the spunge; and even then but slowly,
if there were not a mutual attraction between those parts and the
parts of the spunge; and would still imbibe it faster, if the
mutual attraction among the parts of the water did not impede, some
force being required to separate them; and fastest, if, instead of
attraction, there were a mutual repulsion among those parts, which
would act in conjunction with the attraction of the spunge: so is the
case between the electrical and common matter.

7. But in common matter there is (generally) as much of the
electrical as it will contain within its substance. If more is
added, it lies without upon the surface, and forms what we call an
electrical atmosphere; and then the body is said to be electrified.

8. It is supposed, that all kinds of common matter do not attract and
retain the electrical, with equal strength and force, for reasons
to be given hereafter. And that those called electrics _per se_, as
glass, &c. attract and retain it strongest, and contain the greatest

9. We know that the electrical fluid is _in_ common matter, because
we can pump it _out_ by the globe or tube. We know that common
matter has near as much as it can contain, because, when we add a
little more to any portion of it, the additional quantity does not
enter, but forms an electrical atmosphere. And we know that common
matter has not (generally) more than it can contain, otherwise all
loose portions of it would repel each other, as they constantly do
when they have electric atmospheres.

10. The beneficial uses of this electric fluid in the creation we are
not yet well acquainted with, though doubtless such there are, and
those very considerable; but we may see some pernicious consequences
that would attend a much greater proportion of it. For, had this
globe we live on, as much of it in proportion as we can give to a
globe of iron, wood, or the like, the particles of dust and other
light matters that get loose from it, would, by virtue of their
separate electrical atmospheres, not only repel each other, but be
repelled from the earth, and not easily be brought to unite with it
again; whence our air would continually be more and more clogged with
foreign matter, and grow unfit for respiration. This affords another
occasion of adoring that wisdom which has made all things by weight
and measure!

11. If a piece of common matter be supposed entirely free from
electrical matter, and a single particle of the latter be brought
nigh, it will be attracted, and enter the body, and take place in the
centre, or where the attraction is every way equal. If more particles
enter, they take their places where the balance is equal between the
attraction of the common matter, and their own mutual repulsion. It
is supposed they form triangles, whose sides shorten as their number
encreases; till the common matter has drawn in so many, that its
whole power of compressing those triangles by attraction, is equal to
their whole power of expanding themselves by repulsion; and then will
such piece of matter receive no more.

12. When part of this natural proportion of electrical fluid is
taken out of a piece of common matter, the triangles formed by the
remainder, are supposed to widen by the mutual repulsion of the
parts, until they occupy the whole piece.

13. When the quantity of electrical fluid, taken from a piece of
common matter, is restored again, it enters, the expanded triangles,
being again compressed till there is room for the whole.

14. To explain this: take two apples, or two balls of wood or other
matter, each having its own natural quantity of the electrical fluid.
Suspend them by silk lines from the cieling. Apply the wire of a
well-charged vial, held in your hand, to one of them (A) _Fig. 7_,
and it will receive from the wire a quantity of the electrical fluid;
but will not imbibe it, being already full. The fluid therefore will
flow round its surface, and form an electrical atmosphere. Bring A
into contact with B, and half the electrical fluid is communicated,
so that each has now an electrical atmosphere, and therefore they
repel each other. Take away these atmospheres, by touching the balls,
and leave them in their natural state: then, having fixed a stick of
sealing-wax to the middle of the vial to hold it by, apply the wire
to A, at the same time the coating touches B. Thus will a quantity
of the electrical fluid be drawn out of B, and thrown on A. So that
A will have a redundance of this fluid, which forms an atmosphere
round, and B an exactly equal deficiency. Now, bring these balls
again into contact, and the electrical atmosphere will not be divided
between A and B, into two smaller atmospheres as before; for B will
drink up the whole atmosphere of A, and both will be found again in
their natural state.

15. The form of the electrical atmosphere is that of the body it
surrounds. This shape may be rendered visible in a still air, by
raising a smoke from dry rosin dropt into a hot tea-spoon under the
electrified body, which will be attracted, and spread itself equally
on all sides, covering and concealing the body[49]. And this form it
takes, because it is attracted by all parts of the surface of the
body, though it cannot enter the substance already replete. Without
this attraction, it would not remain round the body, but dissipate in
the air.

16. The atmosphere of electrical particles surrounding an electrified
sphere, is not more disposed to leave it, or more easily drawn off
from any one part of the sphere than another, because it is equally
attracted by every part. But that is not the case with bodies of any
other figure. From a cube it is more easily drawn at the corners
than at the plane sides, and so from the angles of a body of any
other form, and still most easily from the angle that is most acute.
Thus, if a body shaped as A, B, C, D, E, in Fig. 8. be electrified,
or have an electrical atmosphere communicated to it, and we consider
every side as a base on which the particles rest, and by which they
are attracted, one may see, by imagining a line from A to F, and
another from E to G, that the portion of the atmosphere included
in F, A, E, G, has the line A, E, for its basis. So the portion of
atmosphere included in H, A, B, I, has the line A B for its basis.
And likewise the portion included in K, B, C, L, has B, C, to rest
on; and so on the other side of the figure. Now if you would draw
off this atmosphere with any blunt smooth body, and approach the
middle of the side A, B, you must come very near, before the force
of your attracter exceeds the force or power with which that side
holds its atmosphere. But there is a small portion between I, B, K,
that has less of the surface to rest on, and to be attracted by,
than the neighbouring portions, while at the same time there is a
mutual repulsion between its particles, and the particles of those
portions, therefore here you can get it with more ease, or at a
greater distance. Between F, A, H, there is a larger portion that has
yet a less surface to rest on, and to attract it; here, therefore,
you can get it away still more easily. But easiest of all between
L, C, M, where the quantity is largest, and the surface to attract
and keep it back the least. When you have drawn away one of these
angular portions of the fluid, another succeeds in its place, from
the nature of fluidity, and the mutual repulsion before-mentioned;
and so the atmosphere continues flowing off at such angle, like a
stream, till no more is remaining. The extremities of the portions
of atmosphere over these angular parts, are likewise at a greater
distance from the electrified body, as may be seen by the inspection
of the above figure; the point of the atmosphere of the angle C,
being much farther from C, than any other part of the atmosphere
over the lines C, B, or B, A: and, besides the distance arising
from the nature of the figure, where the attraction is less, the
particles will naturally expand to a greater distance by their mutual
repulsion. On these accounts we suppose electrified bodies discharge
their atmospheres upon unelectrified bodies more easily, and at a
greater distance from their angles and points than from their smooth
sides.--Those points will also discharge into the air, when the
body has too great an electrical atmosphere, without bringing any
non-electric near, to receive what is thrown off: For the air, though
an electric _per se_, yet has always more or less water and other
non-electric matters mixed with it: and these attract and receive
what is so discharged.

17. But points have a property, by which they _draw on_ as well as
_throw off_ the electrical fluid, at greater distances than blunt
bodies can. That is, as the pointed part of an electrified body will
discharge the atmosphere of that body, or communicate it farthest to
another body, so the point of an unelectrified body will draw off
the electrical atmosphere from an electrified body, farther than a
blunter part of the same unelectrified body will do. Thus, a pin
held by the head, and the point presented to an electrified body,
will draw off its atmosphere at a foot distance; where, if the head
were presented instead of the point, no such effect would follow. To
understand this, we may consider, that if a person standing on the
floor would draw off the electrical atmosphere from an electrified
body, an iron crow and a blunt knitting-needle held alternately in
his hand, and presented for that purpose, do not draw with different
forces in proportion to their different masses. For the man, and
what he holds in his hand, be it large or small, are connected with
the common mass of unelectrified matter; and the force with which
he draws is the same in both cases, it consisting in the different
proportion of electricity in the electrified body, and that common
mass. But the force with which the electrified body retains its
atmosphere by attracting it, is proportioned to the surface over
which the particles are placed; _i. e._ four square inches of that
surface retain their atmosphere with four times the force that one
square inch retains its atmosphere. And as in plucking the hairs from
the horse's tail, a degree of strength not sufficient to pull away a
handful at once, could yet easily strip it hair by hair; so a blunt
body presented cannot draw off a number of particles at once, but a
pointed one, with no greater force, takes them away easily, particle
by particle.

18. These explanations of the power and operation of points, when
they first occurred to me, and while they first floated in my mind,
appeared perfectly satisfactory; but now I have written them, and
considered them more closely, I must own I have some doubts about
them; yet, as I have at present nothing better to offer in their
stead, I do not cross them out: for, even a bad solution read, and
its faults discovered, has often given rise to a good one, in the
mind of an ingenious reader.

19. Nor is it of much importance to us to know the manner in
which nature executes her laws; it is enough if we know the laws
themselves. It is of real use to know that china left in the air
unsupported will fall and break; but _how_ it comes to fall and _why_
it breaks are matters of speculation. It is a pleasure indeed to
know them, but we can preserve our china without it.

20. Thus in the present case, to know this power of points may
possibly be of some use to mankind, though we should never be able
to explain it. The following experiments, as well as those in my
first paper, show this power. I have a large prime conductor, made
of several thin sheets of clothier's pasteboard, formed into a tube,
near ten feet long and a foot diameter. It is covered with Dutch
embossed-paper, almost totally gilt. This large metallic surface
supports a much greater electrical atmosphere than a rod of iron of
50 times the weight would do. It is suspended by silk lines, and
when charged will strike, at near two inches distance, a pretty hard
stroke, so as to make ones knuckle ach. Let a person standing on the
floor present the point of a needle at 12 or more inches distance
from it, and while the needle is so presented, the conductor cannot
be charged, the point drawing off the fire as fast as it is thrown
on by the electrical globe. Let it be charged, and then present the
point at the same distance, and it will suddenly be discharged. In
the dark you may see the light on the point, when the experiment is
made. And if the person holding the point stands upon wax, he will
be electrified by receiving the fire at that distance. Attempt to
draw off the electricity with a blunt body, as a bolt of iron round
at the end, and smooth (a silversmith's iron punch, inch thick, is
what I use) and you must bring it within the distance of three inches
before you can do it, and then it is done with a stroke and crack. As
the pasteboard tube hangs loose on silk lines, when you approach it
with the punch-iron, it likewise will move towards the punch, being
attracted while it is charged; but if, at the same instant, a point
be presented as before, it retires again, for the point discharges
it. Take a pair of large brass scales, of two or more feet beam, the
cords of the scales being silk. Suspend the beam by a pack-thread
from the cieling, so that the bottom of the scales may be about a
foot from the floor: the scales will move round in a circle by the
untwisting of the pack-thread. Set the iron punch on the end upon
the floor, in such a place as that the scales may pass over it in
making their circle: then electrify one scale, by applying the wire
of a charged phial to it. As they move round, you see that scale
draw nigher to the floor, and dip more when it comes over the punch;
and if that be placed at a proper distance, the scale will snap and
discharge its fire into it. But if a needle be stuck on the end of
the punch, its point upwards, the scale, instead of drawing nigh to
the punch, and snapping, discharges its fire silently through the
point, and rises higher from the punch. Nay, even if the needle be
placed upon the floor near the punch, its point upwards, the end of
the punch, though so much higher than the needle, will not attract
the scale and receive its fire, for the needle will get it and convey
it away, before it comes nigh enough for the punch to act. And this
is constantly observable in these experiments, that the greater
quantity of electricity on the pasteboard-tube, the farther it
strikes or discharges its fire, and the point likewise will draw it
off at a still greater distance.

Now if the fire of electricity and that of lightning be the same,
as I have endeavoured to shew at large, in a former paper, this
pasteboard tube and these scales may represent electrified clouds.
If a tube of only ten feet long will strike and discharge its fire
on the punch at two or three inches distance, an electrified cloud
of perhaps 10,000 acres may strike and discharge on the earth at a
proportionably greater distance. The horizontal motion of the scales
over the floor, may represent the motion of the clouds over the
earth; and the erect iron punch, a hill or high building; and then
we see how electrified clouds passing over hills or high buildings
at too great a height to strike, may be attracted lower till within
their striking distance. And lastly, if a needle fixed on the punch
with its point upright, or even on the floor below the punch, will
draw the fire from the scale silently at a much greater than the
striking distance, and so prevent its descending towards the punch;
or if in its course it would have come nigh enough to strike, yet
being first deprived of its fire it cannot, and the punch is thereby
secured from the stroke; I say, if these things are so, may not the
knowledge of this power of points be of use to mankind, in preserving
houses, churches, ships, &c. from the stroke of lightning, by
directing us to fix on the highest parts of those edifices, upright
rods of iron made sharp as a needle, and gilt to prevent rusting, and
from the foot of those rods a wire down the outside of the building
into the ground, or down round one of the shrouds of a ship, and down
her side till it reaches the water? Would not these pointed rods
probably draw the electrical fire silently out of a cloud before it
came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from that most
sudden and terrible mischief?

21. To determine the question, whether the clouds that contain
lightning are electrified or not, I would propose an experiment to
be tried where it may be done conveniently. On the top of some high
tower or steeple, place a kind of centry-box (as in FIG. 9) big
enough to contain a man and an electrical stand. From the middle of
the stand let an iron rod rise and pass bending out of the door, and
then upright 20 or 30 feet, pointed very sharp at the end. If the
electrical stand be kept clean and dry, a man standing on it, when
such clouds are passing low, might be electrified and afford sparks,
the rod drawing fire to him from a cloud. If any danger to the man
should be apprehended (though I think there would be none) let him
stand on the floor of his box, and now and then bring near to the rod
the loop of a wire that has one end fastened to the leads, he holding
it by a wax handle; so the sparks, if the rod is electrified, will
strike from the rod to the wire, and not affect him.

22. Before I leave this subject of lightning, I may mention some
other similarities between the effects of that, and those of
electricity. Lightning has often been known to strike people blind.
A pigeon that we struck dead to appearance by the electrical shock,
recovering life, drooped about the yard several days, eat nothing,
though crumbs were thrown to it, but declined and died. We did not
think of its being deprived of sight; but afterwards a pullet, struck
dead in like manner, being recovered by repeatedly blowing into its
lungs, when set down on the floor, ran headlong against the wall, and
on examination appeared perfectly blind. Hence we concluded that the
pigeon also had been absolutely blinded by the shock. The biggest
animal we have yet killed, or tried to kill, with the electrical
stroke, was a well-grown pullet.

23. Reading in the ingenious Dr. Miles's account of the thunder-storm
at Stretham, the effect of the lightning in stripping off all the
paint that had covered a gilt moulding of a pannel of wainscot,
without hurting the rest of the paint, I had a mind to lay a coat of
paint over the filletting of gold on the cover of a book, and try
the effect of a strong electrical flash sent through that gold from
a charged sheet of glass. But having no paint at hand, I pasted a
narrow strip of paper over it; and when dry, sent the flash through
the gilding, by which the paper was torn off from end to end, with
such force, that it was broke in several places, and in others
brought away part of the grain of the Turky-leather in which it was
bound; and convinced me, that had it been painted, the paint would
have been stript off in the same manner with that on the wainscot at

24. Lightning melts metals, and I hinted in my paper on that subject,
that I suspected it to be a cold fusion; I do not mean a fusion by
force of cold, but a fusion without heat[50]. We have also melted
gold, silver, and copper, in small quantities, by the electrical
flash. The manner is this: Take leaf-gold, leaf-silver, or leaf-gilt
copper, commonly called leaf-brass, or Dutch gold; cut off from the
leaf long narrow strips, the breadth of a straw. Place one of these
strips between two strips of smooth glass that are about the width of
your finger. If one strip of gold, the length of the leaf, be not
long enough for the glass, add another to the end of it, so that you
may have a little part hanging out loose at each end of the glass.
Bind the pieces of glass together from end to end with strong silk
thread; then place it so as to be part of an electrical circuit, (the
ends of gold hanging out being of use to join with the other parts of
the circuit) and send the flash through it, from a large electrified
jar or sheet of glass. Then if your strips of glass remain whole,
you will see that the gold is missing in several places, and instead
of it a metallic stain on both the glasses; the stains on the upper
and under glass exactly similar in the minutest stroke, as may be
seen by holding them to the light; the metal appeared to have been
not only melted, but even vitrified, or otherwise so driven into
the pores of the glass, as to be protected by it from the action of
the strongest _aqua fortis_, or _aqua regia_. I send you enclosed
two little pieces of glass with these metallic stains upon them,
which cannot be removed without taking part of the glass with them.
Sometimes the stain spreads a little wider than the breadth of the
leaf, and looks brighter at the edge, as by inspecting closely you
may observe in these. Sometimes the glass breaks to pieces; once the
upper glass broke into a thousand pieces, looking like coarse salt.
The pieces I send you were stained with Dutch gold. True gold makes
a darker stain, somewhat reddish; silver, a greenish stain. We once
took two pieces of thick looking-glass, as broad as a Gunter's scale,
and six inches long; and placing leaf-gold between them, put them
between two smoothly-plained pieces of wood, and fixed them tight
in a book-binder's small press; yet though they were so closely
confined, the force of the electrical shock shivered the glass into
many pieces. The gold was melted, and stained into the glass, as
usual. The circumstances of the breaking of the glass differ much
in making the experiment, and sometimes it does not break at all:
but this is constant, that the stains in the upper and under pieces
are exact counterparts of each other. And though I have taken up the
pieces of glass between my fingers immediately after this melting, I
never could perceive the least warmth in them.

25. In one of my former papers, I mentioned, that gilding on a
book, though at first it communicated the shock perfectly well, yet
failed after a few experiments, which we could not account for. We
have since found that one strong shock breaks the continuity of
the gold in the filletting, and makes it look rather like dust of
gold, abundance of its parts being broken and driven off; and it
will seldom conduct above one strong shock. Perhaps this may be
the reason: When there is not a perfect continuity in the circuit,
the fire must leap over the vacancies: there is a certain distance
which it is able to leap over according to its strength; if a number
of small vacancies, though each be very minute, taken together
exceed that distance, it cannot leap over them, and so the shock is

26. From the before-mentioned law of electricity, that points as
they are more or less acute, draw on and throw off the electrical
fluid with more or less power, and at greater or less distances, and
in larger or smaller quantities in the same time, we may see how
to account for the situation of the leaf of gold suspended between
two plates, the upper one continually electrified, the under one
in a person's hand standing on the floor. When the upper plate is
electrified, the leaf is attracted, and raised towards it, and
would fly to that plate, were it not for its own points. The corner
that happens to be uppermost when the leaf is rising, being a sharp
point, from the extreme thinness of the gold, draws and receives
at a distance a sufficient quantity of the electric fluid to give
itself an electric atmosphere, by which its progress to the upper
plate is stopped, and it begins to be repelled from that plate, and
would be driven back to the under plate, but that its lowest corner
is likewise a point, and throws off or discharges the overplus of
the leaf's atmosphere, as fast as the upper corner draws it on.
Were these two points perfectly equal in acuteness, the leaf would
take place exactly in the middle space, for its weight is a trifle
compared to the power acting on it: but it is generally nearest
the unelectrified plate, because, when the leaf is offered to the
electrified plate, at a distance, the sharpest point is commonly
first affected and raised towards it; so _that_ point, from its
greater acuteness, receiving the fluid faster than its opposite can
discharge it at equal distances, it retires from the electrified
plate, and draws nearer to the unelectrified plate, till it comes to
a distance where the discharge can be exactly equal to the receipt,
the latter being lessened, and the former encreased; and there it
remains as long as the globe continues to supply fresh electrical
matter. This will appear plain, when the difference of acuteness in
the corners is made very great. Cut a piece of Dutch gold, (which
is fittest for these experiments on account of its great strength)
into the form of FIG. 10, the upper corner a right angle, the two
next obtuse angles, and the lowest a very acute one; and bring this
on your plate under the electrified plate, in such a manner as
that the right-angled part may be first raised (which is done by
covering the acute part with the hollow of your hand) and you will
see this leaf take place much nearer to the upper than the under
plate; because without being nearer, it cannot receive so fast at
its right-angled point, as it can discharge at its acute one. Turn
this leaf with the acute part uppermost, and then it takes place
nearest the unelectrified plate; because, otherwise, it receives
faster at its acute point, than it can discharge at its right-angled
one. Thus the difference of distance is always proportioned to the
difference of acuteness. Take care in cutting your leaf, to leave no
little ragged particles on the edges, which sometimes form points
where you would not have them. You may make this figure so acute
below, and blunt above, as to need no under plate, it discharging
fast enough into the air. When it is made narrower, as the figure
between the pricked lines, we call it the _golden fish_, from its
manner of acting. For if you take it by the tail, and hold it at a
foot or greater horizontal distance from the prime conductor, it
will, when let go, fly to it with a brisk but wavering motion, like
that of an eel through the water; it will then take place under the
prime conductor, at perhaps a quarter or half an inch distance, and
keep a continual shaking of its tail like a fish, so that it seems
animated. Turn its tail towards the prime conductor, and then it
flies to your finger, and seems to nibble it. And if you hold a plate
under it at six or eight inches distance, and cease turning the globe
when the electrical atmosphere of the conductor grows small, it will
descend to the plate and swim back again several times with the same
fish-like motion, greatly to the entertainment of spectators. By a
little practice in blunting or sharpening the heads or tails of these
figures, you may make them take place as desired, nearer or farther
from the electrified plate.

27. It is said in Section 8, of this paper, that all kinds of common
matter are supposed not to attract the electrical fluid with equal
strength; and that those called electrics _per se_, as glass, &c.
attract and retain it strongest, and contain the greatest quantity.
This latter position may seem a paradox to some, being contrary to
the hitherto received opinion; and therefore I shall now endeavour to
explain it.

28. In order to this, let it first be considered, _that we cannot
by any means we are yet acquainted with, force the electrical fluid
through glass_. I know it is commonly thought that it easily pervades
glass; and the experiment of a feather suspended by a thread, in
a bottle hermetically sealed, yet moved by bringing a rubbed tube
near the outside of the bottle, is alleged to prove it. But, if the
electrical fluid so easily pervades glass, how does the phial become
_charged_ (as we term it) when we hold it in our hands? Would not the
fire, thrown in by the wire, pass through to our hands, and so escape
into the floor? Would not the bottle in that case be left just as we
found it, uncharged, as we know a metal bottle so attempted to be
charged would be? Indeed, if there be the least crack, the minutest
solution of continuity in the glass, though it remains so tight that
nothing else we know of will pass, yet the extremely subtile electric
fluid flies through such a crack with the greatest freedom, and such
a bottle we know can never be charged: what then makes the difference
between such a bottle and one that is sound, but this, that the fluid
can pass through the one, and not through the other[51]?

29. It is true, there is an experiment that at first sight would
be apt to satisfy a slight observer, that the fire, thrown into
the bottle by the wire, does really pass through the glass. It is
this: place the bottle on a glass stand, under the prime conductor,
suspend a bullet by a chain from the prime conductor, till it comes
within a quarter of an inch right over the wire of the bottle; place
your knuckle on the glass stand, at just the same distance from
the coating of the bottle, as the bullet is from its wire. Now let
the globe be turned, and you see a spark strike from the bullet to
the wire of the bottle, and the same instant you see and feel an
exactly equal spark striking from the coating on your knuckle, and
so on, spark for spark. This looks as if the whole received by the
bottle was again discharged from it. And yet the bottle by this
means is charged[52]! And therefore the fire that thus leaves the
bottle, though the same in quantity, cannot be the very same fire
that entered at the wire, for if it were, the bottle would remain

30. If the fire that so leaves the bottle be not the same that is
thrown in through the wire, it must be fire that subsisted in the
bottle (that is, in the glass of the bottle) before the operation

31. If so, there must be a great quantity in glass, because a great
quantity is thus discharged, even from very thin glass.

32. That this electrical fluid or fire is strongly attracted by
glass, we know from the quickness and violence with which it is
resumed by the part that had been deprived of it, when there is an
opportunity. And by this, that we cannot from a mass of glass, draw a
quantity of electric fire, or electrify the whole mass _minus_, as we
can a mass of metal. We cannot lessen or increase its whole quantity,
for the quantity it has it holds; and it has as much as it can hold.
Its pores are filled with it as full as the mutual repellency of the
particles will admit; and what is already in, refuses, or strongly
repels, any additional quantity. Nor have we any way of moving the
electrical fluid in glass, but one; that is, by covering part of the
two surfaces of thin glass with non-electrics, and then throwing an
additional quantity of this fluid on one surface, which spreading in
the non-electric, and being bound by it to that surface, acts by its
repelling force on the particles of the electrical fluid contained
in the other surface, and drives them out of the glass into the
non-electric on that side from whence they are discharged, and then
those added on the charged side can enter. But when this is done,
there is no more in the glass, nor less than before, just as much
having left it on one side as it received on the other.

33. I feel a want of terms here, and doubt much whether I shall be
able to make this part intelligible. By the word _surface_, in this
case, I do not mean mere length and breadth without thickness; but
when I speak of the upper or under surface of a piece of glass, the
outer or inner surface of the phial, I mean length, breadth, and
half the thickness, and beg the favour of being so understood. Now
I suppose, that glass in its first principles, and in the furnace,
has no more of this electrical fluid than other common matter: that
when it is blown, as it cools, and the particles of common fire leave
it, its pores become a vacuum: that the component parts of glass are
extremely small and fine, I guess from its never showing a rough
face when it breaks, but always a polish; and from the smallness of
its particles I suppose the pores between them must be exceedingly
small, which is the reason that aqua-fortis, nor any other menstruum
we have, can enter to separate them and dissolve the substance; nor
is any fluid we know of, fine enough to enter, except common fire,
and the electric fluid. Now the departing fire, leaving a vacuum, as
aforesaid, between these pores, which air nor water are fine enough
to enter and fill, the electric fluid (which is every where ready
in what we call the non-electrics, and in the non-electric mixtures
that are in the air) is attracted in; yet does not become fixed with
the substance of the glass, but subsists there as water in a porous
stone, retained only by the attraction of the fixed parts, itself
still loose and a fluid. But I suppose farther, that in the cooling
of the glass, its texture becomes closest in the middle, and forms
a kind of partition, in which the pores are so narrow, that the
particles of the electrical fluid, which enter both surfaces at the
same time, cannot go through, or pass and repass from one surface to
the other, and so mix together; yet, though the particles of electric
fluid, imbibed by each surface, cannot themselves pass through to
those of the other, their repellency can, and by this means they
act on one another. The particles of the electric fluid have a
mutual repellency, but by the power of attraction in the glass they
are condensed or forced nearer to each other. When the glass has
received, and, by its attraction, forced closer together so much of
this electric fluid, as that the power of attracting and condensing
in the one, is equal to the power of expansion in the other, it can
imbibe no more, and that remains its constant whole quantity; but
each surface would receive more, if the repellency of what is in
the opposite surface did not resist its entrance. The quantities of
this fluid in each surface being equal, their repelling action on
each other is equal; and therefore those of one surface cannot drive
out those of the other; but, if a greater quantity is forced into
one surface than the glass would naturally draw in, this increases
the repelling power on that side, and overpowering the attraction
on the other, drives out part of the fluid that had been imbibed by
that surface, if there be any non-electric ready to receive it: such
there is in all cases where glass is electrified to give a shock.
The surface that has been thus emptied, by having its electrical
fluid driven out, resumes again an equal quantity with violence, as
soon as the glass has an opportunity to discharge that over quantity
more than it could retain by attraction in its other surface, by the
additional repellency of which the vacuum had been occasioned. For
experiments favouring (if I may not say confirming) this hypothesis,
I must, to avoid repetition, beg leave to refer you back to what is
said of the electrical phial in my former papers.

34. Let us now see how it will account for several other
appearances.--Glass, a body extremely elastic, (and perhaps its
elasticity may be owing in some degree to the subsisting of so great
a quantity of this repelling fluid in its pores) must, when rubbed,
have its rubbed surface somewhat stretched, or its solid parts
drawn a little farther asunder, so that the vacancies in which the
electrical fluid resides, become larger, affording room for more of
that fluid, which is immediately attracted into it from the cushion
or hand rubbing, they being supplied from the common stock. But the
instant the parts of the glass so opened and filled, have passed the
friction, they close again, and force the additional quantity out
upon the surface, where it must rest till that part comes round to
the cushion again, unless some non-electric (as the prime conductor,
first presents to receive it[53]). But if the inside of the globe
be lined with a non-electric, the additional repellency of the
electrical fluid, thus collected by friction on the rubbed part
of the globe's outer surface, drives an equal quantity out of the
inner surface into that non-electric lining, which receiving it, and
carrying it away from the rubbed part into the common mass, through
the axis of the globe, and frame of the machine, the new collected
electrical fluid can enter and remain in the outer surface, and none
of it (or a very little) will be received by the prime conductor. As
this charged part of the globe comes round to the cushion again,
the outer surface delivers its overplus fire into the cushion, the
opposite inner surface receiving at the same time an equal quantity
from the floor. Every electrician knows that a globe wet within
will afford little or no fire, but the reason has not before been
attempted to be given, that I know of.

34. So if a tube lined with a non-electric be rubbed[54], little or
no fire is obtained from it; what is collected from the hand, in the
downward rubbing stroke, entering the pores of the glass, and driving
an equal quantity out of the inner surface into the non-electric
lining: and the hand in passing up to take a second stroke, takes out
again what had been thrown into the outer surface, and then the inner
surface receives back again what it had given to the non-electric
lining. Thus the particles of electrical fluid belonging to the
inside surface go in and out of their pores every stroke given to the
tube. Put a wire into the tube, the inward end in contact with the
non-electric lining, so it will represent the Leyden bottle. Let a
second person touch the wire while you rub, and the fire driven out
of the inward surface when you give the stroke, will pass through him
into the common mass, and return through him when the inner surface
resumes its quantity, and therefore this new kind of Leyden bottle
cannot be so charged. But thus it may: after every stroke, before
you pass your hand up to make another, let a second person apply his
finger to the wire, take the spark, and then withdraw his finger;
and so on till he has drawn a number of sparks; thus will the inner
surface be exhausted, and the outer surface charged; then wrap a
sheet of gilt paper close round the outer surface, and grasping it
in your hand you may receive a shock by applying the finger of the
other hand to the wire: for now the vacant pores in the inner surface
resume their quantity, and the overcharged pores in the outer surface
discharge that overplus; the equilibrium being restored through your
body, which could not be restored through the glass[55]. If the tube
be exhausted of air, a non-electric lining, in contact with the
wire, is not necessary; for _in vacuo_ the electrical fire will fly
freely from the inner surface, without a non-electric conductor: but
air resists in motion; for being itself an electric _per se_, it
does not attract it, having already its quantity. So the air never
draws off an electric atmosphere from any body, but in proportion to
the non-electrics mixed with it: it rather keeps such an atmosphere
confined, which, from the mutual repulsion of its particles, tends to
dissipation, and would immediately dissipate _in vacuo_.--And thus
the experiment of the feather inclosed in a glass vessel hermetically
sealed, but moving on the approach of the rubbed tube, is explained.
When an additional quantity of the electrical fluid is applied to
the side of the vessel by the atmosphere of the tube, a quantity
is repelled and driven out of the inner surface of that side into
the vessel, and there affects the feather, returning again into its
pores, when the tube with its atmosphere is withdrawn; not that the
particles of that atmosphere did themselves pass through the glass to
the feather. And every other appearance I have yet seen, in which
glass and electricity are concerned, are, I think, explained with
equal ease by the same hypothesis. Yet, perhaps, it may not be a true
one, and I shall be obliged to him that affords me a better.

35. Thus I take the difference between non-electrics, and glass, an
electric _per se_, to consist in these two particulars. 1st, That a
non-electric easily suffers a change in the quantity of the electric
fluid it contains. You may lessen its whole quantity, by drawing
out a part, which the whole body will again resume; but of glass
you can only lessen the quantity contained in one of its surfaces;
and not that, but by supplying an equal quantity at the same time
to the other surface: so that the whole glass may always have the
same quantity in the two surfaces, their two different quantities
being added together. And this can only be done in glass that is
thin; beyond a certain thickness we have yet no power that can make
this change. And, 2dly, that the electric fire freely removes from
place to place, in and through the substance of a non-electric, but
not so through the substance of glass. If you offer a quantity to
one end of a long rod of metal, it receives it, and when it enters,
every particle that was before in the rod pushes its neighbour quite
to the farther end, where the overplus is discharged; and this
instantaneously where the rod is part of the circle in the experiment
of the shock. But glass, from the smallness of its pores, or stronger
attraction of what it contains, refuses to admit so free a motion:
a glass rod will not conduct a shock, nor will the thinnest glass
suffer any particle entering one of its surfaces to pass through to
the other.

36. Hence we see the impossibility of success in the experiments
proposed, to draw out the effluvial virtues of a non-electric, as
cinnamon, for instance, and mixing them with the electric fluid, to
convey them with that into the body, by including it in the globe,
and then applying friction, &c. For though the effluvia of cinnamon,
and the electric fluid should mix within the globe, they would never
come out together through the pores of the glass, and so go to the
prime conductor; for the electric fluid itself cannot come through;
and the prime conductor is always supplied from the cushion, and that
from the floor. And besides, when the globe is filled with cinnamon,
or other non-electric, no electric fluid can be obtained from its
outer surface, for the reason before-mentioned. I have tried another
way, which I thought more likely to obtain a mixture of the electric
and other effluvia together, if such a mixture had been possible. I
placed a glass plate under my cushion, to cut off the communication
between the cushion and floor; then brought a small chain from the
cushion into a glass of oil of turpentine, and carried another chain
from the oil of turpentine to the floor, taking care that the chain
from the cushion to the glass, touched no part of the frame of the
machine. Another chain was fixed to the prime conductor, and held in
the hand of a person to be electrified. The ends of the two chains
in the glass were near an inch distant from each other, the oil of
turpentine between. Now the globe being turned could draw no fire
from the floor through the machine, the communication that way being
cut off by the thick glass plate under the cushion: it must then
draw it through the chains whose ends were dipped in the oil of
turpentine. And as the oil of turpentine, being an electric _per
se_, would not conduct, what came up from the floor was obliged to
jump from the end of one chain to the end of the other, through the
substance of that oil, which we could see in large sparks, and so
it had a fair opportunity of seizing some of the finest particles
of the oil in its passage, and carrying them off with it: but no
such effect followed, nor could I perceive the least difference in
the smell of the electric effluvia thus collected, from what it has
when collected otherwise, nor does it otherwise affect the body
of a person electrised. I likewise put into a phial, instead of
water, a strong purgative liquid, and then charged the phial, and
took repeated shocks from it, in which case every particle of the
electrical fluid must, before it went through my body, have first
gone through the liquid when the phial is charging, and returned
through it when discharging, yet no other effect followed than if
it had been charged with water. I have also smelt the electric fire
when drawn through gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, wood, and the
human body, and could perceive no difference: the odour is always the
same, where the spark does not burn what it strikes; and therefore I
imagine it does not take that smell from any quality of the bodies
it passes through. And indeed, as that smell so readily leaves the
electric matter, and adheres to the knuckle receiving the sparks, and
to other things; I suspect that it never was connected with it, but
arises instantaneously from something in the air acted upon by it.
For if it was fine enough to come with the electric fluid through the
body of one person, why should it stop on the skin of another?

But I shall never have done, if I tell you all my conjectures,
thoughts, and imaginations on the nature and operations of this
electric fluid, and relate the variety of little experiments we
have tried. I have already made this paper too long, for which I
must crave pardon, not having now time to abridge it. I shall only
add, that as it has been observed here that spirits will fire by
the electric spark in the summer time, without heating them, when
Fahrenheit's thermometer is above 70; so when colder, if the operator
puts a small flat bottle of spirits in his bosom, or a close pocket,
with the spoon, some little time before he uses them, the heat of his
body will communicate warmth more than sufficient for the purpose.


  _Proving that the Leyden Bottle has no more electrical Fire in
  it when charged, than before: nor less when discharged: that, in
  discharging, the Fire does not issue from the Wire and the Coating
  at the same Time, as some have thought, but that the Coating always
  receives what is discharged by the Wire, or an equal Quantity; the
  outer Surface being always in a negative State of Electricity, when
  the inner Surface is in a positive State._

Place a thick plate of glass under the rubbing cushion, to cut off
the communication of electrical fire from the floor to the cushion;
then if there be no fine points or hairy threads sticking out from
the cushion, or from the parts of the machine opposite to the
cushion, (of which you must be careful) you can get but a few sparks
from the prime conductor, which are all the cushion will part with.

Hang a phial then on the prime conductor, and it will not charge
though you hold it by the coating.--But,

Form a communication by a chain from the coating to the cushion, and
the phial will charge.

For the globe then draws the electric fire out of the outside surface
of the phial and forces it through the prime conductor and wire of
the phial into the inside surface.

Thus the bottle is charged with its own fire, no other being to be
had while the glass plate is under the cushion.

Hang two cork balls by flaxen threads to the prime conductor; then
touch the coating of the bottle, and they will be electrified and
recede from each other.

For just as much fire as you give the coating, so much is discharged
through the wire upon the prime conductor, whence the cork balls
receive an electrical atmosphere.--But,

Take a wire bent in the form of a C, with a stick of wax fixed to
the outside of the curve, to hold it by; and apply one end of this
wire to the coating, and the other at the same time to the prime
conductor, the phial will be discharged; and if the balls are not
electrified before the discharge, neither will they appear to be so
after the discharge, for they will not repel each other.

If the phial really exploded at both ends, and discharged fire from
both coating and wire, the balls would be _more_ electrified, and
recede _farther_; for none of the fire can escape, the wax handle

But if the fire with which the inside surface is surcharged be
so much precisely as is wanted by the outside surface, it will
pass round through the wire fixed to the wax handle, restore the
equilibrium in the glass, and make no alteration in the state of the
prime conductor.

Accordingly we find, that if the prime conductor be electrified,
and the cork balls in a state of repellency before the bottle is
discharged, they continue so afterwards. If not, they are not
electrified by that discharge.


[48] See the ingenious Essays on Electricity, in the Transactions, by
Mr. Ellicot.

[49] See page 173.

[50] See note in page 214.

[51] See the first sixteen Sections of the former paper, called
_Farther Experiments_, &c.

[52] See Sect. 10, of _Farther Experiments_, &c.

[53] In the dark the electric fluid may be seen on the cushion in two
semi-circles or half-moons, one on the fore-part, the other on the
back part of the cushion, just where the globe and cushion separate.
In the fore crescent the fire is passing out of the cushion into the
glass; in the other it is leaving the glass, and returning into the
back part of the cushion. When the prime conductor is applied to take
it off the glass, the back crescent disappears.

[54] Gilt paper, with the gilt face next the glass, does well

[55] See _Further Experiments_, Sect. 15.


  _Accumulation of the electrical Fire proved to be in the
  electrified Glass.--Effect of Lightning on the Needle of Compasses,
  explained.--Gunpowder fired by the electric Flame._

  _Philadelphia, July 27, 1750._


Mr. Watson, I believe, wrote his Observations on my last paper
in haste, without having first well considered the experiments
related §. 17[56], which still appear to me decisive in the
question,--_Whether the accumulation of the electrical fire be in the
electrified glass, or in the non-electric matter connected with the
glass?_ and to demonstrate that it is really in the glass.

As to the experiment that ingenious gentleman mentions, and which he
thinks conclusive on the other side, I persuade myself he will change
his opinion of it, when he considers, that as one person applying
the wire of the charged bottle to warm spirits, in a spoon held by
another person, both standing on the floor, will fire the spirits,
and yet such firing will not determine whether the accumulation
was in the glass or the non-electric; so the placing another person
between them, standing on wax, with a bason in his hand, into which
the water from the phial is poured, _while he at the instant of
pouring_ presents a finger of his other hand to the spirits, does not
at all alter the case; the stream from the phial, the side of the
bason, with the arms and body of the person on the wax, being all
together but as one long wire, reaching from the internal surface of
the phial to the spirits.

_June 29, 1751._ In Capt. Waddell's account of the effects of
lightning on his ship, I could not but take notice of the large
comazants (as he calls them) that settled on the spintles at the
top-mast heads, and burnt like very large torches (before the
stroke.) According to my opinion, the electrical fire was then
drawing off, as by points, from the cloud; the largeness of the flame
betokening the great quantity of electricity in the cloud: and had
there been a good wire communication from the spintle heads to the
sea, that could have conducted more freely than tarred ropes, or
masts of turpentine wood, I imagine there would either have been no
stroke, or, if a stroke, the wire would have conducted it all into
the sea without damage to the ship.

His compasses lost the virtue of the load-stone, or the poles were
reversed; the north point turning to the south.--By electricity we
have (_here_ at _Philadelphia_) frequently given polarity to needles,
and reversed it at pleasure. Mr. Wilson, at London, tried it on too
large masses, and with too small force.

A shock from four large glass jars, sent through a fine
sewing-needle, gives it polarity, and it will traverse when laid
on water.--If the needle, when struck, lies east and west, the end
entered by the electric blast points north.--If it lies north and
south, the end that lay towards the north will continue to point
north when placed on water, whether the fire entered at that end, or
at the contrary end.

The polarity given is strongest when the needle is struck lying north
and south, weakest when lying east and west; perhaps if the force was
still greater, the south end, entered by the fire (when the needle
lies north and south) might become the north, otherwise it puzzles us
to account for the inverting of compasses by lightning; since their
needles must always be found in that situation, and by our little
experiments, whether the blast entered the north and went out at the
south end of the needle, or the contrary, still the end that lay to
the north should continue to point north.

In these experiments the ends of the needles are sometimes finely
blued like a watch-spring by the electric flame.--This colour given
by the flash from two jars only, will wipe off, but four jars fix
it, and frequently melt the needles. I send you some that have had
their heads and points melted off by our mimic lightning; and a pin
that had its point melted off, and some part of its head and neck
run. Sometimes the surface on the body of the needle is also run,
and appears blistered when examined by a magnifying glass: the jars
I make use off hold seven or eight gallons, and are coated and lined
with tin foil; each of them takes a thousand turns[57] of a globe
nine inches diameter to charge it.

I send you two specimens of tin-foil melted between glass, by the
force of two jars only.

I have not heard that any of your European electricians have ever
been able to fire gun-powder by the electric flame. We do it here
in this manner:--A small cartridge is filled with dry powder, hard
rammed, so as to bruise some of the grains; two pointed wires are
then thrust in, one at each end, the points approaching each other in
the middle of the cartridge till within the distance of half an inch;
then, the cartridge being placed in the circuit, when the four jars
are discharged, the electric flame leaping from the point of one wire
to the point of the other, within the cartridge amongst the powder,
_fires it_, and the explosion of the powder is at the same instant
with the crack of the discharge.

  Your's, &c.



[56] See the paper entitled, _Farther Experiments, &c._

[57] The cushion being afterwards covered with a long flap of
buckskin, which might cling to the globe; and care being taken to
keep that flap of a due temperature, between too dry and too moist,
we found so much more of the electric fluid was obtained, as that 150
turns were sufficient. 1753.


  _Unlimited Nature of the electric Force._

  _Philadelphia, 1751._


I inclose you answers, such as my present hurry of business will
permit me to make, to the principal queries contained in your's of
the 28th instant, and beg leave to refer you to the latter piece
in the printed collection of my papers, for farther explanation
of the difference between what is called _electrics per se_, and
_non-electrics_. When you have had time to read and consider these
papers, I will endeavour to make any new experiments you shall
propose, that you think may afford farther light or satisfaction to
either of us; and shall be much obliged to you for such remarks,
objections, &c. as may occur to you.--I forget whether I wrote to you
that I have melted brass pins and steel needles, inverted the poles
of the magnetic needle, given a magnetism and polarity to needles
that had none, and fired dry gunpowder by the electric spark. I have
five bottles that contain eight or nine gallons each, two of which
charged are sufficient for those purposes: but I can charge and
discharge them altogether. There are no bounds (but what expence and
labour give) to the force man may raise and use in the electrical
way: for bottle may be added to bottle _in infinitum_, and all united
and discharged together as one, the force and effect proportioned to
their number and size. The greatest known effects of common lightning
may, I think, without much difficulty, be exceeded in this way, which
a few years since could not have been believed, and even now may
seem to many a little extravagant to suppose.--So we are got beyond
the skill of Rabelais's devils of two years old, who, he humourously
says, had only learnt to thunder and lighten a little round the head
of a cabbage.

  I am, with sincere respect,

  Your most obliged humble servant,



  _The Terms, electric per se, and non-electric, improper.--New
  Relation between Metals and Water.--Effects of Air in electrical
  Experiments.--Experiment for discovering more of the Qualities of
  the electric Fluid._

_Query_, Wherein consists the difference between an _electric_ and a
_non-electric_ body?

_Answer._ The terms electric _per se_, and non-electric, were first
used to distinguish bodies, on a mistaken supposition that those
called electrics _per se_, alone contained electric matter in their
substance, which was capable of being excited by friction, and of
being produced or drawn from them, and communicated to those called
non-electrics, supposed to be destitute of it: for the glass, &c.
being rubbed, discovered signs of having it, by snapping to the
finger, attracting, repelling, &c. and could communicate those signs
to metals and water.--Afterwards it was found, that rubbing of
glass would not produce the electric matter, unless a communication
was preserved between the rubber and the floor; and subsequent
experiments proved that the electric matter was really drawn from
those bodies that at first were thought to have none in them. Then
it was doubted whether glass, and other bodies called _electrics per
se_, had really any electric matter in them, since they apparently
afforded none but what they first extracted from those which had
been called non-electrics. But some of my experiments show, that
glass contains it in great quantity, and I now suspect it to be
pretty equally diffused in all the matter of this terraqueous globe.
If so, the terms _electric per se_, and _non-electric_, should be
laid aside as improper: and (the only difference being this, that
some bodies will conduct electric matter, and others will not) the
terms _conductor_ and _non-conductor_ may supply their place. If
any portion of electric matter is applied to a piece of conducting
matter, it penetrates and flows through it, or spreads equally on
its surface; if applied to a piece of non-conducting matter, it will
do neither. Perfect conductors of electric matter are only metals
and water. Other bodies conducting only as they contain a mixture
of those; without more or less of which they will not conduct at
all[59]. This (by the way) shews a new relation between metals and
water heretofore unknown.

To illustrate this by a comparison, which, however, can only give
a faint resemblance. Electric matter passes through conductors as
water passes through a porous stone, or spreads on their surfaces as
water spreads on a wet stone; but when applied to non-conductors, it
is like water dropt on a greasy stone, it neither penetrates, passes
through, nor spreads on the surface, but remains in drops where it
falls. See farther on this head, in my last printed piece, entitled,
_Opinions and Conjectures, &c._ 1749.

_Query_, What are the effects of air in electrical experiments?

_Answer._ All I have hitherto observed are these. Moist air receives
and conducts the electrical matter in proportion to its moisture,
quite dry air not at all: air is therefore to be classed with the

Dry air assists in confining the electrical atmosphere to the body
it surrounds, and prevents its dissipating: for in vacuo it quits
easily, and points operate stronger, _i. e._ they throw off or
attract the electrical matter more freely, and at greater distances;
so that air intervening obstructs its passage from body to body
in some degree. A clean electrical phial and wire, containing air
instead of water, will not be charged nor give a shock, any more
than if it was filled with powder of glass; but exhausted of air, it
operates as well as if filled with water. Yet an electric atmosphere
and air do not seem to exclude each other, for we breathe freely
in such an atmosphere, and dry air will blow through it without
displacing or driving it away. I question whether the strongest dry
north-wester[60] would dissipate it. I once electrified a large
cork-ball at the end of a silk thread three feet long, the other end
of which I held in my fingers, and whirl'd it round, like a sling one
hundred times, in the air, with the swiftest motion I could possibly
give it, yet it retained its electric atmosphere, though it must have
passed through eight hundred yards of air, allowing my arm in giving
the motion to add a foot to the semi-diameter of the circle.--By
quite dry air, I mean the dryest we have: for perhaps we never have
any perfectly free from moisture. An electrical atmosphere raised
round a thick wire, inserted in a phial of air, drives out none of
the air, nor on withdrawing that atmosphere will any air rush in, as
I have found by a curious experiment[61] accurately made, whence we
concluded that the air's elasticity was not affected thereby.


From the prime conductor, hang a bullet by a wire hook; under the
bullet, at half an inch distance, place a bright piece of silver
to receive the sparks; then let the wheel be turned, and in a few
minutes, (if the repeated sparks continually strike in the same spot)
the silver will receive a blue stain, nearly the colour of a watch

A bright piece of iron will also be spotted, but not with that
colour; it rather seems corroded.

On gold, brass, or tin, I have not perceived it makes any impression.
But the spots on the silver or iron will be the same, whether the
bullet be lead, brass, gold, or silver.

On a silver bullet there will also appear a small spot, as well as on
the plate below it.


[58] Cadwallader Colden, who was afterwards lieutenant-governor of
New-York. _Editor._

[59] This proposition is since found to be too general; Mr. Wilson
having discovered that melted wax and rosin will also conduct.

[60] A cold dry wind of North America.

[61] The experiment here mentioned was thus made. An empty phial
was stopped with a cork. Through the cork passed a thick wire,
as usual in the Leyden experiment, which wire almost reached the
bottom. Through another part of the cork passed one leg of a small
glass syphon, the other leg on the outside came down almost to the
bottom of the phial. This phial was first held a short time in the
hand, which, warming, and of course rarefying the air within, drove
a small part of it out through the syphon. Then a little red ink
in a tea-spoon was applied to the opening of the outer leg of the
syphon; so that as the air within cooled, a little of the ink might
rise in that leg. When the air within the bottle came to be of the
same temperature of that without, the drop of red ink would rest in
a certain part of the leg. But the warmth of a finger applied to the
phial would cause that drop to descend, as the least outward coolness
applied would make it ascend. When it had found its situation, and
was at rest, the wire was electrified by a communication from the
prime conductor. This was supposed to give an electric atmosphere to
the wire within the bottle, which might likewise rarefy the included
air, and of course depress the drop of ink in the syphon. But no such
effect followed.


  _Mistake, that only Metals and Water were Conductors,
  rectified.--Supposition of a Region of electric Fire above our
  Atmosphere.--Theorem concerning Light.--Poke-Weed a Cure for

  Read at the Royal Society, Nov. 11, 1756.

  _Philadelphia, April 23, 1752._


In considering your favour of the 16th past, I recollected my
having wrote you answers to some queries concerning the difference
between electrics _per se_, and non-electrics, and the effects of
air in electrical experiments, which, I apprehend, you may not have
received. The date I have forgotten.

We have been used to call those bodies electrics _per se_, which
would not conduct the electric fluid: We once imagined that only
such bodies contained that fluid; afterwards that they had none of
it, and only educed it from other bodies: but further experiments
shewed our mistake. It is to be found in all matter we know of; and
the distinctions of electrics _per se_, and non-electrics, should now
be dropt as improper, and that of _conductors_ and _non-conductors_
assumed in its place, as I mentioned in those answers.

I do not remember any experiment by which it appeared that high
rectified spirit will not conduct; perhaps you have made such. This
I know, that wax, rosin, brimstone, and even glass, commonly reputed
electrics _per se_, will, when in a fluid state, conduct pretty
well. Glass will do it when only red hot. So that my former position,
that only metals and water were conductors, and other bodies more or
less such, as they partook of metal or moisture, was too general.

Your conception of the electric fluid, that it is incomparably more
subtle than air, is undoubtedly just. It pervades dense matter
with the greatest ease; but it does not seem to mix or incorporate
willingly with mere air, as it does with other matter. It will not
quit common matter to join with air. Air obstructs, in some degree,
its motion. An electric atmosphere cannot be communicated at so
great a distance, through intervening air, by far, as through a
vacuum.--Who knows then, but there may be, as the ancients thought,
a region of this fire above our atmosphere, prevented by our air,
and its own too great distance for attraction, from joining our
earth? Perhaps where the atmosphere is rarest, this fluid may be
densest, and nearer the earth where the atmosphere grows denser,
this fluid may be rarer; yet some of it be low enough to attach
itself to our highest clouds, and thence they becoming electrified,
may be attracted by, and descend towards the earth, and discharge
their watry contents, together with that etherial fire. Perhaps the
_auroræ boreales_ are currents of this fluid in its own region, above
our atmosphere, becoming from their motion visible. There is no end
to conjectures. As yet we are but novices in this branch of natural

You mention several differences of salts in electrical experiments.
Were they all equally dry? Salt is apt to acquire moisture from a
moist air, and some sorts more than others. When perfectly dried by
lying before a fire, or on a stove, none that I have tried will
conduct any better than so much glass.

New flannel, if dry and warm, will draw the electric fluid from
non-electrics, as well as that which has been worn.

I wish you had the convenience of trying the experiments you seem to
have such expectations from, upon various kinds of spirits, salts,
earth, &c. Frequently, in a variety of experiments, though we miss
what we expected to find, yet something valuable turns out, something
surprising, and instructing, though unthought of.

I thank you for communicating the illustration of the theorem
concerning light. It is very curious. But I must own I am much in
the _dark_ about _light_. I am not satisfied with the doctrine that
supposes particles of matter called light, continually driven off
from the sun's surface, with a swiftness so prodigious! Must not
the smallest particle conceivable have, with such a motion, a force
exceeding that of a twenty-four pounder, discharged from a cannon?
Must not the Sun diminish exceedingly by such a waste of matter; and
the planets, instead of drawing nearer to him, as some have feared,
recede to greater distances through the lessened attraction. Yet
these particles, with this amazing motion, will not drive before
them, or remove, the least and lightest dust they meet with: And the
Sun, for aught we know, continues of his antient dimensions, and his
attendants move in their antient orbits.

May not all the phenomena of light be more conveniently solved, by
supposing universal space filled with a subtle elastic fluid, which,
when at rest, is not visible, but whose vibrations affect that fine
sense in the eye, as those of air do the grosser organs of the ear?
We do not, in the case of sound, imagine that any sonorous particles
are thrown off from a bell, for instance, and fly in strait lines to
the ear; why must we believe that luminous particles leave the sun
and proceed to the eye? Some diamonds, if rubbed, shine in the dark,
without losing any part of their matter. I can make an electrical
spark as big as the flame of a candle, much brighter, and, therefore,
visible further; yet this is without fuel; and, I am persuaded,
no part of the electric fluid flies off in such case to distant
places, but all goes directly, and is to be found in the place to
which I destine it. May not different degrees of the vibration of
the above-mentioned universal medium, occasion the appearances of
different colours? I think the electric fluid is always the same; yet
I find that weaker and stronger sparks differ in apparent colour,
some white, blue, purple, red; the strongest, white; weak ones red.
Thus different degrees of vibration given to the air produce the
seven, different sounds in music, analagous to the seven colours, yet
the medium, air, is the same.

If the Sun is not wasted by expence of light, I can easily conceive
that he shall otherwise always retain the same quantity of matter;
though we should suppose him made of sulphur constantly flaming. The
action of fire only _separates_ the particles of matter, it does not
_annihilate_ them. Water, by heat raised in vapour, returns to the
earth in rain; and if we could collect all the particles of burning
matter that go off in smoak, perhaps they might, with the ashes,
weigh as much as the body before it was fired: and if we could put
them into the same position with regard to each other, the mass would
be the same as before, and might be burnt over again. The chymists
have analysed sulphur, and find it composed, in certain proportions,
of oil, salt, and earth; and having, by the analysis, discovered
those proportions, they can, of those ingredients, make sulphur.
So we have only to suppose, that the parts of the Sun's sulphur,
separated by fire, rise into his atmosphere, and there being freed
from the immediate action of the fire, they collect into cloudy
masses, and growing, by degrees, too heavy to be longer supported,
they descend to the Sun, and are burnt over again. Hence the spots
appearing on his face, which are observed to diminish daily in size,
their consuming edges being of particular brightness.

It is well we are not, as poor Galileo was, subject to the
inquisition for _philosophical heresy_. My whispers against the
orthodox doctrine, in private letters, would be dangerous; but your
writing and printing would be highly criminal. As it is, you must
expect some censure, but one heretic will surely excuse another.

I am heartily glad to hear more instances of the success of the
poke-weed, in the cure of that horrible evil to the human body, a
cancer. You will deserve highly of mankind for the communication. But
I find in Boston they are at a loss to know the right plant, some
asserting it is what they call _Mechoachan_, others other things.
In one of their late papers it is publicly requested that a perfect
description may be given of the plant, its places of growth, &c. I
have mislaid the paper, or would send it to you. I thought you had
described it pretty fully[63].

  I am, Sir, &c.



[62] Cadwallader Colden. See note, page 250. _Editor._

[63] As the poke-weed, though out of place, is introduced here, we
shall translate and insert two extracts of letters from Dr. Franklin
to M. Dubourg, the French translator of his works, on the same

  "LONDON, MARCH 27, 1773.

"I apprehend that our poke-weed is what the botanists term
_phytolacca_. This plant bears berries as large as peas; the skin is
black, but it contains a crimson juice. It is this juice, thickened
by evaporation in the sun, which was employed. It caused great pain,
but some persons were said to have been cured. I am not quite certain
of the facts; all that I know is, that Dr. Colden had a good opinion
of the remedy."

  "LONDON, APRIL 23, 1773.

"You will see by the annexed paper by Dr. Solander, that this herb,
poke-weed, in which has been found a specific remedy for cancers, is
the most common species of phytolacca. (Phytolacca decandra L.)"



  _New Experiments.--Paradoxes inferred from them.--Difference
  in the Electricity of a Globe of Glass charged, and a Globe of
  Sulphur.--Difficulty of ascertaining which is positive and which

  _Feb. 3, 1752._


I have the following experiments to communicate: I held in one hand a
wire, which was fastened at the other end to the handle of a pump, in
order to try whether the stroke from the prime conductor, through my
arms, would be any greater than when conveyed only to the surface of
the earth, but could discover no difference.

I placed the needle of a compass on the point of a long pin, and
holding it in the atmosphere of the prime conductor, at the distance
of about three inches, found it to whirl round like the flyers of a
jack, with great rapidity.

I suspended with silk a cork ball, about the bigness of a pea, and
presented to it rubbed amber, sealing-wax, and sulphur, by each of
which it was strongly repelled; then I tried rubbed glass and china,
and found that each of these would attract it, until it became
electrified again, and then it would be repelled as at first; and
while thus repelled by the rubbed glass or china, either of the
others when rubbed would attract it. Then I electrified the ball,
with the wire of a charged phial, and presented to it rubbed glass
(the stopper of a decanter) and a china tea-cup, by which it was as
strongly repelled as by the wire; but when I presented either of the
other rubbed electrics, it would be strongly attracted, and when I
electrified it by either of these, till it became repelled, it would
be attracted by the wire of the phial, but be repelled by its coating.

These experiments surprised me very much, and have induced me to
infer the following paradoxes.

1. If a glass globe be placed at one end of a prime-conductor, and
a sulphur one at the other end, both being equally in good order,
and in equal motion, not a spark of fire can be obtained from the
conductor; but one globe will draw out, as fast as the other gives in.

2. If a phial be suspended on the conductor, with a chain from its
coating to the table, and only one of the globes be made use of at
a time, 20 turns of the wheel, for instance, will charge it; after
which, so many tarns of the other wheel will discharge it; and as
many more will charge it again.

3. The globes being both in motion, each having a separate conductor,
with a phial suspended on one of them, and the chain of it fastened
to the other, the phial will become charged; one globe charging
positively, the other negatively.

4. The phial being thus charged, hang it in like manner on the other
conductor; set both wheels a going again, and the same number of
turns that charged it before, will now discharge it; and the same
number repeated, will charge it again.

5. When each globe communicates with the same prime conductor, having
a chain hanging from it to the table, one of them, when in motion
(but which I cannot say) will draw fire up through the cushion, and
discharge it through the chain; the other will draw it up through the
chain, and discharge it through the cushion.

I should be glad if you would send to my house for my sulphur globe,
and the cushion belonging to it, and make the trial; but must caution
you not to use chalk on the cushion, some fine powdered sulphur will
do better. If, as I expect, you should find the globes to charge the
prime conductor differently, I hope you will be able to discover some
method of determining which it is that charges positively.

  I am, &c.



  _Probable Cause of the Different Attractions and Repulsions of the
  two electrified Globes mentioned in the two preceding Letters._

  _Philadelphia, March 2, 1752._


I thank you for the experiments communicated. I sent immediately for
your brimstone globe, in order to make the trials you desired, but
found it wanted centres, which I have not time now to supply; but the
first leisure I will get it fitted for use, try the experiments, and
acquaint you with the result.

In the mean time I suspect, that the different attractions and
repulsions you observed, proceeded rather from the greater or smaller
quantities of the fire you obtained from different bodies, than from
its being of a different _kind_, or having a different _direction_.
In haste,

  I am, &c.



  _Reasons for supposing, that the glass Globe charges positively,
  and the Sulphur negatively.--Hint respecting a leather Globe for
  Experiments when travelling._

  _Philadelphia, March 16, 1752._


Having brought your brimstone globe to work, I tried one of the
experiments you proposed, and was agreeably surprised to find, that
the glass globe being at one end of the conductor, and the sulphur
globe at the other end, both globes in motion, no spark could be
obtained from the conductor, unless when one globe turned slower, or
was not in so good order as the other; and then the spark was only
in proportion to the difference, so that turning equally, or turning
that slowest which worked best, would again bring the conductor to
afford no spark.

I found also, that the wire of a phial charged by the glass globe,
attracted a cork ball that had touched the wire of a phial charged
by the brimstone globe, and _vice versa_, so that the cork continued
to play between the two phials, just as when one phial was charged
through the wire, the other through the coating, by the glass globe
alone. And two phials charged, the one by the brimstone globe, the
other by the glass globe, would be both discharged by bringing their
wires together, and shock the person holding the phials.

From these experiments one may be certain that your 2d, 3d, and 4th
proposed experiments, would succeed exactly as you suppose, though I
have not tried them, wanting time. I imagine it is the glass globe
that charges positively, and the sulphur negatively, for these
reasons: 1. Though the sulphur globe seems to work equally well
with the glass one, yet it can never occasion so large and distant
a spark between my knuckle and the conductor, when the sulphur
one is working, as when the glass one is used; which, I suppose,
is occasioned by this, that bodies of a certain bigness cannot so
easily part with a quantity of electrical fluid they have and hold
attracted _within_ their substance, as they can receive an additional
quantity _upon_ their surface by way of atmosphere. Therefore so
much cannot be drawn _out_ of the conductor, as can be thrown _on_
it. 2. I observe that the stream or brush of fire, appearing at the
end of a wire, connected with the conductor, is long, large, and
much diverging, when the glass globe is used, and makes a snapping
(or rattling) noise: but when the sulphur one is used, it is short,
small, and makes a hissing noise; and just the reverse of both
happens, when you hold the same wire in your hand, and the globes
are worked alternately: the brush is large, long, diverging, and
snapping (or rattling) when the sulphur globe is turned; short,
small, and hissing, when the glass globe is turned.--When the brush
is long, large, and much diverging, the body to which it joins seems
to me to be throwing the fire out; and when the contrary appears, it
seems to be drinking in. 3. I observe, that when I hold my knuckle
before the sulphur globe, while turning, the stream of fire between
my knuckle and the globe seems to spread on its surface, as if it
flowed from the finger; on the glass globe it is otherwise. 4. The
cool wind (or what was called so) that we used to feel as coming from
an electrified point, is, I think, more sensible when the glass globe
is used, than when the sulphur one.--But these are hasty thoughts. As
to your fifth paradox, it must likewise be true, if the globes are
alternately worked; but if worked together, the fire will neither
come up nor go down by the chain, because one globe will drink it as
fast as the other produces it.

I should be glad to know, whether the effects would be contrary if
the glass globe is solid, and the sulphur globe is hollow; but I have
no means at present of trying.

In your journeys, your glass globes meet with accidents, and sulphur
ones are heavy and inconvenient.--_Query._ Would not a thin plane of
brimstone, cast on a board, serve on occasion as a cushion, while a
globe of leather stuffed (properly mounted) might receive the fire
from the sulphur, and charge the conductor positively? Such a globe
would be in no danger of breaking[64]. I think I can conceive how it
may be done; but have not time to add more than that I am,

  Yours, &c.



[64] The discoveries of the late ingenious Mr. Symmer, on the
positive and negative electricity produced by the mutual friction of
white and black silk, &c. afford hints for farther improvements to be
made with this view.

  [In Mr. Collinson's edition, several papers followed here, by
  the Abbé Mazeas, and others, upon the subject of Dr. Franklin's
  experiments, which, that the letters of our author might not be too
  much interrupted, we have thought proper to transfer to an Appendix.
  A subsequent paper by Mr. David Colden, entitled Remarks on the Abbé
  Nollet's Letters to Benjamin Franklin, esq. on Electricity, will be
  found transferred in the same manner.]


  _Electrical Kite._

  _Philadelphia, Oct. 19, 1752._


As frequent mention is made in public papers from Europe of the
success of the Philadelphia experiment for drawing the electric
fire from clouds by means of pointed rods of iron erected on high
buildings, &c. it may be agreeable to the curious to be informed that
the same experiment has succeeded in Philadelphia, though made in a
different and more easy manner, which is as follows:

Make a small cross of two light strips of cedar, the arms so long as
to reach to the four corners of a large thin silk handkerchief when
extended; tie the corners of the handkerchief to the extremities
of the cross, so you have the body of a kite; which being properly
accommodated with a tail, loop, and string, will rise in the air,
like those made of paper; but this being of silk is fitter to bear
the wet and wind of a thunder-gust without tearing. To the top of
the upright stick of the cross is to be fixed a very sharp pointed
wire, rising a foot or more above the wood. To the end of the twine,
next the hand, is to be tied a silk ribbon, and where the silk and
twine join, a key may be fastened. This kite is to be raised when a
thunder-gust appears to be coming on, and the person who holds the
string must stand within a door or window, or under some cover, so
that the silk ribbon may not be wet; and care must be taken that the
twine does not touch the frame of the door or window. As soon as
any of the thunder clouds come over the kite, the pointed wire will
draw the electric fire from them, and the kite, with all the twine,
will be electrified, and the loose filaments of the twine will stand
out every way, and be attracted by an approaching finger. And when
the rain has wetted the kite and twine, so that it can conduct the
electric fire freely, you will find it stream out plentifully from
the key on the approach of your knuckle. At this key the phial may
be charged; and from electric fire thus obtained, spirits may be
kindled, and all the other electric experiments be performed, which
are usually done by the help of a rubbed glass globe or tube, and
thereby the sameness of the electric matter with that of lightning
completely demonstrated.



  _Hypothesis, of the Sea being the grand Source of Lightning,
  retracted. Positive, and sometimes negative, Electricity of the
  Clouds discovered.--New Experiments and Conjectures in Support of
  this Discovery.--Observations recommended for ascertaining the
  Direction of the electric Fluid.--Size of Rods for Conductors to
  Buildings.--Appearance of a Thunder-Cloud described._

  _Philadelphia, September, 1753._


In my former paper on this subject, written first in 1747, enlarged
and sent to England in 1749, I considered the sea as the grand source
of lightning, imagining its luminous appearance to be owing to
electric fire, produced by friction between the particles of water
and those of salt. Living far from the sea, I had then no opportunity
of making experiments on the sea-water, and so embraced this opinion
too hastily.

For in 1750, and 1751, being occasionally on the sea-coast, I found,
by experiments, that sea-water in a bottle, though at first it would
by agitation appear luminous, yet in a few hours it lost that virtue:
_hence and from this_, that I could not by agitating a solution of
sea-salt in water produce any light, I first began to doubt of my
former hypothesis, and to suspect that the luminous appearance in
sea-water must be owing to some other principles.

I then considered whether it were not possible, that the particles
of air, being electrics _per se_, might, in hard gales of wind,
by their friction against trees, hills, buildings, &c. as so many
minute electric globes, rubbing against non-electric cushions, draw
the electric fire from the earth, and that the rising vapours might
receive that fire from the air, and by such means the clouds become

If this were so, I imagined that by forcing a constant violent stream
of air against my prime conductor, by bellows, I should electrify it
_negatively_; the rubbing particles of air, drawing from it part of
its natural quantity of the electric fluid. I accordingly made the
experiment, but it did not succeed.

In September 1752, I erected an iron rod to draw the lightning
down into my house, in order to make some experiments on it, with
two bells to give notice when the rod should be electrified: a
contrivance obvious to every electrician.

I found the bells rang sometimes when there was no lightning or
thunder, but only a dark cloud over the rod; that sometimes after
a flash of lightning they would suddenly stop; and at other times,
when they had not rang before, they would, after a flash, suddenly
begin to ring; that the electricity was sometimes very faint, so
that when a small spark was obtained, another could not be got for
some time after; at other times the sparks would follow extremely
quick, and once I had a continual stream from bell to bell, the size
of a crow-quill: even during the same gust there were considerable

In the winter following I conceived an experiment, to try whether the
clouds were electrified _positively_ or _negatively_; but my pointed
rod, with its apparatus, becoming out of order, I did not refit it
till towards the spring, when I expected the warm weather would bring
on more frequent thunder-clouds.

The experiment was this: To take two phials; charge one of them with
lightning from the iron rod, and give the other an equal charge by
the electric glass globe, through the prime conductor: when charged,
to place them on a table within three or four inches of each other,
a small cork ball being suspended by a fine silk thread from the
cieling, so as it might play between the wires. If both bottles then
were electrified _positively_, the ball being attracted and repelled
by one, must be also repelled by the other. If the one _positively_,
and the other _negatively_; then the ball would be attracted and
repelled alternately by each, and continue to play between them as
long as any considerable charge remained.

Being very intent on making this experiment, it was no small
mortification to me, that I happened to be abroad during two of the
greatest thunder-storms we had early in the spring, and though I had
given orders in my family, that if the bells rang when I was from
home, they should catch some of the lightning for me in electrical
phials, and they did so, yet it was mostly dissipated before my
return, and in some of the other gusts, the quantity of lightning
I was able to obtain was so small, and the charge so weak, that I
could not satisfy myself: yet I sometimes saw what heightened my
suspicions, and inflamed my curiosity.

At last, on the 12th of April, 1753, there being a smart gust of some
continuance, I charged one phial pretty well with lightning, and the
other equally, as near as I could judge, with electricity from my
glass globe; and, having placed them properly, I beheld, with great
surprize and pleasure, the cork ball play briskly between them; and
was convinced that one bottle was electrised _negatively_.

I repeated this experiment several times during the gust, and in
eight succeeding gusts, always with the same success; and being
of opinion (for reasons I formerly gave in my letter to Mr.
Kinnersley, since printed in London) that the glass globe electrises
_positively_, I concluded that the clouds are _always_ electrised
_negatively_, or have always in them less than their natural quantity
of the electric fluid.

Yet notwithstanding so many experiments, it seems I concluded too
soon; for at last, June the 6th, in a gust which continued from five
o'clock, P. M. to seven, I met with one cloud that was electrised
positively, though several that passed over my rod before, during the
same gust, were in the negative state. This was thus discovered:

I had another concurring experiment, which I often repeated, to prove
the negative state of the clouds, viz. while the bells were ringing,
I took the phial charged from the glass globe, and applied its wire
to the erected rod, considering, that if the clouds were electrised
_positively_, the rod which received its electricity from them must
be so too; and then the additional _positive_ electricity of the
phial would make the bells ring faster:--But, if the clouds were in a
_negative_ state, they must exhaust the electric fluid from my rod,
and bring that into the same negative state with themselves, and then
the wire of a positively charged phial, supplying the rod with what
it wanted (which it was obliged otherwise to draw from the earth by
means of the pendulous brass ball playing between the two bells) the
ringing would cease till the bottle was discharged.

In this manner I quite discharged into the rod several phials that
were charged from the glass globe, the electric fluid streaming from
the wire to the rod, till the wire would receive no spark from the
finger; and, during this supply to the rod from the phial, the bells
stopped ringing; but by continuing the application of the phial wire
to the rod, I exhausted the natural quantity from the inside surface
of the same phials, or, as I call it, charged them _negatively_.

At length, while I was charging a phial by my glass globe, to repeat
this experiment, my bells, of themselves, stopped ringing, and, after
some pause, began to ring again.--But now, when I approached the
wire of the charged phial to the rod, instead of the usual stream
that I expected from the wire to the rod, there was no spark; not
even when I brought the wire and the rod to touch; yet the bells
continued ringing vigorously, which proved to me, that the rod was
then _positively_ electrified, as well as the wire of the phial, and
equally so; and, consequently, that the particular cloud then over
the rod was in the same positive state. This was near the end of the

But this was a single experiment, which, however, destroys my first
too general conclusion, and reduces me to this: _That the clouds of
a thunder-gust are most commonly in a negative state of electricity,
but sometimes in a positive state._

The latter I believe is rare; for though I soon after the last
experiment set out on a journey to Boston, and was from home most
part of the summer, which prevented my making farther trials and
observations; yet Mr. Kinnersley returning from the Islands just as I
left home, pursued the experiments during my absence, and informs me
that he always found the clouds in the _negative_ state.

So that, for the most part, in thunder-strokes, _it is the earth that
strikes into the clouds, and not the clouds that strike into the

Those who are versed in electric experiments, will easily conceive,
that the effects and appearances must be nearly the same in either
case; the same explosion, and the same flash between one cloud and
another, and between the clouds and mountains, &c. the same rending
of trees, walls, &c. which the electric fluid meets with in its
passage, and the same fatal shock to animal bodies; and that pointed
rods fixed on buildings, or masts of ships, and communicating with
the earth or sea, must be of the same service in restoring the
equilibrium silently between the earth and clouds, or in conducting a
flash or stroke, if one should be, so as to save harmless the house
or vessel: for points have equal power to throw off, as to draw on
the electric fire, and, rods will conduct up as well as down.

But though the light gained from these experiments makes no
alteration in the practice, it makes a considerable one in the
theory. And now we as much need an hypothesis to explain by what
means the clouds become negatively, as before to shew how they
became positively electrified.

I cannot forbear venturing some few conjectures on this occasion:
they are what occur to me at present, and though future discoveries
should prove them not wholly right, yet they may in the mean time be
of some use, by stirring up the curious to make more experiments, and
occasion more exact disquisitions.

I conceive then, that this globe of earth and water, with its plants,
animals, and buildings, have diffused throughout their substance, a
quantity of the electric fluid, just as much as they can contain,
which I call the _natural quantity_.

That this natural quantity is not the same in all kinds of common
matter under the same dimensions, nor in the same kind of common
matter in all circumstances; but a solid foot, for instance, of one
kind of common matter, may contain more of the electric fluid than a
solid foot of some other kind of common matter; and a pound weight of
the same kind of common matter may, when in a rarer state, contain
more of the electric fluid than when in a denser state.

For the electric fluid, being attracted by any portion of common
matter, the parts of that fluid, (which have among themselves a
mutual repulsion) are brought so near to each other by the attraction
of the common matter that absorbs them, as that their repulsion is
equal to the condensing power of attraction in common matter; and
then such portion of common matter will absorb no more.

Bodies of different kinds having thus attracted and absorbed what I
call their _natural quantity, i. e._ just as much of the electric
fluid as is suited to their circumstances of density, rarity, and
power of attracting, do not then show any signs of electricity among
each other.

And if more electric fluid be added to one of these bodies, it does
not enter, but spreads on the surface, forming an atmosphere; and
then such body shews signs of electricity.

I have in a former paper compared common matter to a spunge, and the
electric fluid to water: I beg leave once more to make use of the
same comparison, to illustrate farther my meaning in this particular.

When a spunge is somewhat condensed by being squeezed between the
fingers, it will not receive and retain so much water as when in its
more loose and open state.

If _more_ squeezed and condensed, some of the water will come out of
its inner parts, and flow on the surface.

If the pressure of the fingers be entirely removed, the spunge will
not only resume what was lately forced out, but attract an additional

As the spunge in its rarer state will _naturally_ attract and absorb
_more_ water, and in its denser state will _naturally_ attract and
absorb _less_ water; we may call the quantity it attacks and absorbs
in either state, its _natural quantity_, the state being considered.

Now what the spunge is to water, the same is water to the electric

When a portion of water is in its common dense state, it can hold no
more electric fluid than it has: if any be added, it spreads on the

When the same portion of water is rarefied into vapour, and forms
a cloud, it is then capable of receiving and absorbing a much
greater quantity; there is room for each particle to have an electric

Thus water, in its rarefied state, or in the form of a cloud, will
be in a negative state of electricity; it will have less than its
_natural quantity_; that is, less than it is naturally capable of
attracting and absorbing in that state.

Such a cloud, then, coming so near the earth as to be within the
striking distance, will receive from the earth a flash of the
electric fluid; which flash, to supply a great extent of cloud, must
sometimes contain a very great quantity of that fluid.

Or such a cloud, passing over woods of tall trees, may from the
points and sharp edges of their moist top leaves, receive silently
some supply.

A cloud being by any means supplied from the earth, may strike into
other clouds that have not been supplied, or not so much supplied;
and those to others, till an equilibrium is produced among all the
clouds that are within striking distance of each other.

The cloud thus supplied, having parted with much of what it first
received, may require and receive a fresh supply from the earth,
or from some other cloud, which by the wind is brought into such a
situation as to receive it more readily from the earth.

Hence repeated and continual strokes and flashes till the clouds have
all got nearly their natural quantity as clouds, or till they have
descended in showers, and are united again with this terraqueous
globe, their original.

Thus, thunder-clouds are generally in a negative state of electricity
compared with the earth, agreeable to most of our experiments; yet
as by one experiment we found a cloud electrised positively, I
conjecture that, in that case, such cloud, after having received
what was, in its rare state, only its _natural quantity_, became
compressed by the driving winds, or some other means, so that part
of what it had absorbed was forced out, and formed an electric
atmosphere around it in its denser state. Hence it was capable of
communicating positive electricity to my rod.

To show that a body in different circumstances of dilatation and
contraction is capable of receiving and retaining more or less of
the electric fluid on its surface, I would relate the following
experiment: I placed a clean wine glass on the floor, and on it a
small silver can. In the can I put about three yards of brass chain;
to one end of which I fastened a silk thread, which went right up to
the cieling, where it passed over a pulley, and came down again to
my hand, that I might at pleasure draw the chain up out of the can,
extending it till within a foot of the cieling, and let it gradually
sink into the can again.--From the cieling, by another thread of
fine raw silk, I suspended a small light lock of cotton, so as that
when it hung perpendicularly, it came in contact with the side of
the can.--Then approaching the wire of a charged phial to the can,
I gave it a spark, which flowed round in an electric atmosphere;
and the lock of cotton was repelled from the side of the can to the
distance of about nine or ten inches. The can would not then receive
another spark from the wire of the phial; but as I gradually drew
up the chain, the atmosphere of the can diminished by flowing over
the rising chain, and the lock of cotton accordingly drew nearer and
nearer to the can; and then, if I again brought the phial wire near
the can, it would receive another spark, and the cotton fly off
again to its first distance; and thus, as the chain was drawn higher,
the can would receive more sparks; because the can and extended chain
were capable of supporting a greater atmosphere than the can with
the chain gathered up into its belly.--And that the atmosphere round
the can was diminished by raising the chain, and increased again by
lowering it, is not only agreeable to reason, since the atmosphere
of the chain, must be drawn from that of the can, when it rose, and
returned to it again when it fell; but was also evident to the eye,
the lock of cotton always approaching the can when the chain was
drawn up, and receding when it was let down again.

Thus we see that increase of surface makes a body capable of
receiving a greater electric atmosphere: but this experiment does
not, I own, fully demonstrate my new hypothesis; for the brass and
silver still continue in their solid state, and are not rarefied into
vapour, as the water is in clouds. Perhaps some future experiments on
vapourized water may set this matter in a clearer light.

One seemingly material objection arises to the new hypothesis, and it
is this: If water, in its rarefied state, as a cloud, requires, and
will absorb more of the electric fluid than when in its dense state
as water, why does it not acquire from the earth all it wants at the
instant of its leaving the surface, while it is yet near, and but
just rising in vapour? To this difficulty I own I cannot at present
give a solution satisfactory to myself: I thought, however, that I
ought to state it in its full force, as I have done, and submit the
whole to examination.

And I would beg leave to recommend it to the curious in this branch
of natural philosophy, to repeat with care and accurate observation
the experiments I have reported in this and former papers relating to
_positive_ and _negative_ electricity, with such other relative ones
as shall occur to them, that it may be certainly known whether the
electricity communicated by a glass globe, be _really positive_. And
also I would request all who may have an opportunity of observing the
recent effects of lightning on buildings, trees, &c. that they would
consider them particularly with a view to discover the direction. But
in these examinations, this one thing is always to be understood,
viz. that a stream of the electric fluid passing through wood,
brick, metal, &c. while such fluid passes in _small quantity_, the
mutually repulsive power of its parts is confined and overcome by the
cohesion of the parts of the body it passes through, so as to prevent
an explosion; but when the fluid comes in a quantity too great to
be confined by such cohesion, it explodes, and rends or fuses the
body that endeavoured to confine it. If it be wood, brick, stone,
or the like, the splinters will fly off on that side where there is
least resistance. And thus, when a hole is struck through pasteboard
by the electrified jar, if the surfaces of the pasteboard are not
confined or compressed, there will be a bur raised all round the hole
on both sides the pasteboard; but if one side be confined, so that
the bur cannot be raised on that side, it will be all raised on the
other, which way soever the fluid was directed. For the bur round the
outside of the hole, is the effect of the explosion every way from
the centre of the stream, and not an effect of the direction.

In every stroke of lightning, I am of opinion that the stream of the
electric fluid, moving to restore the equilibrium between the cloud
and the earth, does always previously find its passage, and mark out,
as I may say, its own course, taking in its way all the conductors
it can find, such as metals, damp walls, moist wood, &c. and will go
considerably out of a direct course, for the sake of the assistance
of good conductors; and that, in this course, it is actually moving,
though silently and imperceptibly, before the explosion, in and among
the conductors; which explosion happens only when the conductors
cannot discharge it as fast as they receive it, by reason of their
being incomplete, dis-united, too small, or not of the best materials
for conducting. Metalline rods, therefore, of sufficient thickness,
and extending from the highest part of an edifice to the ground,
being of the best materials and complete conductors, will, I think,
secure the building from damage, either by restoring the equilibrium
so fast as to prevent a stroke, or by conducting it in the substance
of the rod as far as the rod goes, so that there shall be no
explosion but what is above its point, between that and the clouds.

If it be asked, what thickness of a metalline rod may be supposed
sufficient? In answer, I would remark, that five large glass jars,
such as I have described in my former papers, discharge a very great
quantity of electricity, which nevertheless will be all conducted
round the corner of a book, by the fine filleting of gold on the
cover, it following the gold the farthest way about, rather than
take the shorter course through the cover, that not being so good
a conductor. Now in this line of gold, the metal is so extremely
thin as to be little more than the colour of gold, and on an octavo
book is not in the whole an inch square, and therefore not the
thirty-sixth part of a grain, according to M. Reaumur; yet it is
sufficient to conduct the charge of five large jars, and how many
more I know not. Now, I suppose a wire of a quarter of an inch
diameter to contain about five thousand times as much metal as there
is in that gold line, and if so, it will conduct the charge of
twenty-five thousand such glass jars, which is a quantity, I imagine,
far beyond what was ever contained in any one stroke of natural
lightning. But a rod of half an inch diameter would conduct four
times as much as one of a quarter.

And with regard to conducting, though a certain thickness of metal
be required to conduct a great quantity of electricity, and, at the
same time, keep its own substance firm and unseparated; and a less
quantity, as a very small wire for instance, will be destroyed by
the explosion; yet such small wire will have answered the end of
conducting that stroke, though it become incapable of conducting
another. And considering the extreme rapidity with which the electric
fluid moves without exploding, when it has a free passage, or
compleat metal communication, I should think a vast quantity would
be conducted in a short time, either to or from a cloud, to restore
its equilibrium with the earth, by means of a very small wire; and
therefore thick rods should seem not so necessary.--However, as
the quantity of lightning discharged in one stroke, cannot well be
measured, and, in different strokes, is certainly very various, in
some much greater than others; and as iron (the best metal for the
purpose, being least apt to fuse) is cheap, it may be well enough
to provide a larger canal to guide that impetuous blast than we
imagine necessary: for, though one middling wire may be sufficient,
two or three can do no harm. And time, with careful observations
well compared, will at length point out the proper size to greater

Pointed rods erected on edifices may likewise often prevent a stroke,
in the following manner: An eye so situated as to view horizontally
the under side of a thunder-cloud, will see it very ragged, with a
number of separate fragments, or petty clouds, one under another,
the lowest sometimes not far from the earth. These, as so many
stepping-stones, assist in conducting a stroke between the cloud
and a building. To represent these by an experiment, take two or
three locks of fine loose cotton, connect one of them with the prime
conductor by a fine thread of two inches (which may be spun out of
the same lock by the fingers) another to that, and the third to the
second, by like threads.--Turn the globe and you will see these locks
extend themselves towards the table (as the lower small clouds do
towards the earth) being attracted by it: but on presenting a sharp
point erect under the lowest, it will shrink up to the second, the
second to the first, and all together to the prime conductor, where
they will continue as long as the point continues under them. May
not, in like manner, the small electrised clouds, whose equilibrium
with the earth is soon restored by the point, rise up to the main
body, and by that means occasion so large a vacancy, as that the
grand cloud cannot strike in that place?

These thoughts, my dear friend, are many of them crude and hasty;
and if I were merely ambitious of acquiring some reputation
in philosophy, I ought to keep them by me, till corrected and
improved by time, and farther experience. But since even short
hints and imperfect experiments in any new branch of science,
being communicated, have oftentimes a good effect, in exciting the
attention of the ingenious to the subject, and so become the occasion
of more exact disquisition, and more compleat discoveries, you are
at liberty to communicate this paper to whom you please; it being of
more importance that knowledge should increase, than that your friend
should be thought an accurate philosopher.



  _Additional Proofs of the positive and negative State of
  Electricity in the Clouds.--New Method of ascertaining it._

  _Philadelphia, April 18, 1754._


Since September last, having been abroad on two long journeys, and
otherwise much engaged, I have made but few observations on the
_positive_ and _negative_ state of electricity in the clouds. But Mr.
Kinnersley kept his rod and bells in good order, and has made many.

Once this winter the bells rang a long time, during a fall of snow,
though no thunder was heard, or lightning seen. Sometimes the flashes
and cracks of the electric matter between bell and bell were so
large and loud as to be heard all over the house: but by all his
observations, the clouds were constantly in a negative state, till
about six weeks ago, when he found them once to change in a few
minutes from the negative to the positive. About a fortnight after
that, he made another observation of the same kind; and last Monday
afternoon, the wind blowing hard at S. E. and veering round to N. E.
with many thick driving clouds, there were five or six successive
changes from negative to positive, and from positive to negative,
the bells stopping a minute or two between every change. Besides
the methods mentioned in my paper of September last, of discovering
the electrical state of the clouds, the following may be used. When
your bells are ringing, pass a rubbed tube by the edge of the bell,
connected with your pointed rod: if the cloud is then in a negative
state, the ringing will stop; if in a positive state, it will
continue, and perhaps be quicker. Or, suspend a very small cork-ball
by a fine silk thread, so that it may hang close to the edge of the
rod-bell: then whenever the bell is electrified, whether positively
or negatively, the little ball will be repelled, and continue at some
distance from the bell. Have ready a round-headed glass stopper of a
decanter, rub it on your side till it is electrified, then present
it to the cork-ball. If the electricity in the ball is positive, it
will be repelled from the glass stopper as well as from the bell. If
negative, it will fly to the stopper.



  _With an attempt to account for their several phænomena. Together
  with some observations on thunder-clouds, in further confirmation
  of Mr. Franklin's observations on the positive and negative
  electrical state of the clouds, by John Canton, M. A. and F. R. S._

  _Dec. 6, 1753._


From the cieling, or any convenient part of a room, let two
cork-balls, each about the bigness of a small pea, be suspended by
linen threads of eight or nine inches in length, so as to be in
contact with each other. Bring the excited glass tube under the
balls, and they will be separated by it, when held at the distance
of three or four feet; let it be brought nearer, and they will stand
farther apart; entirely withdraw it, and they will immediately come
together. This experiment may be made with very small brass balls
hung by silver wire; and will succeed as well with sealing-wax made
electrical, as with glass.


If two cork-balls be suspended by dry silk threads, the excited tube
must be brought within eighteen inches before they will repel each
other; which they will continue to do, for some time, after the tube
is taken away.

As the balls in the first experiment are not insulated, they cannot
properly be said to be electrified: but when they hang within the
atmosphere of the excited tube, they may attract and condense the
electrical fluid round about them, and be separated by the repulsion
of its particles. It is conjectured also, that the balls at this
time contain less than their common share of the electrical fluid,
on account of the repelling power of that which surrounds them;
though some, perhaps, is continually entering and passing through
the threads. And if that be the case, the reason is plain why the
balls hung by silk, in the second experiment, must be in a much more
dense part of the atmosphere of the tube, before they will repel each
other. At the approach of an excited stick of wax to the balls, in
the first experiment, the electrical fire is supposed to come through
the threads into the balls, and be condensed there, in its passage
towards the wax; for, according to Mr. Franklin, excited glass
_emits_ the electrical fluid, but excited wax _receives_ it.


Let a tin tube, of four or five feet in length, and about two inches
in diameter, be insulated by silk; and from one end of it let the
cork-balls be suspended by linen threads. Electrify it, by bringing
the excited glass tube near the other end, so as that the balls
may stand an inch and an half, or two inches, apart: then, at the
approach of the excited tube, they will, by degrees, lose their
repelling power, and come into contact; and as the tube is brought
still nearer, they will separate again to as great a distance as
before: in the return of the tube they will approach each other
till they touch, and then repel as at first. If the tin tube be
electrified by wax, or the wire of a charged phial, the balls will be
affected in the same manner at the approach of excited wax, or the
wire of the phial.


Electrify the cork-balls as in the last experiment by glass, and
at the approach of an excited stick of wax their repulsion will be
increased. The effect will be the same, if the excited glass be
brought towards them, when they have been electrified by wax.

The bringing the excited glass to the end, or edge of the tin-tube,
in the third experiment, is supposed to electrify it positively, or
to add to the electrical fire it before contained; and therefore
some will be running off through the balls, and they will repel each
other. But at the approach of excited glass, which likewise _emits_
the electrical fluid, the discharge of it from the balls will be
diminished; or part will be driven back, by a force acting in a
contrary direction: and they will come nearer together. If the tube
be held at such a distance from the balls, that the excess of the
density of the fluid round about them, above the common quantity in
air, be equal to the excess of the density of that within them, above
the common quantity contained in cork; their repulsion will be quite
destroyed. But if the tube be brought nearer; the fluid without being
more dense than that within the balls, it will be attracted by them,
and they will recede from each other again.

When the apparatus has lost part of its natural share of this fluid,
by the approach of excited wax to one end of it, or is electrified
negatively; the electrical fire is attracted and imbibed by the balls
to supply the deficiency; and that more plentifully at the approach
of excited glass; or a body positively electrified, than before;
whence the distance between the balls will be increased, as the
fluid surrounding them is augmented. And in general, whether by the
approach or recess of any body; if the difference between the density
of the internal and external fluid be increased, or diminished; the
repulsion of the balls will be increased, or diminished, accordingly.


When the insulated tin tube is not electrified, bring the excited
glass tube towards the middle of it, so as to be nearly at right
angles with it, and the balls at the end will repel each other;
and the more so, as the excited tube is brought nearer. When it
has been held a few seconds, at the distance of about six inches,
withdraw it, and the balls will approach each other till they touch;
and then separating again, as the tube is moved farther off, will
continue to repel when it is taken quite away. And this repulsion
between the balls will be increased by the approach of excited
glass, but diminished by excited wax; just as if the apparatus had
been electrified by wax, after the manner described in the third


Insulate two tin tubes, distinguished by A and B, so as to be in
a line with each other, and about half an inch apart; and at the
remote end of each, let a pair of cork balls be suspended. Towards
the middle of A, bring the excited glass tube, and holding it a short
time, at the distance of a few inches, each pair of balls will be
observed to separate: withdraw the tube, and the balls of A will
come together, and then repel each other again; but those of B will
hardly be affected. By the approach of the excited glass tube, held
under the balls of A, their repulsion will be increased: but if the
tube be brought, in the same manner, towards the balls of B, their
repulsion will be diminished.

In the fifth experiment, the common stock of electrical matter in the
tin tube, is supposed to be attenuated about the middle, and to be
condensed at the ends, by the repelling power of the atmosphere of
the excited glass tube, when held near it. And perhaps the tin tube
may lose some of its natural quantity of the electrical fluid, before
it receives any from the glass; as that fluid will more readily run
off from the ends and edges of it, than enter at the middle: and
accordingly, when the glass tube is withdrawn, and the fluid is again
equally diffused through the apparatus, it is found to be electrified
negatively: for excited glass brought under the balls will increase
their repulsion.

In the sixth experiment, part of the fluid driven out of one tin tube
enters the other; which is found to be electrified positively, by the
decreasing of the repulsion of its balls, at the approach of excited


Let the tin tube, with a pair of balls at one end, be placed three
feet at least from any part of the room, and the air rendered very
dry by means of a fire: electrify the apparatus to a considerable
degree; then touch the tin tube with a finger, or any other
conductor, and the balls will, notwithstanding, continue to repel
each other; though not at so great a distance as before.

The air surrounding the apparatus to the distance of two or three
feet, is supposed to contain more or less of the electrical fire,
than its common share, as the tin tube is electrified positively,
or negatively; and when very dry, may not part with its overplus,
or have its deficiency supplied so suddenly, as the tin; but may
continue to be electrified, after that has been touched for a
considerable time.


Having made the Torricellian vacuum about five feet long, after the
manner described in the _Philosophical Transactions_, vol. xlvii. p.
370, if the excited tube be brought within a small distance of it,
a light will be seen through more than half its length; which soon
vanishes, if the tube be not brought nearer; but will appear again,
as that is moved farther off. This may be repeated several times,
without exciting the tube afresh.

This experiment may be considered as a kind of ocular demonstration
of the truth of Mr. Franklin's hypothesis; that when the electrical
fluid is condensed on one side of thin glass, it will be repelled
from the other, if it meets with no resistance. According to which,
at the approach of the excited tube, the fire is supposed to be
repelled from the inside of the glass surrounding the vacuum, and to
be carried off through the columns of mercury; but, as the tube is
withdrawn, the fire is supposed to return.


Let an excited stick of wax, of two feet and an half in length, and
about an inch in diameter, be held near its middle. Excite the glass
tube, and draw it over one half of it; then, turning it a little
about its axis, let the tube be excited again, and drawn over the
same half; and let this operation be repeated several times: then
will that half destroy the repelling power of balls electrified by
glass, and the other half will increase it.

By this experiment it appears, that wax also may be electrified
positively and negatively. And it is probable, that all bodies
whatsoever may have the quantity they contain of the electrical
fluid, increased, or diminished. The clouds, I have observed, by a
great number of experiments, to be some in a positive, and others
in a negative state of electricity. For the cork balls, electrified
by them, will sometimes close at the approach of excited glass; and
at other times be separated to a greater distance. And this change
I have known to happen five or six times in less than half an hour;
the balls coming together each time and remaining in contact a few
seconds, before they repel each other again. It may likewise easily
be discovered, by a charged phial, whether the electrical fire be
drawn out of the apparatus by a negative cloud, or forced into it
by a positive one: and by which soever it be electrified, should
that cloud either part with its overplus, or have its deficiency
supplied suddenly, the apparatus will lose its electricity: which
is frequently observed to be the case, immediately after a flash of
lightning. Yet when the air is very dry, the apparatus will continue
to be electrised for ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, after
the clouds have passed the zenith; and sometimes till they appear
more than half-way towards the horizon. Rain, especially when the
drops are large, generally brings down the electrical fire: and
hail, in summer, I believe never fails. When the apparatus was last
electrified, it was by the fall of thawing snow, which happened so
lately, as on the 12th of November; that being the twenty-sixth
day, and sixty-first time it has been electrified, since it was
first set up; which was about the middle of May. And as Fahrenheit's
thermometer was but seven degrees above freezing, it is supposed the
winter will not entirely put a stop to observations of this sort.
At London, no more than two thunder-storms have happened during the
whole summer; and the apparatus was sometimes so strongly electrified
in one of them, that the bells, which have been frequently rung by
the clouds, so loud as to be heard in every room of the house (the
doors being open) were silenced by the almost constant stream of
dense electrical fire, between each bell and the brass ball, which
would not suffer it to strike.

I shall conclude this paper, already too long, with the following

1. May not air, suddenly rarefied, give electrical fire to, and air
suddenly condensed, receive electrical fire from, clouds and vapours
passing through it?

2. Is not the _aurora borealis_, the flashing of electrical fire from
positive, towards negative clouds at a great distance, through the
upper part of the atmosphere, where the resistance is least?


  _Made in Pursuance of those made by Mr. Canton, dated December 6,
  1753; with Explanations, by Mr. Benjamin Franklin._

  Read at the Royal Society, Dec. 18, 1755.

  _Philadelphia, March 14, 1755._


I. Electric atmospheres, that flow round non-electric bodies, being
brought near each other, do not readily mix and unite into one
atmosphere, but remain separate, and repel each other.

This is plainly seen in suspended cork balls, and other bodies

II. An electric atmosphere not only repels another electric
atmosphere, but will also repel the electric matter contained in the
substance of a body approaching it; and without joining or mixing
with it, force it to other parts of the body that contained it.

This is shewn by some of the following experiments.

III. Bodies electrified negatively, or deprived of their natural
quantity of electricity, repel each other, (or at least appear to do
so, by a mutual receding) as well as those electrified positively, or
which have electric atmospheres.

This is shewn by applying the negatively charged wire of a phial to
two cork balls, suspended by silk threads, and many other experiments.


Fix a tassel of fifteen or twenty threads, three inches long, at one
end of a tin prime conductor (mine is about five feet long, and four
inches diameter) supported by silk lines.

Let the threads be a little damp, but not wet.


  _Pass an excited glass tube near the other end of the prime
  conductor, so as to give it some sparks, and the threads will

Because each thread, as well as the prime conductor, has acquired an
electric atmosphere, which repels and is repelled by the atmospheres
of the other threads: if those several atmospheres would readily mix,
the threads might unite, and hang in the middle of one atmosphere,
common to them all.

  _Rub the tube afresh, and approach the prime conductor therewith,
  crossways, near that end, but not nigh enough to give sparks; and
  the threads will diverge a little more._

Because the atmosphere of the prime conductor is pressed by the
atmosphere of the excited tube, and driven towards the end where the
threads are, by which each thread acquires more atmosphere.

  _Withdraw the tube, and they will close as much._

They close as much, and no more; because the atmosphere of the glass
tube not having mixed with the atmosphere of the prime conductor, is
withdrawn intire, having made no addition to, or diminution from it.

  _Bring the excited tube under the tuft of threads, and they will
  close a little._

They close, because the atmosphere of the glass tube repels their
atmospheres, and drives part of them back on the prime conductor.

  _Withdraw it, and they will diverge as much._

For the portion of atmosphere which they had lost, returns to them


  _Excite the glass tube, and approach the prime conductor with
  it, holding it across, near the end opposite to that on which
  the threads hang, at the distance of five or six inches. Keep it
  there a few seconds, and the threads of the tassels will diverge.
  Withdraw it, and they will close._

They diverge, because they have received electric atmospheres
from the electric matter before contained in the substance of the
prime conductor; but which is now repelled and driven away, by the
atmosphere of the glass tube, from the parts of the prime conductor
opposite and nearest to that atmosphere, and forced out upon the
surface of the prime conductor at its other end, and upon the threads
hanging thereto. Were it any part of the atmosphere of the glass
tube that flowed over and along the prime conductor to the threads,
and gave them atmospheres (as is the case when a spark is given to
the prime conductor from the glass tube) such part of the tube's
atmosphere would have remained, and the threads continue to diverge;
but they close on withdrawing the tube, because the tube takes with
it _all its own atmosphere_, and the electric matter, which had
been driven out of the substance of the prime conductor, and formed
atmospheres round the threads, is thereby permitted to return to its

  _Take a spark from the prime conductor near the threads, when they
  are diverged as before, and they will close._

For by so doing you take away their atmospheres, composed of the
electric matter driven out of the substance of the prime conductor,
as aforesaid, by the repellency of the atmosphere of the glass tube.
By taking this spark you rob the prime conductor of part of its
natural quantity of the electric matter; which part so taken is not
supplied by the glass tube, for when that is afterwards withdrawn, it
takes with it its whole atmosphere, and leaves the prime conductor
electrised negatively, as appears by the next operation.

  _Then withdraw the tube, and they will open again._

For now the electric matter in the prime conductor, returning to its
equilibrium, or equal diffusion, in all parts of its substance, and
the prime conductor having lost some of its natural quantity, the
threads connected with it lose part of theirs, and so are electrised
negatively, and therefore repel each other, by _Pr. III._

  _Approach the prime conductor with the tube near the same place as
  at first, and they will close again._

Because the part of their natural quantity of electric fluid, which
they had lost, is now restored to them again, by the repulsion of the
glass tube forcing that fluid to them from other parts of the prime
conductor; so they are now again in their natural state.

  _Withdraw it, and they will open again._

For what had been restored to them, is now taken from them again,
flowing back into the prime conductor, and leaving them once more
electrised negatively.

  _Bring the excited tube under the threads, and they will diverge

Because more of their natural quantity is driven from them into the
prime conductor, and thereby their negative electricity increased.


  _The prime conductor not being electrified, bring the excited tube
  under the tassel, and the threads will diverge._

Part of their natural quantity is thereby driven out of them into the
prime conductor, and they become negatively electrised, and therefore
repel each other.

  _Keeping the tube in the same place with one hand, attempt to touch
  the threads with the finger of the other hand, and they will recede
  from the finger._

Because the finger being plunged into the atmosphere of the glass
tube, as well as the threads, part of its natural quantity is
driven back through the hand and body, by that atmosphere, and the
finger becomes, as well as the threads, negatively electrised,
and so repels, and is repelled by them. To confirm this, hold a
slender light lock of cotton, two or three inches long, near a
prime conductor, that is electrified by a glass globe, or tube. You
will see the cotton stretch itself out towards the prime conductor.
Attempt to touch it with the finger of the other hand, and it will be
repelled by the finger. Approach it with a positively charged wire of
a bottle, and it will fly to the wire. Bring it near a negatively
charged wire of a bottle, it will recede from that wire in the same
manner that it did from the finger; which demonstrates the finger to
be negatively electrised, as well as the lock of cotton so situated.

  _Turkey killed by Electricity_.--_Effect of a Shock on the Operator
  in making the Experiment._

As Mr. Franklin, in a former letter to Mr. Collinson, mentioned his
intending to try the power of a very strong electrical shock upon a
turkey, that gentleman accordingly has been so very obliging as to
send an account of it, which is to the following purpose.

He made first several experiments on fowls, and found, that two
large thin glass jars gilt, holding each about six gallons, were
sufficient, when fully charged, to kill common hens outright; but
the turkeys, though thrown into violent convulsions, and then lying
as dead for some minutes, would recover in less than a quarter of
an hour. However, having added three other such to the former two,
though not fully charged, he killed a turkey of about ten pounds
weight, and believes that they would have killed a much larger. He
conceited, as himself says, that the birds killed in this manner eat
uncommonly tender.

In making these experiments, he found, that a man could, without
great detriment, bear a much greater shock than he had imagined: for
he inadvertently received the stroke of two of these jars through his
arms and body, when they were very near fully charged. It seemed
to him an universal blow throughout the body from head to foot, and
was followed by a violent quick trembling in the trunk, which went
off gradually, in a few seconds. It was some minutes before he could
recollect his thoughts, so as to know what was the matter; for he
did not see the flash, though his eye was on the spot of the prime
conductor, from whence it struck the back of his hand; nor did he
hear the crack, though the by-standers said it was a loud one; nor
did he particularly feel the stroke on his hand, though he afterwards
found it had raised a swelling there, of the bigness of half a
pistol-bullet. His arms and the back of the neck felt somewhat numbed
the remainder of the evening, and his breast was sore for a week
after as if it had been bruised. From this experiment may be seen the
danger, even under the greatest caution, to the operator, when making
these experiments with large jars; for it is not to be doubted, but
several of these fully charged would as certainly, by increasing
them, in proportion to the size, kill a man, as they before did a

_N. B._ The original of this letter, which was read at the Royal
Society, has been mislaid.


  _Differences in the Qualities of Glass.--Account of Domien, an
  Electrician and Traveller.--Conjectures respecting the Pores of
  Glass.--Origin of the Author's Idea of drawing down Lightning.--No
  satisfactory Hypothesis respecting the Manner in which Clouds
  become electrified.--Six Men knocked down at once by an electrical
  Shock.--Reflections on the Spirit of Invention._

  _Philadelphia, March 18, 1755._


I send you enclosed a paper containing some new experiments I have
made, in pursuance of those by Mr. Canton that are printed with my
last letters. I hope these, with my explanation of them, will afford
you some entertainment[66].

In answer to your several enquiries. The tubes and globes we use
here, are chiefly made here. The glass has a greenish cast, but is
clear and hard, and, I think, better for electrical experiments than
the white glass of London, which is not so hard. There are certainly
great differences in glass. A white globe I had made here some years
since, would never, by any means, be excited. Two of my friends tried
it, as well as myself, without success. At length, putting it on an
electric stand, a chain from the prime conductor being in contact
with it, I found it had the properties of a non-electric; for I could
draw sparks from any part of it, though it was very clean and dry.

All I know of Domien, is, that by his own account he was a native of
Transylvania, of Tartar descent, but a priest of the Greek church:
he spoke and wrote Latin very readily and correctly. He set out
from his own country with an intention of going round the world, as
much as possible by land. He travelled through Germany, France, and
Holland, to England. Resided some time at Oxford. From England he
came to Maryland; thence went to New England; returned by land to
Philadelphia; and from hence travelled through Maryland, Virginia,
and North Carolina to you. He thought it might be of service to him
in his travels to know something of electricity. I taught him the
use of the tube; how to charge the Leyden phial, and some other
experiments. He wrote to me from Charles-Town, that he had lived
eight hundred miles upon electricity, it had been meat, drink, and
cloathing to him. His last letter to me was, I think, from Jamaica,
desiring me to send the tubes you mention, to meet him at the
Havannah, from whence he expected to get a passage to La Vera Cruz;
designed travelling over land through Mexico to Acapulco; thence to
get a passage to Manilla, and so through China, India, Persia, and
Turkey, home to his own country; proposing to support himself chiefly
by electricity. A strange project! But he was, as you observe, a very
singular character. I was sorry the tubes did not get to the Havannah
in time for him. If they are still in being, please to send for them,
and accept of them. What became of him afterwards I have never heard.
He promised to write to me as often as he could on his journey, and
as soon as he should get home after finishing his tour. It is now
seven years since he was here. If he is still in New Spain, as
you imagine from that loose report, I suppose it must be that they
confine him there, and prevent his writing: but I think it more
likely that he may be dead.

The questions you ask about the pores of glass, I cannot answer
otherwise, than that I know nothing of their nature; and
suppositions, however ingenious, are often mere mistakes. My
hypothesis, that they were smaller near the middle of the glass, too
small to admit the passage of electricity, which could pass through
the surface till it came near the middle, was certainly wrong: For
soon after I had written that letter, I did, in order to _confirm_
the hypothesis (which indeed I ought to have done before I wrote it)
make an experiment. I ground away five-sixths of the thickness of the
glass, from the side of one of my phials, expecting that the supposed
denser part being so removed, the electric fluid might come through
the remainder of the glass, which I had imagined more open; but I
found myself mistaken. The bottle charged as well after the grinding
as before. I am now, as much as ever, at a loss to know how or where
the quantity of electric fluid, on the positive side of the glass, is
disposed of.

As to the difference of conductors, there is not only this, that some
will conduct electricity in small quantities, and yet do not conduct
it fast enough to produce the shock; but even among those that will
conduct a shock, there are some that do it better than others. Mr.
Kinnersley has found, by a very good experiment, that when the charge
of a bottle hath an opportunity of passing two ways, _i. e._ straight
through a trough of water ten feet long, and six inches square; or
round about through twenty feet of wire, it passes through the wire,
and not through the water, though that is the shortest course; the
wire being the better conductor. When the wire is taken away, it
passes through the water, as may be felt by a hand plunged in the
water; but it cannot be felt in the water when the wire is used at
the same time. Thus, though a small phial containing water will give
a smart shock, one containing the same quantity of mercury will give
one much stronger, the mercury being the better conductor; while one
containing oil, only, will scarce give any shock at all.

Your question, how I came first to think of proposing the experiment
of drawing down the lightning, in order to ascertain its sameness
with the electric fluid, I cannot answer better than by giving you an
extract from the minutes I used to keep of the experiments I made,
with memorandums of such as I purposed to make, the reasons for
making them, and the observations that arose upon them, from which
minutes my letters were afterwards drawn. By this extract you will
see that the thought was not so much "an out-of-the-way one," but
that it might have occurred to an electrician.

"Nov. 7, 1749. Electrical fluid agrees with lightning in these
particulars: 1. Giving light. 2. Colour of the light. 3. Crooked
direction. 4. Swift motion. 5. Being conducted by metals. 6. Crack or
noise in exploding. 7. Subsisting in water or ice. 8. Rending bodies
it passes through. 9. Destroying animals. 10. Melting metals. 11.
Firing inflammable substances. 12. Sulphureous smell.--The electric
fluid is attracted by points.--We do not know whether this property
is in lightning.--But since they agree in all the particulars
wherein we can already compare them, is it not probable they agree
likewise in this?--Let the experiment be made."

I wish I could give you any satisfaction in the article of clouds. I
am still at a loss about the manner in which they become charged with
electricity; no hypothesis I have yet formed perfectly satisfying me.
Some time since, I heated very hot a brass plate, two feet square,
and placed it on an electric stand. From the plate a wire extended
horizontally four or five feet, and, at the end of it, hung, by linen
threads, a pair of cork balls. I then repeatedly sprinkled water over
the plate, that it might be raised from it in vapour, hoping that if
the vapour either carried off the electricity of the plate, or left
behind it that of the water (one of which I supposed it must do, if,
like the clouds, it became electrised itself, either positively or
negatively) I should perceive and determine it by the separation of
the balls, and by finding whether they were positive or negative; but
no alteration was made at all, nor could I perceive that the steam
was itself electrised, though I have still some suspicion that the
steam was not fully examined, and I think the experiment should be
repeated. Whether the first state of electrised clouds is positive or
negative, if I could find the cause of that, I should be at no loss
about the other, for either is easily deduced from the other, as one
state is easily produced by the other. A strongly positive cloud may
drive out of a neighbouring cloud much of its natural quantity of the
electric fluid, and, passing by it, leave it in a negative state. In
the same way, a strongly negative cloud may occasion a neighbouring
cloud to draw into itself from others, an additional quantity, and,
passing by it, leave it in a positive state. How these effects may
be produced, you will easily conceive, on perusing and considering
the experiments in the enclosed paper: and from them too it appears
probable, that every change from positive to negative, and from
negative to positive, that, during a thunder-gust, we see in the
cork-balls annexed to the apparatus, is not owing to the presence
of clouds in the same state, but often to the absence of positive
or negative clouds, that, having just passed, leave the rod in the
opposite state.

The knocking down of the six men was performed with two of my large
jars not fully charged. I laid one end of my discharging rod upon the
head of the first; he laid his hand on the head of the second; the
second his hand on the head of the third, and so to the last, who
held, in his hand, the chain that was connected with the outside of
the jars. When they were thus placed, I applied the other end of my
rod to the prime conductor, and they all dropped together. When they
got up, they all declared they had not felt any stroke, and wondered
how they came to fall; nor did any of them either hear the crack, or
see the light of it. You suppose it a dangerous experiment; but I
had once suffered the same myself, receiving, by accident, an equal
stroke through my head, that struck me down, without hurting me: and
I had seen a young woman that was about to be electrified through the
feet (for some indisposition) receive a greater charge through the
head, by inadvertently stooping forward to look at the placing of her
feet, till her forehead (as she was very tall) came too near my prime
conductor: she dropped, but instantly got up again, complaining of
nothing. A person so struck, sinks down doubled, or folded together
as it were, the joints losing their strength and stiffness at once,
so that he drops on the spot where he stood, instantly, and there is
no previous staggering, nor does he ever fall lengthwise. Too great
charge might, indeed, kill a man, but I have not yet seen any hurt
done by it. It would certainly, as you observe, be the easiest of all

The experiment you have heard so imperfect an account of, is merely
this: I electrified a silver pint can, on an electric stand, and then
lowered into it a cork ball, of about an inch diameter, hanging by a
silk string, till the cork touched the bottom of the can. The cork
was not attracted to the inside of the can as it would have been
to the outside, and though it touched the bottom, yet, when drawn
out, it was not found to be electrified by that touch, as it would
have been by touching the outside. The fact is singular. You require
the reason; I do not know it. Perhaps you may discover it, and then
you will be so good as to communicate it to me[67]. I find a frank
acknowledgment of one's ignorance is not only the easiest way to get
rid of a difficulty, but the likeliest way to obtain information,
and therefore I practise it: I think it an honest policy. Those who
affect to be thought to know every thing, and so undertake to explain
every thing, often remain long ignorant of many things that others
could and would instruct them in, if they appeared less conceited.

The treatment your friend has met with is so common, that no man
who knows what the world is, and ever has been, should expect to
escape it. There are every where a number of people, who, being
totally destitute of any inventive faculty themselves, do not readily
conceive that others may possess it: they think of inventions as of
miracles; there might be such formerly, but they are ceased. With
these, every one who offers a new invention is deemed a pretender: he
had it from some other country, or from some book: a man of _their
own acquaintance_; one who has no more sense than themselves, could
not possibly, in their opinion, have been the inventor of any thing.
They are confirmed, too, in these sentiments, by frequent instances
of pretensions to invention, which vanity is daily producing. That
vanity too, though an incitement to invention, is, at the same time,
the pest of inventors. Jealousy and envy deny the merit or the
novelty of your invention; but vanity, when the novelty and merit
are established, claims it for its own. The smaller your invention
is, the more mortification you receive in having the credit of it
disputed with you by a rival, whom the jealousy and envy of others
are ready to support against you, at least so far as to make the
point doubtful. It is not in itself of importance enough for a
dispute; no one would think your proofs and reasons worth their
attention: and yet, if you do not dispute the point, and demonstrate
your right, you not only lose the credit of being in that instance
_ingenious_, but you suffer the disgrace of not being _ingenuous_;
not only of being a plagiary, but of being a plagiary for trifles.
Had the invention been greater it would have disgraced you less;
for men have not so contemptible an idea of him that robs for gold
on the highway, as of him that can pick pockets for half-pence
and farthings. Thus, through envy, jealousy, and the vanity of
competitors for fame, the origin of many of the most extraordinary
inventions, though produced within but a few centuries past, is
involved in doubt and uncertainty. We scarce know to whom we are
indebted for the _compass_, and for _spectacles_, nor have even
_paper_ and _printing_, that record every thing else, been able to
preserve with certainty the name and reputation of their inventors.
One would not, therefore, of all faculties, or qualities of the
mind, wish, for a friend, or a child, that he should have that of
invention. For his attempts to benefit mankind in that way, however
well imagined, if they do not succeed, expose him, though very
unjustly, to general ridicule and contempt; and, if they do succeed,
to envy, robbery, and abuse.

  I am, &c.



[65] Dr. Lining.--EDITOR.

[66] See page 286, for the paper here mentioned.

[67] Mr. F. has since thought, that, possibly, the mutual repulsion
of the inner opposite sides of the electrised can may prevent the
accumulating an electric atmosphere upon them, and occasion it to
stand chiefly on the outside. But recommends it to the farther
examination of the curious.


  _Beccaria's Work on Electricity.--Sentiments of Franklin on pointed
  Rods, not fully understood in Europe.--Effect of Lightning on the
  Church of Newbury, in New England.--Remarks on the Subject._

  Read at the Royal Society, Dec. 18, 1755.

  _Philadelphia, June 29, 1755._


You desire my opinion of Pere Beccaria's Italian book[68]. I have
read it with much pleasure, and think it one of the best pieces on
the subject that I have seen in any language. Yet as to the article
of water-spouts, I am not at present of his sentiments; though I must
own with you, that he has handled it very ingeniously. Mr. Collinson
has my opinion of whirlwinds and water-spouts at large, written some
time since. I know not whether they will be published; if not, I
will get them transcribed for your perusal[69]. It does not appear
to me that Pere Beccaria doubts of the _absolute impermeability
of glass_ in the sense I meant it; for the instances he gives of
holes made through glass by the electric stroke are such as we have
all experienced, and only show that the electric fluid could not
pass without making a hole. In the same manner we say, glass is
impermeable to water, and yet a stream from a fire-engine will force
through the strongest panes of a window. As to the effect of points
in drawing the electric matter from clouds, and thereby securing
buildings, &c. which, you say, he seems to doubt, I must own I think
he only speaks modestly and judiciously. I find I have been but
partly understood in that matter. I have mentioned it in several of
my letters, and except once, always in the _alternative, viz_. that
pointed rods erected on buildings, and communicating with the moist
earth, would either _prevent_ a stroke, _or_, if not prevented, would
_conduct_ it, so as that the building should suffer no damage. Yet
whenever my opinion is examined in Europe, nothing is considered but
the probability of those rods _preventing_ a stroke or explosion,
which is only a _part_ of the use I proposed for them; and the
other part, their conducting a stroke, which they may happen not to
prevent, seems to be totally forgotten, though of equal importance
and advantage.

I thank you for communicating M. de Buffon's relation of the effect
of lightning at Dijon, on the 7th of June last. In return, give me
leave to relate an instance I lately saw of the same kind. Being in
the town of Newbury in New England, in November last, I was shewn
the effect of lightning on their church, which had been struck a
few months before. The steeple was a square tower of wood, reaching
seventy feet up from the ground to the place where the bell hung,
over which rose a taper spire, of wood likewise, reaching seventy
feet higher, to the vane of the weather-cock. Near the bell was fixed
an iron hammer to strike the hours; and from the tail of the hammer
a wire went down through a small gimlet-hole in the floor that the
bell stood upon, and through a second floor in like manner; then
horizontally under and near the plaistered cieling of that second
floor, till it came near a plaistered wall; then down by the side of
that wall to a clock, which stood about twenty feet below the bell.
The wire was not bigger than a common knitting-needle. The spire was
split all to pieces by the lightning, and the parts flung in all
directions over the square in which the church stood, so that nothing
remained above the bell.

The lightning passed between the hammer and the clock in the
above-mentioned wire, without hurting either of the floors, or
having any effect upon them (except making the gimlet-holes, through
which the wire passed, a little bigger,) and without hurting the
plaistered wall, or any part of the building, so far as the aforesaid
wire and the pendulum wire of the clock extended; which latter
wire was about the thickness of a goose-quill. From the end of the
pendulum, down quite to the ground, the building was exceedingly
rent and damaged, and some stones in the foundation-wall torn out,
and thrown to the distance of twenty or thirty feet. No part of the
afore-mentioned long small wire, between the clock and the hammer,
could be found, except about two inches that hung to the tail of
the hammer, and about as much that was fastened to the clock; the
rest being exploded, and its particles dissipated in smoke and air,
as gunpowder is by common fire, and had only left a black smutty
track on the plaistering, three or four inches broad, darkest in
the middle, and fainter toward the edges, all along the cieling,
under which it passed, and down the wall. These were the effects and
appearances; on which I would only make the few following remarks,

1. That lightning, in its passage through a building, will leave wood
to pass as far as it can in metal, and not enter the wood again till
the conductor of metal ceases.

And the same I have observed in other instances, as to walls of brick
or stone.

2. The quantity of lightning that passed through this steeple must
have been very great, by its effects on the lofty spire above the
bell, and on the square tower all below the end of the clock pendulum.

3. Great as this quantity was, it was conducted by a small wire and
a clock pendulum, without the least damage to the building so far as
they extended.

4. The pendulum rod being of a sufficient thickness, conducted the
lightning without damage to itself; but the small wire was utterly

5. Though the small wire was itself destroyed, yet it had conducted
the lightning with safety to the building.

6. And from the whole it seems probable, that if even such a small
wire had been extended from the spindle of the vane to the earth,
before the storm, no damage would have been done to the steeple by
that stroke of lightning, though the wire itself had been destroyed.


[68] This work is written conformable to Mr. Franklin's theory, upon
artificial and natural electricity, which compose the two parts
of it. It was printed in Italian, at Turin, in 4to. 1753; between
the two parts is a letter to the Abbé Nollet, in defence of Mr.
Franklin's system. _J. Bevis._

[69] These papers will be found in Vol II. _Editor._


  _Notice of another Packet of Letters._

  _Philadelphia, Nov. 23, 1753_.


In my last, via Virginia, I promised to send you per next ship, a
small philosophical packet: but now having got the materials (old
letters and rough drafts) before me, I fear you will find it a great
one. Nevertheless, as I am like to have a few days leisure before
this ship sails, which I may not have again in a long time, I shall
transcribe the whole, and send it; for you will be under no necessity
of reading it all at once, but may take it a little at a time, now
and then of a winter evening. When you happen to have nothing else to
do (if that ever happens) it may afford you some amusement[70].



[70] These letters and papers are a philosophical correspondence
between Mr. Franklin and some of his American Friends[71]. Mr.
Collinson communicated them to the Royal Society, where they were
read at different meetings during the year 1756. But Mr. Franklin
having particularly requested that they might not be printed, none
of them were inserted in the transactions. Mr. F. had at that time
an intention of revising them, and pursuing some of the enquiries
farther; but finding that he is not like to have sufficient leisure,
he has at length been induced, imperfect as they are, to permit their
publication, as some of the hints they contain may possibly be useful
to others in their philosophical researches. Note in Mr. Collinson's

[71] As some of these papers are upon subjects not immediately
connected with electricity, we have taken such papers from the order
in which they were placed by Mr. Collinson, and transferred them to
other parts of the work. _Editor._

  _Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in Boston[72], to Benjamin
  Franklin, Esq. concerning the crooked Direction, and the Source of
  Lightning, and the Swiftness of the electric Fire._

  _Boston, Dec. 21, 1751._


The experiments Mr. K. has exhibited here, have been greatly pleasing
to all sorts of people that have seen them; and I hope, by the time
he returns to Philadelphia, his tour this way will turn to good
account. His experiments are very curious, and I think prove most
effectually your doctrine of electricity; that it is a real element,
annexed to, and diffused among all bodies we are acquainted with;
that it differs in nothing from lightning, the effects of both being
similar, and their properties, so far as they are known, the same, &c.

The remarkable effect of lightning on iron, lately discovered, in
giving it the magnetic virtue, and the same effect produced on
small needles by the electrical fire, is a further and convincing
proof that they are both the same element; but, which is very
unaccountable, Mr. K. tells me, it is necessary to produce this
effect, that the direction of the needle and the electric fire should
be north and south; from either to the other, and that just so far
as they deviate therefrom, the magnetic power in the needle is less,
till their direction being at right angles with the north and south,
the effect entirely ceases. We made at Faneuil Hall, where Mr.
K----'s apparatus is, several experiments to give some small needles
the magnetic virtue; previously examining, by putting them in water,
on which they will be supported, whether or not they had any of that
virtue; and I think we found all of them to have some small degree of
it, their points turning to the north: we had nothing to do then but
to invert the poles, which accordingly was done, by sending through
them the charge of two large glass jars; the eye of the needle
turning to the north, as the point before had done; that end of the
needle which the fire is thrown upon, Mr. K. tells me always points
to the north.

The electrical fire passing through air has the same crooked
direction as lightning[73]. This appearance I endeavour to account
for thus: Air is an electric _per se_, therefore there must be a
mutual repulsion betwixt air and the electrical fire. A column
or cylinder of air, having the diameter of its base equal to the
diameter of the electrical spark, intervenes that part of the body
which the spark is taken from, and of the body it aims at. The spark
acts upon this column, and is acted upon by it, more strongly than
any other neighbouring portion of air.

The column, being thus acted upon, becomes more dense, and, being
more dense, repels the spark more strongly; its repellency being in
proportion to its density: Having acquired, by being condensed, a
degree of repellency greater than its natural, it turns the spark out
of its strait course; the neighbouring air, which must be less dense,
and therefore has a smaller degree of repellency, giving it a more
ready passage.

The spark, having taken a new direction, must now act on, or most
strongly repel the column of air which lies in that direction, and
consequently must condense that column in the same manner as the
former, when the spark must again change its course, which course
will be thus repeatedly changed, till the spark reaches the body that
attracted it.

To this account one objection occurs; that as air is very fluid and
elastic, and so endeavours to diffuse itself equally, the supposed
accumulated air within the column aforesaid, would be immediately
diffused among the contiguous air, and circulate to fill the space
it was driven from; and consequently that the said column, on the
greater density of which the phenomenon is supposed to depend, would
not repel the spark more strongly than the neighbouring air.

This might be an objection, if the electrical fire was as sluggish
and inactive as air. Air takes a sensible time to diffuse
itself equally, as is manifest from winds which often blow for
a considerable time together from the same point, and with a
velocity even in the greatest storms, not exceeding, as it is
said, sixty miles an hour: but the electric fire seems propagated
instantaneously, taking up no perceptible time in going very great
distances. It must then be an inconceivably short time in its
progress from an electrified to an unelectrified body, which, in the
present case, can be but a few inches apart: but this small portion
of time is not sufficient for the elasticity of the air to exert
itself, and therefore the column aforesaid must be in a denser state
than its neighbouring air.

About the velocity of the electric fire more is said below, which
perhaps may more fully obviate this objection. But let us have
recourse to experiments. Experiments will obviate all objections,
or confound the hypothesis. The electric spark, if the foregoing be
true, will pass through a vacuum in a right line. To try this, let a
wire be fixed perpendicularly on the plate of an air pump, having a
leaden ball on its upper end; let another wire, passing through the
top of a receiver, have on each end a leaden ball; let the leaden
balls within the receiver, when put on the air pump, be within two
or three inches of each other: the receiver being exhausted, the
spark given from a charged phial to the upper wire will pass through
rarefied air, nearly approaching to a vacuum, to the lower wire, and
I suppose in a right line, or nearly so; the small portion of air
remaining in the receiver, which cannot be entirely exhausted, may
possibly cause it to deviate a little, but perhaps not sensibly,
from a right line. The spark also might be made to pass through air
greatly condensed, which perhaps would give a still more crooked
direction. I have not had opportunity to make any experiments of this
sort, not knowing of an air-pump nearer than Cambridge, but you can
easily make them. If these experiments answer, I think the crooked
direction of lightning will be also accounted for.

With respect to your letters on electricity, * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * *. Your hypothesis in particular for explaining the phenomena
of lightning is very ingenious. That some clouds are highly charged
with electrical fire, and that their communicating it to those that
have less, to mountains and other eminencies, makes it visible and
audible, when it is denominated lightning and thunder, is highly
probable: but that the sea, which you suppose the grand source of
it, can collect it, I think admits of a doubt: for though the sea be
composed of salt and water, an electric _per se_ and non-electric,
and though the friction of electrics _per se_ and non-electrics,
will collect that fire, yet it is only under certain circumstances,
which water will not admit. For it seems necessary, that the
electrics _per se_ and non-electrics rubbing one another, should
be of such substances as will not adhere to, or incorporate with
each other. Thus a glass or sulphur sphere turned in water, and so
a friction between them, will not collect any fire; nor, I suppose,
would a sphere of salt revolving in water; the water adhering to,
or incorporating with those electrics _per se_. But granting that
the friction between salt and water would collect the electrical
fire, that fire, being so extremely subtle and active, would be
immediately communicated, either to those lower parts of the sea
from which it was drawn, and so only perform quick revolutions; or
be communicated to the adjacent islands or continent, and so be
diffused instantaneously through the general mass of the earth. I say
instantaneously, for the greatest distances we can conceive within
the limits of our globe, even that of the two most opposite points,
it will take no sensible time in passing through: and therefore
it seems a little difficult to conceive how there can be any
accumulation of the electrical fire upon the surface of the sea or
how the vapours arising from the sea should have a greater share of
that fire than other vapours.

That the progress of the electrical fire is so amazingly swift, seems
evident from an experiment you yourself (not out of choice) made,
when two or three large glass jars were discharged through your body.
You neither heard the crack, was sensible of the stroke, nor, which
is more extraordinary, saw the light; which gave you just reason to
conclude, that it was swifter than sound, than animal sensation, and
even light itself. Now light (as astronomers have demonstrated) is
about six minutes passing from the sun to the earth; a distance, they
say, of more than eighty millions of miles. The greatest rectilinear
distance within the compass of the earth is about eight thousand
miles, equal to its diameter. Supposing then, that the velocity of
the electric fire be the same as that of light, it will go through a
space equal to the earth's diameter in about 2/60 of one second of a
minute. It seems inconceivable then, that it should be accumulated
upon the sea, in its present state, which, as it is a non-electric,
must give the fire an instantaneous passage to the neighbouring
shores, and they convey it to the general mass of the earth. But such
accumulation seems still more inconceivable when the electrical fire
has but a few feet depth of water to penetrate, to return to the
place from whence it is supposed to be collected.

Your thoughts upon these remarks I shall receive with a great deal of
pleasure. I take notice that in the printed copies of your letters
several things are wanting which are in the manuscript you sent me. I
understand by your son, that you had writ, or was writing, a paper
on the effect of the electrical fire on loadstones, needles, &c.
which I would ask the favour of a copy of, as well as of any other
papers on electricity, written since I had the manuscript, for which
I repeat my obligations to you.

  I am, &c.

  J. B.


[72] Mr. Badouin. _Editor._

[73] This is most easily observed in large strong sparks taken at
some inches distance.


  _Observations on the Subjects of the preceding Letter.--Reasons for
  supposing the Sea to be the grand source of Lightning.--Reasons for
  doubting this hypothesis.--Improvement in a Globe for raising the
  Electric Fire._

  Read at the Royal Society, May 27, 1756.

  _Philadelphia, Jan. 24, 1752._


I am glad to learn, by your favour of the 21st past, that Mr.
Kinnersley's lectures have been acceptable to the gentlemen of
Boston, and are like to prove serviceable to himself.

I thank you for the countenance and encouragement you have so kindly
afforded my fellow-citizen.

I send you enclosed an extract of a letter containing the substance
of what I observed concerning the communication of magnetism to
needles by electricity. The minutes I took at the time of the
experiments are mislaid. I am very little acquainted with the nature
of magnetism. Dr. Gawin Knight, inventor of the steel magnets, has
wrote largely on that subject, but I have not yet had leisure to
peruse his writings with the attention necessary to become master of
his doctrine.

Your explication of the crooked direction of lightning appears to
me both ingenious and solid. When we can account as satisfactorily
for the electrification of clouds, I think that branch of natural
philosophy will be nearly complete.

The air, undoubtedly, obstructs the motion of the electric fluid. Dry
air prevents the dissipation of an electric atmosphere, the denser
the more, as in cold weather. I question whether such an atmosphere
can be retained by a body _in vacuo_. A common electrical phial
requires a non-electric communication from the wire to every part of
the charged glass; otherwise, being dry and clean, and filled with
air only, it charges slowly, and discharges gradually, by sparks,
without a shock: but, exhausted of air, the communication is so open
and free between the inserted wire and surface of the glass, that it
charges as readily, and shocks as smartly as if filled with water:
and I doubt not, but that in the experiment you propose, the sparks
would not only be near strait _in vacuo_, but strike at a greater
distance than in the open air, though perhaps there would not be a
loud explosion. As soon as I have a little leisure, I will make the
experiment, and send you the result.

My supposition, that the sea might possibly be the grand source
of lightning, arose from the common observation of its luminous
appearance in the night, on the least motion; an appearance never
observed in fresh water. Then I knew that the electric fluid may be
pumped up out of the earth, by the friction of a glass globe, on
a non-electric cushion; and that, notwithstanding the surprising
activity and swiftness of that fluid, and the non-electric
communication between all parts of the cushion and the earth, yet
quantities would be snatched up by the revolving surface of the
globe, thrown on the prime conductor, and dissipated in air. How
this was done, and why that subtle active spirit did not immediately
return again from the globe, into some part or other of the cushion,
and so into the earth, was difficult to conceive; but whether from
its being opposed by a current setting upwards to the cushion, or
from whatever other cause, that it did not so return was an evident
fact. Then I considered the separate particles of water as so many
hard spherules, capable of touching the salt only in points, and
imagined a particle of salt could therefore no more be wet by a
particle of water, than a globe by a cushion; that there might
therefore be such a friction between these originally constituent
particles of salt and water, as in a sea of globes and cushions; that
each particle of water on the surface might obtain from the common
mass, some particles of the universally diffused, much finer, and
more subtle electric fluid, and forming to itself an atmosphere of
those particles, be repelled from the then generally electrified
surface of the sea, and fly away with them into the air. I thought
too, that possibly the great mixture of particles electric _per se_,
in the ocean water, might, in some degree, impede the swift motion
and dissipation of the electric fluid, through it to the shores,
&c.--But having since found, that salt in the water of an electric
phial does not lessen the shock; and having endeavoured in vain to
produce that luminous appearance from a mixture of salt and water
agitated; and observed, that even the sea-water will not produce it
after some hours standing in a bottle; I suspect it to proceed from
some principle yet unknown to us (which I would gladly make some
experiments to discover, if I lived near the sea) and I grow more
doubtful of my former supposition, and more ready to allow weight to
that objection (drawn from the activity of the electric fluid, and
the readiness of water to conduct) which you have indeed stated with
great strength and clearness.

In the mean time, before we part with this hypothesis, let us think
what to substitute in its place. I have sometimes queried whether the
friction of the air, an electric _per se_, in violent winds, among
trees, and against the surface of the earth, might not pump up, as so
many glass globes, quantities of the electric fluid, which the rising
vapours might receive from the air, and retain in the clouds they
form? on which I should be glad to have your sentiments. An ingenious
friend of mine supposes the land-clouds more likely to be electrified
than the sea-clouds. I send his letter for your perusal, which please
to return me.

I have wrote nothing lately on electricity, nor observed any thing
new that is material, my time being much taken up with other affairs.
Yesterday I discharged four jars through a fine wire, tied up between
two strips of glass: the wire was in part melted, and the rest broke
into small pieces, from half an inch long, to half a quarter of an
inch. My globe raises the electric fire with greater ease, in much
greater quantities, by the means of a wire extended from the cushion,
to the iron pin of a pump handle behind my house, which communicates
by the pump spear with the water in the well.

By this post I send to ****, who is curious in that way, some
meteorological observations and conjectures, and desire him to
communicate them to you, as they may afford you some amusement, and
I know you will look over them with a candid eye. By throwing our
occasional thoughts on paper, we more readily discover the defects
of our opinions, or we digest them better and find new arguments to
support them. This I sometimes practise: but such pieces are fit only
to be seen by friends.

  I am, &c.



  _Effect of Lightning on Captain Waddel's Compass, and the Dutch
  Church at New York._

  Read at the Royal Society, June 3, 1756.

  _Boston, March 2, 1752._


I have received your favour of the 24th of January past, inclosing
an extract from your letter to Mr. Collinson, and ****'s letter to
yourself, which I have read with a great deal of pleasure, and am
much obliged to you for. Your extract confirms a correction Mr.
Kinnersley made a few days ago, of a mistake I was under respecting
the polarity given to needles by the electrical fire, "that the end
which receives the fire always points north;" and, "that the needle
being situated east and west, will not have a polar direction." You
find, however, the polarity strongest when the needle is shocked
lying north and south; weakest when lying east and west; which makes
it probable that the communicated magnetism is less, as the needle
varies from a north and south situation. As to the needle of Captain
Waddel's compass, if its polarity was reversed by the lightning,
the effect of lightning and electricity, in regard of that, seems
dissimilar; for a magnetic needle in a north and south situation (as
the compass needle was) instead of having its power reversed, or even
diminished, would have it confirmed or increased by the electric
fire. But perhaps the lightning communicated to some nails in the
binnacle (where the compass is placed) the magnetic virtue, which
might disturb the compass.

This I have heard was the case; if so, the seeming dissimilarity
vanishes: but this remarkable circumstance (if it took place) I
should think would not be omitted in Captain Waddel's account.

I am very much pleased that the explication I sent you, of the
crooked direction of lightning, meets with your approbation.

As to your supposition about the source of lightning, the luminous
appearance of the sea in the night, and the similitude between the
friction of the particles of salt and water, as you considered them
in their original separate state, and the friction of the globe and
cushion, very naturally led you to the ocean, as the grand source of
lightning: but the activity of lightning, or the electric element,
and the fitness of water to conduct it, together with the experiments
you mention of salt and water, seem to make against it, and to
prepare the way for some other hypothesis. Accordingly you propose
a new one, which is very curious, and not so liable, I think, to
objections as the former. But there is not as yet, I believe, a
sufficient variety of experiments to establish any theory, though
this seems the most hopeful of any I have heard of.

The effect which the discharge of your four glass jars had upon a
fine wire, tied between two strips of glass, puts me in mind of a
very similar one of lightning, that I observed at New-York, October,
1750, a few days after I left Philadelphia. In company with a number
of gentlemen, I went to take a view of the city from the Dutch
church steeple, in which is a clock about twenty or twenty-five feet
below the bell. From the clock went a wire through two floors, to
the clock-hammer near the bell, the holes in the floor for the wire
being perhaps about a quarter of an inch diameter. We were told, that
in the spring of 1750, the lightning struck the clock hammer, and
descended along the wire to the clock, melting in its way several
spots of the wire, from three to nine inches long, through one-third
of its substance, till coming within a few feet of the lower end, it
melted the wire quite through, in several places, so that it fell
down in several pieces; which spots and pieces we saw. When it got to
the end of the wire, it flew off to the hinge of a door, shattered
the door, and dissipated. In its passage through the holes of the
floors it did not do the least damage, which evidences that wire is a
good conductor of lightning (as it is of electricity) provided it be
substantial enough, and might, in this case, had it been continued to
the earth, have conducted it without damaging the building.[74]

Your information about your globe's raising the electric fire in
greater quantities, by means of a wire extended from the cushion to
the earth, will enable me, I hope, to remedy a great inconvenience
I have been under, to collect the fire with the electrifying glass
I use, which is fixed in a very dry room, three stories from the
ground. When you send your meteorological observations to ****, I
hope I shall have the pleasure of seeing them.

  I am, &c.

  J. B.


[74] The wire mentioned in this account was re-placed by a small
brass chain. In the summer of 1763, the lightning again struck that
steeple, and from the clock-hammer near the bell, it pursued the
chain as it had before done the wire, went off to the same hinge,
and again shattered the same door. In its passage through the same
holes of the same floors, it did no damage to the floors, nor to the
building during the whole extent of the chain. But the chain itself
was destroyed, being partly scattered about in fragments of two or
three links melted and stuck together, and partly blown up or reduced
to smoke, and dissipated. [See an account of the same effect of
lightning on a wire at Newbury, p. 311.] The steeple, when repaired,
was guarded by an iron conductor, or rod, extending from the foot of
the vane-spindle down the outside of the building, into the earth.
The newspapers have mentioned, that in 1765, the lightning fell a
third time on the same steeple, and was safely conducted by the rod;
but the particulars are not come to hand.

  _Proposal of an Experiment to measure the Time taken up by an
  Electric Spark, in moving through any given Space. By J. A.[75]
  Esq. of New-York._

  Read at the Royal Society, Dec 26, 1756.

If I remember right, the Royal Society made one experiment to
discover the velocity of the electric fire, by a wire of about four
miles in length, supported by silk, and by turning it forwards and
backwards in a field, so that the beginning and end of the wire were
at only the distance of two people, the one holding the Leyden bottle
and the beginning of the wire, and the other holding the end of the
wire and touching the ring of the bottle; but by this experiment no
discovery was made, except that the velocity was extremely quick.

As water is a conductor as well as metals, it is to be considered
whether the velocity of the electric fire might not be discovered by
means of water; whether a river, or lake, or sea, may not be made
part of the circuit through which the electric fire passes? instead
of the circuit all of wire, as in the above experiment.

Whether in a river, lake, or sea, the electric fire will not
dissipate and not return to the bottle? or, will it proceed in strait
lines through the water the shortest courses possible back to the

If the last, then suppose one brook that falls into Delaware doth
head very near to a brook that falls into Schuylkil, and let a wire
be stretched and supported as before, from the head of the one brook
to the head of the other, and let the one end communicate with the
water, and let one person stand in the other brook, holding the
Leyden bottle, and let another person hold that end of the wire not
in the water, and touch the ring of the bottle.--If the electric fire
will go as in the last question, then will it go down the one brook
to Delaware or Schuylkill, and down one of them to their meeting,
and up the other and the other brook; the time of its doing this
may possibly be observable, and the further upwards the brooks are
chosen, the more observable it would be.

Should this be not observable, then suppose the two brooks falling
into Sasquehana and Delaware, and proceeding as before, the electric
fire may, by that means, make a circuit round the North Cape of
Virginia, and go many hundreds of miles, and in doing that, it would
seem it must take some observable time.

If still no observable time is found in that experiment, then
suppose the brooks falling the one into the Ohio, and the other into
Sasquehana, or Potomack, in that the electric fire would have a
circuit of some thousands of miles to go down Ohio to Mississippi,
to the Bay of Mexico, round Florida, and round the South Cape of
Virginia; which, I think, would give some observable time, and
discover exactly the velocity.

But if the electric fire dissipates, or weakens in the water, as I
fear it does, these experiments will not answer.

  _Answer to the foregoing_.

  Read at the Royal Society, Dec. 25, 1756.

Suppose a tube of any length open at both ends, and containing a
moveable wire of just the same length, that fills its bore. If I
attempt to introduce the end of another wire into the same tube, it
must be done by pushing forward the wire it already contains; and the
instant I press and move one end of that wire, the other end is also
moved; and in introducing one inch of the same wire, I extrude, at
the same time, an inch of the first, from the other end of the tube.

If the tube be filled with water, and I inject an additional inch of
water at one end, I force out an equal quantity at the other, in the
very same instant.

And the water forced out at one end of the tube is not the very same
water that was forced in at the other end at the same time, it was
only in motion at the same time.

The long wire, made use of in the experiment to discover the velocity
of the electric fluid, is itself filled with what we call its natural
quantity of that fluid, before the hook of the Leyden bottle is
applied to one end of it.

The outside of the bottle being at the time of such application
in contact with the other end of the wire, the whole quantity of
electric fluid contained in the wire is, probably, put in motion at

For at the instant the hook, connected with the inside of the bottle,
_gives out_; the coating, or outside of the bottle, _draws in_ a
portion of that fluid.

If such long wire contains precisely the quantity that the outside
of the bottle demands, the whole will move out of the wire to the
outside of the bottle, and the over quantity which the inside of the
bottle contained, being exactly equal, will flow into the wire, and
remain there, in the place of the quantity the wire had just parted
with to the outside of the bottle.

But if the wire be so long as that one-tenth (suppose) of its natural
quantity is sufficient to supply what the outside of the bottle
demands, in such case the outside will only receive what is contained
in one-tenth of the wire's length, from the end next to it; though
the whole will move so as to make room at the other end for an equal
quantity issuing, at the same time, from the inside of the bottle.

So that this experiment only shews the extreme facility with which
the electric fluid moves in metal; it can never determine the

And, therefore, the proposed experiment (though well imagined, and
very ingenious) of sending the spark round through a vast length of
space, by the waters of Susquehannah, or Potowmack, and Ohio, would
not afford the satisfaction desired, though we could be sure that the
motion of the electric fluid would be in that tract, and not under
ground in the wet earth by the shortest way.



[75] James Alexander. _Editor._


  _Experiments on boiling Water, and Glass heated by boiling
  Water.--Doctrine of Repulsion in electrised Bodies
  doubted.--Electricity of the Atmosphere at different
  Heights.--Electrical Horse-race.--Electrical Thermometer.--In
  what Cases the electrical Fire produces Heat.--Wire lengthened by
  Electricity.--Good Effect of a Rod on the House of Mr. West, of

  _Philadelphia, March 12, 1761._


Having lately made the following experiments, I very chearfully
communicate them, in hopes of giving you some degree of pleasure,
and exciting you to further explore your favorite, but not quite
exhausted subject, _electricity_.

I placed myself on an electric stand, and, being well electrised,
threw my hat to an unelectrised person, at a considerable distance,
on another stand, and found that the hat carried some of the
electricity with it; for, upon going immediately to the person who
received it, and holding a flaxen thread near him, I perceived he was
electrised sufficiently to attract the thread.

I then suspended, by silk, a broad plate of metal, and electrised
some boiling water under it at about four feet distance, expecting
that the vapour, which ascended plentifully to the plate, would,
upon the principle of the foregoing experiment, carry up some of the
electricity with it; but was at length fully convinced, by several
repeated trials, that it left all its share thereof behind. This I
know not how to account for; but does it not seem to corroborate your
hypothesis, That the vapours of which the clouds are formed, leave
their share of electricity behind, in the common stock, and ascend in
the negative state?

I put boiling water into a coated Florence flask, and found that
the heat so enlarged the pores of the glass, that it could not
be charged. The electricity passed through as readily, to all
appearance, as through metal; the charge of a three-pint bottle
went freely through, without injuring the flask in the least. When
it became almost cold, I could charge it as usual. Would not this
experiment convince the Abbé Nollet of his egregious mistake? For
while the electricity went fairly through the glass, as he contends
it always does, the glass could not be charged at all.

I took a slender piece of cedar, about eighteen inches long, fixed
a brass cap in the middle, thrust a pin horizontally and at right
angles, through each end (the points in contrary directions) and hung
it, nicely balanced, like the needle of a compass, on a pin, about
six inches long, fixed in the centre of an electric stand. Then,
electrising the stand, I had the pleasure of seeing what I expected;
the wooden needle turned round, carrying the pins with their heads
foremost. I then electrised the stand negatively, expecting the
needle to turn the contrary way, but was extremely disappointed, for
it went still the same way as before. When the stand was electrised
positively, I suppose that the natural quantity of electricity in
the air being increased on one side, by what issued from the points,
the needle was attracted by the lesser quantity on the other side.
When electrised negatively, I suppose that the natural quantity of
electricity in the air was diminished near the points; in consequence
whereof, the equilibrium being destroyed, the needle was attracted by
the greater quantity on the opposite side.

The doctrine of repulsion, in electrised bodies, I begin to be
somewhat doubtful of. I think all the phenomena on which it is
founded, may be well enough accounted for without it. Will not cork
balls, electrised negatively, separate as far as when electrised
positively? And may not their separation in both cases be accounted
for upon the same principle, namely, the mutual attraction of the
natural quantity in the air, and that which is denser or rarer in the
cork balls? it being one of the established laws of this fluid, that
quantities of different densities shall mutually attract each other,
in order to restore the equilibrium.

I can see no reason to conclude that the air has not its share of
the common stock of electricity, as well as glass, and perhaps, all
other electrics _per se_. For though the air will admit bodies to
be electrised in it either positively or negatively, and will not
readily carry off the redundancy in the one case, or supply the
deficiency in the other, yet let a person in the negative state,
out of doors in the dark, when the air is dry, hold, with his arm
extended, a long sharp needle, pointing upwards, and he will soon
be convinced that electricity may be drawn out of the air; not
very plentifully, for, being a bad conductor, it seems loth to part
with it, but yet some will evidently be collected. The air near the
person's body, having less than its natural quantity, will have
none to spare; but, his arm being extended, as above, some will be
collected from the remoter air, and will appear luminous, as it
converges to the point of the needle.

Let a person electrised negatively present the point of a needle,
horizontally, to a cork ball, suspended by silk, and the ball will be
attracted towards the point, till it has parted with so much of its
natural quantity of electricity as to be in the negative state in the
same degree with the person who holds the needle; then it will recede
from the point, being, as I suppose, attracted the contrary way by
the electricity of greater density in the air behind it. But, as this
opinion seems to deviate from electrical orthodoxy, I should be glad
to see these phenomena better accounted for by your superior and more
penetrating genius.

Whether the electricity in the air, in clear dry weather, be of the
same density at the height of two or three hundred yards, as near
the surface of the earth, may be satisfactorily determined by your
old experiment of the kite. The twine should have throughout a very
small wire in it, and the ends of the wire, where the several lengths
are united, ought to be tied down with a waxed thread, to prevent
their acting in the manner of points. I have tried the experiment
twice, when the air was as dry as we ever have it, and so clear that
not a cloud could be seen, and found the twine each time in a small
degree electrised positively. The kite had three metalline points
fixed to it: one on the top, and one on each side. That the twine
was electrised, appeared by the separating of two small cork balls,
suspended on the twine by fine flaxen threads, just above where the
silk was tied to it, and sheltered from the wind. That the twine
was electrised positively, was proved, by applying to it the wire
of a charged bottle, which caused the balls to separate further,
without first coming nearer together. This experiment showed, that
the electricity in the air, at those times, was denser above than
below. But that cannot be always the case; for you know we have
frequently found the thunder-clouds in the negative state, attracting
electricity from the earth; which state, it is probable, they are
always in when first formed, and till they have received a sufficient
supply. How they come afterwards, towards the latter end of the
gust, to be in the positive state, which is sometimes the case, is a
subject for further enquiry.

After the above experiments with the wooden needle, I formed a cross,
of two pieces of wood, of equal length, intersecting each other at
right angles in the middle, hung it horizontally upon a central
pin, and set a light horse with his rider, upon each extremity;
whereupon, the whole being nicely balanced, and each courser urged on
by an electrised point of a pair of spurs, I was entertained with an
electrical horse-race.

I have contrived an electrical air thermometer, and made several
experiments with it, that have afforded me much satisfaction and
pleasure. It is extremely sensible of any alteration in the state
of the included air, and fully determines that controverted point,
Whether there be any heat in the electric fire? By the enclosed
draught, and the following description, you will readily apprehend
the construction of it. (See Plate II.)

A B is a glass tube, about eleven inches long, and one inch diameter
in the bore. It has a brass ferrule cemented on each end, with a top
and bottom part, C and D, to be screwed on, air-tight, and taken off
at pleasure. In the centre of the bottom part D, is a male screw,
which goes into a brass nut, in the mahogany pedestal E. The wires
F and G are for the electric fire to pass through, darting from one
to the other. The wire G extends through the pedestal to H, and may
be raised and lowered by means of a male screw on it. The wire F may
be taken out, and the hook I be screwed into its place. K is a glass
tube, with a small bore, open at both ends, cemented in the brass
tube L which screws into the top part C. The lower end of the tube
K is immersed in water, coloured with cochineal, at the bottom of
the tube A B. (I used, at first, coloured spirits of wine, but in
one experiment I made, it took fire.) On the top of the tube K is
cemented, for ornament, a brass ferrule, with a head screwed on it,
which has a small air-hole through its side, at _a_. The wire _b_,
is a small round spring, that embraces the tube K, so as to stay
wherever it is placed. The weight M is to keep strait whatever may be
suspended in the tube A B, on the hook I. Air must be blown through
the tube K, into the tube A B, till enough is intruded to raise, by
its elastic force, a column of the coloured water in the tube K, up
to _c_, or thereabouts; and then, the gage-wire _b_, being slipt down
to the top of the column, the thermometer is ready for use.

[Illustration: (of the experiment below)

  _Plate II._        _Vol. I. page 336._

_Published as the Act directs, April 1, 1806, by Longman, Hurst, Rees
& Orme, Paternoster Row._]

I set the thermometer on an electric stand, with the chain N fixed
to the prime conductor, and kept it well electrised a considerable
time; but this produced no sensible effect; which shews, that the
electric fire, when in a state of rest, has no more heat than the
air, and other matter wherein it resides.

When the wires F and G are in contact, a large charge of electricity
sent through them, even that of my case of five and thirty bottles,
containing above thirty square feet of coated glass, will produce no
rarefaction of the air included in the tube A B; which shows that the
wires are not heated by the fire's passing through them.

When the wires are about two inches apart, the charge of a three
pint bottle, darting from one to the other, rarefies the air very
evidently; which shows, I think, that the electric fire must produce
heat in itself, as well as in the air, by its rapid motion.

The charge of one of my glass jars (which will contain about five
gallons and a half, wine measure) darting from wire to wire, will,
by the disturbance it gives the air, repelling it in all directions,
raise the column in the tube K, up to _d_, or thereabouts; and
the charge of the above-mentioned case of bottles will raise it
to the top of the tube. Upon the air's coalescing, the column, by
its gravity, instantly subsides, till it is in equilibrio with the
rarefied air; it then gradually descends as the air cools, and
settles where it stood before. By carefully observing at what height
above the gage-wire _b_, the descending column first stops, the
degree of rarefaction is discovered, which, in great explosions, is
very considerable.

I hung in the thermometer, successively, a strip of wet writing
paper, a wet flaxen and woollen thread, a blade of green grass, a
filament of green wood, a fine silver thread, a very small brass
wire, and a strip of gilt paper; and found that the charge of the
above-mentioned glass jar, passing through each of these, especially
the last, produced heat enough to rarefy the air very perceptibly.

I then suspended, out of the thermometer, a piece of small
harpsichord wire, about twenty-four inches long, with a pound
weight at the lower end, and sent the charge of the case of five
and thirty bottles through it, whereby I discovered a new method of
wire-drawing. The wire was red hot the whole length, well annealed,
and above an inch longer than before. A second charge melted it;
it parted near the middle, and measured, when the ends were put
together, four inches longer than at first. This experiment, I
remember, you proposed to me before you left Philadelphia; but I
never tried it till now. That I might have no doubt of the wire's
being _hot_ as well as red, I repeated the experiment on another
piece of the same wire, encompassed with a goose-quill, filled with
loose grains of gun-powder; which took fire as readily as if it had
been touched with a red hot poker. Also tinder, tied to another piece
of the wire, kindled by it. I tried a wire about three times as big,
but could produce no such effects with that.

Hence it appears that the electric fire, though it has no sensible
heat when in a state of rest, will, by its violent motion, and the
resistance it meets with, produce heat in other bodies when passing
through them, provided they be small enough. A large quantity will
pass through a large wire, without producing any sensible heat;
when the same quantity passing through a very small one, being
there confined to a narrower passage, the particles crowding closer
together, and meeting with greater resistance, will make it red hot,
and even melt it.

Hence lightning does not melt metal by a cold fusion, as we formerly
supposed; but, when it passes through the blade of a sword, if the
quantity be not very great, it may heat the point so as to melt it,
while the broadest and thickest part may not be sensibly warmer than

And when trees or houses are set on fire by the dreadful quantity
which a cloud, or the earth, sometimes discharges, must not the heat,
by which the wood is first kindled, be generated by the lightning's
violent motion, through the resisting combustible matter?

If lightning, by its rapid motion, produces heat in _itself_; as
well as in other bodies (and that it does I think is evident from
some of the foregoing experiments made with the thermometer) then
its sometimes singeing the hair of animals killed by it, may easily
be accounted for. And the reason of its not always doing so, may,
perhaps, be this: The quantity, though sufficient to kill a large
animal, may sometimes not be great enough, or not have met with
resistance enough, to become, by its motion, burning hot.

We find that dwelling-houses, struck with lightning, are seldom set
on fire by it; but when it passes through barns, with hay or straw in
them, or store-houses, containing large quantities of hemp, or such
like matter, they seldom, if ever, escape a conflagration; which may,
perhaps, be owing to such combustibles being apt to kindle with a
less degree of heat than is necessary to kindle wood.

We had four houses in this city, and a vessel at one of the wharfs,
struck and damaged by lightning last summer. One of the houses was
struck twice in the same storm. But I have the pleasure to inform
you, that your method of preventing such terrible disasters, has, by
a fact which had like to have escaped our knowledge, given a very
convincing proof of its great utility; and is now in higher repute
with us than ever.

Hearing, a few days ago, that Mr. William West, merchant in this
city, suspected that the lightning in one of the thunder-storms last
summer had passed through the iron conductor, which he had provided
for the security of his house; I waited on him, to enquire what
ground he might have for such suspicion. Mr. West informed me, that
his family and neighbours were all stunned with a very terrible
explosion, and that the flash and crack were seen and heard at the
same instant. Whence he concluded, that the lightning must have been
very near, and, as no house in the neighbourhood had suffered by it,
that it must have passed through his conductor. Mr. White, his clerk,
told me that he was sitting, at the time, by a window, about two
feet distant from the conductor, leaning against the brick wall with
which it was in contact; and that he felt a smart sensation, like an
electric shock, in that part of his body which touched the wall. Mr.
West further informed me, that a person of undoubted veracity assured
him, that, being in the door of an opposite house, on the other side
of Water-street (which you know is but narrow) he saw the lightning
diffused over the pavement, which was then very wet with rain, to
the distance of two or three yards from the foot of the conductor;
and that another person of very good credit told him, that he being
a few doors off on the other side of the street, saw the lightning
above, darting in such direction that it appeared to him to be
directly over that pointed rod.

Upon receiving this information, and being desirous of further
satisfaction, there being no traces of the lightning to be discovered
in the conductor, as far as we could examine it below, I proposed to
Mr. West our going to the top of the house, to examine the pointed
rod, assuring him, that if the lightning had passed through it, the
point must have been melted; and, to our great satisfaction, we found
it so. This iron rod extended in height about nine feet and a half
above a stack of chimneys to which it was fixed (though I suppose
three or four feet would have been sufficient.) It was somewhat more
than half an inch diameter in the thickest part, and tapering to the
upper end. The conductor, from the lower end of it to the earth,
consisted of square iron nail-rods, not much above a quarter of an
inch thick, connected together by interlinking joints. It extended
down the cedar roof to the eaves, and from thence down the wall of
the house, four story and a half, to the pavement in Water-street,
being fastened to the wall, in several places, by small iron hooks.
The lower end was fixed to a ring, in the top of an iron stake that
was drove about four or five feet into the ground.

The above-mentioned iron rod had a hole in the top of it, about two
inches deep, wherein was inserted a brass wire, about two lines
thick, and, when first put there, about ten inches long, terminating
in a very acute point; but now its whole length was no more than
seven inches and a half, and the top very blunt. Some of the metal
appears to be missing, the slenderest part of the wire being, as I
suspect, consumed into smoke. But some of it, where the wire was a
little thicker, being only melted by the lightning, sunk down, while
in a fluid state, and formed a rough irregular cap, lower on one side
than the other, round the upper end of what remained, and became
intimately united therewith.

This was all the damage that Mr. West sustained by a terrible stroke
of lightning;--a most convincing proof of the great utility of this
method of preventing its dreadful effects. Surely it will now be
thought as expedient to provide conductors for the lightning, as for
the rain.

Mr. West was so good as to make me a present of the melted wire,
which I keep as a great curiosity, and long for the pleasure of
shewing it to you. In the mean time, I beg your acceptance of the
best representation I can give of it, which you will find by the side
of the thermometer, drawn in its full dimensions as it now appears.
The dotted lines above are intended to shew the form of the wire
before the lightning melted it.

And now, Sir, I most heartily congratulate you on the pleasure you
must have in finding your great and well-grounded expectations so far
fulfilled. May this method of security from the destructive violence
of one of the most awful powers of nature, meet with such further
success, as to induce every good and grateful heart to bless God for
the important discovery! May the benefit thereof be diffused over the
whole globe! May it extend to the latest posterity of mankind, and
make the name of FRANKLIN, like that of NEWTON, _immortal_.

  I am, Sir, with sincere respect,

  Your most obedient and most humble servant,



  _Answer to some of the foregoing Subjects.--How long the Leyden
  Bottle may be kept charged.--Heated Glass rendered permeable by the
  electric Fluid.--Electrical Attraction and Repulsion.--Reply to
  other Subjects in the preceding Paper.--Numerous Ways of kindling
  Fire.--Explosion of Water.--Knobs and Points._

  _London, Feb. 20, 1762._


I received your ingenious letter of the 12th of March last, and thank
you cordially for the account you give me of the new experiments you
have lately made in electricity.--It is a subject that still affords
me pleasure, though of late I have not much attended to it.

Your second experiment, in which you attempted, without success, to
communicate positive electricity by vapour ascending from electrised
water, reminds me of one I formerly made, to try if negative
electricity might be produced by evaporation only. I placed a large
heated brass plate, containing four or five square feet on an
electric stand; a rod of metal, about four feet long, with a bullet
at its end, extended from the plate horizontally. A light lock of
cotton, suspended a fine thread from the cieling, hung opposite to,
and within an inch of the bullet. I then sprinkled the heated plate
with water, which arose fast from it in vapour. If vapour should be
disposed to carry off the electrical, as it does the common fire from
bodies, I expected the plate would, by losing some of its natural
quantity, become negatively electrised. But I could not perceive, by
any motion in the cotton, that it was at all affected: nor by any
separation of small cork-balls suspended from the plate, could it be
observed that the plate was in any manner electrified.

Mr. Canton here has also found, that two tea-cups, set on electric
stands, and filled, one with boiling, the other with cold water,
and equally electrified, continued equally so, notwithstanding the
plentiful evaporation from the hot water. Your experiment and his
agreeing, show another remarkable difference between electric and
common fire. For the latter quits most readily the body that contains
it, where water, or any other fluid, is evaporating from the surface
of that body, and escapes with the vapour. Hence the method, long in
use in the east, of cooling liquors, by wrapping the bottles round
with a wet cloth, and exposing them to the wind. Dr. Cullen, of
Edinburgh, has given some experiments of cooling by evaporation; and
I was present at one made by Dr. Hadley, then professor of chemistry
at Cambridge, when, by repeatedly wetting the ball of a thermometer
with spirit, and quickening the evaporation by the blast of a
bellows, the mercury fell from 65, the state of warmth in the common
air, to 7, which is 22 degrees below freezing; and, accordingly,
from some water mixed with the spirit, or from the breath of the
assistants, or both, ice gathered in small spicula round the ball,
to the thickness of near a quarter of an inch. To such a degree did
the mercury lose the fire it before contained, which, as I imagine,
took the opportunity of escaping, in company with the evaporating
particles of the spirit, by adhering to those particles.

Your experiment of the Florence flask, and boiling water, is very
curious. I have repeated it, and found it to succeed as you describe
it, in two flasks out of three. The third would not charge when
filled with either hot or cold water. I repeated it, because I
remembered I had once attempted to make an electric bottle of a
Florence flask, filled with cold water, but could not charge it at
all; which I then imputed to some imperceptible cracks in the small,
extremely thin bubbles, of which that glass is full, and I concluded
none of that kind would do. But you have shown me my mistake.--Mr.
Wilson had formerly acquainted us, that red hot glass would conduct
electricity; but that so small a degree of heat, as that communicated
by boiling water, would so open the pores of extremely thin glass, as
to suffer the electric fluid freely to pass, was not before known.
Some experiments similar to yours, have, however, been made here,
before the receipt of your letter, of which I shall now give you an

I formerly had an opinion that a Leyden bottle, charged and then
sealed hermetically, might retain its electricity for ever; but
having afterwards some suspicion that possibly that subtle fluid
might, by slow imperceptible degrees, soak through the glass, and in
time escape, I requested some of my friends, who had conveniences for
doing it, to make trial, whether, after some months, the charge of a
bottle so sealed would be sensibly diminished. Being at Birmingham,
in September, 1760, Mr. Bolton of that place opened a bottle that
had been charged, and its long tube neck hermetically sealed in
the January preceding. On breaking off the end of the neck, and
introducing a wire into it, we found it possessed of a considerable
quantity of electricity, which was discharged by a snap and spark.
This bottle had lain near seven months on a shelf, in a closet, in
contact with bodies that would undoubtedly have carried off all its
electricity, if it could have come readily through the glass. Yet
as the quantity manifested by the discharge was not apparently so
great as might have been expected from a bottle of that size well
charged, some doubt remained whether part had escaped while the neck
was sealing, or had since, by degrees, soaked through the glass. But
an experiment of Mr. Canton's, in which such a bottle was kept under
water a week, without having its electricity in the least impaired,
seems to show, that when the glass is cold, though extremely thin,
the electric fluid is well retained by it. As that ingenious and
accurate experimenter made a discovery, like yours, of the effect
of heat in rendering thin glass permeable by that fluid, it is but
doing him justice to give you his account of it, in his own words,
extracted from his letter to me, in which he communicated it, dated
Oct. 31, 1760, _viz_.

"Having procured some thin glass balls, of about an inch and a
half in diameter, with stems, or tubes, of eight or nine inches in
length, I electrified them, some positively on the inside, and others
negatively, after the manner of charging the Leyden bottle, and
sealed them hermetically. Soon after I applied the naked balls to my
electrometer, and could not discover the least sign of their being
electrical, but holding them, before the fire, at the distance of
six or eight inches, they became strongly electrical in a very short
time, and more so when they were cooling. These balls will, every
time they are heated, give the electrical fluid to, or take it from
other bodies, according to the _plus_ or _minus_ state of it within
them. Heating them frequently, I find will sensibly diminish their
power; but keeping one of them under water a week did not appear
in the least degree to impair it. That which I kept under water,
was charged on the 22d of September last, was several times heated
before it was kept in water, and has been heated frequently since,
and yet it still retains its virtue to a very considerable degree.
The breaking two of my balls accidentally gave me an opportunity of
measuring their thickness, which I found to be between seven and
eight parts in a thousand of an inch.

A down feather, in a thin glass ball, hermetically sealed, will not
be affected by the application of an excited tube, or the wire of a
charged phial, unless the ball be considerably heated; and if a glass
pane be heated till it begins to grow soft, and in that state be held
between the wire of a charged phial, and the discharging wire, the
course of the electrical fluid will not be through the glass, but on
the surface, round by the edge of it."

By this last experiment of Mr. Canton's, it appears, that though by
a moderate heat, thin glass becomes, in some degree, a conductor of
electricity, yet, when of the thickness of a common pane, it is not,
though in a state near melting, so good a conductor as to pass the
shock of a discharged bottle. There are other conductors which suffer
the electric fluid to pass through them gradually, and yet will not
conduct a shock. For instance, a quire of paper will conduct through
its whole length, so as to electrify a person, who, standing on wax,
presents the paper to an electrified prime conductor; but it will
not conduct a shock even through its thickness only; hence the shock
either fails, or passes by rending a hole in the paper. Thus a sieve
will pass water gradually, but a stream from a fire engine would
either be stopped by it, or tear a hole through it.

It should seem, that to make glass permeable to the electric fluid,
the heat should be proportioned to the thickness. You found the heat
of boiling water, which is but 210, sufficient to render the extreme
thin glass in a Florence flask permeable even to a shock.--Lord
Charles Cavendish, by a very ingenious experiment, has found the heat
of 400 requisite to render thicker glass permeable to the common

"A glass tube, (See _Plate_ III.) of which the part C B was solid,
had wire thrust in each end, reaching to B and C.

"A small wire was tied on at D, reaching to the floor, in order to
carry off any electricity that might run along upon the tube.

"The bent part was placed in an iron pot, filled with iron filings;
a thermometer was also put into the filings; a lamp was placed under
the pot; and the whole was supported upon glass.

"The wire A being electrified by a machine, before the heat was
applied, the corks at E separated, at first upon the principle of the
Leyden phial.

"But after the part C B of the tube was heated to 600, the corks
continued to separate, though you discharged the electricity by
touching the wire at E, the electrical machine continuing in motion.

"Upon letting the whole cool, the effect remained till the
thermometer was sunk to 400."

[Illustration: (of the experiment above)

  _Plate III._        _Vol. I. page 348._

It were to be wished, that this noble philosopher would communicate
more of his experiments to the world, as he makes many, and with
great accuracy.

You know I have always looked upon and mentioned the equal repulsion
in cases of positive and of negative electricity, as a phenomenon
difficult to be explained. I have sometimes, too, been inclined,
with you, to resolve all into attraction; but besides that
attraction seems in itself as unintelligible as repulsion, there are
some appearances of repulsion that I cannot so easily explain by
attraction; this for one instance. When the pair of cork balls are
suspended by flaxen threads, from the end of the prime conductor,
if you bring a rubbed glass tube near the conductor, but without
touching it, you see the balls separate, as being electrified
positively; and yet you have communicated no electricity to the
conductor, for, if you had, it would have remained there, after
withdrawing the tube; but the closing of the balls immediately
thereupon, shows that the conductor has no more left in it than its
natural quantity. Then again approaching the conductor with the
rubbed tube, if, while the balls are separated, you touch with a
finger that end of the conductor to which they hang, they will come
together again, as being, with that part of the conductor, brought
to the same state with your finger, _i. e._ the natural state. But
the other end of the conductor, near which the tube is held, is not
in that state, but in the negative state, as appears on removing the
tube; for then part of the natural quantity left at the end near
the balls, leaving that end to supply what is wanting at the other,
the whole conductor is found to be equally in the negative state.
Does not this indicate that the electricity of the rubbed tube had
repelled the electric fluid, which was diffused in the conductor
while in its natural state, and forced it to quit the end to which
the tube was brought near, accumulating itself on the end to which
the balls were suspended? I own I find it difficult to account for
its quitting that end, on the approach of the rubbed tube, but on the
supposition of repulsion; for, while the conductor was in the same
state with the air, _i. e._ the natural state, it does not seem to
me easy to suppose, that an attraction should suddenly take place
between the air and the natural quantity of the electric fluid in the
conductor, so as to draw it to, and accumulate it on the end opposite
to that approached by the tube; since bodies, possessing only their
natural quantity of that fluid, are not usually seen to attract each
other, or to affect mutually the quantities of electricity each

There are likewise appearances of repulsion in other parts of nature.
Not to mention the violent force with which the particles of water,
heated to a certain degree, separate from each other, or those of
gunpowder, when touched with the smallest spark of fire, there is
the seeming repulsion between the same poles of the magnet, a body
containing a subtle moveable fluid in many respects analagous to the
electric fluid. If two magnets are so suspended by strings, as that
their poles of the same denomination are opposite to each other, they
will separate, and continue so; or if you lay a magnetic steel bar
on a smooth table, and approach it with another parallel to it, the
poles of both in the same position, the first will recede from the
second, so as to avoid the contact, and may thus be pushed (or at
least appear to be pushed) off the table. Can this be ascribed to the
attraction of any surrounding body or matter drawing them asunder,
or drawing the one away from the other? If not, and repulsion exists
in nature, and in magnetism, why may it not exist in electricity? We
should not, indeed, multiply causes in philosophy without necessity;
and the greater simplicity of your hypothesis would recommend it to
me, if I could see that all appearances would be solved by it. But
I find, or think I find, the two causes more convenient than one of
them alone. Thus I might solve the circular motion of your horizontal
stick, supported on a pivot, with two pins at their ends, pointing
contrary ways, and moving in the same direction when electrified,
whether positively or negatively: when positively, the air opposite
to the points being electrised positively, repels the points; when
negatively, the air opposite the points being also, by their means,
electrised negatively, attraction takes place between the electricity
in the air behind the heads of the pins, and the negative pins, and
so they are, in this case, drawn in the same direction that in the
other they were driven.--You see I am willing to meet you half way,
a complaisance I have not met with in our brother Nollet, or any
other hypothesis-maker, and therefore may value myself a little upon
it, especially as they say I have some ability in defending even the
wrong side of a question, when I think fit to take it in hand.

What you give as an established law of the electric fluid, "That
quantities of different densities mutually attract each other, in
order to restore the equilibrium," is, I think, not well founded,
or else not well expressed. Two large cork balls, suspended by
silk strings, and both well and equally electrified, separate to a
great distance. By bringing into contact with one of them another
ball of the same size, suspended likewise by silk, you will take
from it half its electricity. It will then, indeed, hang at a less
distance from the other, but the full and the half quantities will
not appear to attract each other, that is, the balls will not come
together. Indeed, I do not know any proof we have, that one quantity
of electric fluid is attracted by another quantity of that fluid,
whatever difference there may be in their densities. And, supposing
in nature, a mutual attraction between two parcels of any kind
of matter, it would be strange if this attraction should subsist
strongly while those parcels were unequal, and cease when more matter
of the same kind was added to the smallest parcel, so as to make it
equal to the biggest. By all the laws of attraction in matter, that
we are acquainted with, the attraction is stronger in proportion to
the increase of the masses, and never in proportion to the difference
of the masses. I should rather think the law would be, "That the
electric fluid is attracted strongly by all other matter that we
know of, while the parts of that fluid mutually repel each other."
Hence its being equally diffused (except in particular circumstances)
throughout all other matter. But this you jokingly call "electrical
orthodoxy." It is so with some at present, but not with all; and,
perhaps, it may not always be orthodoxy with any body. Opinions are
continually varying, where we cannot have mathematical evidence of
the nature of things; and they must vary. Nor is that variation
without its use, since it occasions a more thorough discussion,
whereby error is often dissipated, true knowledge is encreased, and
its principles become better understood and more firmly established.

Air should have, as you observe, "its share of the common stock of
electricity, as well as glass, and, perhaps, all other electrics
_per se_." But I suppose, that, like them, it does not easily part
with what it has, or receive more, unless when mixed with some
non-electric, as moisture for instance, of which there is some in our
driest air. This, however, is only a supposition; and your experiment
of restoring electricity to a negatively electrised person, by
extending his arm upwards into the air, with a needle between his
fingers, on the point of which light may be seen in the night, is,
indeed, a curious one. In this town the air is generally moister than
with us, and here I have seen Mr. Canton electrify the air in one
room positively, and in another, which communicated by a door, he has
electrised the air negatively. The difference was easily discovered
by his cork balls, as he passed out of one room into another.--Pere
Beccaria, too, has a pretty experiment, which shows that air may
be electrised. Suspending a pair of small light balls, by flaxen
threads, to the end of his prime conductor, he turns his globe some
time, electrising positively, the balls diverging and continuing
separate all the time. Then he presents the point of a needle to
his conductor, which gradually drawing off the electric fluid, the
balls approach each other, and touch, before all is drawn from the
conductor; opening again as more is drawn off, and separating nearly
as wide as at first, when the conductor is reduced to the natural
state. By this it appears, that when the balls came together, the air
surrounding the balls was just as much electrised as the conductor
at that time; and more than the conductor, when that was reduced to
its natural state. For the balls, though in the natural state, will
diverge, when the air that surrounds them is electrised _plus_ or
_minus_, as well as when that is in its natural state and they are
electrised _plus_ or _minus_ themselves. I foresee that you will
apply this experiment to the support of your hypothesis, and I think
you may make a good deal of it.

It was a curious enquiry of yours, Whether the electricity of the
air, in clear dry weather, be of the same density at the height of
two or three hundred yards, as near the surface of the earth; and
I am glad you made the experiment. Upon reflection, it should seem
probable, that whether the general state of the atmosphere at any
time be positive or negative, that part of it which is next the earth
will be nearer the natural state, by having given to the earth in one
case, or having received from it in the other. In electrising the
air of a room, that which is nearest the walls, or floor, is least
altered. There is only one small ambiguity in the experiment, which
may be cleared by more trials; it arises from the supposition that
bodies may be electrised positively by the friction of air blowing
strongly on them, as it does on the kite and its string. If at some
times the electricity appears to be negative, as that friction is the
same, the effect must be from a negative state of the upper air.

I am much pleased with your electrical thermometer, and the
experiments you have made with it. I formerly satisfied myself by an
experiment with my phial and syphon, that the elasticity of the air
was not increased by the mere existence of an electric atmosphere
within the phial; but I did not know, till you now inform me, that
heat may be given to it by an electric explosion. The continuance
of its rarefaction, for some time after the discharge of your glass
jar and of your case of bottles, seem to make this clear. The
other experiments on wet paper, wet thread, green grass, and green
wood, are not so satisfactory; as possibly the reducing part of
the moisture to vapour, by the electric fluid passing through it,
might occasion some expansion which would be gradually reduced by
the condensation of such vapour. The fine silver thread, the very
small brass wire, and the strip of gilt paper, are also subject to a
similar objection, as even metals, in such circumstances, are often
partly reduced to smoke, particularly the gilding on paper.

But your subsequent beautiful experiment on the wire, which you made
hot by the electric explosion, and in that state fired gunpowder
with it, puts it out of all question, that heat is produced by our
artificial electricity, and that the melting of metals in that way,
is not by what I formerly called a cold fusion. A late instance here,
of the melting a bell-wire, in a house struck by lightning, and parts
of the wire burning holes in the floor on which they fell, has proved
the same with regard to the electricity of nature. I was too easily
led into that error by accounts given, even in philosophical books,
and from remote ages downwards, of melting money in purses, swords
in scabbards, &c. without burning the inflammable matters that were
so near those melted metals. But men are, in general, such careless
observers, that a philosopher cannot be too much on his guard in
crediting their relations of things extraordinary, and should never
build an hypothesis on any thing but clear facts and experiments, or
it will be in danger of soon falling, as this does, like a house of

How many ways there are of kindling fire, or producing heat in
bodies! By the sun's rays, by collision, by friction, by hammering,
by putrefaction, by fermentation, by mixtures of fluids, by mixtures
of solids with fluids, and by electricity. And yet the fire when
produced, though in different bodies it may differ in circumstances,
as in colour, vehemence, &c. yet in the same bodies is generally the
same. Does not this seem to indicate that the fire existed in the
body, though in a quiescent state, before it was by any of these
means excited, disengaged, and brought forth to action and to view?
May it not constitute a part, and even a principal part, of the
solid substance of bodies? If this should be the case, kindling fire
in a body would be nothing more than developing this inflammable
principle, and setting it at liberty to act in separating the parts
of that body, which then exhibits the appearances of scorching,
melting, burning, &c. When a man lights an hundred candles from the
flame of one, without diminishing that flame, can it be properly
said to have _communicated_ all that fire? When a single spark from
a flint, applied to a magazine of gunpowder, is immediately attended
with this consequence, that the whole is in flame, exploding with
immense violence, could all this fire exist first in the spark? We
cannot conceive it. And thus we seem led to this supposition, that
there is fire enough in all bodies to singe, melt, or burn them,
whenever it is, by any means, set at liberty, so that it may exert
itself upon them, or be disengaged from them. This liberty seems to
be afforded it by the passage of electricity through them, which
we know can and does, of itself, separate the parts even of water;
and perhaps the immediate appearances of fire are only the effects
of such separations? If so, there would be no need of supposing that
the electric fluid _heats itself_ by the swiftness of its motion, or
heats bodies by the resistance it meets with in passing through them.
They would only be heated in proportion as such separation could be
more easily made. Thus a melting heat cannot be given to a large wire
in the flame of a candle, though it may to a small one; and this not
because the large wire resists _less_ that action of the flame which
tends to separate its parts, but because it resists it _more_ than
the smaller wire; or because the force being divided among more parts
acts weaker on each.

This reminds me, however, of a little experiment I have frequently
made, that shows, at one operation, the different effects of the same
quantity of electric fluid passing through different quantities of
metal. A strip of tinfoil, three inches long, a quarter of an inch
wide at one end, and tapering all the way to a sharp point at the
other, fixed between two pieces of glass, and having the electricity
of a large glass jar sent through it, will not be discomposed in the
broadest part; towards the middle will appear melted in spots; where
narrower, it will be quite melted; and about half an inch of it next
the point will be reduced to smoke.

You were not mistaken in supposing that your account of the effect of
the pointed rod, in securing Mr. West's house from damage by a stroke
of lightning, would give me great pleasure. I thank you for it most
heartily, and for the pains you have taken in giving me so complete a
description of its situation, form, and substance, with the draft of
the melted point. There is one circumstance, viz. that the lightning
was seen to diffuse itself from the foot of the rod over the wet
pavement, which seems, I think, to indicate, that the earth under
the pavement was very dry, and that the rod should have been sunk
deeper, till it came to earth moister, and therefore apter to receive
and dissipate the electric fluid. And although, in this instance,
a conductor formed of nail rods, not much above a quarter of an
inch thick, served well to convey the lightning, yet some accounts
I have seen from Carolina, give reason to think, that larger may
be sometimes necessary, at least for the security of the conductor
itself, which, when too small, may be destroyed in executing its
office, though it does, at the same time, preserve the house. Indeed,
in the construction of an instrument so new, and of which we could
have so little experience, it is rather lucky that we should at first
be so near the truth as we seem to be, and commit so few errors.

There is another reason for sinking deeper the lower end of the
rod, and also for turning it outwards under ground to some distance
from the foundation; it is this, that water dripping from the eaves
falls near the foundation, and sometimes soaks down there in greater
quantities, so as to come near the end of the rod, though the ground
about it be drier. In such case, this water may be exploded, that is,
blown into vapour, whereby a force is generated, that may damage the
foundation. Water reduced to vapour, is said to occupy 14,000 times
its former space. I have sent a charge through a small glass tube,
that has borne it well while empty, but when filled first with water,
was shattered to pieces and driven all about the room:--Finding no
part of the water on the table, I suspected it to have been reduced
to vapour; and was confirmed in that suspicion afterwards, when I
had filled a like piece of tube with ink, and laid it on a sheet of
clean paper, whereon, after the explosion, I could find neither any
moisture nor any sully from the ink. This experiment of the explosion
of water, which I believe was first made by that most ingenious
electrician, father Beccaria, may account for what we sometimes
see in a tree struck by lightning, when part of it is reduced to
fine splinters like a broom; the sap vessels being so many tubes
containing a watry fluid, which, when reduced to vapour, rends every
tube lengthways. And perhaps it is this rarefaction of the fluids in
animal bodies killed by lightning or electricity, that, by separating
its fibres, renders the flesh so tender, and apt so much sooner to
putrify. I think too, that much of the damage done by lightning to
stone and brick-walls may sometimes be owing to the explosion of
water, found, during showers, running or lodging in the joints or
small cavities or cracks that happen to be in the walls.

Here are some electricians that recommend knobs instead of points
on the upper end of the rods, from a supposition that the points
invite the stroke. It is true that points draw electricity at greater
distances in the gradual silent way; but knobs will draw at the
greatest distance a stroke. There is an experiment that will settle
this. Take a crooked wire of the thickness of a quill, and of such a
length as that one end of it being applied to the lower part of a
charged bottle, the upper may be brought near the ball on the top of
the wire that is in the bottle. Let one end of this wire be furnished
with a knob, and the other may be gradually tapered to a fine point.
When the point is presented to discharge the bottle, it must be
brought much nearer before it will receive the stroke, than the
knob requires to be. Points besides tend to repel the fragments of
an electrised cloud, knobs draw them nearer. An experiment, which I
believe I have shewn you, of cotton fleece hanging from an electrised
body, shows this clearly when a point or a knob is presented under it.

You seem to think highly of the importance of this discovery, as
do many others on our side of the water. Here it is very little
regarded; so little, that though it is now seven or eight years
since it was made public, I have not heard of a single house as
yet attempted to be secured by it. It is true the mischiefs done
by lightning are not so frequent here as with us, and those who
calculate chances may perhaps find that not one death (or the
destruction of one house) in a hundred thousand happens from
that cause, and that therefore it is scarce worth while to be at
any expence to guard against it.--But in all countries there are
particular situations of buildings more exposed than others to
such accidents, and there are minds so strongly impressed with the
apprehension of them, as to be very unhappy every time a little
thunder is within their hearing;--it may therefore be well to render
this little piece of new knowledge as general and as well understood
as possible, since to make us _safe_ is not all its advantage, it is
some to make us _easy_. And as the stroke it secures us from might
have chanced perhaps but once in our lives, while it may relieve us
a hundred times from those painful apprehensions, the latter may
possibly on the whole contribute more to the happiness of mankind
than the former.

Your kind wishes and congratulations are very obliging. I return them
cordially;--being, with great regard and esteem,

  My dear Sir,

  Your affectionate friend,

  And most obedient humble servant,


  _Accounts from Carolina (mentioned in the foregoing Letter) of the
  Effects of Lightning on two of the Rods commonly affixed to Houses
  there, for securing them against Lightning_.

  _Charlestown, Nov. 1, 1760._

"----It is some years since Mr. Raven's rod was struck by lightning.
I hear an account of it was published at the time, but I cannot find
it. According to the best information I can now get, he had fixed to
the outside of his chimney a large iron rod, several feet in length,
reaching above the chimney; and to the top of this rod the points
were fixed. From the lower end of this rod, a small brass wire was
continued down to the top of another iron rod driven into the earth.
On the ground-floor in the chimney stood a gun, leaning against the
back-wall, nearly opposite to where the brass wire came down on the
outside. The lightning fell upon the points, did no damage to the
rod they were fixed to; but the brass wire, all down till it came
opposite to the top of the gun-barrel, was destroyed[76]. There
the lightning made a hole through the wall or back of the chimney,
to get to the gun-barrel[77], down which it seems to have passed,
as, although it did not hurt the barrel, it damaged the butt of
the stock, and blew up some bricks of the hearth. The brass wire
below the hole in the wall remained good. No other damage, as I can
learn, was done to the house. I am told the same house had formerly
been struck by lightning, and much damaged, before these rods were


[76] A proof that it was not of sufficient substance to conduct with
safety to itself (though with safety _so far_ to the wall) so large a
quantity of the electric fluid.

[77] A more substantial conductor.

  _Mr. William Maine's Account of the Effects of the Lightning on his
  Rod, dated at Indian Land, in South Carolina, Aug. 28, 1760._

----"I had a set of electrical points, consisting of three prongs, of
large brass wire tipt with silver, and perfectly sharp, each about
seven inches long; these were rivetted at equal distances into an
iron nut about three quarters of an inch square, and opened at top
equally to the distance of six or seven inches from point to point,
in a regular triangle. This nut was screwed very tight on the top
of an iron rod of above half an inch diameter, or the thickness of
a common curtain-rod, composed of several joints, annexed by hooks
turned at the ends of each joint, and the whole fixed to the chimney
of my house by iron staples. The points were elevated (_a_) six or
seven inches above the top of the chimney; and the lower joint sunk
three feet in the earth, in a perpendicular direction.

Thus stood the points on Tuesday last about five in the evening, when
the lightning broke with a violent explosion on the chimney, cut
the rod square off just under the nut, and I am persuaded, melted
the points, nut, and top of the rod, entirely up; as after the most
diligent search, nothing of either was found (_b_), and the top
of the remaining rod was cased over with a congealed solder. The
lightning ran down the rod, starting almost all the staples (_c_),
and unhooking the joints without affecting the rod (_d_), except on
the inside of each hook where the joints were coupled, the surface of
which was melted (_e_), and left as cased over with solder.--No part
of the chimney was damaged (_f_), only at the foundation (_g_), where
it was shattered almost quite round, and several bricks were torn
out (_h_). Considerable cavities were made in the earth quite round
the foundation, but most within eight or nine inches of the rod. It
also shattered the bottom weather-board (_i_) at one corner of the
house, and made a large hole in the earth by the corner post. On the
other side of the chimney, it ploughed up several furrows in the
earth, some yards in length. It ran down the inside of the chimney
(_k_), carrying only soot with it; and filled the whole house with
its flash (_l_), smoke, and dust. It tore up the hearth in several
places (_m_), and broke some pieces of china in the beaufet (_n_). A
copper tea-kettle standing in the chimney was beat together, as if
some great weight had fallen upon it (_o_); and three holes, each
about half an inch diameter, melted through the bottom (_p_). What
seems to me the most surprising is, that the hearth under the kettle
was not hurt, yet the bottom of the kettle was drove inward, as if
the lightning proceeded from under it upwards (_q_), and the cover
was thrown to the middle of the floor (_r_). The fire dogs, an iron
logger-head, an Indian pot, an earthen cup, and a cat, were all in
the chimney at the time unhurt, though a great part of the hearth was
torn up (_s_). My wife's sister, two children, and a negro wench,
were all who happened to be in the house at the time: the first,
and one child, sat within five feet of the chimney; and were so
stunned, that they never saw the lightning nor heard the explosion;
the wench, with the other child in her arms, sitting at a greater
distance, was sensible of both; though every one was so stunned that
they did not recover for some time; however it pleased God that no
farther mischief ensued. The kitchen, at 90 feet distance, was full
of negroes, who were all sensible of the shock; and some of them tell
me, that they felt the rod about a minute after, when it was so hot
that they could not bear it in hand."


The foregoing very sensible and distinct account may afford a good
deal of instruction relating to the nature and effects of lightning,
and to the construction and use of this instrument for averting the
mischiefs of it. Like other new instruments, this appears to have
been at first in some respects imperfect; and we find that we are, in
this as in others, to expect improvement from experience chiefly: but
there seems to be nothing in the account, that should discourage us
in the use of it; since at the same time that its imperfections are
discovered, the means of removing them are pretty easily to be learnt
from the circumstances of the account itself; and its utility upon
the whole is manifest.

One intention of the pointed rod, is, to _prevent_ a stroke of
lightning. (_See pages_ 283, 310.) But to have a better chance of
obtaining this end, the points should not be too near to the top
of the chimney or highest part of the building to which they are
affixed, but should be extended five or six feet above it; otherwise
their operation in silently drawing off the fire (from such fragments
of cloud as float in the air between the great body of cloud and
the earth) will be prevented. For the experiment with the lock of
cotton hanging below the electrified prime conductor shows, that a
finger under it, being a blunt body, extends the cotton, drawing its
lower part downwards; when a needle, with its point presented to the
cotton, makes it fly up again to the prime conductor; and that this
effect is strongest when as much of the needle as possible appears
above the end of the finger; grows weaker as the needle is shortened
between the finger and thumb; and is reduced to nothing when only a
short part below the point appears above the finger. Now it seems
the points of Mr. Maine's rod were elevated only (_a_) _six or seven
inches above the top of the chimney_; which, considering the bulk of
the chimney and the house, was too small an elevation. For the great
body of matter near them would hinder their being easily brought into
a negative state by the repulsive power of the electrised cloud,
in which negative state it is that they attract most strongly and
copiously the electric fluid from other bodies, and convey it into
the earth.

(_b_) _Nothing of the points, &c. could be found._ This is a common
effect. (_See page_ 312.) Where the quantity of the electric fluid
passing is too great for the conductor through which it passes, the
metal is either melted, or reduced to smoke and dissipated; but where
the conductor is sufficiently large, the fluid passes in it without
hurting it. Thus these three wires were destroyed, while the rod to
which they were fixed, being of greater substance, remained unhurt;
its end only, to which they were joined, being a little melted, some
of the melted part of the lower ends of those wires uniting with it,
and appearing on it like solder.

(_c_)(_d_)(_e_) As the several parts of the rod were connected only
by the ends being bent round into hooks, the contact between hook and
hook was much smaller than the rod; therefore the current through
the metal being confined in those narrow passages, melted part of
the metal, as appeared on examining the inside of each hook. Where
metal is melted by lightning, some part of it is generally exploded;
and these explosions in the joints appear to have been the cause of
unhooking them; and, by that violent action, of starting also most of
the staples. We learn from hence, that a rod in one continued piece
is preferable to one composed of links or parts hooked together.

(_f_) _No part of the chimney was damaged_: because the lightning
passed in the rod. And this instance agrees with others in showing,
that the second and principal intention of the rods is obtainable,
viz. that of _conducting_ the lightning. In all the instances yet
known of the lightning's falling on any house guarded by rods, it
has pitched down upon the point of the rod, and has not fallen
upon any other part of the house. Had the lightning fallen on this
chimney, unfurnished with a rod, it would probably have rent it
from top to bottom, as we see, by the effects of the lightning on
the points and rod, that its quantity was very great; and we know
that many chimneys have been so demolished. But _no part of this
was damaged, only_ (_f_)(_g_)(_h_) _at the foundation, where it was
shattered and several bricks torn out_. Here we learn the principal
defect in fixing this rod. The lower joint being sunk but three feet
into the earth, did not it seems go low enough to come at water,
or a large body of earth so moist as to receive readily from its
end the quantity it conducted. The electric fluid therefore, thus
accumulated near the lower end of the rod, quitted it at the surface
of the earth, dividing in search of other passages. Part of it tore
up the surface in furrows, and made holes in it: part entered the
bricks of the foundation, which being near the earth are generally
moist, and, in exploding that moisture, shattered them. (_See page_
358.) Part went through or under the foundation, and got under the
hearth, blowing up great part of the bricks (_m_)(_s_), and producing
the other effects (_o_)(_p_)(_q_)(_r_). The iron dogs, loggerhead
and iron pot were not hurt, being of sufficient substance, and they
probably protected the cat. The copper tea-kettle being thin suffered
some damage. Perhaps, though found on a sound part of the hearth,
it might at the time of the stroke have stood on the part blown up,
which will account both for the bruising and melting.

That _it ran down the inside of the chimney_ (_k_) I apprehend
must be a mistake. Had it done so, I imagine it would have brought
something more than soot with it; it would probably have ripped off
the pargetting, and brought down fragments of plaster and bricks. The
shake, from the explosion on the rod, was sufficient to shake down a
good deal of loose soot. Lightning does not usually enter houses by
the doors, windows, or chimneys, as open passages, in the manner that
air enters them: its nature is, to be attracted by substances, that
are conductors of electricity; it penetrates and passes _in_ them,
and, if they are not good conductors as are neither wood, brick,
stone nor plaster, it is apt to rend them in its passage. It would
not easily pass through the air from a cloud to a building, were it
not for the aid afforded it in its passage by intervening fragments
of clouds below the main body, or by the falling rain.

It is said that _the house was filled with its flash_ (_l_).
Expressions like this are common in accounts of the effects of
lightning, from which we are apt to understand that the lightning
filled the house. Our language indeed seems to want a word to express
the _light_ of lightning as distinct from the lightning itself. When
a tree on a hill is struck by it, the lightning of that stroke exists
only in a narrow vein between the cloud and tree, but its light fills
a vast space many miles round; and people at the greatest distance
from it are apt to say, "The lightning came into our rooms through
our windows." As it is in itself extremely bright, it cannot, when
so near as to strike a house, fail illuminating highly every room
in it through the windows; and this I suppose to have been the case
at Mr. Maine's; and that, except in and near the hearth, from the
causes above-mentioned, it was not in any other part of the house;
_the flash_ meaning no more than _the light_ of the lightning.--It is
for want of considering this difference, that people suppose there
is a kind of lightning not attended with thunder. In fact there is
probably a loud explosion accompanying every flash of lightning,
and at the same instant;--but as sound travels slower than light,
we often hear the sound some seconds of time after having seen the
light; and as sound does not travel so far as light, we sometimes see
the light at a distance too great to hear the sound.

(_n_) The _breaking some pieces of china in the beaufet_, may
nevertheless seem to indicate that the lightning was there: but as
there is no mention of its having hurt any part of the beaufet, or of
the walls of the house, I should rather ascribe that effect to the
concussion of the air, or shake of the house by the explosion.

Thus, to me it appears, that the house and its inhabitants were saved
by the rod, though the rod itself was unjointed by the stroke; and
that, if it had been made of one piece, and sunk deeper in the earth,
or had entered the earth at a greater distance from the foundation,
the mentioned small damages (except the melting of the points) would
not have happened.


  _On the Electricity of the Tourmalin._

  _Craven-street, June 7, 1759._


I now return the smallest of your two tourmalins, with hearty thanks
for your kind present of the other, which, though I value highly for
its rare and wonderful properties, I shall ever esteem it more for
the friendship I am honoured with by the giver.

I hear that the negative electricity of one side of the tourmalin,
when heated, is absolutely denied (and all that has been related of
it ascribed to prejudice in favour of a system) by some ingenious
gentlemen abroad, who profess to have made the experiments on the
stone with care and exactness. The experiments have succeeded
differently with me; yet I would not call the accuracy of those
gentlemen in question. Possibly the tourmalins they have tried were
not properly cut; so that the positive and negative powers were
obliquely placed, or in some manner whereby their effects were
confused, or the negative parts more easily supplied by the positive.
Perhaps the lapidaries who have hitherto cut these stones, had no
regard to the situation of the two powers, but chose to make the
faces of the stone where they could obtain the greatest breadth,
or some other advantage in the form. If any of these stones, in
their natural state, can be procured here, I think it would be
right to endeavour finding, before they are cut, the two sides that
contain the opposite powers, and make the faces there. Possibly, in
that case, the effects might be stronger, and more distinct; for
though both these stones that I have examined have evidently the
two properties, yet, without the full heat given by boiling water,
they are somewhat confused; the virtue seems strongest towards one
end of the face; and in the middle, or near the other end, scarce
discernible; and the negative, I think, always weaker than the

I have had the large one new cut, so as to make both sides alike,
and find the change of form has made no change of power, but the
properties of each side remain the same as I found them before. It
is now set in a ring in such a manner as to turn on an axis, that I
may conveniently, in making experiments, come at both side of the
stone. The little rim of gold it is set in, has made no alteration in
its effects. The warmth of my finger, when I wear it, is sufficient
to give it some degree of electricity, so that it is always ready to
attract light bodies.

The following experiments have satisfied me that M. Æpinus's account
of the positive and negative states of the opposite sides of the
heated tourmalin is well founded.

I heated the large stone in boiling water.

As soon as it was dry, I brought it near a very small cork ball, that
was suspended by a silk thread.

The ball was attracted by one face of the stone, which I call A, and
then repelled.

The ball in that state was also repelled by the positively charged
wire of a phial, and attracted by the other side of the stone, B.

The stone being a-fresh heated, and the side B brought near the ball,
it was first attracted, and presently after repelled by that side.

In this second state it was repelled by the negatively charged wire
of a phial.

Therefore, if the principles now generally received, relating to
positive and negative electricity, are true, the side A of the large
stone, when the stone is heated in water, is in a positive state of
electricity; and the side B, in a negative state.

The same experiments being made with the small stone stuck by one
edge on the end of a small glass tube, with sealing-wax, the same
effects are produced. The flat side of the small stone gives the
signs of positive electricity; the high side gives the signs of
negative electricity.


I suspended the small stone by a silk thread.

I heated it as it hung, in boiling water.

I heated the large one in boiling water.

Then I brought the large stone near to the suspended small one.

Which immediately turned its flat side to the side B of the large
stone, and would cling to it.

I turned the ring, so as to present the side A of the large stone, to
the flat side of the small one.

The flat side was repelled, and the small stone, turning quick,
applied its high side to the side A of the large one.

This was precisely what ought to happen, on the supposition that the
flat side of the small stone, when heated in water, is positive, and
the high side negative; the side A of the large stone positive, and
the side B negative.

The effect was apparently the same as would have been produced, if
one magnet had been suspended by a thread, and the different poles of
another brought alternately near it.

I find that the face A, of the large stone, being coated with
leaf-gold (attached by the white of an egg, which will bear dipping
in hot water) becomes quicker and stronger in its effect on the cork
ball, repelling it the instant it comes in contact; which I suppose
to be occasioned by the united force of different parts of the face,
collected and acting together through the metal.

  I am, &c.



[78] Dr. Heberden. _Editor._


  _New Observation relating to Electricity in the Atmosphere._

  _Cambridge, N. E. Sept. 29, 1762._


There is an observation relating to electricity in the atmosphere,
which seemed new to me, though perhaps it will not to you: however,
I will venture to mention it. I have some points on the top of
my house, and the wire where it passes within-side the house is
furnished with bells, according to your method, to give notice of
the passage of the electric fluid. In summer, these bells, generally
ring at the approach of a thunder-cloud; but cease soon after it
begins to rain. In winter, they sometimes though not very often, ring
while it is snowing; but never, that I remember, when it rains. But
what was unexpected to me was, that, though the bells had not rung
while it was snowing, yet, the next day, after it had done snowing,
and the weather was cleared up, while the snow was driven about by
a high wind at W. or N. W. the bells rung for several hours (though
with little intermissions) as briskly as ever I knew them, and I drew
considerable sparks from the wire. This phenomenon I never observed
but twice; viz. on the 31st of January, 1760, and the 3d of March,

  I am, Sir, &c.

FROM MR. A. S[79]. TO B. F.

  _Flash of Lightning that struck St. Bride's Steeple._

I have just recollected that in one of our great storms of lightning,
I saw an appearance, which I never observed before, nor ever heard
described. I am persuaded that I saw _the_ flash which struck St.
Bride's steeple. Sitting at my window, and looking to the north, I
saw what appeared to me a solid strait rod of fire, moving at a very
sharp angle with the horizon. It appeared to my eye as about two
inches diameter, and had nothing of the zig-zag lightning motion.
I instantly told a person sitting with me, that some place must be
struck at that instant. I was so much surprized at the vivid distinct
appearance of the fire, that I did not hear the clap of thunder,
which stunned every one besides. Considering how low it moved, I
could not have thought it had gone so far, having St. Martin's, the
New Church, and St. Clements's steeples in its way. It struck the
steeple a good way from the top, and the first impression it made in
the side is in the same direction I saw it move in. It was succeeded
by two flashes, almost united, moving in a pointed direction.

There were two distinct houses struck in Essex-street. I should have
thought the rod would have fallen in Covent-Garden, it was so low.
Perhaps the appearance is frequent, though never before seen by


  A. S.


[79] Mr. Alexander Small. _Editor._


  _Best Method of securing a Powder Magazine from Lightning._

----You may acquaint the gentleman that desired you to enquire
my opinion of the best method of securing a powder magazine from
lightning, that I think they cannot do better than to erect a mast
not far from it, which may reach fifteen or twenty feet above the top
of it, with a thick iron rod in one piece fastened to it, pointed at
the highest end, and reaching down through the earth till it comes
to water. Iron is a cheap metal; but if it were dearer, as this is
a public thing the expence is insignificant; therefore I would have
the rod at least an inch thick, to allow for its gradually wasting by
rust; it will last as long as the mast, and may be renewed with it.
The sharp point for five or six inches should be gilt.

But there is another circumstance of importance to the strength,
goodness, and usefulness of the powder, which does not seem to have
been enough attended to: I mean the keeping it perfectly dry. For
want of a method of doing this, much is spoiled in damp magazines,
and much so damaged as to become of little value.--If, instead of
barrels it were kept in cases of bottles well corked; or in large tin
canisters, with small covers shutting close by means of oiled paper
between, or covering the joining on the canister; or if in barrels,
then the barrels lined with thin sheet lead; no moisture in either of
these methods could possibly enter the powder, since glass and metals
are both impervious to water.

By the latter of these means you see tea is brought dry and crisp
from China to Europe, and thence to America, though it comes all the
way by sea in the damp hold of a ship. And by this method, grain,
meal, &c. if well dried before it is put up, may be kept for ages
sound and good.

There is another thing very proper to line small barrels with; it
is what they call tin-foil, or leaf-tin, being tin milled between
rollers till it becomes as thin as paper, and more pliant, at the
same time that its texture is extremely close. It may be applied
to the wood with common paste, made with boiling-water thickened
with flour; and, so laid on; will lie very close and stick well:
but I should prefer a hard sticky varnish for that purpose, made of
linseed oil much boiled. The heads might be lined separately, the tin
wrapping a little round their edges. The barrel, while the lining is
laid on, should have the end hoops slack, so that the staves standing
at a little distance from each other, may admit the head into its
groove. The tin-foil should be plyed into the groove. Then, one head
being put in, and that end hooped tight, the barrel would be fit to
receive the powder, and when the other head is put in and the hoops
drove up, the powder would be safe from moisture even if the barrel
were kept under water. This tin-foil is but about eighteen pence
sterling a pound, and is so extremely thin, that I imagine a pound of
it would line three or four powder-barrels.

  I am, &c.



[80] Peter Franklin. _Editor._

  _Of Lightning, and the Methods (now used in America) of securing
  Buildings and Persons from its mischievous Effects._

Experiments made in electricity first gave philosophers a suspicion,
that the matter of lightning was the same with the electric matter.
Experiments afterwards made on lightning obtained from the clouds by
pointed rods, received into bottles, and subjected to every trial,
have since proved this suspicion to be perfectly well founded;
and that whatever properties we find in electricity, are also the
properties of lightning.

This matter of lightning, or of electricity, is an extreme subtile
fluid, penetrating other bodies, and subsisting in them, equally

When by any operation of art or nature, there happens to be a greater
proportion of this fluid in one body than in another, the body
which has most will communicate to that which has least, till the
proportion becomes equal; provided the distance between them be not
too great; or, if it is too great, till there be proper conductors to
convey it from one to the other.

If the communication be through the air without any conductor, a
bright light is seen between the bodies, and a sound is heard. In
our small experiments, we call this light and sound the electric
spark and snap; but in the great operations of nature, the light is
what we call _lightning_, and the sound (produced at the same time,
though generally arriving later at our ears than the light does to
our eyes) is, with its echoes, called _thunder_.

If the communication of this fluid is by a conductor, it may be
without either light or sound, the subtle fluid passing in the
substance of the conductor.

If the conductor be good and of sufficient bigness, the fluid passes
through it without hurting it. If otherwise, it is damaged or

All metals, and water, are good conductors.--Other bodies may become
conductors by having some quantity of water in them, as wood, and
other materials used in building, but not having much water in them,
they are not good conductors, and therefore are often damaged in the

Glass, wax, silk, wool, hair, feathers, and even wood, perfectly dry
are non-conductors: that is, they resist instead of facilitating the
passage of this subtle fluid.

When this fluid has an opportunity of passing through two conductors,
one good, and sufficient, as of metal, the other not so good, it
passes in the best, and will follow it in any direction.

The distance at which a body charged with this fluid will discharge
itself suddenly, striking through the air into another body that is
not charged, or not so highly charged, is different according to
the quantity of the fluid, the dimensions and form of the bodies
themselves, and the state of the air between them.--This distance,
whatever it happens to be between any two bodies, is called their
_striking distance_, as, till they come within that distance of each
other, no stroke will be made.

The clouds have often more of this fluid in proportion than the
earth; in which case, as soon as they come near enough (that is,
within the striking distance) or meet with a conductor, the fluid
quits them and strikes into the earth. A cloud fully charged with
this fluid, if so high as to be beyond the striking distance from the
earth, passes quietly without making noise or giving light; unless it
meets with other clouds that have less.

Tall trees, and lofty buildings, as the towers and spires of
churches, become sometimes conductors between the clouds and the
earth; but not being good ones, that is, not conveying the fluid
freely, they are often damaged.

Buildings that have their roofs covered with lead, or other metal,
and spouts of metal continued from the roof into the ground to carry
off the water, are never hurt by lightning, as, whenever it falls on
such a building, it passes in the metals and not in the walls.

When other buildings happen to be within the striking distance from
such clouds, the fluid passes in the walls whether of wood, brick or
stone, quitting the walls only when it can find better conductors
near them, as metal rods, bolts, and hinges of windows or doors,
gilding on wainscot, or frames of pictures, the silvering on the
backs of looking-glasses, the wires for bells, and the bodies of
animals, as containing watery fluids. And in passing through the
house it follows the direction of these conductors, taking as many
in its way as can assist it in its passage, whether in a strait, or
crooked line leaping from one to the other, if not far distant from
each other, only rending the wall in the spaces where these partial
good conductors are too distant from each other.

An iron rod being placed on the outside of a building, from the
highest part continued down into the moist earth, in any direction
strait or crooked, following the form of the roof or other parts of
the building, will receive the lightning at its upper end, attracting
it so as to prevent its striking any other part; and, affording it a
good conveyance into the earth, will prevent its damaging any part of
the building.

A small quantity of metal is found able to conduct a great quantity
of this fluid. A wire no bigger than a goose-quill has been known
to conduct (with safety to the building as far as the wire was
continued) a quantity of lightning that did prodigious damage both
above and below it; and probably larger rods are not necessary,
though it is common in America, to make them of half an inch, some of
three quarters, or an inch diameter.

The rod may be fastened to the wall, chimney, &c. with staples of
iron.--The lightning will not leave the rod (a good conductor) to
pass into the wall (a bad conductor) through those staples.--It would
rather, if any were in the wall, pass out of it into the rod to get
more readily by that conductor into the earth.

If the building be very large and extensive, two or more rods may be
placed at different parts, for greater security.

Small ragged parts of clouds, suspended in the air between the
great body of clouds and the earth (like leaf gold in electrical
experiments) often serve as partial conductors for the lightning,
which proceeds from one of them to another, and by their help comes
within the striking distance to the earth or a building. It therefore
strikes through those conductors a building that would otherwise be
out of the striking distance.

Long sharp points communicating with the earth, and presented to
such parts of clouds, drawing silently from them the fluid they are
charged with, they are then attracted to the cloud, and may leave the
distance so great as to be beyond the reach of striking.

It is therefore that we elevate the upper end of the rod six or eight
feet above the highest part of the building, tapering it gradually to
a fine sharp point, which is gilt to prevent its rusting.

Thus the pointed rod either prevents a stroke from the cloud, or,
if a stroke is made, conducts it to the earth with safety to the

The lower end of the rod should enter the earth so deep as to come
at the moist part, perhaps two or three feet; and if bent when under
the surface so as to go in a horizontal line six or eight feet from
the wall, and then bent again downwards three or four feet, it will
prevent damage to any of the stones of the foundation.

A person apprehensive of danger from lightning, happening during the
time of thunder to be in a house not so secured, will do well to
avoid sitting near the chimney, near a looking glass, or any gilt
pictures or wainscot; the safest place is in the middle of the room
(so it be not under a metal lustre suspended by a chain) sitting in
one chair and laying the feet up in another. It is still safer to
bring two or three mattrasses or beds into the middle of the room,
and, folding them up double, place the chair upon them; for they not
being so good conductors as the walls, the lightning will not chuse
an interrupted course through the air of the room and the bedding,
when it can go through a continued better conductor, the wall. But
where it can be had, a hammock or swinging bed, suspended by silk
cords equally distant from the walls on every side, and from the
cieling and floor above and below, affords the safest situation a
person can have in any room whatever; and what indeed may be deemed
quite free from danger of any stroke by lightning.


  _Paris, Sept. 1767._

NEW ENGLAND, JAN. 6, 1768.

  _St. Bride's Steeple.--Utility of Electrical Conductors to
  Steeples.--Singular kind of Glass tube._

"**** I have read in the Philosophical Transactions the account of the
effects of lightning on St. Bride's steeple. It is amazing to me,
that after the full demonstration you had given, of the identity of
lightning and of electricity, and the power of metalline conductors,
they should ever think of repairing that steeple without such
conductors. How astonishing is the force of prejudice even in an age
of so much knowledge and free enquiry!"


**** It is perhaps not so extraordinary that unlearned men, such as
commonly compose our church vestries, should not yet be acquainted
with, and sensible of the benefits of metal conductors in averting
the stroke of lightning, and preserving our houses from its violent
effects, or that they should be still prejudiced against the use
of such conductors, when we see how long even philosophers, men
of extensive science and great ingenuity, can hold out against
the evidence of new knowledge, that does not square with their
preconceptions; and how long men can retain a practice that is
conformable to their prejudices, and expect a benefit from such
practice, though constant experience shows its inutility. A late
piece of the Abbé Nollet, printed last year in the memoirs of the
French Academy of Sciences, affords strong instances of this: for
though the very relations he gives of the effects of lightning in
several churches and other buildings show clearly, that it was
conducted from one part to another by wires, gildings, and other
pieces of metal that were _within_, or connected with the building,
yet in the same paper he objects to the providing metalline
conductors _without_ the building, as useless or dangerous.[82] He
cautions people not to ring the church bells during a thunder-storm,
lest the lightning, in its way to the earth, should be conducted down
to them by the bell ropes,[83] which are but bad conductors; and yet
is against fixing metal rods on the outside of the steeple, which
are known to be much better conductors, and which it would certainly
chuse to pass in, rather than in dry hemp. And though for a thousand
years past bells have been solemnly consecrated by the Romish
church[84], in expectation that the sound of such blessed bells would
drive away those storms, and secure our buildings from the stroke
of lightning; and during so long a period, it has not been found by
experience, that places within the reach of such blessed sound, are
safer than others where it is never heard; but that on the contrary,
the lightning seems to strike steeples of choice, and that at the
very time the bells are ringing[85]; yet still they continue to bless
the new bells, and jangle the old ones whenever it thunders.--One
would think it was now time to try some other trick;--and ours is
recommended (whatever this able philosopher may have been told to the
contrary) by more than twelve years experience, wherein, among the
great number of houses furnished with iron rods in North America, not
one so guarded has been materially hurt with lightning, and several
have been evidently preserved by their means; while a number of
houses, churches, barns, ships, &c. in different places, unprovided
with rods, have been struck and greatly damaged, demolished or burnt.
Probably the vestries of our English churches are not generally well
acquainted with these facts; otherwise, since as good protestants
they have no faith in the blessing of bells, they would be less
excusable in not providing this other security for their respective
churches, and for the good people that may happen to be assembled
in them during a tempest, especially as those buildings, from their
greater height, are more exposed to the stroke of lightning than our
common dwellings.

I have nothing new in the philosophical way to communicate to you,
except what follows. When I was last year in Germany, I met with a
singular kind of glass, being a tube about eight inches long, half an
inch in diameter, with a hollow ball of near an inch diameter at one
end, and one of an inch and half at the other, hermetically sealed,
and half filled with water.--If one end is held in the hand, and
the other a little elevated above the level, a constant succession
of large bubbles proceeds from the end in the hand to the other
end, making an appearance that puzzled me much, till I found that
the space not filled with water was also free from air, and either
filled with a subtle invisible vapour continually rising from the
water, and extremely rarefiable by the least heat at one end, and
condensable again by the least coolness at the other; or it is the
very fluid of fire itself, which parting from the hand pervades the
glass, and by its expansive force depresses the water till it can
pass between it and the glass, and escape to the other end, where it
gets through the glass again into the air. I am rather inclined to
the first opinion, but doubtful between the two. An ingenious artist
here, Mr. Nairne, mathematical instrument-maker, has made a number
of them from mine, and improved them, for his are much more sensible
than those I brought from Germany.--I bored a very small hole through
the wainscot in the seat of my window, through which a little cold
air constantly entered, while the air in the room was kept warmer
by fires daily made in it, being winter time. I placed one of his
glasses, with the elevated end against this hole; and the bubbles
from the other end, which was in a warmer situation, were continually
passing day and night, to the no small surprise of even philosophical
spectators. Each bubble discharged is larger than that from which
it proceeds, and yet that is not diminished; and by adding itself
to the bubble at the other end, that bubble is not increased, which
seems very paradoxical.--When the balls at each end are made large,
and the connecting tube very small and bent at right angles, so that
the balls, instead of being at the ends, are brought on the side of
the tube, and the tube is held so as that the balls are above it,
the water will be depressed in that which is held in the hand, and
rise in the other as a jet or fountain; when it is all in the other,
it begins to boil, as it were, by the vapour passing up through it;
and the instant it begins to boil, a sudden coldness is felt in the
ball held; a curious experiment, this, first observed and shown me by
Mr. Nairne. There is something in it similar to the old observation,
I think mentioned by Aristotle, that the bottom of a boiling pot is
not warm; and perhaps it may help to explain that fact;--if indeed it
be a fact.--When the water stands at an equal height in both these
balls, and all at rest; if you wet one of the balls by means of a
feather dipt in spirit, though that spirit is of the same temperament
as to heat and cold with the water in the glasses, yet the cold
occasioned by the evaporation of the spirit from the wetted ball will
so condense the vapour over the water contained in that ball, as that
the water of the other ball will be pressed up into it, followed by a
succession of bubbles, till the spirit is all dried away. Perhaps the
observations on these little instruments may suggest and be applied
to some beneficial uses. It has been thought, that water reduced to
vapour by heat was rarefied only fourteen thousand times, and on
this principle our engines for raising water by fire are said to be
constructed: but if the vapour so much rarefied from water is capable
of being itself still farther rarefied to a boundless degree by the
application of heat to the vessels or parts of vessels containing
the vapour (as at first it is applied to those containing the water)
perhaps a much greater power may be obtained, with little additional
expence. Possibly too, the power of easily moving water from one
end to the other of a moveable beam (suspended in the middle like a
scale-beam) by a small degree of heat, may be applied advantageously
to some other mechanical purposes.****

  I am, &c.



[81] John Winthrop. _Editor._

[82] Notre curiosité pourroit peut-être s'applandir des recherches
qu'elle nous a fait faire sur la nature du tonnerre, & sur la
mécanisme de ses principaux effets, mais ce n'est point ce qu'il y a
de plus important; il vaudroit bien mieux que nous puissions tronver
quelque moyen de nous en garantir: on y a pensé; on s'est même
flatté d'avoir fait cette grande découverte; mais malheureusement
douze années d'épreuves & un peu de réflexion, nous apprennent
qu'il ne faut pas compter sur les promesses qu'on nous a faites. Je
l'ai dit, il y a long temps, and avec regret, toutes ces pointes de
fer qu'on dresse en l'air, soit comme _électroscopes_, soit comme
préservatifs,----sont plus propre à nous attirer le feu du tonnerre
qu'à nous en préserver;----& je persiste â dire que le projet
d'épuiser une nuée orageuse du feu dont elle est chargée, n'est pas
celui d'un physicien,----. _Memoire sur les Effets du Tonnerre._

[83] Les cloches, en vertu de leur bénédiction, doivent écarter les
orages & nous preserver des coups de foudre; mais l'église permet
à la prudence humaine le choix des momens où il convient d'user de
ce préservatif. Je ne sais si le son, considéré physiquement, est
capable ou non de faire crever une nuée, & de causer l'épanchement
de son feu vers les objets terrestres, mais il est certain & prouvé
par l'expérience, que la tonnerre peut tomber sur un clocher, soit
que l'on y sonne ou que l'on n'y sonne point; & si cela arrive dans
le premier cas, les sonneurs sont en grand danger, parcequ'ils
tiennent des cordes par lesquelles la commotion de la foudre peut se
communiquer jusq'à eux: il est donc plus sage de laisser les cloches
en repos quand l'orage est arrivé au-dessus de l'église. Ibid.

[84] Suivant le rituel de Paris, lorsqu'on benit des cloches, on
recite les oraisons suivantes:

_Benedic, Domine ... quotiescumque sonuerit, procul recedat virtus
insidiantium, umbra phantasmatis, incursio turbinum, percussio
fulminum, læsio tonitruum, calamitas tempestatum, omnisque spiritus
procellarum, &c._

_Deus, qui per beatum Moïsen, &c. ... procul pellentur insidiæ
inimici, fragor grandinum, procella turbinum, impetus tempestatum,
temperentur infesta tonitrua. &c._

_Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, &c. ... ut ante sonitum ejus effugentur
ignita jacula inimici, percussio fulminum, impetus lapidum, læsio
tempestatum, &c._

[85] En 1718. M. Deslandes fit savoir à l'Academie Royale des
sciences, que la nuit du 14 ou 15 d'Avril de la mème année, le
tonnerre étoit tombé sur vingtquatre églises, dequis Landernau
jusqu'à Saint-Pol-de-Léon en Bretagne; que ces églises étoient
précisément celles où l'on sonnoit, & que la foudre avoit épargné
celles ou l'on ne sonnoit pas: que dans celle de Gouisnon, qui fut
entièrement ruinée, le tonnerre tua deux personnes de quatre qui
sonnoient, &c. _Hist. du l'Ac. R. des Sci. 1719._

  _Experiments, Observations, and Facts, tending to support the
  Opinion of the Utility of long pointed Rods, for securing Buildings
  from Damage by Strokes of Lightning._

Read at the Committee appointed to consider the erecting Conductors
to secure the Magazines at Purfleet, Aug. 27, 1772.


The prime conductor of an electric machine, A. B. (_See Plate_
IV.) being supported about 10 inches and a half above the table by
a wax-stand, and under it erected a _pointed wire_ 7 inches and a
half high, and one-fifth of an inch thick, and tapering to a sharp
point, and communicating with the table; when the _point_ (being
uppermost) is _covered_ by the end of a finger, the conductor may be
full charged, and the electrometer c[86], will rise to the height
indicating a full charge: but the moment the point is _uncovered_,
the ball of the electrometer drops, showing the prime conductor
to be instantly discharged and nearly emptied of its electricity.
Turn the wire its _blunt_ end upwards (which represents an unpointed
bar) and no such effect follows, the electrometer remaining at its
usual height when the prime conductor is charged.

[Illustration: (of these experiments)

  _Plate IV._        _Vol. I. page 388._

_Published as the Act directs, April 1, 1806, by Longman, Hurst, Rees
& Orme, Paternoster Row._]


_What_ quantity of lightning, a high pointed rod well communicating
with the earth may be expected to discharge from the clouds silently
in a short time, is yet unknown; but I have reason from a particular
fact to think it may at some times be very great. In Philadelphia I
had such a rod fixed to the top of my chimney, and extending about
nine feet above it. From the foot of this rod, a wire (the thickness
of a goose-quill) came through a covered glass tube in the roof, and
down through the well of the stair-case; the lower end connected
with the iron spear of a pump. On the stair-case opposite to my
chamber-door, the wire was divided; the ends separated about six
inches, a little bell on each end; [and] between the bells a little
brass ball suspended by a silk thread, to play between and strike
the bells when clouds passed with electricity in them. After having
frequently drawn sparks and charged bottles from the bell of the
upper wire, I was one night waked by loud cracks on the stair-case.
Starting up and opening the door, I perceived that the brass ball,
instead of vibrating as usual between the bells, was repelled and
kept at a distance from both; while the fire passed sometimes in very
large quick cracks from bell to bell; and sometimes in a continued
dense white stream, seemingly as large as my finger, whereby the
whole stair-case was enlightened as with sunshine, so that one
might see to pick up a pin[87]. And from the apparent quantity
thus discharged, I cannot but conceive that a _number_[88] of such
conductors must considerably lessen that of any approaching cloud,
before it comes so near as to deliver its contents in a general
stroke:--An effect not to be expected from bars _unpointed_; if the
above experiment with the blunt end of the wire is deemed pertinent
to the case.


The pointed wire under the prime conductor continuing of the same
height, _pinch_ it between the thumb and finger near the top, so as
_just to conceal_ the point; then turning the globe, the electrometer
will rise and mark the full charge. Slip the fingers down so as to
discover about half an inch of the wire, then another half inch, and
then another; at every one of these motions _discovering more and
more_ of the pointed wire; you will see the electrometer fall quick
and proportionably, stopping when you stop. If you slip down the
_whole distance_ at once, the ball falls instantly down to the stem.


From this experiment it seems that a greater effect in drawing off
the lightning from the clouds may be expected from _long_ pointed
rods, than from _short_ ones; I mean from such as show the greatest
length, _above the building_ they are fixed on.


Instead of pinching the point between the thumb and finger, as in
the last experiment, keep the thumb and finger each at _near an inch
distance_ from it, but at the _same height_, the point between them.
In this situation, though the point is fairly exposed to the prime
conductor, it has little or no effect; the electrometer rises to
the height of a full charge.--But the moment the fingers are _taken
away_, the ball falls quick to the stem.


To explain this, it is supposed, that one reason of the sudden effect
produced by a long naked pointed wire is, that (by the repulsive
power of the positive charge in the prime conductor) the natural
quantity of electricity contained in the pointed wire is driven down
into the earth, and the point of the wire made strongly _negative_;
whence it attracts the electricity of the prime conductor more
strongly than bodies in their natural state would do; the _small
quantity of common matter_ in the point, not being able by its
attractive force to retain its _natural quantity of the electric
fluid_, against the force of that repulsion.--But the finger and
thumb being substantial and blunt bodies, though as near the prime
conductor, hold up better their _own_ natural quantity against the
force of that repulsion; and so, continuing nearly in the natural
state, they jointly operate on the electric fluid in the point,
opposing its descent, and _aiding the point_ to retain it; contrary
to the repelling power of the prime conductor, which would drive it
down.--And this may also serve to explain the different powers of the
point in the preceding experiment, on the slipping down the finger
and thumb to different distances.

Hence is collected, that a pointed rod erected _between two tall
chimnies_, and very little higher (an instance of which I have seen)
cannot have so good an effect, as if it had been erected on one of
the chimneys, its whole length above it.


If, _instead_ of a long pointed wire, a _large solid body_ (to
represent a building without a point) be brought under and as near
the prime conductor, when charged; the ball of the electrometer will
_fall_ a little; and on taking away the large body, will _rise again_.


Its _rising again_ shows that the prime conductor lost little or
none of its electric charge, as it had done through the point: the
_falling_ of the ball while the large body was under the conductor
therefore shows, that a quantity of its atmosphere was drawn from the
end where the electrometer is placed to the part immediately over the
large body, and there accumulated _ready_ to strike into it with its
whole undiminished force, as soon as within the striking distance;
and, were the prime conductor moveable like a _cloud_, it would
approach the body by attraction till within that distance. The swift
motion of clouds, as driven by the winds, probably prevents this
happening so often as otherwise it might do: for, though parts of
the cloud may stoop towards a building as they pass, in consequence
of such attraction, yet they are carried forward beyond the striking
distance before they could by their descending come within it.


Attach a small light _lock of cotton_ to the underside of the
prime conductor, so that it may hang down towards the pointed wire
mentioned in the first experiment. _Cover_ the point with your
finger, and the globe being turned, the cotton will extend itself,
stretching down towards the finger, as at _a_; but on _uncovering_
the point, it instantly flies up to the prime conductor, as at _b_,
and continues there as long as the point is uncovered. The moment
you cover it again, the cotton flies down again, extending itself
towards the finger; and the same happens in degree, if (instead of
the finger) you use, uncovered, the _blunt_ end of the wire uppermost.


To explain this, it is supposed that the cotton, by its connection
with the prime conductor, receives from it a quantity of its
electricity; which occasions its being attracted by the _finger_
that remains still in nearly its natural state. But when a _point_
is opposed to the cotton, its electricity is thereby taken from it,
faster than it can at a distance be supplied with a fresh quantity
from the conductor. Therefore being reduced _nearer_ to the natural
state, it is attracted _up_ to the electrified prime conductor;
_rather than down_, as before, to the finger.

Supposing farther that the prime conductor represents a cloud
charged with the electric fluid; the cotton, a ragged fragment of
cloud (of which the underside of great thunder-clouds are seen to
have many) the finger, a chimney or highest part of a building.--We
then may conceive that when such a cloud passes over a _building_,
some one of its ragged under-hanging fragments may be drawn down
by the chimney or other high part of the edifice; creating thereby
a _more easy communication_ between it and the great cloud.--But a
_long pointed rod_ being presented to this fragment, may occasion
its receding, like the cotton, up to the great cloud; and thereby
_increase_, instead _of lessening_ the distance, so as often to make
it greater than the striking distance. Turning the _blunt end of a
wire_ uppermost (which represents the unpointed bar) it appears that
the same good effect is not from that to be expected. A long pointed
rod it is therefore imagined, may _prevent_ some strokes; as well as
_conduct_ others that fall upon it, when a great body of cloud comes
on so heavily that the above repelling operation on fragments cannot
take place.


Opposite the side of the prime conductor place _separately_, isolated
by wax stems, Mr. Canton's two boxes with pith balls suspended by
fine linen threads. On each box, lay a wire six inches long and
one-fifth of an inch thick, tapering to a sharp point; but so laid,
as that four inches of the _pointed_ end of _one_ wire, and an equal
length of the _blunt_ end of the _other_, may project beyond the ends
of the boxes; and both at eighteen inches distance from the prime
conductor. Then charging the prime conductor by a turn or two of the
globe, the balls of each pair will separate; those of the box, whence
the point projects most, _considerably_; the others _less_. Touch the
prime conductor, and those of the box with the _blunt_ point will
_collapse_, and join. Those connected with the _point_ will at the
same time approach each other, _till_ within about an inch, and there


This seems a proof, that though the small sharpened part of the wire
must have had a _less natural_ quantity in it before the operation,
than the thick blunt part; yet a greater quantity was _driven down
from it_ to the balls. Thence it is again inferred, that the pointed
rod is rendered _more negative_: and farther, that if a _stroke must
fall_ from the cloud over a building, furnished with such a rod,
it is more likely to be drawn to that pointed rod, than to a blunt
one; as being more strongly negative, and of course its attraction
stronger. And it seems more eligible, that the lightning should fall
on the point of the conductor (provided to convey it into the earth)
than on any other part of the building, _thence_ to proceed to such
conductor. Which end is also more likely to be obtained by the length
and loftiness of the rod; as protecting more extensively the building
under it.

It has been _objected_, that erecting pointed rods upon _edifices_,
is to _invite_ and draw the lightning into _them_; and therefore
dangerous. Were such rods to be erected on buildings, _without
continuing the communication_ quite down into the moist earth, this
objection might then have weight; but when such compleat conductors
are made, the lightning is invited not into the building, but into
the _earth_, the situation it aims at, and which it always seizes
every help to obtain, even from broken partial metalline conductors.

It has also been suggested, that from such electric experiments
_nothing certain can be concluded as to the great operations of
nature_; since it is often seen, that experiments, which have
succeeded in small, in large have failed. It is true that in
mechanics this has sometimes happened. But when it is considered
that we owe our first knowledge of the nature and operations of
lightning, to observations on such small experiments; and that on
carefully comparing the most accurate accounts of former facts, and
the exactest relations of those that have occurred since, the effects
have surprizingly agreed with the theory; it is humbly conceived that
in natural philosophy, in this branch of it at least, the suggestion
has not so much weight; and that the farther new experiments now
adduced in recommendation of _long_ sharp-pointed rods, may have some
claim to credit and consideration.

It has been urged too, that though points may have considerable
effects on a _small_ prime conductor at _small distances_; yet on
_great_ clouds and at _great distances_, nothing is to be expected
from them. To this it is answered, that in those _small_ experiments
it is evident the points act at a greater than the _striking_
distance; and in the large way, their service is _only expected_
where there is _such_ nearness of the cloud, as to _endanger a
stroke_; and there, it cannot be doubted the points must have some
effect. And if the quantity discharged by a single pointed rod may
be so considerable as I have shown it; the quantity discharged by a
number will be proportionably greater.

But this part of the theory does not depend alone on _small_
experiments. Since the practice of erecting pointed rods in America
(now near twenty years) five of them have been struck by lightning,
viz. Mr. Raven's and Mr. Maine's in South Carolina; Mr. Tucker's in
Virginia; Mr. West's and Mr. Moulder's in Philadelphia. Possibly
there may have been more that have not come to my knowledge. But in
every one of these, the lightning did _not_ fall upon the _body of
the house_, but precisely on the several _points_ of the rods; and,
though the conductors were sometimes _not sufficiently large and
complete_, was conveyed into the earth, without any material damage
to the buildings. Facts then _in great_, as far as we have them
authenticated, justify the opinion that is drawn from the experiments
_in small_ as above related.

It has also been objected, that unless we knew the quantity that
might _possibly_ be discharged at one stroke from the clouds,
we cannot be sure we have provided _sufficient_ conductors; and
therefore cannot depend on their conveying away _all_ that may fall
on their points. Indeed we have nothing to form a judgment by in
this but past facts; and we know of no instance where a _compleat_
conductor to the moist earth _has_ been insufficient, if half an
inch diameter. It is probable that many strokes of lightning have
been conveyed through the common leaden pipes affixed to houses to
carry down the water from the roof to the ground: and there is no
account of such pipes being melted and destroyed, as must sometimes
have happened if they had been insufficient. We can then only judge
of the dimensions proper for a conductor of lightning, as we do of
those proper for a _conductor of rain_, by past observation. And as
we think a pipe of three inches bore sufficient to carry off the
rain that falls on a square of 20 feet, because we never saw such a
pipe glutted by any shower; so we may judge a conductor of an inch
diameter, more than sufficient for any stroke of lightning that will
fall on its point. It is true that if another deluge should happen
wherein the windows of heaven are to be opened, such pipes may be
unequal to the falling quantity; and if God for our sins should
think fit to rain fire upon us, as upon some cities of old, it is
not expected that our conductors of whatever size, should secure our
houses against a miracle. Probably as water drawn up into the air
and there forming clouds, is disposed to fall again in _rain_ by
its natural gravity, as soon as a number of particles sufficient to
make a drop can get together; so when the clouds are (by whatever
means) over or under-charged [with the _electric fluid_] to a degree
sufficient to attract them towards the earth, the equilibrium is
restored, before the difference becomes great beyond that degree.
Mr. Lane's _electrometer_, for limiting precisely the quantity of
a shock that is to be administered in a medical view, may serve to
make this more easily intelligible. The discharging knob does by a
screw approach the conductor to the distance intended, but there
remains fixed. Whatever power there may be in the glass globe to
collect the fulminating fluid, and whatever capacity of receiving and
accumulating it there may be in the bottle or glass jar; yet neither
the accumulation or the discharge ever exceeds the destined quantity.
Thus, were the _clouds_ always at a certain fixed distance from the
earth, all discharges would be made when the quantity accumulated
was equal to the distance: But there is a circumstance which by
occasionally lessening the distance, lessens the discharge; to wit,
the moveableness of the clouds, and their being drawn nearer to the
earth by attraction when electrified; so that discharges are thereby
rendered more frequent and of course less violent. Hence whatever the
quantity may be in nature, and whatever the power in the clouds of
collecting it; yet an accumulation and force beyond what mankind has
hitherto been acquainted with is scarce to be expected[89].

  B. F.

  _Aug. 27, 1772._


[86] Mr. Henley's.

[87] Mr. de Romas saw still greater quantities of lightning brought
down by the wire of his kite. He had "explosions from it, the noise
of which greatly resembled that of thunder, and were heard (from
without) into the heart of the city, notwithstanding the various
noises there. The fire seen at the instant of the explosion had the
shape of a spindle eight inches long and five lines in diameter.
Yet from the time of the explosion to the end of the experiment, no
lightning was seen above, nor any thunder heard. At another time the
streams of fire issuing from it were observed to be an inch thick and
ten feet long."--_See Dr. Priestley's History of Electricity_, pages
134-6, _first edition_.

[88] Twelve were proposed on and near the magazines at Purfleet.

[89] It may be fit to mention here, that the immediate occasion of
the dispute concerning the preference between pointed and blunt
conductors of lightning, arose as follows:--A powder-mill having
blown up at Brescia, in consequence of its being struck with
lightning, the English board of ordnance applied to their painter,
Mr. Wilson, then of some note as an electrician, for a method to
prevent the like accident to their magazines at Purfleet. Mr. Wilson
having advised a blunt conductor, and it being understood that Dr.
Franklin's opinion, formed upon the spot, was for a pointed one; the
matter was referred in 1772, to the Royal Society, and by them as
usual, to a committee, who, after consultation, prescribed a method
conformable to Dr. Franklin's theory. But a harmless stroke of
lightning, having under particular circumstances, fallen upon one of
the buildings and its apparatus in May 1777; the subject came again
into violent agitation, and was again referred to the society, and
by the society again referred to a new committee, which committee
confirmed the decision of the first committee.    B. V.[90]

[90] Wherever this signature occurs, the note is taken from a volume
of Dr. Franklin's writings, entitled Political, Miscellaneous, and
Philosophical Pieces, printed for Johnson, 1779. The editor of
that volume, though a young man at the time, had already evinced
extraordinary talents, and was the friend and correspondent of our
author. As he has chosen to withhold his name, we conceive ourselves
not entitled to disclose it: but we shall take the freedom of an
acquaintance to use the notes occasionally, deeming them in many
instances valuable historical records. _Editor._


  _On the Utility of Electrical Conductors._

  _Philadelphia, Oct. 14, 1787._


I have received the excellent work, _Upon the Utility of electrical
Conductors_, which you had the goodness to send me. I read it with
great pleasure, and beg you to accept my sincere thanks for it.

Upon my return to this country, I found the number of conductors much
increased, many proofs of their efficacy in preserving buildings from
lightning having demonstrated their utility. Among other instances,
my own house was one day attacked by lightning, which occasioned the
neighbours to run in to give assistance, in case of its being on
fire. But no damage was done, and my family was only found a good
deal frightened with the violence of the explosion.

Last year, my house being enlarged, the conductor was obliged to be
taken down. I found, upon examination, that the pointed termination
of copper, which was originally nine inches long, and about one third
of an inch in diameter in its thickest part, had been almost entirely
melted; and that its connection with the rod of iron below was very
slight. Thus, in the course of time, this invention has proved of use
to the author of it, and has added this personal advantage to the
pleasure he before received, from having been useful to others.

Mr. Rittenhouse, our astronomer, has informed me, that having
observed with his excellent telescope, many conductors that are
within the field of his view, he has remarked in various instances,
that the points were melted in like manner. There is no example of
a house, provided with a perfect conductor, which has suffered any
considerable damage; and even those which are without them have
suffered little, since conductors have come common in this city.



  _On the Effects of Electricity in paralytic Cases._

  _Craven-street, Dec. 21, 1757._


In compliance with your request, I send you the following account
of what I can at present recollect relating to the effects of
electricity in paralytic cases, which have fallen under my

Some years since, when the news-papers made mention of great cures
performed in Italy and Germany, by means of electricity, a number of
paralytics were brought to me from different parts of Pensylvania,
and the neighbouring provinces, to be electrised, which I did for
them at their request. My method was, to place the patient first in a
chair, on an electric stool, and draw a number of large strong sparks
from all parts of the affected limb or side. Then I fully charged
two six-gallon glass jars, each of which had about three square feet
of surface coated; and I sent the united shock of these through
the affected limb or limbs, repeating the stroke commonly three
times each day. The first thing observed, was an immediate greater
sensible warmth in the lame limbs that had received the stroke than
in the others; and the next morning the patients usually related,
that they had in the night felt a pricking sensation in the flesh of
the paralytic limbs; and would sometimes show a number of small red
spots, which they supposed were occasioned by those prickings. The
limbs, too, were found more capable of voluntary motion, and seemed
to receive strength. A man, for instance, who could not the first day
lift the lame hand from off his knee, would the next day raise it
four or five inches, the third day higher; and on the fifth day was
able, but with a feeble languid motion, to take off his hat. These
appearances gave great spirits to the patients, and made them hope
a perfect cure; but I do not remember that I ever saw any amendment
after the fifth day; which the patients perceiving, and finding
the shocks pretty severe, they became discouraged, went home, and
in a short time relapsed; so that I never knew any advantage from
electricity in palsies that was permanent. And how far the apparent
temporary advantage might arise from the exercise in the patients
journey, and coming daily to my house, or from the spirits given by
the hope of success, enabling them to exert more strength in moving
their limbs, I will not pretend to say.

Perhaps some permanent advantage might have been obtained, if the
electric shocks had been accompanied with proper medicine and
regimen, under the direction a skilful physician. It may be, too,
that a few great strokes, as given in my method, may not be so proper
as many small ones; since by the account from Scotland of a case, in
which two hundred shocks from a phial were given daily, it seems,
that a perfect cure has been made. As to any uncommon strength
supposed to be in the machine used in that case, I imagine it could
have no share in the effect produced; since the strength of the shock
from charged glass, is in proportion to the quantity of surface of
the glass coated; so that my shocks from those large jars, must have
been much greater than any that could be received from a phial held
in the hand.

  I am, with great respect, Sir,

  Your most obedient Servant,


  _Electrical Experiments on Amber._

  _Saturday, July 3, 1762._

To try, at the request of a friend, whether amber finely powdered
might be melted and run together again by means of the electric
fluid, I took a piece of small glass tube, about two inches and a
half long, the bore about one-twelfth of an inch diameter, the glass
itself about the same thickness; I introduced into this tube some
powder of amber, and with two pieces of wire nearly fitting the
bore, one inserted at one end, the other at the other, I rammed the
powder hard between them in the middle of the tube, where it stuck
fast, and was in length about half an inch. Then leaving the wires in
the tube, I made them part of the electric circuit, and discharged
through them three rows of my case of bottles. The event was, that
the glass was broke into very small pieces and those dispersed with
violence in all directions. As I did not expect this, I had not, as
in other experiments, laid thick paper over the glass to save my
eyes, so several of the pieces struck my face smartly, and one of
them cut my lip a little so as to make it bleed. I could find no
part of the amber; but the table where the tube lay was stained very
black in spots, such as might be made by a thick smoke forced on it
by a blast, and the air was filled with a strong smell, somewhat
like that from burnt gunpowder. Whence I imagined, that the amber
was burnt, and had exploded as gunpowder would have done in the same

That I might better see the effect on the amber, I made the next
experiment in a tube formed of a card rolled up and bound strongly
with packthread. Its bore was about one-eighth of an inch diameter.
I rammed powder of amber into this as I had done in the other, and
as the quantity of amber was greater, I increased the quantity of
electric fluid, by discharging through it at once five rows of my
bottles. On opening the tube, I found that some of the powder had
exploded, an impression was made on the tube, though it was not hurt,
and most of the powder remaining was turned black, which I suppose
might be by the smoke forced through it from the burned part: some of
it was hard; but as it powdered again when pressed by the fingers, I
suppose that hardness not to arise from melting any parts in it, but
merely from my ramming the powder when I charged the tube.



  _On the Electricity of the Fogs in Ireland._

  _London, April 20, 1766._


I have received your very obliging and very ingenious letter by
Captain Kearney. Your observations upon the electricity of fogs and
the air in Ireland, and upon different circumstances of storms,
appear to me very curious, and I thank you for them. There is not,
in my opinion, any part of the earth whatever which is, or can be,
naturally in a state of negative electricity: and though different
circumstances may occasion an inequality in the distribution of
the fluid, the equilibrium is immediately restored by means of its
extreme subtilty, and of the excellent conductors with which the
humid earth is amply provided. I am of opinion, however, that when
a cloud, well charged positively, passes near the earth, it repels
and forces down into the earth that natural portion of electricity,
which exists near its surface, and in buildings, trees, &c. so as
actually to reduce them to a negative state before it strikes them.
I am of opinion too, that the negative state in which you have
frequently found the balls, which are suspended from your apparatus,
is not always occasioned by clouds in a negative state; but more
commonly by clouds positively electrified, which have passed over
them, and which in their passage have repelled and driven off a part
of the electrical matter, which naturally existed in the apparatus;
so that what remained after the passing of the clouds, diffusing
itself uniformly through the apparatus, the whole became reduced to a
negative state.

If you have read my experiments made in continuation of those of Mr.
Canton, you will readily understand this; but you may easily make
a few experiments, which will clearly demonstrate it. Let a common
glass be warmed before the fire that it may continue very dry for
some time; set it upon a table, and place upon it the small box made
use of by Mr. Canton, so that the balls may hang a little beyond
the edge of the table. Rub another glass, which has previously been
warmed in a similar manner, with a piece of black silk or a silk
handkerchief, in order to electrify it. Hold then the glass above
the little box, at about the distance of three or four inches from
that part, which is most distant from the balls; and you will see
the balls separate from each other; being positively electrified
by the natural portion of electricity, which was in the box, and
which is driven to the further part of it by the repulsive power of
the atmosphere in the excited glass. Touch the box near the little
balls (the excited glass continuing in the same state) and the balls
will again unite; the quantity of electricity which had been driven
to this part being drawn off by your finger. Withdraw then both
your finger and the glass at the same instant, and the quantity of
electricity which remained in the box, uniformly diffusing itself,
the balls will again be separated; being now in a negative state.
While things are in this situation, begin once more to excite your
glass, and hold it above the box, but not too near, and you will
find, that when brought within a certain distance, the balls will
at first approach each other, being then in a natural state. In
proportion as the glass is brought nearer, they, will again separate,
being positive. When the glass is moved beyond them, and at some
little farther distance, they will unite again, being in a natural
state. When it is entirely removed, they will separate again,
being then made negative. The excited glass in this experiment may
represent a cloud positively charged, which you see is capable of
producing in this manner all the different changes in the apparatus,
without the least necessity for supposing any negative cloud.

I am nevertheless fully convinced, that these are negative clouds;
because they sometimes absorb, through the medium of the apparatus,
the positive electricity of a large jar, the hundredth part of
which the apparatus itself would have not been able to receive or
contain at once. In fact, it is not difficult to conceive, that a
large cloud, highly charged positively, may reduce smaller clouds to
a negative state, when it passes above or near them, by forcing a
part of their natural portion of the fluid either to their inferior
surfaces, whence it may strike into the earth, or to the opposite
side, whence it may strike into the adjacent clouds; so that when
the large cloud has passed off to a distance, the small clouds
shall remain in a negative state, exactly like the apparatus; the
former (like the latter) being frequently insulated bodies, having
communication neither with the earth nor with other clouds. Upon the
same principle it may easily be conceived, in what manner a large
negative cloud may render others positive.

The experiment which you mention, of filing your glass, is analogous
to one which I made in 1751, or 1752. I had supposed in my preceding
letters, that the pores of glass were smaller in the interior parts
than near the surface, and that on this account they prevented the
passage of the electrical fluid. To prove whether this was actually
the case or not, I ground one of my phials in a part where it was
extremely thin, grinding it considerably beyond the middle, and very
near to the opposite superficies, as I found, upon breaking it after
the experiment. It was charged nevertheless after being ground,
equally well as before, which convinced me, that my hypothesis on
this subject was erroneous. It is difficult to conceive where the
immense superfluous quantity of electricity on the charged side of a
glass is deposited.

I send you my paper concerning meteors, which was lately published
here in the Philosophical Transactions, immediately after a paper by
Mr. Hamilton on the same subject.

  I am, Sir, &c.



[91] This letter is translated from the French edition of Dr.
Franklin's works, as are also all that follow, to the Appendix, the
one to Miss Stephenson excepted. _Editor._

  _Mode of ascertaining, whether the Power, giving a Shock to those
  who touch either the Surinam Eel, or the Torpedo, be electrical._

1. Touch the fish with a stick of dry sealing-wax, or a glass rod,
and observe if the shock be communicated by means of those bodies.

Touch the same fish with an iron, or other metalline rod.

If the shock be communicated by the latter body, and not by the
others, it is probably not the mechanical effect, as has been
supposed, of some muscular action in the fish, but of a subtile
fluid, in this respect analogous at least to the electric fluid.

2. Observe farther, whether the shock can be conveyed without the
metal being actually in contact with the fish, and if it can,
whether, in the space between, any light appear, and a slight noise
or crackling be heard.

If so, these also are properties common to the electric fluid.

3. Lastly, touch the fish with the wire of a small Leyden bottle, and
if the shock can be received across, observe whether the wire will
attract and repel light bodies, and you feel a shock, while holding
the bottle in one hand, and touching the wire with the other.

If so, the fluid, capable of producing such effects seems to have all
the known properties of the electric fluid.

ADDITION, _12th August, 1772,_

  _In Consequence of the Experiments and Discoveries made in France
  by Mr. Walsh, and communicated by him to Dr. Franklin._

Let several persons, standing on the floor, hold hands, and let one
of them touch the fish, so as to receive a shock. If the shock be
felt by all, place the fish flat on a plate of metal, and let one of
the persons holding hands touch this plate, while the person farthest
from the plate touches the upper part of the fish with a metal rod:
then observe, if the force of the shock be the same as to all the
persons forming the circle, or is stronger than before.

Repeat this experiment with this difference: let two or three of the
persons forming the circle, instead of holding by the hand, hold each
an uncharged electrical bottle, so that the little balls at the end
of the wires may touch, and observe, after the shock, if these wires
will attract and repel light bodies, and if a ball of cork, suspended
by a long silk string between the wires, a little distance from the
bottles, will be alternately attracted and repelled by them.


  _On the Analogy between Magnetism and Electricity._

  _London, March 10, 1773._


As to the magnetism, which seems produced by electricity, my real
opinion is, that these two powers of nature have no affinity with
each other, and that the apparent production of magnetism is purely
accidental. The matter may be explained thus:

1st, The earth is a great magnet.

2dly, There is a subtile fluid, called the magnetic fluid, which
exists in all ferruginous bodies, equally attracted by all their
parts, and equally diffused through their whole substance; at least
where the equilibrium is not disturbed by a power superior to the
attraction of the iron.

3dly, This natural quantity of the magnetic fluid, which is contained
in a given piece of iron, may be put in motion so as to be more
rarefied in one part and more condensed in another; but it cannot
be withdrawn by any force that we are yet made acquainted with, so
as to leave the whole in a negative state, at least relatively to
its natural quantity; neither can it be introduced so as to put the
iron into a positive state, or render it _plus_. In this respect,
therefore magnetism differs from electricity.

4thly, A piece of soft iron allows the magnetic fluid which it
contains to be put in motion by a moderate force, so that being
placed in a line with the magnetic pole of the earth, it immediately
acquires the properties of a magnet; its magnetic fluid being drawn
or forced from one extremity to the other; and this effect continues
as long as it remains in the same position, one of its extremities
becoming positively magnetised, and the other negatively. This
temporary magnetism ceases as soon as the iron is turned east and
west, the fluid immediately diffusing itself equally through the
whole iron, as in its natural state.

5thly, The magnetic fluid in hard iron, or steel, is put in motion
with more difficulty, requiring a force greater than the earth to
excite it; and when once it has been forced from one extremity of the
steel to the other, it is not easy for it to return; and thus a bar
of steel is converted into a permanent magnet.

6thly, A great heat, by expanding the substance of this steel, and
increasing the distance between its particles, affords a passage
to the electric fluid, which is thus again restored to its proper
equilibrium; the bar appearing no longer to possess magnetic virtue.

7thly, A bar of steel which is not magnetic, being placed in the same
position, relatively to the pole of the earth, which the magnetic
needle assumes, and in this position being heated and suddenly
cooled, becomes a permanent magnet. The reason is, that while the bar
was hot, the magnetic fluid which it naturally contained was easily
forced from one extremity to the other by the magnetic virtue of the
earth; and that the hardness and condensation, produced by the sudden
cooling of the bar, retained it in this state without permitting it
to resume its original situation.

8thly, The violent vibrations of the particles of a steel bar, when
forcibly struck in the same position, separate the particles in such
a manner during their vibration, that they permit a portion of the
magnetic fluid to pass, influenced by the natural magnetism of the
earth; and it is afterwards so forcibly retained by the re-approach
of the particles when the vibration ceases, that the bar becomes a
permanent magnet.

9thly, An electric shock passing through a needle in a like position,
and dilating it for an instant, renders it, for the same reason, a
permanent magnet; that is, not by imparting magnetism to it, but by
allowing its proper magnetic fluid to put itself in motion.

10thly, Thus, there is not in reality more magnetism in a given
piece of steel after it is become magnetic, than existed in it
before. The natural quantity is only displaced or repelled. Hence it
follows, that a strong apparatus of magnets may charge millions of
bars of steel, without communicating to them any part of its proper
magnetism; only putting in motion the magnetism which already existed
in these bars.

I am chiefly indebted to that excellent philosopher of Petersburgh,
Mr. Æpinus, for this hypothesis, which appears to me equally
ingenious and solid. I say, _chiefly_, because, as it is many years
since I read his book, which I have left in America, it may happen,
that I may have added to or altered it in some respect; and if I have
misrepresented any thing, the error ought to be charged to my account.

If this hypothesis appears admissible, it will serve as an answer to
the greater part of your questions. I have only one remark to add,
which is, that however great the force is of magnetism employed, you
can only convert a given portion of steel into a magnet of a force
proportioned to its capacity of retaining its magnetic fluid in the
new position in which it is placed, without letting it return. Now
this power is different in different kinds of steel, but limited in
all kinds whatever.



  _Concerning the Mode of rendering Meat tender by Electricity._


My answer to your questions concerning the mode of rendering meat
tender by electricity, can only be founded upon conjecture; for I
have not experiments enough to warrant the facts. All that I can
say at present is, that I think electricity might be employed for
this purpose, and I shall state what follows as the observations or
reasons, which make me presume so.

It has been observed, that lightning, by rarefying and reducing
into vapour the moisture contained in solid wood, in an oak, for
instance, has forcibly separated its fibres, and broken it into small
splinters; that by penetrating intimately the hardest metals, as
iron, it has separated the parts in an instant, so as to convert a
perfect solid into a state of fluidity: it is not then improbable,
that the same subtile matter, passing through the bodies of animals
with rapidity, should possess sufficient force to produce an effect
nearly similar.

The flesh of animals, fresh killed in the usual manner, is firm,
hard, and not in a very eatable state, because the particles adhere
too forcibly to each other. At a certain period, the cohesion is
weakened and in its progress towards putrefaction, which tends to
produce a total separation, the flesh becomes what we call tender, or
is in that state most proper to be used as our food.

It has frequently been remarked, that animals killed by lightning
putrify immediately. This cannot be invariably the case, since a
quantity of lightning sufficient to kill, may not be sufficient to
tear and divide the fibres and particles of flesh, and reduce them to
that tender state, which is the prelude to putrefaction. Hence it is,
that some animals killed in this manner will keep longer than others.
But the putrefaction sometimes proceeds with surprising celerity.
A respectable person assured me, that he once knew a remarkable
instance of this: A whole flock of sheep in Scotland, being closely
assembled under a tree, were killed by a flash of lightning; and
it being rather late in the evening, the proprietor, desirous of
saving something, sent persons early the next morning to flay them;
but the putrefaction was such, and the stench so abominable, that
they had not the courage to execute their orders, and the bodies
were accordingly buried in their skins. It is not unreasonable to
presume, that between the period of their death and that of their
putrefaction, a time intervened in which the flesh might be only
tender, and only sufficiently so to be served at table. Add to this,
that persons, who have eaten of fowls killed by our feeble imitation
of lightning (electricity) and dressed immediately, have asserted,
that the flesh was remarkably tender.

The little utility of this practice has perhaps prevented its being
much adopted. For though it sometimes happens, that a company
unexpectedly arriving at a country-house, or an unusual conflux of
travellers to an inn, may render it necessary, to kill a number
of animals for immediate use; yet as travellers have commonly a
good appetite, little attention has been paid to the trifling
inconvenience of having their meat a little tough. As this kind of
death is nevertheless more sudden, and consequently less severe, than
any other, if this should operate as a motive with compassionate
persons to employ it for animals sacrificed for their use, they may
conduct the process thus:

Having prepared a battery of six large glass jars (each from 20 to
24 pints) as for the Leyden experiment, and having established a
communication, as usual, from the interior surface of each with the
prime conductor, and having given them a full charge (which with a
good machine may be executed in a few minutes, and may be estimated
by an electrometer) a chain which communicates with the exterior of
the jars must be wrapped round the thighs of the fowl; after which
the operator, holding it by the wings, turned back and made to touch
behind, must raise it so high that the head may receive the first
shock from the prime conductor. The animal dies instantly. Let the
head be immediately cut off to make it bleed, when it may be plucked
and dressed immediately. This quantity of electricity is supposed
sufficient for a turkey of ten pounds weight, and perhaps for a
lamb. Experience alone will inform us of the requisite proportions
for animals of different forms and ages. Probably not less will be
required to render a small bird, which is very old, tender, than for
a larger one, which is young. It is easy to furnish the requisite
quantity of electricity, by employing a greater or less number of
jars. As six jars, however, discharged at once, are capable of giving
a very violent shock, the operator must be very circumspect, lest he
should happen to make the experiment on his own flesh, instead of
that of the fowl.



[92] This letter has no date, but the one to which it is an answer is
dated May 1, 1773. _Editor._


  _In Answer to some Queries concerning the Choice of Glass for the
  Leyden Experiment._

  _London, June 1, 1773._


I wish, with you, that some chemist (who should, if possible, be at
the same time an electrician) would, in pursuance of the excellent
hints contained in your letter, undertake to work upon glass with
the view you have recommended. By means of a perfect knowledge of
this substance, with respect to its electrical qualities, we might
proceed with more certainty, as well in making our own experiments,
as in repeating those, which have been made by others in different
countries, which I believe have frequently been attended with
different success on account of differences in the glass employed,
thence occasioning frequent misunderstandings and contrariety of

There is another circumstance much to be desired with respect to
glass, and that is, that it should not be subject to break when
highly charged in the Leyden experiment. I have known eight jars
broken out of twenty, and at another time, twelve out of thirty-five.
A similar loss would greatly discourage electricians desirous of
accumulating a great power for certain experiments.--We have never
been able hitherto to account for the cause of such misfortunes. The
first idea which occurs is, that the positive electricity, being
accumulated on one side of the glass, rushes violently through it, in
order to supply the deficiency on the other side and to restore the
equilibrium. This however I cannot conceive to be the true reason,
when I consider, that a great number of jars being united, so as to
be charged and discharged at the same time, the breaking of a single
jar will discharge the whole; for, if the accident proceeded from the
weakness of the glass, it is not probable, that eight of them should
be precisely of the same degree of weakness, as to break every one
at the same instant, it being more likely, that the weakest should
break first, and, by breaking, secure the rest; and again, when it is
necessary to produce a certain effect, by means of the whole charge
passing through a determined circle (as, for instance, to melt a
small wire) if the charge, instead of passing in this circle, rushed
through the sides of the jars, the intended effect would not be
produced; which, however, is contrary to fact. For these reasons, I
suspect, that there is, in the substance of the glass, either some
little globules of air, or some portions of unvitrified sand or salt,
into which a quantity of the electric fluid may be forced during the
charge, and there retained till the general discharge: and that the
force being suddenly withdrawn, the elasticity of the fluid acts upon
the glass in which it is inclosed, not being able to escape hastily
without breaking the glass. I offer this only as a conjecture, which
I leave to others to examine.

The globe which I had that could not be excited, though it was from
the same glass-house which furnished the other excellent globes
in my possession, was not of the same frit. The glass which was
usually manufactured there, was rather of the green kind, and chiefly
intended for drinking-glasses and bottles; but the proprietors being
desirous of attempting a trial of white glass, the globe in question
was of this frit. The glass not being of a perfect white, the
proprietors were dissatisfied with it, and abandoned their project.
I suspected that too great a quantity of salt was admitted into the
composition; but I am no judge of these matters.



  _Concerning the Leyden Bottle._

  _London, March 22, 1762._

I must retract the charge of idleness in your studies, when I find
you have gone through the doubly difficult task of reading so big a
book, on an abstruse subject, and in a foreign language.

In answer to your question concerning the Leyden phial.--The hand
that holds the bottle receives and conducts away the electric fluid
that is driven out of the outside by the repulsive power of that
which is forced into the inside of the bottle. As long as that power
remains in the same situation, it must prevent the return of what it
had expelled; though the hand would readily supply the quantity if it
could be received.

  Your affectionate friend,



No. 1[93].

  _The early_ LETTERS _of Dr. Franklin on Electricity having been
  translated into French, and printed at Paris; the Abbé Mazeas, in a
  Letter to Dr. Stephen Hales, dated St. Germain, May 20, 1752, gives
  the following Account (printed in the Philosophical Transactions)
  of the Experiment made at Marly, in Pursuance of that proposed by
  Mr. Franklin, Pages 227, 228._


The Philadelphian experiments, that Mr. Collinson, a member of
the Royal Society, was so kind as to communicate to the public,
having been universally admired in France, the king desired to see
them performed. Wherefore the Duke D'Ayen offered his majesty his
country-house at St. Germain, where M. de Lor, master of experimental
philosophy, should put those of Philadelphia in execution. His
majesty saw them with great satisfaction, and greatly applauded
Messieurs Franklin and Collinson. These applauses of his majesty
having excited in Messieurs de Buffon, D'Alibard, and de Lor, a
desire of verifying the conjectures of Mr. Franklin, upon the
analogy of thunder and electricity, they prepared themselves for
making the experiment.

M. D'Alibard chose for this purpose, a garden situated at Marly,
where he placed upon an electrical body a pointed bar of iron, of
forty feet high. On the 10th of May, twenty minutes past two in
the afternoon, a stormy cloud having passed over the place where
the bar stood, those that were appointed to observe it, drew near,
and attracted from it sparks of fire, perceiving the same kind of
commotions as in the common electrical experiments.

M. de Lor, sensible of the good success of this experiment, resolved
to repeat it at his house in the Estrapade, at Paris. He raised a
bar of iron ninety-nine feet high, placed upon a cake of resin, two
feet square, and three inches thick. On the 18th of May, between four
and five in the afternoon, a stormy cloud having passed over the
bar, where it remained half an hour, he drew sparks from the bar,
like those from the gun barrel, when, in the electrical experiments,
the globe is only rubbed by the cushion, and they produced the same
noise, the same fire, and the same crackling. They drew the strongest
sparks at the distance of nine lines, while the rain, mingled with
a little hail, fell from the cloud, without either thunder or
lightning; this cloud being, according to all appearance, only the
consequence of a storm, which happened elsewhere.

  I am, with a profound respect,

  Your most humble and obedient servant,



[93] See the paragraph between brackets, page 267.

  _A more particular Account of the Circumstances and Success of
  this extraordinary Experiment was laid before the Royal Academy
  of Sciences at Paris, three Days afterwards, in a Memorial by M.
  D'Alibard, viz._



  _Lû à l'Académie Royale des Sciences, le 13 Mai, 1752._

"En suivant la route que M. Franklin nous a tracée, j'ai obtenu une
satisfaction complette. Voici les préparatifs, le procédé & le succès.

"1º. J'ai fait faire à Marly-la-ville, située à six lieues de Paris
au milieu d'une belle plaine dont le sol est fort élevé, une verge de
fer ronde, d'environ un pouce de diametre, longue de 40 pieds, & fort
pointue par son extrémité supérieure; pour lui ménager une pointe
plus fine, je l'ai fait armer d'acier trempé & ensuite brunir, au
défaut de dorure, pour la préserver de la rouille; outre cela, cette
verge de fer est courbée vers son extrémité inférieure en deux coudes
à angles aigus quoiqu'arrondis; le premier coude est éloigné de deux
pieds du bout inférieur, & le second est en sens contraire à trois
pieds du premier.

"2º. J'ai fait planter dans un jardin trois grosses perches de 28
à 29 pieds, disposées en triangle, & éloignées les unes des autres
d'environ huit pieds; deux de ces perches sont contre un mur, &
la troisieme est au-dedans du jardin. Pour les affermir toutes
ensemble, l'on à cloué sur chacune des entretoises à vingt pieds de
hauteur; & comme le grand vent agitoit encore cette espéce d'édifice,
l'on a attaché au haut de chaque perche de longs cordages, qui tenant
lieu d'aubans, répondent par le bas à de bons piquets fortement
enfoncés en terre à plus de 20 pieds des perches.

"3º. J'ai fait construire entres les deux perches voisines du mur, &
adosser contre ce mur une petite guerite de bois capable de contenir
un homme & une table.

"4º. J'ai fait placer au milieu de la guérite une petite table
d'environ un demi-pied de hauteur; & sur cette table j'ai fait
dresser & affermir un tabouret electrique. Ce tabouret n'est autre
chose qu'une petite planche quarrée, portée sur trois bouteilles à
vin; il n'est fait de cette matiere que pour suppléer au defaut d'un
gâteau de résine qui me manquoit.

"5º. Tout étant ainsi préparé, j'ai fait elever perpendiculairement
la verge de fer au milieu des trois perches, & je l'ai affermie en
l'attachant à chacune des perches avec de forts cordons de soie par
deux endroits seulement. Les premiers liens sont au haut des perches,
environ trois pouces au-dessous de leurs extrémités supérieures; les
seconds vers la moitié de leur hauteur. Le bout inférieur de la verge
de fer est solidement appuyé sur le milieu du tabouret electrique, où
j'ai fait creuser un trou propre à le recevoir.

"6º. Comme il étoit important de garantir de la pluie te tabouret
& les cordons de soie, parce qu'ils laisseroient passer la matiére
électrique s'ils etoient mouillés, j'ai pris les précautions
necessaires pour en empêcher. C'est dans cette vue que j'ai mis mon
tabouret sous la guérite, & que j'avois fait courber ma verge de fer
à angles aigus; afin que l'eau qui pourroit couler le long de cette
verge, ne pût arriver jusques sur le tabouret. C'est aussi dans le
même dessein que j'ai fait clouer sur le haut & au milieu de mes
perches, à trois pouces au-dessus des cordons de soie, des especes de
boîtes formées de trois petites planches d'environ 15 pouces de long,
qui couvrent par-dessus & par les côtes une pareille longueur des
cordons de soie, sans leur toucher.

"Il s'agissoit de faire, dans le tems de l'orage, deux observations
sur cette verge de fer ainsi disposée; l'une étoit de remarquer à sa
pointe une aigrette lumineuse, semblable à celle que l'on apperçoit
à la pointe d'une aiguille, quand on l'oppose assez près d'un corps
actuellement électrisé; l'autre étoit de tirer de la verge de fer des
étincelles, comme on en tire du canon de fusil dans les expériences
électriques; & afin de se garantir des piqûres de ces étincelles,
j'avois attaché le tenon d'un fil d'archal au cordon d'une longue
fiole pour lui servir de manche....

"Le Mercredi 10 Mai 1752, entre deux & trois heures après midi,
le nommé Coiffier, ancien dragon, que j'avois chargé de faire les
observations en mon absence, ayant entendu un coup de tonnerre
assez fort, vole aussitôt à la machine, prend la fiole avec le fil
d'archal, présente le tenon du fil à la verge, en voit sortir une
petite étincelle brillante, & en entend le pétillement; il tire une
seconde étincelle plus fort que la premiere & avec plus de bruit! il
appelle ses voisins, & envoie chercher M. le Prieur. Celui-ci accourt
de toutes ses forces; les paroissiens voyant la précipitation de
leur curé, s'imaginent que le pauvre Coiffier a été tué du tonnerre;
l'allarme se répand dans le village: la grêle qui survient n'empêche
point le troupeau du suivre son pasteur. Cet honnête ecclésiastique
arrive près de la machine, & voyant qu'il n'y avoit point de danger,
met lui-même la main â l'oeuvre & tire de fortes étincelles. La
nuée d'orage & de grêle ne fut pas plus d'un quart-d'heure à passer
au zénith de notre machine, & l'on n'entendit que ce seul coup
de tonnerre. Sitôt que le nuage fut passé, & qu'on ne tira plus
d'étincelles de la verge de fer, M. le Prieur de Marly fit partir le
sieur Coiffier lui-même, pour m'apporter la lettre suivante, qu'il
m'ecrivit à la hâte."

_Je vous annonce, Monsieur, ce que veus attendez: l'expérience est
complette. Aujourd'hui à deux heures 20 minutes après midi, le
tonnerre a grondé directement sur Marly; le coup a été assez fort.
L'envie de vous obliger, & la curiosité m'ont tiré de mon fauteüil,
où j'êtois occupé à lire: je suis allé chez Coiffier, qui déja
m'avoit dépêché un enfant que j'ai rencontré en chemin, pour me prier
de veenir; j'ai doublé le pas à travers un torrent de grêle. Arrivé
à l'endroit où est placée la tringle coudée, j'ai présenté le fil
d'archal, en evançant successivement vers la tringle, à un pouce &
demi, ou environ; il est sorti de la tringle une petite colonne de
fer bleuâtre sentant le soufre, qui venoit frapper avec une extrême
vivacité le tenon du fil d'archal, & occasionnoit un bruit semblable
à celui qu'on feroit en frappant sur la tringle avec une clef. J'ai
répeté l'expérience au moins six fois dans l'espace d'environ quatre
minutes, en présence de plusieurs personnes, & chaque expérience
que j'ai faite a duré l'espace d'un pater & d'un_ ave. _J'ai voulu
continuer; l'action du feu s'est ralentie peu à peu; j'ai approché
plus près, & n'ai plus tiré que quelques étincelles, & enfin rien
n'ai paru._

_Le coup de tonnerre qui a occasionné cet événement, n'a été suivi
d'aucun autre; tout s'est terminé par une abondance de grêle. J'étois
si occupé dans le moment de l'expérience de ce que voyois, qu'ayant
été frappé au bras un peu au-dessus du coude, je ne puis dire si
c'est en touchant au fil d'archal ou à la tringle: je ne me suis pas
plaint du mal que m'avoit fait le coup dans le moment que je l'ai
reçu; mais comme la douleur continuoit, de retour chez moi, j'ai
découvert mon bras en présence de Coiffier, & nous avons apperçu une
meurtrissure tournante autour du brass, semblable à celle que feroit
un coup de fil d'archal, si j'en avois été frappé à nud. En revenant
de chez Coiffier, j'ai recontré M. le Vicaire, M. de Milly, et le
Maître d'école, à qui j'ai rapporté ce qui venoit d'arriver; ils se
sont plaints tous les trois qu'ils sentoient une odeur de soufre qui
les frappait davantage à mesure qu'ils s'approichient de moi: j'ai
porté chez moi la même odeur, & mes domestiques s'en sont apperçus
sans que je leur aye rien dit._

_Voilà, Monsieur, un récit fait à la hâte, mais naif & vrai que
j'atteste, & vous pouvez assurer que je suis prêt à rendre témoignage
de cet événement dans toutes les occasions. Coiffier a été le premier
qui a fait l'expérience & l'a répétée, plusieurs fois; ce n'est
qu'à l'occasion de ce qu'il a vu qu'il m'a envoyé prier de venir.
S'il étoit besoin d'autres témoins que de lui & de moi, vous les
trouveriez. Coiffier presse pour partir._

_Je suis avec une respectueuse considération, Monsieur, votre, &c.
signé_ RAULET, _Prieur de Marly. 10 Mai, 1752._

"On voit, par le détail de cette lettre, que le fait est assez bien
constaté pour ne laisser aucun doute à ce sujet. Le porteur m'a
assuré de vive voix qu'il avoit tiré pendant près d'un quart-d'heure
avant que M. le Prieur arrivât, en présence de cinq ou six
personnes, des étincelles plus fortes & plus bruyantes que celles
dont il est parlé dans la lettre. Ces premieres personnes arrivant
successivement, n'osient approcher qu'à 10 ou 12 pas de la machine; &
à cette distance, malgré le plein soleil, ils voyoient les étincelles
& entendoient le bruit....

"Il résulte de toutes les expériences & observations que j'ai
rapportées dans ce mémoire, & surtout de la dernière expérience faite
à Marly-la-ville, que la matiere du tonnerre est incontestablement la
même que celle de l'électricité. L'idée qu'en a eu M. Franklin cesse
d'être une conjecture: la voilà devenue une réalité, & j'ose croire
que plus on approfondira tout ce qu'il a publié sur l'électricité,
plus on reconnoîtra combien la physique lui est redevable pour cette

  _Letter of Mr. W. Watson, F. R. S. to the Royal Society, concerning
  the electrical Experiments in England upon Thunder-Clouds._

  Read Dec. 1752. Trans. Vol. XLVII.


After the communications, which we have received from several of our
correspondents in different parts of the continent, acquainting us
with the success of their experiments last summer, in endeavouring to
extract the electricity from the atmosphere during a thunder-storm,
in consequence of Mr. Franklin's hypothesis, it may be thought
extraordinary, that no accounts have been yet laid before you, of our
success here from the same experiments. That no want of attention,
therefore, may be attributed to those here, who have been hitherto
conversant in these enquiries, I thought proper to apprise you, that,
though several members of the Royal Society, as well as myself, did,
upon the first advices from France, prepare and set up the necessary
apparatus for this purpose, we were defeated in our expectations,
from the uncommon coolness and dampness of the air here, during the
whole summer. We had only at London one thunder-storm; viz. on July
20; and then the thunder was accompanied with rain; so that, by
wetting the apparatus, the electricity was dissipated too soon to be
perceived upon touching those parts of the apparatus, which served
to conduct it. This, I say, in general prevented our verifying Mr.
Franklin's hypothesis: but our worthy brother, Mr. Canton, was more
fortunate. I take the liberty, therefore, of laying before you an
extract of a letter, which I received from that gentleman, dated from
Spital-square, July 21, 1752.

"I had yesterday, about five in the afternoon, an opportunity of
trying Mr. Franklin's experiment of extracting the electrical fire
from the clouds; and succeeded, by means of a tin tube, between three
and four feet in length, fixed to the top of a glass one, of about
eighteen inches. To the upper end of the tin tube, which was not
so high as a stack of chimnies on the same house, I fastened three
needles with some wire; and to the lower end was soldered a tin cover
to keep the rain from the glass tube, which was set upright in a
block of wood. I attended this apparatus as soon after the thunder
began as possible, but did not find it in the least electrified,
till between the third and fourth clap; when, applying my knuckle
to the edge of the cover, I felt and heard an electrical spark; and
approaching it a second time, I received the spark at the distance of
about half an inch, and saw it distinctly. This I repeated four or
five times in the space of a minute, but the sparks grew weaker and
weaker; and in less than two minutes the tin tube did not appear to
be electrified at all. The rain continued during the thunder, but was
considerably abated at the time of making the experiment." Thus far
Mr. Canton.

Mr. Wilson likewise of the Society, to whom we are much obliged for
the trouble he has taken in these pursuits, had an opportunity of
verifying Mr. Franklin's hypothesis. He informed me, by a letter from
near Chelmsford, in Essex, dated August 12, 1752, that, on that day
about noon, he perceived several electrical snaps, during, or rather
at the end of a thunder-storm, from no other apparatus than an iron
curtain rod, one end of which he put into the neck of a glass phial,
and held this phial in his hand. To the other end of the iron he
fastened three needles with some silk. This phial, supporting the
rod, he held in one hand, and drew snaps from the rod with a finger
of his other. This experiment was not made upon any eminence, but in
the garden of a gentleman, at whose house he then was.

Dr. Bevis observed, at Mr. Cave's, at St. John's Gate, nearly the
same phenomena as Mr. Canton, of which an account has been already
laid before the public.

Trifling as the effects here mentioned are, when compared with those
which we have received from Paris and Berlin, they are the only ones,
that the last summer here has produced; and as they were made by
persons worthy of credit, they tend to establish the authenticity of
those transmitted from our correspondents.

I flatter myself, that this short account of these matters will not
be disagreeable to you; and am,

  With the most profound respect,

  Your most obedient, humble servant,


No. 2.

  _Remarks on the Abbé Nollet's Letters to Benjamin Franklin, Esq. of
  Philadelphia, on Electricity: by Mr. David Colden, of New York._

  _Coldenham, in New York, Dec. 4, 1753._


In considering the Abbé Nollet's Letters to Mr. Franklin, I am
obliged to pass by all the experiments which are made with, or in,
bottles hermetically sealed, or exhausted of air; because, not being
able to repeat the experiments, I could not second any thing which
occurs to me thereon, by experimental proof. Wherefore, the first
point wherein I can dare to give my opinion, is in the Abbé's 4th
letter, p. 66, where he undertakes to prove, that the electric matter
passes from one surface to another through the entire thickness
of the glass: he takes Mr. Franklin's experiment of the magical
picture, and writes thus of it. "When you electrise a pane of glass
coated on both sides with metal, it is evident that whatever is
placed on the side opposite to that which receives the electricity
from the conductor, receives also an evident electrical virtue."
Which Mr. Franklin says, is that equal quantity of electric matter,
driven out of this side, by what is received from the conductor on
the other side; and which will continue to give an electrical virtue
to any thing in contact with it, till it is entirely discharged of
its electrical fire. To which the Abbé thus objects; "Tell me (says
he), I pray you, how much time is necessary for this pretended
discharge? I can assure you, that after having maintained the
electrisation for hours, this surface, which ought, as it seems to
me, to be entirely discharged of its electrical matter, considering
either the vast number of sparks that were drawn from it, or the time
that this matter had been exposed to the action of the expulsive
cause; this surface, I say, appeared rather better electrised
thereby, and more proper to produce all the effects of an actual
electric body." _P._ 68.

The Abbé does not tell us what those effects were, all the effects
I could never observe, and those that are to be observed can easily
be accounted for, by supposing that side to be entirely destitute
of electric matter. The most sensible effect of a body charged with
electricity is, that when you present your finger to it, a spark will
issue from it to your finger: now when a phial, prepared for the
Leyden experiment, is hung to the gun-barrel or prime-conductor, and
you turn the globe in order to charge it; as soon as the electric
matter is excited, you can observe a spark to issue from the external
surface of the phial to your finger, which, Mr. Franklin says, is
the natural electric matter of the glass driven out by that received
by the inner surface from the conductor. If it be only drawn out by
sparks, a vast number of them may be drawn; but if you take hold of
the external surface with your hand, the phial will soon receive all
the electric matter it is capable of, and the outside will then be
entirely destitute of its electric matter, and no spark can be drawn
from it by the finger: here then is a want of that effect which all
bodies, charged with electricity, have. Some of the effects of an
electric body, which I suppose the Abbé has observed in the exterior
surface of a charged phial, are that all light bodies are attracted
by it. This is an effect which I have constantly observed, but do not
think that it proceeds from an attractive quality in the exterior
surface of the phial, but in those light bodies themselves, which
seem to be attracted by the phial. It is a constant observation,
that when one body has a greater charge of electric matter in it
than another (that is in proportion to the quantity they will hold)
this body will attract that which has less: now, I suppose, and it
is a part of Mr. Franklin's system, that all those light bodies
which appear to be attracted, have more electric matter in them than
the external surface of the phial has, wherefore they endeavour to
attract the phial to them, which is too heavy to be moved by the
small degree of force they exert, and yet being greater than their
own weight, moves them to the phial. The following experiment will
help the imagination in conceiving this. Suspend a cork ball, or a
feather, by a silk thread, and electrise it; then bring this ball
nigh to any fixed body, and it will appear to be attracted by that
body, for it will fly to it: now, by the consent of electricians, the
attractive cause is in the ball itself, and not in the fixed body to
which it flies: this is a similar case with the apparent attraction
of light bodies, to the external surface of a charged phial.

The Abbé says, _p._ 69, "that he can electrise a hundred men,
standing on wax, if they hold hands, and if one of them touch one
of these surfaces (the exterior) with the end of his finger:" this
I know he can, while the phial is charging, but after the phial is
charged I am as certain he cannot: that is, hang a phial, prepared
for the Leyden experiment, to the conductor, and let a man, standing
on the floor, touch the coating with his finger, while the globe is
turned, till the electric matter spews out of the hook of the phial,
or some part of the conductor, which I take to be the certainest sign
that the phial has received all the electric matter it can: after
this appears, let the man, who before stood on the floor, step on a
cake of wax, where he may stand for hours, and the globe all that
time turned; and yet have no appearance of being electrised. After
the electric matter was spewed out as above from the hook of the
phial prepared for the Leyden experiment, I hung another phial, in
like manner prepared, to a hook fixed in the coating of the first,
and held this other phial in my hand; now if there was any electric
matter transmitted through the glass of the first phial, the second
one would certainly receive and collect it; but having kept the
phials in this situation for a considerable time, during which the
globe was continually turned, I could not perceive that the second
phial was in the least charged, for when I touched the hook with
my finger, as in the Leyden experiment, I did not feel the least
commotion, nor perceive any spark to issue from the hook.

I likewise made the following experiment: having charged two phials
(prepared for the Leyden experiment) through their hooks; two persons
took each one of these phials in their hand; one held his phial by
the coating, the other by the hook, which he could do by removing
the communication from the bottom before he took hold of the hook.
These persons placed themselves one on each side of me, while I stood
on a cake of wax, and took hold of the hook of that phial which was
held by its coating (upon which a spark issued, but the phial was not
discharged, as I stood on wax) keeping hold of the hook, I touched
the coating of the phial that was held by its hook with my other
hand, upon which there was a large spark to be seen between my finger
and the coating, and both phials were instantly discharged. If the
Abbé's opinion be right, that the exterior surface, communicating
with the coating, is charged, as well as the interior, communicating
with the hook; how can I, who stand on wax, discharge both these
phials, when it is well known I could not discharge one of them
singly? Nay, suppose I have drawn the electric matter from both of
them, what becomes of it? For I appear to have no additional quantity
in me when the experiment is over, and I have not stirred off the
wax: wherefore this experiment fully convinces me, that the exterior
surface is not charged; and not only so, but that it wants as much
electric matter as the inner has of excess: for by this supposition,
which is a part of Mr. Franklin's system, the above experiment is
easily accounted for, as follows:

When I stand on wax, my body is not capable of receiving all the
electric matter from the hook of one phial, which it is ready to
give; neither can it give as much to the coating of the other phial
as it is ready to take, when one is only applied to me: but when both
are applied, the coating takes from me what the hook gives: thus I
receive the fire from the first phial at B, the exterior surface of
which is supplied from the hand at A: I give the fire to the second
phial at C, whose interior surface is discharged by the hand at D.
This discharge at D may be made evident by receiving that fire into
the hook of a third phial, which is done thus: In place of taking
the hook of the second phial in your hand, run the wire of a third
phial, prepared as for the Leyden experiment, through it, and hold
this third phial in your hand, the second one hanging to it, by
the ends of the hooks run through each other: when the experiment
is performed, this third phial receives the fire at D, and will be

[Illustration: (of the experiment above)]

When this experiment is considered, I think, it must fully prove
that the exterior surface of a charged phial wants electric matter,
while the inner surface has an excess of it. One thing more worthy
of notice in this experiment is, that I feel no commotion or shock in
my arms, though so great a quantity of electric matter passes them
instantaneously: I only feel a pricking in the ends of my fingers.
This makes me think the Abbé has mistook, when he says, that there
is no difference between the shock felt in performing the Leyden
experiment, and the pricking felt on drawing simple sparks, except
that of greater to less. In the last experiment, as much electric
matter went through my arms, as would have given me a very sensible
shock, had there been an immediate communication, by my arms, from
the hook to the coating of the same phial; because when it was taken
into a third phial, and that phial discharged singly through my arms,
it gave me a sensible shock. If these experiments prove that the
electric matter does not pass through the entire thickness of the
glass, it is a necessary consequence that it must always come out
where it entered.

The next thing I meet with is in the Abbé's fifth letter, _p._
88, where he differs from Mr. Franklin, who thinks that the whole
power of giving a shock is in the glass itself, and not in the
non-electrics in contact with it. The experiments which Mr. Franklin
gave to prove this opinion, in his _Observations on the Leyden
Bottle_, p. 179, convinced me that he was in the right; and what the
Abbé has asserted, in contradiction thereto, has not made me think
otherwise. The Abbé, perceiving, as I suppose, that the experiments,
as Mr. Franklin had performed them, must prove his assertion, alters
them without giving any reason for it, and makes them in a manner
that proves nothing. Why will he have the phial, into which the,
water is to be decanted from a charged phial, held in a man's hand?
If the power of giving a shock is in the water contained in the
phial, it should remain there though decanted into another phial,
since no non-electric body touched it to take that power off. The
phial being placed on wax is no objection, for it cannot take the
power from the water, if it had any, but it is a necessary means to
try the fact; whereas, that phial's being charged when held in a
man's hand, only proves that water will conduct the electric matter.
The Abbé owns, _p._ 94, that he had heard this remarked, but says,
Why is not a conductor of electricity an electric subject? This is
not the question; Mr. Franklin never said that water was not an
electric subject; he said, that the power of giving a shock was in
the glass, and not in the water; and this, his experiments fully
prove; so fully, that it may appear impertinent to offer any more:
yet as I do not know that the following has been taken notice of by
any body before, my inserting of it in this place may be excused.
It is this: Hang a phial, prepared for the Leyden experiment, to
the conductor, by its hook, and charge it, which done, remove the
communication from the bottom of the phial. Now the conductor shews
evident signs of being electrised; for if a thread be tied round it,
and its ends left about two inches long, they will extend themselves
out like a pair of horns; but if you touch the conductor, a spark
will issue from it, and the threads will fall, nor does the conductor
shew the least sign of being electrised after this is done. I think
that by this touch, I have taken out all the charge of electric
matter that was in the conductor, the hook of the phial, and water
or filings of iron contained in it; which is no more than we see all
non-electric bodies will receive: yet the glass of the phial retains
its power of giving a shock, as any one will find that pleases to
try. This experiment fully evidences, that the water in the phial
contains no more electric matter than it would do in an open bason,
and has not any of that great quantity which produces the shock, and
is only retained by the glass. If after the spark is drawn from the
conductor, you touch the coating of the phial (which all this while
is supposed to hang in the air, free from any non-electric body)
the threads on the conductor will instantly start up, and shew that
the conductor is electrised. It receives this electrisation from
the inner surface of the phial, which, when the outer surface can
receive what it wants from the hand applied to it, will give as much
as the bodies in contact with it can receive, or if they be large
enough, all that it has of excess. It is diverting to see how the
threads will rise and fall by touching the coating and conductor of
the phial alternately. May it not be that the difference between
the charged side of the glass, and the outer or emptied side, being
lessened by touching the hook or the conductor; the outer side can
receive from the hand which touched it, and by its receiving, the
inner side cannot retain so much; and for that reason so much as it
cannot contain electrises the water, or filings and conductor: for
it seems to be a rule, that the one side must be emptied in the same
proportion that the other is filled: though this from experiment
appears evident, yet it is still a mystery not to be accounted for.

I am in many places of the Abbé's book surprised to find that
experiments have succeeded so differently at Paris, from what they
did with Mr. Franklin, and as I have always observed them to do. The
Abbé, in making experiments to find the difference between the two
surfaces of a charged glass, will not have the phial placed on wax:
for, says he, don't you know that being placed on a body originally
electric, it quickly loses its virtue? I cannot imagine what should
have made the Abbé think so; it certainly is contradictory to the
notions commonly received of electrics _per se_; and by experiment I
find it entirely otherwise: for having several times left a charged
phial, for that purpose, standing on wax for hours, I found it to
retain as much of its charge as another that stood at the same time
on a table. I left one standing on wax from ten o'clock at night
till eight the next morning, when I found it to retain a sufficient
quantity of its charge, to give me a sensible commotion in my arms,
though the room in which the phial stood had been swept in that time,
which must have raised much dust to facilitate the discharge of the

I find that a cork-ball suspended between two bottles, the one fully
and the other but little charged, will not play between them, but is
driven into a situation that makes a triangle with the hooks of the
phials: though the Abbé has asserted the contrary of this, p. 101,
in order to account for the playing of a cork-ball between the wire
thrust into the phial, and one that rises up from its coating. The
phial which is least charged must have more electric matter given to
it, in proportion to its bulk, than the cork-ball receives from the
hook of the full phial.

The Abbé says, p. 103, "That a piece of metal leaf hung to a silk
thread and electrised, will be repelled by the bottom of a charged
phial held by its hook in the air:" this I find constantly otherwise,
it is with me always first attracted and then repelled: it is
necessary in charging the leaf to be careful, that it does not fly
off to some non-electric body, and so discharge itself when you think
it is charged; it is difficult to keep it from flying to your own
wrist, or to some part of your body.

The Abbé, p. 108, says, "that it is not impossible, as Mr. Franklin
says it is, to charge a phial while there is a communication formed
between its coating and its hook." I have always found it impossible
to charge such a phial so as to give a shock: indeed, if it hang on
the conductor without a communication from it, you may draw a spark
from it as you may from any body that hangs there, but this is very
different from being charged in such a manner as to give a shock. The
Abbé, in order to account for the little quantity of electric matter
that is to be found in the phial, says, "that it rather follows the
metal than the glass, and that it is spewed out into the air from
the coating of the phial." I wonder how it comes not to do so too,
when it sifts through the glass, and charges the exterior surface,
according to the Abbé's system!

The Abbé's objections against Mr. Franklin's two last experiments, I
think, have little weight in them: he seems, indeed, much at a loss
what to say, wherefore he taxes Mr. Franklin with having concealed a
material part of the experiment; a thing too mean for any gentleman
to be charged with, who has not shown as great a partiality in
relating experiments, as the Abbé has done.






  _Accent_, or emphasis, wrong placing of, a fault in modern tunes, ii. 345.

  _Accidents_ at sea, how to guard against, ii. 172.

  _Adams_, Mr. Matthew, offers the use of his library to Franklin, i. 16.

  _Addison_, Franklin an assiduous imitator of, in his youth, i. 13.

  _Advice_ to youth in reading, ii. 378.
      to emigrants to America, iii. 398.
      to a crafty statesman, 430.
      to a young tradesman, 463.
      to a young married man, 477.
      to players at chess, 490.

  _Æpinus_, his hypothesis of magnetism, i. 412.

  _Agriculture_ takes place of manufactures till a country is fully settled,
               iii. 107.
      the great business of America, 393.

  _Air_, some of the properties of, ii. 226.
      its properties with respect to electricity, i. 204.
      properties of its particles, 205. ii. 1.
      its currents over the globe, i. 207.
      resists the electric fluid and confines it to bodies, 241.
      its effects in electrical experiments, 253.
      its elasticity not affected by electricity, 254.
      its friction against trees, 270, 323.
      has its share of electricity, 333.
      its electricity denser above than below, 335.
      in rooms, electrified positively and negatively, 353.
      attracts water, ii. 1.
      when saturated with water precipitates it, 2.
      dissolves water, and, when dry, oil, 4.
      why suffocating, when impregnated with oil or grease, _ibid._
      supports water, 5, 46, 49.
      why less heated in the higher regions than near the earth's surface,
      how it creates hurricanes, _ibid._
          winds, 8.
          whirlwinds, 10.
      effects of heat upon, 50.
      its effects on the barometer, 92.
      condensed, supposed to form the centre of the earth, 119, 127.
      noxious, corrected by vegetation, 129.
      observations on the free use of, 213.
      rare, no bad conductor of sound, 337.
      fresh, beneficial effects of, in bed-rooms, iii. 495.

  _Air-thermometer_, electrical, experiments with, i. 336.

  _Albany_ plan of union, short account of, i. 127.
      its singular fate, 129.
      papers relating to, iii. 3.
      motives on which formed, 4.
      rejects partial unions, 6.
      its president and grand council, 9.
      election of members, 12.
      place of first meeting, 13.
      new election, _ibid._
      proportion of members after three years, 15.
      meetings of the grand council and call, 16.
      allowance to members, 17.
      power of president and his duty, 18.
      treaties of peace and war, _ibid._
      Indian trade and purchases, 19.
      new settlements, 21.
      military establishments, 23.
      laws and taxes, 24, 26.
      issuing of money, 25.
      appointment of officers, 27.
      rejected in England, 29.

  _Almanack._ _See Poor Richard._

  _Alphabet_, a new one proposed, ii. 357.
      examples of writing in it, 360.
      correspondence on its merits, 361.

  _Amber_, electrical experiments on, i. 403.

  _America_, North, air of, drier than that of England and France, ii. 140.
      why marriages are more frequent there than in Europe, 385.
      why labour will long continue dear there, _ibid._
      argument against the union of the colonies of, under one government,
      state of toleration there, 457.
      reflections on the scheme of imposing taxes on, without its consent,
               iii. 30.
      thoughts on the representation of, in the British parliament, 37.
      interest of Great Britain with regard to, 39.
      forts in the back settlements of, no security against France, 99.
      wars carried on there against the French, not merely in the cause of
               the colonies, 105.
      preference of the colonies of, to the West Indian colonies, 113.
      great navigable rivers of, favourable to inland trade, 118.
      what commodities the inland parts of, are fitted to produce, 119.
      the productions of, do not interfere with those of Britain, 123.
      union of the colonies of, in a revolt against Britain, impossible but
               from grievous oppression, 132.
      reasons given for restraining paper-bills of credit there, 144.
      intended scheme of a bank there, described, 155.
      attempts of Franklin for conciliation of Britain with, 286.
      feeling of, as to Britain, in May 1775, 346.
      conciliation of Britain with, hopeless, 355.
      account of the first campaign of the British forces against, 357.
      application of, to foreign courts, for aid in its independence, 360.
      credit of, with that of Britain, in 1777, compared, 372.
      true description of the interest and policy of, 391.
      information to those emigrating thither, 398.
      terms on which land may be obtained for new settlements there, 409.

  _Americans_, their prejudices for whatever is English, i. 144.

  _Anchor_, a swimming one proposed, ii. 181, 185.

  _Ancients_, their experimental learning too often slighted, ii. 146.

  _Anecdote_ of Franklin's early spirit of enterprise, i. 11.
      of a Swedish clergyman among the Indians, iii. 386.
      of an Indian who went to church, 389.

  _Animal_ food, Franklin's abstinence from, i. 20.
      return to, 47.
      humorous instance of abstinence from, 49.
      heat, whence it arises, ii. 79, 125.
      magnetism, detected and exposed, i. 150.

  _Animalcules_, supposed to cause the luminous appearance of sea-water,
               ii. 89.

  _Animals_, how to kill them by electricity, i. 415.

  _Antifederalists_ of America, comparison of, to the ancient Jews,
               iii. 410.

  _Apprentices_ easier placed out in America than in Europe, iii. 407.
      indentures of, how made in America, 408.

  _Argumentation_, bad effects of, as a habit, i. 17.
      best method of, 22.

  _Armies_, best means of supporting them, ii. 400.

  _Armonica_, musical instrument so called, described, ii. 330.
      manner of playing on it, 334.

  _Asbestos_, specimen of, sold by Franklin to Sir Hans Sloane, i. 60.
      letter relating to it, iii. 513.

  _Astrology_, letter to the Busy-body on, iii. 448.

  _Atmosphere_ sometimes denser above than below, ii. 6.
      electrical, its properties, i. 294.

  _Aurora borealis_ explained, i. 212.
      conjectures respecting, 257, ii. 69.
      query concerning, i. 293.


  _Badoin_, Mr. letters from, i. 314, 324.

  _Ballads_, two, written by Franklin in his youth, i. 16.

  _Balls_ of fire in the air, remark concerning, ii. 337.

  _Barometer_, how acted on by air, ii. 92.

  _Barrels_ for gunpowder, new sort proposed, i. 376.

  _Bass_, unnecessary in some tunes, ii. 343.

  _Bathing_ relieves thirst, ii. 104.
      observations on, 211.

  _Battery_, electrical, its construction, i. 193.

  _Baxter_, Mr. observations on his enquiry into the nature of the soul,
               ii. 110.

  _Beccaria_, character of his book on electricity, i. 310.

  _Beer_, not conducive to bodily strength, i. 62.

  _Bells_, form in consecrating them at Paris, i. 384.

  _Belly-ache_, dry, lead a cause of, ii. 220.

  _Bermuda_, little thunder there, i. 216.

  _Bermudian_ sloops, advantages of their construction, ii. 173.

  _Bernoulli_, Mr. his plan for moving boats, ii. 179.

  _Bevis_, Dr. draws electricity from the clouds, i. 429.

  _Bible_, anecdote of its concealment in the reign of Mary, i. 7.
      travestied by Dr. Brown, 31.

  _Bills_ of mortality, reasonings, formed on those for capital cities,
               not applicable to the country, ii. 383.

  _Birth_, noble, no qualification in America, iii. 400.

  _Bishops_, none in America, and why, ii. 456, 458.

  _Black clothes_ heat more and dry sooner than white, ii. 108.
      not fit for hot climates, 109.

  _Blacksmith_, trade of, hereditary in Franklin's family, i. 4.

  _Blindness_ occasioned both by lightning and electricity, i. 228.

  _Boats_, difference of their sailing in shoal and deep water, ii. 160.
      management of, best understood by savages, 176.
      how rowed by the Chinese, 177.
      methods of moving them by machinery, _ibid._
      improvement of Mr. Bernoulli's plan for moving them, 179.
      proposal for a new mode of moving them, _ibid._
      double, advantage of, 173, 174.
      one built by Sir W. Petty, _ibid._

  _Bodies_, electrified negatively, repel each other, ii. 294.
      effect of blunt, compared with pointed ones, i. 172, 223.

  _Body_, human, specifically lighter than water, ii. 208.
      political and human, compared, iii. 115.

  _Boerhaave_, his opinion of the propagation of heat, ii. 58.
      of steam from fermenting liquors, 59.

  _Boiling_ water, experiments with, i. 332, 344, 345.
      pot, bottom of, why cold, 387.

  _Bolton_, Mr. experiment by, i. 346.

  _Books_ read by Franklin in his youth, i. 15, 18, 20, 21.

  _Boston_, the birth-place of Franklin, i. 8.
      why quitted by him in his youth, 27,
      its inhabitants decrease, ii. 210.
      preface to proceedings of the town meeting of, iii. 317.

  _Boyle's_ lectures, effect of, on Franklin, i. 79.

  _Braddock_, general, defeat of, i. 131.

  _Bradford_, printer at Philadelphia, i. 34, 102.

  _Brass_, hot, yields unwholesome steams, ii. 249

  _Brientnal_, Joseph, a member of the Junto club, i. 83.

  _Brimstone_, when fluid, will conduct electricity, i. 256.

  _Bristol waters_, an alledged fact concerning, ii. 95.

  _Britain_, incapacity of, to supply the colonies with manufactures,
               ii. 386.

  _British empire_, an union of several states, iii. 310.

  _Brown_, Dr. acquaintance of Franklin's, i. 30.
      travestied the bible, 31.

  _Bubbles_ on the surface of water, hypothesis respecting, ii. 48.

  _Buchan_, earl of, letter to, on the price of land for new settlements
               in America, iii. 409.

  _Buildings_, what kind safest from lightning, i. 379.

  _Bullion_, causes of its variation in price, iii. 153.

  _Bunyan's_ Voyages, a book early read by Franklin, i. 15, 28.

  _Bur_, cause of, round a hole struck through pasteboard, i. 280.

  _Burnet_, governor, his attention to Franklin in his youth, i. 44.

  _Busy-body_, essays under the title of, i. 86. iii. 422.


  _Cabinet-work_, veneered in England, shrinks and flies in America,
               ii. 140.

  _Cables_, why apt to part when weighing anchor in a swell, ii. 167.
      this defect of, remedied, 168.

  _Cabot_, Sebastian, his commission from Henry VII., iii. 348.

  _Calvinism_, Franklin educated in the principles of, i. 79.

  _Campaign_ in America, account of the first, iii. 357.

  _Canals_, observations on their depth, ii. 159.

  _Canada_, importance of, to England, i. 136.
      visited by Franklin, 147.
      its extent, iii. 20.
      pamphlet on the importance of, 89.
      easily peopled without draining Britain, 139.

  _Cancers_, specific for, i. 260, 261.

  _Candles_ lighted by electricity, i. 176.
      distance at which the flame of, may be seen, ii. 90.

  _Cann_, silver, a singular experiment on, i. 307.

  _Canoes_ of the American Indians, their advantages, ii. 176.

  _Canton_, Mr. John, experiments by, i. 286, 346.
      draws electricity from the clouds, 428.

  _Capitals_, their use in printing, ii. 352.

  _Caribbees_, possession of, only a temporary benefit, iii. 142.

  _Carolina_, South, see _Lightning_.

  _Cavendish_, lord Charles, his electrical experiments, i. 348.

  _Cayenne_ would be a great acquisition to Britain, iii. 140.

  _Centre_ of the earth, hypothesis concerning, ii. 119, 127.

  _Cessions_ from an enemy, on what grounds may be demanded, iii. 93.

  _Chapel_, nickname for a printing house, i. 63.

  _Character_, remarks on the delineation of, iii. 445.

  _Charcoal-fires_, hurtful, ii. 235.

  _Charging_ and discharging, in electricity, explained, i. 190.
      a number of bottles at once, how done, _ibid._

  _Charters_ of the colonies could not be altered by parliament, iii. 332.

  _Chess_, morals of, iii. 488.
      not an idle amusement, _ibid._
      teaches various virtues, 489.
      advice to those who play, 490.
      too intense an application to, injurious, 500.

  _Chimnies_, different kinds of, enumerated, ii. 228.
      inconvenience of the old-fashioned ones, 229.
      defect of more modern ones, 230.
      have not long been in use in England, 277.
      Staffordshire, described, 285.
      have a draft of air up and down, 289.
      may be used for keeping provisions in summer, 290.
      may be of use to miners, 291.
      funnels to, what the best, 292, 295.
      method of contracting them, 317.
      smoky. See _Smoky_.

  _China_, provision made there against famine, ii. 407.

  _Chinese_ wisely divide the holds of their vessels by partitions, ii. 171.
      how they row their boats, 177.
      their method of warming ground floors, 292.
      improvement in this method suggested, 293.
      their method of making large paper, 349.

  _Circle_, magical, account of, ii. 327, 328.

  _Cities_, spring water gradually deteriorates in, i. 163.
      do not supply themselves with inhabitants, ii. 384.

  _Clark_, Dr. of Boston, quoted, on the instigation of the American
               Indians against the English, iii. 95, 100, 102.

  _Clothes_, wet, may preserve from lightning, i. 213.
          will relieve thirst, ii. 104.
          do not give colds, _ibid._
      imbibe heat according to their colour, 108.
      white, most suitable for hot climates, _ibid._

  _Clothing_ does not give, but preserves, warmth, ii. 81.

  _Clouds_, at land and at sea, difference between, i. 207.
      formed at sea, how brought to rain on land, 208.
          driven against mountains, form springs and rivers, 209.
      passing different ways, accounted for, 211.
      electrical, attracted by trees, spires, &c. 213.
      manner in which they become electrised, 257, 305.
      are electrised sometimes negatively and sometimes positively, 274,
               277, 284, 292.
      electricity drawn from them, at Marly, 420.
          by Mr. Cauton, 428.
          by Dr. Bevis, 429,
          by Mr. Wilson, _ibid._
      how supported in air, ii. 5.
      how formed, 7.
      whether winds are generated or can be confined in them, 57.
      have little more solidity than fogs, _ibid._

  _Club_, called the Junto, instituted by Franklin, i. 82.
      rules of, ii. 366, 369.
      questions discussed in, 369.

  _Coal_, sea, letter on the nature of, ii. 128.

  _Cold_, why seemingly greater in metals than in wood, ii. 56, 77.
      sensation of, how produced, 57.
      only the absence of heat, 81.
      produced by chemical mixtures, _ibid._
          evaporation. See _Evaporation_.

  _Colden_, Mr. his remarks on Abbé Nollet's letters, i. 430.
      meteorological observations, ii. 51.
      observations on water-spouts, 53.

  _Colds_, causes of, ii. 214, 230.

  _Coleman_, William, a member of the Junto club, i. 84, 89.

  _Colica pictorum_, caused by lead, ii. 219.

  _Collins_, John, an early friend of Franklin's, i. 17, 27, 41, 43, 44.

  _Collinson_, Mr. some account of, iii. 514.

  _Colonial_ governments in America of three kinds, iii. 50.

  _Colonies_, the settlement of, does not diminish national numbers,
               ii. 391.
      their prosperity beneficial to the mother country, iii. 113.
      are intitled to distinct governments, 303.
      American, preferable to the West Indies, _ibid._
          not dangerous to Britain, 132.
          aids to government, how given by, 225, 226.
          originally governed by the crown, independent of Parliament,
          not settled at the expence of Britain, 348.

  _Colonists_ in America, double their number in 25 years, iii. 113.
      from Britain, their rights, 299.

  _Colours._ See _Clothes_.

  _Comazants_, or corposants, are electrical appearances, i. 248.

  _Commerce_, influence of, on the manners of a people, ii. 400.
      is best encouraged by being left free, 415.
      should not be prohibited in time of war, 417.
      by inland carriage, how supported, iii. 116.

  _Common-sense_, by Paine, Franklin supposed to have contributed to,
               i. 148.

  _Compass_, instances of its losing its virtue by lightning, i. 248.
      how to remedy the want of, at sea, ii. 191.

  _Conductors_ of lightning, very common in America, i. 113.
          first suggestion of the utility of, 227.
          construction of, 358.
          particulars relating to, 377.
      of electricity, difference in the action of, 200, 303.
          which the most perfect, 253, 256.
      and non-conductors, other terms substituted for, _ibid._
      of common fire, their properties and differences, ii. 76, 77.
          experiments on, ii. 77.

  _Congress_, Franklin appointed a delegate to, i. 146.
      proposed overture from, in 1775, iii. 347.

  _Consecration_ of bells in France, form of, i. 384.

  _Conspirators_, electrical, meaning of the term, i. 196.

  _Controversy_, benefit of, iii. 92.

  _Conversation_, advantage of useful topics of, at dinner, i. 12.

  _Cook_, captain, circular letter concerning, iii. 515.
      copy of the voyages of, presented to Franklin, by the Admiralty, 517.

  Cookery, at sea, generally bad, ii. 194.

  _Copper_, manner of covering houses with, ii. 318, 320, 322.

  _Copper_ plate printing-press, the first in America, constructed by
               Franklin, i. 77.

  _Corn_, ill policy of laying restraints on the exportation of, ii. 413,

  _Countries_, distant and unprovided, a plan for benefiting, ii. 403.

  _Creation_, conjectures as to, ii. 118.

  _Credit_, that of America and Britain in 1777, compared, iii. 372.
      depends on payment of loans, 373.
         industry and frugality, 374.
         public spirit, 375.
         income and security, 376.
         prospects of future ability, _ibid._
         prudence, 377.
         character for honesty, 378.
      is money to a tradesman, 464.

  _Criminal_ laws, reflections on, ii. 439.

  _Crooked_ direction of lightning explained, i. 316.

  _Cutler_, circumstance that prevented Franklin's being apprenticed to
               one, i. 14.

  _Currents_ at sea, often not perceivable, ii. 185.

  _Cyder_, the best quencher of thirst, ii. 195.


  _Dalrymple_, Mr. scheme of a voyage under his command to benefit remote
               regions, ii. 403.

  _Damp_ air, why more chilling than dry air that is colder, ii. 56, 77.

  _Dampier_, account of a water-spout by, ii. 33.
      references to his voyage, on the subject of water-spouts, 58.

  _Dampness_ on walls, cause of, ii. 50.

  _Day-light_, proposal to use it instead of candle-light, iii. 470.

  _Deacon_, Isaac, from an underling to a surveyor, becomes inspector-
              general of America, i. 78.
      prognosticates the future eminence in life of Franklin, _ib._

  _Death_ of Franklin, i. 153.
          letter from Dr. Price on, iii. 541.
      of relatives, reflections on, 507.

  _Deism_, effects on Franklin of books written against, i. 79.

  _Deluge_, accounted for, ii. 127.

  _Denham_, a quaker, a friend of Franklin's, i. 54.
      extraordinary trait of honesty of, to his creditors, 67.
      Franklin's engagement with, as a clerk, 68, 70.

  _Denmark_, the people of, not subject to colds, ii. 244.

  _Denny_, governor, remarks on his official conduct in Pensylvania,
               iii. 170.

  _Desaquiliers_, his experiment on the vapour of hot iron, ii. 249.

  _Dew_, how produced, i. 207.

  _Dialogue_, between Franklin and the gout, iii. 499.

  _Dickenson_, Mr. his remarks on the views of England in framing laws
               over the colonies, iii. 234.
      remarks on his conduct, 192.
          on his protest, 202.

  _Discontented_ dispositions satirized, iii. 485.

  _Discontents_ in America before 1768, causes of, iii. 225.

  _Dissentions_ between England and America, letter on, iii. 310.

  _Dissertation_, early one of Franklin's, that he repented having written,
               i. 58.

  _Disputation_, modesty in, recommended, i. 21. ii. 317.

  _Disputes_ between Franklin and his brother, to whom he was apprenticed,
               i. 24.

  _Domien_, a traveller, short account of, i. 302.

  _Drawling_, a defect in modern tunes, ii. 345.

  _Dreams_, art of procuring pleasant ones, iii. 493.

  _Dumas_, Monsieur, letter to, on the aid wanted by America in her struggle
               for independence, iii. 360.

  _Duna_ river, not to be confounded with the Dwina, iii. 119, note.

  _Dust_, how raised and carried up into the air, ii. 3.

  _Duties_, moral, the knowledge of, more important than the knowledge of
               nature, ii. 95.

  _Dutch_ iron stove, advantages and defects of, ii. 233.


  _Early_ impressions, lasting effect of, on the mind, iii. 478.

  _Earth_ will dissolve in air, ii. 2.
      dry, will not conduct electricity, i. 206.
      the, sometimes strikes lightning into the clouds, 274.
          grows no hotter under the summer sun, why, ii. 86.
          different strata of, 116.
          theory of, 117.

  _Earthquakes_, general good arising from, ii. 116.
      how occasioned, 120, 128.

  _Eaton_, in Northamptonshire, residence of Franklin's family, i. 3.

  _Ebb_ and flood, explanation of the terms, ii. 100.

  _Economical_ project, iii. 469.

  _Edinburgh_, an ordinance there against the purchase of prize-goods,
               ii. 447.

  _Education_ of women, controversy respecting, i. 17.

  _Eel_, electrical, of Surinam, i. 408, 409.

  _Effluvia_ of drugs, &c. will not pass through glass, i. 243.

  _Electrical_ air-thermometer described, i. 336, _et seq._
      atmosphere, how produced, 221.
          how drawn off, 222.
      atmospheres repel each other, 294.
          repel electric matter in other bodies, _ib._
      battery, its construction, 193.
      clouds, experiment regarding, 229.
      death, the easiest, 307.
      experiments, Franklin's eager pursuit of, 104.
          made in France, 109.
          various, 182, 229, 254, 255, 261, 271, 278, 286, 294, 307, 327,
               337, 348, 371, 434.
      fire, not created by friction, but collected, 173.
          passes through water, 202.
          loves water and subsists in it, 203.
          diffused through all matter, 205
          visible on the surface of the sea, _ibid._
          its properties and uses, 214, _et seq._
          produces common fire, 214, 238, 356.
          has the same crooked direction as lightning, 315.
      fluid, its beneficial uses, 219.
          is strongly attracted by glass, 236.
          manner of its acting through glass hermetically sealed, 241.
          a certain quantity of, in all kinds of matter, 275.
          nature of its explosion, 280.
          chooses the best conductor, 281, 378.
      force, may be unboundedly increased, 251.
      horse-race, 334.
      jack for roasting, 197.
      kiss, its force increased, 177.
      kite, described, 268.
      machine; simple and portable one, described, 178.
      matter, its properties, 217, 294.
      party of pleasure, 202.
      phial, or Leyden bottle, its phenomena explained, 179.
      shock, observations on, 182.
          effects of a strong one on the human body, 297, 306.
      spark, perforates a quire of paper, 195.
      wheel, its construction, 196.
          self-moving one, 198.

  _Electricity_, summary of its progress, i. 104.
      positive and negative, discovered, 106.
          distinguished, 175.
          in a tourmalin, 370.
      does not affect the elasticity of the air, 254.
      its similarity to lightning, 288.
      its effects on paralysis, 401.
      of fogs in Ireland, 405.
      supposed affinity between, and magnetism, 410.

  _Electrics per se_ and non-electrics, difference between, i. 242, 258.

  _Electrified_ bumpers described, i. 203.

  _Electrisation_, what constitutes the state of, i. 218.
      various appearances of, 175.
      variety of, 176.

  _Electrising_ one's self, manner of, i. 174.

  _Elocution_, how best taught, ii. 374.

  _Embassador_ from the United States to France, Franklin appointed to the
               office of, i. 148.

  _Emblematical_ design illustrative of the American troubles, iii. 371.

  _Emigrants_ to America, advice to, iii. 398.

  _Empire_, rules for reducing a great one, iii. 334.

  _England_, Franklin's first arrival in, i. 55.
          second arrival in, as agent for the province of Pensylvania, 134.
          third arrival in, as agent for the same province, 141.
      its air moister than that of America, ii. 140.
      decrease of population in, doubtful, 296.

  _English_, effect of the ancient manners of, ii. 399.
      language, innovations in, 351.

  _Enterprises_, public, Franklin's early disposition for, i. 10.

  _Ephemera_, an emblem of human life, iii. 508.

  _Epitaph_ on Franklin's parents, i. 13.
      on himself, 155.

  _Episcopalians_, conduct of the American legislature towards, ii. 455.

  _Errors_ of Franklin's early life, i. 45, 58, 61, 80, 97.

  _Ether_, what, ii. 59.

  _Evaporation_, cold produced by, i. 344, ii. 76, 83, 85.
      of rivers, effects of, 106.

  _Examination_ of Franklin before the house of commons, i. 142, iii. 245.
      before the privy council, 328.
      further particulars of, 551.

  _Exchange_, rate of, between Philadelphia and Britain, iii. 252.

  _Exercise_, should precede meals, iii. 493.

  _Experiments_, to show the electrical effect of points, i. 171, 172.
      to prove the electrical state of the Leyden phial, 182.
      of firing spirits by a spark sent through a river, 202.
      to show how thunder-storms produce rain, 209.
      on the clouds, proposed, 228.
      on drugs electrified, 243.
      on the elasticity of the air, 254.
      on the electric fluid, 255.
      by Mr. Kennersley, 261.
      on the electricity of the clouds, 271.
      for increasing electricity, 278.
      by Mr. Canton, 286.
      in pursuance of those of Mr. Canton, 294.
      on a silver cann, 307.
      on the velocity of the electric fluid, 327, 329, 330.
      for producing cold by evaporation, 344.
      on the different effects of electricity, 357.
      by lord Charles Cavendish, 348.
      on the tourmalin, 371.
      to show the utility of long pointed rods to houses, 389.
      on amber, 403 _et seq._
      on the Leyden phial, 434.
      on different coloured cloths, ii. 108, 109.
      on the sailing of boats, 160.

  _Exportation_ of gold and silver, observations on, ii. 416.

  _Exports_ to North America and the West Indies, iii. 127, 128.
      to Pensylvania, 129, 250.
      from ditto, 250.

  _Eye_, retains the images of luminous objects, ii. 340.


  _Facts_, should be ascertained before we attempt to account for them,
               ii. 96.

  _Family_ of Franklin, account of, i. 5. _et seq._

  _Famine_, how provided against in China, ii. 407.

  _Fanning_, how it cools, ii. 87.

  _Farmers_, remonstrance in behalf of, ii. 420.

  _Federal_ constitution, speech on, iii. 416.

  _Felons_, transportation of, to America, highly disagreeable to the
               inhabitants, iii. 235.

  _Fermenting_ liquors, their steam deleterious, ii. 59.

  Fire, not destroyed by water, but dispersed, i. 172.
      makes air specifically lighter, 206.
      exists in all bodies, 214.
      common and electrical, exist together, _ibid._
      a region of, above our atmosphere, 257, ii. 124.
      many ways of kindling it, i. 356.
      exists in a solid or quiescent state in substances, _ibid._ ii. 80,
      recovers its fluidity by combustion, _ibid._
      is a fluid permeating all bodies, 76.
      conductors of, are also best conductors of the electric fluid, _ibid._
          difference between, and electrical conductors, 77.
      how diffused through substances, 78.
      how generated in animated bodies, 79.
      theory of, 122.
      a fixed and permanent quantity of, in the universe, 123.
      its properties, 227.
      electrical, see _Electrical_.

  _Fire-companies_, numerous at Philadelphia, i. 103.

  _Fire-places_, Pensylvanian, account of, ii. 225.
      large and open, inconvenient, 228.
      hollow backed, by Gauger, 232.
      Staffordshire, 285.
      an ingenious one for serving two rooms, 296.

  _Fires_, at sea, how often produced, ii. 174.
      great and bright, damage the eyes and skin, 230.

  _Fisheries_, value of those of Newfoundland, iii. 452.

  _Flame_, preserves bodies from being consumed while surrounding them,
               ii. 310, 311.

  _Flaxseed_, amount of the exportation of from America to Ireland,
               iii. 270.

  _Flesh_, of animals, made tender by lightning and by electricity, i. 359,

  _Flies_, drowned in America, brought to life in England, ii. 223.

  _Flood_ and ebb, explanation of the terms, ii. 100.

  _Florence_ flask, when filled with boiling water, not chargeable with
               electricity, i. 332, 345.

  _Fog_, great, in 1783, ii. 68.
      conjectures as to its cause, _ibid._

  _Fogs_, how supported in air, ii. 5.
      electricity of, in Ireland, i. 405.

  _Folger_, family-name of Franklin's mother, i. 8.

  _Foreigners_, the importation of, not necessary to fill up occasional
               vacancies in population, ii. 390.

  _Forts_ in the back settlements, not approved of, iii. 99.

  _Foster_, judge, notes on his argument for the impress of seamen, ii. 437.

  _Foundering_ at sea, accidents that occasion it, ii. 169, 170.

  _Fountain_, when electrified, its stream separates, i. 206.

  _Fowls_, improperly treated at sea, ii. 193.

  _Fragments_, political, ii. 411.

  _France_, its air moister than that of America, ii. 140.
      effects of its military manners, 399.

  _Franklin_, derivation of the name, i. 4.
      genealogy of the family of, 5.

  _Franks_, the improper use of, reprobated, ii. 435.

  _Freezing_ to death in summer, possibility of, ii. 84.

  _French_ language, its general use, ii. 353.

  _Frontiers_, in America, the attack of, the common cause of the state,
               iii. 109.

  _Frugality_, advantages of, ii. 397.
      observance of, in America, iii. 374

  _Fruit-walls_, blacking them recommended, ii. 110.

  _Fuel_, scarce in Philadelphia, ii. 225.

  _Fulling-mills_ in America, iii. 270.

  _Fusion_, cold, of metals, supposed, i. 215.
      proves a mistake, 339.
      error respecting it acknowledged, 355.


  _Galloway_, Mr, preface to his speech, iii. 163.

  _Garnish-money_, practice among printers of demanding it, i. 63.

  _Gauger_, M. his invention for fire-places, ii. 232.

  _Genealogy_ of the Franklin family, i. 5.

  _German_ stoves, advantages and disadvantages of, ii. 234.

  _Germany_, why the several states of, encourage foreign manufactures in
               preference to those of each other, iii. 118. note.

  _Gilding_, its properties as a conductor, i. 201.
      the effects of lightning and of electricity on, 229.
      fails as a conductor after a few shocks, 231.

  _Glass_, has always the same quantity of electrical fire, i. 191.
      possesses the whole power of giving a shock, 192, 247.
      in panes, when first used in an electrical experiment, 193, 194.
      great force in small portions of, 199.
      impermeable to the electric fluid, 234, 310.
      strongly attracts the electric fluid, 236.
      cannot be electrified negatively, _ibid._
      its opposite surfaces, how affected, _ibid._
      its component parts and pores extremely fine, 237.
      manner of its operation in producing electricity, _ibid._
      its elasticity, to what owing, 239.
      thick, resists a change of the quantity of electricity of its
               different sides, 242.
      rod of, will not conduct a shock, _ibid._
      when fluid, or red hot, will conduct electricity, 256.
      difference in its qualities, 301.
      error as to its pores, 302.
      will admit the electric fluid, when moderately heated, 345, 347.
      when cold retains the electric fluid, 346.
      experiments on warm and cold, 348.
      singular tube and ball of, 386.

  _Glasses_, musical, described, ii. 330, _et seq._

  _God_, saying in America respecting, iii. 401.

  _Godfrey_, Thomas, a lodger with Franklin, i. 81.
      a member of the Junto, 83.
      inventor of Hadley's quadrant, _ibid._
      wishes Franklin to marry a relation of his, 95.

  _Gold_ and silver, remarks on exportation of, ii. 416.

  _Golden_ fish, an electrical device, i. 233.

  _Government_, free, only destroyed by corruption of manners, ii. 397.

  _Gout_, dialogue with that disease, iii. 499.

  _Grace_, Robert, member of the Junto club, i. 84, 89.

  _Gratitude_ of America, letter on, iii. 239.

  _Greasing_ the bottoms of ships, gives them more swiftness, ii. 180.

  _Greece_, causes of its superiority over Persia, ii. 397.

  _Greek_ empire, the destruction of, dispersed manufacturers over Europe,
               iii. 122.

  _Green_ and red, relation between the colours of, ii. 341.

  _Greenlanders_, their boats best for rowing, ii. 176.

  _Guadaloupe_, its value to Britain over-rated, iii. 139.

  _Gulph-stream_, observations on, ii. 186.
      whalers frequent its edges, _ibid._
      long unknown to any but the American fishermen, _ibid._
      how generated, 187.
      its properties, _ibid._
      tornadoes and water-spouts attending it, accounted for, 188.
      how to avoid it, 197.
      Nantucket whalers best acquainted with it, 198.
      thermometrical observations on, 199.
      journal of a voyage across, _ibid._

  _Gunpowder_, fired by electricity, i. 250.
      magazines of, how to secure them from lightning, 375.
      proposal for keeping it dry, 376.


  _Habits_, effects of, on population, ii. 393. 394.

  _Hadley's_ quadrant, by whom invented, i. 83, 95.

  _Hail_, brings down electrical fire, i. 292.
      how formed, ii. 66.

  _Hamilton_, Mr. a friend of Franklin's, i. 54, 88.

  _Handel_, criticism on one of his compositions, ii. 345.

  _Harmony_, in music, what, ii. 339.

  _Harp_, effect of, on the ancient Scotch tunes, ii. 340.

  _Harry_, David, companion of Franklin's, i. 72, 93.

  _Hats_, summer, should be white, ii. 109.
      the manufacture of, in New England, in 1760, iii. 131.

  _Health_ of seamen, Captain Cook's method of preserving it recommended,
               ii. 190.

  _Heat_, produced by electricity and by lightning, i. 338, 339.
      better conducted by some substances than others, ii. 56, 58.
      how propagated, 58.
      the pain it occasions, how produced, 78.
      in animals, how generated, 79, 125.
      in fermentation, the same as that of the human body, 80.
      great, at Philadelphia, in 1750, 85.
      general theory of, 122.

  _Herrings_, shoals of, perceived by the smoothness of the sea, ii. 150.

  _Hints_ to those that would be rich, iii. 466.

  _Holmes_, Robert, brother-in-law to Franklin, i. 37, 71.

  _Honesty_, often a very partial principle of conduct, ii. 430.

  _Honours_, all descending ones absurd, iii. 550.

  _Hopkins_, governor, his report of the number of inhabitants in Rhode
               Island, iii. 129.

  _Horse-race_, electrical, i. 335.

  _Hospital_, one founded by the exertions of Franklin, i. 126.

  _Hospitals_, foundling, state of in England and France, iii. 544*, 548*.

  _Hospitality_, a virtue of barbarians, iii. 391.

  _Houses_, remarks on covering them with copper, ii. 318, 320.
      many in Russia covered with iron plates, 319.
      their construction in Paris renders them little liable to fires, 321.

  _Howe_, lord, letter from, to Franklin, iii. 365.
      Franklin's answer to, 367.

  _Hudson's_ river, winds there, ii. 52, 59.

  _Hunters_, require much land to subsist on, ii. 384.

  _Hurricanes_, how produced, ii. 7.
      why cold in hot climates, _ibid._

  _Hutchinson_, governor, cause of the application for his removal,
               iii. 323.
      account of the letters of, 331, 551.

  _Hygrometer_, best substances for forming one, ii. 136.
      mahogany recommended for forming one, 141.

  I. J.

  _Jackson_, Mr. remarks on population by, ii. 392.

  _Jamaica_, its vacant lands not easily made sugar lands, iii. 140.

  _Javelle_, his machinery for moving boats, ii. 177.

  _Ice_ will not conduct an electric shock, i. 201.

  _Ice-islands_, dangerous to shipping, ii. 176.

  _Idleness_, the heaviest tax on mankind, ii. 411, iii. 454.
      encouraged by charity, ii. 422.
      reflections on, iii. 428.

  _Jefferson_, Mr. letter from, on the character of Franklin, iii. 545.

  _Jesuits_, hostility of the Indians in America excited by, iii. 95.

  _Ignorance_, a frank acknowledgment of, commendable, i. 308.

  _Imports_ into Pensylvania from Britain before 1766, iii. 250.

  _Impress_ of seamen, notes on Judge Foster's argument in favour of,
               ii. 437.

  _Inarticulation_ in modern singing, censured, ii. 348.

  _Increase_ of mankind, observations on, ii. 383, and _seq._
      what prevented by, 386, 387.
      how promoted, 388, 389.
      further observations on, 393.

  _Indemnification_, just ground for requiring cessions from an enemy,
               iii. 93.

  _Independence_, soon acquired in America, iii. 402.

  _Indian trade_ and affairs, remarks on a plan for the future management
               of, iii. 216.
      spirituous liquors the great encouragement of, 219.
      the debts from, must be left to honour, 220.
      not an American but a British interest, 275.

  _Indians_, of North America, a number of, murdered, i. 139.
      often excited by the French against the English, iii. 95.
      list of fighting men in the different nations of, 221.
      difference of their warfare from that of Europeans, 100.
      remarks concerning, 383.
      their mode of life, 384.
          public councils, 385.
          politeness in conversation, 386.
          rules in visiting, 388.

  _Industry_, effects of Franklin's, i. 85.
      the cause of plenty, ii. 396.
      essential to the welfare of a people, 411.
      relaxed by cheapness of provisions, 415.
      a greater portion of, in every nation, than of idleness, 396, 429,
               iii. 396.
      its prevalence in America, iii. 373.

  _Inflammability_ of the surface of rivers, ii. 130.

  _Inland_ commerce, instances of, iii. 120.

  _Innovations_ in language and printing, ii. 351.

  _Inoculation_, letter on the deaths occasioned by, ii. 215.
      success of, in Philadelphia, 216, 217.

  _Insects_, utility of the study of, ii. 93.

  _Interrogation_, the mark of, how to be placed, ii. 356.

  _Invention_, the faculty of, its inconveniences, i. 308.

  _Inventions_, new, generally scouted, _ibid._

  _Journal_ of a voyage, crossing the gulph-stream, ii. 199.
      from Philadelphia to France, 200, 201.
      from the channel to America, 202, _et seq._

  _Iron_ contained in the globe, renders it a great magnet, ii. 119.
      query whether it existed at the creation, 126.
      hot, gives no bad smell, 247.
          yields no bad vapours, 248.
      rods, erected for experiments on the clouds, i. 270.
          conduct more lightning in proportion to their thickness, 282.

  _Islands_ far from a continent have little thunder, i. 216.

  _Italic_ types, use of, in printing, ii. 355.

  _Judges_, mode of their appointment in America, in 1768, iii. 23.

  _Junto._ See _Club_.


  _Keimer_, a connection of Franklin's, some account of, i. 35, 70, 93.

  _Keith_, sir William, Franklin patronized by, i. 39.
          deceived by, 54.
      character of, 57.

  _Kinnersley_, Mr. electrical experiments by, i. 261, _et seq._, 331.

  _Kiss_, electrical, i. 177.

  _Kite_ used to draw electricity from the clouds, i. 108.
      electrical, described, i. 268.

  _Knobs_, not so proper as points, for conducting lightning, i. 359.


  _Labour_, why it will long continue dear in America, ii. 385.
      its advantages, 427, 428.

  _Land_, terms on which it may be obtained in America, by settlers,
               iii. 409.

  _Landing_ in a surf, supposed practicable, how, ii. 154.
      tried without success, 155.

  _Language_, remarks on innovations in, ii. 351, _et seq._

  _Laughers_, satyrized, iii. 425.

  _Law_, the old courts of, in the colonies, as ample in their powers, as
               those in England, iii. 304.

  _Law-expenses_, no discouragement to law-suits, iii. 270.

  _Law-stamps_, a tax on the poor, iii. 269.

  _Lead_, effects of, on the human constitution, ii. 219.

  _Leaks_ in ships, why water enters by them most rapidly at first, ii. 109.
      means to prevent their being fatal, 170.

  _Leather_ globe, proposed, instead of glass, for electrical experiments,
               i. 267.

  _Left_ hand, a petition from, iii. 483.

  _Leg_, handsome and deformed, humourous anecdote of, iii. 437.

  _Legal_ tender of paper-money, its advantages, iii. 150.
      further remarks on, 151.

  _Lending_ money, new mode of, iii. 463.

  _Letter-founding_ effected by Franklin in America, i. 74.

  _Leutmann_, J. G. extract from his vulcanus famulans, ii. 298.

  _Leyden_ bottle, its phenomena explained, i. 179.
      analysed, 192.
      experiment to prove its qualities, 245.
      when sealed hermetically, retains long its electricity, 345.

  _Liberty_ of the press, observations on, ii. 463.
          abused, 465.
      of the cudgel, should be allowed in return, 467.

  _Libraries_, public, the first in America set on foot by Franklin, i. 99.
      are now numerous in America, 100.
      advantages of, to liberty, 101.

  _Life_ and death, observations on the doctrines of, ii. 222.

  _Light_, difference between that from the sun and that from a fire in
               electrical experiments, i. 173.
      difficulties in the doctrines of, i. 253.
      queries concerning, _ibid._
      visibility of its infinitely small particles computed, ii. 90.
      new theory of, 122.

  _Lighthouse-tragedy_, an early poem of Franklin's, i. 16.

  _Lightning_, represented by electricity, i. 176.
      drawn from the clouds, by a kite, 268.
          by an iron rod, _ibid._
      reasons for proposing the experiment on, 304.
      its effects at Newbury, 310.
      will leave other substances, to pass through metals, 312.
      communicates magnetism to iron, 314.
      objections to the hypothesis of its being collected from the sea,
               318, 323.
      effects of, on a wire at New York, 326.
          on Mr. West's pointed rod, 340, _et seq._
      how it shivers trees, 359.
      effects of, on conductors in Carolina, 361, 362, 364.
      does not enter through openings, 368.
      should be distinguished from its light, 369.
      an explosion always accompanies it, _ibid._
      observations on its effects on St. Bride's church, 374, 382.
      how to preserve buildings from, 377.
      personal danger from, how best avoided, 381.
      brought down by a pointed rod, in a large quantity, 389.
      how to prevent a stroke of, at sea, ii. 175.

  _Linnæus_, instance of public benefit arising from his knowledge
  of insects, ii. 94.

  _London_, atmosphere of, moister than that of the country, ii. 139.

  _Loyalty_ of America before the troubles, iii. 237.

  _Luxury_, beneficial when not too common, ii. 389.
      definition of, 395, 425.
      extinguishes families, 395.
      not to be extirpated by laws, 401.
      further observations on, 425.

  _Lying-to_, the only mode yet used for stopping a vessel at sea, ii. 181.


  _Maddeson_, Mr. death of, lamented, iii. 544*.

  _Magazine_ of powder, how to secure it from lightning, i. 375.

  _Magical_ circle of circles, ii. 327.
      picture, i. 195.
      square of squares, ii. 324.

  _Magnetism_, animal, detected and exposed, i. 150.
      given by electricity, 248, 314.
      and electricity, affinity between, 410.
      supposed to exist in all space, ii. 119, 126.
      conjectures as to its effects on the globe, 120.
      enquiry how it first came to exist, 126.

  _Mahogany_, expands and shrinks, according to climate, ii. 138.
      recommended for an hygrometer, 141.

  _Mandeville_, Franklin's acquaintance with, i. 39.

  _Manners_, effects of, on population, ii. 393, _et seq._
      letter to the Busy-body on the want of, iii. 432.

  _Manufactures_, produce greater proportionate returns than raw materials,
               ii. 410.
      founded in the want of land for the poor, iii. 107.
      are with difficulty transplanted from one country to another, 121.
      hardly ever lost but by foreign conquest, 122.
      probability of their establishment in America, 260.
      want no encouragement from the government, if a country be ripe for
               them, 405.

  _Maritime_ observations, ii. 162.

  _Marly_, experiments made at, for drawing lightning from the clouds,
               i. 421.

  _Marriage_ of Franklin, i. 97.

  _Marriages_, where the greatest number take place, ii. 383.
      why frequent and early in America, 385. iii. 113, 403.
      early, letter on, iii. 475.

  _Maryland_, account of a whirlwind there, ii. 61.
      of paper bills formerly issued there, iii. 155.
      its conduct in a French war, previous to the American troubles,
               defended, 262.

  _Massachusets_ bay, petition of the inhabitants of, to the king, iii. 325.

  _Matter_, enquiry into the supposed vis inertiæ of, ii. 110.
      man can neither create nor annihilate it, 123.

  _Mawgridge_, William, member of the Junto club, i. 84.

  _Maxims_, prudential, from poor Richard's almanack, iii. 453.

  _Mazeas_, abbe, letter from, i. 420.

  _Meal_, grain, &c. manner of preserving them good for ages, i. 376.
               ii. 190.

  _Mechanics_, advantages of an early attention to, i. 14.

  _Mediocrity_, prevalence of, in America, iii. 399.

  _Melody_ in music, what, ii. 340.

  _Men_, six, struck down by an electric shock, i. 306.

  _Mercer_, Dr. letter from, on a water-spout, ii. 34.

  _Merchants_ and shopkeepers in America, iii. 394.

  _Meredith_, Hugh, companion of Franklin, short account of, i. 72, 76, 89.

  _Metalline_ rods, secure buildings from lightning, i. 281.
      either prevent or conduct a stroke, 310.

  _Metals_, melted by electricity and by lightning, i. 215, 229.
      when melted by electricity, stain glass, 232.
      polished, spotted by electrical sparks, 253.
      feel colder than wood, why, ii. 56.

  _Meteorological_ observations, ii. 1, 45, 66.

  _Methusalem_ slept always in the open air, iii. 495.

  _Mickle_, Samuel, a prognosticator of evil, i. 81.

  _Military_ manners, effects of, ii. 398, 399.
      power of the king, remarks on, iii. 307.

  _Militia_ bill, Franklin the author of one, i. 132.
      particular one, rejected by the governor of Pensylvania, 100.
               iii. 157.

  _Mines_, method of changing air in them, ii. 291.
      of rock salt, conjectures as to their formation, 92.

  _Mists_, how supported in air, ii. 5.

  _Modesty_ in disputation recommended, ii. 317.

  _Money_, how to make it plenty, iii. 467.
      new mode of lending, 468.

  _Moral_ principles, state of Franklin's mind respecting, on his entering
               into business, i. 79.

  _Morals_ of chess, iii. 488.

  _Motion_, the communication and effects of, ii. 7, 8.
      of vessels at sea, how to be stopped, 181.

  _Mountains_, use of, in producing rain and rivers, i. 208.
      why the summits of, are cold, ii. 6.
      conjecture how they became so high, 91.

  _Music_, harmony and melody of the old Scotish, ii. 338.
      modern, defects of, 343.

  _Musical_ glasses described, ii. 330.


  _Nantucket_ whalers best acquainted with the gulph-stream, ii. 198.

  _National_ wealth, data for reasoning on, ii. 408.
      three ways of acquiring, 410.

  _Navigation_, difference of, in shoal and deep water, ii. 158.
      observations on, 195, 196.
      from Newfoundland to New York, 197.
      inland, in America, iii. 118.

  _Needle_ of a compass, its polarity reversed by lightning, i. 248, 325.
      of wood, circular motion of, by electricity, 332, 351.

  _Needles_, magnetised by electricity, i. 148.
      and pins, melted by electricity, 249.

  _Negatively_ electrised bodies repel each other, i. 294.

  _Negroes_ bear heat better, and cold worse, than whites, ii. 86.

  _Newbury_, effects of a stroke of lightning there, i. 310.

  _New-England_, former flourishing state of, from the issue of paper money,
               iii. 145.
      circumstances which rendered the restriction of paper money there not
               injurious, 148.
      abolition of paper currency there, 263.

  _Newfoundland_ fisheries, more valuable than the mines of Peru, iii. 452.

  _Newspaper_, one sufficient for all America, in 1721, i. 23.
      instance of one set up by Franklin at Philadelphia, 86.

  _New-York_, effects of lightning there, i. 326.
      former flourishing state of, from the issue of paper-money, iii. 146.
      sentiments of the colonists on the act for abolishing the legislature
               of, 232.
      obtained in exchange for Surinam, 349.

  _Nollet_, Abbé, Franklin's theory of electricity opposed by, i. 113.
      remarks on his letters, 430.

  _Non-conductors_ of electricity, i. 378.

  _Non-electric_, its property in receiving or giving electrical fire,
               i. 193.

  _North-east_ storms in America, account of, ii. 68.

  _Nurses_, office at Paris for examining the health of, iii. 549*.


  _Oak_ best for flooring and stair-cases, ii. 321.

  _Ohio_, distance of its fort from the sea, iii. 119, note.

  _Oil_, effect of heat on, ii. 4.
      evaporates only in dry air, _ibid._
      renders air unfit to take up water, _ibid._
      curious instance of its effects on water in a lamp, 142.
      stilling of waves by means of, 144, 145, 148, 150, 151, 154.

  _Old_ man's wish, song so called quoted, iii. 546*.

  _Onslow_, Arthur, dedication of a work to, by Franklin, iii. 59.

  _Opinions_, vulgar ones too much slighted, ii. 146.
      regard to established ones, thought wisdom in a government, iii. 226.

  _Orthography_, a new mode of, ii. 359.

  _Osborne_, a friend of Franklin's, i. 50, 53

  _Oversetting_ at sea, how it occurs, ii. 172.
      how to be prevented, _ibid._, 173.

  _Outriggers_ to boats, advantages of, ii. 173.


  _Packthread_, though wet, not a good conductor, i. 200.

  _Paine's_ Common Sense, Franklin supposed to have contributed to, i. 148.

  _Paper_, how to make large sheets, in the Chinese way, ii. 349.
      a poem, iii. 522.

  _Paper-credit_, cannot be circumscribed by law, ii. 418.

  _Paper-money_, pamphlet written by Franklin on, i. 91.
      American, remarks and facts relative to, iii. 144.
      advantages of, over gold and silver, iii. 152.

  _Papers_ on philosophical subjects, i. 169, _et seq._ ii. 1, _et seq._
      on general politics, ii. 383, _et seq._
      on American subjects, before the revolution, iii. 3, _et seq._
          during the revolution, iii. 225, _et seq._
          subsequent to the revolution, iii. 383, _et seq._
      on moral subjects, iii. 421, _et seq._

  _Parable_ against persecution, ii. 450.

  _Paradoxes_ inferred from some experiments, i. 262.

  _Paralysis_, effects of electricity on, i. 401.

  _Parliament_ of England, opinions in America, in 1766, concerning,
               iii. 254.

  _Parsons_, William, member of the Junto club, i. 83.

  _Parties_, their use in republics, iii. 396.

  _Party_ of pleasure, electrical, i. 202.

  _Passages_ to and from America, how to be shortened, ii. 138.
      why shorter from, than to, America, 189.

  _Passengers_ by sea, instructions to, ii. 192.

  _Patriotism_, spirit of, catching, iii. 90.

  _Peace_, the victorious party may insist on adequate securities in the
               terms of, iii. 96.

  _Penn_, governor, remarks on his administration, iii. 183.
      sold his legislative right in Pensylvania, but did not complete the
               bargain, 189.

  _Pensylvania_, Franklin appointed clerk to the general assembly of,
               i. 102.
          forms a plan of association for the defence of, 104.
          becomes a member of the general assembly of, 114.
      aggrievances of, iii. 50.
      infraction of its charter, 52.
      review of the constitution of, 59.
      former flourishing state of, from the issue of paper-money, 146.
      rate of exchange there, 154.
      letter on the militia bill of, 157.
      settled by English and Germans, 162.
      English and German, its provincial languages, _ib._
      pecuniary bargains between the governors and assembly of, 165.
      taxes there, 246, 251.
      number of its inhabitants, 249.
      proportion of quakers, and of Germans, _ibid._
      exports and imports, 250.
      assembly of, in 1766, how composed, 252.

  _Pensylvanian_ fire-places, account of, ii. 223.
      particularly described, 235.
      effects of, 239.
      manner of using them, 241.
      advantages of, 243.
      objections to, answered, 247.
      directions to bricklayers respecting, 251.

  _Peopling_ of countries, observations on, ii. 383, _et seq._

  _Perkins_, Dr. letter from, on water-spouts, ii. 11.
      on shooting stars, 36.

  _Persecution_, parable against, ii. 450.
      of dissenters, letter on, 452.
      of quakers in New England, 454.

  _Perspirable_ matter, pernicious, if retained, ii. 50.

  _Perspiration_, necessary to be kept up, in hot climates, ii. 86.
      difference of, in persons when naked and clothed, 214.

  _Petition_ from the colonists of Massachusets bay, iii. 325.
      of the left hand, 483.

  _Petty_, sir William, a double vessel built by, ii. 174.

  _Philadelphia_, Franklin's first arrival at, i. 32.
      account of a seminary there, instituted by Franklin, 116 to 127.
      state of the public bank at, iii. 551*.

  _Phytolacca_, or poke weed, a specific for cancers, i. 261.

  _Picture_, magical, described, i. 195.

  _Plain_ truth, Franklin's first political pamphlet, iii. 524.

  _Plan_ for benefiting distant countries, ii. 403.
      for settling two western colonies, iii. 41.
      for the management of Indian affairs, remarks on, 216.
      for improving the condition of the free blacks, 519.

  _Planking_ of ships, improvement in, ii. 189.

  _Pleurisy_, Franklin attacked by, i. 71, 154.

  _Plus_ and minus electricity, in the Leyden bottle, i. 181.
      in other bodies, 185.

  _Pointed_ rods, secure buildings from lightning, i. 283, 381.
      experiments and observations on, 388.
      objections to, answered, 395, 396.

  _Points_, their effects, i. 170.
      property of, explained, 223.
      experiment showing the effect of, on the clouds, 283.
      mistake respecting, 310.

  _Poke-weed_, a cure for cancers, i. 260, 261.

  _Polarity_ given to needles by electricity, i. 248.

  _Poles_ of the earth, if changed, would produce a deluge, ii. 127.

  _Political_ fragments, ii. 411.

  _Polypus_, a nation compared to, ii. 391.

  _Poor_, remarks on the management of, ii. 418.
      the better provided for, the more idle, 422.

  _Poor_ Richard, maxims of, iii. 453.

  _Pope_, criticism on two of his lines, i. 23.

  _Population_, observations on, ii. 383.
      causes which diminish it, 386.
      occasional vacancies in, soon filled by natural generation, 390.
      rate of its increase in America, 385. iii. 113, 250, 254.
      why it increases faster there, than in England, iii. 255.

  _Positions_ concerning national wealth, ii. 408.

  _Positiveness_, impropriety of, ii. 318.

  _Postage_, not a tax, but payment for a service, iii. 265.
      state of, in America, in 1766, 279.

  _Post-master_, and deputy post-master general, Franklin appointed to the
               offices of, i. 102, 127.

  _Potts_, Stephen, a companion of Franklin's, i. 72, 84.

  _Poultry_, not good at sea, ii. 193.

  _Powder-magazines_, how secured from lightning, i. 375.

  _Power_ to move a heavy body, how to be augmented, ii. 191.

  _Pownall_, governor, memorial of, to the Duke of Cumberland, iii. 41.
      letter from, on an equal communication of rights to America, 243.
      constitution of the colonies by, 299.

  _Preface_ to Mr. Galloway's speech, iii. 163.
      to proceedings of the inhabitants of Boston, 317.

  _Presbyterianism_, established religion in New England, ii. 454.

  _Press_, account of the court of, ii. 463.
      liberty of, abused, 465.

  _Pressing_ of seamen, animadversions on, ii. 437.

  _Price_, Dr. letter from, on Franklin's death, iii. 541.

  _Priestley_, Dr. letter from, on Franklin's character, iii. 547.

  _Printers_ at Philadelphia before Franklin, i. 36.

  _Printing_, Franklin apprenticed to the business of, i. 15.
      works at it as a journeymen in England, 58, 62.
      in America, 35, 71.
      enters on the business of, as master, 78.
      observations on fashions in, ii. 355.

  _Prison_, society for relieving the misery of, i. 151.
      not known among the Indians of America, iii. 220.

  _Privateering_, reprobated, ii. 436.
      further observations on, 446.
      article to prevent it, recommended in national treaties, 448.
      inserted in a treaty between America and Prussia, 449.

  _Proas_, of the pacific ocean, safety of, ii. 173.
      flying, superior to any of our sailing boats, 176.

  _Produce_ of the inland parts of America, iii. 119.

  _Products_ of America, do not interfere with those of Britain, iii. 124.

  _Prose-writing_, method of acquiring excellence in, i. 18.

  _Protest_ against Franklin's appointment as colonial agent, remarks on,
               iii. 203.

  _Provisions_, cheapness of, encourages idleness, ii. 415.

  _Prussian_ edict, assuming claims over Britain, iii. 311.

  _Public_ services and functions of Franklin, i. 125.
      spirit, manifest in England, iii. 91.
          different opinion respecting it expressed, 375.

  _Punctuality_ of America in the payment of public debts, iii. 373.

  _Puckridge_, Mr. inventor of musical glasses, i. 136.


  _Quaker-lady_, good advice of one to Franklin in his youth, i. 42.

  _Quakers_, persecution of, in New England, ii. 454.
      proportion of, in Pensylvania, iii. 249.

  _Quebec_, remarks on the enlargement of the province of, iii. 20, note.

  _Queries_ concerning light, i. 258.
      proposed at the Junto club, ii. 366.
      from Mr. Strahan, on the American disputes, iii. 287.

  _Questions_ discussed by the Junto club, ii. 369.


  _Rain_, how produced, i. 207.
      generally brings down electricity, 292.
      why never salt, ii. 32.
      different quantities of, falling at different heights, 133.

  _Ralph_, James, a friend of Franklin's, i. 50, 53, 54, 57, 60.

  _Rarefaction_ of the air, why greater in the upper regions, ii. 6.

  _Read_, maiden name of Franklin's wife, i. 33, 37, 49, 54, 59, 70, 96.

  _Reading_, Franklin's early passion for, i. 15, 16.
      how best taught, ii. 372.
      advice to youth respecting, 378.

  _Recluse_, a Roman Catholic one, in London, i. 65.

  _Red_ and green, relation between the colours of, ii. 341.

  _Regimen_, sudden alterations of, not prejudicial, i. 49.

  _Religious_ sect, new one, intended establishment of, i. 48.

  _Repellency_, electrical, how destroyed, i. 172.

  _Representation_, American, in the British parliament, thoughts on,
               iii. 37, 243.

  _Repulsion_, electrical, the doctrine of, doubted, i. 333.
      considerations in support of, 349.

  _Revelation_, doubted by Franklin in his youth, i. 79.

  _Rhode-Island_, purchased for a pair of spectacles, iii. 21.
      its population at three periods, iii. 129.

  _Rich_, hints to those that would be, iii. 466.

  _Ridicule_, delight of the prince of Condé in, iii. 424.

  _Rivers_, from the Andes, how formed, i. 209.
      motion of the tides in, explained, ii. 96, 102.
      do not run into the sea, 105.
      evaporate before they reach the sea, 106.
      inflammability of the surface of, 130.

  _Rods_, utility of long pointed ones, to secure buildings from lightning,
               i. 388.
      See farther. _Iron._ _Lightning._ _Metalline._

  _Rome_, causes of its decline enquired into, ii. 398.
      political government of its provinces, iii. 136.

  _Rooms_, warm, advantages of, ii. 249.
      do not give colds, ibid.

  _Roots_, edible, might be dried and preserved for sea-store, ii. 190.

  _Rosin_, when fluid, will conduct electricity, i. 256.

  _Rousseau_, his opinion of tunes in parts, ii. 342.

  _Rowing_ of boats, Chinese method of, ii. 177.

  _Rowley_, Dr. Franklin's obligations to, iii. 555*.


  _Sailing_, observations on, ii. 163.

  _Sails_, proposed improvements in, ii. 164, 166.

  _Saint_ Bride's church, stroke of lightning on, i. 374.

  _Salt_, dry, will not conduct electricity, i. 258.
      rock, conjectures as to its origin, ii. 91.

  _Saltness_ of the sea-water considered, _ib._

  _Savage_, John, a companion of Franklin's, i. 72.

  _Savages_ of North America, remarks on, iii. 383, _et seq._

  _School_, sketch of one, for Philadelphia, ii. 370.

  _Scotch_ tunes, harmony of, and melody, ii. 338.

  _Screaming_, a defect in modern tunes, ii. 345.

  _Scull_, Nicholas, member of the Junto club, i. 83.

  _Sea_, electrical qualities of its component parts, i. 205.
      opinion, that it is the source of lightning, considered, 269, 321,
      supposed cause of its luminous appearance, ii. 88.
      from what cause, salt, 91.
      has formerly covered the mountains, _ib._

  _Sea-coal_, has a vegetable origin, ii. 128.
      prejudices against the use of, at Paris, 278.

  _Sea-water_, soon loses its luminous quality, i. 269.
      considerations on the distillation of, ii. 103.
      how to quench thirst with, 104.
      thermometrical observation on, 199, _et seq._

  _Security_, a just ground to demand cessions from an enemy, iii. 93.

  _Separation_ of the colonies from Britain, probability of, in 1775,
               iii. 356.

  _Servants_ in England, the most barren parts of the people, ii. 395.

  _Settlements_, new, in America, letter concerning, iii. 409.

  _Settlers_ of British colonies, their rights, iii. 299.

  _Sheep_, a whole flock killed by lightning, i. 415.

  _Ships_, abandoned at sea, often saved, ii. 169.
      may be nicely balanced, 170.
      accidents to, at sea, how guarded against, 172.

  _Shirley_, governor, letters to, on the taxation of the colonies, iii. 30.
      on American representation in the British parliament, 37.

  _Shooting-stars_, letter on, ii. 36.

  _Shop-keepers_ in America, iii. 394.

  _Sides_ of vessels, the best construction of, ii. 172.

  _Silver_ cann, experiment with, i. 307.
      vessels, not so easily handled as glass, when filled with hot liquors,
               ii. 57.

  _Slavery_, society for the abolition of, i. 151.
      address to the public on the abolition of, iii. 517.

  _Slaves_, not profitable labourers, ii. 386.
      diminish population, ii. 387.

  _Slave-trade_, sentiment of a French moralist respecting, ii. 195.
      parody on the arguments in favour of, 450.

  _Sliding-plates_ for smoky chimnies described, ii. 287.

  _Slitting-mills_ in America, iii. 270.

  _Small_, Mr. Alexander, letter from, i. 374.

  _Smell_ of electricity, how produced, i. 244.

  _Smoke_, principle by which it ascends, ii. 257.
      stove that consumes it, 296.
      the burning of, useful in hot-houses, 316.

  _Smoky_ chimnies, observation on the causes and cure of, ii. 256.
      remedy for, if by want of air, 261, 262.
          if by too large openings in the room, 266, 268.
          if by too short a funnel, 269.
          if by overpowering each other, 270, 271.
          if by being overtopped, 271, 272.
          if by improper situation of a door, 273.
          if by smoke drawn down their funnels, 274, 275.
          if by strong winds, 275, 276.
      difficult sometimes to discover the cause of, 282.

  _Smuggling_, reflections on, ii. 430.
      encouragement of, not honest, 432.

  _Snow_, singular instance of its giving electricity, i. 373.

  _Soap-boiler_, part of Franklin's early life devoted to the business of,
               i. 10, 14.

  _Societies_, of which Franklin was president, i. 151.
      learned, of which he was a member, 135.

  _Socrates_, his mode of disputation, i. 21.

  _Songs_, ancient, give more pleasure than modern, ii. 342.
      modern, composed of all the defects of speech, 344.

  _Soul_, argument against the annihilation of, iii. 548*.

  _Sound_, best mediums for conveying, ii. 335.
      observations on, 336.
      queries concerning, 337.

  _Sounds_ just past, we have a perfect idea of their pitch, ii. 340.

  _Soup-dishes_ at sea, how to be made more convenient, ii. 195.

  _Spain_, what has thinned its population, ii. 390.

  _Specific_ weight, what, ii. 226.

  _Spectacles_, double, advantages of, iii. 544*, 551*.

  _Speech_, at Algiers, on slavery and piracy, ii. 450.
      of Mr. Galloway, preface to, iii. 163.
      last of Franklin, on the federal constitution, 416.

  _Spelling_, a new mode of, recommended, ii. 359.

  _Spheres_, electric, commodious ones, i. 178.

  _Spider_, artificial, described, i. 177.

  _Spirits_, fired without heating, i. 214, 245.
      linen wetted with, cooling in inflammations, ii. 87.
      should always be taken to sea in bottles, 175.

  _Spots_ in the sun, how formed, i. 260.

  _Squares_, magical square of, ii. 324.

  _Staffordshire_ chimney, description of, ii. 285.

  _Stamp-act_ in America stigmatized, iii. 228.
      letter on the repeal of, iii. 239.
      examination of Franklin on, 245.

  _Stars._ See _Shooting_.

  _State_, internal, of America, iii. 291.

  _Storms_, causes of, ii. 65.

  _Stove_, Dutch, its advantages and defects, ii. 233.
      German, ditto, 234.
      to draw downwards, by J. G. Leutmann, 298.
      for burning pit-coal and consuming its smoke, 301, 304, 308.

  _Strata_ of the earth, letter on, ii. 116.

  _Strahan_, Mr. queries by, on American politics, iii. 287.
      answer to the queries, 290.
      letter to, disclaiming his friendship, iii. 354.

  _Stuber_, Dr. continuator of Franklin's life, i. 98.

  _Studies_ of trifles, should be moderate, ii. 95.

  _Stuttering_, one of the affected beauties of modern tunes, ii. 245.

  _Sugar_, cruelties exercised in producing it, ii. 196.

  _Sulphur_ globe, its electricity different from that of the glass globe,
               i. 265.

  _Sun_, supplies vapour with fire, i. 207.
      why not wasted by expense of light, 259.
      effect of its rays on different coloured clothes, ii. 108.
      light of, proposed to be used instead of candlelight, iii. 470, 473.
      discovered to give light as soon as it rises, 471.

  _Surfaces_ of glass, different state of its opposite ones, when
               electrised, i. 191, 238.

  _Swimming_, skill of Franklin in, i. 66.
      art of, how to be acquired, ii. 206
      how a person unacquainted with it may avoid sinking, 208.
      a delightful and wholesome exercise, ii. 209, 211.
      advantage of, to soldiers, 210.
      inventions to improve it, _ibid._ 212.
      medical effects of, _ibid._


  _Tariffs_, not easily settled in Indian trade, iii. 218.

  _Tautology_, an affected beauty of modern songs, ii. 345.

  _Taxation_, American, letters to governor Shirley on, iii. 30.
      American, Dr. Franklin's examination on, iii. 246, 256.
      internal and external, distinguished, 259.
      on importation of goods and consumption, difference between, 266.

  _Tea-act_, the duty on, in America, how considered there, iii. 261, 317,
      characterized by Mr. Burke, 319, _note_.

  _Teach_, or Blackbeard, name of a ballad written by Franklin in his youth,
               i. 16.

  _Thanks_ of the assembly of Pensylvania to Franklin, iii. 214.

  _Thanksgiving-days_ appointed in New England instead of fasts, iii. 392.

  _Theory_ of the earth, ii. 117.
      of light and heat, 122.

  _Thermometer_, not cooled by blowing on, when dry, ii. 87.
      electrical, described, and experiments with, ii. 336.

  _Thermometrical_ observations on the gulph-stream, ii. 199.
      on the warmth of sea-water, 200.

  _Thirst_, may be relieved by sea-water, how, ii. 105.

  _Thunder_ and lightning, how caused, i. 209.
      seldom heard far from land, 216.
      comparatively little at Bermuda, _ibid._
      defined, 378.

  _Thunder-gusts_, what, i. 203.
      hypothesis to explain them, 203, _et seq._

  _Tides_ in rivers, motion of, explained, ii. 96, 102.

  _Time_, occasional fragments of, how to be collected, ii. 412.
      is money to a tradesman, iii. 463.

  _Toads_ live long without nourishment, ii. 223.

  _Toleration_ in Old and New England compared, ii. 457.

  _Torpedo_, how to determine its electricity, i. 408, 409.

  _Tourmalin_, its singular electrical properties, i. 370.
      experiments on it, 371, 372.

  _Trade_, pleasure attending the first earnings in, i. 81.
      should be under no restrictions, ii. 415.
      exchanges in, may be advantageous to each party, 418.
      inland carriage no obstruction, to, iii. 116.
      great rivers in America, favourable to, 118.
      bills of credit, in lieu of money, the best medium of, 156.
      will find and make its own rates, 219.

  _Tradesman_, advice to a young one, iii. 463.

  _Transportation_ of felons to America, highly disagreeable to the
               inhabitants there, iii. 235.

  _Treaty_ between America and Prussia, humane article of, ii. 449.

  _Treasures_, hidden, search after, ridiculed, iii. 450.

  _Trees_, dangerous to be under, in thunder-storms, i. 213.
      the shivering of, by lightning, explained, 359.
      why cool in the sun, ii. 87.

  _Tubes_ of glass, electrical, manner of rubbing, i. 178.
      lined with a non-electric, experiment with, 240.
      exhausted, electric fire moves freely in, 241.

  _Tunes_, ancient Scotch, why give general pleasure, ii. 338.
      composed to the wire-harp, 341.
      in parts, Rousseau's opinion of, 342.
      modern, absurdities of, 344, _et seq._

  _Turkey_ killed by electricity, i. 299.

  _Turks_, ceremony observed by, in visiting, iii. 436.

  V. U.

  _Vacuum_, Torricellian, experiment with, i. 291.
      electrical experiment in, 317.

  _Vapour_, electrical experiment on, i. 343.

  _Vapours_ from moist hay, &c. easily fired by lightning, i. 215.
      cause of their rising considered, ii. 46, 49.

  _Vanity_, observation on, i. 2.

  _Varnish_, dry, burnt by electric sparks, i. 199.

  _Vattel's_ Law of Nations, greatly consulted by the American congress,
               iii. 360.

  _Vegetable_ diet, observed by Franklin, i. 20.
      abandoned by Franklin, why, 47.

  _Vegetation_, effects of, on noxious air, ii. 129.

  _Velocity_ of the electric fire, i. 319.

  _Virtue_ in private life exemplified, iii. 427.

  _Vernon_, Mr. reposes a trust in Franklin, which he violates, i. 44.

  _Vis_ inertiæ of matter, observations on, ii. 110.

  _Visits_, unseasonable and importunate, letter on, iii. 432.

  _Unintelligibleness_, a fault of modern singing, ii. 345.

  _Union_, Albany plan of. See _Albany_.

  _Union_ of America with Britain, letter on, iii. 239.

  _United_ states of America, nature of the congress of, iii. 550*.

  _Voyage_, from Boston to New York, i. 27.
      from New York to Philadelphia, 28.
      from Newfoundland to New York, remarks on, ii. 197.
      crossing the gulph stream, journal of, 199.
      from Philadelphia to France, 200, 201.
      from the channel to America, 202.
      to benefit distant countries, proposed, 403.

  _Vulgar_ opinions, too much slighted, ii. 146.


  _Waggons_, number of, supplied by Franklin, on a military emergency,
               i. 131.

  _War_, civil, whether it strengthens a country considered, ii. 399.
      observations on, 435.
      laws of, gradually humanized, _ib._
      humane article respecting, in a treaty between Prussia and America,
               ii. 449.
      French, of 1757, its origin, iii. 274.

  _Warm_ rooms do not make people tender, or give colds, ii. 249.

  _Washington_, early military talents of, i. 130.
      Franklin's bequest to, 164.

  _Water_, a perfect conductor of electricity, i. 201.
      strongly electrified, rises in vapour, 204.
      particles of, in rising, are attached to particles of air, 205.
      and air, attract each other, 206.
      exploded like gunpowder, by electricity, 358.
      expansion of, when reduced to vapour, _ib._
      saturated with salt, precipitates the overplus, ii. 2.
      will dissolve in air, _ib._
      expands when boiling, _ib._
      how supported in air, 45.
      bubbles on the surface of, hypothesis respecting, 48.
      agitated, does not produce heat, 49, 96.
      supposed originally all salt, 91.
      fresh, produce of distillation only, _ib._
      curious effects of oil on, 142.

  _Water-casks_, how to dispose of, in leaky vessels, ii. 170.

  _Water-spouts_, observations on, ii. 11.
      whether they descend or ascend, 14, 23, 38.
      various appearances of, 16.
      winds blow from all points towards them, 21.
      are whirlwinds at sea, _ib._
      effect of one on the coast of Guinea, 33.
      account of one at Antigua, 34.
      various instances of, 38.
      Mr. Colden's observations on, 53.

  _Watson_, Mr. William, letter by, on thunder-clouds, i. 427.

  _Waves_, stilled by oil, ii. 144, 145, 148.
      greasy water, 146.

  _Wax_, when fluid will conduct electricity, i. 256.
      may be electrised positively and negatively, 291.

  _Wealth_, way to, iii. 453.
      national, positions to be examined concerning, ii. 408.
          but three ways of acquiring it, 410.

  _Webb_, George, a companion of Franklin's, i. 72, 84, 86.

  _Wedderburn_, Mr. remarks on his treatment of Franklin before the privy
               council, iii. 330, 332, notes; 550.

  _West_, Mr. his conductor struck by lightning, i. 340.

  _Western_ colonies, plan for settling them, iii. 41.

  _Whatley_, Mr. four letters to, iii. 543*.

  _Wheels_, electrical, described, i. 196.

  _Whirlwinds_, how formed, ii. 10.
      observations on, 20.
      a remarkable one at Rome, 24.
      account of one in Maryland, 61.

  _Whistle_, a story, iii. 480.

  _White_, fittest colour for clothes in hot climates, ii. 109.

  _Will_, extracts from Franklin's, i. 155.

  _Wilson_, Mr. draws electricity from the clouds, i. 429.

  _Wind_ generated by fermentation, ii. 59.

  _Winds_ explained, ii. 8, 9, 48.
      the explanation objected to, 50, 51.
      observations on, by Mr. Colden, 52.
      whether confined to, or generated in, clouds, 57.
      raise the surface of the sea above its level, 188.
      effect of, on sound, 337.

  _Winters_, hard, causes of, ii. 68.

  _Winthrop_, professor, letters from, i. 373, 382.

  _Wire_ conducts a great stroke of lightning, though destroyed itself,
               i. 282.

  _Wolfe_, general, i. 136.

  _Women_ of Paris, singular saying respecting, as mothers, iii. 548*.

  _Wood_, dry, will not conduct electricity, i. 172.
      why does not feel so cold as metals, ii. 56.

  _Woods_, not unhealthy to inhabit, ii. 130.

  _Woollen_, why warmer than linen, ii. 57, 81.

  _Words_, to modern songs, only a pretence for singing, ii. 348.

  _Wygate_, an acquaintance of Franklin's, i. 66.

  _Wyndham_, sir William, applies to Franklin to teach his sons swimming,
               i. 69.


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  A 'List of the Plates' has been created and added in front of
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  For consistency, all occurrences of 'Abbe' have been replaced by 'Abbé'.

  One occurrence of the oe ligature replaced by oe (l'oeuvre).

  Text omitted by the editor may be indicated by '***', '****' or '----'.

  All the changes noted in the Errata (pg xiv) have been applied to
  the text.

  Except for those changes noted below, misspelling in the text, and
  inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained.
  For example, compleat; cieling; inclose; watry; spunge; negociate;
  Pensylvania; Massachussets; newspaper, news-paper; farther, further.

  In addition:
  Pg v.  'works af' replaced by 'works of'.
  Pg vi. 'side the' replaced by 'side of the'.
  Pg xiv. 'anology' replaced by 'analogy'.
  Pg xiv. Errata: '12 1:' replaced by '20 1:'.
  Pg xiv. Errata: '29 3:' replaced by '28 3:'.
  Pg xiv. Errata: '40 19:' replaced by '50 19:'.
  Pg 5.  'frandfather' replaced by 'grandfather'.
  Pg 48. 'oponent' replaced by 'opponent'.
  Pg 74. 'tolera-manner' replaced by 'tolerable manner'.
  Pg 102. 'over the the lives' replaced by 'over the lives'.
  Pg 110. 'Mary-la-ville' replaced by 'Marly-la-ville'.
  Pg 110. 'with a whom' replaced by 'with whom'.
  Pg 131. 'a juncion with' replaced by 'a junction with'.
  Pg 132. 'of governtment' replaced by 'of government'.
  Pg 133. 'was appehensive' replaced by 'was apprehensive'.
  Pg 139. 'in the goal' replaced by 'in the gaol'.
  Pg 140. 'A num-of' replaced by 'A number of'.
  Pg 142. 'be learned' replaced by 'he learned'.
  Pg 144. 'stampt-act' replaced by 'stamp-act'.
  Pg 170. 'in crouds' replaced by 'in crowds'.
  Pg 173. 'o  bright' replaced by 'of a bright'.
  Pg 222. 'with mose ease' replaced by 'with more ease'.
  Pg 242. 'yerhaps' replaced by 'perhaps'.
  Pg 244. 'does nor burn' replaced by 'does not burn'.
  Pg 263. 'powdered sulpur' replaced by 'powdered sulphur'.
  Pg 305. 'satisfation' replaced by 'satisfaction'.
  Pg 310. 'appear to to me' replaced by 'appear to me'.
  Pg 318. The * * * asterisks denote text omitted by the Editor.
  Pg 356. 'and by electricty' replaced by 'and by electricity'.
  Pg 358. 'above a a quarter' replaced by 'above a quarter'.
  Pg 404. 'most of of the' replaced by 'most of the'.
  Pg 406. 'silk handkercheif' replaced by 'silk handkerchief'.
  Pg 418. 'and bottless' replaced by 'and bottles'.
  Pg 424. 'è celle que' replaced by 'à celle que'.
  Pg 424. 'piquûres' replaced by 'piqûres'.
  Pg 426. 'évenénement' replaced by 'événement'.
  Pg 440. 'and so dicharge' replaced by 'and so discharge'.
  Index Pg 4i. 'Animalcnles' replaced by 'Animalcules'.
  Index Pg 29i. 'relation batween' replaced by 'relation between'.

  The Index covers all three volumes and was originally printed
  at the end of Volume 1 only. It has been copied to the end of
  Volume 2 and 3 as a convenience for the reader.

  The Index had no page numbers in the original text; page numbers from
  1i to 36i have been added for completeness. For clarity, some volume
  identifiers (i. or ii. or iii.) have been added, or removed, in the
  index. Only references within this volume have been hyperlinked.

  The Index has some references to page numbers with a *, eg 551*.  These
  are valid references; the book printer inserted pages 543*-556* between
  pages 542 and 543 in Vol iii.

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