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that Collinson had promised himself. He discovered
power of metalic points to draw of the electrical matter-he discovered a positive and a negative state of electricity-he explained on electrical principles, the phenomena of the famous Leyden vial—he explained the phenomena of the aurora borealis, and of thunder gusts-he showed the striking resemblance in many respects between electricity and lightning.
1st. In giving light.
“We do not, indeed,” says he, "know that this property is in lightning, but since electricity and lightning agree in so 'nany other particulars, is it not probable that they agree also in this??
He resolved at any rate to make the experiment. But foreseeing what a blessing it would be to mankind, to disarm the lightnings of their power to harm, he did not the pitiful spirit of ordinary inventors, cautiously conceal the dawnings of a discovery that promised so much glory to his name. On the contrary, and with a philanthropy that throws eternal loveliness over his character, he published his ideas, inviting all the philosophers to make experiments on this important subject, and even pointed the way, i. e. by insulated bars of iron raised to considerable heights in the air.
Immediately, metallic bars, some of them forty feet high, were raised towards the heavens by sundry philosophers, both in France and England. But God, as if pleased with such disinterested virtue, determined to reserve to Franklin the honour of confirming the truth of his own great theory. His plan to accomplish this, was in that simplicity which characterizes all his invenis tions.
To a common kite, made of silk rather than paper, Because of the rain, he fixed a slender iron point. The string which he chose for his kite was of silk, because of the fondness of lightning for silk; and for the same rea. son, at the lower end of the string he tied a key. With this simple preparation, he went out on the commons back of Philadelphia, as a thundergust was coming on; and raised his kite towards the clouds. The lightning soon found out his metallic rod, as it soared aloft on the wings of the kite, and greeted its polished point with a cordial kiss. With joy he beheld the loose fibres of his string raised by the fond salute of the celestial visitant.
Ile hastened to clap his knuckle to the key, and behold, a smart spark! having repeated it a second, and a third time, he charged a phial with this strange visitor from the clouds, and found that it exploded gunpowder, set spirits of wine on fire, and performed in all respects as the electrical fluid.
It is not easy to express the pleasure which this clear confirmation of his theory must have given to our be. nevolent philosopher, who had already counted up some of the great services which he should thereby render te the world.
He lost no time in communicating these discoveries to his friend Collinson in London, by whom they were tead with unimaginable joy. Collinson instantly laid them before the Royal Society, not doubting but they would be printed among their papers, with the same enthusiasm which he had felt. But to his great mortification they were utterly rejected. Upon this, Collinson went in high dudgeon and printed them himself, which was looked on as a very desperate kind of undertaking, especially as he chose for his book, a. title that seemed to carry a death warrant on its face, viz. “New EXPERI•
ON ELECTRICITY, MADE AT PhilaDELPHIA, IN NORTH AMERICA." Some ventured however to read the EXPERIMENTS ON ELECTRICITY MADE IN NORTH AMERICA, though with pretty nearly such motives as usually lead people to see the learned pig, or to hear a woman preach. But the scoffers were soon turned into admirers. Discoveries so new and astonishing, presented in a manner so simple, struck every reader with
admiration and pleasure. The book soon crossed the British channel, and was translated into most of the languages of Europe. A copy of it, though miserably translated, had the fortune to fall into the hands of the celebrated Buffon, who immediately repeated the experiments and with the most complete success. Lewis XV. hearing of these curious exhibitions, expressed a wish to be a spectator of them. A course of experiments was made before him and his court, to their exceeding surprise and diversion, by Buffon and De Lor. The history of electricity has not recorded those experiments. But it is probable, that they were not of so comic a character as the following, wherewith Dr. Franklin would sometimes astonish and delight his Philadelphia friends, during the intervals of his severer studies.
I. In the presence of a large party at his house, he took up a pistol which be had beforehand charged with inflammable air, well stopped with a cork, and presented it 'to Miss Seaton, a celebrated belle in those days. She took it from the doctor, but could not help turping pale, as though some conjuration was a brewing. “Don't be afraid, madam,” said he, "for I give you my word that there is not a grain of powder in it; and now turn it against any gentleman in the room that you are angry with.” With a sudden blush, she turned it towards a gentleman whom she soon after married. In the same instant, the doctor drew a charged rod near the mouth of the pistol, the electric spark rushed in, and set fire to the inflammable air; off went the pistol; out flew the cork, and striking her lover a smart shock in the face, fell down on the floor, to the exceeding terror at first, but afterwards, to the equal diversion of the young lady and the whole company. This he called
THE MAGIC PISTOL.
II. At another time, in a large party at his house, all eager, as usual, to see some of his ELECTRICAL CURIOSITIES, he took from the drawer a number of little dogs, made of the pith of elder, with straw for feet and tails, and set them on the table. All eyes were fixed on him. “Well Miss Eliza," said he, addressing the elegant Miss E. Sitgreaves, “can you set these little dogs a dancing!” No indeed, I can't, replied she. "Well," replied he, sif I had such a pair of eyes as you have, I think I
could do it.” She blushed. “However, let us see, "continued he, “if we can't do something." He then took a large tumbler from the table, which he had previously charged with the electric fluid, and clapped the tumbler over the dogs; whereupon they instantly fell to skipping and jumping up the sides of the tumbler, as if they were half mad to get out of it. This he called “THE DANCING
III. During something like a levee, at his house one pight, a couple of ladies who had been at London and Paris, were speaking in rapturous terms of the splendours of those royal courts, and of the diamond stars which they had seen, glittering with more than solar lustre on the breasts of the prince of Wales and the Dauphin. At length one of the fair orators, as if wrought up to a perfect adoration of the wondrous stars which she had been so elegantly depicting, turned to the doctor, and smartly asked him if he would not like mightily to have such a star. “To be sure, madam," replied he with his usual gallantry, "and suppose we order one?” She looked surprised. "Boy, continued he, "bring me down one of my electrical jars and put it on the sideboard.” While the servant was gone, the doctor took a plate of tin, and cutting it into a dozen angles like a star, poised it on a wire projecting from his prime conductor. “Well now, ladies, put out the candles, and
you shall see a star not inferior to that of the prince of Wales." The candles were put out, and a turn or two of the jar being inade, the lightning flew to the plate of tin, and appeared at the extremities of its angles, in a blaze of light beautiful as the morning star. This be called "THE ELECTRIC STAR."
IV. On his sideboard was placed an electrical jar, concealed behind a large picture of a man dressed in purple and fine linen. At a short distance stood a little brass pillar, in front of which was the picture of a poor man lying down ragged and wan as Lazarus. From the ceiling and reaching down to the sideboard, was suspende ed by a fine thread the picture of a boy, with a face benevolent and beautiful as a youthful cherub. “Well, now, gentleman, do you know who these are;--this is the proud unfeeling Dives; that, the poor dying Lazarus; and here is a beautiful boy, that for humanity's sake, we will call the son of Dives. Now, gentlemen, can any of
you make this lovely child the minister of Dives' bounty to poor Lazarus.?»
They all confessed their inability; regarding him at the same time with an eye of expectation. Without being noticed by his company, he charged the jar behind the picture of Dives with electric fluid from his prime conductor. Instantly, the beauteous youth flew to it, and getting charged flew to the brass pillar behind Lazarus, which possessed no electricity, and imparted to it bis whole load. He then flew back to the jar of Dives, and receiving a second supply, hastened to poor Lazarus and emptied himself again. And thus it went on to the astonishinent of the spectators, alternately receiving and imparting until it had established a balance between them, and then as if satisfied it came to a pause.
Seeing their surprise, the doctor thus went on. “Well now gentlemen, here's a fine lesson for us all. This electric fluid which you saw animating that youth, came down from heaven to teach us that men were as assuredly designed to be helpmates to men, as were the two eyes, the two feet, or the two hands, to assist one another. And if all who are overcharged with this world's riches would but imitate this good little electrical angel, and impart of their superabundance to the empty and the poor, they would, no doubt, even in this world, find a much higher pleasure than in hoarding it up for ungrateful heirs, or spending it on vanity." This he called “Dive3 and LAZARUS."
But it were an endless task to enumerate all the rare and beautiful phenomena, wherewith he would surprise and delight the vast circles of friends and citizens, whose curiosity was so pressing, that, as he says, it almost wore him out.
Sometimes, in order to show them the force of electric city, he would turn his wires against a pack of cards, or & quire of paper, and the subtle fluid would instantly dart through, leaving a beautiful perforation like the puncture of a large needle.
Sometimes, to show the wondrous qualities of electricity, he would let them see it darting, like a diamond bead, through a long cylinder of water, not hurt, like other fires, by that element..
Sometimes he would place a young lady, generally the