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haps, the best practical fyftem 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 juftice and propriety of the remarks and advice which it contains. The demand for this almanack was fo great, that ten thoufand have been fold in one year; which must be confidered as a very large number, efpecially when we reflect, that this country was, at that time, but thinly peopled. It cannot be doubted that the falutary maxims contained in these almanacks must have made a favourable impreffion upon many of the readers of them.
It was not long before Franklin entered upon his political carcer. In the year 1736, he was appointed clerk to the general affembly of Pennfylvania; and was re-elected by fucceeding affemblies for feveral years, until he was chofen a reprefentative for the city of Philadelphia.
Bradford was poffeffed of fome advantages over Franklin, by being poft-mafter, thereby having an opportunity of circulating his paper more extenfively, and thus rendering it a better vehicle for advertisements, &c. Franklin, in his turn, enjoyed these advantages, by being appointed poft-mafter of Philadelphia in 1737. Bradford, while in office, had acted ungenerously towards Franklin, preventing as rauch as poffible the circulation of his paper. He had now an opportunity of retaliating; but his noblenefs of foul prevented him from making ufe of it.
The police of Philadelphia had early appointed watchmen, whofe duty it was to guard the citizens against the midnight robber, and to give an immediate alarm in cafe of fire. This duty is, perhaps, one of the most important that can be committed to any fet of men. The regulati
ons, however, were not fufficiently ftrict. Franklin faw the dangers arifing from this caufe, and fuggefted an alteration, fo 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 caufes operate flowly, and almost imperceptibly; but thefe in a moment render abortive the labours of ages. On this account there fhould be, in all cities, ample provifions to prevent fires from spreading. Franklin early faw the neceffity of these; and, about the year 1738, formed the firft fire-company in this city. This example was foon followed by others; and there are now numerous fire-companics in the city and liberties. To thefe may be attributed in a great degree the activity in extinguifhing fires, for which the citizens of Philadelphia are diftinguished, and the inconfiderable damage which this city has fustained from this caufe. Some time after, Franklin fuggefted the plan of an affociation for infuring houfes from loffes by fire, which was adopted; and the affociation continues to this day. The advantages experienced from it have been great.
From the first establishment of Pennsylvania, a fpirit of difpute appears to have prevailed amongst its inhabitants. During the life-time of William Penn, the constitution had been three times altered. After this period, the history of Pennfylvania is little elfe than a recital of the quarrels between the proprietaries, or their governors, and the affembly. The proprietaries contended for the right of exempting their lands from taxes; to which the affembly would by no means confent. This fubject of difpute interfered in al
moft every queftion, and prevented the most falutary laws from being enacted. This at times fubjected the people to great inconveniences. In the year 1744, during a war between France and Great Britain, fome French and Indians had made inroads upon the frontier inhabitants of the province, who were unprovided for fuch an attack. It became neceflary that the citizens fhould arm for their defence. Governor Thomas recommended to the affembly, who were then fitting, to pass a militia law. To this they would agree only upon condition that he should give his affent to certain laws, which appeared to them calculated to promote the interefts of the people. As he thought thefe laws would be injurious to the proprietaries, he refufed his affent to them; and the affembly broke up without paffing a militia law. The fituation of the province was at this time truly alarming: exposed to the continual inroads of an enemy, and deftitute of every means of defence. At this crifis Franklin ftepped forth, and propofed to a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia, a plan of a voluntary affociation for the defence of the province. This was approved of, and figned by twelve hundred perfons immediately. Copies of it were circulated throughout the province; and in a fhort time the number of figners amounted to ten thoufand. Franklin was chofen colonel of the Philadelphia regiment; but he did not think proper to accept of the honour.
Purfuits of a different nature now occupied the greateft part of his attention for fome years. He engaged in a courfe of electrical experiments, with all the ardor and thirst for discovery which characterized the philofophers of that day. Of all the branches of experimental philofophy electricity had been leaft explored. The attractive power of amber is mentioned by Theophraftus and
and Pliny, and, from them, by later naturalifts. In the year 1600, Gilbert, an English physician, enlarged confiderably the catalogue of fubftances which have the property of attracting light bodies. Boyle, Otto Guericke, a burgomafter of Magdeburg, celebrated as the inventor of the air pump, Dr. Wall, and Sir Ifaac Newton added fome facts. Guericke firft obferved the repulfive power of electricity, and the light and noise produced by it. In 1709, Hawkefbee communicated fome important obfervations and experiments to the world. For feveral years electricity was entirely neglected, until Mr. Grey applied himself to it, in 1728, with great affiduity. He, and his friend Mr. Wheeler, made a great variety of experiments; in which they demonftrated, 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 fufpending rods of iron by filk or hair lines, and bringing an excited tube under them, fparks might be drawn, and a light preceived 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 refinous; the former produced by rubbing glass, the latter from excited fulphur, fealing-wax, &c. But this idea he afterwards gave up as erroneous. Between the years 1739 and 1742, Defaguliers made a number of experiments, but added little of importance. He firft ufed the terms conductors and electrics, per fe. In 1742, feveral ingenious Germans engaged in this fubject. Of thefe the principal were, profeffor Boze of Wittemberg, profeffor Winkler of Leipfic, Gordon, a Scotch Benedictine monk, profeffor
profeffor of philofophy at Erfurt, and Dr. Ludolf of Berlin. The refult of their refearches aftonished the philofophers of Europe. Their apparatus was large, and by means of it they were enabled to collect large quantities of electricity, and thus to produce phenomena which had been hitherto unobferved. They killed fmall birds, and fet fpirits on fire. Their experiments excited the curiofity of other philofophers. Collinfon, about the year 1745, fent to the library company of Philadelphia an account of thefe experiments, together with a tube, and directions how to ufe it. Franklin, with fome of his friends, immediately engaged in a courfe of experiments; the refult of which is well known. He was enabled to make a number of important difcoveries, and to propofe theories to account for various phenomena; which have been univerfally adopted, and which bid fair to endure for ages. His obfervations he communicated, in a feries of letters, to his friend Collinfon; the firft of which is dated March 28, 1747. In these he makes known the power of points in drawing and throwing off the electrical matter, which had hitherto escaped the notice of electricians. He alfo made the grand discovery of a plus and minus, or of a pofitive and negative ftate of electricity. We give him the honour of this, without hefitation; although the English have claimed it for their countryman Dr. Watfon. Watfon's paper is dated January 21, 1748; Franklin's July 11, 1747; feveral months prior. Shortly after, Franklin, from his principles of plus and minus ftate, explained, in a fatisfactory manner, the phenomena of the Leyden phial, first observed by Mr. Cuneus, or by profeffor Mufchenbroeck of Leyden, which had much perplexed philofophers. He fhewed clearly that the bottle, when charged,