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and thus rendered it a better vehicle for advertisements, &c. Franklin, in his turn, enjoyed these advantages, by being appointed post-master of Phi. ladelphia 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, 80 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 kities than fires. Other causes operate slowly, and almost imperceptibly; but these in a moment ren. der abortive the labors of ages.
On this account there should be, in all cities, ample provisions to prevent fires from spreading. Franklin early saw the necessity of theses and about the year 1738, formed the first fire company in this city. This example was soon followed by others; and thefe 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 which this city has sps Tained from this eause. Some tinyt aftti, Frakklina suggested the plan of 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 establishment of Pennsylvania, a spirit of dispute 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 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 in. convenience. In the year 1744, 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 nec: ssary that the citi. zens should arm for their defence. Governor Thomas recommended to the assembly, who were then sitting, to pass a militia law. To this thy would agree only on condition that he should give his assent to certain laws, which appeared to them
calculated to promote the interest 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 law. The situation of the province was at this time truly alarming: exposed to the continual inroads of an enemy, and destitute of every means of defence.At this crisis Franklin stepped forth, and proposed 0 a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia, a plan of a voluntary association for the defence of the province. This was approved of, and sign«d by twelve hundred persons immediately. Copies of it were
circulat d ihroughout the province; and in a short time the nuinber of sign«rs amounted to ten thou. saod. Franklin was chosen colonel of the Phila. delphia regiinent; but he did not think proper to accept of the honor.
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, elec ricity has been the least explored.
The elective 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. Gray applied himself to is, 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 cominunicated from one body to another, even without being in contact, and in this way may be conducted to a great distance. Mr. Grav after. wards found, that by suspending rods of iron by silk cr hair lines, and bringing an excited tube une der 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 vitrous and resinous, the former produced by rubbing glass, the latter from excited sulphur, sealing-wax, &c. But this idea be 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, pro. fissor Boze of Whittemberg, 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 wat large, and by means of it they were enabled to colJect large quantities of electricity, and thus to prodoce phenomena which had been hitherto unub. served. 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 tabe, 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 de commuuicated, in a scries of letters, to his friend Collinson; the first of which is dated March 28, 1747. In these he makes known the power of points in drawing and throwing off 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 honor 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 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 the bottle, when charged, contained no more electricity than before, but that as much was taken from the one side as was thrown on the other; and that to discharge it, nothing was necessary but to make a communication between the two sides, by which the equilibriun might be restored, and that then no signs of electricity would remain. He afterwards deinonstrated, by experi. ments, that the electricity did not reside in the cuating, 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 reasoning from facts, in suppori of his positions, In the same yeaä he conceived the asienishingly bold