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thunder cloud sufficient of electric fire to yield sensible sparks from the key. He afterwards fixed an insulated iron rod upon his house, which drew down the lightning, and gave him an opportunity of exam. ining whether it was positive or negative. His letters containing an account of his electric experi. ments, and among them his relation of drawing elec. tricity from the clouds, were soon published in Eu. rope and translated into different languages. “Nothing was ever written on the subject of electricity,” says Dr. Priestley, “ which was more generally read and admired in all parts of Europe, than those letters. Electricians every where employed themselves in repeating his experiments, or exhibiting them for money. All the world, in a manner, even kings, flocked to see them, and all returned full of admira. tion.” As utility was in his opinion the great end of philosophic investigation, he applied this discovery to the protection of buildings from the effects of light. ning, which is particularly alarming on the continent of America. By means of pointed metallic conductors projecting from the top of the building, he con. ceived that the passing thunder clouds might discharge their fire silently and inoxiously. Such was the public confidence in this opinion, that these con. ductors soon came to be generally adopted in America, in England, and other countries. Before this period, philosophers had amused themselves only with the smaller phænomena of Electricity; such as relate to the attraction of light bodies; the distances to which such attractions would extend ; the lumin. ous appearances produced by the excited glass tube ; and the firing of spirits and inflammable air. Lit. tle more was known on this subject, than Thales had discovered 2000 years before ; that certain bod.

This great

ies such as amber and glass, had this attractive quality. Our most indefatigable searchers into na. ture, who in other branches seemed to have explored her profoundest depths, were content with what was known of electricity in former ages, without ad. ! vancing any thing new of their own. Sufficient data and experiments were wanting to reduce the doctrine and phænomena of electricity into rules or system, and to apply them to useful purposes. attainment, which had eluded the industry and abili. ties of a Boyle and a Newton, was reserved for a Franklin. The assiduity with which he prosecuted his investigations appears from his first letter to Mr. Collinson, dated-Mar. 28, 1747.

6 For my own part,” says he, “I never was before engaged in any study which so totally engrossed my attention and time. For, what with making experiments, when I am alone, and repeating them to my friends and acquaintance, who, from the novelty of the thing, come continually in crouds to see them, I have for some months past had leisure for little else.” The unostentatious deportment of Franklin may be held up by way of contrast to the dogmatism and vanity of some authors; for in the communication of his discoveries, he appeared rather seeking to acquire information himself than giving it to others. "Possibly," says he to his friend, “these experi. ments may not be new to you, among the numbers daily employed in such observations on your side the water, it is probable some one or other has hit on them before." In another letter he says, “I own that I have too strong a penchant to building hy. pothesis: they indulge my natural indolence:" yet indolence was no part of his character. To the end of his life he observed the same uniform modesty and

à caution. The first philosophic paper inserted in

his collection, in 1756, is entitled, “ Physical and o Meteorological Observations, Conjectures, and Sup1 positions ;” and his last at Passy, in 1784, is written

in a similar style; vie. Meteorological Imaginations

and Conjectures; Loose Thoughts on an Universal * Fluid. ""; and the like. In 1747 he was elected a re

presentative of the city of Philadelphia in the General Assembly of that province. At that time a contest subsisted between the Assembly and the proprietaries, chiefly with respect to the claim of the latter to have their property exempted from the public burdens. He took the popular side of the question by support. ing the rights of the citizens in opposition to the pro. prietaries. Franklin was a friend to universal freedom from his infancy, and ever distinguished himself as a steady opponent to injustice. His influence in this body was great. His speeches consisted not of rhetorical flowers; they were simple and unadorned, but pointed, sensible, and concise. Oft has his pen. etrating and solid judgment confounded the most eloquent and subtile of his adversaries. A single ob.

servation has rendered ineffectual an elaborate and * elegant discourse. But he was not contented with

supporting the rights of the people; he wished to render them permanently secure, which can be done only by making their value known, and by increasing and extending information to every class of men. Franklin therefore drew up a plan of an Academy 6 suited to the infant state of the country,” which he was enabled to complete on an enlarged scale, through the interposition of his benevolent and learned friend, Peter Collinson, of London. A charter of incorporation, dated July 13, 1753, was obtained from the honourable proprietors of Pennsylvania, Thomas

Penn and Richard Penn, esqrs., accompanied with : benefaction of five hundred pounds sterling. About this time, Franklin assisted Dr. Bond in insti. tuting the Pennsylvania Hospital. Franklin had now conducted himself so well in his office of postmaster to the province, that in 1753, he was appointed deputy post-master general to the British Colonies; and under his management this branch of the revenue soon yielded thrice as much annually as that of Ireland. Yet none of his public avoca. tions prevented him from attending to his scientific pursuits, in which he so eminently distinguished himself as to attract the attention and applause of the Count de Buffon, and other French philosophers. His theories were at first opposed by the members of the Royal Society in London; but they afterwards voted him the gold medal, which is annually given to the author of a memoir on some curious and inter. esting subject. In 1754, the American colonies having suffered much by the depredations of the Indians on their frontiers, considerable alarm was excited through the colonies, and commissioners from a number of them held a meeting at Albany for the purpose of concerting a defensive union. Frank. lin attended with the plan of a general government in the colonies, to be administered by a president nominated by the crown; and by a grand council chosen from the representatives of each colony, vestó ed with extensive powers. The plan was unanim. ously agreed to by the commissioners present, and copies transmitted to each assembly, and one to the king's council in England. It was disapproved of by the English ministry, as giving too much power to the representatives of the people; and rejected by the assemblies, as giving too much influence to the

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president, who was to be appointed by the king. This rejection, on both sides, affords the strongest proof of the excellency and impartiality of the plan, as suited to the situation of Britain and America at that period. It appears to have steered exactly between the opposite interests of both parties. When the expedition in, 1755, to dispossess the French of some of their encroachments, was in preparation, a difficulty arose for the want of waggons, Franklin stepped forward to obviate it, and in a short time procured one hundred and fifty. The unfortun. ate issue of this expedition having caused their de struction, he was in danger of a ruinous loss, but was relieved from his obligations by the interference of the governor.

He was afterwards instrumental in forming a militia bill; and was appointed colonel of the Philadelphia regiment of twelve hundred

men, and took a share in providing for the defence of the north-western frontier. The militia was however soon disbanded by orders from England. In 1757 Franklin sailed for London in the capacity of agent for Pennsylvania, the assembly of which was involv, ed in warm disputes with the proprietaries. After several debates before the privy council, it was a. greed that the proprietary lands should take their share in a tax for the public service, provided that Franklin would engage that the assessment should be fairly proportioned, The measure was accordingly carried into effect. He remained at the Brit. ish court as agent for his province; and his reputation caused him also to be entrusted with a similar commission from Massachussets, Maryland, and Georgia. The continual molestation received by the British colonies from the French in Canada induced him to write a forcible pamphlet, pointing out the

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