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of Turin, to whose observations science is much indebted. Even the cold regions of Russia were penetrated by the ardour 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, in 1748, had suggested the idea of the similarity of lightning and electricity in his Leçons de Phisique. 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 become 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 track which Franklin had pointed out.
“ It has been of late asserted, that the honour of completing the experiment with the kite does not belong to Franklin. Some recent 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 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, I 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 obseryations 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 established 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.”
Mr Franklin, in the year 1753, had received the degree of master of arts from Yale College in Connecticut, and from the college of Cambridge in New England. About the same time his papers on electricity were abridged, by the celebrated Dr Watson, amongst the papers of the Royal Society, who presented him with the honour of a fellowship gratuitously, and without any application on his part. It was the gold medal of sir Godfrey Copley, which he received this year, as before mentioned, and which was accompanied by a copy of the very handsome complimentary speech of the president, the earl of Macclesfield.
To return to our narrative; Franklin, having prepared to sail from New York about the beginning of April
, was detained by the dilatory measures of lord Loudon till near the end of June. The next day was always appointed for the receiving of his despatches, until three or four packets full of passengers were thus waiting upon his lordship at New York. One of the captains having told lord Loudon that his vessel was foul, and that he should require extra time to clean her, the general asked what time? The captain said three days. Loudon answered, “If you can do it in one day, I give leave, but not otherwise, for you must certainly sail the day after to-morrow.” He therefore never obtained leave, though afterwards detained here full three months. While Franklin was waiting, he endeavoured to obtain of the general the balance due to him for the supplies he had furnished his predecessor, Braddock: and lord Loudon, having fully investigated the accounts, certified their correctness, but never paid him. When Franklin remonstrated upon the subject of his loss, both of time and money, in the public service, his lordship told him, he says, very
plainly, that he must not think of persuading him that he would be no gainer. “We understand these matters better,” said he, “and know, that every one concerned in supplying the army, finds means in the doing of it to fill his own pockets." He finally recommended Franklin to exhibit his accounts to the treasury in London.
At length our philosopher was dismissed from his native shores, on board a vessel which the captain declared to be the swiftest on the packet service, and able to make thirteen knots an hour. She proved however to be too much loaded ahead. He had, as a fellow passenger, captain Kennedy (afterwards lord Cassilis) who had served in the British navy, and who ridiculed the captain's account of the sailing of his vessel; but when the lading was removed back, ward, and she had a fair wind, Kennedy threw the log himself, and acknowledged that she made the thir. teen knots per hour. Franklin suggests from this the propriety of adopting philosophical principles in this, as in every other part of ship building. The naval passenger proved the preservation of the ship; for, on approaching the British shores, after they had taken an observation, from which the captain judged himself near Falmouth, all but the watch had retired to rest, when the ship was suddenly discovered to be running on the Scilly rocks. Mr Kennedy, on this occasion, was one of the first on deck, and perceiving the danger, ordered the ship instantly to wear round, sails standing, by which means she just escaped striking on the rocks. They were so near, Franklin says, that the light appeared to him as large as a cartwheel. On the morning of the 17th of July, the fog elearing up disclosed the town of Falmouth, with England's beautiful fields and busy vessels. It seems to have been Sunday morning, and Franklin's heart responded on this occasion to the sound of Sabbath bells. On landing, he says, “the bell ringing for church, we went thither immediately, and with hearts full of gratitude, returned sincere thanks to