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determined to appoint an agent to proceed to Eng.' land with a petition to the king in council; and fixed upon Mr Franklin as their most competent pub-' lic man. It is very evident that he was the man of the greatest influence amongst them, and that he de-. served to be so. A bill of 60,0001. being now required to be passed by the Assembly for the king's use, that body first presented it to the governor, as a tax on all the property of the state ; but he refused to pass it, although 10,000l. were immediately wanted, and by the provisions of the bill were to be placed at the disposal of lord Loudon, the commander in chief of the troops. After much altercation, Franklin suggested this expedient; to alter the bill at the dictation of the governor, and exempt the proprietors' estates as desired, accompanying it with a pretext, that such alterations were compulsory, and that the Assembly in no way conceived the right of the proprietary to the exemption.
Lord Loudon arrived at Philadelphia during this discussion, having it in charge, as he stated, from the home government, to effect a settlement of the disputes between the governor and the Assembly. Franklin had, accordingly, several interviews with him, as the representative of the latter; but little or nothing was effected. His lordship was a man of vacillating mind, acutely characterized, by one of the Philadelphians, as like St George on the signs, always on horseback, but never riding on; first he appeared to admit the unreasonableness of the Assembly's claims, and Franklin conceived that he would have accomplished the work of peace. But he suddenly changed his mind, began to press Franklin to concede the rights of the people, threatening, in case of refusal, to withdraw the army from the frontiers, so that a temporary compromise in the form of the bill abovementioned was all that resulted.
Franklin had as mean an opinion of his lordship's military conduct, as of his talents for negotiation. He withdrew the army from the frontiers of the
colonies, and detained it, with a fleet of merchant-ships, in the neighbourhood of Sandy-hook, all the summer of 1756 ; until Fort George, on the frontiers of New York, was taken by the French and Indians, and the whole of the back-settlements thrown into alarm. Nor was his conduct without suspicion, as to avaricious motives. He perplexed all the mercantile pursuits of the middle states, during the summer, by laying an embargo on the export of provisions from all the principal forts, ostensibly to prevent the enemy from obtaining supplies, but really, as it was thought, to lower the price of provisions for the benefit of the contractors, in whose profits he had a share. Franklin designates his whole operations in 1756 as “ frivolous, expensive, and disgraceful, beyond conception."
We are now arrived at a period of Franklin's life, in which it appears proper to enter more fully into his philosophical attainments and discoveries. He modestly dismisses them with a very brief notice in his personal narrative; but they had even at this period attained some notoriety in Europe, and no single name was so largely connected as our author's, at last, with the diffusion of the modern taste for electricity. Dr Priestley says, in his history of that science, that “nothing was ever written upon the subject of electricity, which was more generally-read, and admired in all parts of Europe than Franklin's letters. There is hardly any European language into which they have not been translated ; and, as if this were not sufficient to make them properly known, a translation has lately been made into Latin. It is not easy to say whether we are most pleased with the simplicity and perspicuity with which these letters are. written, the modesty with which the author proposes every hypothesis of his own, or the noble frankness with which he relates his mistakes, when they were corrected by subsequent experiments.
6. Though the English have not been backward in acknowledging the merit of the philosopher, he has had the singular good fortune to be perhaps even more celebrated abroad than at home; so that to form a just idea of the great and deserved reputation of Dr Franklin, we must read the foreign publications on the subject of electricity, in many of which the term Franklinism, Franklinist, and the Franklinian system, occur almost in every page. In consequence of this, Dr Franklin's bids fair to be handed down to posterity, being equally expressive of the true principles of electricity, as the Newtonian philosophy is of the true system of nature in general.”
These letters were addressed to his friend Collinson, of whom we have already spoken, and were in fact, in the first instance, a simple report of the success of Franklin and his friends in the use of that gentle man's present of electrical instruments. Finding them acceptable to his friend, and that Dr Fothergill, and some other English philosophers, had permitted the printing of them in the mother-country, until what were called the Philadelphian experiments came to be known in Paris, Franklin was encouraged to continue the correspondence. According to the well known compliment paid him afterwards by M.Turgot, * he seems to have been the first person who discovered the affinity between lightning and electricity, which he suggested in an essay written for a neighbour in Philadelphia who established public lectures in that science. This paper he forwarded to England in 1753; but Dr Stuber, Franklin's townsman, and one of his best biographers, has so well vindicated his fame on this subject from some attacks, and digested so complete a narrative of the interest excited both in France and England on this subject, that, at the hazard of some slight repetitions, we shall transcribe that narrative entire : ." Of all the branches of experimental philosophy, electricity had been least explored. The attractive power of amber is mentioned by Theophrastus and Pliny, and from them by later naturalists. In the ERIBUIT COLO FULMEN, SCEPTRUMQUE TYRANNIS.
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 Grey applied himself to it, 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 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 suspending rods of iron by silk or hair lines, and bringing an excited tube under 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 vitreous and resinous ; the former produced by rubbing glass, the latter from excited sulphur, sealing-wax, &c. But this idea he afterwards gave up as erroneous. Between the years 1739 and 1742, Desauguliers 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, professor Boze of Wittemberg, 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 was large, and by means of it they were enabled to collect large quantities of the electric fluid, and thus to produce phenomena which had been
hitherto unobserved. 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 tube, 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 he communicated, in a series of letters, to his friend Collinson; the first of which is dated March 28, 1747. In these he shews the power of points in drawing and throwing off the 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 honour of this without hesitation, although the English have claimed it for their countryman Dr Watson. Watson's paper is dated Jan nuary 21, 1748; Franklin's July ii, 1747 ; several months prior. Shortly afterwards Franklin, from his principles of the 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 one side as was thrown on the other; and that, to discharge it, nothing was necessary but to produce a communication between the two sides, by which the equilibrium might be restored, and that then no signs of electricity would remain. He afterwards demonstrated by experiments, that the electricity did not reside in the coating, 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