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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, • 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 observations 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 per-, haps 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 an. swered, “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 inves-' tigated 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 backward, and she had a fair wind, Kennedy threw the log himself, and acknowledged that she made the thirteen 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 clearing 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
God for the mercies we had received. Were I a Roman Catholic,” he adds, “perhaps I should on this occasion vow to build a chapel to some saint; but as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a lighthouse." Haying his eldest son, William Franklin, with him at this time, he was induced to stop and explore Stonehenge, on Salisbury plain. He also visited lord Pembroke's house and gardens at Wilton, arriving in London, July the 27th, 1757.
In England Mr Franklin had to encounter many disheartening circumstances. The prejudices of the public mind were strong against the colonies, in consequence of the representations of interested individuals, who filled the public papers with intelligence from Philadelphia,' manufactured in London, which always described the houses of assembly as turbulent, illiberal, and unprincipled. The ministry were also too deeply occupied at this time with European politics, and the fluctuating warfare on the Continent, to afford much attention to the discussion of complex provincial affairs, and were very reluctant to interpose between the colonial governments and the proprietaries; the agent for Philadelphia did not however pause long over his difficulties. By the means of that press which he found so remarkably busy with Pennsylvanian affairs, he was determined to make that appeal to public opinion, which he had never hitherto attempted in vain.
A paper which appeared about this time in the General Advertiser, gave him a proper opportunity of bringing those affairs before the public. The writer dwelt upon the dreadful rayages which the Indians were committing in the back-settlements of America, and stated, that while the enemy was advancing into the heart of the country, the disputes between the government and the Assembly were as violent as ever. It forcibly described the litigious and obstinate spirit of the Quakers, and declared that the bills which the Assembly passed were so clogged with conditions, that the governor could not sign them. LIFE OF DR FRANKLIN.
Franklin soon saw through this fabrication, and that it was in fact a ruse de guerre of the proprietary to destroy the effect of his mission to the government: but as the object of that mission was to bring affairs to an amicable issue, he thought it would be premature to enter too formally into a refutation of these calumnies ; and therefore drew up a very cautious paper in reply, bearing his son's name. This was inserted in the same journal as the above-mentioned attack, from which it was copied into other papers. In this piece he contended that Pennsylvania suffered no more from the Indians than other colonies; that the people on the frontiers were not Quakers; that they were supplied with arms, and often repelled the enemy. He shewed that the disputes were chiefly occasioned by instructions from England, forbidding the governor to sanction any acts of the Assembly for raising taxes, unless the proprietors; estates were either exempted from the burthen altogether, or nearly so. He then proved that the Quakers composed but a small part of the existing population, and that the inhabitants, with the exception of the proprietary officers and their dependants, were unanimous in asserting their civil rights, and resisting the impositions of the proprietary, which they could consider only as a species of oppression and fraud. He proceeded to shew that every thing had been done by Pennsylvania to secure the frontier of the province, and to protect the commerce of the neighbouring governments, without any contributions from either those colonies themselves, or the parent kingdom; and that the Quakers, so far from really being litigious, had even declined sitting in the Assembly, lest they should be thought so.
Notwithstanding the popularity of this letter, opposition continued, and the public journals abounded with papers, charging the Pennsylvanians with ingratitude, injustice, and disaffection, as well to the proprietary as the parent country. Franklin resolved upon drawing up a statistical account of the real state of the province, adapted for general informa