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and grand idea of ascertaining the truth of his doce trine, by actually drawing down the forked lightning, by means of sharp-pointed iron rods raised into the region of the clouds. Even in this uncertain state, his passion to be useful to mankind displays itself in a powerful manner. Admitting the identity of electricity and lightning, and knowing the power of points in re pelling bodies charged with electricity, and in conducting their fire silently and imperceptibly, he suggests the idea of securing houses, ships, &c. from being damaged by lightning, by erecting pointed iron rods, which should rise some feet above the most elevated part, and descend some feet into the ground or the water. The effect of these, he concluded, would be either to prevent a stroke bý repelling the cloud beyond the striking distance, or by drawing off the electrical fire which it contained; or, if they could not effect this, they would at least conduct the stroke to the earth, without any injury to the building.
It was not until the summer of 1752, that he was enabled to complete his grand and unparalleled discowery by experiment. The plan which he had originally proposed, was, to erect on some high tower, or other elevated place, a centry-box, from which should rise a pointed iron rod, insulated by being fixed in a cake of rosin. Electrified clouds pass. ing over this, would, he conceived, impart to it a portion of their electricity, which would be rendered revident to the senses by sparks being emitted, when a key, a knuckle, or other conductor, was presented to it. Philadelphia at this time afforded no opportunity of trying an experiment of this kincl. Whilst Franklin was waiting for the erection of a spire, it occurred to him, chat he might have more ready access to the region of clouds by means of a
common kite.. He prepared one by attaching two cross sticks to a silk handkerchief, which would not suffer so much from the rain as paper. To his up, right stick was affixed an iron point, The string was, as usual, of hemp, except the lower end, which was silk, Where the hempen string was terminated, a key was fastened. With this apparatus, on the appearance of a thunder-gust approaching, he went out into the commons, accompanied by his son, to whom alone he communicated his intentions, well knowing the ridicule which, too generally for the interest of science, awaits unsuccessful experiments in philosophy. He placed himself under a shed to avoid the rain. His kite was raised. A thunder cloud passed over it. No sign of electricity appeared. He almost despaired of success ; ; when sud, denly he observed the loose fibres of his string to move towards an erect position. He now present. ed his knuckle to the key, and received a strong spark. How exquisite must his sensations have been at this moment! On this experiment depended the fate of his theory. If he succeeded, his name would rank high amongst those who have improved science :; if he failed, he must inevitably be subjected to the derision of mankind, or, what is worse, their pity, as a well meaning man, but a weak, silly projector. The anxiety with which he looked for the result of his experiment, may easily be conceived,' Doubts and despair had begun to prevail, when the fact was ascertained in so clear a manner, that even the most incredulous could no longer withhold their assent. Repeated sparks were drawn from the key, a vial was charged, a shock given, and all the ex periments made, which are usually performed with electricity.
About a month before this period, some ingeniQue Frenchmen had completed the discovery, in
the original manner proposed by Doctor Frank. lin. The letters which he sent to Mr. Collins son, it is said, were refused a place amongst the 'papers of the Royal Society of London. How. ever this may be, Collinson published them in a se. parate volume, under the title of New Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadela phia in America. They were read with avidity, and soon translated into different languages. A very incorrect French translation fell into the hands of the celebrated Buffon, who, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which the work labored, was much pleased with it, and repeated the experiments with success. He prevailed upon his friend, M. D’Alibard, to give his countrymen a more correct translation of the American electrician. This contributed much towards spreading a knowledge of Franklin's principles in France. "The King, Louis XV. hearing of these experiments, expressed a wish to be a spectator of them. A course of experiments was given at the seat of the Duc D’Ayen, at St. Germain, by M. D:: Lor. The applauses which the King bestowed upon Franklin, excited in Buffon, D’Alibard, and De Lor, an earnest desire of ascertaining the truth of his theory of thunder gusts. Buffon erected his apparatus on the tower of Montbar, M. D’Alibard at Mary-la-ville; and De Lor at his house in the Estrapade at Paris, some of the highest ground in that capital. D’Alibard's ma. chine first shewed signs of electricity. On the 10th of May, 1752, a thunder-cloud passed over it, in the absence of M. D’Alibard ; and a number of sparks were drawn from it by Coissier, a joiner, with whom D’Alibard had left directions how to proceed, and by Mr. Raulet, the prior of Mary-la. ville. An account of this experiment was given to the Royal Academy of Sciences, in a memoir by M. D'Alibard, dated May 13th, 1752. On the 18th of May, M. De Lor proved equally successful with the apparatus erected at his own house. These discoveries soon excited the philosophers of other parts of Europe to repeat the experiment. Amongst these, none signalized themselves more than Father Beccaria of Turin, to whose observations science is much indebted. Even the cold regions of Russia were penetrated by the ardor for discovery. Pro- fessor Richman bade fair to add much to the stock of knowledge on this subject, when an unfortunate fļash from his rod 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 esta. blished in the most firm manner. When the truth of it could no longer be doubted, the vanity of men endeavored to detract from its merit. That an A. merican, an inhabitant of the obscure city of Philadelphia, the name of which was, hardly known, should be able to make discoveries, and 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 somebody else. An American, a being of an inferior order, make discoveries! Impossible. It was said, that the Abbe Nollet, in 1748, had suggested the idea of the similarity of lightning and electricity, in his Lecons de Physique. It is true, that the Abbe 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 electricity and lightning is so strong, that
cumstances, the establishment of a public library - was an important event. This was set on foot by
Franklin about the year 1731. Fifty persons sube scribed forty shillings each, and agreed to pay ten shillings annually. The number increased; and in 1742, the conpany was incorporated by the name of * The Library Company of Philadelphia.” Several other companies were formed in this city in im itation of it. These were all at length united with the library company of Philadelphia, which thus ren ceived a considerable accession of books and property. It now contains eight thousand volumes on all subjects, a philosophical apparatus, and a good beginning towards a collection of natural and artific cial curiosities, besides landed property of consider, able value. The company have lately built an ele, gant house in Fifịh-street, on the front of which will be'erected a marble satute of their founder Benjamin Franklin.. ..
This institution was greatly encouraged by the friends of literature in America and in Great Bri. gain. The Penn family distinguished themselves
which he pursued it, and the advances he made, gave his friends reason to form the most flattering prospects of his future eminence and usefulness in the profession, As Dr. Stuber's circumstances were very moderate, he did not think this pursuit well calculated to answer tha.n. He therefore relinquished it, after he had obtained a riegree in the prof.ssion, and qualified himself to wractise with credit and success; and im.nediately enicrid on the study of Law. In pursuit of the last mcutioned object, he was prematurely arrested, before he had an opportunity of reaping the fruit of those talents with which he was endowed, and of a youth spent in the arde it and successful pursuits of useful and elegant literature.