« 上一页继续 »
A JOURNAL OF INSTRUCTION FOR THE FAMILY AND THE SCHOOL.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, THE PRINTER.
P. How much a man may live in seven years!
In seven years the boy with the Dutch dollar in his pocket rose to respectability; sailed to the other side of the world; became poor again; then rose once more; became a clerk, and became poor again; and then, once more, he gradually rose to honour and prosperity.
But, although Franklin was prosperous, he was not proud. On the contrary, he still dressed plainly, and deported himself humbly. To show that he was not above his business, he sometimes wheeled home in a barrow with his own hands the paper which he had bought to print
About this time he married, and his wife was fortunately as industrious as himself. She helped him in his business, folded the sheets of books which he printed, kept his shop, and executed other humble duties. Like himself, also, she loved exactness and economy, and agreed to live in a humble style. It is not always easy to be getting riches and learning at the same time. Those who make much money are often so fond of it, that they give all their time to such employment;
then they have so little time to enrich their minds, that they are compelled to neglect their studies. But Franklin knew better than to do this. He so divided each day that he gave to each duty its proper attention. He rose at five in the morning; and gave three hours to study, devotion, and breakfast; from eight till twelve he was at work; from twelve till two he read; from two till five he was again at work; from six till ten he devoted to reading, conversation, and supper; at ten he again went to bed, and rose the next morning at five. Thus we see that early rising was one of the maxims that Franklin practised. He proved the truth of his own saying—
"Early to bed and early to rise Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
To this early rising Franklin owed the greater part of his success; for he thus had both time and health. To tell you of all the studies which he pursued, and of all the honours that he gained, or of the riches which he acquired, would I think tire you.
I will mention the principal facts. He says of his studies,
touching it, caused a violent shock. This was called the Leyden jar, for its wonders had just been discovered in the year 1746, at Leyden, in Germany. It is now a very familiar thing, as it is used in most electrical experiments.
The experiments of Franklin did not end in mere amusement. He liked to turn all his knowledge to good account. His mind was always specu
"I had begun in 1773 to study languages. I soon made myself master of the French. I then undertook Italian. I afterwards, with a little pains-taking, acquired as much of the Spanish as to read their books also. I have already mentioned that I had only one year's instruction in a Latin school; but when I had attained an acquaintance with the French, Italian, and Spanish, I was surprised to find, on looking over a Latin Testa-lating about the cause and effect ment, that I understood more of everything that he did. He of that language than I had wanted to know exactly what imagined. I was therefore en- electricity is; where it came couraged to apply myself to the from; why it passed into one study of it, as the preceding person, and not into another; languages had greatly smoothed which substances were conmy way." ductors of electricity, and which were not so he proceeded to electrify himself and other people, and to try all kinds of experiments, until he had found answers to his questions. During these operations he invented the Electrical Battery. When he had learned the reason of all he saw, he gave the world a full account of the subject, and those things which beforehand had puzzled the men of science, were now made plain to them. People began to understand electricity much more
Franklin, nowever, was renowned not only for his learning, but as a man of science. His discoveries in electricity have rendered his name famous all over the world. Most children have in these days seen experiments in electricity, and know something about the matter; but this was not the case in Franklin's time. When he was one day at Boston, he saw some experiments performed, and his curiosity was strongly excited. He procured an appa-perfectly, and Franklin began ratus, and performed similar to be looked upon as one of the experiments in Philadelphia. founders of the science. He soon added other experi- His account of electricity, or ments of his own, and in the Franklin's Electrical Theory, as course of time his house was it was called, was a great gift constantly filled with persons to the world; but the brilliant who came to see the new won- discovery which he afterwards der. That which most sur-made was of still greater adprised them was the new jar, vantage, and rendered him still which was charged with elec- more famous. tricity, and which, on their
This discovery was, that light
ning and electricity are similar fluids.
Hitherto, men knew that there was electricity in amber, glass, sulphur, sealing-wax, resin, and various other substances; but it was a bold idea to suppose that there was electricity up in the clouds.
I dare say that Franklin walked about for a long time with this new idea in his head What could he do with it? It was a very tormenting thing. He would say to himself, "I feel a strong suspicion that lightning is electricity, but how can I tell that it is so? I cannot get up in the clouds!"
W. Of course he could not do that, so he must stop on the earth, and leave the question alone.
P. But he was not the man to leave the question unanswered; he had answered other questions before. He had been accustomed to overcome difficulties all his lifetime, and he would not leave this unconquered. Still it would torment him. Every day his mind would say to him, "You cannot get up to the lightning."
W. It was very impudent of the difficulty to torment the great Franklin in that manner! P.Very. But he never thought of letting it conquer him; so at last he overcame it, as a brave man ought to do. He answered, "Very well, Mr. Lightning! if I can't get up to you, you can come down to me. I have seen you dancing zig-zag through the air; I know how you have struck men to the ground; you can come down; and you must
and (if you are electricity) you shall!
Ion. It is all very fine to talk so; but how would he make it come down? He couldn't stop it! It wouldn't come straight!
W. No, of course not; it would jump about.
P. You shall hear. He had observed how pointed bodies draw off electricity. So he said to himself, I will make a long pointed body of some substance which is a "conductor" of electricity; and I will put it on a very high tower, or some other place, where it can reach the clouds.
A high spire was about to be built in Philadelphia, which he intended should answer for the purpose of attracting his unmanageable friend, when he thought of something else. He happened to see a boy flying a kite, and it at once occurred to him that this was the best and easiest way of reaching the clouds. He thought, "I will fly a kite with a wet string, down which the lightning will pass." So he went home directly, took a large silk handkerchief, stretched it across two sticks, thus formed his kite, and put it aside until the next thunderstorm should happen.
An opportunity for the experiment soon after presented itself; the sky was darkened with black thunder-clouds; so he went forth into a field near the city, only taking with him his kite, and his son to assist him in raising it. He did not let any one else know what he was going to do.
W. I should think that he
took his son to carry the kite. How the public would have stared to see the great Mr. Franklin walking through Philadelphia, carrying in his hand a kite made of a handkerchief! P. True. But I will read you the account of his experiment.
"The kite being raised, he fastened a key to the lower end of the hempen string, and then, attaching it to a post by means of silk, he placed himself under a shed, and waited the result. For some time no signs of electricity appeared. A cloud, apparently charged with lightning, had even passed over them without producing any effect. At length, however, just as Franklin was beginning to despair, he observed some loose threads of the hempen string rise and stand erect, exactly as if they had been charged with electricity. He immediately presented his knuckle to the key, and, to his inexpressible delight, drew from it the well-known electrical spark. It is said that his emotion was so great at this discovery, that he heaved a deep sigh, and felt that he could that moment have willingly died. As the rain increased, the cord became a better conductor, and the key gave out its electricity copiously. Had the hemp been thoroughly wet, the bold experimenter might, as he was contented to do, have paid for his discovery with his life."
Franklin afterwards brought the lightning down into his house by means of an iron rod. Thus, he tried at his leisure all the experiments that could be performed with electricity.
His active mind soon thought of turning his discovery to a useful end. He thought of the well-known plan of preserving
buildings from lightning by attaching a long pointed iron rod, reaching upwards from the ground to some distance above the building. I dare say you have often seen such a rod. It is useful because if, in a storm, the lightning were going to strike the building, the point of the rod would attract it, and conduct it safely to the earth.
The result of this discovery to Franklin himself was also He now remost pleasing. ceived the praise and respect which he so richly deserved. The account of his discoveries fell into the hands of the great naturalist Buffon; it was soon translated into most modern languages; and became known in France, Germany, and throughout Europe. In England the account was not at first received favourably; when read to the Royal Society, it was laughed at. As soon, however, as it caused such excitement on the Continent, the matter was considered again; and the men of science in England made Franklin every amends for their
A gold medal was
sent him by the Royal Society; he was made a member without being permitted to pay the fees; and honours of all kinds were conferred on him by the various universities.
Here let us stop and think. Let us rejoice for Franklin. It has been said, "No philosopher of the age now stood on a prouder eminence than this extraordinary man. He had been in the humblest circumstances;
he was one of the most obscure of the people, and had raised himself to all this distinction almost without the help of any education, except such as he had given himself."
If there were time, we might look once more at the reasons
of his success; but we will speak of these matters in our next lesson. I have yet to show you the great exertions he made for the good of his country, the public honours which he received, and the happy death which he died.
THE MECHANIC'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
TO-MORROW will be Sunday, Ann-
The fine folks use the plate he makes,
Then let us shake the carpet well,
And polish thou the grate, my love,
The autumn winds blow damp and chill;
And bring the new white curtain out,
And brush the little table, child,
And fetch the ancient books-
And fill the music-glasses up
To-morrow, when he sings and plays,
The street will stop to hear.
And throw the dead flowers from the vase,
And rub it till it glows;
For in the leafless garden yet
He'll find a winter rose.
And lichen from the wood he'll bring,
And mosses from the dell;
And from the sheltered stubble-field
The scarlet pimpernell.