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ing of life and property, which alone would have re. corded his name among the benefactors of mankind; even if his discoveries of those principles could never have been extended or applied to any other use. ful purpose in the world. Similar must his raptures have been to those of a Newton, when by applying the laws of gravitation and projection first to the moon, he was enabled to extend them to the whole Solar-system, as is beautifully described by the poet
What were his raptures then! how pure! how strong!
d W hen Nature and her laws
All intellectual Eye; our Solar round
Dr. Franklin's Letters, giving an account of his electrical experiments and discoveries, and, among the rest, of this grand experiment of drawing electricity from the clouds, were soon published in Europe, and translated into different languages. « Nothing " was ever written on the subject of electricity,”.
• Thomson's poem to the memory of Sir Isaac Newton.
says Dr. Priestly," which was more generally read " and admired in all parts of Europe, than those Let. "ters. , Electricans every where employed them“ selves in repeating his experiments, or exhibiting “ them for money. : All the world, in a manner, and “ even kings themselves, flocked to see them, and all " returned full of admiration for the inventor of 66 them.”
Amidst this general admiration, Dr. Franklin him. self continued to communicate his knowledge and dis. coveries under the humble appellation of conjectures or guesses: But no man ever made bolder or happier guesses, either in philosophy or politicks: He was likewise a bold experimenter in both. He had by accident received a discharge of two of his large electrical jars through his head, which struck him to the ground, but did him no lasting injury. He had likewise seen a young woman receive a still greater shock or discharge of electricity through her head, which she had inadvertently brought too near the conductor, which knocked her down; but she instantly got up, and complained of nothing further. This encouraged him to make the experiment on six men at the same time, the first placing his hand on the head of the second, and so on. He then discharged his two jars, by laying his conducting rod on the head of the first man. They all dropt together; thinking they had been struck down, as it were, by some kind of magic, or secret operation of nature; declaring when they rose that they had neither seen the fash, nor heard the report of any
For his manner of delivering his philosophical opinions, under the humble appellation of conjectures and suppositions, he makes the following apology, more humble still. “I own (says he, in one of his letters) that I have too strong a penchant to building hypotheses: They indulge my natural indolence.” But indolence was no part of his character; and his success in this method of philosophizing will rescue it from much of the reproach which has been too liberally cast upon it. Without forming bypotheses, experimental philosophy, would only be a jumble of facts, ranged under no heads, nor disposed into any system. Dr. Franklin, without troubling himself with mathematical speculations, or shewing any in. clination towards them, nevertheless reasoned with all the accuracy and precision of the deepest mathe. matician. And although he might be sometimes mistaken where the truth could be developed only by the help of pure mathematics, yet he was rarely mis. taken in his mechanical and philosophical deductions.
Being on ship-board in the year 1757, an acci. dent gave him occasion to observe the wonderful effect of oil, in stilling the waves of the sea. He im. mediately determined to make experiments to eluci. date this new property of oil, which he did with success; and the philosophical world is indebted to him for being now fully acquainted with a fact, which, although not unknown to Plutarch and Pliny, was for ages past known only among the Dutch fishermen, and a few seamen of other nations.
His inquiries and discoveries were confined to no limits or subjects. Through all the elements: In
the fire and in the water, in the air, and in the earth, he sought for and he found new and beneficial knowledge,
He discovered that unaccountable agitation of the two surfaces in contact, when a quantity of oil floats on water in a vessel.
He found the pulse-glass in Germany, and in. troduced it into England, with improvements of his own.
: He discovered that equal and congenial bodies ac. quired different degrees of heat from the sun's rays, according to their different colours.
His improvements in chimnies, stoves, &c. have been already noticed.
· He made experiments to shew, that boats are drawn with more difficulty in small canals, than in greater bodies of water.
· He made and published experiments for improving the art of swimming, and for allaying thirst by bathing in sea-water.
He published observations on the gradual progress of north-east storms along the American coasts, contrary to the direction of the wind; and likewise to ascertain the course, velocity, and temperature of the Gulf-stream*, for the benefit of navigation.
- He contrived experiments, and recommended them to the late Dr. Ingenhanz, for determining the relative powers of different metals for conducting heat, which were accordingly made.
* Dr. Franklin was the first who gave particular attention to the Gulf. stream, its course, velocity, and temperature, for the benefit of navigation on the coasts of North America. This has been ascribed to Dr. Blagden; but he did not publish his observations anul 1781. Dr. Franklin pulilish. ed his chart in 1768. VOL. 1.
He revived and improved the barmonica, or glassichord, and extended his speculations to the finer arts; shewing that he could taste and criticise ever the compositions of a Handel!
He left behind him some very curious thoughts and conjectures concerning “an universal fluid; the original formation of the earth; and how far, from attentive observations made during the summer, it may be possible to foretel the mildness or severity of the following winter.” These were the fruits of some of his leisure hours at Passy, during his ministry at the court of France, where his time in general was devoted, with the greatest dignity, and the most splendid success, to the political objects of his mission.
That success was much promoted by the high reputation which he sustained, as a patriot and philosopber, among the patriots and philosophers of a generous and enlightened nation. Of this the fullest testimony is to be found in the letters of condolence on his death*, from the national assembly of that coun. try, to the President and Congress of the United States; and the public mourning decreed on that occasion—an honour, perhaps the first of the kind which has ever been paid by a public body of one nation to a citizen of another. But all nations considered
* The Duke de la Rochefoucault made bim acquainted with the cele brated Torgot who wrote the memorable motto under his portrait
Fripuie Cælo fulmen, mox sceptra Tyrannis.