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to acquire moisture from a moist air, and some sorts more than others. When perfectly dried by lying before a fire, or on a stove, none that I have tried will conduct any better than so much glass.

New flannel, if dry and warm, will draw the electric fluid from non-electrics, as well as that which has been worn.

I wish you had the convenience of trying the experiments you seem to have such expectations from, upon various kinds of spirits, salts, earth, &c. Frequently, in a variety of experiments, though we miss what we expected to find, yet something valuable turns out, something surprising and instructing, though unthought of

I thank you for communicating the illustration of the theorem concerning light. It is very curious. But I must own I am much in the dark about light. I am not satisfied with the doctrine that supposes particles of matter called light, continually driven off from the sun's surface, with a swiftness so prodigious! Must not the smallest particle conceivable have, with such a motion, a force exceeding that of a twenty-four pounder, discharged from a cannon ? Must not the sun diminish exceedingly by such a waste of matter; and the planents, instead of drawing nearer to him, as some have feared, recede to greater distances through the lessened attraction? Yet these particles, with this amazing motion, will not drive before them, or remove, the least and lightest dust they meet with. And the sun, for aught we know, continues of his ancient dimensions, and his attendants move in their ancient orbits.

May not all the phenomena of light be more conveniently solved, by supposing universal space filled with a subtile elastic fluid, which, when at rest, is not visible, but whose vibrations affect that fine sense in the eye, as those of air do the grosser organs of the ear? We do not, in the case of sound, imagine that any sonorous particles are thrown off from a bell, for instance, and fly in straight lines to the ear; why must we believe that luminous particles leave the sun and proceed to the eye ? Some diamonds, if rubbed, shine in the dark, without losing any part of their matter. I can make an electrical spark as big as the flame of a candle, much brighter, and, therefore, visible further; yet this is without fuel; and, I am persuaded, no part of the electric fluid flies off in such case to distant places, but all goes directly, and is to be found in the place to which I destine it. May not different degrees of the vibration of the above-mentioned universal medium occasion the appearances of different colors ? · I think the electric fluid is always the same; yet I find that weaker and stronger sparks differ in apparent color; some white, blue, purple, red; the strongest, white; weak ones, red. Thus different degrees of vibration given to the air produce the seven different sounds in music, analogous to the seven colors, yet the medium, air, is the same.

If the sun is not wasted by expense of light, I can easily conceive, that he shall otherwise always retain the same quantity of matter; though we should suppose him made of sulphur constantly flaming. The action of fire only separates the particles of matter; it does not annihilate them. Water, by heat raised in vapor, returns to the earth in rain; and if we could collect all the particles of burning matter that go off in smoke, perhaps they might, with the ashes, weigh as much as the body before it was fired; and, if we could put them into the same position with regard to each other, the mass would be the same as before, and might be burnt over again. The chemists have analyzed sulphur, and find it composed, in certain proportions, of oil, salt, and earth; and, having by the analysis discovered those proportions, they can, of those ingredi ents, make sulphur. So we have only to suppose, that the parts of the sun's sulphur, separated by fire, rise into his atmosphere, and there being freed from the immediate action of the fire, they collect into cloudy masses, and, growing by degrees, too heavy to be longer supported, they descend to the sun, and are burnt over again. Hence the spots appearing on his face, which are observed to diminish daily in size, their consuming edges being of particular brightness.

It is well we are not, as poor Galileo was, subject to the Inquisition for philosophical heresy. My whispers against the orthodox doctrine, in private letters, would be dangerous; but your writing and printing would be highly criminal. As it is, you must expect some censure; but one heretic will surely excuse another.

I am heartily glad to hear more instances of the success of the poke-weed, in the cure of that horrible evil to the human body, a cancer.

You will deserve highly of mankind for the communication. But I find in Boston they are at a loss to know the right plant, some asserting it is what they call mechoachan, others other things. In one of their late papers it is publicly requested, that a perfect description may be given of the plant, its places of growth, &c. I have mislaid the paper, or would send it to you. I thought you had described it pretty fully.* I am, Sir, &c.


As the poke-weed, though out of place, is introduced here, we shall translate and insert two extracts of letters from Dr. Franklin to M. Dubourg, the French translator of his works, on the same subject. — Editor of Johnson and Longman's Edition. .

“ London, 27 March, 1773. “ I apprehend that our poke-weed is what the botanists term phytolacca. This plant bears berries as large as peas; the skin is black, but it contains M. DALIBARD'S ACCOUNT OF AN ELECTRICAL EXPERI


Extrait d'un Mémoire de M. Dalibard.


En suivant la route que M. Franklin nous a tracée, j'ai obtenu une satisfaction complette. Voici les préparatifs, le procédé, et le succès.

1o. J'ai fait faire à Marly-la-ville, située à six lieues de Paris au milieu d'une belle plaine dont le sol est fort élevé, une verge de fer ronde, d'environ un pouce de diamètre, longue de quarante pieds, et fort pointue par son extrémité supérieure; pour lui ménager une pointe plus fine, je l'ai fait armer d'acier trempé et ensuite brunir, au défaut de dorure, pour la préserver de la rouille ; outre cela, cette verge de fer est courbée vers son extrémité inférieure en deux coudes à angles aigus quoiqu'arrondis; le premier coude est éloigné de deux pieds du bout inférieur, et le second est en sens contraire à trois pieds du premier.

2°. J'ai fait planter dans un jardin trois grosses perches de vingt-huit à vingt-neuf pieds, disposées en triangle, et éloignées les unes des autres d'environ huit pieds; deux de ces perches sont contre un mur, et la troisième est au-dedans du jardin. Pour les affermir toutes ensemble, l'on a cloué sur chacune des entretoises à vingt pieds de hauteur; et comme le grand vent agitoit encore cette espèce d'édifice, l'on a attaché au haut de chaque perche de longs cordages, qui tenant lieu d'aubans, répondent par le bas à de bons piquets fortement enfoncés en terre à plus de vingt pieds des perches.

a crimson juice. It is this juice, thickened by evaporation in the sun, which was employed. It caused great pain, but some persons were said to have been cured. I am not quite certain of the facts; all that I know is, that Dr. Colden had a good opinion of the remedy."

“ London, 23 April, 1773. “ You will see, by the annexed paper by Dr. Solander, that this herb, poke-weed, in which has been found a specific remedy for cancers, is the most common species of phytolacca. (Phytolacca decandra, L.)”

* The above account of the circumstances and success of this extraordinary experiment was laid before the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, three days afterwards, in a Memorial by M. Dalibard.

39. J'ai fait construire entre les deux perches voisines du mur, et adosser contre ce mur, une petite guérite de bois capable de contenir un homme et une table.

4o. J'ai fait placer au milieu de la guérite une petite table d'environ un demi-pied de hauteur; et sur cette table j'ai fait dresser et affermir un tabouret électrique. Ce tabouret n'est autre chose qu'une petite planche quarrée, portée sur trois bouteilles à vin ; il n'est fait de cette matière que pour suppléer au défaut d'un gâteau de résine qui me manquoit.

5o. Tout étant ainsi préparé, j'ai fait élever perpendiculairement la verge de fer au milieu des trois perches, et je l'ai affermie en l'attachant à chacune des perches avec de forts cordons de soie par deux endroits seulement. Les premiers liens sont au haut des perches, environ trois pouces au-dessous de leurs extrémités supérieures; les seconds vers la moitié de leur hauteur. Le bout inférieur de la verge de fer est solidement appuyé sur le milieu du tabouret électrique, où j'ai fait creuser un trou propre à le recevoir.

6o. Comme il étoit important de garantir de la pluie le tabouret et les cordons de soie, parce qu'ils laisseroient passer la matière électrique s'ils étoient mouillés, j'ai pris les précautions nécessaires pour en empêcher. C'est dans cette vue que j'ai mis mon tabouret


VOL. v.


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