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Thus to me it appears, that the house and its inhabitants were saved by the rod, though the rod itself was unjointed by the stroke; and that, if it had been made of one piece, and sunk deeper in the earth, or had entered the earth at a greater distance from the foundation, the mentioned small damages (except the melting of the points) would not have happened.
TO MISS MARY STEVENSON.
Concerning the Leyden Bottle.
London, 22 March, 1762.
I Must retract the charge of idleness in your studies, when I find you have gone through the doubly difficult task of xeading so big a book, on an abstruse subject, and in a foreign language.
In answer to your question concerning the Leyden phial. The hand that holds the bottle receives and conducts away the electric fluid that is driven out of the outside by the repulsive power of that which is forced into the inside of the bottle. As long as that power remains in the same situation, it must prevent the return of what it had expelled; though the hand would readily supply the quantity if it could be received. Your affectionate friend,
Electrical Experiments on Amber.
Saturday, 3 July, 17G2. &
To try, at the request of a friend, whether amber finely powdered might be melted and run together again by means of the electric fluid, I took a piece of small glass tube, about two inches and a half long, the bore about one twelfth of an inch diameter, the glass itself about the same thickness. I introduced into this tube some powder of amber, and with two pieces of wire nearly fitting the bore, one inserted at one end, the other at the other, I rammed the powder hard between them in the middle of the tube, where it stuck fast, and was in length about half an inch. Then, leaving the wires in the tube, I made them part of the electric circuit, and discharged through them three rows of my ease of bottles. The event was, that the glass was broke into very small pieces and those dispersed with violence in all directions. As I did not expect this, I had not, as in other experiments, laid thick paper over the glass to save my eyes, so several of the pieces struck my face smartly, and one of them cut my lip a little, so as to make it bleed. I could find no part of the amber; but the table where the tube lay was stained very black in spots, such as might be made by a thick smoke forced on it by a blast, and the air was filled with a strong smell, somewhat like that from burnt gunpowder. Whence I imagined, that the amber was burnt, and had exploded as gunpowder would have done in the same circumstances.
That I might better see the effect on the amber, I made the next experiment in a tube formed of a card rolled up and bound strongly with packthread. Its bore was about one eighth of an inch diameter. I rammed powder of amber into this as I had done into the other, and, as the quantity of amber was greater, I increased the quantity of electric fluid, by discharging through it at once five rows of my bottles. On opening the tube, I found that some of the powder had exploded; an impression was made on the tube, though it was not hurt, and most of the powder remaining was turned black, which I suppose might be by the smoke forced through it from the burned part; some of it was hard; but, as it powdered again when pressed by the fingers, I suppose that hardness not to arise from melting any parts in it, but merely from my ramming the .powder when I charged the tube.
about by a high wind at west or northwest, the bells rung for several hours (though with little intermissions) as briskly as ever I knew them, and I drew considerable sparks from the wire. This phenomenon I never observed but twice; viz. on the 31st of January, 1760, and the 3d of March, 1762.
I am, Sir, &.c.
FROM ALEXANDER SMALL TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
Flash of Lightning that struck St. Bride's Steeple.
I Have just recollected, that, in one of our great storms of lightning, I saw an appearance, which I never observed before, nor ever heard described. I am persuaded that I saw the flash which struck St. Bride's steeple. Sitting at my window, and looking to the north, I saw what appeared to me a solid straight rod of fire, moving at a very sharp angle with thje horizon. It appeared to my eye as about two inches diameter, and had nothing of the zigzag lightning motion.. I instantly told a person sitting with me, that some place must be struck at that instant. I was so much surprised at the vivid, distinct appearance of the fire, that I did not hear the clap of thunder, which stunned every one besides. Considering how low it moved, I could not have thought it had gone so far, having St. Martin's, the New Church, and St. Clement's steeples in its way. It struck the steeple a good way from the top, and the first impression it made in the side is in the same direction I saw it move in. It was succeeded by two flashes, almost united, moving in a pointed