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and grand idea of ascertaining the truth of his doctrine, by actually drawingdown 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 «f points in repelling 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 by repelling the cloud beyond the striking distance, or .by drawing off the electrical fire which it contained:; ©r, 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 enabledto complete his grand and unparalleled discovery 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 cuke of rosin. Electrified clouds passing over this, would, he conceived, impart to it a portion of their electricity, which would be rendered .evident 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 kirn1. Whilst Franklin was waiting for the erection of a spire, it occurred to him, that he might have more ready access to the region ol clouds by means of a common kite. He prepared one by attaching two cross sticks to a silk handkerchief, which would pot 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 experiment* 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 appear* «id. He almost despaired of success; when sud. denly he observed the loose fibres of his string to move towards an erect position. He now presented his knuckle to the key, and received a strong spark. How exquisite must his sensations have teea at this moment! On this experiment depended the fate of his theory. If he succeeded, his name W.ould ;rank high amongst those who have improved science; if he fajled,hemust 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 kev, a <vial was charged, a shock given, and all th'. ex, perinu.nts made, which are usually performed widn electricity.
About a month befonethfe period, some inirenlous frenchmen had, completed the discovery, in the original manner proposed by Doctor Franklin. The letters which he sent to Mr. Collinson, it is said, were refused a place amongst the papers of the Roval Society of London. However this may be, Collinson published them in a separate volume, Under the title of New Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia 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 Biiffon, who, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which the work labored, was much pleased with it, and repeated the experiments with success. He prevailed iipon 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 tobe a spectator of them. A course of experiments wns given at the seat of the Due 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 Maryla-ville, and De Lor at his house in the Ettrapade at Paris. some of the highest ground in that capital. D'Alibard's machine first shewed signs of electricity. On the 10th ofMav, 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-Iaville. An account of this experiment was given to the Royal Academy of Sciences, in a memoir by M. D'Alibard, dated May J 3th, 1752. On the 18th ©f 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 Euiope 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. Professor Richman bade fair to add much to the stock of knowledge on this subject, when an unfortunate flush 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 established 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 American, 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
we need not be surprised at notice being taken of it, as soon as electrical phenomena became familiar. We find it mentioned by Dr. Wall and Mr. Grey, while the science was in its infancy. But the honor oftorming a regular tlicory of thunder-gusts, of suggesting a mode ot determining the truth of it by experiments., and of putting these experiments in practice, and thus establishing his theory upon a firm and solid basis, is incontestibiy due to Franklin. D'Alibard, who made the experiments in France, sa) s, that he only followed the track which Franklin had pointed out.
li has been of late asserted, that the honor of completing the experiment with an electrical kite, does not belong to Franklin. Some late English paragraphs have attributed it to same Frenchman, •Whose i.ame they did not mention; and the Ab"e Bertholon gives it to Mr. De Romas, assessor to the president of Nerac; the English paragraphs probably refer to the same person. But a very •light attention will convince us of the injustice of this procedure: Dr. Franklin's experiment was made in June 1752; and his letter, giving an account of it, is dated October 19, 1752; M. De fto> mas made his first attempt on the 14th of May 175.3, but »vas not successful until the 7th of Jui»e; a vear after Franklin had completed the discovery, aii'i when it was known to all the philosopheis in Europe.
Besides these great principles, Franklin's letters on electricity contam a number of facts and hints, which have contributed greatly towards reducing this brmii.li of knowledge to a science. His friend, Mr. Kinneralv, communicated to him a discovert.of the difF rent kinds of electricity t'Xcittd by rubbing gl 4.51. anU eululiur. This, we have said, was first