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observed by M. Uu Fay e; but it was for many year* tieglected.
The philosophers were disposed to account for the phenomena, rather from a difference in the quantity of electricity collected; and even Du Fa) e himself seems at last to have adopted this doctrine. Franklin at first entertained the same idea; but upon repeating the experiments, he perceived that Mr. Kinnersly was right; and that die vitreous and resinous electricity of Du Faye were nothing more than the positive and negative states which he had before observed; that the glass globe charged positively,or increased the quantityof electricity on the prime conductor, whilst the globe of sulphur diminished its natural quantity, or charged negatively. These experiments and observations opened a new field for investigation, upon whirl* electricians entered with avidity; and their labors have added much to the stock of our knowledge
In September, 1752, Franklin entered upon d Course of experiments, to determine the state of electricity in the clouds. From a number of experiments he formed this conclusion; "that the clouds of a thunder-gust are most commonly in a negative state of electricity, but sometimes in a positive state:" and from this it follows, as a necessary consequence, that, for the most part, in thunder Strokes, it is the earth that strikes into the clouds, and not the clouds that strike into the earth." The letter containing these observations is dated in September, 1753; and yet the discovery of ascending thunder has been said to be of a modern date, and has been attributed to the Abbe Bertholon, who published his memoir on the subject in 1776.
Franklin's letters have been translated into most of the European languages, and into Latin. la proportion as they have become known, his princt* pies have been adopted. Some opposition was made to his theory, particularly by the Abbe Nollet, who was, however, but feebly supported, whilst the first, philosophers of Europe stepped forth in defence of Franklin's principles; amongst whom D'Alibard and Beccaria were the most distinguished. The opposition has gradually ceased, and the Franklinian system is now universally adopted, where science flourishes.
The important practical use which Franklin made of his discoveries, the securing of houses from injury by lightning, has been already mentioned. Pointed conductors are common in America; but prejudice has hitherto prevented their general introduction into Europe, notwithstanding the most undoubted proofarof their utility have been given. But mankind can with difficulty be brought to lay aside established practices, or to adopt new ones. And perhaps we have more reason to. be surprised that a practice, however rational, which was propos* ed about forty years ago, should in that time have bees adopted in so many places, than that it has not universally prevailed. It is only by degrees that the great body of mankind can be led into j>ew practices, however salutary their tendency. It is now nearly eighty years since inocculation was introduced into Europe and America; and it is so far from being general at present, that it will perhaps require one or two centuries to render it so.
In the year 1745, Franklin published an account of his new invented Pennsylvania fire-places, in which he minutely and accurately states the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of fireplaces; and endeavors to shew that the one whirh ne describes is to be prcfered to any other. Thia contrivance has given rise to the open stoves now in general use, which however differ from it in consiruction, particularly in not havingan air-box at the back, through which a constant supply of air warmed in its passage, is thrown into the room. The advantages of this are, that as a stream of warm air is continually flowing into the room, less fuel is necessary to preserve aproper temperature, and the room may be so tightened as that no air may enter thro' cracks; the consequences qf which are colds, tooth* aches, &c.
Although philosophy was a principal object of Franklin's pursuit for several years, he confined himself not to this. In the year 1747, he became a member of the general assembly in Pennsylvania, as a burgess for the city of Philadelphia. Warm disputes at this time subsisted between the assembly and the proprietaries; each contending for what they conceived to be their just rights. Franklin, a friend to the rights of man from his infancy, soon distinguished himself as a steady opponent of the unjust schemes of the proprietaries. He was 6oon looked up to as the head of the opposition j and to him have been attributed many of the spirited replies of the assembly, to the messages of the governors. His influence in the body was very great. This arose not from any superior powers of eloquence; he spoke but seldom, and he never was known to make any thing like an elaborate harangue. His speeches often consisted of a single sentence, or of a well-told ston, the moral of which was always obviously to the point. He never attempted the flowery fields of oratory. His manner was plain and mild. His style in speaking was, like that of his writings, remarkably concise. With-.. tiiis plain manner, and his penetrating and solid
judgment, he was able to confound the most eW quint and subtle of his adversaries, to confirm the ©pinions of his frk.nds, and to make converts of the unprejudiced who had opposed him. With a sin. gle observation, he has rendered of no avail an elegant and lengthy discourse, and determined the iate of a question of importance.
But he was not contented with thus supporting the lights of the people. He wished to render them permanently secure, which can only be done by making their value properly known; and this must depend upon increasing and extending information, *o every class of men. We have already seen that he was the founder of the public library, which contributed greatly towards improving the minds of the citizens. But this was not suffi-.ii nt. The schools then subsisting were in general of little utility. The teachers were men ill qualified for the important duty which they had undertaken j and, after all, nothing more could be obtained than the rudiments of a common English education. FrankJin drew up a plan of an academy, to be erected in the city of Philadelphia, suited to "the state of an kifant country;" but in this, as in all his plans, he confined not his view to the present time only. He looked forward to the period tvhen an institution •n an enlarged plan would become necessary* "With this view he considered his academy as a> *' foundation for posterity to erect a seminary of learning, more extensive, and suitable to future cir<i •umstances." in pursuance of this plan, the con* etitutions were drawn up and signed on the 13th of November 1749; In these, twenty-four of the *»06t respectable citizens of Philadelphia were named as trustees. In the choice of these, and in the formation of hie plan, Franklin ia. said w have
efflrsuTtecT chiefly with Thomas Hopkinson, Esq. Rev. Richard Peters, then secretar\" of the province, Tench Francis, Esq.. attorney-general, and Dr. Phi* neas Bond.
The following article shews a spirit of benevo» k.nce worthy of imitation; and for the honor of ou(f city, we hope that it continues to be in force.
81 In case of the inability of the rector, or an^ master, (established on the foundation by receiving a certain salary) through sickness, or any other na« tural infirmity, whereby he may be reduced to poverty, the trustees shall have power to contribute to. his support, in proportion to his distress and merits and the stock in their hands."
The last clause of their fundamental rules is ex* pressed in language so tender and benevolent, so truly paternal, that it wilt do everlasting honor to the hearts and heads of the founders.
M It is hoped and expected that the trustee* will make it their pleasure, and in some degree •heir business, to visit the academy often: to en* courage and countenance the youth, countenance and assist the masters, and by all means in their power advance the usefulness and reputation of the design; that they will look on.the students as, in some measure, their own children; treat them with familiarity and affection -r and when they have be* fcaved well, gone through their studies, and are to •nter the world, they shall zealously unite, and make all the interest that can be made, to promote and es* fablish them, whether ih business, offices, marriages, •r any ether thing for their advantage, preferable ta all other persona whatsoever, even of equal merit.'*
The constitutions being signed and made public, with the names of the gentlemen proposing themselves *3 ttusteea aad, founder^ the design was s#