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ing. He procured an elegant apparatus for the purpose, in which all the little machines that I had roughly made for myself were neatly formed by instrument makers. His lectures were well attended, and gave great satisfaction; and after some time he went through the colonies, exhibiting them in every capital town, and picked up some money. In the West India Islands, indeed, it was with difficulty the experiments could be made, from the general moisture of the air.
Obliged as we were to Mr. Collinson for the present of the tube, &c., I thought it right he should be informed of our success in using it, and wrote him several letters containing accounts of our experiments.* He got them read in the Royal Society, where they were not at first thought worth so much notice as to be printed in their Transactions. One paper, which I wrote for Mr. Kinnersley, on the sameness of lightning with electricity, I sent to Mr. Mitchel, an acquaintance of mine, and one of the members also of that Society; who wrote me word, that it had been read, but was laughed at by the connoisseurs. The The papers, however, being shown to Dr. Fothergill, he thought them of too much value to be stifled, and advised the printing of them. Mr. Collinson then gave them to Cave for publication in his Gentleman's Magazine; but he chose to print them separately in a pamphlet, and Dr. Fothergill wrote the preface. Cave, it seems, judged rightly for his profession, for by the additions, that arrived afterwards, they swelled to a quarto volume; which has had five editions, and cost him nothing for copy-money.
It was however some time before those papers were much taken notice of in England. A copy of them happening to fall into the hands of the Count de Buf
See Vol. V. p. 180.
fon, a philosopher deservedly of great reputation in France, and indeed all over Europe, he prevailed with M. Dubourg to translate them into French; and they were printed at Paris. The publication offended the Abbé Nollet, Preceptor in Natural Philosophy to the Royal Family, and an able experimenter, who had formed and published a theory of electricity, which then had the general vogue. He could not at first believe, that such a work came from America, and said it must have been fabricated by his enemies at Paris, to oppose his system. Afterwards, having been assured, that there really existed such a person as Franklin at Philadelphia, which he had doubted, he wrote and published a volume of Letters, chiefly addressed to me, defending his theory, and denying the verity of my experiments, and of the positions deduced from them.
I once purposed answering the Abbé, and actually began the answer; but, on consideration that my writings contained a description of experiments, which any one might repeat and verify, and, if not to be verified, could not be defended; or of observations offered as conjectures, and not delivered dogmatically, therefore not laying me under any obligation to defend them; and reflecting, that a dispute between two persons, written in different languages, might be lengthened greatly by mistranslations, and thence misconceptions of one another's meaning, much of one of the Abbé's letters being founded on an error in the translation, I concluded to let my papers shift for themselves; believing it was better to spend what time I could spare from public business in making new experiments, than in disputing about those already made. I therefore never answered M. Nollet; and the event gave me no cause to repent my silence; for my friend M. Le Roy, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, took up my cause
and refuted him; my book was translated into the Italian, German, and Latin languages; and the doctrine it contained was by degrees generally adopted by the philosophers of Europe, in preference to that of the Abbé; so that he lived to see himself the last of his sect, except Monsieur B of Paris, his élève and
What gave my book the more sudden and general celebrity, was the success of one of its proposed experiments, made by Messieurs Dalibard and De Lor at Marly, for drawing lightning from the clouds. This engaged the public attention everywhere. M. De Lor, who had an apparatus for experimental philosophy, and lectured in that branch of science, undertook to repeat what he called the Philadelphia Experiments; and, after they were performed before the King and court, all the curious of Paris flocked to see them. I will not swell this narrative with an account of that capital experiment, nor of the infinite pleasure I received in the success of a similar one I made soon after with a kite at Philadelphia, as both are to be found in the histories of electricity.
Dr. Wright, an English physician, when at Paris, wrote to a friend, who was of the Royal Society, an account of the high esteem my experiments were in among the learned abroad, and of their wonder, that my writings had been so little noticed in England. The Society on this resumed the consideration of the letters that had been read to them; and the celebrated Dr. Watson drew up a summary account of them, and of all I had afterwards sent to England on the subject; which he accompanied with some praise of the writer.* This summary was then printed in their Trans
See Vol. V. p. 487.
actions; and, some members of the Society in London, particularly the very ingenious Mr. Canton, having verified the experiment of procuring lightning from the clouds by a pointed rod, and acquainted them with the success, they soon made me more than amends for the slight with which they had before treated me. Without my having made any application for that honor, they chose me a member; and voted, that I should be excused the customary payments, which would have amounted to twenty-five guineas; and ever since have given me their Transactions gratis.* They also pre
* Dr. Franklin gives a further account of his election, in a letter to his son, Governor Franklin, from which the following is an extract.
"London, 19 December, 1767.
"We have had an ugly affair at the Royal Society lately. One Dacosta, a Jew, who, as our clerk, was intrusted with collecting our moneys, has been so unfaithful as to embezzle near thirteen hundred pounds in four years. Being one of the Council this year, as well as the last, I have been employed all the last week in attending the inquiry into, and unravelling, his accounts, in order to come at a full knowledge of his frauds. His securities are bound in one thousand pounds to the Society, which they will pay, but we shall probably lose the rest. He had this year received twenty-six admission payments of twenty-five guineas each, which he did not bring to account.
"While attending to this affair, I had an opportunity of looking over the old council-books and journals of the society, and, having a curiosity to see how I came in, of which I had never been informed, I looked back for the minutes relating to it. You must know, it is not usual to admit persons that have not requested to be admitted; and a recommendatory certificate in favor of the candidate, signed by at least three of the members, is by our rule to be presented to the Society, expressing that he is desirous of that honor, and is so and so qualified. As I never had asked or expected the honor, I was, as I said before, curious to see how the business was managed. I found that the certificate, worded very advantageously for me, was signed by Lord Macclesfield, then President, Lord Parker, and Lord Willoughby; that the election was by a unanimous vote; and, the honor being voluntarily conferred by the Society, unsolicited by me, it was thought wrong to demand or receive the usual fees or composition; so that my name was entered on the list with a vote of council, that I was not to pay any thing. And accordingly nothing has ever been demanded of me. Those, who are
sented me with the gold medal of Sir Godfrey Copley, for the year 1753, the delivery of which was accompanied by a very handsome speech of the president, Lord Macclesfield, wherein I was highly honored.*
admitted in the common way, pay five guineas admission fees, and two guineas and a half yearly contribution, or twenty-five guineas down, in lieu of it. In my case a substantial favor accompanied the honor."-W. T. F.
See this Speech, Vol. V. p. 499.