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Blood Royal; which may be true for aught I know, who was, and still am ignorant of the etiquette in such cases. This silly affair however greatly increased his rancor against me, which was before considerable on account of my conduct in the assembly, respecting the exemption of his estate from taxation, which I had always opposed very warmly; and not without severe reflections on the meanness and injustice of contending for it. He accused me to the ministry as being the great obstacle to the King's service: preventing by my influence in the house the proper form of the bills for raising money; and he instanced the parade with my officers, as a proof of my having an intention to take the government of the province out of his hands by force. He also applied to Sir Everard Faukener, the post-master-general, to deprive me of my office. But it had no other effect than to procure from Sir Everard a gentle admonition.
Notwithstanding the continual wrangle between the governor and the house, in which I as a member had so large a share, there still subsisted a civil intercourse between that gentleman and myself, and we never had any personal difference. I have sometimes since thought, that his little or no resentment against me for the answers it was known I drew up to his messages, might be the effect of professional habit, and that being bred a lawyer, he might consider us both as merely advocates for contending clients in a suit; he for the proprietaries, and I for the assembly: he would therefore sometimes call in a friendly way to advise with me on difficult points; and sometimes, though not often, take my advice: We acted in concert to supply Braddock's army with provisions; and when the shocking news arrived of his defeat, the governor sent in haste for me, to consult with him on measures for preventing the desertion of the back counties. I forget now the advice I gave, but I think it was that Dunbar should be written to and prevailed with if possible to post his troops on the frontiers for their protection, until, by reinforcements from the colonies, he might be able to proceed in the expedition. And after my return from the frontier, he would have had me undertake the conduct of such an expedition with provincial troops, for the reduction of Fort Duquesne, (Dunbar and his men being otherwise employed); and he proposed to commission me as general. I had not so good an opinion of my military abilities as he professed to have, and I believe his professions must have exceeded his real sentiments : but probably he might think that my popularity would facilitate the business with the men, and influence in the assembly the grant of money to pay for it; and that perhaps without taxing the proprietary. Finding me not so forward to engage as he expected, the project was dropt; and he soon after left the government, being superseded by Captain Denny.
Before I proceed in relating the part I had in public affairs under this new governor's administration, it may not be amiss to give here some account of the rise and progress of my philosophical reputation.
In 1746, being at Boston, I met there with a Dr. Spence, who was lately arrived from Scotland, and showed me some electric experiments. They were imperfectly performed, as he was not very expert ; but being on a subject quite new to me, they equally surprised and pleased me. Soon after my return to Philadelphia, our library company
received from Mr. Peter Collinson, F.R.S. of London, a present of a glass tube, with some account of the use of it in making such experiments. I eagerly seized the opportunity of repeating what I had seen at Boston; and by much practice acquired great readiness in performing those also which we had an account of from England, adding a number of new ones. I say much practice, for my house was continually full for some time, with persons who came to see these new wonders. To divide a little this incumbrance among my friends, I caused a number of similar tubes to be blown in our glass-house, with which they furnished themselves, so that we hąd at length several performers. Among these the principal was Mr. Kinnersly, an ingenious 'neighbor, 'who being out of business, I encouraged to undertake showing the experiments for
money, and drew up for him two lectures, in which the experiments were ranged in such order, and accompanied with explanations in such method, as that the foregoing should assist in comprehending the following. 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-Indian 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. Kinnersly, 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 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 Buffon, (a philosopher deservedly of great reputation in France, and indeed all over Europe, he prevailed with Monsieur 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 experimentor, 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;