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the idea from some one else. An American, a being .of an inferior order, make discoveries! Impossible. It was said, that the Abbé Nollet, in 1748, had suggested the idea of the similarity of lightning and electricity, in his Leçons de Physique. It is true that the Abbé 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 of forming a regular theory of thunder-gusts, of suggesting a mode of 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 incontestably due to Franklin. D’Alibard, who made the first experiments in France, says, that he only followed the track which Franklin had pointed out.
“ It has been of late asserted, that the honor of completing the experiment with the electrical kite, does not belong to Franklin. Some late English paragraphs have attributed it to some Frenchman, whose name they do not mention; and the Abbé
Bertholon gives it to M. De Romas, assessor to the presideal of Nérac; the English paragraphs probably refer to the same person. But a very slight 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 Romas made his first attempt on the 14th of May, 1753, but was not successful until the 7th of June; a year after Franklin had completed the discovery, and when it was known to all the philosophers in Europe.
“ Besides these great principles, Franklin's letters on electricity contain a number of facts and hints, which have contributed greatly towards reducing this branch of knowledge to a science. His friend, Mr. Kinnersley, communicated to him a discovery of the different kinds of electricity excited by rubbing glass and sulphur. This, we have said, was first observed by M. Du Faye; but it was for many years neglected. The philosophers were disposed to account for the phenomena, rather from a difference in the quantity of electricity collected; and even Du Faye 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. Kinnersley was right; and that the 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 quantity of 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 which electricians entered with avidity; and, their labors have added much to the stock of our knowledge.
" In September, 1752, Franklin entered upon a 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 thunderstrokes, 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 Abbé Bertholon, who published his memoir on the subject in 1776.
“ Franklin's Letters on Electricity have been translated into most of the European languages, and into Latin. In proportion as they have become known, his principles have been adopted, Some opposition was made to his theories, particularly by the Abbé 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 florishes.
“ 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 now very common in America; but prejudice has' hitherto prevented their general introduction into Europe, notwithstanding the most undoubted proofs of 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 proposed about forty years ago, should in that time have been 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 new practices, however salutary their tendency. It is now nearly eighty years since in
since inoculation 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."
"The same probably will also be the case with respect to the Vaccine Inoculation : though undoubtedly its progress bas hitherto been more rapid.
To revert to Dr. Franklin's political transactions. His exertions and examination before the house of commons having greatly contributed to the repeal of the Stamp Act; he now turned his atten-' tion towards obtaining the repeal of the Act restraining the legal tender of Paper Money in the Colonies ; another grievance they complained of. The ministry had at one time agreed to the repeal; not so much to serve the colonies, as from the impression that they might raise a revenue from paper money lent on mortgage, by the parliament appropriating the interest arising therefrom. This notion was however removed by Dr. Franklin's assuring them, that no colony would issue money on those terms, and that the advantage arising to the commerce of Great Britain in America from a plentiful currency, would thereby be lost, and the repeal answer no end, if the assemblies were not allowed to appropriate the interest themselves. The measure was afterwards dropt, and the restraint unwisely continued.
As early as the period of these discussions between Great Britain and her colonies, the French government appear to have begun to take an interest in their affairs. The circumstance is thus alluded to in a letter of Dr. Franklin to his son, dated London, Aug. 28, 1767.
“ De Guerchy, the French ambassador, is gone home, and Mons. Durand is left minister plenipotentiary. He is extremely curious to inform hime