- The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Volume III: Correspondence and Miscellaneous Writings
- 1753: CVII: To William Smith
- CVIII: To Cadwallader Colden
- CIX: To James Bowdoin
- 1754: CX: To Peter Collinson
- CXI: To Cadwallader Colden
- CXII: Plan of Union For the Colonies
- CXIII: Three Letters to Governor Shirley
- 1755: CXIV: To Miss Catherine Ray, At Block Island
- CXV: Electrical Experiments
- CXVI: To John Lining, At Charleston, South Carolina
- CXVII: To M. Dalibard, At Paris, Enclosed In a Letter to Peter Collinson
- CXVIII: To Peter Collinson
- CXIX: To Jared Eliot
- CXX: To Jared Eliot
- CXXI: To Miss Catherine Ray
- CXXII: To William Shirley
- CXXIII: To James Read
- CXXIV: An Act 1
- CXXV: To William Parsons 1
- CXXVI: To William Parsons
- CXXVII: A Dialogue 1 Between X, Y, & Z, Concerning the Present State of Affairs In Pennsylvania.
- CXXVIII: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- 1756: CXXIX: Commission From Lieut.-governor Morris
- CXXX: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CXXXI: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CXXXII: To a Friend 1
- CXXXIII: To Robert Hunter Morris, Governor of Pennsylvania
- CXXXIV: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CXXXV: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CXXXVI: To Mrs. Jane Mecom
- CXXXVII: To Miss E. Hubbard 2
- CXXXVIII: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CXXXIX: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cxl: to Joseph Huey
- Cxli: to Mrs. Jane Mecom
- Cxlii: to William Parsons
- Cxliii: to Geo. Whitefield
- Cxliv: to Thomas Pownall 1
- Cxlv: to George Washington 1
- Cxlvi: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cxlvii: to Edward and Jane Mecom
- Cxlviii: Plan For Settling Two Western Colonies In North America, With Reasons For the Plan 1
- 1757: Cxlix: to Robert Charles. 1
- Cl: Report of the Committee of Aggrievances of the Assembly of Pennsylvania
- Cli: to Mrs. Jane Mecom
- Clii: to William Parsons
- Cliii: to Miss Catherine Ray
- Cliv: to Mr. Dunlap
- Clv: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clvi: to John Lining, At Charleston, South Carolina
- Clvii: to Mrs. Jane Mecom
- Clviii: to Mrs. Jane Mecom
- Clix: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clx: to Isaac Norris 1
- Clxi: to Mrs. Jane Mecom
- Clxii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxiii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxiv: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxv: From William Strahan to Mrs. Franklin 1
- Clxvi: to John Pringle 2
- 1758: Clxvii: to John Pringle
- Clxviii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxix: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxx: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxxi: to Thomas Hubbard, At Boston
- Clxxii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxxiii: to the Speaker and Committee of the Pennsylvania Assembly
- Clxxiv: to John Lining, At Charleston
- Clxxv: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxxvi: to Hugh Roberts
- Clxxvii: to Mrs. Jane Mecom
- 1759: Clxxviii: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- 1760: Clxxix: to Lord Kames 1
- Clxxx: to John Hughes
- Clxxxi: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxxxii: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Clxxxiii: to Lord Kames
- Clxxxiv: to Peter Franklin 1
- Clxxxv: to Alexander Small, London
- Clxxxvi: to Miss Stevenson, At Wanstead
- Clxxxvii: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Clxxxviii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Clxxxix: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- CXC: The Interest of Great Britain Considered, With Regard to Her Colonies and the Acquisitions of Canada and Guadaloupe 1
- CXCI: To Lord Kames
- CXCII: To David Hume
- CXCIII: To John Baskerville 2
- CXCIV: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CXCV: To the Printer of the London Chronicle
- 1761: CXCVI: To Hugh Roberts
- CXCVII: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CXCVIII: To Josiah Quincy
- CXCIX: To Henry Potts, Esq.
- CC: To Edward Pennington 2
- CCI: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCII: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CCIII: To Lord Kames
- 1762: CCIV: To David Hume
- CCV: To E. Kinnersley
- CCVI: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CCVII: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CCVIII: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCIX: From David Hume to B. Franklin
- CCX: To David Hume 1
- CCXI: Fire
- CCXII: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CCXIII: Electrical Experiments On Amber
- CCXIV: To John Baptist Beccaria
- CCXV: To Oliver Neave
- CCXVI: To Mr. William Strahan At Bath
- CCXVII: To Mr. William Strahan At Oxford
- CCXVIII: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CCXIX: To Lord Kames
- CCXX: To Mr. William Strahan
- CCXXI: To John Pringle, In London
- CCXXII: To William Strahan
- CCXXIII: To Mr. Whiteford
- CCXXIV: To Mr. Peter Franklin, At Newport
- 1763: CCXXV: B. Franklin’s Services In the General Assembly
- CCXXVI: To Mrs. Greene 1
- CCXXVII: To ———
- CCXXVIII: To William Strahan
- CCXXIX: Congelation of Quicksilver—cold Produced By Evaporation 1
- CCXXX: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CCXXXI: To Jonathan Williams 1
- CCXXXII: To William Strahan
- CCXXXIII: To Miss Mary Stevenson
- CCXXXIV: To William Strahan
- CCXXXV: To Mrs Deborah Franklin
TO MISS CATHERINE RAY, AT BLOCK ISLAND
Philadelphia, 4 March, 1755.
Your kind letter of January 20th is but just come to hand, and I take this first opportunity of acknowledging the favor. It gives me great pleasure to hear that you got home safe and well that day. I thought too much was hazarded, when I saw you put off to sea in that very little skiff, tossed by every wave. But the call was strong and just—a sick parent. I stood on the shore and looked after you till I could no longer distinguish you even with my glass, then returned to your sister’s, praying for your safe passage. Towards evening all agreed that you must certainly be arrived before that time, the weather having been so favorable, which made me more easy and cheerful, for I had been truly concerned for you.
I left New England slowly, and with great reluctance. Short day’s journeys, and loitering visits on the road, for three or four weeks, manifested my unwillingness to quit a country in which I drew my first breath, spent my earliest and most pleasant days, and had now received so many fresh marks of the people’s goodness and benevolence, in the kind and affectionate treatment I had everywhere met with. I almost forgot I had a home, till I was more than half way towards it; till I had, one by one, parted with all my New England friends, and was got into the western borders of Connecticut, among mere strangers. Then, like an old man, who, having buried all he loved in this world, begins to think of heaven, I began to think of and wish for home; and as I drew nearer, I found the attraction stronger and stronger. My diligence and speed increased with my impatience. I drove on violently, and made such long stretches, that a very few days brought me to my own house, and to the arms of my good old wife and children, where I remain, thanks to God, at present well and happy.
Persons subject to the hyp complain of the northeast wind, as increasing their malady. But since you promised to send me kisses in that wind, and I find you as good as your word, it is to me the gayest wind that blows, and gives me the best spirits. I write this during a northeast storm of snow, the greatest we have had this winter. Your favors come mixed with the snowy fleeces, which are pure as your virgin innocence, white as your lovely bosom, and—as cold. But let it warm towards some worthy young man, and may Heaven bless you both with every kind of happiness.
I desired Miss Anna Ward to send you over a little book I left with her, for your amusement in that lonely island. My respects to your good father, and mother, and sister. Let me often hear of your welfare, since it is not likely I shall ever again have the pleasure of seeing you. Accept mine and my wife’s sincere thanks for the many civilities I receive from you and your relations; and do me the justice to believe me, dear girl, your affectionate, faithful friend and humble servant,
P. S.—My respectful compliments to your good brother Ward, and sister; and to the agreeable family of the Wards at Newport, when you see them, Adieu.
Made in Pursuance of those made by Mr. Canton, dated December 6, 1753; with Explanations, by Benjamin Franklin
read at the royal society, december 18, 1755
Philadelphia, 14 March, 1755.
I. Electric atmospheres that flow round non-electric bodies, being brought near each other, do not readily mix and unite into one atmosphere, but remain separate and repel each other.
This is plainly seen in suspended cork balls and other bodies electrified.
II. An electric atmosphere not only repels another electric atmosphere, but will also repel the electric matter contained in the substance of a body approaching it, and, without joining or mixing with it, force it to other parts of the body that contained it.
This is shown by some of the following experiments.
III. Bodies electrified negatively, or deprived of their natural quantity of electricity, repel each other (or at least appear to do so by a mutual receding), as well as those electrified positively, or which have electric atmospheres.
This is shown by applying the negatively charged wire of a phial to two cork balls suspended by silk threads, and many other experiments.
Fix a tassel of fifteen or twenty threads, three inches long, at one end of a tin prime conductor (mine is about five feet long and four inches diameter) supported by silk lines.
Let the threads be a little damp, but not wet.
Pass an excited glass tube near the other end of the prime conductor, so as to give it some sparks, and the threads will diverge.
Because each thread, as well as the prime conductor, has acquired an electric atmosphere, which repels and is repelled by the atmospheres of the other threads; if those several atmospheres would readily mix, the threads might unite, and hang in the middle of one atmosphere, common to them all.
Rub the tube afresh, and approach the prime conductor therewith, crosswise, near that end, but not nigh enough to give sparks, and the threads will diverge a little more.
Because the atmosphere of the prime conductor is pressed by the atmosphere of the excited tube, and driven towards the end where the threads are, by which each thread acquires more atmosphere.
Withdraw the tube, and they will close as much.
They close as much, and no more, because the atmosphere of the glass tube, not having mixed with the atmosphere of the prime conductor, is withdrawn entire, having made no addition to or diminution from it.
Bring the excited tube under the tuft of threads, and they will close a little.
They close, because the atmosphere of the glass tube repels their atmospheres, and drives part of them back on the prime conductor.
Withdraw it, and they will diverge as much.
For the portion of atmosphere which they had lost returns to them again.
Excite the glass tube and approach the prime conductor with it, holding it across, near the end opposite to that on which the threads hang, at the distance of five or six inches. Keep it there a few seconds, and the threads of the tassels will diverge. Withdraw it, and they will close.
They diverge, because they have received electric atmospheres from the electric matter before contained in the substance of the prime conductor, but which is now repelled and driven away by the atmosphere of the glass tube from the parts of the prime conductor opposite and nearest to that atmosphere, and forced out upon the surface of the prime conductor at its other end, and upon the threads hanging thereto. Were it any part of the atmosphere of the glass tube that flowed over and along the prime conductor to the threads, and gave them atmospheres (as is the case when a spark is given to the prime conductor from the glass tube), such part of the tube’s atmosphere would have remained, and the threads continue to diverge; but they close on withdrawing the tube, because the tube takes with it all its own atmosphere, and the electric matter, which had been driven out of the substance of the prime conductor, and formed atmospheres round the threads, is thereby permitted to return to its place.
Take a spark from the prime conductor near the threads, when they are diverged as before, and they will close.
For by so doing you take away their atmospheres, composed of the electric matter driven out of the substance of the prime conductor, as aforesaid, by the repellency of the atmosphere of the glass tube. By taking this spark you rob the prime conductor of part of its natural quantity of the electric matter, which part so taken is not supplied by the glass tube, for, when that is afterwards withdrawn, it takes with it its whole atmosphere, and leaves the prime conductor electrized negatively, as appears by the next operation.
Then withdraw the tube, and they will open again.
For now the electric matter in the prime conductor returning to its equilibrium, or equal diffusion, in all parts of its substance, and the prime conductor having lost some of its natural quantity, the threads connected with it lose part of theirs, and so are electrized negatively, and therefore repel each other, by Principle III.
Approach the prime conductor with the tube, near the same place as at first, and they will close again.
Because the part of their natural quantity of electric fluid which they had lost is now restored to them again, by the repulsion of the glass tube forcing that fluid to them from other parts of the prime conductor; so they are now again in their natural state.
Withdraw it, and they will open again.
For what had been restored to them is now taken from them again, flowing back into the prime conductor, and leaving them once more electrized negatively.
Bring the excited tube under the threads, and they will diverge more.
Because more of their natural quantity is driven from them into the prime conductor, and thereby their negative electricity increased.
The prime conductor not being electrified, brings the excited tube under the tassel, and the threads will diverge.
Part of their natural quantity is thereby driven out of them into the prime conductor, and they become negatively electrized, and therefore repel each other.
Keeping the tube in the same place with one hand, attempt to touch the threads with the finger of the other hand, and they will recede from the finger.
Because the finger being plunged into the atmosphere of the glass tube, as well as the threads, part of its natural quantity is driven back through the hand and body by that atmosphere, and the finger becomes, as well as the threads, negatively electrized, and so repels, and is repelled by them. To confirm this, hold a slender, light lock of cotton, two or three inches long, near a prime conductor that is electrified by a glass globe or tube. You will see the cotton stretch itself out towards the prime conductor. Attempt to touch it with the finger of the other hand, and it will be repelled by the finger. Approach it with a positively charged wire of a bottle, and it will fly to the wire. Bring it near a negatively charged wire of a bottle, it will recede from that wire in the same manner that it did from the finger; which demonstrates the finger to be negatively electrized, as well as the lock of cotton so situated.
Turkey killed by Electricity.—Effect of a Shock on the Operator in making the Experiment
As Mr. Franklin, in a former letter to Mr. Collinson, mentioned his intending to try the power of a very strong electrical shock upon a turkey, that gentleman accordingly has been so very obliging as to send an account of it, which is to the following purpose:
He made first several experiments on fowls, and found that two large, thin glass jars gilt, holding each about six gallons, were sufficient, when fully charged, to kill common hens outright; but the turkeys, though thrown into violent convulsions, and then lying as dead for some minutes, would recover in less than a quarter of an hour. However, having added three other such to the former two, though not fully charged, he killed a turkey of about ten pounds weight, and believes that they would have killed a much larger. He conceited, as himself says, that the birds killed in this manner eat uncommonly tender.
In making these experiments, he found that a man could, without great detriment, bear a much greater shock than he had imagined; for he inadvertently received the stroke of two of these jars through his arms and body, when they were very near fully charged. It seemed to him a universal blow throughout the body from head to foot, and was followed by a violent, quick trembling in the trunk which went off gradually in a few seconds. It was some minutes before he could recollect his thoughts so as to know what was the matter; for he did not see the flash, though his eye was on the spot of the prime conductor, from whence it struck the back of his hand; nor did he hear the crack, though the by-standers said it was a loud one; nor did he particularly feel the stroke on his hand, though he afterwards found it had raised a swelling there of the bigness of half a pistol-bullet. His arms and the back of the neck felt somewhat numbed the remainder of the evening, and his breast was sore for a week after, as if it had been bruised. From this experiment may be seen the danger, even under the greatest caution, to the operator, when making these experiments with large jars; for it is not to be doubted but several of these fully charged would as certainly, by increasing them in proportion to the size, kill a man, as they before did a turkey.
TO JOHN LINING, AT CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
Philadelphia, 18 March, 1755.
I send you enclosed a paper containing some new experiments I have made, in pursuance of those by Mr. Canton, that are printed with my last letters. I hope these, with my explanation of them, will afford you some entertainment.
In answer to your several inquiries. The tubes and globes we use here are chiefly made here. The glass has a greenish cast, but is clear and hard, and, I think, better for electrical experiments than the white glass of London, which is not so hard. There are certainly great differences in glass. A white globe I had made here some years since, would never, by any means, be excited. Two of my friends tried it, as well as myself, without success. At length, putting it on an electric stand, a chain from the prime conductor being in contact with it, I found it had the properties of a non-electric; for I could draw sparks from any part of it, though it was very clean and dry.
All I know of Domien is, that by his own account he was a native of Transylvania, of Tartar descent, but a priest of the Greek Church; he spoke and wrote Latin very readily and correctly. He set out from his own country with an intention of going round the world, as much as possible by land. He travelled through Germany, France, and Holland, to England. Resided some time at Oxford. From England he came to Maryland; thence went to New England; returned by land to Philadelphia; and from hence travelled through Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to you. He thought it might be of service to him in his travels to know something of electricity. I taught him the use of the tube, how to charge the Leyden phial, and some other experiments. He wrote to me from Charleston, that he lived eight hundred miles upon electricity; it had been meat, drink, and clothing to him. His last letter to me was, I think, from Jamaica, desiring me to send the tubes you mention, to meet him at the Havana, from whence he expected to get a passage to La Vera Cruz; designed travelling over land through Mexico to Acapulco; thence to get a passage to Manilla, and so through China, India, Persia, and Turkey, home to his own country, proposing to support himself chiefly by electricity. A strange project! But he was, as you observe, a very singular character. I was sorry the tubes did not get to the Havana in time for him. If they are still in being, please to send for them, and accept of them. What became of him afterwards, I have never heard. He promised to write to me as often as he could on his journey, and as soon as he should get home after finishing his tour. It is now seven years since he was here. If he is still in New Spain, as you imagine from that loose report, I suppose it must be that they confine him there, and prevent his writing; but I think it more likely that he may be dead.
The questions you ask about the pores of glass, I cannot answer otherwise than that I know nothing of their nature; and suppositions, however ingenious, are often mere mistakes. My hypothesis, that they were smaller near the middle of the glass,—too small to admit the passage of electricity, which could pass through the surface till it came near the middle, was certainly wrong. For soon after I had written that letter, I did, in order to confirm the hypothesis (which indeed I ought to have done before I wrote it), make an experiment. I ground away five sixths of the thickness of the glass from the side of one of my phials, expecting that, the supposed denser part being so removed, the electric fluid might come through the remainder of the glass, which I had imagined more open; but I found myself mistaken. The bottle charged as well after the grinding as before. I am now as much as ever at a loss to know how or where the quantity of electric fluid on the positive side of the glass is disposed of.
As to the difference of conductors, there is not only this, that some will conduct electricity in small quantities, and yet do not conduct it fast enough to produce the shock; but even among those that will conduct a shock, there are some that do it better than others. Mr. Kinnersley has found, by a very good experiment, that when the charge of a bottle hath an opportunity of passing two ways, that is, straight through a trough of water ten feet long and six inches square, or round about through twenty feet of wire, it passes through the wire, and not through the water, though that is the shortest course; the wire being the better conductor. When the wire is taken away, it passes through the water, as may be felt by a hand plunged in the water; but it cannot be felt in the water when the wire is used at the same time. Thus, though a small phial containing water will give a smart shock, one containing the same quantity of mercury will give one much stronger, the mercury being the better conductor; while one containing oil only, will scarce give any shock at all.
Your question, how I came first to think of proposing the experiment of drawing down the lightning in order to ascertain its sameness with the electric fluid, I cannot answer better than by giving you an extract from the minutes I used to keep of the experiments I made, with memorandums of such as I purposed to make, the reasons for making them, and the observations that arose upon them, from which minutes my letters were afterwards drawn. By this extract you will see that the thought was not so much “an out-of-the-way one,” but that it might have occurred to an electrician.
“November 7th, 1749. Electrical fluid agrees with lightning in these particulars: 1. Giving light. 2. Color of the light. 3. Crooked direction. 4. Swift motion. 5. Being conducted by metals. 6. Crack or noise in exploding. 7. Subsisting in water or ice. 8. Rending bodies it passes through. 9. Destroying animals. 10. Melting metals. 11. Firing inflammable substances. 12. Sulphureous smell. The electric fluid is attracted by points. We do not know whether this property is in lightning. But since they agree in all the particulars wherein we can already compare them, is it not probable they agree likewise in this? Let the experiment be made.”
I wish I could give you any satisfaction in the article of clouds. I am still at a loss about the manner in which they become charged with electricity; no hypothesis I have yet formed perfectly satisfying me. Some time since, I heated very hot a brass plate, two feet square, and placed it on an electric stand. From the plate a wire extended horizontally four or five feet, and, at the end of it, hung, by linen threads, a pair of cork balls. I then repeatedly sprinkled water over the plate, that it might be raised from it in vapor, hoping, that, if the vapor either carried off the electricity of the plate, or left behind it that of the water (one of which I supposed it must do, if, like the clouds, it became electrized itself, either positively or negatively), I should perceive and determine it by the separation of the balls, and by finding whether they were positive or negative; but no alteration was made at all, nor could I perceive that the steam was itself electrized, though I have still some suspicion that the steam was not fully examined, and I think the experiment should be repeated. Whether the first state of electrized clouds is positive or negative, if I could find the cause of that, I should be at no loss about the other; for either is easily deduced from the other, as one state is easily produced by the other. A strongly positive cloud may drive out of a neighbouring cloud much of its natural quantity of the electric fluid, and, passing by it, leave it in a negative state. In the same way, a strongly negative cloud may occasion a neighbouring cloud to draw into itself from others an additional quantity, and, passing by it, leave it in a positive state. How these effects may be produced, you will easily conceive, on perusing and considering the experiments in the enclosed paper; and from them too it appears probable, that every change from positive to negative, and from negative to positive, that, during a thunder-gust, we see in the cork balls annexed to the apparatus, is not owing to the presence of clouds in the same state, but often to the absence of positive or negative clouds, that, having just passed, leave the rod in the opposite state.
The knocking down of the six men was performed with two of my large jars not fully charged. I laid one end of my discharging-rod upon the head of the first; he laid his hand on the head of the second; the second his hand on the head of the third, and so to the last, who held in his hand the chain that was connected with the outside of the jars. When they were thus placed, I applied the other end of my rod to the prime conductor, and they all dropped together. When they got up, they all declared they had not felt any stroke, and wondered how they came to fall; nor did any of them either hear the crack, or see the light of it. You suppose it a dangerous experiment; but I had once suffered the same myself, receiving, by accident, an equal stroke through my head, that struck me down, without hurting me. And I had seen a young woman, that was about to be electrified through the feet (for some indisposition) receive a greater charge through the head, by inadvertently stooping forward to look at the placing of her feet, till her forehead (as she was very tall) came too near my prime conductor; she dropped, but instantly got up again, complaining of nothing. A person so struck, sinks down doubled, or folded together, as it were, the joints losing their strength and stiffness at once, so that he drops on the spot where he stood, instantly, and there is no previous staggering, nor does he ever fall lengthwise. Too great a charge might, indeed, kill a man, but I have not yet seen any hurt done by it. It would certainly, as you observe, be the easiest of all deaths.
The experiment you have heard so imperfect an account of, is merely this: I electrified a silver pint can, on an electric stand, and then lowered into it a cork ball, of about an inch diameter, hanging by a silk string, till the cork touched the bottom of the can. The cork was not attracted to the inside of the can, as it would have been to the outside; and, though it touched the bottom, yet, when drawn out, it was not found to be electrified by that touch, as it would have been by touching the outside. The fact is singular. You require the reason; I do not know it. Perhaps you may discover it, and then you will be so good as to communicate it to me. I find a frank acknowledgment of one’s ignorance is, not only the easiest way to get rid of a difficulty, but the likeliest way to obtain information, and therefore I practise it; I think it an honest policy. Those who affect to be thought to know every thing, and so undertake to explain every thing, often remain long ignorant of many things that others could and would instruct them in, if they appeared less conceited.
The treatment your friend has met with is so common, that no man, who knows what the world is and ever has been, should expect to escape it. There are everywhere a number of people, who, being totally destitute of any inventive faculty themselves, do not readily conceive that others may possess it; they think of inventions as of miracles; there might be such formerly, but they are ceased. With these, every one who offers a new invention is deemed a pretender; he had it from some other country, or from some book; a man of their own acquaintance, one who has no more sense than themselves, could not possibly, in their opinion, have been the inventor of any thing. They are confirmed, too, in these sentiments, by frequent instances of pretensions to invention, which vanity is daily producing. That vanity, too, though an incitement to invention, is, at the same time, the pest of inventors. Jealousy and envy deny the merit or the novelty of your invention; but vanity, when the novelty and merit are established, claims it for its own. The smaller your invention is, the more mortification you receive in having the credit of it disputed with you by a rival, whom the jealousy and envy of others are ready to support against you, at least so far as to make the point doubtful. It is not in itself of importance enough for a dispute; no one would think your proofs and reasons worth their attention; and yet, if you do not dispute the point, and demonstrate your right, you not only lose the credit of being in that instance ingenious, but you suffer the disgrace of not being ingenuous; not only of being a plagiary, but of being plagiary for trifles. Had the invention been greater, it would have disgraced you less; for men have not so contemptible an idea of him that robs for gold on the highway, as of him that can pick pockets for half-pence and farthings. Thus, through envy, jealousy, and the vanity of competitors for fame, the origin of many of the most extraordinary inventions, though produced within but a few centuries past, is involved in doubt and uncertainty. We scarce know to whom we are indebted for the compass, and spectacles, nor have even paper and printing, that record every thing else, been able to preserve with certainty the name and reputation of their inventors. One would not, therefore, of all faculties or qualities of the mind, wish, for a friend or a child, that he should have that of invention. For his attempts to benefit mankind in that way, however well imagined, if they do not succeed, expose him, though very unjustly, to general ridicule and contempt; and, if they do succeed, to envy, robbery, and abuse.
I am, &c.,
TO M. DALIBARD, AT PARIS, ENCLOSED IN A LETTER TO PETER COLLINSON
read at the royal society, december 18, 1755
Philadelphia, 29 June, 1755.
You desire my opinion of Père Beccaria’s Italian book. I have read it with much pleasure, and think it one of the best pieces on the subject that I have seen in any language. Yet, as to the article of Water-spouts, I am not at present of his sentiments; though I must own, with you, that he has handled it very ingeniously. Mr. Collinson has my opinion of whirlwinds and water-spouts at large, written some time since. I know not whether they will be published; if not, I will get them transcribed for your perusal. It does not appear to me that Père Beccaria doubts of the absolute impermeability of glass in the sense I mean it; for the instances he gives of holes made through glass, by the electric stroke, are such as we have all experienced, and only show that the electric fluid could not pass without making a hole. In the same manner we say glass is impermeable to water, and yet a stream from a fire-engine will force through the strongest panes of a window. As to the effect of points in drawing the electric matter from the clouds, and thereby securing buildings, &c., which, you say, he seems to doubt, I must own I think he only speaks modestly and judiciously. I find I have been but partly understood in that matter. I have mentioned it in several of my letters, and, except once, always in the alternative, viz., that pointed rods erected on buildings, and communicating with the moist earth, would either prevent a stroke, or, if not prevented, would conduct it, so as that the building should suffer no damage. Yet, whenever my opinion is examined in Europe, nothing is considered but the probability of those rods preventing a stroke or explosion, which is only a part of the use I proposed for them; and the other part, their conducting a stroke, which they may happen not to prevent, seems to be totally forgotten, though of equal importance and advantage.
I thank you for communicating M. de Buffon’s relation of the effect of lightning at Dijon, on the 7th of June last. In return, give me leave to relate an instance I lately saw of the same kind. Being in the town of Newbury in New England, in November last, I was shown the effect of lightning on their church, which had been struck a few months before. The steeple was a square tower of wood, reaching seventy feet up from the ground to the place where the bell hung, over which rose a taper spire, of wood likewise, reaching seventy feet higher, to the vane of the weather-cock. Near the bell was fixed an iron hammer to strike the hours; and from the tail of the hammer a wire went down through a small gimlet-hole in the floor that the bell stood upon, and through a second floor in like manner; then horizontally under and near the plastered ceiling of that second floor, till it came near a plastered wall; then down by the side of that wall to a clock, which stood about twenty feet below the bell. The wire was not bigger than a common knitting-needle. The spire was split all to pieces by the lightning, and the parts flung in all directions over the square in which the church stood, so that nothing remained above the bell.
The lightning passed between the hammer and the clock in the abovementioned wire, without hurting either of the floors, or having any effect upon them (except making the gimlet-holes, through which the wire passed, a little bigger), and without hurting the plastered wall, ar any part of the building, so far as the aforesaid wire and the pendulum-wire of the clock extended; which latter wire was about the thickness of a goose-quill. From the end of the pendulum, down quite to the ground, the building was exceedingly rent and damaged, and some stones in the foundation-wall torn out, and thrown to the distance of twenty or thirty feet. No part of the aforementioned long, small wire, between the clock and the hammer, could be found, except about two inches that hung to the tail of the hammer, and about as much that was fastened to the clock; the rest being exploded, and its particles dissipated in smoke and air, as gun-powder is by common fire, and had only left a black smutty track on the plastering, three or four inches broad, darkest in the middle, and fainter towards the edges, all along the ceiling, under which it passed, and down the wall. These were the effects and appearances; on which I would only make the following remarks, viz.
1. That lightning, in its passage through a building, will leave wood to pass as far as it can in metal, and not enter the wood again till the conductor of metal ceases.
And the same I have observed in other instances, as to walls of brick or stone.
2. The quantity of lightning that passed through this steeple must have been very great, by its effects on the lofty spire above the bell, and on the square tower, all below the end of the clock-pedulum.
3. Great as this quantity was, it was conducted by a small wire and a clock-pendulum, without the least damage to the building so far as they extended.
4. The pendulum rod, being of a sufficient thickness, conducted the lightning without damage to itself; but the small wire was utterly destroyed.
5. Though the small wire was itself destroyed, yet it had conducted the lightning with safety to the building.
6. And from the whole it seems probable that if even such a small wire had been extended from the spindle of the vane to the earth, before the storm, no damage would have been done to the steeple by that stroke of lightning, though the wire itself had been destroyed.
TO PETER COLLINSON
Philadelphia, 25 August, 1755.
As you have my former papers on whirlwinds, &c., I now send you an account of one which I had lately an opportunity of seeing and examining myself.
Being in Maryland, riding with Colonel Tasker, and some other gentlemen, to his country-seat, where I and my son were entertained by that amiable and worthy man with great hospitality and kindness, we saw, in the vale below us, a small whirlwind beginning in the road, and showing itself by the dust it raised and contained. It appeared in the form of a sugar-loaf, spinning on its point, moving up the hill toward us, and enlarging as it came forward. When it passed by us, its smaller part near the ground appeared no bigger than a common barrel; but, widening upwards, it seemed, at forty or fifty feet high, to be twenty or thirty feet in diameter. The rest of the company stood looking after it; but, my curiosity being stronger, I followed it, riding close by its side, and observed its licking up, in its progress, all the dust that was under its smaller part. As it is a common opinion that a shot, fired through a water-spout, will break it. I tried to break this little whirlwind, by striking my whip frequently through it, but without any effect. Soon after, it quitted the road and took into the woods, growing every moment larger and stronger, raising, instead of dust, the old dry leaves with which the ground was thick covered, and making a great noise with them and the branches of the trees, bending some tall trees round in a circle swiftly and very surprisingly, though the progressive motion of the whirl was not so swift but that a man on foot might have kept pace with it; but the circular motion was amazingly rapid. By the leaves it was now filled with, I could plainly perceive that the current of air they were driven by moved upwards in a spiral line; and when I saw the passing whirl continue entire, after leaving the trunks and bodies of large trees which it had enveloped, I no longer wondered that my whip had no effect on it in its smaller state. I accompanied it about three quarters of a mile, till some limbs of dead trees, broken off by the whirl, flying about and falling near me, made me more apprehensive of danger; and then I stopped, looking at the top of it as it went on, which was visible, by means of the leaves contained in it, for a very great height above the trees. Many of the leaves, as they got loose from the upper and widest part, were scattered in the wind; but so great was their height in the air, that they appeared no bigger than flies. My son, who was by this time come up with me, followed the whirlwind till it left the woods, and crossed an old tobacco-field, where, finding neither dust nor leaves to take up, it gradually became invisible below, as it went away over the field. The course of the general wind then blowing was along with us as we travelled, and the progressive motion of the whirlwind was in a direction nearly opposite, though it did not keep a straight line, nor was its progressive motion uniform, it making little sallies on either hand as it went, proceeding sometimes faster and sometimes slower, and seeming sometimes for a few seconds almost stationary, then starting forward pretty fast again. When we rejoined the company, they were admiring the vast height of the leaves now brought by the common wind over our heads. These leaves accompanied us as we travelled, some falling now and then round about us, and some not reaching the ground till we had gone near three miles from the place where we first saw the whirlwind begin. Upon my asking Colonel Tasker if such whirlwinds were common in Maryland, he answered pleasantly: “No, not at all common; but we got this on purpose to treat Mr. Franklin.” And a very high treat it was to,
Your affectionate friend and humble servant,
TO JARED ELIOT
Philadelphia, 31 August, 1755.
I have been employed almost all this summer in the service of an unfortunate army, and other public affairs, that have brought me greatly in arrear with my correspondents. I have lost the pleasure of conversing with them, and I have lost my labor. I wish these were the only losses of the year; but we have lost a number of brave men, and all our credit with the Indians. I fear these losses may soon be productive of more and greater.
I have had no opportunity of making the inquiry you desired relating to Leonard. Somerset County in Maryland is one hundred and fifty miles from hence, and out of the common road of travellers or the post; nor have I any correspondent or acquaintance there. But now, while I am writing, I recollect a friend I have at Newtown, within fifty miles of Somerset, who has a very general knowledge of those parts and of the people, as he practises the law in all the counties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I will immediately write to him about it.
I am sorry your newspapers miscarry. If your riders are not more careful I must order them to be changed. The Mitchell, who made the map, is our Dr. Mitchell. I send you one of Evans’s new maps, which I imagine will be agreeable to you. Please to accept it. I am glad to hear your son has acquired the art of making steel. I hope it will prove profitable. Mr. Roberts is pleased that you so kindly accept his fork and rake. I suppose he will write to you; but he is a man of much business, and does not love writing. I shall learn once more (for he told me once and I have forgotten it) how those teeth are put in and send you word; but perhaps our friend Bartram can tell you. He delivers you this, and I need not recommend him to you, for you are already acquainted with his merit, though not with his face and person. You will have a great deal of pleasure in one another’s conversation. I wish I could be within hearing, but that cannot be. He is upon one of his rambles in search of knowledge, and intends to view both your sea-coast and back country.
Remember me kindly to Mr. Tufts and Mr. Ruggles when you see them. My respects to your good lady and family. With the greatest esteem, I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate, &c.,
TO JARED ELIOT
Philadelphia, 1 September, 1755.
I wrote to you yesterday, and now I write again. You will say, It can’t rain, but it pours; for I not only send you manuscript but living letters. The former may be short, but the latter will be longer and yet more agreeable. Mr. Bartram, I believe you will find to be at least twenty folio pages, large paper well filled, on the subjects of botany, fossils, husbandry, and the first creation. This Mr. Allison is as many or more on agriculture, philosophy, your own catholic divinity, and various other points of learning equally useful and engaging. Read them both. It will take you at least a week; and then answer by sending me two of the like kind, or by coming yourself. If you fail of this, I shall think I have overbalanced my epistolary account, and that you will be in my debt as a correspondent for at least twelve months to come.
I remember with pleasure the cheerful hours I enjoyed last winter in your company, and would with all my heart give any ten of the thick old folios that stand on the shelves before me for a little book of the stories you then told with so much propriety and humor. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours affectionately,
TO MISS CATHERINE RAY
Philadelphia, 11 September, 1755.
Begone, business, for an hour, at least, and let me chat a little with my Katy.
I have now before me, my dear girl, three of your favors, viz., of March the 3d, March the 30th, and May the 1st. The first I received just before I set out on a long journey, and the others while I was on that journey, which held me near six weeks. Since my return I have been in such a perpetual hurry of public affairs of various kinds, as renders it impracticable for me to keep up my private correspondences, even those that afforded me the greatest pleasure.
You ask in your last how I do, and what I am doing, and whether everybody loves me yet, and why I make them do so.
In regard to the first, I can say, thanks to God, that I do not remember I was ever better. I still relish all the pleasures of life that a temperate man can in reason desire, and through favor I have them all in my power. This happy situation shall continue as long as God pleases, who knows what is best for his creatures, and I hope will enable me to bear with patience and dutiful submission any change he may think fit to make that is less agreeable. As to the second question, I must confess (but don’t you be jealous) that many more people love me now than ever did before; for since I saw you I have been enabled to do some general services to the country and to the army, for which both have thanked and praised me, and say they love me. They say so, as you used to do; and if I were to ask any favors of them, they would, perhaps, as readily refuse me; so that I find little real advantage in being beloved, but it pleases my humor.
Now it is near four months since I have been favored with a single line from you; but I will not be angry with you, because it is my fault. I ran in debt to you three or four letters, and, as I did not pay, you would not trust me any more, and you had some reason. But, believe me, I am honest, and, though I should never make equal returns, you shall see I will keep fair accounts. Equal returns I can never make, though I should write to you by every post; for the pleasure I receive from one of yours is more than you can have from two of mine. The small news, the domestic occurrences among our friends, the natural pictures you draw of persons, the sensible observations and reflections you make, and the easy, chatty manner in which you express every thing, all contribute to heighten the pleasure; and the more as they remind me of those hours and miles that we talked away so agreeably, even in a winter journey, a wrong road, and a soaking shower.
I long to hear whether you have continued ever since in that monastery ; or have broke into the world again, doing petty mischief; how the lady Wards do, and how many of them are married, or about it; what is become of Mr. B—— and Mr. L—— and what the state of your heart is at this instant? But that, perhaps, I ought not to know; and, therefore, I will not conjure, as you sometimes say I do. If I could conjure, it should be to know what was that oddest question about me that ever was thought of, which you tell me a lady had just sent to ask you.
I commend your prudent resolutions, in the article of granting favors to lovers. But if I were courting you, I could not hardly approve such conduct. I should even be malicious enough to say you were too knowing, and tell you the old story of The Girl and the Miller. I enclose you the songs you write for, and with them your Spanish letter with a translation. I honor that honest Spaniard for loving you. It showed the goodness of his taste and judgment. But you must forget him, and bless some worthy young Englishman.
You have spun a long thread, five thousand and twenty-two yards. It will reach almost from Rhode Island hither. I wish I had hold of one end of it, to pull you to me. But you would break it rather than come. The cords of love and friendship are longer and stronger, and in times past have drawn me farther; even back from England to Philadelphia. I guess that some of the same kind will one day draw you out of that Island.
I was extremely pleased with the —— you sent me. The Irish people, who have seen it, say it is the right sort; but I cannot learn that we have any thing like it here. The cheeses, particularly one of them, were excellent. All our friends have tasted it, and all agree that it exceeds any English cheese they ever tasted. Mrs. Franklin was very proud, that a young lady should have so much regard for her old husband, as to send him such a present. We talk of you every time it comes to table. She is sure you are a sensible girl, and a notable housewife, and talks of bequeathing me to you as a legacy; but I ought to wish you a better, and hope she will live these hundred years; for we are grown old together, and if she has any faults, I am so used to them that I don’t perceive them; as the song says,
- “Some faults we have all, and so has my Joan,
- But then they ’re exceedingly small,
- And, now I ’m grown used to them, so like my own,
- I scarcely can see them at all;
- My dear friends,
- I scarcely can see them at all.”
Indeed, I begin to think she has none, as I think of you. And since she is willing I should love you, as much as you are willing to be loved by me, let us join in wishing the old lady a long life and a happy.
With her respectful compliments to you, to your good mother and sisters, present mine, though unknown; and believe me to be, dear girl, your affectionate friend and humble servant,
P. S.—Sally says: “Papa, my love to Miss Katy.” If it was not quite unreasonable, I should desire you to write to me every post, whether you hear from me or not. As to your spelling, don’t let those laughing girls put you out of conceit with it. It is the best in the world, for every letter of it stands for something.
TO WILLIAM SHIRLEY
Philadelphia, 23 October, 1755.
I beg leave to return your Excellency my most sincere and hearty thanks for your letter of the 17th of September, with the orders for the payment of wagon owners, and an extract of your orders to Colonel Dunbar, forbidding the enlistment of servants and apprentices. Acts of justice so readily done become great favors, which I hope will be ever gratefully acknowledged by this people in actions as well as words.
I have also your favor of the 5th instant. Governor Morris is gone to Newcastle, to meet the Assembly of the Lower Counties, so that I cannot at present see the papers you refer me to, but I shall wait upon him in my journey to Virginia; and if, on perusing those papers, any thing seeming worthy of your notice should occur to me, I shall communicate my sentiments to you with that honest freedom which you always approve.
This journey, which I cannot now avoid, will deprive me of the pleasure of waiting on your Excellency in New York at the time you mention. I hear, too, that the governor does not purpose to send any commissioners thither, but to go himself. I know not what is to be the particular subject of your consultations; but as I believe all your schemes have the King’s service (which is the public good) in view, I cannot but wish them success.
Our Assembly meets the beginning of December, when I hope to be at home again; and if any assistance is to be required of them and the people here, depend on my faithful services, so far as my little sphere of influence shall extend. With the highest esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c.,
TO JAMES READ
Philadelphia, 2 November, 1755.
I have your letter by Mr. Sea, and one just now by express. I am glad to hear the arms are well got up; they are the best that we could procure. I wish they were better; but they are well fortified, will bear a good charge, and I should imagine they would do good service with swan or buck shot, if not so fit for single ball. I have been ill these eight days, confined to my room and bed most of the time, but am now getting better. I have, however, done what I could in sending about to purchase arms, &c., for the supply of the frontiers, and can now spare you fifty more, which I shall send up to-morrow with some flints, lead, swan-shot, and a barrel of gunpowder. The arms will be under your care and Mr. Weiser’s, you being gentlemen in commission from the governor. Keep an account of whose hands you put them into. Let them be prudent, sober, careful men, such as will not rashly hurt our friends with them, and such as will honestly return them when peace shall be happily restored.
I sincerely commiserate the distress of your out settlers. The Assembly sit to-morrow, and there is no room to doubt of their hearty endeavours to do every thing necessary for the country’s safety. I wish the same disposition may be found in the governor, and I hope it. I have put off my journey to Virginia, and you may depend on my best services for the common welfare, so far as my little influence extends. I am your affectionate kinsman and humble servant.
P. S.—My best respects to Mr. Weiser. Nine hundred arms with ammunition have been sent up by the Committee of Assembly to different parts of the frontier.
for the better ordering and regulating such as are willing and desirous to be united for military purposes in pennsylvania
Whereas this province was first settled by (and a majority of the Assemblies have ever since been of) the people called Quakers, who, though they do not, as the world is now circumstanced, condemn the use of arms in others, yet are principled against bearing arms themselves; and to make any law to compel them thereto against their consciences, would be not only to violate a fundamental in our constitution, and be a direct breach of our charter of privileges, but would also in effect be to commence persecution against all that part of the inhabitants of the province; and for them by any law to compel others to bear arms, and exempt themselves, would be inconsistent and partial; yet forasmuch as, by the general toleration and equity of our laws, great numbers of people of other religious denominations are come among us, who are under no such restraint, some of whom have been disciplined in the art of war, and conscientiously think it their duty to fight in defence of their country, their wives, their families, and estates, and such have an equal right to liberty of conscience with others; and whereas a great number of petitions from the several counties of this province have been presented to this House, setting forth that the petitioners are very willing to defend themselves and their country, and desirous of being formed into regular bodies for that purpose, instructed and disciplined under proper officers with suitable and legal authority; representing withal, that unless measures of this kind are taken, so as to unite them together, subject them to due command, and thereby give them confidence in each other, they cannot assemble to oppose the enemy without the utmost danger of exposing themselves to confusion and destruction;
And whereas the voluntary assembling of great bodies of armed men from different parts of the province on any occasional alarm, whether true or false, as of late hath happened, without call or authority from the government, and without due order and direction among themselves, may be attended with danger to our neighbouring Indian friends and allies, as well as to the internal peace of the province;
And whereas the governor hath frequently recommended it to the Assembly, that, in preparing and passing a law for such purposes, they should have a due regard for scrupulous and tender consciences, which cannot be done where compulsive means are used to force men into military service; therefore, as we represent all the people of the province, and are composed of members of different religious persuasions, we do not think it reasonable that any should, through a want of legal powers, be in the least restrained from doing what they judge it their duty to do for their own security and the public good; we, in compliance with the said petitions and recommendations, do offer it to the governor to be enacted, and be it enacted by the Honorable Robert Hunter Morris, with the King’s royal approbation lieutenant-governor, under Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, true and absolute proprietors of the province of Pennsylvania, and of the counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, upon Delaware, by and with the advice and consent of the representatives of the freemen of the said province in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, that, from and after the publication of this act, it shall and may be lawful for the freemen of this province to form themselves into companies, as heretofore they have used in time of war without law, and for each company, by majority of votes in the way of ballot, to choose its own officers, to wit, a captain, lieutenant, and ensign, and present them to the governor or commander-in-chief for the time being for his approbation; which officers so chosen, if approved and commissioned by him, shall be the captain, lieutenant, and ensign of each company respectively, according to their commissions; and the said companies being divided into regiments by the governor or commander-in-chief, it shall and may be lawful for the officers so chosen and commissioned for the several companies of each regiment to meet together, and by majority of votes, in the way of ballot, to choose a colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and major for the regiment, and present them to the governor or commander-in-chief for his approbation; which officers so chosen, if approved and commissioned by him, shall be the colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and major of the regiment, according to their commissions, during the continuance of this act.
Provided always, that if the governor or commander-in-chief shall not think fit to grant his commission to any officer so first chosen and presented, it shall and may be lawful for the electors of such officer to choose two other persons in his stead, and present them to the governor or commander-in-chief, one of whom, at his pleasure, shall receive his commission, and be the officer as aforesaid.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that as soon as the said companies and regiments are formed, and their officers commissioned as aforesaid, it shall and may be lawful to and for the governor or commander-in-chief, by and with the advice and consent of the colonels, lieutenant-colonels, and majors of all the regiments, being for that purpose by him called and convened, or by and with the advice and consent of a majority of the said officers that shall be met and present together on such call, to form, make, and establish articles of war, for the better government of the forces that shall be under their command, and for bringing offenders against the same to justice, and to erect and constitute courts-martial, with power to hear, try, and determine any crimes or offences by such articles of war, and inflict penalties by sentence or judgment of the same on those who shall be subject thereto in any place within this province. Which articles of war, when made as aforesaid, shall be printed and distributed to the captains of the several companies, and by them distinctly read to their respective companies; and all and every captain, lieutenant, ensign, or other freeman who shall, after at least three days’ consideration of the said articles, voluntarily sign the same, in presence of some one justice of the peace, acknowledging his having perused or heard the same distinctly read, and that he has well considered thereof, and is willing to be bound and governed thereby, and promises obedience thereto, and to his officers accordingly, shall henceforth be deemed well and duly bound to the observance of the said articles, and to the duties thereby required, and subject to the pains, penalties, punishments, and forfeitures that may therein be appointed for disobedience and other offences.
Provided always that the articles, so to be made and established, shall contain nothing repugnant, but be as near as possible conformable, to the military laws of Great Britain, and to the articles of war made and established by his Majesty in pursuance of the last act of Parliament for punishing mutiny and desertion, the different circumstances of this province compared with Great Britain, and of a voluntary militia of freemen compared with mercenary standing troops, being duly weighed and maturely considered.
Provided, also, that nothing in this act shall be understood or construed to give any power or authority to the governor or commander-in-chief, and the said officers, to make any articles or rules that shall in the least affect those of the inhabitants of the province who are conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, either in their liberties, persons, or estates; nor any other persons of what persuasion or denomination soever, who have not first voluntarily and freely signed the said articles after due consideration as aforesaid.
Provided, also, that no youth under the age of twenty-one years, nor any bought servant or indented apprentice, shall be admitted to enroll himself, or be capable of being enrolled, in the said companies or regiments, without the consent of his or their parents or guardians, masters or mistresses, in writing, under their hands first had and obtained.
Provided, also, that no enlistment or enrolment of any person in any of the companies or regiments to be formed and raised as aforesaid, shall protect such person in any suit or civil action brought against him by his creditors or others, except during his being in actual service in field or garrison, nor from a prosecution for any offence committed against the laws of this province.
Provided, also, that no regiment, company, or party of volunteers shall, by virtue of this act, be compelled or led more than three days’ march beyond the inhabited parts of the province; nor detained longer than three weeks in any garrison, without an express engagement for that purpose, first voluntarily entered into and subscribed by every man so to march or remain in garrison.
This act to continue in force until the 30th day of October next, and no longer.
TO WILLIAM PARSONS
Philadelphia, 5 December, 1755.
I received your favor of November 25th, and take this first opportunity of acquainting you, that an act is passed granting £60,000 chiefly for the defence of the province, and is to be disposed of for that purpose, by seven persons, namely, Isaac Norris, James Hamilton, J. Mifflin, Joseph Fox, Evan Morgan, John Hughes, and your old friend. We meet every day, Sundays not excepted, and have a good agreement with the governor. Three hundred men are ordered to be immediately raised on pay, to range the frontiers, and blockhouses for stages to be erected at proper distances and garrisoned; so that I hope in a little time to see things in a better posture. A militia act is also passed, of which, if people are well disposed, a good use may be made, and bodies of men be ready on any occasion to assist and support the rangers. All parties laid aside, let you and I use our influence to carry this act into execution.
I received also your letter of the 27th, relating the unhappy affair of Gnadenhutten, and desiring arms. I have accordingly procured and sent up by a wagon to one George Overpack’s, a chest of arms containing fifty, and five loose, fifty-five in all, of which twenty-five are for Easton, and thirty to be disposed of to such persons nearest danger on the frontiers, who are without arms and unable to buy, as yourself with Messrs. Atkins and Martin may judge most proper; letting all know that the arms are only lent for their defence, that they belong to the public, and must be held forthcoming when the government shall demand them, for which each man should give his note. By the same wagon we send twenty-five guns for Lehigh township, and ten for Bethlehem to the Moravian Brethren, which make in all one hundred; with which goes one hundred weight of gunpowder, and four hundred pounds of lead; so there should be one pound of powder and four pounds of lead divided to each man.
Who brought your last letter to me I know not, it being left at my house. You mention sending a wagon, and I daily expected to see the wagoner, but he never called on me for an answer. Please let me know by a line when you have received what is sent. I am your affectionate friend and humble servant.
TO WILLIAM PARSONS
Philadelphia, 15 December, 1755.
We received yours of the 13th. You will before this time have received the arms and ammunition, blankets, &c., sent up for an intended ranging party. They may be made use of for the defence of your town till we arrive. Captain Trump, from Upper Dublin, marches the day after to-morrow with fifty men to your assistance. The provisions for their use go with them, so that they will not burden you. Orders are gone to Captains Aston and Wayne to march also with their companies immediately. They will remain on your frontier two or three months, till they can be relieved by others.
Mr. Hamilton and myself will set out on Thursday to visit you, and erect blockhouses in proper places. Think of suitable officers for raising and commanding men to be kept in the province pay; for Mr. Hamilton does not know the people your way, nor do I know whom to recommend. He will bring some blank commissions with him. I enclose you twenty pounds towards buying meal and meat for the poor fugitives that take refuge with you. Be of good courage, and God guide you. Your friends will never desert you. I am yours affectionately,
BETWEEN X, Y, & Z, CONCERNING THE PRESENT STATE OF AFFAIRS IN PENNSYLVANIA.
Your servant, Gentlemen; I am glad to see you at my house. Is there any thing new to-day?
We have been talking of the militia act; have you seen it?
Yes; I have read it in the papers.
And what do you think of it?
The more I consider it, the better I like it. It appears to me a very good act, and I am persuaded will be of good use, if heartily carried into execution.
Ay, that may be; but who is to carry it into execution? It says that people may form themselves into companies, and choose their own officers; but there is neither time nor place appointed for this transaction, nor any person directed or empowered to call them together.
It is true; but methinks there are some words that point out the method pretty plain to willing minds. And it seems to me, that we who joined so sincerely in the petitions for a militia law, and really thought one absolutely necessary for the safety of our country, should, now we have obtained the law, rather endeavour to explain than invent difficulties in the construction of it.
What are those words you mention?
Here is the act itself; I will read that part of it: “From and after the publication of this act, it shall and may be lawful for the freemen of this province to form themselves into companies, as heretofore they used in time of war without law, and for each company, by a majority of votes, in the way of ballot, to choose its own officers, &c.” The words I meant are these: “as heretofore they used in time of war.” Now I suppose we have none of us forgot the association in the time of the last war; it is not so long since, but that we may well enough remember the method we took to form ourselves into companies, choose our officers, and present them to the governor for approbation and commissions; and the act in question says plainly we may now lawfully do, in this affair, what we then did without law.
I did not before take so much notice of those words, but, to be sure, the thing is easy enough; for I remember very well how we managed at that time. And indeed it is easier to effect it now than it was then; for the companies and regiments, and their districts, &c., were then all to form and settle. But now why may not the officers of the old companies call the old associators together, with such others in the district of each company as incline to be concerned, and proceed immediately to a new choice by virtue of the act? Other new companies may in other places be formed, as the associated companies were.
You say right. And if this were all the objection to the act, no doubt they would do so immediately. But it is said there are other faults in it.
What are they?
The act is so loose that persons who never intended to engage in the militia, even Quakers, may meet and vote in the choice of the officers.
Possibly;—but was any such thing observed in the association elections?
Not that I remember.
Why should it be more apprehended now than it was at that time? Can they have any motives to such a conduct now, which they had not then?
I cannot say.
Nor can I. If a militia be necessary for the safety of the province, I hope we shall not boggle at this little difficulty. What else is objected?
I have heard this objected: That it were better the governor should appoint the officers; for, the choice being in the people, a man very unworthy to be an officer may happen to be popular enough to get himself chosen by the undiscerning mob.
It is possible. And if all officers appointed by governors were always men of merit, and fully qualified for their posts, it would be wrong ever to hazard a popular election. It is reasonable, I allow, that the commander-in-chief should not have officers absolutely forced upon him, in whom, from his knowledge of their incapacity, he can place no confidence. And, on the other hand, it seems likely that the people will engage more readily in the service, and face danger with more intrepidity when they are commanded by a man they know and esteem, and on whose prudence and courage, as well as good-will and integrity, they can have reliance, than they would under a man they either did not know or did not like. For, supposing governors ever so judicious and upright in the distribution of commissions, they cannot know everybody in every part of the province, and are liable to be imposed on by partial recommendations; but the people generally know their neighbours. And, to me, the act in question seems to have hit a proper medium between the two modes of appointing. The people choose, and if the governor approves, he grants the commission; if not, they are to choose a second, and even a third time. Out of three choices it is probable one may be right; and where an officer is approved both by superiors and inferiors, there is the greatest prospect of those advantages that attend a good agreement in the service. This mode of choice is moreover agreeable to the liberty and genius of our constitution. It is similar to the manner in which by our laws sheriffs and coroners are chosen and approved. And yet it has more regard to the prerogative than the mode of choice in some colonies, where the military officers are either chosen absolutely by the companies themselves, or by the House of Representatives, without any negative on that choice, or any approbation necessary from the governor.
But is that agreeable to the English constitution?
Considered in this light, I think it is; British subjects, by removing into America, cultivating a wilderness, extending the dominion, and increasing the wealth, commerce, and power of their mother country at the hazard of their lives and fortunes, ought not, and in fact do not, thereby lose their native rights. There is a power in the crown to grant a continuance of those rights to such subjects in any part of the world, and to their posterity born in such new country; and for the farther encouragement and reward of such merit, to grant additional liberties and privileges, not used in England, but suited to the different circumstances of different colonies. If then the grants of those additional liberties and privileges may be regularly made under an English constitution, they may be enjoyed agreeably to that constitution.
But the act is very short; there are numberless circumstances and occasions pertaining to a body of armed men which are not, as they ought to have been, expressly provided for in the act.
It is true there are not express provisions in the act for all circumstances, but there is a power lodged by the act in the governor and field-officers of the regiments to make all such provisions in the articles of war which they may form and establish.
But can it be right in the legislature, by any act, to delegate their power of making laws to others?
I believe not, generally; but certainly in particular cases it may. Legislatures may, and frequently do, give to corporations power to make by-laws for their own government. And in this case the act of Parliament gives the power of making articles of war for the government of the army to the King alone, and there is no doubt but the Parliament understands the rights of government.
Are you sure the act of Parliament gives such power?
This is the act. The power I mention is here in the 55th section: “Provided always, that it shall and may be lawful to and for his Majesty to form, make, and establish articles of war for the better government of his Majesty’s forces, and for bringing offenders against the same to justice; and to erect and constitute courts-martial, with power to try, hear, and determine any crimes or offences by such articles of war, and inflict penalties by sentence or judgment of the same.” And here you see, bound up with the act, the articles of war, made by his Majesty in pursuance of the act, and providing for every circumstance.
It is, sure enough. I had been told that our act of Assembly was impertinently singular in this particular.
The governor himself, in a message to the House, expressly recommended this act of Parliament for their imitation, in forming the militia bill.
I never heard that before.
But it is true. The Assembly, however, considering that this militia would consist chiefly of freeholders, have varied a little from that part of the act of Parliament, in favor of liberty; they have not given the sole power of making those articles of war to the governor, as that act does to the King; but have joined with the governor, for that purpose, a number of officers to be chosen by the people. The articles, moreover, are not to be general laws binding on all the province, nor on any man who has not first approved of them and voluntarily engaged to observe them.
Is there no danger that the governor and officers may make those articles too severe?
Not without you can suppose them enemies to the service and to their country; for, if they should make such as are unfit for freemen and Englishmen to be subjected to, they will get no soldiers; nobody will engage. In some cases, however, if you and I were in actual service, I believe we should both think it necessary for our own safety, that the articles should be pretty severe.
What cases are they?
Suppose a sentinel should betray his trust, give intelligence to the enemy, or conduct them into our quarters.
To be sure there should be severe punishments for such crimes, or we might all be ruined.
Choose reasonable men for your officers, and you need not fear their making reasonable laws; and if they make such, I hope reasonable men will not refuse to engage under them.
But here is a thing I do not like. By this act of Assembly the Quakers are neither compelled to muster nor to pay a fine if they do not.
It is true; nor could they be compelled either to muster or pay a fine of that kind by any militia law made here. They are exempted by the charter and fundamental laws of the province.
See here; it is the first clause in the charter. I will read it: “Because no people can be truly happy, though under the greatest enjoyment of civil liberties, if abridged of the freedom of their consciences as to their religious profession and worship; and Almighty God being the only lord of conscience, father of lights and spirits, and the author as well as object of all divine knowledge, faith, and worship, who only doth enlighten the minds, and persuade and convince the understandings of people, I do hereby grant and declare, That no person or persons inhabiting in this province or territories, who shall confess and acknowledge one Almighty God, the creator, upholder, and ruler of the world, and profess him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the civil government, shall be, in any case, molested or prejudiced in his or their person or estate because of his or their conscientious persuasion or practice, nor be compelled to frequent, or maintain any religious worship, place, or ministry, contrary to his or their mind, or to do or suffer any other act or thing, contrary to their religious persuasion.” And, in the 8th section of the same charter, you see a declaration, that “neither the proprietor, nor his heirs or assigns, shall procure or do any thing or things whereby the liberties in this charter contained or expressed, nor any part thereof, shall be infringed or broken; and if any thing shall be procured or done by any person or persons contrary to these presents, it shall be held of no force or effect.” This liberty of conscience, granted by charter, is also established by the first law in our book, and confirmed by the crown. And, moreover, the governor has an express instruction from the proprietaries, that, in case of making any militia law, he shall take especial care that the charter be not infringed in this respect. Besides, most of our petitions for a militia from the moderate part of the people requested particularly that due regard might be had to scrupulous and tender consciences. When taxes are raised, however, for the King’s service, the Quakers and Menonists pay their part of them, and a great part; for, as their frugality and industry make them generally wealthy, their proportion is the greater compared with their numbers. And out of these taxes those men are paid who go into actual service. As for mustering and training, no militia are anywhere paid for that. It is by many justly delighted in, as a manly exercise. But those who are engaged in actual service for any time ought undoubtedly to have pay.
There is no provision in this militia act to pay them.
There is a provision that no regiment, company, or party, though engaged in the militia, shall be obliged “to more than three days’ march, &c., without an express engagement for that purpose, first voluntarily entered into and subscribed by every man, so to march or remain in garrison.” And it is to be supposed that no man will subscribe such particular engagement without reasonable pay or other encouragement.
But where is that pay to come from?
From the government to be sure; and out of the money struck by the act for granting £60,000.
Yes; but those who serve must pay a share of the tax, as well as those who do not.
Perhaps not. It is to be supposed that those who engage in the service for any time, upon pay, will be chiefly single men, and they are expressly exempted from the tax by the £60,000 act. Consequently those who do not serve must pay the more for the sum granted must be made up.
I never heard before that they were exempted by that act.
It is so, I assure you.
But there is no provision in the militia act for the maimed.
If they are poor, they are provided for by the laws of their country. There is no other provision by any militia law that I know of. If they have behaved well, and suffered in their country’s cause, they deserve, moreover, some grateful notice of their service and some assistance from the common treasury; and if any particular township should happen to be overburthened, they may, on application to the government, reasonably expect relief.
Though the Quakers and others conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms are exempted, as you say, by charter, they might, being a majority in the Assembly, have made the law compulsory on others. At present it is so loose that nobody is obliged by it who does not voluntarily engage.
They might, indeed, have made the law compulsory on all others. But it seems they thought it more equitable and generous to leave to all as much liberty as they enjoy themselves, and not lay even a seeming hardship on others which they themselves decline to bear. They have, however, granted all we asked of them. Our petitions set forth that “we were freely willing and ready to defend ourselves and country, and all we wanted was legal authority, order, and discipline.” These are now afforded by the law, if we think fit to make use of them. And, indeed, I do not see the advantage of compelling people of any sect into martial service merely for the sake of raising numbers. I have been myself in some service of danger, and I always thought cowards rather weakened than strengthened the party. Fear is contagious, and a panic once begun spreads like wildfire, and infects the stoutest heart. All men are not by nature brave; and a few who are so will do more effectual service by themselves than when accompanied by and mixed with a multitude of poltroons, who only create confusion and give advantage to the enemy.
What signifies what you thought or think? Others think differently; and all the wise legislatures in the other colonies have thought fit to compel all sorts of persons to bear arms or suffer heavy penalties.
As you say, what I thought or think is not of much consequence. But a wiser legislator than all those you mention put together, and who better knew the nature of mankind, made his military law very different from theirs in that respect.
What legislator do you mean?
I mean God himself, who would have no man led to battle that might rather wish to be at home, either from fear or other causes.
Where do you find that law?
It is in the 20th chapter of Deuteronomy, where are these words: When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. And what man is he that hathplanted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? Let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? Let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her. And—
These altogether could not be many; and this has no relation to cowardice.
If you had not interrupted me, I was coming to that part (verse 8): And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that isfearfulandfaint-hearted? Let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint, as well as his heart; that is, lest he communicate his fears, and his brave brethren catch the contagion, to the ruin of the whole army. Accordingly, we find that, under this military law, no people in the world fought more gallantly, or performed greater actions, than the Hebrew soldiery. And if you would be informed what proportion of people would be discharged by such a proclamation, you will find that matter determined by an actual experiment, made by General Gideon, as related in the 7th Chapter of Judges; for he, having assembled thirty-two thousand men against the Midianites, proclaimed, according to law (verse 3): Whosoever isfearfulandafraid,let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead.
And pray, how many departed?
The text says there departed twenty-two thousand, and there remained but ten thousand men. A very great sifting! and yet on that particular occasion a farther sifting was required. Now it seems to me that this militia law of ours, which gives the brave all the advantages that they can desire, of order, authority, discipline, and the like, and compels no cowards into their company, is such a kind of sieve as the Mosaic proclamation. For, with us, not only every man who has built a house, or planted a vineyard, or betrothed a wife, or is afraid of his flesh, but the narrow bigot, filled with sectarian malice, if such there be, who hates Quakers more than he loves his country, his friends, his wife, or family, may say: I will not engage, for I do not like the act; or, I do not like the officers that are chosen; or, I do not like the articles of war; and so we shall not be troubled with them, but all that engage will be hearty.
For my part, I am no coward, but hang me if I will fight to save the Quakers.
That is to say, you will not pump ship, because it will save the rats as well as yourself.
You have answered most of the objections I have heard against the act to my satisfaction; but there is one remaining. The method of carrying it into execution seems so roundabout, I am afraid we cannot have the benefit of it in any reasonable time.
I cannot see much in that objection. The several neighbourhoods out of which companies are formed, may meet and choose their company officers in one and the same day; and the regiments may be formed, and field-officers chosen, in a week or ten days after, who may immediately proceed to consider the several militia laws of Britain and the colonies, and, with the governor, form out of them such articles as will appear most suitable for the freemen of this province, who incline to bear arms voluntarily; and the whole may be in order in a month from the first elections, if common diligence be used. And, indeed, as the colonies are at present the prize contended for between Britain and France, and the latter, by the last advices, seems to be meditating some grand blow, part of which may probably fall on Pennsylvania, either by land or sea, or both, it behoves us I think, to make the best use we can of this act, and carry it immediately into execution, both in town and country. If there are any material defects in it, experience will best discover them, and show what is proper or necessary to amend them. The approaching winter will afford us some time to arm and prepare, and more leisure, than other seasons, for exercising and improving in good discipline.
But if this act should be carried into execution, prove a good one, and answer the end, what shall we have to say against the Quakers at the next election?
O my friends, let us on this occasion cast from us all these little party views, and consider ourselves as Englishmen and Pennsylvanians. Let us think only of the services of our King, the honor and safety of our country, and vengeance on its murdering enemies. If good be done, what imports it by whom it is done? The glory of serving and saving others is superior to the advantage of being served or secured. Let us resolutely and generously unite in our country’s cause, in which to die is the sweetest of all deaths, and may the God of armies bless our honest endeavours.
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
Easton, Saturday Night, 27 December, 1755.
My Dear Child:—
I received with pleasure yours of the 24th, which acquainted me of your and the family’s welfare. I am glad to hear that the companies are forming in town and choosing their officers, and I hope the example will be followed throughout the country. We all continue well, but much harassed with business. After many difficulties and disappointments we marched two companies yesterday over the mountains, namely, Aston’s and Trump’s. We wait here only for shoes, arms, and blankets, expected hourly, and then shall move toward Berks County. Our compliments to Mrs. Masters and all inquiring friends. When you write next, direct to Mr. Read’s care at Reading. My duty to mother, and love to the children. I hope to find you all well at my return. My love to Mr. Hall. We have no fresh news here of mischief, to be depended on. Send the newspapers and my letters to Reading, and let me have all the little news about the X Y Z proceedings, officers, &c. I am obliged to Goody Smith for kindly remembering me. I am, with great affection, your loving husband,
See No. CXV.
Mr. Franklin has since thought, that possibly the mutual repulsion of the inner opposite sides of the electrical can may prevent the accumulating an electric atmosphere upon them, and occasion it to stand chiefly on the outside, but recommends it to the farther examination of the curious.
This work is written, conformably to Mr. Franklin’s theory, upon artificial and natural electricity, which compose the two parts of it. It was printed in Italian, at Turin, in quarto, 1753; between the two parts is a letter to the Abbé Nollet, in defence of Mr. Franklin’s system.—J. Bevis.
Beccaria wrote a long letter to Franklin, dated at Turin, December 24, 1757, giving an account of several experiments made by him in electricity, illustrative of Franklin’s principles. The letter, written in Latin, is contained in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. li., p. 514.
The author here quotes a stanza from one of his own “Songs,” written for the Junto. It has been printed in Professor McVickar’s Life of Dr. Samuel Bard.
MY PLAIN COUNTRY JOAN, A SONG
- “Of their Chloes and Phyllises poets may prate,
- I sing my plain country Joan,
- These twelve years my wife, still the joy of my life,
- Blest day that I made her my own
- Not a word of her face, of her shape, or her air,
- Or of flames, or of darts, you shall hear,
- I beauty admire, but virtue I prize,
- That fades not in seventy year
- Am I loaded with care, she takes off a large share,
- That the burden ne’er makes me to reel;
- Does good fortune arrive, the joy of my wife
- Quite doubles the pleasure I feel
- She defends my good name, even when I ’m to blame,
- Firm friend as to man e’er was given,
- Her compassionate breast feels for all the distressed,
- Which draws down more blessings from heaven
- In health a companion delightful and dear,
- Still easy, engaging, and free,
- In sickness no less than the carefulest nurse,
- As tender as tender can be
- In peace and good order my household she guides,
- Right careful to save what I gain,
- Yet cheerfully spends, and smiles on the friends
- I ’ve the pleasure to entertain
- Some faults have we all, and so has my Joan,
- But then they ’re exceedingly small,
- And, now I ’m grown used to them, so like my own
- I scarcely can see them at all
- Were the finest young princess, with millions in purse,
- To be had in exchange for my Joan,
- I could not get better wife, might get a worse,
- So I ’ll stick to my dearest old Joan.”
At this time General Shirley was Governor of Massachusetts. He was with the army at Oswego, as commander-in-chief of his Majesty’s forces in America. It appears, that he never entirely fulfilled the good intentions expressed in his letter. In his autobiography, Dr. Franklin gives a particular account of the services he rendered to General Braddock, in procuring horses and wagons for his expedition. He expended, of his own money, upwards of a thousand pounds sterling. This sum was in part returned by General Braddock, but the remainder was never paid. When Lord Loudoun succeeded General Shirley, the accounts were examined and compared with the vouchers by the proper officer, and certified to be right; but Lord Loudoun declined giving an order on the paymaster for the balance, stating as a reason, that he preferred not to mix up his accounts with those of his predecessors; and, as Franklin was then on the point of departing for England, he referred him to the treasury in London, where, he said, payment would immediately be made. The application to the treasury, however, was unsuccessful. The closing paragraph of the Governor’s letter ran as follows:
“Though I am at present engaged in a great hurry of business, being to move from hence in a very few days for Niagara, I cannot conclude without assuring you that I have the highest sense of your public services in general, and particularly that of engaging those wagons, without which General Braddock, could not have proceeded. I am, with great esteem, &c.,
Conrad Weiser, celebrated as an Indian interpreter for many years, highly respected for his character, and of great influence with the Indians.
The defeat of General Braddock at the battle of the Monongahela, on the 9th of July, 1755, had filled the people of Pennsylvania with alarm. The Assembly at its next session made a large grant in money for purposes of defence. The doctrine of non-resistance, which was a part of the creed of a large portion of the population, had hitherto prevented the establishment of any efficient militia system. To meet the crisis, Franklin drew up the following act for embodying and disciplining a voluntary militia. It was carried through the House, he says, without much difficulty, because care had been taken to leave the Quakers at liberty.
William Parsons was one of the earliest members of the Junto, formed by Franklin soon after he established himself in Philadelphia. He was afterwards Surveyor-General of Pennsylvania. When this letter was written he was at Easton. He died in 1758.
Franklin was extremely active in providing for the defence of the frontiers, as well by his personal efforts, as in the capacity of one of the commissioners for that purpose. The following memoranda were found by Mr. Duane among Franklin’s papers
“Considerations to be taken
What number of men?
Should the post be fortified, and in what manner?
How long to be continued there?
Could they not be partly employed in raising their own provisions?
Could they have some lots of land assigned them for their encouragement?
What their pay; and from what funds?
How much the annual expense?
Is it certain that the late method of giving rewards for apprehending rioters will be effectual?
To whom does the land belong?”
In one of his letters he said: “The fifty arms now sent are all furnished with staples for sling straps, that, if the governor should order a troop or company of rangers on horseback, the pieces may be slung at the horsemen’s backs. A party on the scout should observe several rules to avoid being tracked and surprised in their encampments at night. This may be done sometimes when they come to a creek or run, by entering the run and travelling up the stream or down the stream, in the water, a mile or two, and then encamp, the stream effacing the track, and the enemy at a loss to know whether the party went up or down. Suppose a party marching from A intends to halt at B, they do not go straight to B and stop there, but pass by at some little distance, and make a turn which brings them thither. Between B and C two or three sentinels are placed to watch the track, and give immediate notice at B, if they perceive any party pass by in pursuit, with an account of the number, &c., which enables the party at B to prepare and attack them if they judge that proper, or gives them time to escape. But I add no more of this kind, recollecting that Mr. Weiser must be much better acquainted with all these things than I am.”
This Dialogue was first printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette, December 18, 1755.