Imatges de pàgina



PREFERENCE OF BOWS AND ARROWS TO FIRE-ARMS. a great deal of business on my hands. The whitewash and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the buckets are paraded, the brushes are ready, my hus- means of having it well administered. band is gone off-so much the better; when we are On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, upon a thorough cleaning, the first dirty thing to be that every member of the convention who may still removed is one's husband. I am called for again. have objections, would with me, on this occasion, doubt Adieu.

a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.

[The motion was then made for adding the last forFINAL SPEECH OF DR FRANKLIN IN THE mula, viz. :LATE FEDERAL CONVENTION.

Done in convention, by the unanimous consent, &c.,

which was agreed to, and added accordingly.] MR PRESIDENT, I confess that I do not entirely approve of this constitution at present; but, Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it—for having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, PREFERENCE OF BOWS AND ARROWS IN by better information, or fuller consideration, to change

WAR TO FIRE-ARMS. opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is, there. fore, that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt

Philadelphia, February 11, 1776. my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the DEAR SIR-The bearer, Monsieur Arundel, is directed judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as by the Congress to repair to General Schuyler, in order most sects in religion, think themselves in possession to be employed by him in the artillery service. He of all truth, and that whenever others differ from them, proposes to wait on you in his way, and has requested it is so far error. Steel, a protestant, in a dedication, me to introduce him by line to you. He has been an tells the pope that "the only difference between our officer in the French service, as you will see by his two churches, in their opinions of the certainty of their commissions; and, professing a good will to our cause, doctrines, is, the Romish church is infallible, and the I hope he may be useful in instructing our gunners and church of England never in the wrong." But though matrosses: perhaps he may advise in opening the nailed many private persons think almost as highly of their cannon. own infallibility as that of their sect, few express it so I received the inclosed the other day from an officer, naturally as a certain French lady, who, in a little dis- Mr Newland, who served in the two last wars, and was pute with her sister, said, “I don't know how it hap- | known by General Gates, who spoke well of him to me pens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that when I was at Cambridge. He is desirous now of enis always in the right;"Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours tering into your service. I have advised him to wait raison. In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this con- upon you at New York. stitution, with all its faults, if they are such; because They still talk big in England, and threaten hard ; I think a general government necessary for us, and but their language is somewhat more civil, at least not there is no form of government but what may be a quite so disrespectful to us. By degrees they come to blessing, if well administered; and I believe farther, their senses; but too late, I fancy, for their interest. that this is likely to be well administered for a course We have got a large quantity of saltpetre, one hunof years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms dred and twenty tons, and thirty more expected. have done before it, when the people shall become so Powder mills are now wanting; I believe we must set corrupted as to need despotic government, being in- to work and make it by hand. But I still wish, with capable of any other. I doubt, too, whether any other you, that pikes could be introduced, and, I would add, convention we can obtain may be able to make a better bows and arrows: these were good weapons, and not constitution: for when you assemble a number of men, wisely laid aside: to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevi- 1. Because a man may shoot as truly with a bow as tably assemble with those men all their prejudices, with a common musket. their passions, their errors of opinion, their local in- 2. He can discharge four arrows in the time of chargterests, and their selfish views. From such an assem- ing and discharging one bullet. bly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore 3. His object is not taken from his view by the smoke astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so of his own side. near to perfection as it does; and I think it will asto- 4. A flight of arrows seen coming upon them terrifies nish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to and disturbs the enemy's attention to his business. hear that our councils are confounded, like those of 5. An arrow sticking in any part of a man, puts him the builders of Babel, and that our states are on the hors du combat till it is extracted. point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the pur- 6. Bows and arrows are more easily provided every pose of cutting each other's throats.

where than muskets and ammunition. Thus I consent, Sir, to this constitution, because I Polydore Virgil, speaking of one of our battles against expect no better, and because I am not sure that this the French in Edward III.'s reign, mentions the great is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors confusion the enemy was thrown into, sagittarum nube, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered from the English ; and concludes, Est res profecto dictu a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they mirabilis ut tantus ac potens exercitus a solis ferè Anwere born, and here they shall die. If every one of glicis sagittariis victus fuerit; adeo Anglus est sagittius, in returning to our constituents, were to report the potens, et id genus armorum valet. If so much execuobjections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain par- tion was done by arrows when men wore some defentisans in support of them, we might prevent its being sive armour, how much more might be done now that generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary it is out of use ! effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our I am glad you are come to New York, but I also favour among foreign nations, as well as among our wish you could be in Canada. There is a kind of susselves, from our real apparent unanimity. Much of pense in men's minds here at present, waiting to see the strength and efficiency of any government, in pro- what terms will be offered from England. I expect curing and securing happiness to the people, depends none that we can accept; and when that is generally on opinion on the general opinion of the goodness of seen, we shall be more unanimous and more decisive : that government, as well as of the wisdom and inte- then your proposed solemn league and covenant will go grity of its governors.

better down, and perhaps most of our other strong I hope, therefore, that for our own sakes, as a part measures be adopted. of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, we I am always glad to hear from you, but I do not deshall act heartily and unanimously in recommending serve your favours, being so bad a correspondent. My this constitution, wherever our influence may extend, eyes will now hardly serve me to write by night, and

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these short days have been all taken up by such variety | rest of our system. I will just mention, that your obof business that I seldom can sit down ten minutes servation of the ferruginous nature of the lava which sithout interruption. God give you success! I am, is thrown out from the depths of our volcanoes, gave with the greatest esteem, yours affectionately,

me great pleasure. It has long been a supposition of B. FRANKLIN. mine, that the iron contained in the substance of the

globe has made it capable of becoming, as it is, a great magnet; that the fluid of magnetism exists perhaps in

all space--so that there is a magnetical north and ON THE THEORY OF THE EARTH. south of the universe, as well as of this globemand

that, if it were possible for a man to fly from star to

star, he might govern his course by the compass: that Passy, September 22, 1782. it was by the power of this general magnetism this P-I return the papers with some corrections. I globe became a particular magnet. In soft or hot iron did not find coal mines under the calcareous rock in the fluid of magnetism is naturally diffused equally; Derbyshire. I only remarked, that at the lowest part when within the influence of a magnet, it is drawn to of that rocky mountain which was in sight, there were one end of the iron, made denser there and rarer at oyster shells mixed with the stone; and part of the the other. While the iron continues soft and hot, it high country of Derby being probably as much above is only a temporary magnet; if it cools or grows hard the level of the sea as the coal mines of Whitehaven in that situation, it becomes a permanent one, the magwere below, it seemed a proof that there had been a netic fluid not easily resuming its equilibrium. Per. great overturning in the surface of that island, some haps it may be owing to the permanent magnetism of part of it having been depressed under the sea, and this globe, which it had not at first, that its axis is at ther parts, which had been under it, being raised present kept parallel to itself, and not liable to the above it. Such changes in the superficial parts of the changes it formerly suffered, which occasioned the globe seemed to me unlikely to happen, if the earth rupture of its shell, the submersions and emersions of were solid at the centre. I therefore imagined that its lands, and the confusion of its seasons. The present the internal parts might be a fluid more dense, and of polar and equatorial diameters differing from each greater specific gravity, than any of the solids we are other near ten leagues, it is easy to conceive, in case acquainted with, which therefore might swim in or some power should shift the axis gradually, and place upon that fluid. Thus, the surface of the globe would it in the present equator, and make the new equator be a shell, capable of being broken and disordered by pass through the present poles, what a sinking of waters the violent movements of the fluid on which it rested. would happen in the present equatorial regions, and And as air has been compressed by art so as to be what a rising in the present polar regions; so that vast twice as dense as water-in which case, if such air and tracts would be discovered that now are under water, water could be contained in a strong glass vessel, the and others covered that now are dry, the water rising air would be seen to take the lowest place, and the and sinking in the different extremes near five leagues ! water to float above and upon it;-and, as we know not Such an operation as this possibly occasioned much of Fet the degree of density to which air may be com- Europe—and, among the rest, of this mountain of pressed-and M. Amontons calculated, that its density Passy, on which I live, and which is composed of limeincreasing as it approached the centre in the same stone, rock and sea shells to be abandoned by the sea, proportion as above the surface, it would, at the depth and to change its ancient climate, which seems to have of leagues, be heavier than gold-possibly the dense been a hot one. The globe being now become a perfect fuid occupying the internal parts of the globe might magnet, we are perhaps safe from any future change be air compressed. And as the force of expansion in of its axis. But we are still subject to the accidents dense air, when heated, is in proportion to its density, on the surface, which are occasioned by a wave in the this central air might afford another agent to move internal, ponderous fluid: and such a wave is produced the surface, as well as be of use in keeping alive the by the sudden violent explosion you mention, happencentral fires; though, as you observe, the sudden rare- ing from the junction of water and fire under the earth, iaction of water, coming into contact with those fires, which not only lifts the incumbent earth that is over may be an agent sufficiently strong for that purpose, the explosion, but, impressing with the same force the when acting between the incumbent earth and the fluid fluid under it, creates a wave that may run a thousand on which it rests.

leagues, lifting, and thereby shaking successively, all If one might indulge imagination in supposing how the countries under which it passes. I know not whesuch a globe was formed, should conceive, that all ther I have expressed myself so clearly, as not to get the elements in separate particles, being originally out of your sight in these reveries. If they occasion mixed in confusion, and occupying a great space, they any new inquiries, and produce a better hypothesis, would (as soon as the Almighty fiat ordained gravity, they will not be quite useless. You see I have given or the mutual attraction of certain parts, and the mu- a loose to imagination, but I approve much more your tual repulsion of other parts, to exist) all move towards their common centre; that the air—being a fluid whose preceding paper, accounts for the alterations which have taken

* [Ingenious as the conjecture is by which Franklin, in the parts repel each other, though drawn to the common centre by their gravity--would be densest towards the place on the surface of the globe, it is now generally believed

that these are attributable to much more simple causes than the centre, and rarer as more remote; consequently, all shifting of the equatorial axis through magnetic agency. It is bodies lighter than the central parts of that air, and believed, that all the superficial changes which the earth has immersed in it, would recede from the centre, and rise undergone, are referable to influences operating on it at the till they arrive at that region of the air which was of present day with the same force as they have ever done. The the same specific gravity with themselves, where they action of the atmosphere of running waters, and of the ocean, acwould rest; while other matter mixed with the lighter cording to this doctrine, is perpetually engaged in washing down air would descend, and the two meeting, would form and wearing away the existing matter of the earth's surface; the shell of the first earth, leaving the upper atmo- while, on the other hand, there are counterbalancing forces, sphere nearly clear. The original movement of the such as volcanoes and carthquakes, that act with equal constancy parts towards their common centre would form a whirl in elevating the worn-down materials to something like their there; which would continue in the turning of the original position, though, it may be, with altered forms. The newly formed globe upon its axis, and the greatest immensity of time required (by this theory) to explain geological diameter of the shell would be in its equator. If, by reception; but every additional ray of light thrown on the sub

appearances, is the chief difficulty in the way of its universal any accident afterwards, the axis should be changed, the ject by the inquiries of man, tends more strongly to impress the dense internal fluid, by altering its form, must burst conviction, that all the phenomena of the earth's surface, inthe shell, and throw all its substance into the confusion stead of having been produced by great and violent causes of in which we find it. I will not trouble you at present short continuance, are the result of causes of little magnitude with my fancies concerning the manner of forming the and intensity, operating through long successive ages.]



method of philosophising, which proceeds upon actual | not this fluid, when at liberty, be capable of penetrat. observation, makes a collection of facts, and concludes ing and entering into all bodies, organised or not no farther than those facts will warrant. In my pre- quitting easily in totality those not organised, and quit. sent circumstances, that mode of studying the nature ting easily in part those which are- --the part assumed of the globe is out of my power, and therefore I have and fixed remaining till the body is dissolved ? permitted myself to wander a little in the wilds of fancy. Is it not this fluid which keeps asunder the particles With great esteem, I have the honour to be, Sir, &c. of air, permitting them to approach, or separating

B. FRANKLIN. them more, in proportion as its quantity is diminished P.S. I have heard that chemists can by their art or augmented ? Is it not the greater gravity of the decompose stone and wood, extracting a considerable particles of air, which forces the particles of this Auid quantity of water from the one, and air from the other, to mount with the matters to which it is attached, as It seems natural to conclude from this, that water and smoke or vapour ? air were ingredients in their original composition: for Does it not seem to have a great affinity with water, men cannot make new matter of any kind. In the since it will quit a solid to unite with that Auid, and go same manner do we not suppose, that when we consume off with it in vapour, leaving the solid cold to the touch, combustibles of all kinds, and produce heat or light, we and the degree measurable by the thermometer ? do not create that heat or light-we only decompose a The vapour rises attached to this fluid; but at a substance which received it originally as a part of its certain height they separate, and the vapour descends composition ? Heat may thus be considered as originally in rain, retaining but little of it, in snow or hail less. in a fuid state ; but, attracted by organised bodies in What becomes of that fluid ? Does it rise above our their growth becomes a part of the solid. Besides atmosphere, and mix equally with the universal mass this, I can conceive that, in the first assemblage of the of the same kind? Or does a spherical stratum of it, particles of which this earth is composed, each brought denser, or less mixed with air, attracted by this globe, its portion of the loose heat that had been connected and repelled or pushed up only to a certain height from with it, and the whole, when pressed together, produced its surface by the greater weight of air, remain there the internal fire which still subsists.

surrounding the globe, and proceeding with it round the sun ?

In such case, as there may be a continuity or com

munication of this fluid through the air quite down to THOUGHTS ON THE UNIVERSAL FLUID, the earth, is it not by the vibrations given to it by the &c.

sun that light appears to us; and may it not be, that

every one of the infinitely small vibrations, striking Passy, June 25, 1784.

common matter with a certain force, enter its substance, UNIVERSAL space, as far as we know of it, seems to be are held there by attraction, and augmented by sucfilled with subtló fluid, whose motion, or vibration, is ceeding vibrations, till the matter has received as much called light.

as their force can drive into it ? This fluid may possibly be the same with that which, Is it not thus that the surface of this globe is conbeing attracted by, and entering into other more solid tinually heated by such repeated vibrations in the day, matter, dilates the substance, by separating the consti, and cooled by the escape of the heat when those vibratuent particles, and so rendering some solids fluid, and tions are discontinued in the night, or intercepted and maintaining the fluidity of others: of which fluid when reflected by clouds ? our bodies are totally deprived, they are said to be

Is it not thus that fire is amassed, and makes the frozen ; when they have a proper quantity, they are in greatest part of the substance of combustible bodies ? health, and fit to perform all their functions; it is then

Perhaps when this globe was first formed, and its called 'natural heat: when too much, it is called fever; original particles took their place at certain distances and when forced into the body in too great a quantity from the centre, in proportion to their greater or less from without, it gives pain by separating and destroy; gravity, the fluid fire, attracted towards that centre, ing the flesh, and is then called burning-and the fluid might in great part be obliged, as lightest, to take place so entering and acting is called fire.

above the rest, and thus form the sphere of fire above While organised bodies, animal or vegetable, are supposed, which would afterwards be continually dimiaugmenting in growth, or are supplying their continualnishing by the substance it afforded to organised bodies; waste, is not this done by attracting and consolidating and the quantity restored to it again by the burning or this fluid called fire, so as to form of it a part of their other separating of the parts of those bodies. substance and is not a separation of the parts of Is not the natural heat of animals thus produced, by such substance, which, dissolving its solid state, sets separating in digestion the parts of food, and setting that subtle fluid at liberty, when it again makes its ap- | their fire at liberty? pearance as fire ?

Is it not this sphere of fire which kindles the wan. For the power of man relative to matter seems limited dering globes that sometimes pass through it in our to the dividing it, or mixing the various kinds of it, or

course round the sun, have their surface kindled by it, changing its form and appearance by different compo- and burst when their included air is greatly rarefied by sitions of it, but does not extend to the making or the heat on their burning surfaces ?* creating of new matter, or annihilating the old ; thus, if fire be an original element, or kind of matter, its

*[It is obvious from this paper, that the extraordinary points quantity is fixed and permanent in the world. We of similarity between the phenomena of heat and light, had cannot destroy any part of it, or make addition to it; the same idea has been entertained, and farther elucidated, by

struck forcibly the acute mind of Franklin. Since his time, we can only separate it from that which confines it, and

many men of science; but no clear views of the relation existing set it at liberty, as when we put wood in a situation to

between these two elements have yet been arrived at It has be burnt; or transfer it from one solid to another, as been held by some philosophers, that not only light and heat, when we make lime by burning stone, a part of the fire but also electricity, galvanism, magnetism, and the nervou dislodged from the wood being left in the stone. May 'principle, are all modifications of one great and universal fluid.)



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