The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin/Section Fifty Seven
Section Fifty Seven
In 1746 being at Boston, I met there with a Dr Spence, who was lately arrived from Scotland, and show’d me some electric Experiments. They were imperfectly perform’d, as he was not very expert; but being on a Subject quite new to me, they equally surpris’d and pleas’d me. Soon after my Return to Philadelphia, our Library Company receiv’d from Mr Peter Collinson, F.R.S. of London a Present of a Glass Tube, with some Account of the Use of it in making such Experiments. I eagerly seized the Opportunity of repeating what I had seen at Boston, and by much Practice acquir’d great Readiness in performing those also which we had an Account of from England, adding a Number of new Ones. I say much Practice, for my House was continually full for some time, with People who came to see these new Wonders. To divide a little this Incumbrance among my Friends, I caused a Number of similar Tubes to be blown at our Glass-House, with which they furnish’d themselves, so that we had at length several Performers. Among these the principal was Mr Kinnersley, an ingenious Neighbor, who being out of Business, I encouraged to undertake showing the Experiments for Money, and drew up for him two Lectures, in which the Experiments were rang’d in such Order and accompanied with Explanations in such Method, as that the foregoing should assist in Comprehending the following. He procur’d an elegant Apparatus for the purpose, in which all the little Machines that I had roughly made for myself, were nicely form’d by Instrument-makers. His Lectures were well attended and gave great Satisfaction; and after some time he went thro’ the Colonies exhibiting them in every capital Town, and pick’d up some Money. In the West India Islands indeed it was with Difficulty the Experiments could be made, from the general Moisture of the Air.