Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Winthrop, 6 January 1768

From John Winthrop

Printed from extract in Benjamin Franklin, Experiments and Observations on Electricity, Made at Philadelphia in America … (London, 1769), p. 485.

Jan. 6, 1768.

I have read in the Philosophical Transactions the account of the effects of lightning on St. Bride’s steeple.6 ’Tis amazing to me, that after the full demonstration you had given, of the identity of lightning and of electricity, and the power of metalline conductors, they should ever think of repairing that steeple without such conductors. How astonishing is the force of prejudice even in an age of so much knowledge and free enquiry!

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6For Winthrop, the Harvard mathematician, see above, IV, 261 n;V, 267 n; XI, 90 n; and for the lightning bolt, XI, 544–5. The detailed descriptions to which Winthrop refers of the damage done to St. Bride’s are in Phil. Trans., LIV (1765), 209–20, 227–34; they contain no mention of plans for rebuilding the steeple. For BF’s reply to this letter see below, July 2, 1768.

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