From Thomas Ronayne8
ALS: the Royal Society
Cecil Street Feby. 15th. 1772
In conformity to the desire of some Friends, I have drawn up the foregoing Observations on atmospherical Electricity,9 which I beg leave to lay before you; and shall think the trouble I have had, in prosecuting the necessary Experiments, sufficiently compensated, if it shall appear to you that they contain any thing new or curious; in which case, you are at liberty to dispose of them in whatever manner you shall think proper. I am Sir, with very respectful consideration, Your most obedient Servant.
8. An Irish electrical experimenter, with whom BF had been intermittently in touch for more than a decade; see above, IX, 350–2; XIII, 247–50, 468–70. Except for Ronayne’s brief note below, March 27, this is the last extant communication between them.
9. With his own observations Ronayne included two in William Henly’s hand, which the latter had sent him; the two men were working in close cooperation. Some one, presumably the Secretary of the Royal Society, noted on the letter that it and the enclosed observations were received on Feb. 27 and read on April 30, 1772; all were printed in Phil. Trans., LXII (1772), 138–46. Henly somewhat modified the apparatus and procedure that Ronayne had used, and continued to experiment through the year; see below, his note of Sept. 30 and letter of Dec. 30. Investigation of what are now called electrical fields in the atmosphere had begun in mid-century with Louis-Guillaume Le Monnier and been carried on by BF’s friends, Beccaria and Kinnersley; see Priestley, History, I, 421–32. Although we are solely responsible for the editing of the scientific material in the present volume, we are most grateful to Professor I. Bernard Cohen for reviewing our annotation of this and many other documents.