Mr. Franklin: A Selection from His Personal Letters

By Leonard W. Labaree; Benjamin Franklin et al. | Go to book overview
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found great Advantage from this kind of Equation, in what may be called Moral or Prudential Algebra. Wishing sincerely that you may determine for the best, I am ever, my dear Friend,

Yours most affectionately

B. Franklin


A NEW USE FOR MADEIRA WINE

CURRENT speculations on spontaneous generation and suspended animation intrigued Franklin. In response to a letter from his French friend Barbeu Dubourg he communicated observations and experiments he had made in a specific case of flies reviving after long immersion in wine. Then, concluding in mingled hopefulness and whimsy, he proposed a method by which, should it ever prove practicable, men might readily and comfortably enjoy an experience like Rip Van Winkle's.


To Jacques Barbeu Dubourg

[ London, April 1773]

Your observations on the causes of death, and the experiments which you propose for recalling to life those who appear to be killed by lightning, demonstrate equally your sagacity and your humanity. It appears that the doctrine of life and death in general is yet but little understood.

A toad buried in sand may live, it is said, until the sand becomes petrified; and then, being inclosed in the stone, it may still live for we know not how many centuries. The facts which are cited in support of this opinion are too numerous, and too circumstantial not to deserve a certain degree of credit. As we are accustomed to see all living beings eat and drink, it appears to us difficult to conceive how a toad can be supported in such a dungeon. But if we reflect, that the necessity of nourishment of animals, in their ordinary state, proceeds from the continual waste of their substance by perspiration;

-27-

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