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Evening Bulletin

The “Philadelphia Evening Bulletin’ is published daily, Sundays excepted, at 

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Friday, July 13, 1877.

  This summer of 1877, with its continuous succession of thunder and lightning storms, ought to be a season of fine harvest for the traveling cultivators that go about the country planting lightning-rods. The crops grown and gathered in the shape of destroyed and damaged buildings, nearly every one of which had from one to half a dozen lightning-rods attached to it, have been extraordinarily large. Mr. John Wise, the well-known aeronaut snd practical student of the laws of meteorology, writes us a letter, which appears in another column, on some results of one of the recent storms in this region, snd we wish we could exhibit to our readers the illustrations that accompanied in in the shape of the capsules of the two lightning-rods this brought the electricity to his friend’s house and nearly destroyed it, so that he was fain to write to Mr.Wise: “I had but two lightning-rods and got considerably damaged; if I had had four or five, I think nothing would have been left of the house.” These bits of iron were reddened and corroded in a manner to justify Mr. Wise’s theory that electricity feeds on metal, showing a special preference for iron. When it skips from the lightning-rod, not finding any metal beneath the foot of it in the earth, it takes to the iron gas-pipes in the preference to the leaden water-pipes that may be alongside of them. 
  Mr. Wise believes, as we judge from former communications showing the results of lightning in the city, that the lightning-rod is a kind of protection that does not protect; that it’s point tempt the avid appetite of the devouring fluid, which would go elsewhere in search of its food but for the piqnant dainties offered to it; that an average hungry thunderbolt will make a satisfactory square meal by browsing over a surface of a metal roof, and will depart without hunting for further nutriment among the gas-pipes or door keys or the house-maid’s hair pins; but that If it has to begin at an isolated point of an insulated patent rod, it will knock the house down in its greediness for a better spread. If houses could be built, and inhabited, without nails, or carving knives, or shutter-hinges, or hair pins and other kinds of indispensable iron or other metal, they would be tolerably safe from the devouring element called electricity. But as this cannot be, in the present stage of civilization, the best plan is perhaps to confront the greedy devourer with a metal roof, on which it can fill its hungry maw in an instant and depart satisfied, without doing any damage. If this practice should prevail, the occupation of the lightning-rod be lamented by the mass if the rural population, who are generally more anxious for protection from the lightning-rod man than the lightning itself. 
By John Wise, Aeronaut. 
 To the editor of the evening bulletin:-— if I should indite you a few of my observations on “awning-rods” old horse shoes nailed over door ways to keep out witches and not a few of the latter do I find in houses of intelligent Philadelphians you might deem it as romancing upon times of Connecticut witch trails. 
  We have a more popular humbug than either, and more significantly proclaimed from the house tops, church steeple, and domes of school-houses of deep book-learning, in the lightning-rod. It is the abracadabra to Jupiter’s artillery. The humbug is attempted too often by learning men, to be saddled on Franklin’s shoulders. It is wrong in this. Franklin never suggested that lightning-rids should catch thunderbolts, but that lightning-rods should prevent them, should draw the charge off silent, as the pointed rod draws the charge from the prime conductor of the electrical machine. Whenever a building is struck by lightning with a rod peering from its satinet, the rod fails to do that which Franklin suggested it might do.  While there is much twaddle by electricians about the words that compass the subject such as vitreous, resinous, primary, secondary, ohms, farads, high tension, low tension, dynamic, static, &c.s’ electricities, I propose to treat it simply as a matter of fact. It is a natural force static, and dynamic ——static when in a state of equilibrium; dynamic when its equilibrium is disturbed. It is the eternal accompaniment of matter —- the vis viva of nature. The pugilist, when he strikes a blow with his fist, is no less a Jupiter, in dynamic or electrical sense, than is the bolt force hurled from the rain cloud. When the air, holding water in suspension, is suddenly cooled, the electricity that held it in suspension is released, and down it flies to the earth with a velocity so great that an ounce of it will exert as much force as the ball fired from a Columbiad, allowing for velocity what it lacks in weight. It has an affinity for metal--an avidity for it equal to that of an acid for an alkali. Metal is its natural food; the finer the metal the better it feeds on it. An ordinary thunderbolt will browse over from three to four thousand square feet of tin or iron sheet roofing for its compensation. It singes the metal. That it does so is demonstrated in the fact. I am this moment gazing on a piece of copper that is singed--surface burned, scorched--as surely as is the poker thrust into the white-heat fire of the furnace.
It is a capsule taken from a lightning-rod from the house of Mr. B. Gardelle, of Germantown, which was struck by a thunderbolt on the 5th day of the present month of July, 1877. The house had three lightning-rods, one on each gable and one on the kitchen. The kitchen rod did not stand as high by twenty feet as the other two, but it got the hardest blow and greatest scorching. The other two had their extreme points of fine metal fused. The rods are twisted galvanized iron, with terminals in the ground simply. They were insulated from the stone walls by glass insulated from the stone walls by glass insulators. Nevertheless, the force made through the walls, scattering the mortar across the breadth of the cellar and throwing out of place some loose bricks that lay in its track. It also followed the gas-pipes jutting out through the plaster in several places, and particularly so into the bath-room, making, apparently, for the metal lining of the bath-tub.
It evidently fed on all the metal it found connected with the walls of the house, causing leakage in the lead fixtures of the hot water kitchen range. It does not digest lead as readily as it does the finer metals--it seems to treat that as the dog does the bone. I have seen the lead swedged over a copper pipe at the connection joint pushed over it. 
Mr. Gardelle, a gentleman of education and science, has his faith in lighting rods shaken, but it is proper to say that he is going to try it once more, with better terminals to the rods, to coax it into the earth; but he thinks withal that the lightning-rod man who put them up as guarantees against Jupiter's assaults should be made to pay for the damage done to his house. With him, as with a friend who wrote me a few weeks ago that his house was struck, nearly all the glass int he windows shattered, the roof torn somewhat , shutters unhinged, window frames hurled from their places, notwithstanding the house had a lightning-rod on each end. He added, in his letter, "I had but two lightning-rods, and got considerably damaged, if I had had four or five I think nothing would have been left of the house." When I shall have a proper occasion I will tell your readers something about the "Snow Harris" lightning conductor, for the safety of ships.    JOHN WISE.

[[Right Column]]

PRO Scientia Cum Amenetota.
To the Editor of The Record:
The Permanent Exhibition is a grand mechanical and fine art show. It teaches the visitor by facts and factors int he spinning of glass as well as in the spinning of yarns. It illustrates and demonstrates the cunning of the loom in the woofs and warps of the textile fabrics, int he harmony of colors and the most exquisite figures of natural history. Some of the weaving looms are surpassing ingenious. Figures of things are woven with colors; lights and shades are equal to the most finished oil paintings. Indeed, wonders of mechanism from a needle to and anchor are to be seen there. A needle that a blind person can thread as readily as one with good eyes; an anchor that does equally well for air navigation and water navigation. And what a grand tableau of statuary int he central area! The figure of a common soldier, so natural in the expression of his phiz that you would fain talk to him. Another on horseback, scenting the battle afar off. These two figures are in the front rank of statuary. The others around them are good only for the contrast--nothing more. The Indian lodge, presided over by a real Iroquois lady, working at bead work. I inquired of her whether she learned to speak English in the wild woods, to which she answered with Indian accent, "I never was a wild Indian; I was born in Montreal of full blood Iriquois pedigree." "What is your name, madam?" I said. "It is Sessiquotami," or something sounding like that; "but in English it means Shake-the-Tree."
Then there is the review of Washington's army after Cornwallis' capitulation and surrender at Yorktown. A diorama for good perspective worth the travel of a hundred miles to see. I say nothing of the details, but the perspective rises to a scene of grandeur.
Then comes the "Signers of the Declaration of Independence." The memories of the occasion at first inspire a feeling of patriotic veneration, but upon a near approach the ludicrous gains the ascendancy. The variety of faces is supremely grotesque. One of them looks as if he had purloined the bundle of flax from an old maid's spinning wheel and slung it over his head to play hide-and-go-seek.
"His crown usurped, a distaff on the throne."
Washington and Lafayette, standing on the flank of his group, seem to be viewing it with an astonishment at so funny a looking set of fellows bluffing King George and the British Parliment. Well, since the whole story of a Continental Congress en-masse signing the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July is a historical fabrication, this group is a fair compensation for the allegory. 
With all these fine views and works and their attendant studies and advantages to a discerning public, the Exhibition is a financial failure. And why? Because its controlling power is vested in the hands of narrow-minded, bigoted men, who thought they could make the public dance as they piped, never yet learning that a show must pipe as the public is known to dance. 
They must inaugurate interesting and spectacular attractions, varying form day to day. They must keep it open on Sunday; priestcraft to be conciliated in the morning hours; nature and philosophy to have its carnival int he afternoon. God has laid no embargo on man's going to the shrine of learning and recreating on Sunday, but an effete Pharaseeism too much in power, has.    COMMON SENSE.
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