There was a very clever man among the Americans named Benjamin Franklin, a printer by trade, but who made very curious discoveries. One of them was that lightning comes from the strange power men call electricity, and that there are some substances which it will run along, so that it came be brought down to the ground without doing any mischief—especially metallic wires. He made sure of it by flying a kite, with such an iron wire up to the clouds when there was a thunder-storm. The lightning was attracted by the wire, ran down the wet string of the kite, and only glanced off when it came to a silk ribbon —because electricity will not go along silk. After this, such wires were fastened to buildings, and carried down into the ground, to convey away the force of the lightning. Perhaps you have seen them on the tops of churches or tall buildings; they are called conductors. Franklin was a plain-spoken, homely dressing man; and when he was sent to Paris on the affairs of the Americans, all the great ladies and gentlemen went into raptures about his beautiful simplicity, and began to imitate him, in a very affected, ridiculous way.
In the meantime, the war went on between America and England, year after year; and the Americans became trained soldiers and got the better, so that George III. was advised to give up his rights over them. Old Lord Chatham, his grandfather’s minister, who had long been too sick and feeble to undertake any public business, thought it so bad for the country to give anything up, that he came down to the House of Lords to make a speech against doing so; but he was not strong enough for the exertion, and had only just done speaking when he fainted away, and his son, William Pitt, was called out of the House of Commons to help carry him away to his coach. He was taken home, and died in a few day’s time.
The war went on, but when it had lasted seven years, the English felt that peace must be made; and so George III. gave up his rights to all that country that is called the United States of America. The United States set up a Government of their own, which has gone on ever since, without a king, but with a President who is freshly chosen every four years, and for whom every citizen has a vote.
As if to make up for what was lost in the West, the English were winning a great deal in the East Indies, chiefly from a great prince called Tipoo Sahib, who was very powerful, and at one time took a number of English officers prisoners and drove them to his city of Seringapatam, chained together in pairs, and kept them half starved in a prison, where several died; but he was defeated and killed. They were set free by their countrymen, after nearly two years of grievous hardship.
George III. A.D. 1785—1810.