THOUGHTS CONCERNING ELECTRICITY  pp. 94-103

THOUGHTS CONCERNING ELECTRICITY

By James Clerk Maxwell and Henry Cavendish

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195] Electricity seems to be owing to a certain elastic fluid interspersed between the particles of bodies, and perhaps also surrounding the bodies themselves in the form of an atmosphere.

196] This fluid, if it surrounds bodies in the form of an atmosphere, seems to extend only to an imperceptible distance from them, but the attractive and repulsive power of this fluid extends to very considerable distances.

197] That the attraction and repulsion of electricity extend to considerable distances is evident, as corks are made to repel by an excited tube held out at a great distance from them. That the electric atmospheres themselves cannot extend to any perceptible distance, I think, appears from hence, that if two electric conductors be placed ever so near together so as not to touch, the electric fluid will not pass rapidly from one to the other except by jumping in the form of sparks, whereas if their electric atmospheres extended to such a distance as to be mixed with one another, it should seem as if the electricity might flow quietly from one to the other in like manner as it does through the pores of any conducting matter.