"he made also a kite, with a wire and a string, which drew down that fluid from the clouds "

   The experiment performed by Frankenstein's father, and his description of electricity as a 'fluid', are references to the work of American polymath Benjamin Franklin.  He conducted a similar experiment in the 1750's to prove that lightning was electrical in nature, his research leading not only to the widespread use of protective lightning rods for tall buildings, but to an explosion of popular interest in the possible applications of electric power.  In later editions of the book Frankenstein's electrical education is provided by an anonymous scientific visitor, and this passage includes a telling mention of 'galvanism' (See note to page 38).