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BY ONE WHO IS OFTEN THERE.
A RIDE AMONG THE CLOUDS. told ; but he shortly after announced that
he would, in presence of the court, start
on wings from the walls of Stirling Castle, E cannot tell how long ago man first and make a trip into France.
conceived the idea of obtaining for The offer was accepted, and the worthy himself the means of rising above this Abbot set about manufacturing a pair of little planet, and of cleaving a pathway to wings, on whose surface he crowded every the stars. Perhaps some dreamy shep- kind of plumage, and with which he launchherd-poet in antediluvian ages, watching ed according to his engagement. Of the the night of the birds, first longed for futility of his attempt he received a conwings, to rise from earth's surface, and vincing proof in the circumstances of an behold the beautiful panorama which lay ignominious fall and a broken thigh. His spread around him. “ To ride upon the presence of mind, however, did not fail wings of the wind,” is an expression en him : like Goldsmith's schoolmaster, who veloping much majesty of conception. So “e'en when conquered” could argue far out of man's power was its realization still," he apologized for his untoward defound to be, that the sublime imaginations scent, and accounted for it as follows: of the Scripture poets assign the cloudy " My wings being composed partly of the pathway to the Creator himself.
feathers of dunghill-fowls, they, by a What was more natural than for a certain sympathy, were attracted to the troubled spirit to share these desires of dunghill : had they been composed of poetic fancy? “O that I had wings like eagles' feathers alone, the same principle a dove,” cries the poet-king of Israel ; would have attracted and kept them up" then would I fly away and be at rest!" ward." But we are not told that the
In almost every age we may find traces Abbot made a second attempt. of man's longing for the dominion of the In 1628, another trial was made at atmosphere ; many and lamentable were Tubingen, in Holland. The rector of the the failures of the bold spirits who in early public school there was named Keyder, times adventured their lives and scientific and stoutly maintained the possibility of reputations in trials of skill in this depart- flying. He does not appear to have gone ment: so many disappointments we may beyond the theory of the matter himself; presume awoke their disgust, and the air but the warmth of his eloquence in public was abandoned to witches, who were sup- lectures on the subject so fully convinced posed to perform on broomsticks, won a monk of the neighborhood, that he made ders which all the savants in Christendom a pair of wings-probably under the in(many of them priests, too) could not structions of the more prudent Keyderachieve.
and started from a high tower in Tubingen. Not the less did the said savants study The monk was a martyr to science ; for the subject in secret, and now and then he, too, came down to mother earth sooner burst forth with a Eureka cry, which inva- than he intended, broke both his legs in riably proved a false one. A rapid sketch the descent, and died from the injuries he of a few of the early attempts in aëronau- received. tics will perhaps furnish some amusement The monks, especially, seemed to have to the reader.
envied the witches' supremacy; for in the During the reign of the Scottish fourteenth century Albert of Saxony, an James IV., there arrived from Italy, at Augustine brother, came forward with a his court, a philosophical speculator, who theory on our subject. He suggests that, appears to have believed in the possibility if any being could bring down a quantity of success : we may suppose that he did of that light ethereal air which floats above so at least, or he would not have chosen our atmosphere, and inclose it in a ball or his spectators among a people so pro- vessel, that vessel might be raised, or kept verbially acute as the Scotch. This wor- suspended in common air, at any hight. thy, having by some means contrived to No one took any notice of Albert's theory advertise his vast scientific powers, was until the beginning of the seventeenth cenpresented by the king to the Abbey of tury, when Francis Mendoza, a Portuguese Furyland, in order that he might have Jesuit, maintained that the combustibility leisure for research and study. Whether of fire was no objection to its being made gratitude prompted his offer we are not to ascend in proper vehicles, as its ex
treme laxity and the exclusion of the air der its motion, if the motive faculty be would preserve it from inflammation. Cas- answerable thereunto. We see a great par Schott, also a Jesuit, published the same ship swims as well as a small cork; and theory in Germany about the same time. an eagle flies in the air as well as a little
In 1670 a death-blow was given to the gnat." absurd speculations about the possibility The serious project of carrying to the of flying with artificial wings, by the learn- moon "commodities for traffic” is irreed Borelli, a Neapolitan mathematician, sistibly ludicrous; and one can hardly professor of philosophy and mathematics wonder that such speculations as those of at Florence and Pisa. Nine years before Wilkins excited the satire and contempt his death, this great man published his of the wits of the age-of Butler among work, “ De Motu Animalium ;" in which, the rest, who, in an episode of great brilfrom a comparison between the muscles liancy, ridicules in his “ Hudibras” the which move man's arms and those by then newly-formed Royal Society, of which which a bird moves his wings, he proves | Wilkins was from the first a member. that the former are utterly insufficient to Cotemporary with the English divine strike the air with such force as to raise was a Jesuit named Francis Lana, who the owner from the ground.
imagined that hollow balls of metal might In 1672, Bishop Wilkins, husband to a sis- be exhausted of their air, and that thus ter of Cromwell, and father-in-law to Til- they would ascend. The experiment was lotson, came forward with his whimsical tried, and it was made evident that a vestreatise,“ The Discovery of a New World; sel sufficiently thin to float in the air or, a Discourse tending to prove that it is would be unable to resist the external probable there may be another Habitable pressure of the atmosphere. World in the Moon: with a Discourse In 1709 a certain Friar Guzman conconcerning the Possibility of a Passage structed a flying-machine, whose appearthither.”
ance was something like that of a bird, The learned Bishop of Chester contends with tubes through which the wind was to thus, regarding a flight to the moon : pass, to fill the wings intended to raise it. 1. " It is not impossible that a man may The priest applied to his sovereign for be able to fly, by the application of wings assistance, and, ridiculous as his design to his own body,* as angels are pictured, may appear to us, he was rewarded with a as Mercury and Dædalus are feigned; and college professorship and a liberal pension. as hath been attempted by divers, particu In the year 1766 an Englishman, named larly by a Turk in Constantinople, as Cavendish, made the important discovery Busbequius relates.” 2. “ If there be" that inflammable air (or hydrogen gas) is (ominous if) “such a great ruck in Mada seven times lighter than common air. Mr. gascar as Marcus Polo the Venetian men- Cavendish suggested to Dr. Black, that tions, the feathers in whose wings are perhaps a thin bag, filled with hydrogen, twelve feet long, which can swoop up a might be buoyed up by the common athorse and his rider, or an elephant, as our mosphere. As a medium to inclose the kites do a mouse : why, then, it is but hydrogen, bladders were found too heavy; teaching one of these to carry a man, and Chinese paper proved permeable to the he may ride up hither as Ganymede does vapor, and soap-bubbles inflated by the upon an eagle. Or, if neither of these breath were the only balloons that met ways will serve, yet I do seriously, and with success. Thus in 1782 the English upon good grounds, affirm it possible to philosophers could not go beyond the child's make a flying chariot, in which a man play :may sit, and give such a motion unto it
“Sometimes through hollow hole as shall convey it through the air; and
Of pipe amused we blew, and sent aloft this, perhaps, might be made large enough The floating bubbles, little dreaming then to carry divers men at the same time, To see, Montgolfier, thy silken ball together with food for their viaticum and
Ride buoyant throughout the clouds, so near
approach commodities for traffic. It is not the big
The sports of children and the toils of men.” ness of anything in this kind that can hin
• An account of such experiments may be . Probably Wilkins had not seen Borelli's found in the “ Philosophical Transactions for work.
the year 1766."
Before the close of 1782, the true theory with the signs of the zodiac, ciphers of of aëronautics was propounded and illus- the king's name, and other ornaments. trated by Stephen and John Montgolfier, A proper gallery-grate, &c., enabled the brothers, natives of Annonay, in France, aëronaut to supply the fire with fuel, and and proprietors of a paper manufactory thus keep up the machine as long as he there.
pleased. “ The idea of the Montgolfiers was to The clumsy and unsafe method of inform an artificial cloud, by inclosing smoke flating the balloon by means of a fire in in a bag, and making it carry up the cover the gallery was soon felt to be a nuisance ; ing along with it.” The experiment was in fact, M. de Rosier and the Marquis d'Artried at Avignon, in the year mentioned landes on one occasion narrowly escaped above, and the air being rarefied by the having their balloon entirely consumed ; application of burning paper to the aper- and to remedy the defect, it was proposed ture of the balloon, the bag ascended to to fill the balloon before ascending, a plan a height of seventy feet.
which seemed much more advantageous The first step being now achieved, pub- than the other. Two brothers, named lic curiosity-an active thing in France, Robert, and the philosopher Charles, were was soon on the alert, and the brothers the first who experimented in this way. tried a second experiment. A linen bag, A bag of lutestring was varnished over lined with paper, containing upwards of with caoutchouc, and inflated with hydrotwenty-three thousand cubic feet, was gen; it remained in the air three-quarters filled with rarefied air. In ten minutes it of an hour, and traveled fifteen miles. rose six thousand feet, and when its force A height of ten thousand five hundred was exhausted, fell to the ground at a dis- feet was attained by M. Charles, in Detance of seven thousand six hundred and cember, 1783, an altitude somewhat exsixty-eight feet from the point of ascen- ceeding that of Mount Etna. The account sion.
of this voyage cannot but be interesting. The Academy of Sciences now offered He rose nine thousand feet in twenty to bear the expenses of an experiment, if minutes, and earth was soon, of course, the Montgolfiers would undertake the con- quite out of sight. In ten minutes he felt struction of a balloon. One of the broth- a great variation in the atmosphere ; his ers, in answer to this offer, made a balloon fingers were benumbed, and he experienced of an elliptical form, and after some dis- violent pains in the right jaw and ear, appointments the machine rose, carrying which he ascribed to the expansion of the a burden of nearly five hundred pounds air in those organs, as well as to the exweight. It is stated that, during a pre- ternal cold. The beauty of the prospect liminary experiment, the balloon nearly he enjoyed, however, amply atoned for carried off the eight persons who were these inconveniences. Before his departholding it, and would have mounted with ure the sun had set on the valleys; but them, had not others come to their assist the hight to which he rose rendered that
luminary again visible, though but for a On the 19th of September, 1783, M. short time. By the light of the moon he Montgolfier performed his experiment be- perceived that his machine turned round fore the royal family of France, at Ver- with him in the air, and he observed consailles. To the balloon was attached a trary currents which brought him back wicker-cage, containing a sheep, a dog, again. He observed with surprise the and a duck, the first animals ever sent on effect of the wind, and that the streamers such a voyage.
of his banners pointed upward, which he The French public appeared so highly says could not be the effect of ascent or delighted with these experiments, and the descent, his movement at the time being machines seemed to ascend and descend horizontal. so gradually, that M. Pilatre de Rosier, The next improvement sought was the anxions for fame, voluntarily undertook to power to direct the course of the machine ; ascend in a balloon, and one was con- but we believe we are correct in saying structed for him in a garden in the Fau this desideratum remains yet unattained. bourg St. Antoine. “It was of an oval Could this difficulty be fully mastered, the form, forty-eight feet in diameter, and science of aëronautics might assume a seventy-four in height, ele tly painted position it has never yet taken.
Blanchard, and several others, construct to the car, until M. Testu, discovering ed wings, oars, &c., with the view of that the loss of wings, &c., had considerguiding the balloon, but met with une- ably lightened his machine, suddenly cut quivocal failure. Blanchard, however, was the strings and mounted immediately, an intrepid aëronaut; and on the 7th of leaving the enraged peasants staring at January, 1785, in company with Dr. Jef- him from below. fries, an American, he launched his bal- Mr. Lunardi, who had the honor of loon, with a boat attached to it, from making the first ascent in England, claimShakspeare's cliff at Dover, with the in- ed a similar distinction in Scotland, in the tention of crossing the Channel, which year 1785, when, during the months of hazardous feat they performed in safety, November and .December, he ascended alighting in the forest of Guiennes, not twice from Heriot's Hospital Gardens, far from Calais. The magistrates of that Edinburgh. On the first occasion his town received the travelers very hospi- balloon, for some time before it was lost tably, and the king presented M. Blanchard to sight, presented a remarkable appearwith twelve thousand livres, and a pension ance, owing to the reflection of the sunof one thousand two hundred.
beams : it appeared at first like the full The first aërial ascent in England was moon, and subsequently like a star of the made by Vincent Lunardi, an Italian, on first magnitude. His second trip was the 21st of September, 1784. In October almost fatal to him ; for, a strong wind of the same year Blanchard ascended from blowing from the west, he was carried Chelsea, carrying the first English adven- easterly, and his gas being almost exturer in this line in the person of Mr. hausted, he fell into the sea near the Isle Sheldon, Professor of Anatomy to the of May ; there was just gas enough left in Royal Academy. Mr. Sheldon alighted the balloon to prevent it from sinking, and after a trip of fourteen miles, and Blanch- after some considerable time the unlucky ard reascended to so great a hight, that aëronaut was taken up by ome fishermen. he found great difficulty in breathing. The method of ascending by throwing At this altitude (he does not give it in out ballast, and of descending by the figures) he let loose a bird, which had escape of the gas, is of course attended great difficulty in supporting itself, and with considerable expense; and in 1784 after a few turns came and settled on the the Duke de Chartres, afterward Duke machine, afraid to venture into the bound- d'Orleans, endeavored to improve upon less ocean around it.
this plan. His balloon contained within A voyage of nearly twelve hours was it a smaller one, by inflating which with made from Paris by M. Testu, in June, common air, he conceived the machine 1786, in a balloon furnished with wings might be made sufficiently heavy to deand inflated with gas. He started at four scend, especially as by the inflation of the o'clock, P. M., the barometer standing at internal or common air-balloon the gas in 29.68 inches and the thermometer at 84 the outer bag would be considerably comdegrees. The machine had been only pressed, and thus rendered specifically five-sixths filled, but gradually swelled as heavier. The balloon, however, was so it rose into a warmer, drier atmosphere, blown and torn about by a whirlwind, that becoming fully distended at a hight of no means of guiding it could be tried ; and two thousand eight hundred feet, when, to several mishaps occurring, the duke himavoid the waste of gas and the danger of self tore the balloon in two places to enaa rupture, M. Testu tried to lower the ble descent possible. machine by means of his wings : he was M. Pilatre de Rosier, who was, as our unsuccessful in this design, and obliged to readers will recollect, the first person to descend in the usual manner. He alighted ascend in a balloon, now came forward in a corn-field in the plain of Montmorency. with his plan for navigating the machine ; The proprietor of the field and a troop of and his first experiment proved, unhappeasants rushed about him, and insisted pily, fatal to this distinguished man, as on compensation for the damage done to well as to a M. Romaine, who accompathe wheat. The wily Tcstu told them nied him on the trip. De Rosier's plan his wings were broken, and he and his was to carry up with him a second balloon, balloon quite at their mercy ; they drew to be filled with rarefied air, by means of both along triumphantly by cords attached an aërostatic machine placed at a suffi
cient distance from the gas-balloon to cended at a quarter-past seven, P. M. At prevent any danger to the latter from the about half-past nine, M. Sacharof directed fire used in inflating the former ; but at an his speaking-trumpet to the earth, and altitude of three-quarters of a mile the called as loudly as his voice permitted. machine took fire, and the balloon soon His words returned in distinct echo after collapsed; the unfortunate travelers there a lapse of ten seconds, so that, reckoning fore descended with it so rapidly, that from the velocity of sound, M. Sacharof de Rosier died before reaching the earth, concluded that they were about five thouand Romaine immediately afterward. sand seven hundred feet from the earth.
The invention of the parachute, (guard Some of the aëronautic observers having for falling,) a separate machine to facili- stated that the magnetic power altogether tate the safe descent of the traveler, is ceased at a certain height, and M. de Sausdue to Blanchard, who first used one in sure having thought, in observations made 1785 at Lisle, in France ; on this occasion on the Col du Géant, that there was at he let down a dog, which reached the great altitudes a considerable decrease in ground in perfect safety. The parachute the magnetic attraction, it was thought has been, since then, much used, particu- advisable to undertake a scientific aërolarly by Garnerin, who in 1802 visited nautic trip, to try this and other experiLondon, and used this novel assistant. ments. Accordingly MM. Biot and Gay He fell into a field at St. Pancras, and was Lussac, two young philosophers educated considerably hurt, owing to the breaking at the Polytechnic School in Paris, underof one of the stays of his slender con took the task. They were favored with veyance.
the patronage of the French government When the first flush of success in aëro -a government which, however fickle in nautics gathered large crowds of spectators purpose, or feeble or cruel in action, is at Paris, all the learned men in Europe generally alive to the claims of science shared the enthusiasm of the French, and and of literature, to an extent which our looked to the Academy of Sciences for better organization might emulate with new and important discoveries by means advantage. The greatest altitude they of the balloon. We cannot but think, reached on this occasion was thirteen however, although science owes the dis- thousand feet; and from various expericovery of some facts, and the establish- ments tried at different hights, they conment of others, to the use of the Mont- cluded that the magnetic force does not at golfier discovery, that the results have all diminish ; but at the same time they fallen very, very far below the expectations confessed that, owing to the rotary motion raised by its first appearance and success. of the balloon, strict nicety of observation
As a means of philosophical observation, was impossible. Gay Lussac subsequently the balloon was frequently used, about the ascended to an altitude of twenty thousand year 1803, by Mr. Robertson and others. one hundred and fifty feet, and declares In the year mentioned, Mr. Robertson and that he found no sensible difference ; he another gentleman ascended from Ham- therefore concludes that magnetism is the burg, and attained such an altitude that same even at the greatest altitude. Some “the elasticity of the air alarmingly dis- exhausted air-flasks which he carried with tended the balloon.” They allowed some him proved useful in establishing the fact gas to escape, and subsequently rose to a that the atmosphere, at a hight above the hight where the cold was scarcely en- earth, is composed like the air on the surdurable. The rarefaction of the air causing face. M. Gay Lussac, on descending, all fluids to expand, Mr. Robertson's veins hastened to the Polytechnic School, and became swollen, and blood streamed from analyzed the air he had brought down. his nose ; while his companion's head It was precisely like that at the surface swelled so much that he could not retain of the earth, each one thousand parts his hat. Numbness was also experienced, being two hundred and fifteen of oxygen. and a great desire to sleep.
One of the few fatal ascents was that of In the following year Mr. Robertson M. Mosment, in 1806. He dropped a dog went up from St. Petersburg, with M. Sa- with a parachute, which came safely to charof. They carried numerous philo- the ground. Some hours after, M. Mossophical instruments, with the view of ment's body, frightfully mangled, was found making experiments. The aëronauts as in one of the fosses of the city (Lisle). It