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other persons. The balloon was “intended for six only, and these were found too many, but no one could be induced to give up his place. The instant after the ropes had been cut, a seventh person jumped in. A rent in the balloon caused it to descend with great velocity, but no one was hurt."
February 22, 1784, a small balloon, launched by itself, from Sandwich, crossed the channel.
March 2, 1784, M. Blanchard made his first ascent from Paris, carrying a parachute in case of need.
April 25, 1784, Messrs. de Morveau and Bertrand ascended 13,000 English feet, at Dijon, and thought they found some effect produced by the use of oars.
May 20, 1784, ladies first went up, four of them with two gentlemen, but in a balloon secured by ropes. Madame Thible, however, ascended on the 4th of June, with one other person in a free balloon.
September 15, 1784, the first voyage in England was made by Vincenzo Lunardi, who took with him a dog, a cat, and a pigeon. He rose from the artillery-ground, and landed at Standon, near Ware, in Hertfordshire.
January 7, 1785, M. Blanchard and Dr. Jeffries crossed the channel. June 15, 1785, M. Pilâtre de Rozier, and M. Romain ascended from Boulogne, with the intention of crossing the channel, when the balloon took fire, and the gallant De Rozier, the first aëronaut, together with his unfortunate companion, fell from a height of a thousand yards, and was killed on the spot.
July 22, General Money ascended at Norwich, and the balloon dropped in the water, where the voyager remained six hours before he was rescued.
In 1807, M. Garnerin ascended from Paris, and landed at, or rather “was dashed against Mount Tonnerre, 300 miles from that place, after running very great risks.”
September 21, 1802, M. Garnerin descended from a balloon by means of a parachute, near the Small-pox Hospital, at St. Pancras. I remember seeing him, frightfully swung about at first, but afterwards coming down steadily, to the great relief of an enormous multitude, whose sudden gathering together in the fields almost astonished me as much as the parachute.
Several ascents have been made for the purpose of scientific experiments; among others, one by M. Gay Lussac, at Paris, to the height of 23,000 feet.
“In 1806, Carlo Brioschi, astronomer-royal at Naples, ascended with Signor Andreani, who had been the first Italian aëronaut. Trying to rise higher than M. Gay Lussac, they got into an atmosphere so rarefied as to burst the balloon. Its remnants checked the velocity of their descent; and this, with their falling on an open space, saved their lives; but Brioschi contracted a complaint, which brought him to his grave.”
Since this period many ascents have been made both in France and England, by a variety of aëronauts, one of whom, in the latter country, generally keeps possession of the public curiosity for a certain time, and makes the balloon a sort of profession. It is said in the publication above quoted, that the balloon is now a “toy in which ascents are sometimes made to amuse a crowd,” and that
was honorable risk, so long as any thing could be gained to science, is now mere foolhardiness, and will continue to be so until some definite object be proposed, and some probable means suggested of attaining it.” But this is surely too harsh a judgment. Amusement is worth something for its own sake, and courage too; and by familiarity with the machine, gradual improvements in its construction must be acquired, and its safety made greater,
for greater purposes. It is a long time since any catastrophe has happened to a balloon made of the ordinary materials.
The greatest fault to be found with aërial voyagers is the dulness of the narratives which they put forth. One would expect from their strange experiences more lively and copious accounts; but whether it is that they are not gifted with too much observation themselves, or have less to observe than might be supposed, — whether they are not imaginative or well informed enough, or the air is for the most part as barren of sights as the ocean, nothing can be more barren or brief than their narratives in general. All which the traveller tells us is, that he rose to a certain height, and went to a certain distance; that the spectacle around him was very imposing, or grand, or magnificent; that he saw Kensington Gardens distinctly, or the old London docks; that the trees looked like hedges; and that he alighted safely at such and, such a place, where he was treated with great hospitality by Mr. Jenkins ; after which, he and his balloon returned to town the same evening by a post-chaise. Truth is certainly not
more wondrous than fiction” here. Ariosto’s hippogriff and Mr. Southey's aërial boat are abundantly more entertaining
In the first navigations of this kind, allowance is to be made for the fluttered feelings of the voyagers, which, indeed, are a zest of themselves. And perhaps the same allowance is to be made now, especially as there is still a tendency in the parties to compliment one another upon their courage. The thing to be desired, however (besides going up in more picturesque and varied countries mountainous, in particular), is, that they would tell us all they feel or see, giving us the minutest details, scenery, sensation, experiment, disappointment, every thing. It is hard if the results would not be more interesting than at present. Why does not Lord Clanricarde favor us with an account? Or Captain Currie ? It would be curious to see the characters of the different minds, and of the impressions made upon them. By and by, people would be going up to record their experiences; and being on the watch for observation, new appearances would be noticed. How should you feel, reader, up in the sky? What should you say or do? Do you think you should be inclined to be merry or grave ? or timid or bold ? — or neither? Should you think most of the third heaven, or of Piccadilly ?
Horace is of opinion that the man who first went to sea must have had a heart triple-hooped with brass. What would he have said to the first aëronaut ? He has anticipated without knowing it, in the same ode:
Cælum ipsum petimus stultitiâ.
Our folly strives to reach the heav'ns themselves. It is thought a fearful thing at sea to have only a plank between you and death ; but you have a comparatively kindly element to fall into, something more substantial, and which gives you a chance. You can struggle with it, swim, cry out, get upon a piece of wood or a hen-coop. Being a swimmer myself, I never feel as if I should be lost in water, as long as I had only myself to attend to. But think of a plank's being between you and a distance of three miles and a half, — all sheer emptiness! Down you go, precipitate, chucked out; a dreg at once tragical and ridiculous; a fluttering bit of humanity, no securer than a lump of lead, no stronger than feather. To be sure, there are instances of being saved; but who could think of them at the moment of ejaculation ?
Should a time, however, arrive when balloons shall be equally safe and guidable, steerable against the wind, &c., (and who, in this age of science and steam-engines, shall say there will not ?) it is very pleasant to fancy one's self keeping one's balloon, like a carriage, ordering it hither and thither, visiting one's friends over the house-tops, and “ looking in,” not at the street door, but at the drawingroom window, &c. The poet wishes that he could fly; so that when pleasure flagged in the East, he might
“Order his wings, and be off to the West." This undoubtedly would be pleasanter; more convenient, and not so expensive. But he might have both; and wings, compared with a balloon, would be like horse-keeping, compared with a carriage. Beaux, instead of cantering beside barouches, would then flutter three miles high by the side of a car; and a hero in a novel would gloriously catch his mistress in his arms, if her balloon burst, and convey her safely to earth, as Mercury did Psyche. People would then be accused, not of running, but of flying after the girls; and we should see an air-lounger fifty feet above Regent Street, pursuing some maid-servant, or pretty milliner, in and out the chimneys.*
*“I have fully considered the project of these our modern Dædalists,” says Addison, in the “Guardian," "and am resolved so far to discourage it, as to prevent any person from flying in my time. It would fill the world with innumerable immoralities, and give such occasions for intrigues, as people cannot meet with who have nothing but legs to carry them. You should have a couple of lovers making a midnight assignation upon the top of the monument, and see the cupola of St. Paul's covered with both sexes, like the outside of a pigeonhouse. Nothing would be more frequent than to see a beau flying in at a garret window, or a gallant giving chase to his mistress, like a hawk after a lark. There would be no walking in a shady wood without springing a covey of toasts. The poor husband could not dream what was doing over his head: if he were jealous, indeed, he might clip his wife's wings; . . . what con