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´╗┐Title: Up in the Clouds - Balloon Voyages
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Up in the Clouds - Balloon Voyages" ***





It is man's nature to soar intellectually, and it seems to have been his
ambition from earliest ages to soar physically.

Every one in health knows, or at some period of life must have known,
that upward bounding of the spirit which induces a longing for the
possession of wings, that the material body might be wafted upwards into
those blue realms of light, which are so attractive to the eye and
imagination of poor creeping man that he has appropriately styled them
the heavens.

Man has envied the birds since the world began.  Who has not watched,
with something more than admiration, the easy gyrations of the sea-mew,
and listened, with something more than delight, to the song of the
soaring lark?

To fly with the body as well as with the mind, is a wish so universal
that the benignant Creator Himself seems to recognise it in that most
attractive passage in Holy Writ, wherein it is said that believers shall
"mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they
shall walk and not faint."

Of course man has not reached the middle of the nineteenth century
without making numerous attempts to fly bodily up to the skies.
Fortunately, however, such ambitious efforts have seldom been made
except by the intellectually enthusiastic.  Prosaic man, except in the
case of the Tower of Babel, has remained content to gaze upwards with
longing desire, and only a few of our species in the course of centuries
have possessed temerity enough to make the deliberate effort to ride
upon the wings of the wind.

Naturally, the first attempts were, like most beginnings, simple and
imitative.  The birds flew with wings, therefore man put on artificial
wings and essayed to fly like the birds.  It was not until many grievous
disappointments and sad accidents had befallen him, that he unwillingly
gave up wings in despair, and set to work to accomplish his ends by more
cumbrous and complex machinery.

Very early in the world's history, however, "flying machines" were made,
some of which were doubtless intended by their honest inventors to carry
men through the air, while others were mere shams, made by designing
men, wherewith to impose upon the ignorant for wicked ends of their own;
and some of these last were, no doubt, believed to be capable of the
feats attributed to them.

The credulity of the ancients is not to be wondered at when we reflect
on the magical illusions which science enables us to produce at the
present day--illusions so vivid and startling that it requires the most
elaborate explanations by adepts and philosophers to convince some among
their audiences that what they think they see is absolutely not real!
No wonder that the men of old had firm faith in the existence of all
kinds of flying machines and creatures.

They believed that fiery dragons were created by infernal machination,
which, although not what we may call natural creatures, were
nevertheless supposed to rush impetuous through the sky, vomiting flames
and scattering the seeds of pestilence far and wide.  In those dark
ages, writers even ventured to describe the method of imitating the
composition of such terrific monsters!  A number of large hollow reeds
were to be bound together, then sheathed completely in skin, and smeared
over with pitch and other inflammable matters.  This light and bulky
engine, when set on fire, launched during thick darkness from some cliff
into the air, and borne along by the force of the wind, would
undoubtedly carry conviction to the minds of the populace, whilst it
would fill them with amazement and terror!

Sometimes, however, those who attempted to practise on the credulity of
their fellows were themselves appalled by the results of their
contrivances.  Such was the case so late as the year 1750, when a small
Roman Catholic town in Swabia was almost entirely burnt to ashes by an
unsuccessful experiment made by some of the lowest order of priests for
the astonishment, if not the edification, of their flocks.  An attempt
was made by them to represent the effigy of Martin Luther, whom the
monks believed to be in league with Satan, under the form of a winged
serpent with a forked tail and hideous claws.  Unfortunately Martin's
effigy, when ignited, refused to fly, and, instead of doing what was
required of it, fell against the chimney of a house to which it set
fire.  The flames spread furiously in every direction, and were not
subdued until the town was nearly consumed.

In the early part of the sixteenth century a very determined attempt at
flying was made by an Italian who visited Scotland, and was patronised
by James the Fourth.  He gained the favour of that monarch by holding
out to him hopes of replenishing his treasury by means of the
"philosopher's stone."  The wily Italian managed, by his plausible
address, to obtain a position which replenished, to some degree, his own
empty purse, having been collated by royal favour to the abbacy of
Tungland, in Galloway.  Being an ingenious fellow, and somewhat,
apparently, of an enthusiast, he spent some of his leisure time in
fashioning a pair of huge wings of various plumage, with which he
actually undertook to fly through the air from the walls of Stirling
Castle to France!  That he believed himself to be capable of doing so
seems probable, from the fact that he actually made the attempt, but
fell to the ground with such violence as to break his leg.  He was
sharp-witted, however, for instead of retiring crest-fallen at his
failure, he coolly accounted for the accident by saying, "My wings were
composed of various feathers; among them were the feathers of dunghill
fowls, and they, by a certain sympathy, were attracted to the dunghill;
whereas, had my wings been composed of eagles' feathers alone, the same
sympathy would have attracted them to the region of the air!"

About a century later a poor monk, whose boldness and enterprise were
more conspicuous than his prudence, attempted a similar feat.  He
provided himself with a gigantic pair of wings, constructed on a
principle propounded by the rector of the grammar school of Tubingen, in
1617, and, leaping from the top of a high tower, fell to the ground,
broke both his legs, and lost his life.

It was long before men came to see and admit that in regard to this they
were attempting to accomplish the impossible.

There can be no doubt that it is absolutely impossible for man to fly by
the simple power of his own muscles, applied to any sort of machinery
whatever.  This is not an open question.  That man may yet contrive to
raise himself in the air by means of steam or electricity, or some other
motive power, remains to be seen.  It does not seem probable, but no one
can say authoritatively that it is impossible.  It is demonstrable,
however, that to rise, or even to remain suspended, in the air by means
of machinery impelled by human force alone is a feat which is as much an
impossibility as it is for a man, by the strength of his own legs, to
leap thirty or forty times his own length,--a grasshopper can do that
easily, and a bird can fly easily, but a man cannot, and never will be
able to do so, because his peculiar conformation forbids it.

This was first demonstrated by Borelli, an eminent Italian mathematician
and philosopher, who lived in a fertile age of discovery, and was
thoroughly acquainted with the true principles of mechanics and
pneumatics.  He showed, by accurate calculation, the prodigious force,
which in birds must be exerted and maintained by the pectoral muscles,
with which the all-wise Creator has supplied them, and, by applying the
same principles to the structure of the human frame, he proved how
extremely disproportionate was the strength of the corresponding muscles
in man.  In fact, the man who should attempt to fly like a bird would be
guilty of greater folly and ignorant presumption than the little infant
who should endeavour to perform the feats of a gladiator!  It is well
for man in all things to attain, if possible, to a knowledge of what
certainly lies beyond his powers, for such knowledge prevents the waste
and misdirection of energies, as well as saving from disappointment and
other evil results.

But many of those enthusiasts, who have attempted at various periods of
the world's history to fly, did not fall into the error which we have
attempted to point out.  On the contrary, they went intelligently to
work; their only aim being modestly to fly _somewhat_ after the manner
of a bird, but they all failed; nevertheless one philosopher, of modern
times, stoutly continued to assert the opinion that there is no
impossibility in man being able to fly _apparently_, though not really,
like a bird.  He did not hold that man could ever fly as high, or as
far, or as fast, or in any degree as easily, as a bird.  All that he
ventured to say was, that he might perhaps fly _somewhat like one_.

As the plan of this philosopher is rather curious, we shall detail it.

It is well known that balloons, filled with appropriate gas, will rise.
Big balloons and little ones are equally uppish in their tendencies.  It
is also known that rotundity of form is not essential to the successful
rising of a balloon.  "Well, then," says this philosopher, "what is to
prevent a man making two balloons, flattish, and in the form of wings,
which, instead of flying away with him, as ordinary balloons would
infallibly do, should be so proportioned to his size and weight as that
they would not do more than raise him an inch or so off the ground, and
so keep him stotting and bobbing lightly about, something like the
bright thin india-rubber balls with which children are wont to play

"Having attained this position of, so to speak, readiness to fly, there
is nothing to prevent him from propelling himself gently along the
surface of the ground by means of fans, or, if you choose, small
flexible cloth wings attached to the hands and arms.  The legs might
also be brought into play a little.  It is obvious, however, that such
wings would require to be mounted only in calm weather, for a breeze of
wind would infallibly sweep the flyer off the face of the earth!  We
would only observe, in conclusion, that, however ridiculous this method
of flying may appear in your eyes, this at least may be said in its
favour, that whereas all other plans that have been tried have signally
failed, _this_ plan has never failed--never having been tried!  We throw
the idea before a discriminating public, in the hope that some aspiring
enthusiast, with plenty of means and nerve, and no family to mourn his
loss, may one day prove, to the confusion of the incredulous, that our
plan is not a mere flight of imagination!"

When men began to find that wings refused in any circumstances to waft
them to the realms of ether, they set about inventing aerial machines in
which to ascend through the clouds and navigate the skies.

In the fourteenth century a glimmering of the true principles on which a
balloon could be constructed was entertained by Albert of Saxony, a monk
of the order of Saint Augustin, but he never carried his theories into
practice.  His opinion was that, since fire is more attenuated than air,
and floats above the region of our atmosphere, all that was necessary
would be to enclose a portion of such ethereal substance in a light
hollow globe which would thus be raised to a certain height, and kept
suspended in the sky, and that by introducing a portion of air into the
globe it would be rendered heavier than before, and might thus be made
to descend.  This was in fact the statement of the principles on which
fire-balloons were afterwards constructed and successfully sent up,
excepting that air heated by fire, instead of fire itself, was used.

Others who came after Albert of Saxony held the same theory, but they
all failed to reduce it to practice, and most of these men coupled with
their correct notions on the subject, the very erroneous idea that by
means of masts, sails, and a rudder, a balloon might be made to sail
through the air as a ship sails upon the sea.  In this they seem to have
confounded two things which are dissimilar, namely, a vessel driven
through water, and a vessel floating in air.

The fallacy here may be easily pointed out.  A ship is driven through
water by a body in motion, namely, wind, while its rudder is dragged
through a body comparatively at rest, namely, water; hence the rudder
slides against or is pushed against the water, and according as it is
_turned_ to one side or the other, it is _pushed_ to one side or the
other, the stern of the ship going along with it, and the bow, of
course, making a corresponding motion in the opposite direction.  Thus
the ship is turned or "steered," but it is manifest that if the ship
were at rest there would be no pushing of the rudder by the water--no
steering.  On the other hand, if, though the ship were in motion, the
sea was also flowing at the _same rate_ with the wind, there would be no
flowing of water past the ship, the rudder would not be acted on, and
the vessel could not be steered.

Now a balloon, carried by the wind, cannot be steered by a rudder,
because it does not, like the ship, rest half in one medium which is in
motion, and half in another medium which is at rest.  There is no
sliding of any substance past its side, no possibility therefore of
pushing a rudder against anything.  All floats along _with_ the wind.

If, however, the balloon could be made to go _faster_ than the wind,
then steering would at once become possible; but sails cannot accomplish
this, because, although wind can drive a ship faster than water flows,
wind cannot drive a substance faster than itself flows.

The men of old did not, however, seem to take these points into
consideration.  It yet remains to be seen whether steam shall ever be
successfully applied to aerial machines, but this may certainly be
assumed in the meantime, that, until by some means a balloon is
propelled _faster than the wind_ through the atmosphere, sails will be
useless, and steering, or giving direction, impossible.

It was believed, in those early times, when scientific knowledge was
slender, that the dew which falls during the night is of celestial
origin, shed by the stars, and drawn by the sun, in the heat of the day,
back to its native skies.  Many people even went the length of asserting
that an egg, filled with the morning dew, would, as the day advanced,
rise spontaneously into the air.  Indeed one man, named Father Laurus,
speaks of this as an observed fact, and gravely gives directions how it
is to be accomplished.  "Take," says he, "a goose's egg, and having
filled it with dew gathered fresh in the morning, expose it to the sun
during the hottest part of the day, and it will ascend and rest
suspended for a few moments."  Father Laurus must surely have omitted to
add that a goose's brains in the head of the operator was an element
essential to the success of the experiment!

But this man, although very ignorant in regard to the nature of the
substances, with which he wrought, had some quaint notions in his head.
He thought, for instance, that if he were to cram the cavity of an
artificial dove with highly condensed air, the imprisoned fluid would
impel the machine in the same manner as wind impels a sail.  If this
should not be found to act effectively, he proposed to apply fire to it
in some way or other, and, to prevent the machine from being spirited
away altogether by that volatile element, asbestos, or some
incombustible material, was to be used as a lining.  To feed and support
this fire steadily, he suggested a compound of butter, salts, and
orpiment, lodged in metallic tubes, which, he imagined, would at the
same time heighten the whole effect by emitting a variety of musical
tones like an organ!

Another man, still more sanguine than the lest in his aerial flights of
fancy, proposed that an ascent should be attempted by the application of
fire as in a rocket to an aerial machine.  We are not, however, told
that this daring spirit ever ventured to try thus to invade the sky.

There can be no doubt that much ingenuity, as well as absurdity, has
been displayed in the various suggestions that have been made from time
to time, and occasionally carried into practice.  One man went the
length of describing a huge apparatus, consisting of very long tin
pipes, in which air was to be compressed by the vehement action of fire
below.  In a boat suspended from the machine a man was to sit and direct
the whole by the opening and shutting of valves.

Another scheme, more ingenious but not less fallacious, was propounded
in 1670 by Francis Lana, a Jesuit, for navigating the air.  This plan
was to make four copper balls of very large dimensions, yet so extremely
thin that, after the air had been extracted, they should become, in a
considerable degree, specifically lighter than the surrounding medium.
Each of his copper balls was to be about 25 feet in diameter, with the
thickness of only the 225th part of an inch, the metal weighing 365
pounds avoirdupois, while the weight of the air which it should contain
would be about 670 pounds, leaving, after a vacuum had been formed, an
excess of 305 pounds for the power of ascension.  The four balls would
therefore, it was thought, rise into the air with a combined force of
1220 pounds, which was deemed by Lana to be sufficient to transport a
boat completely furnished with masts, sails, oars, and rudders, and
carrying several passengers.  The method by which the vacuum was to be
obtained was by connecting each globe, fitted with a stop-cock, to a
tube of at least thirty-five feet long; the whole being filled with
water; when raised to the vertical position the water would run out, the
stop-cocks would be closed at the proper time, and the vacuum secured.
It does not seem to have entered the head of this philosopher that the
weight of the surrounding atmosphere would crush and destroy his thin
exhausted receivers, but he seems to have been alarmed at the idea of
his supposed discovery being applied to improper uses, such as the
passing of desperadoes over fortified cities, on which they might rain
down fire and destruction from the clouds!

Perhaps the grandest of all the fanciful ideas that have been
promulgated on this subject was that of Galien, a Dominican friar, who
proposed to collect the fine diffused air of the higher regions, where
hail is formed, above the summit of the loftiest mountains, and to
enclose it in a cubical bag of enormous dimensions--extending more than
a mile every way!  This vast machine was to be composed of the thickest
and strongest sail-cloth, and was expected to be capable of transporting
through the air a whole army with all their munitions of war!

There were many other devices which men hit upon, some of which embraced
a certain modicum of truth mixed with a large proportion of fallacy.
Ignorance, more or less complete, as to the principles and powers with
which they dealt, was, in days gone by, the cause of many of the errors
and absurdities into which men were led in their efforts to mount the
atmosphere.  Our space, however, forbids further consideration of this
subject, which is undoubtedly one of considerable interest, and
encircled with a good deal of romance.

Turning away from all those early and fanciful speculations, we now come
to that period in the history of balloon voyaging, or aeronautics, when
true theories began to be philosophically applied, and ascending into
the skies became an accomplished fact.



The germ of the invention of the balloon lies in the discovery of Mr
Cavendish, made in 1766, that hydrogen gas, called inflammable air, is
at least seven times lighter than atmospheric air.  Founding on this
fact, Dr Black of Edinburgh proved by experiment that a very thin bag,
filled with this gas, would rise to the ceiling of a room.

In Dr Thomson's _History of Chemistry_, an anecdote, related by Mr
Benjamin Bell, refers to this as follows:--

"Soon after the appearance of Mr Cavendish's paper on hydrogen gas, in
which he made an approximation to the specific gravity of that body,
showing that it was at least ten times lighter than common air, Dr
Black invited a party of friends to supper, informing them that he had a
curiosity to show them.  Dr Hutton, Mr Clerk of Eldin, and Sir George
Clerk of Penicuik, were of the number.  When the company invited had
arrived, he took them into a room where he had the allantois of a calf
filled with hydrogen gas, and, upon setting it at liberty, it
immediately ascended and adhered to the ceiling.  The phenomenon was
easily accounted for; it was taken for granted that a small black thread
had been attached to the allantois, that the thread passed through the
ceiling, and that some one in the apartment above, by pulling the
thread, elevated it to the ceiling, and kept it in its position!  This
explanation was so plausible, that it was agreed to by the whole
company, though, like many other plausible theories, it turned out
wholly fallacious, for, when the allantois was brought down, no thread
whatever was found attached to it.  Dr Black explained the cause of the
ascent to his admiring friends; but such was his carelessness of his own
reputation, that he never gave the least account of this curious
experiment even to his class, and several years elapsed before this
obvious property of hydrogen gas was applied to the elevation of

Cavallo made the first practical attempts with hydrogen gas six years
later, but he only succeeded in causing soap-bubbles to ascend.

At last the art of aerial navigation was discovered in France, and in
1782 the first ascent was made.  The triumph was achieved by Stephen and
Joseph Montgolfier, sons of a wealthy paper-maker who dwelt at Annonay,
on the banks of a rivulet which flows into the Rhone, not far from

These brothers were remarkable men.  Although bred in a remote
provincial town, and without the benefit of a liberal education, they
were possessed in a high degree of ingenuity and the spirit of
observation.  They educated themselves, and acquired an unusually large
stock of information, which their inventive and original minds led them
to apply in new fields of speculation.  They were associated in business
with their father, a man who passed his quiet days like a patriarch
amidst a large family and a numerous body of dependants, until he
reached the advanced age of ninety-three.

Stephen devoted himself chiefly to the study of mathematics, Joseph to
chemistry; and they were accustomed to form their plans in concert.  It
appears that they had long contemplated, with philosophical interest,
the floating and ascent of clouds in the air, and when they heard of or
read Cavendish's theories in regard to _different kinds of air_, it at
once struck them that by enclosing some gas lighter than the atmosphere
in a bag, a weight might be raised from the earth into the air.

The brothers Montgolfier were men of that vigorous stamp who act
promptly on receiving their convictions.  At once they set about
experimenting, and constructed large bags of paper,--the substance which
naturally came readiest to their hands, and which appeared to them to be
best suited to their purpose.  These were filled with hydrogen gas,
which raised them to the ceiling; but, owing to the escape of the gas
through the pores and cracks of the case, those embryo balloons
descended in a few minutes.  Instead of varnishing the paper to prevent
the escape of the gas, and supposing, erroneously, that the fault lay in
the latter, they sought about for a new gas more suitable to the paper.
This they found, as they supposed, in the gas which resulted from the
combustion of wet straw and wool, which had an upward tendency, they
thought, on account of its electrical properties, which caused it to be
repelled from the ground.  It is scarcely necessary now to point out
that the true cause of the upward tendency lay in the rarefaction of the
air by the heat of the fire, and that hot air has a tendency to rise
because its bulk is greatly increased beyond the same quantity of the
surrounding cold air.

Although wrong in assigning the cause of the result, they were right in
the application of it.  While on a visit to Avignon Joseph Montgolfier
procured a silk bag having a small opening at its lower end, and a
capacity of about fifty cubic feet.  Under the orifice some paper was
burnt; the air inside was heated and expanded so as to fill the bag,
which, when let go, soared rapidly up to the height of seventy or eighty
feet, where it remained until the air cooled and allowed it to descend.
Thus did the _first_ balloon ascend in the month of November 1782.

Delighted with their success, the indefatigable brothers resolved to
make further experiment on a larger scale.  They procured a quantity of
packcloth or coarse linen, formed it into a globe about ninety feet in
circumference, lined it with paper, and lighted a fire under it in an
iron choffer.  This balloon went up with a force which they estimated as
equivalent to 500 pounds.

After this the Montgolfiers appeared to have become ambitious of
accomplishing greater things, and giving to their discoveries publicity;
for we are told that, "they invited the members of the provincial
meeting of the states of the Vivarais, then assembled at Annonay, to
witness the first _public_ aerial ascent.  On the 5th June 1783, amidst
a very large concourse of spectators, the spherical bag or balloon,
consisting of different pieces of linen, merely buttoned together, was
suspended from cross poles.  Two men kindled a fire under it, and kept
feeding the flame with small bundles of chopped straw.  The loose bag
gradually swelled, assuming a graceful form, and in the space of five
minutes it was completely distended, and made such an effort to escape
that eight men were required to hold it down.

"On a signal being given the stays were slipped, and the balloon
instantly rose with an accelerating motion till it reached some height,
when its velocity continued uniform, and carried it to an elevation of
more than a mile.  All was admiration and transport.  Amidst the shouts
of unbounded applause, the progress of the artificial cloud retiring
from sight arrested every eye.  It was hurried along by the wind; but
its buoyant force being soon spent, it remained suspended only ten
minutes, and fell gently in a vineyard at a distance of about a mile and
a half from the place of its ascension.  So memorable a feat lighted up
the glow of national vanity, and the two Montgolfiers were hailed and
exalted by the spontaneous impulse of their fellow-citizens."

This event created a sensation not only in France but over the whole of
Europe.  In Paris, particularly, the effect on all classes was so great
that they determined to have the experiment repeated, set a subscription
on foot, and appointed a scientific man named Charles, and two brothers
of the name of Robert, to construct a balloon.  This they did, but
instead of applying the Montgolfier motive power--heated air--they used
hydrogen gas, procured by the action of diluted sulphuric acid upon iron
filings.  Their balloon, which was made of thin silk, varnished with a
solution of elastic gum, was a much nearer approach to the balloon of
modern days than that of Montgolfier.  It was a great success; it rose
and remained suspended at a height of 100 feet, in which state it was
conveyed with acclamation to the Place des Victoires, where it rested
and underwent some repairs.  At midnight it was conveyed in solemn
procession by torchlight, and guarded by a detachment of horse, to the
Champ de Mars, where, on the following day, the whole world of Paris
turned out to witness another ascent.  The balloon went up to the sound
of cannon, and in two minutes reached a height of 3000 feet, when it was
lost for a time in a dark cloud, but speedily reappeared still higher.
After a flight of fifteen miles, performed in three-quarters of an hour,
it sunk to the ground in a field near Ecouen, where it was secured by
the peasants.

The Parisians now appeared to become balloon-mad.  The Royal Academy of
Sciences invited Joseph Montgolfier to repeat his experiments, and
another balloon was prepared by him of coarse linen with a paper lining,
which, however, was destroyed by incessant and violent rain before it
could be tried.  Undeterred by this, another was constructed by him,
which ascended from Versailles on the 19th of September 1783.

This balloon deserves peculiar notice as being the first which carried
up living creatures.  A sheep, a cockerel, and a duck, were the first
aeronauts!  They ascended to a height of about 1500 feet; remained
suspended for a time, and descended some two miles off in perfect
safety--indeed we may say in perfect comfort, for the sheep was
discovered to be quietly feeding when it returned to the earth!

The practicability of ballooning being now fairly established, men soon
began to venture their own persons in the frail cars.  A young and
enthusiastic naturalist named Rozier leaped into the car of another of
Montgolfier's balloons soon after this, and ascended in safety to an
elevation of about 300 feet, but on this occasion the balloon was held
down by ropes.  The ice, however, was broken, and bolder attempts
quickly followed.



The first free and unfettered balloon voyage was performed very soon
after the event mentioned at the end of the last chapter.  It was a
daring attempt, and attended with great danger.

A balloon made by Montgolfier was used.  It was 75 feet high, 45 feet
wide, and spheroidal in form--heated air being the motive power.  The
bold aeronauts, on this occasion, were the naturalist Rozier and the
Marquis d'Arlandes, a major of infantry.  From the gardens of the
Chateau of Muetta they ascended on the 21st November 1783.

In the car there was a quantity of ballast, and a provision of straw to
feed the fire.  The balloon mounted at first with a majestic steady
motion, gazed at in breathless wonder by thousands of spectators, who
assembled not only in the neighbourhood of the Chateau, but clustered on
every point of vantage in Paris.

When the daring voyagers reached a considerable height, they took off
their hats and waved them to their friends below, and the multitude--
realising, perhaps, that that which in former ages had been deemed the
dream of visionaries, was at last an accomplished fact--responded with
enthusiastic acclamations until the balloon passed upwards through the
clouds and was lost to view.

It would seem that these first aeronauts were of different temperaments;
for, after they had reached a height of nearly 3000 feet, and the earth
was no longer distinguishable, the Marquis began to think that he had
seen enough of the upper regions, would fain have descended, and
murmured against his companion, who still kept feeding the fire.
Apparently his alarm was justifiable, for Rozier continued recklessly to
heap on fuel, until he almost set the balloon on fire.  On hearing some
cracks from the top, and observing some holes burning in its sides, the
Marquis became so alarmed that he compelled his companion to desist, and
with wet sponges stopped the conflagration, which had actually begun.

When the fire diminished, however, the balloon began to descend much
quicker than was safe or agreeable, and the marquis himself began to
throw fresh straw on the fire to enable them to clear the roofs of
Paris.  This they did very dexterously, considering that they were so
unaccustomed to such navigation, throwing on just as much fuel as was
sufficient for the purpose, and keeping clear of steeples and chimneys
until they alighted in safety beyond the Boulevards.  Their voyage
lasted about half-an-hour, and they described a track of six miles
around Paris, having ascended to a height of 3000 feet.

Thus was the first balloon voyage successfully accomplished by the
French; and the Montgolfiers, besides enjoying the triumph which their
persevering efforts deserved, were awarded the annual prize--six hundred
livres--of the Academy of Sciences.  The elder brother was invited to
Court, decorated with the badge of Saint Michael, and received a patent
of nobility; while the younger received a pension and a sum of forty
thousand livres wherewith to prosecute his experiments with balloons.

The great success of the Montgolfier balloons naturally threw the
efforts of Monsieur Charles and the brothers Robert into the shade.
Nevertheless those gentlemen had got hold of a better principle than
their rivals; and, knowing this, they resolved to convince the sceptical
by constructing another balloon.  They wisely began by obtaining
subscriptions to enable them to carry out their designs, and finally
succeeded in making a globe formed of tiffany, covered with elastic
varnish, which was twenty-eight feet in diameter.  This they filled with
hydrogen gas.  Some idea of their difficulties and expenses may be
gathered from the fact that the mere filling of the balloon required an
apparatus which cost about 400 pounds sterling, one-half of which was
expended on the production of the gas alone.

The ascent of this balloon deserves to be regarded with special
interest, because, besides being the first _hydrogen_ balloon which
carried up human beings, it was the first in which scientific
observations were made and recorded.  Monsieur Charles was a lecturer on
natural philosophy, and, like our own great aeronaut, Mr Glaisher, does
not seem to have been content to produce merely a spectacle, but went up
to the realms of ether with an intelligent and scientific eye; for we
read of him recording the indications of the thermometer and barometer
at different heights and under various conditions.

There were many accidents and delays in the construction of this
balloon; but at last, on the 1st December 1783, it was taken to the
Tuileries and there filled with gas.  The process was slow, as the gas
had to be generated in large quantities by means of diluted sulphuric
acid and iron filings put into wooden casks disposed round a large
cistern, from which it was conveyed through water in long leaden pipes.
To keep the impatient populace quiet, therefore, during the tedious
operation, Montgolfier sent up one of his fire-balloons.

At last, when it was sufficiently filled, Messieurs Charles and Robert
stepped into the car, which was ballasted with sandbags, and the ropes
were let go.  It went up with slow and solemn motion, at the rate of
about five miles an hour.  "The car," writes a reporter of the day in
language more inflated than the balloon itself, "ascending amidst
profound silence and admiration, allowed, in its soft and measured
ascent, the bystanders to follow with their eyes and hearts two
interesting men, who, like demigods, soared to the abode of the
immortals, to receive the reward of intellectual progress, and carry the
imperishable name of Montgolfier.  After the globe had reached the
height of 2000 feet, it was no longer possible to distinguish the aerial
navigators; but the coloured pennants which they waved in the air
testified their safety and their tranquil feelings.  All fears were now
dissipated; enthusiasm succeeded to astonishment; and every
demonstration was given of joy and applause."

The period of flight was an hour and three-quarters, which, for those
early days of the art, was a pretty long voyage.  By throwing over
ballast the voyagers ascended, and by letting off gas they descended at
pleasure; and they observed that during an hour, while they were exposed
to the sun's rays, the gas was heated up to the temperature of
fifty-five degrees of Fahrenheit's scale, which had the effect of
sensibly increasing the buoyancy of the balloon.  They descended safely
on the meadow of Nesle, about twenty-five miles from Paris.

But, not content with what he had accomplished, Monsieur Charles made a
sudden resolve to have another flight alone.  The shades of night were
falling, and the sun had already set, when the enthusiastic aeronaut
re-entered the car, and, casting off the grapnels, began his solitary
night voyage.  He was well rewarded.  The balloon shot up with such
celerity as to reach the height of about two miles in ten minutes, and
the sun rose again to him in full orb!  From his lofty station he
watched it until it set again below the distant horizon.  Probably
Monsieur Charles was the first man in the world, on whom the sun thus
rose and set twice in the same day!

In such regions, at that romantic period of night, the aeronaut, as
might have been expected, saw strange unearthly sights.  Rising vapours
concealed the lower world from view, and the moon shed her pale rays on
accumulated masses of clouds, casting various hues over their fantastic
and changing forms.  No wonder that one thus surrounded by objects of
awful grandeur and sublimity, left, as it were, more completely alone
with God than any of his fellow-mortals, found it impossible to refrain
from giving vent to his emotion in tears.

Monsieur Charles did not remain long at this elevation.  As the cold was
excessive, and night advancing, he deemed it prudent to descend; opened
the safety-valve, out of which the gas rushed like a misty vapour with a
whistling noise, and, after the lapse of a little more than half an
hour, alighted in safety near the wood of Tour du Lay, having travelled
about nine miles.

After this, balloon ascents became frequent.  We cannot here give a
particular account of each, even if it were desirable to do so, but,
before passing to the consideration of the more recent voyages, we shall
run over a few facts and incidents that occurred during the early period
of aerial navigation.

The first lady who went up in a balloon was a Madame Thible.  She
ascended from Lyons on 28th June 1784 with a Monsieur Fleurant in a
fire-balloon.  This lady of Lyons mounted to the extraordinary elevation
of 13,500 feet--at least so it was estimated.  The flagstaff, a pole of
fourteen pounds weight, was thrown out and took seven minutes to reach
the ground.  The thermometer dropped to minus 43 degrees Fahrenheit, and
the voyagers felt a ringing sensation in their ears.

The first long voyage accomplished was about the same period, by a
balloon constructed by Monsieur Robert, which was filled with hydrogen.
It was 56 feet in height, and 36 in diameter.  The Duke de Chartres
ascended in it along with Robert and two others to a considerable
height, and in five hours performed a voyage of 135 miles.  This machine
was furnished with a helm and four oars, for men still laboured under
the erroneous belief that it was possible to direct the course of a

One of the most interesting balloon voyages of the last century was that
of Monsieur Testu.  He ascended from Paris on the 18th June 1786 in a
balloon of glazed tiffany, 29 feet in diameter, which was constructed by
himself.  It was filled with hydrogen, and had wings as well as oars!
When the aeronaut deemed it advisable to descend, he attempted to do so
by using the wings.  These had little or no power, but the gradual waste
of gas lowered him until he alighted safely in a corn field in the plain
of Montmorency.  Here he began to collect stones without quitting the
car; but while thus engaged, was seized by the proprietor of the field
with a troop of peasants, who demanded indemnification for the damage
alleged to have been done by him.  Poor Testu assured them that his
wings being broken, he was at their mercy, whereupon the stupid and
ill-natured boors seized the stay of the balloon, which floated some
height above the ground, and dragged him in triumph towards their
village.  Their triumph, however, was short-lived.  Finding that the
loss of his wings and some other articles had lightened him
considerably, he quietly cut the cord and bade the clowns an abrupt

Testu then rose to the clouds, where he experienced the violence and
witnessed the grandeur of a thunderstorm, the terrible nature of which
was greatly increased when night closed in, while lightning flashed on
all sides, thunder reverberated in the sky, and sleet fell copiously
around him.  On this voyage he saw some hunters in a field, and
descended to observe them!  He remained out all night, saw the sun set
and rise, and finally alighted near the village of Campremi, about
sixty-three miles from Paris.



The credit of the first aerial voyage made in Great Britain has usually
been given to Vincenzo Lunardi, an Italian.  There is ground for
believing, however, that the first balloon voyage was performed by a
Scotchman, as the following extract from Chamber's _Book of Days_ will

"It is generally supposed that Lunardi was the first person who ascended
by means of a balloon in Great Britain, but he certainly was not.  A
very poor man, named James Tytler, who then lived in Edinburgh,
supporting himself and family in the humblest style of garret or cottage
life by the exercise of his pen, had this honour.  He had effected an
ascent at Edinburgh on the 27th of August 1784, just nineteen days
previous to Lunardi.  Tytler's ascent, however, was almost a failure, by
his employing the dangerous and unmanageable Montgolfier principle.
After several ineffectual attempts, Tytler, finding that he could not
carry up his fire-stove with him, determined, in the maddening
desperation of disappointment, to go without this his sole sustaining
power.  Jumping into his car, which was no other than a common crate
used for packing earthenware, he and the balloon ascended from Comely
Garden, and immediately afterwards fell in the Restalrig Road.  For a
wonder, Tytler was uninjured; and though he did not reach a greater
altitude than 300 feet, nor traverse a greater distance than half a
mile, yet his name must ever be mentioned as that of the first Briton
who ascended with a balloon, and the first man who ascended in Britain.

"Tytler was the son of a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, and had
been educated as a surgeon; but being of an eccentric and erratic
genius, he adopted literature as a profession, and was the principal
editor of the first edition of the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_.  Becoming
embroiled in politics, he published a handbill of a seditious tendency,
and consequently was compelled to seek a refuge in America, where he
died in 1805, after conducting a newspaper at Salem, in New England, for
several years."

The voyage of Vincenzo Lunardi was made in September 1784.  His letters
to a friend, in which he comments on the manners and customs of the
English, are very amusing.  His balloon was of the ordinary spherical
shape, made of the best oiled silk, about 520 yards of which were used
in its construction.  It was filled with hydrogen gas, and provided with
car, oars, and wings.  The car consisted simply of a wooden platform
surrounded by a breast high railing, and the oars and wings were
intended, the one to check, by a vertical motion, the rapidity of
descent, and the other to act as sails when becalmed in the upper
regions of cloudland.  He requested permission to make Chelsea Hospital
the scene of his first aerial exploit, and the Governor, Sir George
Howard, with the full approval of His Majesty King George the Third,
gave his consent.  He accordingly made all necessary arrangements for an
ascent, and his fondest expectations seemed about to be realised.  He
was, however, doomed to disappointment, owing to the failure of a rival
balloon.  Writing to a friend at this time he says, "The events of this
extraordinary island are as variable as its climate.  It was but lately
everything relating to my undertaking wore a favourable and pleasing
appearance, but I am at this moment overwhelmed with anxiety, vexation,
and despair."

This rival balloon was constructed by a Frenchman named De Moret, who,
having succeeded in attracting a concourse of fifty or sixty thousand
people to see his ascent, failed in the primary part of his
undertaking,--that of filling his balloon.  The people, after waiting
patiently for three hours, and supposing "the whole affair an imposture,
rushed in and tore it to pieces."  In consequence of this failure, and
the riots with which it was followed, the Governor forbade Signor
Lunardi to make his ascent from Chelsea Hospital grounds.  He writes
again to his friend, "The national prejudice of the English against
France is supposed to have its full effect on a subject, from which the
_literati_ of England expect to derive but little honour.  An
unsuccessful attempt has been made by a Frenchman, and my name being
that of a foreigner, a very excusable ignorance in the people may place
me among the adventurers of that nation, who are said to have sometimes
distinguished themselves here by ingenious impositions."  In vain did he
try to obtain another place to launch his aerial ship; he was laughed at
and ridiculed as an impostor, and the colleague of De Moret.  At length,
after much exertion, he obtained leave to ascend from the ground of the
Honourable Artillery Company.  By twelve o'clock on the day fixed for
the ascension, an immense mass of people had assembled, including the
Prince of Wales.  The filling of the balloon caused some delay, but, in
order to keep the patience of the populace within control, it was only
partially filled.  At five minutes past two the balloon ascended amid
the loud acclamations of the assembled multitudes, and Signor Lunardi
had proved himself no impostor.  He writes to his friend, "The
stillness, extent, and magnificence of the scene rendered it highly
awful.  My horizon seemed a perfect circle, the terminating line several
hundred miles in circumference; this I conjectured from the view of
London, the extreme points of which formed an angle only a few degrees.
It was so reduced on the great scale before me that I can find no simile
to convey an idea of it.  I could distinguish Saint Paul's and other
churches from the houses; I saw the streets as lines, all animated with
beings whom I knew to be men and women, but which otherwise I should
have had a difficulty in describing.  It was an enormous bee-hive, but
the industry of it was suspended.  All the moving mass seemed to have no
object but myself, and the transition from the suspicion, perhaps
contempt, of the preceding hour, to the affectionate transport,
admiration, and glory of the present moment, was not without its effect
on my mind.  It seemed as if I had left below all the cares and passions
that molest mankind.  I had not the slightest sense of motion in the
machine; I knew not whether it went swiftly or slowly, whether it
ascended or descended, whether it was agitated or tranquil, but by the
appearance or disappearance of objects on the earth.  The height had not
the effect which a much less degree of it has near the earth, that of
producing giddiness.  The gradual diminution of objects, and the masses
of light and shade, are intelligible in oblique and common prospects,
but here everything wore a new appearance and had a new effect.  The
face of the country had a mild and permanent verdure, to which Italy is
a stranger.  The variety of cultivation and the accuracy with which
property is divided give the idea, ever present to the stranger in
England, of good civil laws and an equitable administration.  The
rivulets meandering; the immense districts beneath me spotted with
cities, towns, villages, and houses, pouring out their inhabitants to
hail my appearance.  You will allow me some merit in not having been
exceedingly intoxicated with my situation."  He descended at North Mimms
about half-past three-o'clock, but wishing to obtain a second triumph,
he threw out the remainder of his ballast and provisions, landed a cat
which he had taken up with him, and which had suffered severely from the
cold, and again ascended to the regions above.  This time his ascent was
more rapid, the thermometer quickly fell to 29 degrees, and icicles were
soon formed all round his machine.  He descended at twenty minutes past
four near Ware in Hertfordshire, and the balloon being properly secured,
the gas was let out and "nearly poisoned the whole neighbourhood by the
disagreeable stench emitted."  The success and triumph of this first
attempt in aerial navigation in English air exceeded Signor Lunardi's
utmost expectations.  Everywhere he was received with marks of
approbation, and treated as a hero.  "My fame," he writes, "has not been
sparingly diffused by the newspapers (which in England are the
barometers of public opinion; often erroneous, as other instruments are,
in their particular information, but yielding the best that can be
obtained).  You will imagine the importance of these vehicles of
knowledge when you learn that in London alone there are printed no less
than 160,000 papers weekly, which, by a stamp on each paper, and a duty
on advertisements, brings into the treasury of the nation upwards of
80,000 pounds a year.  They are to the English constitution what the
Censors were to those of ancient Rome.  Ministers of State are checked
and kept in awe by them, and they freely, and often judiciously, expose
the pretensions of those who would harass Government merely to be taken
into its service."

There were many other aeronauts who distinguished themselves after this

In 1785, Monsieur Blanchard, with Dr J. Jeffries, an American, crossed
the channel between England and France in a balloon--starting from
Dover, and descending in safety in the Forest of Guiennes.  They had,
however, a narrow escape, having been compelled to throw out all their
ballast, and everything they could dispense with, to prevent their
balloon from falling into the sea.

The first ascents for scientific purposes were made about the beginning
of the present century.  In 1803, Mr Robertson ascended from Saint
Petersburg, for the purpose of making electrical, magnetical, and
physiological experiments.  Messieurs Gay-Lussac and Biot followed his
example from Paris, in 1804.  Gay-Lussac was an enthusiastic and
celebrated aeronaut.  He made several interesting ascents.

Two years afterwards, Brioschi, the Astronomer-Royal at Naples,
endeavoured to ascend to a higher elevation than had been reached by
Monsieur Gay-Lussac--namely, 22,977 feet.  He was accompanied by Signor
Andreani, the first Italian aeronaut.  The balloon burst when at a great
height, but the remnants were sufficient to check the descent so much
that both gentlemen escaped with their lives.  Brioschi, however,
received injuries which afterwards resulted in his death.

In England one of the most famous aeronauts was Mr Green, who
introduced coal gas for balloons, and made many hundreds of ascents.  In
the year 1836 he ascended from London in a coal-gas balloon, and with
two other gentlemen made an aerial voyage to Weilburg in the grand Duchy
of Nassau.  It lasted eighteen hours, and extended over 500 miles.



Of the other voyages which were made in balloons in our own country and
in foreign lands about this period we shall say nothing, but, before
describing the most interesting of recent ascents, give a short account
of the parachute.

This contrivance has been considered by some a very important adjunct to
the balloon; whether it be so or no, we do not pretend to determine, but
certainly it is an interesting and curious machine, which merits notice.

The parachute may be described as a species of gigantic umbrella
attached to the balloon below the car, which hangs in a loose form while
ascending, but expands, of necessity, when cut adrift and allowed to
descend.  As the balloon has a car hung beneath it, so in like manner
the parachute has a small car or basket, capable of holding one person,
suspended from it.  The word signifies a _guard against falling_--from
the French _parer_, to ward off, and _chute_, a fall, and is allied to
_parasol_, which means literally "a warder off of the sun."

The parachute was introduced some years after a terrible accident which
occurred to the celebrated aeronaut Rozier, who, desirous of emulating
Blanchard and Jeffries by crossing the channel from France to England in
a balloon, made an attempt, which cost him his life.  Rozier's balloon
was about forty feet in diameter, and had attached to it, beneath, a
smaller balloon on the Montgolfier principle.  On the 15th of June 1785,
he entered the car with Monsieur Romain, and ascended to the height of
above three thousand feet, when it was observed by the spectators that
the lower balloon had caught fire.  With horror they saw that the fire
spread--the whole apparatus was in a blaze--and in another minute it
descended like a shattered meteor to the ground with a terrible crash.
It fell near the sea-shore, about four miles from Boulogne, and of
course the unfortunate voyagers were killed instantaneously.  At a later
period a Venetian nobleman and his lady fell with their balloon from a
great height and were killed.  It must be remarked, however, that cases
of this kind were very rare, considering the rage which there was at
that period for ballooning.

In order to provide aeronauts with a means of escape--a last resource in
case of accident--the parachute was invented.  It may be regarded as a
balloon's lifeboat, which will (perhaps!) bear the passengers in safety
to the ground in case of balloon-wreck.

Doubtless the umbrella suggested the parachute.  Every one knows the
tremendous force that this implement exerts in a high wind if the
unfortunate owner should happen to get turned round in the wrong
direction.  The men of the east have, it is said, turned this power to
account by making use of an umbrella to enable them to leap from
considerable heights.  In particular, a native of Siam, who was noted
for his feats of agility, was wont to amuse the King and his court by
taking tremendous leaps, having two small umbrellas with long slender
handles attached to his girdle.  These eased him down in safety, but he
was occasionally driven by the wind against trees or houses, and
sometimes into a neighbouring river.

In case any adventurous individual should be tempted to make trial of
the powers of himself and his umbrella in this way, we think it right,
by way of caution, to tell him that the French General Bournonville, who
was imprisoned in the fortress of Olmutz in 1793, became so desperate
that he attempted to regain his freedom by leaping with an umbrella from
his window, which was forty feet from the ground.  He hoped that the
umbrella would break his fall.  Doubtless it did so to some extent, and
saved him from being killed, but being a large heavy man, he came down
with sufficient violence to break his leg, and was carried back to his

The chief differences between a parachute and an umbrella lie in the
great size of the former, and in the cords which stretch from the outer
points of its ribs to the lower end of the handle.  These cords give it
strength, and prevent it from turning inside out.  There is also a hole
in the top of the parachute to allow some of the air to escape.

The first parachute was constructed by Blanchard in 1785, and a dog was
the first living creature that descended in it, and reached the earth
unhurt.  Blanchard afterwards made a descent in person at Basle, and
broke his leg in the fall.

The bold aeronaut Monsieur Garnerin next ventured to make the perilous
descent.  He visited London in 1802, and made several ascents in a
balloon.  During one of these, on the evening of the 2nd November, he
cut himself adrift in his parachute when at a vast height.  The
parachute was made of white canvas, having thirty-two gores, which, when
not in use, hung with its cords from a hoop near the top of the machine.
When expanded, it formed a vast umbrella of twenty-three feet in
diameter, with a small basket about four feet high, and two and a
quarter wide, suspended below it.  Monsieur Garnerin stood in this
basket when his balloon mounted into the air from an enclosure near
North Audley Street.  The parachute hung like a curtain over his head,
above it towered the balloon, beneath stood the anxious multitude.

Well might they gaze in breathless expectation!  After floating for some
time in the upper regions of the air, as if he dreaded to make the bold
attempt, he cut the cord that fastened him to the balloon when at the
height, probably, of about half a mile.  At first the parachute remained
closed and descended with frightful violence; then it burst open, and
for some seconds tossed about to such an extent that the basket was
sometimes thrown almost into a horizontal position.  The wind carried it
over Marylebone and Somerstown; it almost grazed some of the houses of
Saint Pancras in passing, and finally came to the ground in a field with
such violence that poor Garnerin was thrown on his face and severely cut
and bruised.  No wonder that we are told he received a terrible shock.
He trembled violently, and blood flowed from his nose and ears.
Nevertheless, the accident did not deter his daughter from afterwards
making the descent several times--and in safety.

The cause of the irregularity and violence of Garnerin's descent was the
giving way of one of the stays, which had the effect of deranging the
balance of the apparatus.

In 1837 Mr Cocking invented a new parachute, which he hoped would be
free from the faults of the other.  It may be described as being the
reverse of that of Garnerin, being made in the form of an umbrella blown
inside out.  The resistance to the air, it was thought, would be
sufficient to check the rapid descent, while its form would prevent the
tendency to oscillate.

This parachute was 34 feet in diameter, and was distended by a strong
hoop to prevent its closing.  There was also a hole in the middle of it,
about 6 feet in diameter.  Mr Cocking started from Vauxhall Gardens on
the 24th of July, and after ascending to a considerable height, cut
himself loose from his balloon when over Blackheath.  The parachute
descended rapidly, and vibrated with great violence; the large hoop
broke, the machine collapsed, and the unfortunate aeronaut was killed,
and his body dreadfully mutilated.

Fatal accidents of this kind were to be expected; nevertheless it is a
fact that the disasters which have befallen aeronauts have been
comparatively few, considering the extreme danger to which they are
necessarily exposed, not only from the delicacy of the materials, with
which they operate, and the uncertainty of the medium through which they
move, but, particularly, because of the impossibility of giving
direction to their air-ships, or to arrest their progress through space.
Parachutes, however, are not so absolutely incapable of being directed
as are balloons.  Monsieur Nadar writes on this point as follows:--

"Let us consider the action of the parachute.

"A parachute is a sort of umbrella, in which the handle is replaced at
its point of insertion by an opening intended to ease the excess of air,
in order to avoid the strong oscillations, chiefly at the moment at
which it is first expanded.  Cords, departing symmetrically from divers
points of the circumference, meet concentrically at the basket in which
is the aeronaut.  Above this basket, and at the entrance of the folded
parachute, that is to say, closed during the rise, a hoop of sufficient
diameter is intended to facilitate, at the moment of the fall, the
entrance of the air which, rushing in under the pressure, expands the
folds more easily and rapidly.

"Now the parachute, where the weight of the car, of the attaching cords,
and the wrigglings of the aeronaut, is in equilibrium with the
expansion--the parachute, which seems to have no other aim but to
moderate the shock in falling--the parachute even has been found capable
of being directed, and aeronauts who have practised it, take care not to
forget it.  If the current is about to drive the aeronaut over a place
where the descent is dangerous--say a river, a town, or a forest--the
aeronaut perceiving to his right, let us suppose, a piece of ground
suitable for his purpose, pulls at the cords which surround the right
side, and by thus imparting a greater obliquity to his roof of silk,
glides through the air, which it cleaves obliquely, towards the desired
spot.  Every descent, in fact, is determined by the side on which the
incline is greatest."

That these are not mere theoretical opinions or conjectures is certain
from the fact that Mademoiselle Garnerin once wagered to guide herself
with a parachute from the point of separation from her balloon to a
place determined and very remote.  By the combined inclinations which
could be given to her parachute, she was seen in fact, very distinctly,
to manoeuvre and tend towards the appointed place, and succeeded at
length in alighting within a few yards of it.



We now come to that point in our subject where it is appropriate to give
more detailed and graphic accounts of the recent doings of aeronauts.
An extremely interesting description of a scientific balloon ascent is
given by the celebrated aeronaut, Mr Glaisher, in a pamphlet, from
which we shall make a few extracts.  [See Note 1.] His description is
illustrative of the subject of ballooning, and contains the salient
points of several ascents.

He asks us to imagine the balloon somewhat more than half inflated,
eager for flight, with only one link connecting it with earth, namely, a
rope attached to an instrument, called a liberating iron catch.  When
all the ballast, instruments, etcetera, were placed in the car, Mr
Coxwell brought the balloon to a _nice_ and _even_ balance, so that the
addition of twenty pounds would have prevented it from rising.

As the moment for departure drew near, friends became impatient, and
every one anxiously watched the final arrangements, which were made by
Mr Coxwell, on whom was laid the important duty of _letting go_.  His
hand was on the catch, his countenance was fixed, and his expression
stern, as he gazed up into the heavens.  He was waiting for the right
moment, for the sky was partially cloudy, and it was necessary to wait
until the balloon was midway between the cloud that had just passed and
the next that was approaching, so that the aeronauts might have a clear
sky, and be able to see the earth they were about to quit for a time.
Nor was this all; he knew that in every wind, however strong it might
be, there are periods of calm.  If he could start in one of these he
would avoid much rotatory motion.  The deciding, therefore, of the exact
moment for making a fair start was not so easy a matter as one might

Some one at this critical time, with the characteristic eagerness of
poor human nature to "put its finger in the pie," cried out "Now!" and
another shouted "Pull!" but Mr Coxwell, regardless of every one,
decided for himself; and, just when the wind lulled and the sun shone
bright, and the balloon stood proudly erect, he pulled the trigger and
they were free.

But they were more than free.  They were suddenly in profound repose,
for--however high the wind may be, however agitated the balloon, swaying
to and fro with sudden and violent action, despite the efforts of many
hands that endeavour to restrain it,--no sooner do aeronauts quit their
hold of earth, than, in an instant, all agitation ceases and they are in
perfect stillness, without any sense of motion whatever; and this
freedom continues throughout the entire flight--except, indeed, when
they sink so low as to come into contact with mother earth, when the
serenity of their flight is terribly and violently interrupted, as shall
be seen in the case of another balloon voyage hereafter to be described.

They were now fairly away, but we pause to remark, before joining them
in their voyage, that their object on this occasion was not merely
amusement--scientific investigation and experiment were their aim.  In
order that the reader may have some idea of the nature of such, we
subjoin Mr Glaisher's list of the objects of his experiments:

The primary objects were, he says, "to determine, at various heights, up
to five miles--first, the pressure of the atmosphere; _second_, the
temperature of the air; _third_, the hygrometrical (or moist-measured)
states of the air."

The secondary objects were:

"To compare the readings of an aneroid barometer with those of a
mercurial barometer, up to five miles.

"To determine the electrical state of the air.

"To determine the oxygenic state of the atmosphere by means of ozone

"To determine the time of vibration of a magnet on the earth, and at
different distances from it.

"To determine the temperature of the dew point by Daniell's dew point
hygrometer and Regnault's condensing hygrometer, and by the use of the
dry and wet bulb thermometers, as ordinarily used, and their use when
under the influence of the aspirator, causing considerable volumes of
air to pass over both their bulbs, at different elevations, as high as
possible, but particularly up to heights where man may be resident, or
where troops may be located, as in the high table-lands and plains of
India; with the view of ascertaining what confidence may be placed in
the use of the dry and wet bulb thermometers at those elevations, by
comparison with Daniell's and Regnault's hygrometers; and also to
compare the results as found by the two hygrometers together.

"To collect air at different elevations.

"To note the height and kind of clouds, their density and thickness at
different elevations.

"To determine the rate and direction of different currents in the
atmosphere if possible.

"To make observations on sound.

"To note atmospherical phenomena in general, and to make general

With these objects in view the aeronauts left _terra firma_ and soared
into the skies.

"Once away," says Mr Glaisher, "we are both immediately at work; we
have no time for graceful acknowledgments to cheering friends.  Mr
Coxwell must put the car in order, and accordingly looks to it, to his
balloon, and to the course we are taking; and I must get my instruments
in order, and without delay place them in their situations, adjust them,
and take a reading as soon as possible.

"In a few minutes we are from 1000 to 2000 feet high.  Mr Coxwell looks
intently upwards to see how the huge folds of the balloon fill into the
netting.  If we have started from a town, we now hear its busy hum, and
the now fast fading cheers of our assembled friends naturally attract
our attention.  We behold at a glance the quickly-diminishing forms of
the objects which we so lately left, and then resume our work.

"Presently Mr Coxwell, who is always alive to the beauties of the
ever-varying scene below, and to the opening landscape, fixes his eye
upon me, and, just when a rural scene of surpassing beauty is lighted up
in the west, he summons me to look and admire.  I struggle against
picturesque temptations, somewhat at variance with my duties, but cannot
so quickly suppress them.  A fine cloud rears its Alpine cap in close
proximity to the car; Mr Coxwell looks as delighted as an artist when
he displays a magnificent painting.  I feel I must conquer such
enchantment, and exclaim, `Beautiful! grand indeed!' and again resume my
observations, with a cold philosophic resolve to pursue my readings
without further interruption.

"For a while I am quiet, the instruments affording indication that we
are rising rapidly.  Mr Coxwell again disturbs me just as we are
approaching the clouds, and recommends a farewell peep at mother earth;
and just as I take this, the clouds receive us, at first in a light
gauze of vapour, and then in their chilly embrace, where I examine their
structure, and note the temperature of the dew point particularly.

"Shortly it becomes lighter, the light gradually increasing, till it is
succeeded by a flood of light, at first striking, then dazzling, and we
pass out of the dense cloud to where the clouds open out in bold and
fantastic shapes, showing us light and shadow, and spectral scenes, with
prismatic embellishments, disporting themselves around us in wild
grandeur, till at length we break out into brilliant sunshine, and the
clouds roll away in a perfect sea of vapour, obscuring the earth
entirely; so that now in perfect silence I note the circumstances, and
make my observations for some time uninterruptedly.

"After a time Mr Coxwell directs my attention to the fact that the
balloon is full, and that the gas is coming out from the safety-valve.
I of course look, for this is an exciting moment.  He then directs my
attention to the fit and proportions of the netting.  I find the gas,
which was before cloudy and opaque, is now clear and transparent, so
that I can look right up the balloon and see the meshes of the net-work
showing through it, the upper valve with its springs and line reaching
to the car, and the geometrical form of the balloon itself.  Nor is this
an idle examination.  I have already said that, in passing through the
cloud, the netting would gather moisture, augmenting the weight of the
balloon.  If this should not all have evaporated, the net-work would
have become frozen, and be a wire-rope; so that, if the diamond shape of
the netting when under tension, and the form of the crown of the
balloon, be not symmetrical, the weight might not be equally
distributed, and there would be danger of it cutting the balloon.  A
sense of security therefore follows such an examination.

"A stream of gas now continually issues from the neck, which is very
capacious, being fully two square feet in area, which is always left
open.  Presently I see Mr Coxwell, whose eye has been continually
watching the balloon, pass his fingers over the valve-line, as if in
readiness to pull the cord.  I observe a slight gathering on his brow,
and look inquiringly at him.  He says, `I have decided upon opening the
large upper valve,' and carefully explains why.  `The tension,' he says,
`in the balloon is not greater than it would bear with safety in a warm
stratum of air; but now that we are three miles up with a chilled
balloon, it is better to allow some to escape at top, as well as a good
deal from the neck.'  At once I see the force of the argument, and
inwardly infer that I am in no way dependent upon chance, and not likely
to suffer from carelessness with Mr Coxwell.  We are now far beyond all
ordinary sounds from the earth; a sea of clouds is below us, so dense
that it is difficult to persuade ourselves that we have passed through
them.  Up to this time little or no inconvenience is met with; but on
passing above four miles, much personal discomfort is experienced;
respiration becomes difficult; the beating of the heart at times is
audible; the hands and lips become blue, and at higher elevations the
face also; and it requires the exercise of a strong will to make and
record observations.  Before getting to our highest point, Mr Coxwell
counts the number of his sandbags, and calculates how much higher we can
go, with respect to the reserve of ballast necessary to regulate the

"Then I feel a vibration in the car, and, on turning round, see Mr
Coxwell in the act of lowering down the grapnel, then looking up at the
balloon, then scanning the horizon, and weighing apparently in his mind
some distant clouds through which we are likely to pass in going down.

"A glance suffices to show that his mind is made up how much higher it
is prudent to rise, and how much ballast it is expedient to preserve.

"The balloon is now lingering, as it were, under the deep blue vault of
space, hesitating whether to mount higher or begin its descent without
further warning.  We now hold a consultation, and then look around from
the highest point, giving silent scope to those emotions of the soul
which are naturally called forth by such a wide-spread range of

"Our course is now about to change.  But here I interpose with `No, no;
stop; not yet; let us remain so long that the instruments are certain to
take up the true temperature, and that no doubt can rest upon the
observations here.  When I am satisfied I shall say, "Pull."'

"Then in silence--for here we respire with difficulty, and talk but
little--in the centre of this immense space, in solitude, without a
single object to interrupt the view for 200 miles or more all round,
abstracted from the earth, upheld by an invisible medium, our mouths so
dry that we cannot eat, a white sea below us, so far below, we see few,
if any, irregularities.  I watch the instruments; but, forcibly
impelled, again look round from the centre of this vacuity, whose
boundary-line is 1500 miles, commanding nearly 130,000 square miles,
till I catch Mr Coxwell's eye turned towards me, when I again direct
mine to the instruments; and when I find no further changes are
proceeding, I wave my hand and say, `Pull.'

"A deep resonant sound is heard overhead; a second pull is followed by a
second report, that rings as with shrill accompaniment down the very
sides of the balloon.  It is the working of the valve, which causes a
loud booming noise, as from a sounding-board, as the springs force the
shutters back.

"But this sound in that solitary region, amid silence so profound that
no silence on earth is equal to it,--a drum-like sound meeting the ear
from above, from whence we do not usually hear sounds--strikes one
forcibly.  It is, however, one sound only; there is no reverberation, no
reflection; and this is characteristic of all sounds in the balloon,--
one clear sound continuing during its vibrations, then gone in a moment.
No sound ever reaches the ear a second time.  But though the sound from
the closing of the valve in those silent regions is striking, it is also
cheering,--it is reassuring; it proves all to be right, that the balloon
is sound, that the colder regions have not frozen tight the outlet for
gas, and that we are so far safe.  We have descended a mile, and our
feelings improve with the increase of air and warmth.  But silence
reigns supreme, and Mr Coxwell, I observe, turns his back upon me,
scanning intently the cloudscape, speculating as to when and where we
shall break through and catch sight of the earth.  We have been now two
hours without seeing _terra firma_.  How striking and impressive is it
to realise a position such as this; and yet as men of action, whose
province it is to subordinate mere feelings, we refrain from indulging
in sentiment.  I say refrain, for presently Mr Coxwell breaks out, no
longer able to contain himself: `Here, Mr Glaisher, you must welcome
another balloon.  It is the counterpart of our own.'  This spectral
balloon is charming to look upon, and presents itself under a variety of
imposing aspects, which are magnified or diminished by the relative
distance of our balloon from the clouds, and by its position in relation
to the sun, which produces the shadow.  At mid-day it is deep down,
almost underneath; but it is more grandly defined towards evening, when
the golden and ruby tints of the declining sun impart a gorgeous
colouring to cloudland.  You may then see the spectre balloon magnified
upon the distant cloud-tops, with three beautiful circles of rainbow
tints.  Language fails utterly to describe these illuminated
photographs, which spring up with matchless truthfulness and choice

"Just before we enter the clouds, Mr Coxwell, having made all
preparations for the descent, strictly enjoins me to be ready to put up
the instruments, lest, when we lose the powerful rays of the sun, and
absorb the moisture of the lower clouds, we should approach the earth
with too great rapidity.

"We now near the confines of the clouds, and dip swiftly into the
thickest of them; we experience a decided chill, and hear the rustling
of the collapsing balloon, which is now but one-third full, but cannot
see it, so dense is the mass of vapour.  One, two, three, or more
minutes pass, and we are still in the cloud.  How thick it must be,
considering the rapidity of the descent!  Presently we pass below, and
the earth is visible.  There is a high road intersecting green pastures;
a piece of water looking like polished steel presents itself; a
farmhouse, with stacks and cattle, is directly under us.  We see the
sea-coast, but at a distance.  An open country lies before us.  A shout
comes up, and announces that we are seen, and all goes well, save the
rapidity of our descent, which has been caused by that dark frowning
cloud which shut us out from the sun's rays, and bedewed us with
moisture.  Mr Coxwell, however, is counteracting it by means of the
ballast, and streams out one bag, which appears to fly up instead of
falling down; now another is cast forth, but still it goes up, up.  A
third reduces the wayward balloon within the bounds of moderation, and
Mr Coxwell exultingly exclaims that `he has it now under perfect
command, with sand enough, and to spare.'

"Delighted to find the balloon is thus checked, as it is favourable to
good readings of the several instruments at this elevation, I work as
quickly as I can, noticing also the landscape below; rich mounds of
green foliage, fields of various shades of green, like a tessellated
pavement in motion; with roads, rivers, rivulets, and the undulatory
nature of the ground varying the scene every instant.  Should our
passage be over a town, it is like a model in motion; and all is seen
with a distinctness superior to that from the earth; the line of sight
is through a purer and less dense medium; everything seems clearer,
though smaller; even at the height of four miles above Birmingham we
distinguished the New Street Station and the streets.

"We have been descending slowly for a little time, when I am challenged
to signify when I can close my observations, as yonder, about two miles
distant, is a fine park, where Mr Coxwell's eye seems to wander with
something like a desire to enter it.  I approve of the spot, as it is in
every way suitable for a descent.  The under-current, which is
oftentimes stronger than the upper, is wafting us merrily in that
direction.  We are now only a few hundred feet above the surface.  `Put
up your instruments,' cries Mr Coxwell, `and we will keep on this level
until you are ready.'

"A little more sand is let out, and I pack up the instruments quickly in
their wadded cases.  `Are you all right?' inquires the aeronaut.  `All
right,' I respond; `look out then, and hold fast by the ropes, as the
grapnel will stop us in that large meadow, with the hedgerow in front.'

"There, sure enough, we land.  The cattle stand at bay affrighted, their
tails are horizontal, and they run wildly away.  But a group of friends
from among the gentry and villagers draws up near the balloon, and
although some few question whether we belong to this planet, or whether
we are just imported from another, yet any doubt upon this point is soon
set at rest, and we are greeted with a hearty welcome from all when we
tell our story, how we travelled the realms of space, not from motives
of curiosity, but for the advancement of science, its applicability to
useful purposes, and the good of mankind."

In commenting on the several ascents thus combined in one description,
Mr Glaisher gives us various pieces of information which are highly
interesting.  The clouds, he says, on which the sun was shining
brightly, each moment opened up to view deep ravines, and shining masses
appeared like mountain ranges, some rising perpendicularly from rolling
seas or plains, with summits of dazzling brightness, some pyramidal,
others undulatory, with deep shadows between.

While passing over London on one occasion at night, at the height of
about one mile, he heard the hum of the great city, and saw its lights.
The river looked dull, but the bridges that spanned it, and the many
miles of straight, intersecting, and winding streets were distinctly

In referring to sound, he tells us that, on different occasions, at a
height of 11,800 feet above the earth, a band was heard playing.  At
between four and five thousand feet a railway whistle and the shouting
of people were heard, and at 10,070 feet the report of a gun.  A dog was
also heard barking at a height of two miles.  At a height of 19,000 feet
the hands and lips were observed, during one ascent, to be of a dark
bluish colour.  At four miles the palpitations of the heart were
audible, and the breathing was affected.  Considerable difficulty was
experienced in respiration at higher elevations.  From his various
observations he found that the effect of high elevation is different
upon the same individuals at different times, and believed that, up to
heights less than three miles--to which persons of ordinary
self-possession might ascend--delicate and accurate scientific
observations might be made with ease, but at heights approaching to four
miles, such observations could not be made so well, because of the
personal distress of the observer, and on approaching to five miles
above the earth it required the exercise of a strong will to take any
observations at all.

The most wonderful and alarming of the experiences of Mr Glaisher
appear to have occurred to him and his companion, Mr Coxwell, during an
ascent made from Wolverhampton on the 5th September, when they reached
the enormous elevation of between six and seven miles.

They felt no particular inconvenience until after passing above the
fifth mile.  When at a height of 26,000 feet, Mr Glaisher could not see
the column of mercury in the tube; then the fine divisions on the scale
of the instrument became invisible.  Shortly afterwards he laid his arm
on the table, and on attempting again to use it found that the limb was
powerless.  He tried to move the other arm, and found that it also was
paralysed.  He then tried to shake himself, and succeeded in shaking his
body, but experienced the curious sensation of having no legs!  While in
this condition he attempted to look at the barometer, and, while doing
so, his head fell on his left shoulder.  Struggling to get out of this
lethargic state, he found that he could still shake his body, although
he could not move either arms or legs.  He got his head upright for an
instant, but it dropped again on his shoulder, and he fell backwards,
his back resting against the side of the car, and his head on its edge.

In this position his eyes were directed to Mr Coxwell, who did not at
first observe the state of his companion, in consequence of his having
had to ascend into the ring of the balloon to disentangle the
valve-line, which had become twisted.  Hitherto Mr Glaisher had
retained the power of moving the muscles of his back and neck, but
suddenly this was lost to him.  He saw Mr Coxwell dimly in the ring,
and attempted to speak to him, but could not do so.  A moment later
intense black darkness surrounded him--the optic nerve had lost its
power!  He was still conscious, however, and with his brain as active as
at other times.  He fancied he had been seized with asphyxia, and that
death would quickly ensue unless they descended without delay.  Suddenly
the power of thought ceased, and he became unconscious.  All these
extraordinary and alarming sensations, he calculated, must have taken
place within five or six minutes.

While still powerless he heard the words "temperature" and
"observation," and knew that Mr Coxwell was in the car endeavouring to
arouse him.  Presently he heard him speak more emphatically, but could
neither see, reply, nor move.  Then he heard him say, "Do try now, do,"
after which vision slightly returned, and in a short time he saw clearly
again, rose from his seat, looked round, and said to Mr Coxwell, "I
have been insensible."  His friend replied, "You have, and I too, very
nearly."  Mr Coxwell had lost the use of his hands, which were black;
Mr Glaisher, therefore, poured brandy over them.  His companion then
told him that, on descending from the ring, he thought he had laid
himself back to rest, but noticing that his legs projected, and his arms
hung down by his side, it struck him there was something wrong, and he
attempted to go to his assistance, but felt insensibility coming over
himself.  He tried to open the valve, so that they might descend, but,
having lost the use of his hands, could not.  In this critical moment he
seized the cord with his teeth, dipped his head two or three times, and
thus succeeded in opening the valve, and descending from those dangerous
regions of attenuated atmosphere!

At first they went down at the tremendous rate of twenty miles an hour,
but after descending three miles in nine minutes, the balloon's progress
was checked, and they finally alighted safely in a grass field, where
their appearance so terrified the country folk that it required a good
deal of coaxing in plain English to convince them that the aeronauts
were not inhabitants of another world!


Note 1.  _Exeter Hall Lectures--Scientific Experiments in Balloons_, by
James Glaisher, Esquire, F.R.S.--Published by James Nisbet and Company,



As the "Giant" is the largest balloon that has yet been made, and as its
experiences on the occasions of its first and second ascents were not
only peculiar but terrible, we shall give an account of it in detail--
commencing with its construction, and ending with the thrilling
termination of its brief but wild career.

Monsieur Nadar, a photographer of Paris, was the enthusiastic and
persevering aeronaut who called it into being, and encountered the
perils of its ascents, from which he did not emerge scatheless, as we
shall see.

Besides being an experimental voyager in cloudland, Monsieur Nadar
started a newspaper named _L'Aeronaute_, in which he gives an account of
the "Giant," and his reasons for constructing it.

These latter were peculiar.  He is emphatic in asserting that the huge
balloon was never intended by him to be an "end," but a mere
stepping-stone to an end--which end was the construction of an
_aeromotive_--a machine which was to be driven by means of a screw, and
which he intended should supersede balloons altogether, so that his own
"Giant" was meant to be the last of its race!

In reference to this, Monsieur Nadar tells us that he was deeply
impressed with the belief that the screw would ultimately become our
aerial motor, but that, being ignorant of what it was likely the
experiments of this first aeromotive would cost, he had resolved,
instead of begging for funds to enable him to accomplish his great end,
to procure funds for himself in the following manner:--

"I shall," says he, "make a balloon--the _last balloon_--in proportions
extraordinarily gigantic, twenty times larger than the largest, which
shall realise that which has never been but a dream in the American
journals, which shall attract, in France, England, and America, the
crowd always ready to run to witness the most insignificant ascent.  In
order to add further to the interest of the spectacle--which, I declare
beforehand, without fear of being belied, shall be the most beautiful
spectacle which it has ever been given to man to contemplate,--I shall
dispose under this monster balloon a small balloon (_balloneau_),
destined to receive and preserve the excess of gas produced by dilation,
instead of losing this excess, as has hitherto been the case, which will
permit my balloon to undertake veritable long voyages, instead of
remaining in the air two or three hours only, like our predecessors.  I
do not wish to ask anything of any one, nor of the State, to aid me,
even in this question of general, and also of such immense, interest.  I
shall endeavour to furnish myself the two hundred thousand francs
necessary for the construction of my balloon.  The said balloon
finished, by public ascents and successive exhibitions at Paris, London,
Brussels, Vienna, Baden, Berlin, New York, and everywhere, I know that I
shall collect ten times the funds necessary for the construction of our
first aeromotive."

This first aeromotive, however, has not yet made its appearance, whether
from want of funds or of practicability we do not know, but Monsieur
Nadar carried his designs triumphantly into effect with the "monster
balloon," which in course of time made its appearance, performed
flights, attracted the wonder and admiration, as well as a good deal of
the coin, of hundreds of thousands in France and England, even conveyed
royalty up into the clouds, broke the bones of its originator, and was
exhibited in the great transept (which it nearly filled) of the Crystal
Palace at Sydenham.  While there, we had the good fortune to behold it
with our own eyes!

The construction of this balloon merits particular notice; but first, it
may be remarked that it is well worthy of being named a giant, seeing
that its height was only forty-five feet less than that of the towers of
Notre Dame Cathedral, namely 196 feet.

That Nadar had cut out for himself an arduous task will be readily
believed.  Touching on this, he writes thus:--

"I have set myself to work immediately, and with difficulties, sleepless
nights, vexations which I have kept to myself alone to this hour, and
which some one of the days of this winter, the most urgent part of my
task being finished, I shall in part make in confidence to my readers.
I have succeeded in establishing my balloon, in founding at the same
time this journal--indispensable _moniteur_ to the aerial automotive--
and in laying the basis of that which shall be, perhaps, the greatest
financial operation of the age.  Those who shall see and appreciate
these labours, will please to pardon me, I hope, for having wiped my
forehead with a little touch of pride, when at the end of a month--one
month!--I have said to myself, `it is done!'"

The "Giant" was composed of yellowish white silk, of which there were
used 22,000 yards at about 5 shillings 4 pence a yard, so that the cost
of the silk alone was 5,866 pounds.  This was cut into 118 gores, which
were entirely hand-sewed with a double seam, and some idea of the
vastness of the work may be gathered from the fact that 200 women were
employed during a month in the sewing of the gores.  For the sake of
greater strength the silk was doubled.  In other words, there were _two_
balloons of the same size, one within the other.

Directly beneath, and attached to its lower orifice, there was a small
balloon called a _compensator_, the object of which was to receive and
retain for use the surplus gas.  When a balloon rises to the higher
regions of the atmosphere, the gas within it expands, so that a large
quantity of it is allowed to rush out at the open mouth beneath, or at
the safety-valve above.  Were this not the case, the balloon would
certainly burst.  This loss of gas, however, is undesirable, because
when the balloon descends the gas contracts, and the loss is then felt
to be a great one.  By collecting the over-flow of gas in the
_compensator_, this disadvantage is obviated.

The car, which was made chiefly of wicker-work, was actually a small
cottage of two storeys (a ground-floor and platform or upper deck), with
door and windows.  Its height was about eight, and its length thirteen
feet.  The ground-floor contained a cruciform passage and six divisions.
At one extremity was a captain's cabin with a bed in it, and underneath
a compartment for luggage.  At the other was the passengers' cabin, with
three beds, one above the other.  The four other divisions or rooms were
a provision store, a lavatory, a place for conducting photographic
operations, and a room for a small lithographic press, with which it was
intended to print an account of the voyage, to be scattered about the
localities over which they should pass!

In reference to this last, Monsieur Nadar writes:--

"An English company a month ago (our neighbours are marvellous in not
losing time), appreciating the bustle which the sight of a balloon
always excites in every inhabited place, and judging rightly that papers
would never be better received and more greedily read than those thrown
overboard by us, despatched a messenger to propose to me to accept
commercial prospectuses.  We shall never have too much money for the
construction of our first aeromotive.  I have accepted and made a

Besides many miscellaneous articles, such as grapnels, fowling-pieces,
speaking-trumpets, etcetera, that were to be carried up in this cot,
there were provisions of all sorts, instruments for scientific
observations, games, means of defence in case of descent among an
inhospitable people, and two cages of carrier-pigeons sent from Liege.
The car and all it contained was secured by twenty cables traversing on
and beneath its walls, interlaced with the fabric and fastened to a
large hoop just below the neck, to which hoop was also attached the
ropes of the net-work, by which the balloon itself was enveloped.  There
were two axles and four wheels connected with the car, by means of which
it could, when necessary, be drawn along an ordinary road.  Canes,
disposed to act as springs, were placed underneath and round the middle
of it to protect it from concussions, besides which internal buoys and
an immense girdle in compartments of inflated india-rubber, rendered it
incapable of submersion in water.

Such was the giant balloon in which Monsieur Nadar and his friends made
two ascents; of the first of which (4th October 1863) Galignani writes

"The departure of this Leviathan of the airy regions attracted immense
crowds to the Champ de Mars yesterday afternoon.  Considering that the
avenues encircling that vast space were filled to suffocation, so that
we found it extremely difficult to force our way to the open ground
reserved for tickets, and that all the housetops were occupied by
spectators, we think the number of persons present may fairly be stated
at 80,000.  Ample precautions had been taken to prevent disasters,--a
strong police force, supported by a company of infantry and some
cavalry, being present to maintain order.  The balloon, which is 90
yards in circumference, and has consumed upwards of 20,000 yards of silk
in its manufacture, was held down, while filling, by about 100 men, and
the weight of at least 200 sandbags.  The car was of wicker-work,
comprising an inner surface of about 54 square feet divided into three
compartments or small rooms, surmounted by an open terrace, to which the
balloon was braced.  Outside grapnels, wheels, and fowling-pieces, four
of each, besides two speaking-trumpets, were lashed to the sides of the
car.  (The wheels were intended to be put to the car after alighting, in
order to convey it back with horses.)  The preliminary operations took
considerable time, putting the patience of the spectators to a severe
trial, a circumstance which perhaps prevented them from cheering when
the words `_Lachez tout_!' were given, and the immense machine rose
slowly and majestically into the air.  We were rather surprised at the
silence of the public, considering the very remarkable and interesting
feat in aeronautics thus successfully performed.  There were fifteen
persons in the car, or rather cabin:--Monsieur Nadar, captain; Messieurs
Marcel, Louis and Jules Godard, lieutenants; the Prince de
Sayn-Wittgenstein, Count de Saint Martin, Monsieur Tournachon (Nadar's
brother), Messieurs Eugene Delessert, Thirion, Piallat, Robert Mitchell,
Gabriel Morris, Paul de Saint Victor, de Villemessant, and one lady, the
Princess de la Tour d'Auvergne.  The Princess was taking her usual drive
to the Bois de Boulogne, when, observing an unusual movement in the
neighbourhood of the Invalides, and having inquired the cause; she
ordered her coach man to drive to the Champ de Mars.  Having seen the
balloon, she expressed a wish to make the ascent, and although Nadar had
to the last moment refused to take any lady, and even his own wife, he
could not resist the entreaty of the Princess.  On starting, Monsieur
Nadar climbed up the net-work and took off his hat to the spectators.
The balloon took a north-easterly direction, and was visible for some
time.  At the moment of going to press, a communication has reached us,
signed by the captain, Monsieur Nadar, and all those who had taken
places in the balloon, stating that on alighting yesterday evening at
nine o'clock at Ibarcy, near Meaux (Seine-et-Marne), three severe shocks
were experienced, which had the effect of completely capsizing the
balloon, and inflicting on its occupants several rather severe

"Interesting details of the ascent of the Nadar balloon, said to have
been narrated by Prince Wittgenstein, are given by the _France_.  The
most extraordinary is, that at half-past eight, when the balloon
attained the height of 1500 metres, the aeronauts saw the sun, which had
set for the earth below upwards of two hours before.  The effect of the
light upon the balloon is described as something marvellous, and as
having thrown the travellers into a sort of ecstasy.  Although they met
with no rain, their clothes were all dripping wet from the mist which
they passed through.  The descent was more perilous than at first
reported.  The car dragged on its side for nearly a mile, and the
passengers took refuge in the ropes, to which they clung.  Several were
considerably bruised--though, as before stated, no one sustained any
very serious injury.  Everybody behaved well.  Nadar, visibly uneasy
about his fair charge, the young Princess de la Tour d'Auvergne, was
told by her to attend to his duty as captain.  `Every one at his post,'
said she; `I will keep to mine.'  Notwithstanding all the shaking which
the car underwent, the 37 bottles of wine provided for the journey were
all found unbroken, and they were most joyously broached when the party
got on _terra firma_.  The rifles, the crockery, as well as a cake and
13 ices, presented to Nadar by Siraudin, of the Rue de la Paix, were all
uninjured.  When the descent was effected, the lights and the
speaking-trumpets soon attracted a number of peasants, who brought carts
and helped the party to the village of Barcy, where most of them passed
the night; but Monsieur Nadar and the Prince de Wittgenstein, with two
or three others, came to Paris by the first train from Meaux.

"It is said that the descent was resolved upon in consequence of the
advice of the brothers Godard, and contrary to the wish of Monsieur
Nadar, who, as captain, had made every one of his companions sign an
agreement to act upon his orders, even though the vote should be
unanimously against him.  He, however, yielded his opinion, in deference
to that of these experienced aeronauts.  A truly extraordinary statement
is, that they fancied the wind was blowing them to the sea, and certain
destruction, whereas they were going due east, with no sea at all before
them nearer than the Caspian.

"There was great disappointment in the receipts at the Champ de Mars,
which are said to have realised only 27,000 francs, whereas 150,000 had
been calculated upon.  The papers say that the public broke down the
barriers and got in for nothing, instead of paying their franc.  It is
quite certain that at the moment of the ascent there could not have been
less than 50,000 people on the Champ de Mars, and on the terraces and
heights around there must have been four times that number."

Monsieur Nadar, on his return to Paris, wrote as follows:--

"Here, as briefly as possible, is the account which you asked me to
send.  Yesterday evening at nine o'clock, the `Giant' was compelled to
descend near the Barcy Marsh, two leagues from Meaux, after three
violent shocks, the last of which completely turned everything in the
car topsy-turvy, and it descended on its side.  The rupture of our
valve-pipe rope while travelling by night, forced us to throw out our
anchors.  One of the prongs of the first anchor having broken, the
principal anchor fortunately took hold of the ground.  We were able to
let out the gas, notwithstanding the violence of the wind, and the car
was set up at half-past one in the morning.  Some slight contusions and
a concussion of the knee of one of the passengers--that is our receipt
in full.  It is not too dear.

"A.  Nadar."

This bold and zealous aeronaut unfortunately paid dearer for his
succeeding ascent as shall be seen in the next chapter.



Before describing the second ascent, which was decidedly the more
adventurous, we shall give the rules laid down for his party by Monsieur
Nadar, which were remarkably stringent, and somewhat amusing:--

"1.  Every traveller on board the `Geant' must, before mounting, take
knowledge of the present rules, and engage himself upon his honour to
respect them, and to make them respected, both in the letter and in the
spirit.  He accepts and will obey this obligation until the descent.

"2.  From the departure to the return there shall be only one command,
that of the captain.  That command shall be absolute.

"3.  As legal penalty cannot be enforced, the captain, having the
responsibility of the lives of the passengers, decides alone, and
without appeal, in all circumstances, the means of assuring the
execution of his orders with the aid of all under him.  The captain can,
in certain cases, take the advice of the crew, but his own authority is

"4.  Every passenger declares, at the time of ascending, that he carries
with him no inflammable materials.

"5.  Every passenger accepts, by his simple presence on board, his
entire part and perfect co-operation in all manoeuvres, and submits
himself to all the necessities of the service; above all, to the command
of the captain.  On landing, he must not quit the balloon without
permission duly acquired.

"6.  Silence must be absolutely observed when ordered by the captain.

"7.  Victuals and liquors carried up by the travellers must be deposited
in the common canteen, of which the captain alone has the key, and who
regulates the distribution thereof.  Passengers have no claim to
victuals and liquors, except when on board.

"8.  The duration of the journey is not limited.  The captain alone
decides the limitation; the same judgment decides, without appeal, the
putting down of one or more travellers in the course of the voyage.

"9.  All gambling is expressly prohibited.

"10.  It is absolutely forbidden to any traveller to throw overboard
ballast, or any packet whatever.

"11.  No passenger can carry up with him luggage exceeding thirty pounds
in weight, and occupying more space than a travelling-bag.

"12.  Except in very rare cases, of which the captain alone shall be
judge, it is absolutely forbidden to smoke on board, or on land within
the vicinity of the balloon."

The second ascent took place on the 18th of October, when Monsieur
Nadar, nothing daunted by his former experience, again went up in his
"Giant" from the Champ de Mars.  On this occasion preliminaries were
managed with greater success than on the former, and the event was
regarded with much more general interest.  Soldiers kept the ground; the
Emperor himself was present, and conversed with the bold aeronaut on the
subject of his balloon; George the First of Greece was there also, and
the crowd which assembled to witness the ascent surpassed all

There were two peculiar features in this second ascent.  It had been
doubted whether the balloon, which was said to be capable of raising
four-and-a-half tons, could carry more than thirteen men.  In order to
set this question at rest, a short preliminary flight was made with a
rope attached to restrain the "Giant."  About thirty soldiers were then
put into the car, who mounted to the extent of the rope, and were pulled
down again.  The other feature was that a balloon of more ordinary
dimensions was let fly along with the "Giant," to give, by contrast, a
better idea of its size.  The balloon used for this purpose was the
"Godillot," which had been used by the Emperor in the Italian campaign
for reconnoitring the enemy.

After the usual delays which are inseparable from such displays,
Monsieur Nadar, with eight friends, stepped into the car, the rope was
let go, and the "Giant" rose slowly towards the clouds, grew "small by
degrees and beautifully less," until it finally disappeared about
night-fall--being wafted along by a gentle south-easterly breeze.

Nothing more was heard of the aeronauts for the next two days, and their
friends were becoming naturally very anxious about them, when at last a
telegram came from Bremen, dated the 21st, which ran as follows:--

"Nadar's balloon descended near Eystrup in Hanover.  There were nine
persons in it, of whom three were seriously, and two slightly injured."

Other telegrams quickly followed stating that Monsieur Nadar had both
legs dislocated; Monsieur Saint Felix had sustained severe fractures and
contusions; and that Madame Nadar had also been severely injured.

It was stated that the voyagers would probably all have perished if
Jules Godard (a celebrated aeronaut, who, with his brother Louis,
accompanied Nadar), had not, at the risk of his life, climbed up the
net-work, and cut a hole in the silk with a hatchet, so as to allow the
gas to escape.  By so doing, he stopped the furious course of the
balloon, which was making truly gigantic bounds of from forty to fifty
yards over the ground, with a violence that would soon have knocked the
car to pieces!

A full and graphic, but inflated and sentimental account of the voyage--
which was one of real and thrilling interest--is given by one of the
voyagers, Monsieur Eugene Arnould, a reporter of the French newspaper
_La Nation_.  Had Monsieur Arnould confined himself to a simple
statement of facts, he would have greatly increased the interest and
power of his description.  However, we must take him as we find him, and
as his account is the most complete--and correct in the main, although
exaggerated in detail--we present it to the reader.

"At nine o'clock at night [the same night on which they started] we were
at Erquelines; we passed over Malines, and towards midnight we were in
Holland.  We rose up very high, but it was necessary to come down to see
where we were.  Ignorant of that, our position was a critical one.
Below, as far as we could see, were marshes, and in the distance we
could hear the roar of the sea.  We threw out ballast, and, mounting
again, soon lost sight of the earth.  What a night!  Nobody slept, as
you may suppose, for the idea of falling into the sea had nothing
pleasant about it, and it was necessary to keep a look-out in order to
effect, if necessary, a descent.  My compass showed that we were going
towards the east--that is to say, towards Germany.  In the morning,
after a frugal breakfast made in the clouds, we re-descended.  An
immense plain was beneath us; the villages appeared to us like
children's toys--rivers seemed like little rivulets--it was magical.
The sun shone splendidly over all.  Towards eight o'clock we arrived
near a great lake; there I found out our bearings, and announced that we
were at the end of Holland, near the sea.

"We passed I know not how much time in contemplating the enchanting
scene around us; but at length we all felt the necessity of going
downwards to see where we were.  Presently the balloon came so near to
the earth that we could readily distinguish the tall chimneys of a great
many flaming furnaces.  `If we were to fall upon some of them,' said
Montgolfier anxiously.  These furnaces told us very clearly that we were
in Belgium, and, besides, the Flemish songs that continually reached our
ears left no doubt upon the point.  Godard, Nadar, all of us, called out
frequently to the people below, `Where are we?' but we got no other
answer than shouts of laughter.  There were two bells in the car, and
Yon and myself rang them as hard as we could, while Nadar roared through
his speaking-trumpet.  I had an opportunity of observing that the purity
of the air in no degree attenuates the quantity of false notes lodged in
the throats of certain individuals.  Our aerial Charivari at length
provoked a corresponding one on earth, and we could hear dogs barking,
ducks quacking, men swearing, and women screaming.  All this had a droll
effect; but time went on, the wind blew hard, it was dark night, and our
balloon drove on with prodigious rapidity, and we were not able to tell
exactly where we were.  I could not see my compass, and we were not
allowed to light a lucifer match under any pretext whatsoever.  From the
direction in which we had passed over Lille, we judged that we must be
going towards the sea; Louis Godard fancied that he could see
lighthouses.  We descended again to within 150 yards of the earth.
Beneath us we saw a flat marshy country of sinister aspect, and
indicating plainly the neighbourhood of the coast.  Every one listened
with all his ears, and many fancied they heard the murmurs of the sea.
The further we went on the more desert the country became: there was no
light whatever, and it became more and more difficult to guess where we
were going.  `I am entirely out of my reckoning,' exclaimed Louis
Godard, `and my opinion is that the only thing we have to do is to
descend at once.'  `What! here in the marshes!' remonstrated all of us;
`and suppose we are driven into the sea?'  The balloon went driving on
still.  `We cannot descend here,' said Jules Godard; `we are over
water.'  Two or three of us looked over the edge of the car, and
affirmed that we were not over water, but trees.  `It is water,' Jules
Godard persisted.  Every one now looked out attentively; and, as the
balloon descended a little, we saw plainly that there was no water, but
without being able to say positively whether there were trees or not.
At the moment when Jules Godard thought he saw water, Nadar exclaimed,
`I see a railway.'  It turned out that what Nadar took for a railway was
a canal running towards the Scheldt, which we had passed over a few
minutes before.  Hurrah for balloons!  They are the things to travel in;
rivers, mountains, custom-houses,--all are passed without let or
hindrance.  But every medal has its reverse; and, if we were delighted
at having safely got over the Scheldt, we by no means relished the
prospect of going on to the Zuyder Zee.  `Shall we go down?' asked Louis
Godard.  There was a moment's pause.  We consulted together.  Suddenly I
uttered a cry of joy; the position of the needle of my compass indicated
that the balloon had made a half turn to the right, and was now going
due east.  The aspect of the stars confirmed this assertion.  Forward!
was now the cry.  We threw out a little ballast, mounted higher, and
started with renewed vigour with our backs turned to the depreciated
Zuyder Zee.  It was now three in the morning, and none of us had slept.
Just as we began to try to sleep a little, my diabolical compass showed
that the balloon was turning back again.  `Where are you going to take
us to?' cried out Yon to the immense mass of canvas which was
oscillating above our heads.  Louis Godard again proposed to descend;
but we said, `No! forward! forward!'  Two hours sped away without our
being able to tell where we were.  At five o'clock day broke, and broad
daylight came on with marvellous rapidity.  It is true that we were at a
height of 980 metres.  Novel-writers and others have so much abused
descriptions of sunrise, on mountains and on the ocean, that I shall say
little about this one, although it is not a common thing to see the
horizon on fire below the clouds.  The finest Venetian paintings could
alone give an idea of the luxuriant tones of the heaven that we saw.
Such dazzling magnificence led me to wonder that there is no revival of
sun worship, since men must necessarily have some material
representation of the divinity.  It is true that the sun is not made in
man's image!  We now had beneath us an immense plain, the same,
probably, that we had passed over in the night.  There is nothing more
pleasant at first sight, nor more monotonous in the long-run, than the
sort of country which forms at least one-third of Holland.  There are
miniature woods the size of bouquets, fields admirably cultivated and
divided into little patches like gardens, rivers with extraordinary
windings, microscopic roads, coquettish-looking villages, so white and
so clean that I think the Dutch housewives must scour the very roofs of
their houses every morning.  In the midst of every village there is a
jewel of a church with a shining steeple.  While riding along at a
height of 700 metres, we had beneath us a picture of Paul Potter's fifty
leagues square.  All at once the tableaux became animated.  The people
below had perceived the balloon.  We heard cries expressive of
astonishment, fright, and even of anger; but the feeling of fright
seemed to predominate.  We distinctly saw women in their chemises look
hurriedly out of windows and then rush back again.  We saw chubby boys
looking at us, and blubbering as if they were mad.  Some men, more
determined than the rest, fired off guns at us.  I saw several mammas
pointing us out to stubborn babies, with an attitude which seemed to say
that our balloon was Old Bogy.  Old women raised their hands against us,
and at their signal many ran away, making the sign of the cross.  It is
evident that in some of these villages we were taken to be the devil in
person.  On this point it is _apropos_ to cite a letter communicated to
me which has been addressed to the _Courrier de Hanovre_.  I translate
it textually:--

"`This morning, at about six o'clock, we saw passing over our heads, at
a prodigious height, an immense round form, to which was suspended some
thing which looked like a square house of a red colour.  Some people
pretend to have seen animated beings in this strange machine, and to
have heard issuing from it superhuman cries.  What think you, Mr
Editor?  The whole country is in a state of alarm, and it will be long
before our people recover their equanimity.'

"At seven a.m. we crossed over a lake near Yssel; the wind then again
pushed us in a new direction, nearly at right angles with that which we
were taking before.  In less than a quarter of an hour the balloon got
into Westphalia near Renheim; then we crossed the great river Ems, the
towns of Rheine and Ibbenburen, and returned to Hanover a little above
Osnabruck.  We traversed, without deigning to take notice of them, a
little chain of mountains, and by way, no doubt, of relaxation after so
long a journey, went all round a lake which is called in German
Dummersee.  We then got into a great plain, through which runs a road.
At this time the balloon became almost motionless.  The reason of this
was, that the heat of the sun had caused the gas to expand.  The
thermometer was then at 145 degrees (about 59 degrees Fahrenheit [No!
editor]).  Louis Godard was very uneasy about this dilation.  After two
or three oscillations, our aerial courser decided upon going off rapidly
in an eastern direction, with about two degrees variation towards the
north.  This course would have taken us to Hamburg and the Baltic; but
we were all so completely absorbed by the splendour of the tableau
before us that we took little note of the change.  Our hippogriff passed
over Wagenfeld-Steyerberg, where there is a river which flows into the
Weser.  We came within sight of the great river and Nienburg, a
considerable town on one of its banks.  We saw a steamboat going down
the river from the town.  The view here was charming.  A rustling of the
silk of our balloon made us look upwards; the monster, under the
influence of the sun, now very hot, was palpably swelling.  As it would
have been supremely ridiculous, after having made such a first-rate
journey, to have treated the inhabitants of Nienburg with the spectacle
of seeing us blown up--to say nothing of the consequences of such a
catastrophe to our own limbs--we resolved to come down.  The remaining
bags of ballast were got in order, the ropes and the anchors prepared,
and Godard opened the safety-valve.  `The monster is disgorging!'
exclaimed Thirion.  And the balloon did vomit forth its gas with a
tremendous noise, which may be compared to the snoring of some gigantic
animal.  While our companion made this observation, we were descending
at the rate of two metres to the second.  `To the ropes! to the ropes!--
hold on well!' cried the brothers Godard, who seemed quite in their
element, `take care of the shock!'  Every one climbed up to the ropes
which attach the car to the circular handles underneath the balloon.
Madame Nadar, whose _sang-froid_ was truly magnificent, grasped two
large ropes with her delicate hands.  Nadar did the like, but at the
same time put his arms round his wife so as to protect her body.  I was
on one side towards the middle of the sort of hurdle which serves as a
balcony.  I was on my knees and clinging to two ropes.  Montgolfier,
Thirion, and Saint Felix were near me.  The balloon descended so rapidly
that it gave us the vertigo.  The air, which we had left so calm above,
became a violent wind as we neared the earth.  `We are going to throw
down the anchors,' said Godard, `hold tight!'  Ah! the car struck the
earth with tremendous violence.  I cannot imagine how it was that my
arms were not broken.  After the first terrible shock the balloon went
up again, but the safety-valve was opened--it again fell--and we
suffered a second shock, if not more violent, at least more painful to
us than the first.  Up we went again; the balloon dragged its anchors.
Several times we thought we should be thrown out.  `The anchors are
broken,' exclaimed Godard.  The balloon beat the ground with its head,
like a kite when it falls down.  It was horrible.  On we went towards
Nienburg, at the rate of ten leagues an hour.  Three large trees were
cut through by the car, as clean as if by a woodman's hatchet.  One
small anchor still remained to us.  We threw it down, and it carried
away the roof of a house.  If the balloon had dragged us through the
town we should, inevitably, have been cut to pieces.  But fortunately it
rose a little and then bumped against the ground again with as much
violence as before.  Every one of these shocks wrenched our limbs; to
complete our misfortunes the rope of the safety-valve got loose from us,
and the safety-valve shutting up we lost all hope of the balloon
emptying itself.  It went on by bounds of twenty-five, thirty, and forty
metres from the earth, and continued to fall upon its head.  Everything
that stood in the way of the car was dashed to pieces.

"Jules Godard then tried, and accomplished, an act of sublime heroism.
He clambered up into the netting, the shocks of which were so terrible
that three times he fell on my head.  At length he reached the cord of
the valve, opened it, and the gas having a way of escape the monster
ceased to rise but it still shot along in a horizontal line with
prodigious rapidity.  There were we squatting down upon the frail osier
car.  `Take care!' we cried, when a tree was in the way.  We turned from
it, and the tree was broken; but the balloon was discharging its gas,
and if the immense plain we were crossing had yet a few leagues, we were
saved.  But suddenly a forest appeared in the horizon; we must leap out
at whatever risk, for the car would be dashed to pieces at the first
collision with those trees.  I got down into the car, and raising myself
I know not how,--for I suffered from a wound in my knees, my trousers
were torn,--I jumped, and made I know not how many revolutions, and fell
upon my head.  After a minute's dizziness I rose.  The car was then far
off.  By the aid of a stick I dragged myself to the forest, and having
gone a few steps I heard some groans.  Saint Felix was stretched on the
soil frightfully disfigured; his body was one wound; he had an arm
broken, the chest torn, and an ankle dislocated.  The car had
disappeared.  After crossing a river I heard a cry.  Nadar was stretched
on the ground with a dislocated thigh; his wife had fallen into the
river.  Another companion was shattered.  We occupied ourselves with
Saint Felix, and Nadar and his wife.  In trying to assist the latter I
was nearly drowned, for I fell into the water and sank.  They picked me
up again, and I found the bath had done me good.  By the assistance of
the inhabitants the salvage was got together.  Vehicles were brought;
they placed us upon straw.  My knees bled; my loins and head seemed to
be like mince-meat; but I did not lose my presence of mind an instant,
and for a second I felt humiliated at looking from the truss of straw at
those clouds which in the night I had had under my feet.  It was in this
way we reached Rethem, in Hanover.

"In seventeen hours we had made nearly 250 leagues.  Our _course
infernale_ had covered a space of three leagues.  Now that it is over I
have some shudderings.  It does not signify! we have made a good
journey, and I marvel to see with what indifference we may regard the
most frightful death, for, besides the prospect of being dashed about on
our way, we had that of gaining the sea; and how long should we have
lived then?  I am glad to have seen this--happier yet at having to
narrate it to you.  These Germans who surround us are brave people, and
we have been as well cared for as the resources of the little spot will

"P.S.--I have just reached Hanover with my companions, and re-open my
letter to tell you so.  The King has sent an aide-de-camp to us.  Are we
at the end of our reverses?  At any rate, I am consoled to think they
can no longer laugh at us in Paris.  We have kept our promises, and

Making some allowance for the palpable exaggeration of small details,
this excitable Frenchman's description of the ascent is the best that we
have seen, therefore we have given it in full.

The accounts given by other members of the party corroborate most of it,
and correct a few of its errors.  For instance, where Monsieur Arnould
represents the anchor as dragging off the _roof_ of a house, another
account states that it tore away one of the rafters; and while he tells
us that large trees were "cut through by the car as clean as if by a
woodman's hatchet," Monsieur Godard says that they were knocked down or
uprooted!  But, upon the whole, after comparing the several narratives,
we are of opinion that, with all his tendency to exaggeration and the
use of inflated language, Monsieur Arnould has found it impossible to
convey by means of words an adequate conception of this, perhaps, the
most wonderful and thrilling balloon voyage on record.

Many dangerous voyages of thrilling interest have been undertaken since
this ascent of Monsieur Nadar.  We shall just give a brief account of
two of these, which occurred at a comparatively recent date, to show the
reader that men are not to be deterred by the misfortunes of
predecessors from prosecuting inquiries and experiments in this field.

A _fete_ was held some years ago in the park of Mr North, Basford, near
Nottingham.  Amongst the amusements, it was arranged that Mr Coxwell
should make a balloon ascent.  The balloon was almost new, but not of
very large dimensions.  After it had been fully inflated, Mr Coxwell
tried it, and found there would be some difficulty in ascending in it,
owing to its weight.  At this juncture, a Mr James Chambers, of
Nottingham, who had previously made many ascents, stepped forward and
offered to go in his stead, saying that he was lighter than Mr Coxwell,
and that he wished to make the ascent.  After some conversation, it was
agreed that Chambers should go up, but Mr Coxwell told him not to
attempt an ascent unless he felt quite confident that he could manage
the balloon.  Chambers replied that he had no fear about managing it,
and accordingly he was allowed to make the ascent.  The balloon rose
steadily, and was carried somewhat rapidly in a north-easterly direction
towards Nottingham.  It proceeded as far as Arno Vale, when it was seen
suddenly to collapse, while still at a considerable altitude, and then
to fall quickly in an unshapely mass.  Some young men who were near the
spot where the balloon fell, hastened to render assistance.  The balloon
dropped into the car as it descended, completely covering it, and
ultimately both fell in a field near Scout Lane, three miles from
Nottingham.  The car struck the ground and rebounded several feet, and
then fell again, when it was seized and stopped by the young men, who
had followed it.  At the bottom of the car lay stretched the body of the
unfortunate aeronaut.  He was lifted out and found to be breathing, but
quite insensible.  He was conveyed to the nearest dwelling, and means
were adopted to restore animation, but without effect.  Two medical
gentlemen, named Robertson and Maltby, afterwards saw him, and it was
discovered that his left thigh was fractured, and some of the ribs on
his left side were broken, but they considered it very probable that the
unfortunate man had died through suffocation, as a handkerchief, which
had been found in his mouth, had probably been placed there by himself
when he found that he was in danger of being stifled by the gas from the
collapsing balloon.

On another occasion, still more recent, a perilous balloon voyage was
accomplished by an aeronaut named Vouens.  He ascended from the Bellevue
Gardens, near Huddersfield, in a balloon which was capable of containing
20,000 cubic feet of gas.  Its height was 50 feet, and it expanded to
100 feet in circumference.  Away floated the balloon in a westerly
direction, oscillating for a considerable distance in a most
extraordinary and unusual manner.  Mr Vouens experienced a stronger
breeze than he had anticipated, and, the current changing rapidly, his
energy and knowledge as an aeronaut were very severely taxed.  A fresh
current drove him to the east for a time, but presently another gust
unexpectedly sent him in the direction of Halifax, and thence towards
Bradford, in a northerly course.  After the lapse of twenty minutes the
balloon and its occupant pierced the clouds.  Mr Vouens then began to
make observations, for the purpose of selecting a suitable site, on
which to descend; and in a few minutes concentrated his attention upon a
field, in which a _fete_ was being held.  The breeze, however, carried
him some three miles further, and a second time Mr Vouens attempted to
lower himself in a field adjoining some farm-houses at Denholme.
Cautiously opening the escape-valve, he continued the journey downwards,
and threw out the grapnels.  Impetuous blasts of wind increased the
difficulty of bringing the balloon to anchor.  A strong wind prevailing,
it became unmanageable, and drifted over fields and stone walls with
amazing velocity.  The flukes of the grapnels penetrated the ground and
uprooted the earth as they followed in the wake of the balloon, while
the aerial chariot dashed onwards, making, in its career, wide gaps in
several stone walls.  Mr Vouens, preparing to encounter the worst fate,
wrapped the end of the cord which opens the escape-valve round one of
his wrists, and, burying himself in the car, permitted the balloon to
proceed until the breeze subsided, when, after the car had been thrice
capsized, and every article which it contained thrown out, Mr Vouens,
who received no injuries, anchored, and completed a voyage of many
miles, which occupied half-an-hour in its accomplishment.



As the French were the first to teach mankind the art of navigating the
air by means of balloons, so they were the first to set the example of
applying them to the art of war.

It may not be generally known, perhaps, that balloons have actually been
used in war.  They were first introduced to this new field of action at
Valenciennes in 1793, and the result of the experiment was a failure;
not, however, owing to the fault of man, but to the unpropitious nature
of the winds.  The garrison, being hard pressed by the English and their
allies, attached a letter, addressed to the National Assembly, to a
small balloon, or parachute, and committed it to a breeze which blew in
the direction of Paris.  Towards evening the wind changed, and the
faithless messenger fell into the enemy's camp!

About the same time the subject of war-balloons was brought before the
Committee of Public Safety, who commissioned a young captain of
Engineers, named Coutelle, to make experiments, and report on the
matter.  He made a balloon twenty-seven feet in diameter, with a car to
hold two persons, which, when filled with hydrogen gas, was capable of
lifting about a quarter of a ton, and cost a little above 80 pounds.  It
was not intended that this balloon should go free.  It was to be held
down by two guy-ropes, each between four and five hundred yards in
length, by which, when at the full length of its tether, the balloon was
to be hauled about in any direction, pulled down, or allowed to rise in
obedience to the wishes of the aeronaut, who was to communicate his
orders by means of a system of signals.  Reports of what he might be
thus enabled to discover of the enemy's position were to be written on
slips of paper, put into small sandbags, and tossed overboard.  Small
coloured flags were attached to each bag, so that it might be easily
observed in its descent.

After several satisfactory ascents to the height of above 500 feet had
taken place--the balloon being held easily by ten men, five to each
guy-rope--an order was given, in April 1794, for the formation of a
company of military aeronauts--styled _aerostiers_, to which Coutelle
was appointed captain-commandant.  His company consisted of one
lieutenant, one sergeant-major, one sergeant, two corporals, and twenty
privates, who wore a dark blue uniform, with black velvet facings, and
were armed with pistols and swords.

This new and peculiar company of aerostiers was very soon sent to join
the army at Maubeuge, and was regarded with some ridicule and contempt
by the rest of the army.  Coutelle, however, took an effectual method of
commanding respect.  He begged that he and his men might be allowed to
take part in a projected _sortie_.  They were permitted, and went; an
officer and private were wounded, and the corps behaved with such
gallantry that it was from that time treated with becoming respect.

Ascents were made daily in the balloon for reconnoitring purposes, and
the Austrians fired at their audacious and inquisitive enemy both with
muskets and cannon, but without effect.

After a time the balloon was ordered to take the road, and join that
part of the army which was marching on Charleroi.  Its march through the
country in leading-strings was curious to spectators and harassing to
the aerostiers.  The car, with all its appurtenances, was placed on a
cart, over which the balloon was allowed to float at a height sufficient
to admit of the passage of cavalry under it.  Twenty men, marching in
single file, held it down by twenty stays; but they had a sad time of
it, for their charge was headstrong and restive, jerking and tugging at
them continually, not only with its own inherent power of ascension, but
with the irregular impetus derived from gusts and squalls of wind, which
caused it to make sudden and violent charges against trees, houses, or
whatever chanced to come in its way, and sometimes to beat its blunt
forehead wildly on the ground as if it had been a monster in despair!

It reached Charleroi, however, on the 22nd of June, after a journey of
three days, and took part in the battle of Fleurus on the 26th.  A high
wind rendered it necessary, on the day of battle, to fasten its
guy-ropes to thirty horses--fifteen to each rope--and, thus secured, it
remained in the air eight hours, passing from place to place, and making
observations.  Its services were so highly appreciated by the generals
on that occasion that a second balloon was made and sent to the field of
action.  The first one, which was named _l'Entreprenant_, met with
accidents which rendered it necessary that it should be sent to Maubeuge
for repair; but it afterwards rejoined the army and took part in the
battle of Aldenhoven, at the capture of Bonn, and at the operations
before Ehrenbreitstein, in all of which it escaped without a wound,
although frequently exposed to a furious fire of musketry and shells
from the exasperated Austrians.

Nevertheless, its natural enemy, the wind, did not allow it to escape
scatheless, as Coutelle shows in one of his letters.  He writes thus:

"I received orders to make a reconnaissance of Mayence.  I accordingly
posted myself between our lines and the town, at about half cannon-shot
distance.  The wind was very high, so, to counteract its effects as far
as lay in my power, I ascended alone, with two hundred pounds additional
buoyancy.  I was at a height of five hundred metres when three
successive gusts dashed me to the ground with such violence that several
portions of the car were smashed to bits.  Each time the balloon darted
up again with so much force that sixty-four men--thirty-two at each
guy-rope--were dragged to some distance.  Had the guys been made fast to
grapnels, as had been suggested to me, they must infallibly have given

Notwithstanding this rough treatment, the aerial warrior managed, during
a lull in the wind, to count the number of the enemy's guns.

But the successes of these war-balloons were sadly intermingled with
reverses of fortune and harassing difficulties.  The aeronauts had,
indeed, won the respect and admiration of the army, but this did not
compensate for the terribly fatiguing work of holding on, with scarcely
a moment's intermission, to the ropes of the intractable monsters during
long and frequent marches.  The second balloon at length succeeded in
breaking loose, and was so much damaged as to become unserviceable, and
the first one was afterwards found riddled with balls--destroyed, it was
supposed, by its own men, who had become tired of the hardships to which
they were continually subjected.  The balloon was repaired, but was
taken prisoner at Wurtzburg in September 1796, after a short but
brilliant, and, it is said, useful career.

After this the war-ballooning fell into disrepute.  Some attempts have
been made in modern times to revive it, but these are not worth



Having treated of the balloon in all its different aspects, it is both
just and appropriate to conclude with an account of the theory and
construction of that curious machine which is, according to some
enthusiastic aeronauts, to supplant the balloon altogether, and enable
us to accomplish that which has been one of the great aims and desires
of mankind from the earliest ages, namely, the directing of our flight,
or steering a course, not only through, but, if need were, in opposition
to the winds.

Monsieur Nadar being, perhaps, the most zealous advocate of this
machine, we draw our information chiefly from his writings.  Of course
the reader will understand that we do not support the views which we are
about to set forth; neither, however, do we treat them lightly, because
we have lived long enough to see proposals which, not many years ago,
would have been deemed worthy of the most visionary of lunatics, carried
out to a successful issue and reduced to sober facts.

When we hear of a _flying machine_ which is to rise from the earth at
the bidding of man, and, like the fabulous creations in the _Arabian
Nights' Entertainment_, dart through the air with passengers and luggage
bound for definite localities, turning hither and thither, or alighting
on the earth according to the will of a steersman--we confess to a
feeling which is apt to wrinkle our visage with the smile of
incredulity; but we sternly rebuke the smile, for we know that similar
smiles wreathed the faces of exceedingly wise people when, in former
days, it was proposed to drive ships and coaches by steam, and hold
instantaneous converse with our friends across the Atlantic by means of

Let us therefore gravely consider the aerial locomotive.

Monsieur Nadar, as the reader already knows, scouts the idea of steering

In reference to this he states with truth that, "a balloon which
presents to the action of the atmosphere a volume of from 22,000 to
42,000 [cubic] feet of a gas from ten to fifteen times lighter than air,
is, by its very nature, smitten with incapacity to struggle against the
slightest current, no matter what may be the resisting motive force
which may be imparted to it.  Both by its constitution, and by the
medium which drives it hither and thither at the pleasure of the winds,
it can never become a vessel.  It is a buoy, and remains a buoy."

Discarding, therefore, with contempt, the balloon as an aerial
locomotive, he announces his belief that it is the _screw_ which is
destined to drive us, or clamber with us, into the blue vault above, and
convey us from place to place.  And here it is right to assure the
reader that the theoretical power of the screw to accomplish the end in
view is not a disputable question.  It has been practically proved by
models, and the only point that remains to be settled is the possibility
of applying the power to machines large enough to carry human beings
with a sufficient degree of safety to warrant risking the attempt.

Monsieur Nadar sets out with a statement which he deems self-evident,
namely, that, "in order to contend against the air, we must be
specifically heavier than the air"--a truth which was also, we are told,
announced by the first Napoleon in the epigrammatic sentence, "There can
be no progress without resistance."  From this the Frenchman proceeds to
prove that, in order to command the air, it is necessary to support
one's-self upon it, instead of being at its mercy; that we can only rest
upon that which resists, and that the air itself furnishes us amply with
the needful resistance--it being "the same atmosphere which overturns
walls, tears up by the root trees a century old, and enables ships to
ascend impetuous currents."  Glowing with the ardour of a man whose
faith is refreshingly great, he tells us that the time has at last come
when the atmosphere must yield to man.  "It is for man," he says, "to
restrain and subdue this insolent and abnormal rebellion, which has for
so many years laughed at our vain efforts.  We are in turn about to make
it serve us as a slave, just as the water on which we launch the ship,
as the solid earth on which we press the wheel!"

There is a toy called the _spiralifer_, which is common enough in towns,
and which is, doubtless, known to almost every one.  It consists of four
flat fans attached to a spindle somewhat after the manner of the arms of
a windmill.  It is placed in a hollow tube and made to spin violently by
pulling a string wound round the spindle.  The result is that the
spiralifer leaps out of the hollow tube and ascends powerfully as long
as the violent spinning motion continues.  If properly constructed, this
toy acts with great force and certainty, and if the spinning motion
could only be kept up, by any means, the ascent would be continued.  The
principal here involved is precisely the same as that which causes a
windmill to turn, a screw-propeller to drive a ship, and a cork-screw to
enter a cork.  It is pressure against a resisting medium.  Air is the
resisting medium in the case of the mill; water and cork respectively in
the other cases.  The only difference between the windmill and the
spiralifer is, that the first is moved by the air pressing against it,
the other by itself, in its rotatory action, pressing against the air.
If you turn a bottle upside down, and, while in that position, send a
cork-screw up into the cork, you set in motion the same force which is
applied in the spiralifer.  As the screw screws itself up into the cork,
so the spiralifer screws itself up into the air.  Of course the screw
remains sticking there when the motive power ceases, because of the
density of the medium through which it moves, while the spiralifer, when
at rest, sinks, because of the fluidity of the air; but the principle of
motion in each is the same.  The screw-propeller of a ship is just a
spiralifer placed horizontally, acting on water instead of air, and
having a vessel placed in front of it.

Now, Monsieur Nadar's aerial locomotive is a huge spiralifer, made
strong enough to carry up a steam-engine which shall keep it perpetually
spinning, and, therefore, perpetually ascending.  Perhaps we should have
said that his locomotive is a huge machine to which several spiralifers
are attached, so that while one set raises or (by reversing the engine)
depresses it, other sets drive it sideways.  The theory is perfect, and
the practice has been successfully attempted in models.  Messieurs
Ponton d'Amecourt and de la Laudelle, we are told--"the one a man of the
world, and the other a man of letters"--engaged the services of two
skilled mechanics, Messieurs Joseph of Arras and J. Richard, who
constructed models of machines which ascended the atmosphere, carrying
their motive power (springs) along with them.

Besides horizontal screws, it is proposed to furnish additional guiding
power to the locomotive by means of inclined planes.  These, by being
arranged in various positions, while the machine is in motion, would act
on the air, as do the wings of a bird, and give it direction.

No doubt, despite the simplicity of all this, difficulties will present
themselves to most minds, some of which may perhaps bulk very large in
the minds of mechanicians--such as the power of materials to withstand
the violence of the forces, to which they are to be applied, etcetera.
We do not know; however, no difficulties seem to have afflicted Monsieur
Nadar, who thus grandly waives them all aside, and revels in the
contemplation of the triumphant flights that lie before him in the

"It will be understood," he writes, "that it belongs not to us to
determine at present either the mechanism or the necessary manoeuvres.
Neither shall we attempt to fix even approximately the future velocity
of the aerial locomotive.  Let us rather attempt to calculate the
probable velocity of a locomotive gliding through the air, without the
possibility of running off the rails, without any oscillation, without
the least obstacle.  Let us fancy such locomotive encountering on its
way, in the midst, one of those atmospheric currents which travel at the
rate of forty leagues an hour, and following that current; add together
these formidable data, and your imagination will recoil in adding still
further to these giddy velocities, that of a machine falling through an
angle of descent of from 12,000 to 15,000 feet in a series of gigantic
zigzags, and making the tour of the globe in a succession of fantastic

Truly Monsieur Nadar seems to us to be right!  There are few men or
women, we suspect, who would not recoil from such "fantastic leaps," and
unless the prospect of a more sedate style of travelling be held out, it
is not probable that aerial locomotives will receive much patronage from
the general public.

Lord Carlingford, who mistook the sentiments of Monsieur Nadar in regard
to the aerial locomotive, claimed for himself, in 1863, the honour of
having previously invented and successfully launched an aerial chariot,
weighing seventeen stone, which rose on the air without any assistance
but that of the wind, and, having arrived at a horizontal position on
the air, it remained stationary there until pulled down.

Monsieur Nadar, at the conclusion of a courteous letter in reply to this
claim, gives his intentions and opinions on the subject pretty clearly
as follows:--

"In fine, and that there may be no possible mistake on the part of any
one regarding what I am attempting, I desire to find the necessary
resources for the constitution of a society, which shall be the centre
of all hitherto isolated and therefore lost attempts to solve a question
so profound, so vast, so complex that it does not seem to belong to a
single individual to achieve it.  I have my system, which I believe to
be good, since it is mine; but I shall aid with all the strength of my
will, and with all the energy of my perseverance, every system which
shall be proved to be better than mine.  The question to me is not at
all who may have determined the great problem; it is that the solution
may be found at last.  The fruit is ripe; I long to see it plucked, no
matter by whom; and this is the sole cause of the agitation which I have
endeavoured to call forth, and which I am now pursuing."

A man who takes up a subject with such hearty enthusiasm, and in such a
liberal spirit, is, we hold, entitled to the utmost respect.  As we
have, however, done our best to lay his case before the public, we feel
entitled to express with all humility some of the doubts which have been
suggested to our own mind while meditating on the subject.

No doubt the theory propounded is correct, and, as carried into practice
with models, the aerial locomotive has been a great success.  No doubt
also it is pleasant to contemplate the possibility of traversing space
like a bird, a meteor, or a comet, and the absolute impossibility of
"getting off the rails;" but what, we would ask, would be the result of
a hitch--ever so small--in the working of the steam-engine or of the
spring motor?

If a railway engine breaks down, there are all sorts of chances of
escape open to the traveller.  The engine may not quit the rails, or it
may bound off alone, snap the coupling chains and leave the carriages to
run until they come to a gradual standstill; or, the concussion may be
so modified that no serious injury may result; or, should it come to the
worst, the traveller may be among the fortunate number who make
"miraculous escapes."  But if a crank of an aerial machine should snap
while it is careering through space, or even a screw get loose and cause
a momentary stoppage of the motor, it is abundantly evident that escape
from total and swift destruction would be "miraculous" indeed, for the
whole affair would come to the ground like a thunderbolt, and "leave not
a wrack behind!"

Probably it might be answered in reply that a parachute attached to the
machine, or the inclined planes acting as a parachute, would moderate
the descent.  Well, there may be _something_ in that; nevertheless,
parachutes have not yet proved themselves to be very trustworthy,--and
we are constrained to reiterate the fact, that while an accident causing
the break-down of the motive power of a steamboat or a railway carriage
does not necessarily involve fatal consequences, an accident which
should stop the motive power in an aerial locomotive would _almost_ to a
certainty, result in a grand smash, which would involve machine and
passengers in one inconceivable whirl of chaotic destruction.

Whether this machine shall ever be successfully completed or not, it is
evident that it still engages the earnest attention of men, as we gather
from the following paragraph recently published in the _San Francisco

"At a meeting of the Aerial Navigation Company, held on Friday, July 24,
1869, in San Francisco, it was voted to raise the necessary funds to
construct an improved avitor of large size.  The opinion of the
engineers of the company was unanimous as to success so far, and the
feasibility and success of the projected flying-ship.  It will be about
150 feet in length, 20 to 40 feet diameter of the gasometer, with
propelling blades on each side of the centre, describing a radius of
about 16 feet.  The propellers are shaped like a steamship's, with two
blades, each very light.  They will be driven by a steam-engine of
five-horse power, weighing, with boiler connections and water, 430
pounds weight.  The planes on each side for floating the machine will be
about twenty feet wide at the centre of the machine, and made in
sections, so that they can be depressed or elevated at pleasure with the
rudder or tail.  The gasometer will be made in sections, so that in the
event of accident to one section, the remainder will be sufficient for
all practical purposes; indeed, it is claimed that the ship can fly
through the air with such speed that the sustaining power of the planes
alone will be sufficient to maintain the avitor in mid-air.  The
gasometer will be made, probably, of thin muslin or silk, saturated with
gutta-percha.  It is to carry four persons, and will be ready for trial
in sixty or ninety days.  The result of this experiment will be looked
for with great interest all over the country."

The Americans, with that vigour of conception and promptitude in action
for which they are celebrated, have done a good deal in the cause of
aerostation; but, as their doings and experiences have been in many
respects similar to those men whose voyages have been already recounted
or touched upon, it would involve too much repetition to detail them
here.  Some of their attempts, however, have outshone those of the men
of the eastern hemisphere.  For instance, Mr J. Wise, a noted aeronaut,
has several times exploded his balloons while in the air, to show that
the fragments with net-work form a sort of parachute which moderates the
descent.  He also, with Mr La Mountain and others, accomplished in 1859
the longest flight on record, namely, 1150 miles in less than twenty
hours; and the latter gentleman did 300 miles in four hours in the same
year.  Another American, Mr Lowe, made an enormous balloon, with which
he resolved to cross the Atlantic in about 48 hours.  We await the
accomplishment of this feat with much solicitude!

In conclusion, we may say that the subject of aerostation is still in
its infancy, and that we have still to learn how to conduct ourselves
properly when--Up in the Clouds.


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