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Title: Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons
Author: Rotch, Abbott Lawrence, Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    Benjamin Franklin and
    the First Balloons



    Reprinted from the
    Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society

    Volume XVIII




The recent bi-centenary of Franklin's birth, which coincided with the
revival of interest in balloons, makes this a timely topic, especially
since Franklin's descriptions of the first balloon ascensions are
almost unknown and do not appear among his philosophical papers. The
five letters which I have the honor to present were written to Sir
Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society of London, in 1783, when
Franklin was Minister to the Court of France and, with the collateral
documents, they give perhaps the most complete and accurate account
of the beginning of aerial navigation, enlivened with the humor and
speculation characteristic of the writer. It is certainly remarkable
that Franklin, in the midst of diplomatic and social duties, could have
found time to investigate personally this new invention of which he at
once appreciated the possibilities.

The documents which I publish are copies of Franklin's letters, made
on thin paper in a copying press (probably the rotary machine invented
by Franklin), and all but one bear his signature in ink. They have
corrections in the author's hand-writing and, except for a few words,
are quite legible. They were purchased by me from Dodd, Mead & Co.,
in December, 1905, and previously had belonged to G. M. Williamson,
of Grandview-on-the-Hudson, to whom they had come from Vienna. None
of the letters appear in Sparks' edition of Franklin's Works, and
while all but one are included in the collections compiled by Bigelow
and Smyth, there are numerous inaccuracies, some of which will be
specified hereafter. Drafts of three of the letters are deposited in
the University of Pennsylvania, but the existence of one letter and the
whereabouts of another were unknown to the late Mr. Smyth, the editor
of the last and most complete edition of Franklin's Works,[1] who made
careful search for the original documents. Although the American owners
of these copies did not allow them to be transcribed, Mr. Smyth states
that he printed one letter from my copy, and he noted how the other
copies differed from the drafts in the University of Pennsylvania. In
general it may be said that, whereas Bigelow gives the text without
paragraphs, capital letters or the old spelling,[2] Smyth follows the
originals more closely. In view of the historic and scientific interest
of these letters, they are now printed exactly according to the
press-copies. The letter dated November 30, appears never to have been
printed and whereas Smyth reproduced the letter of November 21 from the
University of Pennsylvania draft, this or another draft (or possibly
this copy) was in the possession of the French aeronaut, Gaston
Tissandier, about 1887.[3]

  [1] The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, collected and edited by
  Albert Henry Smyth, Volume IX, New York, 1906.

  [2] Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, compiled and edited by
  John Bigelow, Volume VIII, New York, 1888.

  [3] Histoire des Ballons, Paris, 1887, Volume I, page 29.


PASSY, Aug. 30, 1783.


On Wednesday, the 27th Instant the new aerostatic Experiment, invented
by Mess^rs. Montgolfier, of Annonay, was repeated by M. Charles,
Professor of experimental Philosophy at Paris.

A hollow Globe 12 feet Diameter was formed of what is called in England
Oiled Silk, here _Taffetas gommé_, the Silk being impregnated with a
Solution of Gum elastic in Lintseed Oil, as is said. The Parts were
sewed together while wet with the Gum, and some of it was afterwards
passed over the Seams, to render it as tight as possible.

It was afterwards filled with the inflammable Air that is produced by
pouring Oil of Vitriol upon Filings of Iron, when it was found to have
a tendency upwards so strong as to be capable of lifting a Weight of 39
Pounds, exclusive of its own Weight which was 25 lbs. and the Weight of
the Air contain'd.

It was brought early in the morning to the _Champ de Mars_, a Field in
which Reviews are sometimes made, lying between the Military School and
the River. There it was held down by a Cord till 5 in the afternoon,
when it was to be let loose. Care was taken before the Hour to replace
what Portion had been lost, of the inflammable Air, or of its Force, by
injecting more.

It is supposed that not less than 50,000 People were assembled to see
the Experiment. The Champ de Mars being surrounded by Multitudes, and
vast Numbers on the opposite Side of the River.

At 5 aClock Notice was given to the Spectators by the Firing of two
Cannon, that the Cord was about to be cut. And presently the Globe was
seen to rise, and that as fast as a Body of 12 feet Diameter, with a
force only of 39 Pounds, could be suppos'd to move the resisting Air
out of its Way. There was some Wind, but not very strong. A little
Rain had wet it, so that it shone, and made an agreeable Appearance.
It diminished in Apparent Magnitude as it rose, till it enter'd the
Clouds, when it seem'd to me scarce bigger than an Orange, and soon
after became invisible, the Clouds concealing it.

The Multitude separated, all well satisfied and delighted with the
Success of the Experiment, and amusing one another with discourses of
the various uses it may possibly be apply'd to, among which many were
very extravagant. But possibly it may pave the Way to some Discoveries
in Natural Philosophy of which at present we have no Conception.

A Note secur'd from the Weather had been affix'd to the Globe,
signifying the Time & Place of its Departure, and praying those who
might happen to find it, to send an account of its State to certain
Persons at Paris. No News was heard of it till the next Day, when
Information was receiv'd, that it fell a little after 6 aClock,
at Gonesse, a Place about 4 Leagues Distance, and that it was rent
open, and some say had Ice in it. It is suppos'd to have burst by the
Elasticity of the contain'd Air when no longer compress'd by so heavy
an Atmosphere.

One of 38 feet Diameter is preparing by Mr. Montgolfier himself, at the
Expence of the Academy, which is to go up in a few Days. I am told it
is constructed of Linen & Paper, and is to be filled with a different
Air, not yet made Public, but cheaper than that produc'd by the Oil of
Vitriol, of which 200 Paris Pints were consum'd in filling the other.

It is said that for some Days after its being filled, the Ball was
found to lose an eighth Part of its Force of Levity in 24 Hours;
Whether this was from Imperfection in the Tightness of the Ball, or a
Change in the Nature of the Air, Experiments may easily discover.

I thought it my Duty, Sir, to send an early Account of this
extraordinary Fact, to the Society which does me the honour to reckon
me among its Members; and I will endeavour to make it more perfect, as
I receive farther Information.

  With great Respect, I am, Sir,
  Your most obedient
  and most humble Servant


P. S. Since writing the above, I am favour'd with your kind Letter
of the 25th. I am much obliged to you for the Care you have taken to
forward the Transactions, as well as to the Council for so readily
ordering them on Application. Please to accept and present my Thanks.

I just now learn, that some observers say, the Ball was 150 Seconds
in rising, from the Cutting of the Cord till hid in the Clouds;
that its height was then about 500 Toises, but, being moved out of
the Perpendicular by the Wind, it had made a Slant so as to form a
Triangle, whose Base on the Earth was about 200 Toises. It is said
the Country People who saw it fall were frightned, conceiv'd from its
bounding a little, when it touched the Ground, that there was some
living Animal in it, and attack'd it with Stones and Knives, so that it
was much mangled; but it is now brought to Town and will be repaired.

The great one of M. Montgolfier, is to go up, as is said, from
Versailles, in about 8 or 10 Days; It is not a Globe but of a different
Form, more convenient for penetrating the Air. It contains 50,000
cubic Feet, and is supposed to have Force of Levity equal to 1500
pounds weight. A Philosopher here, M. Pilatre du Rozier has seriously
apply'd to the Academy for leave to go up with it, in order to make
some Experiments. He was complimented on his Zeal and Courage for
the Promotion of Science, but advis'd to wait till the management of
these Balls was made by Experience more certain & safe. They say the
filling of it in M. Montgolfier's Way will not cost more than half
a Crown. One is talk'd of to be 110 feet Diameter. Several Gentlemen
have ordered small ones to be made for their Amusement. One has ordered
four of 15 feet Diameter each; I know not with what Purpose; But such
is the present Enthusiasm for promoting and improving this Discovery,
that probably we shall soon make considerable Progress in the art of
constructing and using the Machines.

Among the Pleasanteries Conversation produces on this Subject, some
suppose Flying to be now invented, and that since Men may be supported
in the Air, nothing is wanted but some light handy Instruments to
give and direct Motion. Some think Progressive Motion on the Earth
may be advanc'd by it, and that a Running Footman or a Horse slung and
suspended under such a Globe so as to have no more of Weight pressing
the Earth with their Feet, than Perhaps 8 or 10 Pounds, might with a
fair Wind run in a straight Line across Countries as fast as that Wind,
and over Hedges, Ditches & even Waters. It has been even fancied that
in time People will keep such Globes anchored in the Air, to which by
Pullies they may draw up Game to be preserved in the Cool & Water to be
frozen when Ice is wanted. And that to get Money, it will be contrived
to give People an extensive View of the Country, by running them up in
an Elbow Chair a Mile high for a Guinea &c. &c.

B. F.


PASSY, Oct. 8, 1783.


The Publick were promised a printed particular Account of the Rise
& Progress of the Balloon Invention, to be published about the End
of last month. I waited for it to send it to you, expecting it would
be more satisfactory than anything I could write; but it does not
appear. We have only at present the enclosed Pamphlet, which does
not answer the expectation given us. I send you with it some prints.
That of the Balloon raised at Versailles is said to be an exact
representation. I was not present, but am told it was filled in about
ten minutes by means of burning Straw. Some say water was thrown into
the flame, others that it was Spirits of Sal Volatile. It was supposed
to have risen about 200 Toises: But did not continue long at that
height, was carried horizontally by the Wind, and descended gently
as the Air within grew cooler. So vast a Bulk when it began to rise
so majestically in the Air struck the spectators with surprise and
Admiration. The Basket contained a sheep, a duck, and a Cock, who,
except the Cock, received no hurt by the fall.

The Duke de Crillon made a feast last week in the Bois de Boulogne,
just by my habitation, on occasion of the Birth of two Spanish Princes;
after the Fireworks we had a Balloon of about 5 feet Diameter filled
with permanent inflammable Air. It was dismissed about One aClock in
the Morning. It carried under it a large Lanthorn with inscriptions on
its sides. The Night was quite calm and clear, so that it went right
up. The appearance of the light diminished gradually till it appeared
no bigger than one of the Stars, and in about twenty minutes I lost
sight of it entirely. It fell the next Day on the other side of the
same Wood near the Village Boulogne, about half after twelve, having
been suspended in the Air eleven hours and a half. It lodged in a tree,
and was torn in getting it down; so that it cannot be ascertained
whether it burst when above, or not, tho' that is supposed. Smaller
Repetitions of the Experiment are making every day in all quarters.
Some of the larger Balloons that have been up are preparing to be sent
up again in a few Days; but I do not hear of any material improvements
yet made either in the mechanical or Chemical parts of the Operation.
Most is expected from the new one undertaken upon subscription by
Messieurs Charles and Robert, who are Men of Science and mechanic
Dexterity. It is to carry up a Man. I send you enclosed the Proposals,
which it is said are already subscribed to by a considerable number
and likely to be carried into execution. If I am well at the Time, I
purpose to be present, being a subscriber myself, and shall send you an
exact Account of Particulars.

  With great esteem and respect, for yourself and the Society;
  I have the honour to be,
  Your most obedient
  & most humble Servant,



PASSY, Nov^r 21st, 1783

Dear Sir,

I received your friendly Letter of the 7th Inst. I am glad my Letters
respecting the Aerostatic Experiment were not unacceptable. But as more
perfect Accounts of the Construction and Management of that Machine
have been and will be published before your Transactions, and from
which Extracts may be made that will be more particular and therefore
more satisfactory, I think it best not to print those Letters. I say
this in answer to your Question; for I did not indeed write them with
a view of their being inserted. Mr. Faujas de St. Fond acquainted me
yesterday that a Book on the Subject which has been long expected, will
be publish'd in a few Days, and I shall send you one of them. Enclosed
is a Copy of the _Procès verbal_ taken of the Experiment made yesterday
in the Garden of the Queen's Palace la Muette where the Dauphin now
resides which being near my House I was present. This Paper was drawn
up hastily, and may in some Places appear to you obscure; therefore I
shall add a few explanatory Observations.

This Balloon was larger than that which went up from Versailles and
carried the Sheep, &c. Its bottom was open, and in the middle of the
Opening was fixed a kind of Basket Grate in which Faggots and Sheaves
of Straw were burnt. The Air rarified in passing thro' this Flame rose
in the Balloon, swell'd out its sides, and fill'd it.

The Persons who were plac'd in the Gallery made of Wicker, and attached
to the Outside near the Bottom, had each of them a Port thro' which
they could pass Sheaves of Straw into the Grate to keep up the Flame,
& thereby keep the Balloon full. When it went over our Heads, we could
see the Fire which was very considerable. As the Flame slackens, the
rarified Air cools and condenses, the Bulk of the Balloon diminishes
and it begins to descend. If those in the Gallery see it likely to
descend in an improper Place, they can by throwing on more Straw,
& renewing the Flame, make it rise again, and the Wind carries it

_La Machine poussée par le Vent s'est dirigée sur une des Allées du
Jardin._ That is against the Trees of one of the Walks. The Gallery
hitched among the top Boughs of those Trees which had been cut and were
stiff while the Body of the Balloon lean'd beyond and seemed likely to
overset. I was then in great Pain for the Men, thinking them in danger
of being thrown out, or burnt for I expected that the Balloon being no
longer upright the Flame would have laid hold of the inside that leaned
over it. But by means of some Cords that were still attach'd to it, it
was soon brought upright again, made to descend, & carried back to its
place. It was however much damaged.

_Planant sur l'Horizon._ When they were as high as they chose to be,
they made less Flame and suffered the Machine to drive Horizontally
with the Wind, of which however they felt very little, as they went
with it, and as fast. They say they had a charming View of Paris &
its Environs, the Course of the River, &c but that they were once
lost, not knowing what Part they were over, till they saw the Dome of
the Invalids, which rectified their Ideas. Probably while they were
employed in keeping up the Fire, the Machine might turn, and by that
means they were _desorientés_ as the French call it.

There was a vast Concourse of Gentry in the Garden, who had great
Pleasure in seeing the Adventurers go off so chearfully, & applauded
them by clapping &c. but there was at the same time a good deal of
Anxiety for their Safety. Multitudes in Paris saw the Balloon passing;
but did not know there were Men with it, it being then so high that
they could not see them.

_Développant du Gaz._ That is, in plain English, _burning more straw_;
for tho' there is a little Mystery made, concerning the kind of Air
with which the Balloon is filled, I conceive it to be nothing more than
hot Smoke or common Air rarify'd, tho' in this I may be mistaken.

_Aiant encor dans leur Galerie les deux tiers de leur
Approvisionement._ That is their Provision of Straw; of which they
carried up a great Quantity. It was well that in the hurry of so
hazardous an Experiment, the Flame did not happen by any accidental
Mismanagement to lay hold of this Straw; tho' each had a Bucket of
Water by him, by Way of Precaution.

One of these courageous Philosophers, the Marquis d'Arlandes, did me
the honour to call upon me in the Evening after the Experiment, with
Mr. Montgolfier the very ingenious Inventor. I was happy to see him
safe. He informed me that they lit gently without the least Shock, and
the Balloon was very little damaged.

This Method of filling the Balloon with hot Air is cheap and
expeditious, and it is supposed may be sufficient for certain purposes,
such as elevating an Engineer to take a View of an Enemy's Army, Works,
&c. conveying Intelligence into, or out of a besieged Town, giving
Signals to distant Places, or the like.

The other Method of filling a Balloon with permanently elastic
inflammable Air, and then closing it is a tedious Operation, and
very expensive; Yet we are to have one of that kind sent up in a few
Days. It is a Globe of 26 feet diameter. The Gores that compose it
are red and white Silk, so that it makes a beautiful appearance. A
very handsome triumphal Car will be suspended to it, in which Mess^rs.
Robert, two Brothers, very ingenious Men, who have made it in concert
with Mr. Charles propose to go up. There is room in this Car for a
little Table to be placed between them, on which they can write and
keep their Journal, that is take Notes of every thing they observe, the
State of their Thermometer, Barometer, Hygrometer, &c which they will
have more Leisure to do than the others, having no fire to take Care
of. They say they have a contrivance which will enable them to descend
at Pleasure. I know not what it is. But the Expence of this Machine,
Filling included, will exceed, it is said, 10,000 Livres.

This Balloon of only 26 feet diameter being filled with Air ten times
lighter than common Air, will carry up a greater Weight than the other,
which tho' vastly bigger was filled with an Air that could scarcely be
more than twice as light. Thus the great Bulk of one of these Machines,
with the short duration of its Power, & the great Expence of filling
the other will prevent the Inventions being of so much Use, as some may
expect, till Chemistry can invent a cheaper light Air producible with
more Expedition.

But the Emulation between the two Parties running high, the Improvement
in the Construction and Management of the Balloons has already made
a rapid Progress; and one cannot say how far it may go. A few Months
since the Idea of Witches riding thro' the Air upon a Broomstick, and
that of Philosophers upon a Bag of Smoke, would have appeared equally
impossible and ridiculous.

These Machines must always be subject to be driven by the Winds.
Perhaps Mechanic Art may find easy means to give them progressive
Motion in a Calm, and to slant them a little in the Wind.

I am sorry this Experiment is totally neglected in England where
mechanic Genius is so strong. I wish I could see the same Emulation
between the two Nations as I see between the two Parties here. Your
Philosophy seems to be too bashful. In this Country we are not so much
afraid of being laught at. If we do a foolish thing, we are the first
to laugh at it ourselves, and are almost as much pleased with a _Bon
Mot_ or a good _Chanson_, that ridicules well the Disappointment of
a Project, as we might have been with its Success. It does not seem
to me a good reason to decline prosecuting a new Experiment which
apparently increases the Power of Man over Matter, till we can see to
what Use that Power may be applied. When we have learnt to manage it,
we may hope some time or other to find Uses for it, as Men have done
for Magnetism and Electricity of which the first Experiments were mere
Matters of Amusement.

This Experience is by no means a trifling one. It may be attended with
important Consequences that no one can foresee. We should not suffer
Pride to prevent our progress in Science. Beings of a Rank and Nature
far superior to ours have not disdained to amuse themselves with making
and launching Balloons, otherwise we should never have enjoyed the
Light of those glorious objects that rule our Day & Night, nor have had
the Pleasure of riding round the Sun ourselves upon the Balloon we now

  With great and sincere Esteem, I am,
  Dear Sir,
  Your most obed^t
  & most humble Servant,



PASSY, Nov. 30, 1783

Dear Sir,

I did myself the honour of writing to you the Beginning of last Week,
and I sent you by the Courier, M. Faujas's Book upon the Balloons,
which I hope you have receiv'd. I did hope to have given you to day
an Account of Mr. Charles's grand Balloon, which was to have gone up
yesterday; but the filling it with inflammable Air having taken more
time than had been calculated, it is deferr'd till to-morrow. I send
you herewith a Paper in which you will see what was proposed by Mess^rs
Robert who constructed the Machine; and some other Papers relative
to the same Subject, the last of which is curious, as containing the
Journal of the first Aerial Voyage performed by Man.--I purpose being
present to-morrow at the Experiment, and shall give you an Acc^t of it
by the Wednesday's Post. With sincere & great Esteem, I have the honour
to be,

  Sir, Your most obed^t humble Serv^t

Sir JOS. BANKS, Bar^t.


PASSY, Dec. 1, 1783.

Dear Sir,

In mine of yesterday, I promis'd to give you an Account of Mess^rs.
Charles & Robert's Experiment, which was to have been made at this Day,
and at which I intended to be present. Being a little indispos'd, & the
Air cool, and the Ground damp, I declin'd going into the Garden of the
Tuilleries where the Balloon was plac'd, not knowing how long I might
be oblig'd to wait there before it was ready to depart; and chose to
stay in my Carriage near the Statue of Louis XV. from whence I could
well see it rise, & have an extensive View of the Region of Air thro'
which, as the Wind sat, it was likely to pass. The Morning was foggy,
but about one aClock, the Air became tolerably clear, to the great
Satisfaction of the Spectators, who were infinite, Notice having been
given of the intended Experiment several Days before in the Papers,
so that all Paris was out, either about the Tuilleries, on the Quays
& Bridges, in the Fields, the Streets, at the Windows, or on the Tops
of Houses, besides the Inhabitants of all the Towns & Villages of the
Environs. Never before was a philosophical Experiment so magnificently
attended. Some Guns were fired to give Notice, that the Departure
of the great Balloon was near, and a small one was discharg'd which
went to an amazing Height, there being but little Wind to make it
deviate from its perpendicular Course, and at length the Sight of it
was lost. Means were used, I am told, to prevent the great Balloon's
rising so high as might indanger its Bursting. Several Bags of Sand
were taken on board before the Cord that held it down was cut, and
the whole Weight being then too much to be lifted, such a Quantity was
discharg'd as to permit its Rising slowly. Thus it would sooner arrive
at that Region where it would be in Equilibrio with the surrounding
Air, and by discharging more Sand afterwards, it might go higher if
desired. Between One & Two aClock, all Eyes were gratified with seeing
it rise majestically from among the Trees, and ascend gradually above
the Buildings, a most beautiful Spectacle! When it was about 200 feet
high, the brave Adventurers held out and wav'd a little white Pennant,
on both Sides their Car, to salute the Spectators, who return'd loud
Claps of Applause. The Wind was very little, so that the Object,
tho' moving to the Northward, continued long in View; and it was a
great while before the admiring People began to disperse. The Persons
embark'd were Mr. Charles, Professor of Experimental Philosophy, &
a zealous Promoter of that Science; and one of the Messieurs Robert,
the very ingenious Constructors of the Machine. When it arrived at its
height, which I suppose might be 3 or 400 Toises, it appeared to have
only horizontal Motion. I had a Pocket Glass, with which I follow'd it,
till I lost Sight, first of the Men, then of the Car, and when I last
saw the Balloon, it appear'd no bigger than a Walnut. I write this at 7
in the Evening. What became of them is not yet known here. I hope they
descended by Day-light, so as to see & avoid falling among Trees or on
Houses, and that the Experiment was completed without any mischievous
Accident which the Novelty of it & the want of Experience might well
occasion. I am the more anxious for the Event, because I am not well
inform'd of the Means provided for letting themselves gently down, and
the Loss of these very ingenious Men would not only be a Discouragement
to the Progress of the Art, but be a sensible Loss to Science and

I shall inclose one of the Tickets of Admission, on which the Globe was
represented, as originally intended, but is altered by the Pen to show
its real State when it went off. When the Tickets were engraved, the
Car was to have been hung to the Neck of the Globe, as represented by a
little Drawing I have made in the Corner A. I suppose it may have been
an Apprehension of Danger in straining too much the Balloon or tearing
the Silk, that induc'd the Constructors to throw a Net over it, fix'd
to a Hoop which went round its Middle, and to hang the Car to that
Hoop, as you see in Fig. B.

Tuesday Morning, Dec. 2. I am reliev'd from my Anxiety, by hearing
that the Adventurers descended well near l'Isle Adam, before Sunset.
This Place is near 7 Leagues from Paris. Had the Wind blown fresh, they
might have gone much farther.

If I receive any farther Particulars of Importance I shall communicate
them hereafter.

  With great Esteem, I am, Dear Sir,
  Your most obedient
  & most humble servant,

P. S. Tuesday Evening.

Since writing the above, I have receiv'd the printed Paper & the
Manuscript, containing some Particulars of the Experiment, which I
enclose.--I hear farther, that the Travellers had perfect Command of
their Carriage, descending as they pleas'd by letting some of the
inflammable Air escape, and rising again by discharging some Sand;
that they descended over a Field so low as to talk with Labourers in
passing and mounted again to pass a Hill. The little Balloon falling at
Vincennes, shows that mounting higher it met with a Current of Air in a
contrary Direction: An Observation that may be of use to future aerial



Mr. Le Chevalier de Cubière qui a suivi la marche du Globe est
arrivé chez M. Charles hier à 10 heures 1/4 du Soir et a dit, Que les
Voyageurs étoient descendus lentement et volontairement à trois heures
3/4 dans les Marais de Nesle et d'Hebouville, une lieue et demie après
l'Isle Adam. Ils y ont été accueillis par Mrs. le Duc de Chartre et
Fitz James, qui après les avoir embrassés, ont signé le Procès verbal
de lieu et d'heure. Beaucoup d'habitants de la campagne et le curé de
Nesle et d'Hebouville se sont aussi trouvés à leur arrivée.

Les Voyageurs ont assuré n'avoir éprouvé que des Sensations agréables
dans leur traversée. Mr. Robert étant sorti du Char, et aidé de
quelques Paysans, se disposoit à remplacer sa Pesanteur avec de la
Terre; mais M. Charles voulant profiter du peu de Jour qui lui restoit,
pour faire encore quelques observations, impatienté de la Lenteur de
cette operation, a repris son Vol à 4 heures et 1/4, avec un excédant
de Légèreté d'environ 100 Livres par une Ascension droite et une
rapidité telle qu'en peu de tems le Globe s'est trouvé hors de vue. La
Chute du Jour l'a déterminé à redescendre une lieue et 1/2 plus loin,
aux environs de Fouroy.

La Machine n'a éprouvé aucun Accident. Elle perdoit légèrement par une
petite ouverture qui existoit dejà quelques heures avant son Depart
auprès de l'appendice, et dont le Morceau de Taffetas que l'on y avoit
appliqué au moment de l'expérience, s'étoit detaché.

       *       *       *       *       *

Le petit Ballon est tombé dans la Cour du Dongeon à Vincennes. Il a été
ramassé par des Enfans et vendu 6_d._ au nommé Bertrand. Il avoit perdu
son air inflammable par le Robinet qu'on avoit laissé ouvert exprès
pour empêcher l'explosion à trop grande hauteur. On évalue qu'il a été
50 minutes en l'air. Le Taffetas étoit roussi aux deux Extremités.


_Letter of August 30._ The hand-writing is in a more flowing style than
the subsequent letters. Bigelow omits paragraph ten beginning "It is
said." Both Bigelow and Smyth give another paragraph in the Postscript,
beyond the signature "B. F." in my copy; also a note dated Sept. 2^d,
which contains calculations in French relating to the balloon. Smyth
says that these additions are not in the University of Pennsylvania
draft but that they occur in this press-copy, which is obviously a
mistake. In paragraph two of the Postscript "mov'd out," in Smyth,
should read "being moved out," and in the last line but one "upon"
should read "up in."

_Letter of October 8._ In the eighth line after the word "Balloon"
Smyth inserts "lately." Part of the valedictory and the signature are
omitted by Bigelow and Smyth, but the former gives an "Extract of the
Proposals" for the balloon of which I have no copy.

_Letter of November 21._ This should be dated Nov. 22, since the
ascension of d'Arlandes and de Rozier which, according to the
letter, took place the previous day is known to have been on the
21st. The orthography of the French words in Bigelow and Smyth does
not always agree with the copy. In paragraph three, for "Post," in
Smyth, read "Port;" in paragraph six for "Adventures," in Smyth, read
"Adventurers;" in paragraph thirteen for "By the emulation," in Smyth,
read "But the Emulation;" in paragraph fifteen for the phrase, in
Smyth and Bigelow, beginning, "I wish I could see the same emulation,"
correct to end, "between the two Nations as I see between the two
Parties here;" in paragraph sixteen, in both Bigelow and Smyth, for
"Experiment," read "Experience;" and for the unintelligible phrase in
both Bigelow and Smyth, "Beings of a frank and [sic] nature," read
"Beings of a Rank and Nature." Minor discrepancies between this and
the other press-copies and the letters as printed by Bigelow and Smyth
also occur. The signature is in pencil in this copy. A "P. S. Nov.
25th" is not in the press-copy, contrary to Smyth's statement, but
I have a press-copy of the French _Procès-Verbal_, therein referred
to, in Franklin's handwriting with his name and eight others affixed
as witnesses. Neither Bigelow nor Smyth print this document, which
was first reproduced in the book mentioned by Franklin in the first
paragraph of his letter, viz: "Description des Expériences de la
Machine Aérostatique par M. Faujas de Saint-Fond, Paris, 1783." Since
Franklin's copy of the _Procès-Verbal_ differs only in his spelling
the word "_sang-froid_" instead of "_sens-froid_," I do not print it.
However, other changes were introduced in the _Procès-Verbal_ when
reprinted in the second volume of M. Faujas' work, published in 1784.
The plate forming the frontispiece to this volume shows the balloon as
seen from Mr. Franklin's terrace at Passy.

_Letter of November 30._ This has never been published so far as I
know. "The Journal of the first Aerial Voyage," here mentioned, was
written by the Marquis d'Arlandes to M. Faujas de Saint-Fond on Nov.
28th and first printed in the _Journal de Paris_ but was republished by
Faujas de Saint-Fond in his second volume.

_Letter of December 1._ Smyth states that he reproduced this
letter from my press-copy but he omits the capital letters and the
contractions in spelling, as well as the references "A" and "B," which
are given by Bigelow with the remark that the drawings were not found.
"The Manuscript, containing some Particulars of the Experiment, which
I enclose," mentioned in the Postscript, is a two-page account in
French, in Franklin's handwriting, by an eye-witness of the voyage, M.
le Chevalier de Cubière. As this interesting document has never been
published, to my knowledge, I have given it here _literatim_ from my

--Transcriber's note--

A caret (^) indicates the following character or characters were
printed in superscript. Some superscripts were silently converted to
regular characters (i.e. 27th instead of 27^th).

Except for the following corrections, the original text and punctuation
remain unchanged:

  p. 7, Added a missing comma after "Sir" at the beginning of the letter
          "A hot air balloon carrying animals", as there is one in every
          other letter;
  p. 7, added missing "t" to "than" in
          "more satisfactory than anything";
  p. 9, "Procés verbal" corrected to "Procès verbal";
  p. 11, added a missing comma after "Robert" in
          "Mess^rs. Robert, two Brothers,";
  p. 11, "Aiant encor dans leur Galerie le deux tiers de leur
          Approvissonement." was corrected to "... les deux tiers de
          leur Approvisionement." "Aiant encor" might be "Ayant encore",
          as printed in the "Journal des sçavans" of January 1784,
          but was not corrected here;
  p. 14, "Carr" corrected to "Car" in "on both Sides their Car,";
  p. 16, removed a space after "d'" in "Beaucoup d'habitants";
  p. 16, "Bart." corrected to "Bar^t." in "Sir JOSEPH BANKS, Bar^t.";
  p. 17, "Sept. 2d" corrected to "Sept. 2^d", for 2nd.

The following possible mispellings have been retained:

  p. 6, "M. Pilatre du Rozier" should be "M. Pilâtre de Rozier";
  p. 10, "chearfully" is possibly an older spelling for "cheerfully";
  p. 16, there are several missing accents that might have been in the
          original French document, in "desorientés", "operation",
          "dejà", "depart", "detaché" and "extremités".
  There are two occurences of "&c" for "&c."

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