Viewing page 39 of 323

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.

 [31 ]
fury of the populace, which I saw was on the point of bursting. An affecting, because unpremeditated testimony of approbation and interest in my fate, was here given. The Prince of Wales, and the whole surrounding assembly, almost at one instant, took off their hats, hailed my resolution, and expressed the kindest and most cordial wishes for my safety and success.
  At five minutes after two, the last gun was fired, the cords divided, and the Balloon rose, the company returning my signals of adieu with the most unfeigned acclamations and applauses. The effect was, that of a miracle, on the multitudes which surrounded the place; and they passed from incredulity and menace, into the most extravagant expressions of approbation and joy.
  At the height of twenty yards, the Balloon was a little depressed by the wind, which had a fine effect; it held me over the ground for a few seconds, and seemed to pause majestically before its departure.
  On discharging a part of the ballast, is ascended to the height of two hundred yards. As a multitude lay before me of a hundred and fifty thousand people, who had not seen my ascent from the ground, I had recourse to every stratagem to let them know I was in the gallery, and they literally rent the air with their acclamations and applause. In these stratagems I devoted my  flag, and worked with my oars, one of which was immediately broken, and fell from me. A pidgeon too escaped, which, with a dog, and cat, were the only companions of my excursion.
  When the thermometer had fallen from 68[[degrees]] to 61[[degrees]] I perceived a great difference in the temperature in the air. I became very cold, and found it necessary to take a few glasses of wine. I likewise eat the leg of a chicken, but 
[[end page]]

[[start page]]
[ 32 ]
my bread and other provisions had been rendered useless, by being mixed with the sand, which I carried as ballast.
  When the thermometer was at fifty, the effect of the atmosphere, and the combination of circumstances around, produced a calm delight, which is inexpressible, and which no situation on earth could give. 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 of 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 I should otherwise have had a difficulty in describing. It was an enormous beehive, but the industry of it was suspended. All the moving mass seemed to have no object but myself, and the transition from the suspicion, and 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. I recollected the puns* on my name, and was glad to find myself calm. I had soared from the apprehensions and anxieties of the Artillery Ground, and felt as if I had left behind me all the cares and passions that molest mankind.
  Indeed, the whole scene before me filled the mind with a sublime pleasure, of which I never had a conception.


  * In some of the papers, witticisms appeared on the affinity of, Lunatic & Lunardi.            
[[end page]]

[[start page]]
[ 33 ]
The critics imagine, for they seldom speak from experience, that terror is an ingredient in every sublime sensation. It was not possible for me to be on earth, in a situation so free from apprehension. I had not the slightest sense of motion from 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. I moved to different parts of the gallery, I adjusted the furniture, and apparatus. I uncorked my bottle, eat, drank, and wrote, just as in my study. The height had not the effect, which a much lesser degree of it has near the earth, that of producing giddiness. The broom-sticks of the witches, [[Ariostos's]] flying-horse, and even Milton's sun-beam, conveying the angel to the earth, have all an idea of effort, difficulty, and restraint, which do not affect a voyage in the Balloon.
  Thus tranquil, and thus situated, how shall I describe to you a view, such as the antients supposed Jupiter to have of the earth, and to copy which there are no terms in any language. The gradual diminution of objects, and the masses of light and shade are intelligible in oblique and common prospects. But here every thing 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 a stranger in England, of good civil laws and an equitable administration: the rivers meandering; the sea glistning with the rays of the sun; the immense district beneath me spotted with cities, towns, villages and houses, pouring
[[end page]]

[[start page]]
[ 34 ]
out their inhabitants to hail my appearance: you will allow me some merit at not having been exceedingly intoxicated with my situation.
  To prolong the enjoyment of it, and to try the effect of my only oar, I kept myself in the same parallel respecting the earth, for nearly an hour. But the exercise having fatigued, and the experiment having satisfied me, I laid aside my oar, and again had recourse to my bottle; this I emptied to the health of my friends and benefactors in the lower world. All my affections were alive, in a manner not easily to be conceived, and you may be assured that the sentiment which seemed to me most congenial to that happy situation was gratitude and friendship. I will not refer to any softer passion. I sat down and wrote four pages of desultory observations, and pinning them to a napkin, committed them to the mild winds of the region, to the conveyed to my honoured friend and patron, Prince Caramanico.
  During this business I had ascended rapidly; for, on hearing the report of a gun, fired in the Artillery Ground, I was induced to examine the thermometer, and found it had fallen to 32[[degrees]]. The Balloon was so much inflated as to assume the form of an oblong spheroid, the shortest diameter of which was in a line with me, though I had ascended with it in the shape of an inverted cone, and wanting nearly one third of its full compliment of air. Having no valve, I could only open the neck of the Balloon; thinking it barely possible that the strong rarefaction might force out some of the inflammable air. The condensed vapour around its neck was frozen, though I found no inconve