Glaisher, James, Travels in the air

(London :  R. Bentley,  1871.)



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we ascended still higher; the aspirator became troublesome to work ;
and I also found a difficulty in seeing clearly. At Ih. 51m. the
barometer read 10"Sin. About Ih. 52m. or later, I read the dry-bulb
thermometer as minus 5°; after this I could not see the column of
mercury in the wet-bulb thermometer, nor the hands of the watch,
nor the fine divisions on any instrument. I asked Mr. Coxwell to
help me to read the instruments. In consequence, however, of the
rotatory motion of the balloon, which had continued without ceasing
since leaving the earth, the valve-line had become entangled, and he
had to leave the car and mount into the ring to readjust it. I then
looked at the barometer, and found its reading to be 9 fin., still
decreasing fast, implying a height exceeding 29,000 feet. Shortly
after I laid my arm upon the table, possessed of its full vigour, but
on being desirous of using it I found it powerless—it must have lost
its power momentarily; trying to move the other arm, I found it
powerless also. Then I tried to shake myself, and succeeded, but I
seemed to have no limbs. In looking at the barometer my head fell
over my left shoulder; I struggled and shook my body again, but
could not move my arms. Getting my head upright for an instant
only, it fell on my right shoulder; then I fell backwards, my back
resting against the side of the car and my head on its edge. In this
position my eyes were directed to Mr. Coxwell in the ring. When I
shook my body I seemed to have full power over the muscles of the
back, and considerably so over those of the neck, but none over either
my arms or my legs. As in the case of the arms, so all muscular
power was lost in an instant from my back and neck. I dimly saw
Mr. Coxwell, and endeavoured to speak, but could not. In an instant
intense darkness overcame me, so that the optic nerve lost power
suddenly, but I was still conscious, with as active a brain as at the
present moment whilst writing this. I thought I had been seized
with asphyxia, and believed I should experience nothing more, as
death would come unless we speedily descended : other thoughts were
entering my mind, when I suddenly became imconscious as on going
to sleep. I cannot tell anything of the sense of hearing, as no sound
reaches the ear to break the perfect stillness and silence of the
regions between six and seven miles above the earth. My last obser¬
vation was made at Ih. 54m. above 29,000 feet. I suppose two or
three minutes to have elapsed between my eyes becoming insensible
to seeing fine divisions and Ih. 54m., and then two or three minutes
more to have passed till I was insensible, which I think, therefore,
took place about Ih. 56m. or 57m.

Whilst powerless I heard the words '' temperature " and '' observa-
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