Glaisher, James, Travels in the air

(London :  R. Bentley,  1871.)



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106                           TRA VELS IN THE AIR.

recognized importance attached to those which were achieved at the
beginning of the century. For the finest and most ]}roductive series
of scientific expeditions into the atmosphere we are indebted to
James Glaisher, Fellow of the Eoyal Society, the results of which are
published in the volumes of the British Association, and will serve
to enhance the interest of the French expeditions here recorded.
But before we give an account of our own ascents, let us glance at the
art of aerostation itself, and the discovery of Montgolfier.

On the 5tli June, 1783, when Joseph Montgolfier and his brother,
then managers of the old paper-works at Annonay, made their first
public experiment in that town, philosophers all exclaimed with
Lalande, " How simple a thing it is ! How is it that this was not
thought of before ! " Truly, as Biot used to say, nothing is so simple
as that which was done yesterday; nothing so difficult as that which
is to be done to-morrow.

We cannot afford space to examine into the various accounts of
flying mentioned in ancient mythology, in sacred and profane writing.
Archytas of Tarentum flew a kite, it is said, 400 years B.C., and even
manufactured a wooden pigeon which rose in the air for a few minutes.
Simon the Magician made some attempts to fly from one house to
another in the year 66, at Eome; and these experiments appear to have
been renewed during the reign of the Emperor Manuel Comnenus,
when a Saracen endeavoured to fly from the tower of the Hippodrome
at Constantinople. In the 13th century, Eoger Bacon had some
notion of a " flying machine," whereby a man, upheld by the centre
of his body, moved a system of wings by means of a handle. Towards
the end of the 15th century J. B. Dante, a mathematician of P^rouse,
rose above the Lake Trasimene, by means of artificial wings attached
to his body. One day he fell on to the church of Notre Dame and
broke his leg; the same accident happened also to Oliver of Malmes-
bury, a learned English monk, who was very fond of such experiments.
In 1638, Goldwin attempted to fly'by means of wild geese trained for
this purpose. Wilkins, in his fictitious account of a journey to the
moon, proposed that vessels should be constructed and filled ''with
etherized air like fire," which would cause them to float upon air as
boats float on water. Cyrano de Bergerac actually described fiYe
methods of rising in the air, one of which consisted in the use of a
glass globe heated by the sun's rays; another very preposterous
notion was that of throwing magnets into the air in such a manner
as to draw up an iron cage in which the traveller sat! In 1670, Lana
imagined that very thin copper globes, in which a vacuum would be
produced, might rise in the air.   In 1678, a mechanic of Maine, named
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