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ages, and exhibits man in various stages of declining
fociety, until he terminated in barbarifm, and,
regenerating, began to return towards civilization.
Another history had at this time juft appeared,
that embraced periods much better known to every
claffical reader; but though it recited tranfac-
tions with which every literary man was well ac-
quainted, it prefented new and profound views,
unfolded causes, and marked operations and effects,
that even intelligent and learned readers had not
before discovered. The philofophical pen of Fer-
guffon rendered the affairs of the greatest people of
antiquity the ground-work of the deepest and most
expanded moral and political fcience; to teach
mankind that, wisdom, courage, enterprize, and
fkill, uniformly and conftantly exerted in the vari
ous departments of a political fyftem, elevate a na-
tion as they exalt an individual, and that folly and
vice overturn the fabric which virtue and wisdom
had raised. Works of an inferior fpecies to hif-
tory, though pursuing the fame object, travels and
voyages, much increased our knowledge of the in-
terior and civil condition of various countries, with
which our acquaintance before had been chiefly
confined to geographical outlines and political re-
lations. The travels of Meffrs. Moore, Wraxal,
Coxe, and others, into various parts of Europe, not
only afforded amufement and entertainment, but
knowledge of mankind.
The voyages of the
renowned circumnavigator, captain Cook, which
difplayed human nature in a light shewing at once
its varieties and uniformity, were a pleasing and
interesting accession of literary novelty.



1784. Improvement of the in natural philofophy

prefent age

and che

Phyfical knowledge and fcience were making CHA P. rapid advances, while, from former difcoveries of philosophy, invention and experience were fast educing arts which administered to the purposes of life. Doctors Black and Watson were perfevering in their chemical purfuits, and powerfully contributing to the elucidation of fubjects, curious to fpeculative, and useful to practical men; with which, through the abilities and labours of fuch men, followed by many others of patient research and useful industry, who were employed in experimental detail, the public is now become fo converfant.


air balloons,

The immenfe improvements of the prefent age, Invention of in the general analysis of material substances, and particularly in the application of chemistry to the qualities of air, produced about this time an invention that astonished mankind, by an artificial phenomenon, which appeared to realize the fable of Dædalus, and to find a paffage for man through the air. Eminent philofophers of the fixteenth and seventeenth centuries from the qualities of air had inferred the practicability of fuch an undertaking, but did not explore the means. The difcovery was referved for the ingenuity of two French manufacturers of paper at Annouay in Dauphiny, Meffrs. Montgolfier. These gentlemen, obferving the afcent of vapour or fmoke in the atmosphere, concluded that the general principle was the afcent of air rarified by abforption, and that it must ascend until it arrive at air of fuch a tenuity as to prove an exact equilibrium. On this reasoning they conftructed a globular machine of




CHAP. paper and fine filk, covered with elastic gum; in fhort, of the very lightest terrene materials. This ball, being about thirty feet in circumference, was raised to a confiderable height, merely by applying fome lighted combuftibles to an aperture at its lower extremity. If fo fmall a power of rarified air could raife fuch a weight, a proportionate increase must raise a proportionably greater weight; hence it was found, by extending the experiment, that a ball of linen of 23,000 cubic feet in dimenfion, being moved by combuftibles, would lift about five hundred weight. Montgolfier foon after prefented the experiment at Paris; a fheep, a cock, and a duck, were placed in a gallery next the balloon, and returned without hurt. On the 23d of November 1783, two human beings adventured to effay an element hitherto unexplored by man. The marquis de Landes and monfieur Diofier undertook this extraordinary navigation: at 54 minutes past one o'clock, the machine afcended into the air before an immenfe number of aftonifhed fpectators. When it had reached 250 feet, the intrepid travellers waving their hats faluted the wondering crowd: the aërial navigators were foon beyond the reach of difcernment from the earth, but the ball itself was feen towering towards the confines of æther. The travellers having found their experiment fuccefsful, agreed to defcend by gradually leffening the application of air, and arrived fafely in an open

About twenty-eight and a half, to a figure exactly cu bical,




Afcent of Lunardi

from the



field at fome distance from the city *. The event CHAP. of this experiment with rarified air, encouraged farther trials; Monfieur Charles, the profeffor of natural philosophy at Paris, fuggested the improvement of inflammable air, inftead of rarified. In 1784 the experiment was tried in England by Mr. Lunardi, an Italian gentleman. On the 15th of September, this gentleman, about five minutes after two o'clock, ascended from the artillery-ground, before 150,000 people, who were collected in the places immediately adjacent: many of the other inhabitants of London and the environs were gazing from the houfe-tops; bufinefs of every kind appeared to be fufpended, and every ray of thought converged into one focus; in fhort, Lunardi and the balloon occupied general converfation. The fky fortu nately was without a cloud, fo that his ascent above London was clearly perceived from a distance of many miles around. The balloon took a northerly direction at half past three, Lunardi arrived at South Mimms, where he defcended on a common; but again raising himfelf, he proceeded in the fame direction, and afterwards defcended at Ware †. Various

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* In an epilogue to a play exhibited at Weftminster foon after this experiment, there was a verfe containing the following pun on this Gallic invention:

"Quis propria Gallo plus levitate valet ?"

"Who can furpafs a Frenchman in appropriate levity ?"

The following paffage is quoted from Lunardi's written account of his own voyage, obfervations, and feelings, when from the aerial heights he looked down upon the British metropolis :-"When the thermometer was at fifty, the effect of the atmosphere, and the combination of circumstances around, produced a calm delight which is inexpreffible, and

Afonihment of the at this phe





CHAP. Various balloons were afterwards launched, in Britain and other parts of the world, and many treatises were published, endeavouring to demonftrate the important advantages which might arise from this invention, but none of them have been hitherto realized.


which no fituation on earth could give; the stillness, extent, and magnificence of the scene rendered it highly awful; my horizon feemed a perfect circle; the terminating line feveral hundred miles in circurnference. This I conjectured from the view of London, the extreme points of which formed an angle of only a few degrees; it was fo reduced on the great fcale before me, that I can find no fimile to convey an idea of it. I could distinguish St. Paul's and other churches from the houses; I faw the streets as lines, all animated with be ings whom I knew to be men and women, but which I fhould otherwife had a difficulty in defcribing; it was an enor mous bee hive, but the induftry of it was fufpended. Indeed, the whole fcene before me filled my mind with a fublime pleasure of which I never had a conception; I had foared from the apprehenfions and anxieties of the world, and felt as if I had left behind all the cares and paffions that moleft mankind." Of the fecond defcent, he gives the following account:" At twenty minutes past four, I defcended in a fpacious meadow in the parish of Stondon, near Ware in Hertfordshire; fome labourers were at work in it, I requested their affiftance; they exclaimed they would have nothing to do with one who came in the devil's house! and no intreaties could prevail on them to approach me.. I at last owed my deliverance to the spirit and generofity of a female; a young woman took hold of a cord which I had thrown out, and calling to the men, they yielded that affiftance to her requeft, which they had refused to mine. A crowd of people from the neighbourhood affembled, who very wil lingly affifted me to difembark."

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