Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

By Benjamin Franklin

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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 gomme_, 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.

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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Hence it is, that Poor Richard is so often quoted, and that, in the present title, he is said to be improved.
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with Biographical and Interesting Anecdotes 1 6 Watt's Catechism and Prayers, in 1 vol.
Page 2
I stopped my horse, lately, where a great number of people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods.
Page 3
There are no gains without pains; then help hands, for I have no lands;" or if I have, they are smartly taxed.
Page 4
'But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled, and careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust too much to others: for, as Poor Richard says, "I never saw an oft-removed tree, Nor yet an oft-removed family, That throve so well as those that settled be.
Page 5
" "If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting.
Page 6
Perhaps they have had a small estate left them, which they knew not the getting of; they think "it is day, and will never be night:" that a little to be spent out of so much is not worth minding; but "Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom," as Poor Richard says; and then, "When the well is dry, they know the worth of water.
Page 7
"It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
Page 8
When you have got your bargain, you may, perhaps, think little of payment; but, as Poor Richard says, "Creditors have better memories than debtors; creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.
Page 9
' * * * * * Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue.