Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 10

great Balloon was near, and a small one was discharg'd which
went to an amazing Height, there being but little Wind to make it
deviate from its perpendicular Course, and at length the Sight of it
was lost. Means were used, I am told, to prevent the great Balloon's
rising so high as might indanger its Bursting. Several Bags of Sand
were taken on board before the Cord that held it down was cut, and
the whole Weight being then too much to be lifted, such a Quantity was
discharg'd as to permit its Rising slowly. Thus it would sooner arrive
at that Region where it would be in Equilibrio with the surrounding
Air, and by discharging more Sand afterwards, it might go higher if
desired. Between One & Two aClock, all Eyes were gratified with seeing
it rise majestically from among the Trees, and ascend gradually above
the Buildings, a most beautiful Spectacle! When it was about 200 feet
high, the brave Adventurers held out and wav'd a little white Pennant,
on both Sides their Car, to salute the Spectators, who return'd loud
Claps of Applause. The Wind was very little, so that the Object,
tho' moving to the Northward, continued long in View; and it was a
great while before the admiring People began to disperse. The Persons
embark'd were Mr. Charles, Professor of Experimental Philosophy, &
a zealous Promoter of that Science; and one of the Messieurs Robert,
the very ingenious Constructors of the Machine. When it arrived at its
height, which I suppose might be 3 or 400 Toises, it appeared to have
only horizontal Motion. I had a Pocket Glass, with which I follow'd it,
till I lost Sight, first of the Men, then of the Car, and when I last
saw the Balloon, it appear'd no bigger than a Walnut. I write this at 7
in the Evening. What became of them is not yet known here. I hope they
descended by Day-light, so as to see & avoid falling among Trees or on
Houses, and that the Experiment was completed without any mischievous
Accident which the Novelty of it & the want of Experience might well
occasion. I am the more anxious for the Event, because I am not well
inform'd of the Means provided for letting themselves gently down, and
the Loss of these very ingenious Men would not only be a Discouragement
to the Progress of the Art, but be a sensible Loss to Science and
Society.

I shall inclose one of the Tickets of Admission, on which the Globe was
represented, as originally intended, but

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487 Success to Good Men 255 Summary of Arguments on the Action of Baptism 455 Support Workers 77 Tediousness in Public Devotions 323 Tendency of Universalism 142 The Action of Baptism 443 The Bible Will Save the World 66 The Bible Infallibly Safe 145 The Bible and Bible Men 405 The Bible Ground 414 The Bible vs.
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4th.
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In the same way, the good neglected, during the year now closing, will so remain for ever.