Punch,  43 (1862), 119.

Coxwell and Glaisher



Poetry, Drollery


Meteorology, Aeronautics, Scientific Practitioners, Heroism, Comparative Philology, Analogy

    Opens by describing the tale of Icarus who, on flying too near the sun with wax wings, plummeted into the Aegean. Insists that this account is a 'lie' because James Glaisher and Henry T Coxwell rose to an altitude of six miles in a balloon, a height so great that Glaisher and Coxwell were 'half stifled for want of breath', while Glaisher 'was nearly froze to death'. Challenges the Icarus fable by explaining that 'Aloft 'tis cold instead of hot' and that 'Wax wings would freeze, not run'. Thinks that Glaisher's and Coxwell's 'pluck' 'is something to admire' and explains how, as the balloon ascended, 'One kept on reading at his glass, / Whilst he could see or stand', and the other attempted to warm his numbed hands. Ponders the use of such fables as Icarus in the face of 'wonders that are facts'. This article refers to the famous balloon ascent of Glaisher and Coxwell on 5 September 1862, when the aeronauts reached a height of almost seven miles, although at this altitude Glaisher became unconscious and Coxwell's limbs became numb.

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