Punch,  56 (1869), 237.

Up in a Balloon



Editorial, Drollery; Diary, Spoof


Aeronautics, Heat, Measurement, Astronomy, Observation, Mathematics, Theory, Race, Comparative Philology, Observatories

    Begins by challenging the accuracy of the report of 'the great balloon' that 'so suddenly broke from its moorings', claiming that the balloon has not yet landed and that Punch is receiving messages from the 'Scientific Correspondent' who drops 'scraps of intelligence' over the side of the balloon. The rest of the article consists of jottings taken during one day of the voyage, many of which concern measurements of temperature and pressure, and the correspondent's eating habits. The first jottings mention his provision of 'instruments for taking and making observations' and explain how the author fought his way onto the balloon car. Rising into the atmosphere he observes 'preparations for a new comet', which 'resembles a kite of peculiar form' and which, when 'sufficiently weighty, [...] descends so as to trail across the earth and other planets', and which if 'over-weighted' is in danger of colliding with the Earth. As evening approaches, the author reports that he found 'the Milky Way' awkward to 'steer through', and descends by controlling the 'Gerent Coil'—a manoeuvre which he justifies with a complex algebraic equation and a bizarre physical theory of air currents. Later in the evening he reports that he has entered into daylight and expresses determination to explore the races of the antipodes. Later still he claims that 'By a simple scientific process' he ascends and anchors 'off Taurus' next to which there are 'festivities' including the 'music of the spheres'. Noting the activity in other constellations (notably the claim that Aquarius has given up his watering-pot and taken to organ-grinding), he resolves to complain to Edward J Lowe at George Bishop's South Villa Observatory, Regent's Park.

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