The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 189

some unusually profound principle in dynamics.

"So well satisfied, however, was Mr. Mason of the ultimate success of
his invention, that he determined to construct immediately, if possible,
a balloon of sufficient capacity to test the question by a voyage of
some extent--the original design being to cross the British Channel, as
before, in the Nassau balloon. To carry out his views, he solicited and
obtained the patronage of Sir Everard Bringhurst and Mr. Osborne, two
gentlemen well known for scientific acquirement, and especially for the
interest they have exhibited in the progress of ærostation. The project,
at the desire of Mr. Osborne, was kept a profound secret from the
public--the only persons entrusted with the design being those actually
engaged in the construction of the machine, which was built (under the
superintendence of Mr. Mason, Mr. Holland, Sir Everard Bringhurst, and
Mr. Osborne,) at the seat of the latter gentleman near Penstruthal, in
Wales. Mr. Henson, accompanied by his friend Mr. Ainsworth, was admitted
to a private view of the balloon, on Saturday last--when the two
gentlemen made final arrangements to be included in the adventure. We
are not informed for what reason the two seamen were also included in
the party--but, in the course of a day or two, we shall put our readers
in possession of the minutest particulars respecting this extraordinary

"The balloon is composed of silk, varnished with the liquid gum
caoutchouc. It is of vast dimensions, containing more than 40,000 cubic
feet of gas; but as coal gas was employed in place of the more expensive
and inconvenient hydrogen, the supporting power of the machine, when
fully inflated, and immediately after inflation, is not more than about
2500 pounds. The coal gas is not only much less costly, but is easily
procured and managed.

"For its introduction into common use for purposes of aerostation, we
are indebted to Mr. Charles Green. Up to his discovery, the process of
inflation was not only exceedingly expensive, but uncertain. Two, and
even three days, have frequently been wasted in futile attempts to
procure a sufficiency of hydrogen to fill a balloon, from which it
had great tendency to escape, owing to its extreme subtlety, and its
affinity for the surrounding atmosphere. In a balloon sufficiently
perfect to retain its contents of coal-gas unaltered, in quantity or
amount, for six months, an equal quantity of hydrogen could not be
maintained in equal purity for six weeks.

"The supporting power being estimated at 2500 pounds, and the united
weights of the party amounting only to about 1200, there was left a
surplus of 1300, of which again 1200

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