The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 190

was exhausted by ballast, arranged
in bags of different sizes, with their respective weights marked upon
them--by cordage, barometers, telescopes, barrels containing provision
for a fortnight, water-casks, cloaks, carpet-bags, and various other
indispensable matters, including a coffee-warmer, contrived for warming
coffee by means of slack-lime, so as to dispense altogether with fire,
if it should be judged prudent to do so. All these articles, with the
exception of the ballast, and a few trifles, were suspended from the
hoop overhead. The car is much smaller and lighter, in proportion, than
the one appended to the model. It is formed of a light wicker, and is
wonderfully strong, for so frail looking a machine. Its rim is about
four feet deep. The rudder is also very much larger, in proportion, than
that of the model; and the screw is considerably smaller. The balloon is
furnished besides with a grapnel, and a guide-rope; which latter is of
the most indispensable importance. A few words, in explanation, will
here be necessary for such of our readers as are not conversant with the
details of aerostation.

"As soon as the balloon quits the earth, it is subjected to the
influence of many circumstances tending to create a difference in its
weight; augmenting or diminishing its ascending power. For example,
there may be a deposition of dew upon the silk, to the extent, even,
of several hundred pounds; ballast has then to be thrown out, or the
machine may descend. This ballast being discarded, and a clear sunshine
evaporating the dew, and at the same time expanding the gas in the silk,
the whole will again rapidly ascend. To check this ascent, the only
recourse is, (or rather _was_, until Mr. Green's invention of the
guide-rope,) the permission of the escape of gas from the valve; but, in
the loss of gas, is a proportionate general loss of ascending power; so
that, in a comparatively brief period, the best-constructed balloon must
necessarily exhaust all its resources, and come to the earth. This was
the great obstacle to voyages of length.

"The guide-rope remedies the difficulty in the simplest manner
conceivable. It is merely a very long rope which is suffered to trail
from the car, and the effect of which is to prevent the balloon from
changing its level in any material degree. If, for example, there should
be a deposition of moisture upon the silk, and the machine begins to
descend in consequence, there will be no necessity for discharging
ballast to remedy the increase of weight, for it is remedied, or
counteracted, in an exactly just proportion, by the deposit on

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Text Comparison with The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven Edition Table Of Contents And Index Of The Five Volumes

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NEVER BET THE DEVIL YOUR HEAD THOU ART THE MAN WHY THE LITTLE FRENCHMAN WEARS HIS HAND IN A SLING SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY.
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FOR ANNIE THE BELLS.