The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 28

varnish of caoutchouc; a
large and deep basket of wicker-work, made to order; and several other
articles necessary in the construction and equipment of a balloon of
extraordinary dimensions. This I directed my wife to make up as soon as
possible, and gave her all requisite information as to the particular
method of proceeding. In the meantime I worked up the twine into
a net-work of sufficient dimensions; rigged it with a hoop and the
necessary cords; bought a quadrant, a compass, a spy-glass, a common
barometer with some important modifications, and two astronomical
instruments not so generally known. I then took opportunities of
conveying by night, to a retired situation east of Rotterdam, five
iron-bound casks, to contain about fifty gallons each, and one of a
larger size; six tinned ware tubes, three inches in diameter, properly
shaped, and ten feet in length; a quantity of a particular metallic
substance, or semi-metal, which I shall not name, and a dozen demijohns
of a very common acid. The gas to be formed from these latter materials
is a gas never yet generated by any other person than myself--or at
least never applied to any similar purpose. The secret I would make no
difficulty in disclosing, but that it of right belongs to a citizen of
Nantz, in France, by whom it was conditionally communicated to myself.
The same individual submitted to me, without being at all aware of my
intentions, a method of constructing balloons from the membrane of a
certain animal, through which substance any escape of gas was nearly an
impossibility. I found it, however, altogether too expensive, and was
not sure, upon the whole, whether cambric muslin with a coating of
gum caoutchouc, was not equally as good. I mention this circumstance,
because I think it probable that hereafter the individual in question
may attempt a balloon ascension with the novel gas and material I have
spoken of, and I do not wish to deprive him of the honor of a very
singular invention.

"On the spot which I intended each of the smaller casks to occupy
respectively during the inflation of the balloon, I privately dug a hole
two feet deep; the holes forming in this manner a circle twenty-five
feet in diameter. In the centre of this circle, being the station
designed for the large cask, I also dug a hole three feet in depth. In
each of the five smaller holes, I deposited a canister containing
fifty pounds, and in the larger one a keg holding one hundred and fifty
pounds, of cannon powder. These--the keg and canisters--I connected in
a proper

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Page 19
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"lyre and rhyme.