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THE UNPARALLELED ADVENTURES OF ONE HANS PFAAL

by Edgar Allan Poe

BY late accounts from Rotterdam, that city seems to be in a highstate of philosophical excitement. Indeed, phenomena have thereoccurred of a nature so completely unexpected -- so entirely novel --so utterly at variance with preconceived opinions -- as to leave nodoubt on my mind that long ere this all Europe is in an uproar, allphysics in a ferment, all reason and astronomy together by the ears.

It appears that on the -- -- day of -- -- (I am not positive aboutthe date), a vast crowd of people, for purposes not specificallymentioned, were assembled in the great square of the Exchange in thewell-conditioned city of Rotterdam. The day was warm -- unusually so

for the season -- there was hardly a breath of air stirring; and themultitude were in no bad humor at being now and then besprinkled withfriendly showers of momentary duration, that fell from large whitemasses of cloud which chequered in a fitful manner the blue vault ofthe firmament. Nevertheless, about noon, a slight but remarkableagitation became apparent in the assembly: the clattering of tenthousand tongues succeeded; and, in an instant afterward, tenthousand faces were upturned toward the heavens, ten thousand pipesdescended simultaneously from the corners of ten thousand mouths, anda shout, which could be compared to nothing but the roaring ofNiagara, resounded long, loudly, and furiously, through all theenvirons of Rotterdam.

The origin of this hubbub soon became sufficiently evident. Frombehind the huge bulk of one of those sharply-defined masses of cloudalready mentioned, was seen slowly to emerge into an open area ofblue space, a queer, heterogeneous, but apparently solid substance,so oddly shaped, so whimsically put together, as not to be in anymanner comprehended, and never to be sufficiently admired, by thehost of sturdy burghers who stood open-mouthed below. What could itbe? In the name of all the vrows and devils in Rotterdam, what couldit possibly portend? No one knew, no one could imagine; no one -- noteven the burgomaster Mynheer Superbus Von Underduk -- had theslightest clew by which to unravel the mystery; so, as nothing morereasonable could be done, every one to a man replaced his pipecarefully in the corner of his mouth, and cocking up his right eyetowards the phenomenon, puffed, paused, waddled about, and gruntedsignificantly -- then waddled back, grunted, paused, and finally --puffed again.

In the meantime, however, lower and still lower toward the goodlycity, came the object of so much curiosity, and the cause of so muchsmoke. In a very few minutes it arrived near enough to be accuratelydiscerned. It appeared to be -- yes! it was undoubtedly a species ofballoon; but surely no such balloon had ever been seen in Rotterdambefore. For who, let me ask, ever heard of a balloon manufacturedentirely of dirty newspapers? No man in Holland certainly; yet here,under the very noses of the people, or rather at some distance abovetheir noses was the identical thing in question, and composed, I haveit on the best authority, of the precise material which no one hadever before known to be used for a similar purpose. It was anegregious insult to the good sense of the burghers of Rotterdam. Asto the shape of the phenomenon, it was even still more reprehensible.Being little or nothing better than a huge foolscap turned upsidedown. And this similitude was regarded as by no means lessened when,upon nearer inspection, there was perceived a large tassel dependingfrom its apex, and, around the upper rim or base of the cone, acircle of little instruments, resembling sheep-bells, which kept up acontinual tinkling to the tune of Betty Martin. But still worse.Suspended by blue ribbons to the end of this fantastic machine, therehung, by way of car, an enormous drab beaver bat, with a brimsuperlatively broad, and a hemispherical crown with a black band anda silver buckle. It is, however, somewhat remarkable that manycitizens of Rotterdam swore to having seen the same hat repeatedlybefore; and indeed the whole assembly seemed to regard it with eyesof familiarity; while the vrow Grettel Pfaall, upon sight of it,uttered an exclamation of joyful surprise, and declared it to be theidentical hat of her good man himself. Now this was a circumstancethe more to be observed, as Pfaall, with three companions, hadactually disappeared from Rotterdam about five years before, in avery sudden and unaccountable manner, and up to the date of thisnarrative all attempts had failed of obtaining any intelligenceconcerning them whatsoever. To be sure, some bones which were thoughtto be human, mixed up with a quantity of odd-looking rubbish, hadbeen lately discovered in a retired situation to the east ofRotterdam, and some people went so far as to imagine that in thisspot a foul murder had been committed, and that the sufferers were inall probability Hans Pfaall and his associates. But to return.

The balloon (for such no doubt it was) had now descended to within ahundred feet of the earth, allowing the crowd below a sufficientlydistinct view of the person of its occupant. This was in truth a verydroll little somebody. He could not have been more than two feet inheight; but this altitude, little as it was, would have beensufficient to destroy his equilibrium, and tilt him over the edge ofhis tiny car, but for the intervention of a circular rim reaching ashigh as the breast, and rigged on to the cords of the balloon. Thebody of the little man was more than proportionately broad, giving tohis entire figure a rotundity highly absurd. His feet, of course,could not be seen at all, although a horny substance of suspiciousnature was occasionally protruded through a rent in the bottom of thecar, or to speak more properly, in the top of the hat. His hands wereenormously large. His hair was extremely gray, and collected in a cuebehind. His nose was prodigiously long, crooked, and inflammatory;his eyes full, brilliant, and acute; his chin and cheeks, althoughwrinkled with age, were broad, puffy, and double; but of ears of anykind or character there was not a semblance to be discovered upon anyportion of his head. This odd little gentleman was dressed in a loosesurtout of sky-blue satin, with tight breeches to match, fastenedwith silver buckles at the knees. His vest was of some bright yellowmaterial; a white taffety cap was set jauntily on one side of hishead; and, to complete his equipment, a blood-red silk handkerchiefenveloped his throat, and fell down, in a dainty manner, upon hisbosom, in a fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent dimensions.

Having descended, as I said before, to about one hundred feet fromthe surface of the earth, the little old gentleman was suddenlyseized with a fit of trepidation, and appeared disinclined to makeany nearer approach to terra firma. Throwing out, therefore, aquantity of sand from a canvas bag, which, he lifted with greatdifficulty, he became stationary in an instant. He then proceeded, ina hurried and agitated manner, to extract from a side-pocket in hissurtout a large morocco pocket-book. This he poised suspiciously inhis hand, then eyed it with an air of extreme surprise, and wasevidently astonished at its weight. He at length opened it, anddrawing there from a huge letter sealed with red sealing-wax and tiedcarefully with red tape, let it fall precisely at the feet of theburgomaster, Superbus Von Underduk. His Excellency stooped to take itup. But the aeronaut, still greatly discomposed, and havingapparently no farther business to detain him in Rotterdam, began atthis moment to make busy preparations for departure; and it beingnecessary to discharge a portion of ballast to enable him toreascend, the half dozen bags which he threw out, one after another,without taking the trouble to empty their contents, tumbled, everyone of them, most unfortunately upon the back of the burgomaster, androlled him over and over no less than one-and-twenty times, in theface of every man in Rotterdam. It is not to be supposed, however,that the great Underduk suffered this impertinence on the part of thelittle old man to pass off with impunity. It is said, on thecontrary, that during each and every one of his one-and twentycircumvolutions he emitted no less than one-and-twenty distinct andfurious whiffs from his pipe, to which he held fast the whole timewith all his might, and to which he intends holding fast until theday of his death.

In the meantime the balloon arose like a lark, and, soaring far awayabove the city, at length drifted quietly behind a cloud similar tothat from which it had so oddly emerged, and was thus lost forever tothe wondering eyes of the good citiezns of Rotterdam. All attentionwas now directed to the letter, the descent of which, and theconsequences attending thereupon, had proved so fatally subversive ofboth person and personal dignity to his Excellency, the illustriousBurgomaster Mynheer Superbus Von Underduk. That functionary, however,had not failed, during his circumgyratory movements, to bestow athought upon the important subject of securing the packet inquestion, which was seen, upon inspection, to have fallen into themost proper hands, being actually addressed to himself and ProfessorRub-a-dub, in their official capacities of President andVice-President of the Rotterdam College of Astronomy. It wasaccordingly opened by those dignitaries upon the spot, and found tocontain the following extraordinary, and indeed very serious,communications.

To their Excellencies Von Underduk and Rub-a-dub, President andVice-President of the States' College of Astronomers, in the city ofRotterdam.

"Your Excellencies may perhaps be able to remember an humble artizan,by name Hans Pfaall, and by occupation a mender of bellows, who, withthree others, disappeared from Rotterdam, about five years ago, in amanner which must have been considered by all parties at once sudden,and extremely unaccountable. If, however, it so please yourExcellencies, I, the writer of this communication, am the identicalHans Pfaall himself. It is well known to most of my fellow citizens,that for the period of forty years I continued to occupy the littlesquare brick building, at the head of the alley called Sauerkraut, inwhich I resided at the time of my disappearance. My ancestors havealso resided therein time out of mind -- they, as well as myself,steadily following the respectable and indeed lucrative profession ofmending of bellows. For, to speak the truth, until of late years,that the heads of all the people have been set agog with politics, nobetter business than my own could an honest citizen of Rotterdameither desire or deserve. Credit was good, employment was neverwanting, and on all hands there was no lack of either money orgood-will. But, as I was saying, we soon began to feel the effects ofliberty and long speeches, and radicalism, and all that sort ofthing. People who were formerly, the very best customers in theworld, had now not a moment of time to think of us at all. They had,so they said, as much as they could do to read about the revolutions,and keep up with the march of intellect and the spirit of the age. Ifa fire wanted fanning, it could readily be fanned with a newspaper,and as the government grew weaker, I have no doubt that leather andiron acquired durability in proportion, for, in a very short time,there was not a pair of bellows in all Rotterdam that ever stood inneed of a stitch or required the assistance of a hammer. This was astate of things not to be endured. I soon grew as poor as a rat, and,having a wife and children to provide for, my burdens at lengthbecame intolerable, and I spent hour after hour in reflecting uponthe most convenient method of putting an end to my life. Duns, in themeantime, left me little leisure for contemplation. My house wasliterally besieged from morning till night, so that I began to rave,and foam, and fret like a caged tiger against the bars of hisenclosure. There were three fellows in particular who worried mebeyond endurance, keeping watch continually about my door, andthreatening me with the law. Upon these three I internally vowed thebitterest revenge, if ever I should be so happy as to get them withinmy clutches; and I believe nothing in the world but the pleasure ofthis anticipation prevented me from putting my plan of suicide intoimmediate execution, by blowing my brains out with a blunderbuss. Ithought it best, however, to dissemble my wrath, and to treat themwith promises and fair words, until, by some good turn of fate, anopportunity of vengeance should be afforded me.

"One day, having given my creditors the slip, and feeling more thanusually dejected, I continued for a long time to wander about themost obscure streets without object whatever, until at length Ichanced to stumble against the corner of a bookseller's stall. Seeinga chair close at hand, for the use of customers, I threw myselfdoggedly into it, and, hardly knowing why, opened the pages of thefirst volume which came within my reach. It proved to be a smallpamphlet treatise on Speculative Astronomy, written either byProfessor Encke of Berlin or by a Frenchman of somewhat similar name.I had some little tincture of information on matters of this nature,and soon became more and more absorbed in the contents of the book,reading it actually through twice before I awoke to a recollection ofwhat was passing around me. By this time it began to grow dark, and Idirected my steps toward home. But the treatise had made an indelibleimpression on my mind, and, as I sauntered along the dusky streets, Irevolved carefully over in my memory the wild and sometimesunintelligible reasonings of the writer. There are some particularpassages which affected my imagination in a powerful andextraordinary manner. The longer I meditated upon these the moreintense grew the interest which had been excited within me. Thelimited nature of my education in general, and more especially myignorance on subjects connected with natural philosophy, so far fromrendering me diffident of my own ability to comprehend what I hadread, or inducing me to mistrust the many vague notions which hadarisen in consequence, merely served as a farther stimulus toimagination; and I was vain enough, or perhaps reasonable enough, todoubt whether those crude ideas which, arising in ill-regulatedminds, have all the appearance, may not often in effect possess allthe force, the reality, and other inherent properties, of instinct orintuition; whether, to proceed a step farther, profundity itselfmight not, in matters of a purely speculative nature, be detected asa legitimate source of falsity and error. In other words, I believed,and still do believe, that truth, is frequently of its own essence,superficial, and that, in many cases, the depth lies more in theabysses where we seek her, than in the actual situations wherein shemay be found. Nature herself seemed to afford me corroboration ofthese ideas. In the contemplation of the heavenly bodies it struck meforcibly that I could not distinguish a star with nearly as muchprecision, when I gazed on it with earnest, direct and undeviatingattention, as when I suffered my eye only to glance in its vicinityalone. I was not, of course, at that time aware that this apparentparadox was occasioned by the center of the visual area being lesssusceptible of feeble impressions of light than the exterior portionsof the retina. This knowledge, and some of another kind, cameafterwards in the course of an eventful five years, during which Ihave dropped the prejudices of my former humble situation in life,and forgotten the bellows-mender in far different occupations. But atthe epoch of which I speak, the analogy which a casual observation ofa star offered to the conclusions I had already drawn, struck me withthe force of positive conformation, and I then finally made up mymind to the course which I afterwards pursued.

"It was late when I reached home, and I went immediately to bed. Mymind, however, was too much occupied to sleep, and I lay the wholenight buried in meditation. Arising early in the morning, andcontriving again to escape the vigilance of my creditors, I repairedeagerly to the bookseller's stall, and laid out what little readymoney I possessed, in the purchase of some volumes of Mechanics andPractical Astronomy. Having arrived at home safely with these, Idevoted every spare moment to their perusal, and soon made suchproficiency in studies of this nature as I thought sufficient for theexecution of my plan. In the intervals of this period, I made everyendeavor to conciliate the three creditors who had given me so muchannoyance. In this I finally succeeded -- partly by selling enough ofmy household furniture to satisfy a moiety of their claim, and partlyby a promise of paying the balance upon completion of a littleproject which I told them I had in view, and for assistance in whichI solicited their services. By these means -- for they were ignorantmen -- I found little difficulty in gaining them over to my purpose.

"Matters being thus arranged, I contrived, by the aid of my wife andwith the greatest secrecy and caution, to dispose of what property Ihad remaining, and to borrow, in small sums, under various pretences,and without paying any attention to my future means of repayment, noinconsiderable quantity of ready money. With the means thus accruingI proceeded to procure at intervals, cambric muslin, very fine, inpieces of twelve yards each; twine; a lot of the varnish ofcaoutchouc; a large and deep basket of wicker-work, made to order;and several other articles necessary in the construction andequipment of a balloon of extraordinary dimensions. This I directedmy wife to make up as soon as possible, and gave her all requisiteinformation as to the particular method of proceeding. In themeantime I worked up the twine into a net-work of sufficientdimensions; rigged it with a hoop and the necessary cords; bought aquadrant, a compass, a spy-glass, a common barometer with someimportant modifications, and two astronomical instruments not sogenerally known. I then took opportunities of conveying by night, toa retired situation east of Rotterdam, five iron-bound casks, tocontain about fifty gallons each, and one of a larger size; sixtinned ware tubes, three inches in diameter, properly shaped, and tenfeet in length; a quantity of a particular metallic substance, orsemi-metal, which I shall not name, and a dozen demijohns of a verycommon acid. The gas to be formed from these latter materials is agas never yet generated by any other person than myself -- or atleast never applied to any similar purpose. The secret I would makeno difficulty in disclosing, but that it of right belongs to acitizen of Nantz, in France, by whom it was conditionallycommunicated to myself. The same individual submitted to me, withoutbeing at all aware of my intentions, a method of constructingballoons from the membrane of a certain animal, through whichsubstance 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 notequally as good. I mention this circumstance, because I think itprobable that hereafter the individual in question may attempt aballoon 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 singularinvention.

"On the spot which I intended each of the smaller casks to occupyrespectively during the inflation of the balloon, I privately dug ahole two feet deep; the holes forming in this manner a circletwenty-five feet in diameter. In the centre of this circle, being thestation designed for the large cask, I also dug a hole three feet indepth. In each of the five smaller holes, I deposited a canistercontaining fifty pounds, and in the larger one a keg holding onehundred and fifty pounds, of cannon powder. These -- the keg andcanisters -- I connected in a proper manner with covered trains; andhaving let into one of the canisters the end of about four feet ofslow match, I covered up the hole, and placed the cask over it,leaving the other end of the match protruding about an inch, andbarely visible beyond the cask. I then filled up the remaining holes,and placed the barrels over them in their destined situation.

"Besides the articles above enumerated, I conveyed to the depot, andthere secreted, one of M. Grimm's improvements upon the apparatus forcondensation of the atmospheric air. I found this machine, however,to require considerable alteration before it could be adapted to thepurposes to which I intended making it applicable. But, with severelabor and unremitting perseverance, I at length met with entiresuccess in all my preparations. My balloon was soon completed. Itwould contain more than forty thousand cubic feet of gas; would takeme up easily, I calculated, with all my implements, and, if I managedrightly, with one hundred and seventy-five pounds of ballast into thebargain. It had received three coats of varnish, and I found thecambric muslin to answer all the purposes of silk itself, quite asstrong and a good deal less expensive.

"Everything being now ready, I exacted from my wife an oath ofsecrecy in relation to all my actions from the day of my first visitto the bookseller's stall; and promising, on my part, to return assoon as circumstances would permit, I gave her what little money Ihad left, and bade her farewell. Indeed I had no fear on her account.She was what people call a notable woman, and could manage matters inthe world without my assistance. I believe, to tell the truth, shealways looked upon me as an idle boy, a mere make-weight, good fornothing but building castles in the air, and was rather glad to getrid of me. It was a dark night when I bade her good-bye, and takingwith me, as aides-de-camp, the three creditors who had given me somuch trouble, we carried the balloon, with the car and accoutrements,by a roundabout way, to the station where the other articles weredeposited. We there found them all unmolested, and I proceededimmediately to business.

"It was the first of April. The night, as I said before, was dark;there was not a star to be seen; and a drizzling rain, falling atintervals, rendered us very uncomfortable. But my chief anxiety wasconcerning the balloon, which, in spite of the varnish with which itwas defended, began to grow rather heavy with the moisture; thepowder also was liable to damage. I therefore kept my three dunsworking with great diligence, pounding down ice around the centralcask, and stirring the acid in the others. They did not cease,however, importuning me with questions as to what I intended to dowith all this apparatus, and expressed much dissatisfaction at theterrible labor I made them undergo. They could not perceive, so theysaid, what good was likely to result from their getting wet to theskin, merely to take a part in such horrible incantations. I began toget uneasy, and worked away with all my might, for I verily believethe idiots supposed that I had entered into a compact with the devil,and that, in short, what I was now doing was nothing better than itshould be. I was, therefore, in great fear of their leaving mealtogether. I contrived, however, to pacify them by promises ofpayment of all scores in full, as soon as I could bring the presentbusiness to a termination. To these speeches they gave, of course,their own interpretation; fancying, no doubt, that at all events Ishould come into possession of vast quantities of ready money; andprovided I paid them all I owed, and a trifle more, in considerationof their services, I dare say they cared very little what became ofeither my soul or my carcass.

"In about four hours and a half I found the balloon sufficientlyinflated. I attached the car, therefore, and put all my implements init -- not forgetting the condensing apparatus, a copious supply ofwater, and a large quantity of provisions, such as pemmican, in whichmuch nutriment is contained in comparatively little bulk. I alsosecured in the car a pair of pigeons and a cat. It was now nearlydaybreak, and I thought it high time to take my departure. Dropping alighted cigar on the ground, as if by accident, I took theopportunity, in stooping to pick it up, of igniting privately thepiece of slow match, whose end, as I said before, protruded a verylittle beyond the lower rim of one of the smaller casks. Thismanoeuvre was totally unperceived on the part of the three duns; and,jumping into the car, I immediately cut the single cord which held meto the earth, and was pleased to find that I shot upward, carryingwith all ease one hundred and seventy-five pounds of leaden ballast,and able to have carried up as many more.

"Scarcely, however, had I attained the height of fifty yards, when,roaring and rumbling up after me in the most horrible and tumultuousmanner, came so dense a hurricane of fire, and smoke, and sulphur,and legs and arms, and gravel, and burning wood, and blazing metal,that my very heart sunk within me, and I fell down in the bottom ofthe car, trembling with unmitigated terror. Indeed, I now perceivedthat I had entirely overdone the business, and that the mainconsequences of the shock were yet to be experienced. Accordingly, inless than a second, I felt all the blood in my body rushing to mytemples, and immediately thereupon, a concussion, which I shall neverforget, burst abruptly through the night and seemed to rip the veryfirmament asunder. When I afterward had time for reflection, I didnot fail to attribute the extreme violence of the explosion, asregarded myself, to its proper cause -- my situation directly aboveit, and in the line of its greatest power. But at the time, I thoughtonly of preserving my life. The balloon at first collapsed, thenfuriously expanded, then whirled round and round with horriblevelocity, and finally, reeling and staggering like a drunken man,hurled me with great force over the rim of the car, and left medangling, at a terrific height, with my head downward, and my faceoutwards, by a piece of slender cord about three feet in length,which hung accidentally through a crevice near the bottom of thewicker-work, and in which, as I fell, my left foot became mostprovidentially entangled. It is impossible -- utterly impossible --to form any adequate idea of the horror of my situation. I gaspedconvulsively for breath -- a shudder resembling a fit of the agueagitated every nerve and muscle of my frame -- I felt my eyesstarting from their sockets -- a horrible nausea overwhelmed me --and at length I fainted away.

"How long I remained in this state it is impossible to say. It must,however, have been no inconsiderable time, for when I partiallyrecovered the sense of existence, I found the day breaking, theballoon at a prodigious height over a wilderness of ocean, and not atrace of land to be discovered far and wide within the limits of thevast horizon. My sensations, however, upon thus recovering, were byno means so rife with agony as might have been anticipated. Indeed,there was much of incipient madness in the calm survey which I beganto take of my situation. I drew up to my eyes each of my hands, oneafter the other, and wondered what occurrence could have given riseto the swelling of the veins, and the horrible blackness of thefingemails. I afterward carefully examined my head, shaking itrepeatedly, and feeling it with minute attention, until I succeededin satisfying myself that it was not, as I had more than halfsuspected, larger than my balloon. Then, in a knowing manner, I feltin both my breeches pockets, and, missing therefrom a set of tabletsand a toothpick case, endeavored to account for their disappearance,and not being able to do so, felt inexpressibly chagrined. It nowoccurred to me that I suffered great uneasiness in the joint of myleft ankle, and a dim consciousness of my situation began to glimmerthrough my mind. But, strange to say! I was neither astonished norhorror-stricken. If I felt any emotion at all, it was a kind ofchuckling satisfaction at the cleverness I was about to display inextricating myself from this dilemma; and I never, for a moment,looked upon my ultimate safety as a question susceptible of doubt.For a few minutes I remained wrapped in the profoundest meditation. Ihave a distinct recollection of frequently compressing my lips,putting my forefinger to the side of my nose, and making use of othergesticulations and grimaces common to men who, at ease in theirarm-chairs, meditate upon matters of intricacy or importance. Having,as I thought, sufficiently collected my ideas, I now, with greatcaution and deliberation, put my hands behind my back, and unfastenedthe large iron buckle which belonged to the waistband of myinexpressibles. This buckle had three teeth, which, being somewhatrusty, turned with great difficulty on their axis. I brought them,however, after some trouble, at right angles to the body of thebuckle, and was glad to find them remain firm in that position.Holding the instrument thus obtained within my teeth, I now proceededto untie the knot of my cravat. I had to rest several times before Icould accomplish this manoeuvre, but it was at length accomplished.To one end of the cravat I then made fast the buckle, and the otherend I tied, for greater security, tightly around my wrist. Drawingnow my body upwards, with a prodigious exertion of muscular force, Isucceeded, at the very first trial, in throwing the buckle over thecar, and entangling it, as I had anticipated, in the circular rim ofthe wicker-work.

"My body was now inclined towards the side of the car, at an angle ofabout forty-five degrees; but it must not be understood that I wastherefore only forty-five degrees below the perpendicular. So farfrom it, I still lay nearly level with the plane of the horizon; forthe change of situation which I had acquired, had forced the bottomof the car considerably outwards from my position, which wasaccordingly one of the most imminent and deadly peril. It should beremembered, however, that when I fell in the first instance, from thecar, if I had fallen with my face turned toward the balloon, insteadof turned outwardly from it, as it actually was; or if, in the secondplace, the cord by which I was suspended had chanced to hang over theupper edge, instead of through a crevice near the bottom of the car,-- I say it may be readily conceived that, in either of thesesupposed cases, I should have been unable to accomplish even as muchas I had now accomplished, and the wonderful adventures of HansPfaall would have been utterly lost to posterity, I had thereforeevery reason to be grateful; although, in point of fact, I was stilltoo stupid to be anything at all, and hung for, perhaps, a quarter ofan hour in that extraordinary manner, without making the slightestfarther exertion whatsoever, and in a singularly tranquil state ofidiotic enjoyment. But this feeling did not fail to die rapidly away,and thereunto succeeded horror, and dismay, and a chilling sense ofutter helplessness and ruin. In fact, the blood so long accumulatingin the vessels of my head and throat, and which had hitherto buoyedup my spirits with madness and delirium, had now begun to retirewithin their proper channels, and the distinctness which was thusadded to my perception of the danger, merely served to deprive me ofthe self-possession and courage to encounter it. But this weaknesswas, luckily for me, of no very long duration. In good time came tomy rescue the spirit of despair, and, with frantic cries andstruggles, I jerked my way bodily upwards, till at length, clutchingwith a vise-like grip the long-desired rim, I writhed my person overit, and fell headlong and shuddering within the car.

"It was not until some time afterward that I recovered myselfsufficiently to attend to the ordinary cares of the balloon. I then,however, examined it with attention, and found it, to my greatrelief, uninjured. My implements were all safe, and, fortunately, Ihad lost neither ballast nor provisions. Indeed, I had so wellsecured them in their places, that such an accident was entirely outof the question. Looking at my watch, I found it six o'clock. I wasstill rapidly ascending, and my barometer gave a present altitude ofthree and three-quarter miles. Immediately beneath me in the ocean,lay a small black object, slightly oblong in shape, seemingly aboutthe size, and in every way bearing a great resemblance to one ofthose childish toys called a domino. Bringing my telescope to bearupon it, I plainly discerned it to be a British ninety four-gun ship,close-hauled, and pitching heavily in the sea with her head to theW.S.W. Besides this ship, I saw nothing but the ocean and the sky,and the sun, which had long arisen.

"It is now high time that I should explain to your Excellencies theobject of my perilous voyage. Your Excellencies will bear in mindthat distressed circumstances in Rotterdam had at length driven me tothe resolution of committing suicide. It was not, however, that tolife itself I had any, positive disgust, but that I was harassedbeyond endurance by the adventitious miseries attending my situation.In this state of mind, wishing to live, yet wearied with life, thetreatise at the stall of the bookseller opened a resource to myimagination. I then finally made up my mind. I determined to depart,yet live -- to leave the world, yet continue to exist -- in short, todrop enigmas, I resolved, let what would ensue, to force a passage,if I could, to the moon. Now, lest I should be supposed more of amadman than I actually am, I will detail, as well as I am able, theconsiderations which led me to believe that an achievement of thisnature, although without doubt difficult, and incontestably full ofdanger, was not absolutely, to a bold spirit, beyond the confines ofthe possible.

"The moon's actual distance from the earth was the first thing to beattended to. Now, the mean or average interval between the centres ofthe two planets is 59.9643 of the earth's equatorial radii, or onlyabout 237,000 miles. I say the mean or average interval. But it mustbe borne in mind that the form of the moon's orbit being an ellipseof eccentricity amounting to no less than 0.05484 of the majorsemi-axis of the ellipse itself, and the earth's centre beingsituated in its focus, if I could, in any manner, contrive to meetthe moon, as it were, in its perigee, the above mentioned distancewould be materially diminished. But, to say nothing at present ofthis possibility, it was very certain that, at all events, from the237,000 miles I would have to deduct the radius of the earth, say4,000, and the radius of the moon, say 1080, in all 5,080, leaving anactual interval to be traversed, under average circumstances, of231,920 miles. Now this, I reflected, was no very extraordinarydistance. Travelling on land has been repeatedly accomplished at therate of thirty miles per hour, and indeed a much greater speed may beanticipated. But even at this velocity, it would take me no more than322 days to reach the surface of the moon. There were, however, manyparticulars inducing me to believe that my average rate of travellingmight possibly very much exceed that of thirty miles per hour, and,as these considerations did not fail to make a deep impression uponmy mind, I will mention them more fully hereafter.

"The next point to be regarded was a matter of far greaterimportance. From indications afforded by the barometer, we find that,in ascensions from the surface of the earth we have, at the height of1,000 feet, left below us about one-thirtieth of the entire mass ofatmospheric air, that at 10,600 we have ascended through nearlyone-third; and that at 18,000, which is not far from the elevation ofCotopaxi, we have surmounted one-half the material, or, at allevents, one-half the ponderable, body of air incumbent upon ourglobe. It is also calculated that at an altitude not exceeding thehundredth part of the earth's diameter -- that is, not exceedingeighty miles -- the rarefaction would be so excessive that animallife could in no manner be sustained, and, moreover, that the mostdelicate means we possess of ascertaining the presence of theatmosphere would be inadequate to assure us of its existence. But Idid not fail to perceive that these latter calculations are foundedaltogether on our experimental knowledge of the properties of air,and the mechanical laws regulating its dilation and compression, inwhat may be called, comparatively speaking, the immediate vicinity ofthe earth itself; and, at the same time, it is taken for granted thatanimal life is and must be essentially incapable of modification atany given unattainable distance from the surface. Now, all suchreasoning and from such data must, of course, be simply analogical.The greatest height ever reached by man was that of 25,000 feet,attained in the aeronautic expedition of Messieurs Gay-Lussac andBiot. This is a moderate altitude, even when compared with the eightymiles in question; and I could not help thinking that the subjectadmitted room for doubt and great latitude for speculation.

"But, in point of fact, an ascension being made to any givenaltitude, the ponderable quantity of air surmounted in any fartherascension is by no means in proportion to the additional heightascended (as may be plainly seen from what has been stated before),but in a ratio constantly decreasing. It is therefore evident that,ascend as high as we may, we cannot, literally speaking, arrive at alimit beyond which no atmosphere is to be found. It must exist, Iargued; although it may exist in a state of infinite rarefaction.

"On the other hand, I was aware that arguments have not been wantingto prove the existence of a real and definite limit to theatmosphere, beyond which there is absolutely no air whatsoever. But acircumstance which has been left out of view by those who contend forsuch a limit seemed to me, although no positive refutation of theircreed, still a point worthy very serious investigation. On comparingthe intervals between the successive arrivals of Encke's comet at itsperihelion, after giving credit, in the most exact manner, for allthe disturbances due to the attractions of the planets, it appearsthat the periods are gradually diminishing; that is to say, the majoraxis of the comet's ellipse is growing shorter, in a slow butperfectly regular decrease. Now, this is precisely what ought to bethe case, if we suppose a resistance experienced from the comet froman extremely rare ethereal medium pervading the regions of its orbit.For it is evident that such a medium must, in retarding the comet'svelocity, increase its centripetal, by weakening its centrifugalforce. In other words, the sun's attraction would be constantlyattaining greater power, and the comet would be drawn nearer at everyrevolution. Indeed, there is no other way of accounting for thevariation in question. But again. The real diameter of the samecomet's nebulosity is observed to contract rapidly as it approachesthe sun, and dilate with equal rapidity in its departure towards itsaphelion. Was I not justifiable in supposing with M. Valz, that thisapparent condensation of volume has its origin in the compression ofthe same ethereal medium I have spoken of before, and which is onlydenser in proportion to its solar vicinity? The lenticular-shapedphenomenon, also called the zodiacal light, was a matter worthy ofattention. This radiance, so apparent in the tropics, and whichcannot be mistaken for any meteoric lustre, extends from the horizonobliquely upward, and follows generally the direction of the sun'sequator. It appeared to me evidently in the nature of a rareatmosphere extending from the sun outward, beyond the orbit of Venusat least, and I believed indefinitely farther.{*2} Indeed, thismedium I could not suppose confined to the path of the comet'sellipse, or to the immediate neighborhood of the sun. It was easy, onthe contrary, to imagine it pervading the entire regions of ourplanetary system, condensed into what we call atmosphere at theplanets themselves, and perhaps at some of them modified byconsiderations, so to speak, purely geological.

Having adopted this view of the subject, I had little furtherhesitation. Granting that on my passage I should meet with atmosphereessentially the same as at the surface of the earth, I conceivedthat, by means of the very ingenious apparatus of M. Grimm, I shouldreadily be enabled to condense it in sufficient quantity for thepurposes of respiration. This would remove the chief obstacle in ajourney to the moon. I had indeed spent some money and great labor inadapting the apparatus to the object intended, and confidently lookedforward to its successful application, if I could manage to completethe voyage within any reasonable period. This brings me back to therate at which it might be possible to travel.

"It is true that balloons, in the first stage of their ascensionsfrom the earth, are known to rise with a velocity comparativelymoderate. Now, the power of elevation lies altogether in the superiorlightness of the gas in the balloon compared with the atmosphericair; and, at first sight, it does not appear probable that, as theballoon acquires altitude, and consequently arrives successively inatmospheric strata of densities rapidly diminishing -- I say, it doesnot appear at all reasonable that, in this its progress upwards, theoriginal velocity should be accelerated. On the other hand, I was notaware that, in any recorded ascension, a diminution was apparent inthe absolute rate of ascent; although such should have been the case,if on account of nothing else, on account of the escape of gasthrough balloons ill-constructed, and varnished with no bettermaterial than the ordinary varnish. It seemed, therefore, that theeffect of such escape was only sufficient to counterbalance theeffect of some accelerating power. I now considered that, provided inmy passage I found the medium I had imagined, and provided that itshould prove to be actually and essentially what we denominateatmospheric air, it could make comparatively little difference atwhat extreme state of rarefaction I should discover it -- that is tosay, in regard to my power of ascending -- for the gas in the balloonwould not only be itself subject to rarefaction partially similar (inproportion to the occurrence of which, I could suffer an escape of somuch as would be requisite to prevent explosion), but, being what itwas, would, at all events, continue specifically lighter than anycompound whatever of mere nitrogen and oxygen. In the meantime, theforce of gravitation would be constantly diminishing, in proportionto the squares of the distances, and thus, with a velocityprodigiously accelerating, I should at length arrive in those distantregions where the force of the earth's attraction would be supersededby that of the moon. In accordance with these ideas, I did not thinkit worth while to encumber myself with more provisions than would besufficient for a period of forty days.

"There was still, however, another difficulty, which occasioned mesome little disquietude. It has been observed, that, in balloonascensions to any considerable height, besides the pain attendingrespiration, great uneasiness is experienced about the head and body,often accompanied with bleeding at the nose, and other symptoms of analarming kind, and growing more and more inconvenient in proportionto the altitude attained.{*3} This was a reflection of a naturesomewhat startling. Was it not probable that these symptoms wouldincrease indefinitely, or at least until terminated by death itself?I finally thought not. Their origin was to be looked for in theprogressive removal of the customary atmospheric pressure upon thesurface of the body, and consequent distention of the superficialblood-vessels -- not in any positive disorganization of the animalsystem, as in the case of difficulty in breathing, where theatmospheric density is chemically insufficient for the due renovationof blood in a ventricle of the heart. Unless for default of thisrenovation, I could see no reason, therefore, why life could not besustained even in a vacuum; for the expansion and compression ofchest, commonly called breathing, is action purely muscular, and thecause, not the effect, of respiration. In a word, I conceived that,as the body should become habituated to the want of atmosphericpressure, the sensations of pain would gradually diminish -- and toendure them while they continued, I relied with confidence upon theiron hardihood of my constitution.

"Thus, may it please your Excellencies, I have detailed some, thoughby no means all, the considerations which led me to form the projectof a lunar voyage. I shall now proceed to lay before you the resultof an attempt so apparently audacious in conception, and, at allevents, so utterly unparalleled in the annals of mankind.

"Having attained the altitude before mentioned, that is to say threemiles and three-quarters, I threw out from the car a quantity offeathers, and found that I still ascended with sufficient rapidity;there was, therefore, no necessity for discharging any ballast. I wasglad of this, for I wished to retain with me as much weight as Icould carry, for reasons which will be explained in the sequel. I asyet suffered no bodily inconvenience, breathing with great freedom,and feeling no pain whatever in the head. The cat was lying verydemurely upon my coat, which I had taken off, and eyeing the pigeonswith an air of nonchalance. These latter being tied by the leg, toprevent their escape, were busily employed in picking up some grainsof rice scattered for them in the bottom of the car.

"At twenty minutes past six o'clock, the barometer showed anelevation of 26,400 feet, or five miles to a fraction. The prospectseemed unbounded. Indeed, it is very easily calculated by means ofspherical geometry, what a great extent of the earth's area I beheld.The convex surface of any segment of a sphere is, to the entiresurface of the sphere itself, as the versed sine of the segment tothe diameter of the sphere. Now, in my case, the versed sine -- thatis to say, the thickness of the segment beneath me -- was about equalto my elevation, or the elevation of the point of sight above thesurface. "As five miles, then, to eight thousand," would express theproportion of the earth's area seen by me. In other words, I beheldas much as a sixteen-hundredth part of the whole surface of theglobe. The sea appeared unruffled as a mirror, although, by means ofthe spy-glass, I could perceive it to be in a state of violentagitation. The ship was no longer visible, having drifted away,apparently to the eastward. I now began to experience, at intervals,severe pain in the head, especially about the ears -- still, however,breathing with tolerable freedom. The cat and pigeons seemed tosuffer no inconvenience whatsoever.

"At twenty minutes before seven, the balloon entered a long series ofdense cloud, which put me to great trouble, by damaging my condensingapparatus and wetting me to the skin. This was, to be sure, asingular recontre, for I had not believed it possible that a cloud ofthis nature could be sustained at so great an elevation. I thought itbest, however, to throw out two five-pound pieces of ballast,reserving still a weight of one hundred and sixty-five pounds. Uponso doing, I soon rose above the difficulty, and perceivedimmediately, that I had obtained a great increase in my rate ofascent. In a few seconds after my leaving the cloud, a flash of vividlightning shot from one end of it to the other, and caused it tokindle up, throughout its vast extent, like a mass of ignited andglowing charcoal. This, it must be remembered, was in the broad lightof day. No fancy may picture the sublimity which might have beenexhibited by a similar phenomenon taking place amid the darkness ofthe night. Hell itself might have been found a fitting image. Even asit was, my hair stood on end, while I gazed afar down within theyawning abysses, letting imagination descend, as it were, and stalkabout in the strange vaulted halls, and ruddy gulfs, and red ghastlychasms of the hideous and unfathomable fire. I had indeed made anarrow escape. Had the balloon remained a very short while longerwithin the cloud -- that is to say -- had not the inconvenience ofgetting wet, determined me to discharge the ballast, inevitable ruinwould have been the consequence. Such perils, although littleconsidered, are perhaps the greatest which must be encountered inballoons. I had by this time, however, attained too great anelevation to be any longer uneasy on this head.

"I was now rising rapidly, and by seven o'clock the barometerindicated an altitude of no less than nine miles and a half. I beganto find great difficulty in drawing my breath. My head, too, wasexcessively painful; and, having felt for some time a moisture aboutmy cheeks, I at length discovered it to be blood, which was oozingquite fast from the drums of my ears. My eyes, also, gave me greatuneasiness. Upon passing the hand over them they seemed to haveprotruded from their sockets in no inconsiderable degree; and allobjects in the car, and even the balloon itself, appeared distortedto my vision. These symptoms were more than I had expected, andoccasioned me some alarm. At this juncture, very imprudently, andwithout consideration, I threw out from the car three five-poundpieces of ballast. The accelerated rate of ascent thus obtained,carried me too rapidly, and without sufficient gradation, into ahighly rarefied stratum of the atmosphere, and the result had nearlyproved fatal to my expedition and to myself. I was suddenly seizedwith a spasm which lasted for more than five minutes, and even whenthis, in a measure, ceased, I could catch my breath only at longintervals, and in a gasping manner -- bleeding all the whilecopiously at the nose and ears, and even slightly at the eyes. Thepigeons appeared distressed in the extreme, and struggled to escape;while the cat mewed piteously, and, with her tongue hanging out ofher mouth, staggered to and fro in the car as if under the influenceof poison. I now too late discovered the great rashness of which Ihad been guilty in discharging the ballast, and my agitation wasexcessive. I anticipated nothing less than death, and death in a fewminutes. The physical suffering I underwent contributed also torender me nearly incapable of making any exertion for thepreservation of my life. I had, indeed, little power of reflectionleft, and the violence of the pain in my head seemed to be greatly onthe increase. Thus I found that my senses would shortly give wayaltogether, and I had already clutched one of the valve ropes withthe view of attempting a descent, when the recollection of the trickI had played the three creditors, and the possible consequences tomyself, should I return, operated to deter me for the moment. I laydown in the bottom of the car, and endeavored to collect myfaculties. In this I so far succeeded as to determine upon theexperiment of losing blood. Having no lancet, however, I wasconstrained to perform the operation in the best manner I was able,and finally succeeded in opening a vein in my right arm, with theblade of my penknife. The blood had hardly commenced flowing when Iexperienced a sensible relief, and by the time I had lost about halfa moderate basin full, most of the worst symptoms had abandoned meentirely. I nevertheless did not think it expedient to attemptgetting on my feet immediately; but, having tied up my arm as well asI could, I lay still for about a quarter of an hour. At the end ofthis time I arose, and found myself freer from absolute pain of anykind than I had been during the last hour and a quarter of myascension. The difficulty of breathing, however, was diminished in avery slight degree, and I found that it would soon be positivelynecessary to make use of my condenser. In the meantime, lookingtoward the cat, who was again snugly stowed away upon my coat, Idiscovered to my infinite surprise, that she had taken theopportunity of my indisposition to bring into light a litter of threelittle kittens. This was an addition to the number of passengers onmy part altogether unexpected; but I was pleased at the occurrence.It would afford me a chance of bringing to a kind of test the truthof a surmise, which, more than anything else, had influenced me inattempting this ascension. I had imagined that the habitual enduranceof the atmospheric pressure at the surface of the earth was thecause, or nearly so, of the pain attending animal existence at adistance above the surface. Should the kittens be found to sufferuneasiness in an equal degree with their mother, I must consider mytheory in fault, but a failure to do so I should look upon as astrong confirmation of my idea.

"By eight o'clock I had actually attained an elevation of seventeenmiles above the surface of the earth. Thus it seemed to me evidentthat my rate of ascent was not only on the increase, but that theprogression would have been apparent in a slight degree even had Inot discharged the ballast which I did. The pains in my head and earsreturned, at intervals, with violence, and I still continued to bleedoccasionally at the nose; but, upon the whole, I suffered much lessthan might have been expected. I breathed, however, at every moment,with more and more difficulty, and each inhalation was attended witha troublesome spasmodic action of the chest. I now unpacked thecondensing apparatus, and got it ready for immediate use.

"The view of the earth, at this period of my ascension, was beautifulindeed. To the westward, the northward, and the southward, as far asI could see, lay a boundless sheet of apparently unruffled ocean,which every moment gained a deeper and a deeper tint of blue andbegan already to assume a slight appearance of convexity. At a vastdistance to the eastward, although perfectly discernible, extendedthe islands of Great Britain, the entire Atlantic coasts of Franceand Spain, with a small portion of the northern part of the continentof Africa. Of individual edifices not a trace could be discovered,and the proudest cities of mankind had utterly faded away from theface of the earth. From the rock of Gibraltar, now dwindled into adim speck, the dark Mediterranean sea, dotted with shining islands asthe heaven is dotted with stars, spread itself out to the eastward asfar as my vision extended, until its entire mass of waters seemed atlength to tumble headlong over the abyss of the horizon, and I foundmyself listening on tiptoe for the echoes of the mighty cataract.Overhead, the sky was of a jetty black, and the stars werebrilliantly visible.

"The pigeons about this time seeming to undergo much suffering, Idetermined upon giving them their liberty. I first untied one ofthem, a beautiful gray-mottled pigeon, and placed him upon the rim ofthe wicker-work. He appeared extremely uneasy, looking anxiouslyaround him, fluttering his wings, and making a loud cooing noise, butcould not be persuaded to trust himself from off the car. I took himup at last, and threw him to about half a dozen yards from theballoon. He made, however, no attempt to descend as I had expected,but struggled with great vehemence to get back, uttering at the sametime very shrill and piercing cries. He at length succeeded inregaining his former station on the rim, but had hardly done so whenhis head dropped upon his breast, and be fell dead within the car.The other one did not prove so unfortunate. To prevent his followingthe example of his companion, and accomplishing a return, I threw himdownward with all my force, and was pleased to find him continue hisdescent, with great velocity, making use of his wings with ease, andin a perfectly natural manner. In a very short time he was out ofsight, and I have no doubt he reached home in safety. Puss, whoseemed in a great measure recovered from her illness, now made ahearty meal of the dead bird and then went to sleep with muchapparent satisfaction. Her kittens were quite lively, and so farevinced not the slightest sign of any uneasiness whatever.

"At a quarter-past eight, being no longer able to draw breath withoutthe most intolerable pain, I proceeded forthwith to adjust around thecar the apparatus belonging to the condenser. This apparatus willrequire some little explanation, and your Excellencies will please tobear in mind that my object, in the first place, was to surroundmyself and cat entirely with a barricade against the highly rarefiedatmosphere in which I was existing, with the intention of introducingwithin this barricade, by means of my condenser, a quantity of thissame atmosphere sufficiently condensed for the purposes ofrespiration. With this object in view I had prepared a very strongperfectly air-tight, but flexible gum-elastic bag. In this bag, whichwas of sufficient dimensions, the entire car was in a manner placed.That is to say, it (the bag) was drawn over the whole bottom of thecar, up its sides, and so on, along the outside of the ropes, to theupper rim or hoop where the net-work is attached. Having pulled thebag up in this way, and formed a complete enclosure on all sides, andat botttom, it was now necessary to fasten up its top or mouth, bypassing its material over the hoop of the net-work -- in other words,between the net-work and the hoop. But if the net-work were separatedfrom the hoop to admit this passage, what was to sustain the car inthe meantime? Now the net-work was not permanently fastened to thehoop, but attached by a series of running loops or nooses. Itherefore undid only a few of these loops at one time, leaving thecar suspended by the remainder. Having thus inserted a portion of thecloth forming the upper part of the bag, I refastened the loops --not to the hoop, for that would have been impossible, since the clothnow intervened -- but to a series of large buttons, affixed to thecloth itself, about three feet below the mouth of the bag, theintervals between the buttons having been made to correspond to theintervals between the loops. This done, a few more of the loops wereunfastened from the rim, a farther portion of the cloth introduced,and the disengaged loops then connected with their proper buttons. Inthis way it was possible to insert the whole upper part of the bagbetween the net-work and the hoop. It is evident that the hoop wouldnow drop down within the car, while the whole weight of the caritself, with all its contents, would be held up merely by thestrength of the buttons. This, at first sight, would seem aninadequate dependence; but it was by no means so, for the buttonswere not only very strong in themselves, but so close together that avery slight portion of the whole weight was supported by any one ofthem. Indeed, had the car and contents been three times heavier thanthey were, I should not have been at all uneasy. I now raised up thehoop again within the covering of gum-elastic, and propped it atnearly its former height by means of three light poles prepared forthe occasion. This was done, of course, to keep the bag distended atthe top, and to preserve the lower part of the net-work in its propersituation. All that now remained was to fasten up the mouth of theenclosure; and this was readily accomplished by gathering the foldsof the material together, and twisting them up very tightly on theinside by means of a kind of stationary tourniquet.

"In the sides of the covering thus adjusted round the car, had beeninserted three circular panes of thick but clear glass, through whichI could see without difficulty around me in every horizontaldirection. In that portion of the cloth forming the bottom, waslikewise, a fourth window, of the same kind, and corresponding with asmall aperture in the floor of the car itself. This enabled me to seeperpendicularly down, but having found it impossible to place anysimilar contrivance overhead, on account of the peculiar manner ofclosing up the opening there, and the consequent wrinkles in thecloth, I could expect to see no objects situated directly in myzenith. This, of course, was a matter of little consequence; for hadI even been able to place a window at top, the balloon itself wouldhave prevented my making any use of it.

"About a foot below one of the side windows was a circular opening,eight inches in diameter, and fitted with a brass rim adapted in itsinner edge to the windings of a screw. In this rim was screwed thelarge tube of the condenser, the body of the machine being, ofcourse, within the chamber of gum-elastic. Through this tube aquantity of the rare atmosphere circumjacent being drawn by means ofa vacuum created in the body of the machine, was thence discharged,in a state of condensation, to mingle with the thin air already inthe chamber. This operation being repeated several times, at lengthfilled the chamber with atmosphere proper for all the purposes ofrespiration. But in so confined a space it would, in a short time,necessarily become foul, and unfit for use from frequent contact withthe lungs. It was then ejected by a small valve at the bottom of thecar -- the dense air readily sinking into the thinner atmospherebelow. To avoid the inconvenience of making a total vacuum at anymoment within the chamber, this purification was never accomplishedall at once, but in a gradual manner -- the valve being opened onlyfor a few seconds, then closed again, until one or two strokes fromthe pump of the condenser had supplied the place of the atmosphereejected. For the sake of experiment I had put the cat and kittens ina small basket, and suspended it outside the car to a button at thebottom, close by the valve, through which I could feed them at anymoment when necessary. I did this at some little risk, and beforeclosing the mouth of the chamber, by reaching under the car with oneof the poles before mentioned to which a hook had been attached.

"By the time I had fully completed these arrangements and filled thechamber as explained, it wanted only ten minutes of nine o'clock.During the whole period of my being thus employed, I endured the mostterrible distress from difficulty of respiration, and bitterly did Irepent the negligence or rather fool-hardiness, of which I had beenguilty, of putting off to the last moment a matter of so muchimportance. But having at length accomplished it, I soon began toreap the benefit of my invention. Once again I breathed with perfectfreedom and ease -- and indeed why should I not? I was also agreeablysurprised to find myself, in a great measure, relieved from theviolent pains which had hitherto tormented me. A slight headache,accompanied with a sensation of fulness or distention about thewrists, the ankles, and the throat, was nearly all of which I had nowto complain. Thus it seemed evident that a greater part of theuneasiness attending the removal of atmospheric pressure had actuallyworn off, as I had expected, and that much of the pain endured forthe last two hours should have been attributed altogether to theeffects of a deficient respiration.

"At twenty minutes before nine o'clock -- that is to say, a shorttime prior to my closing up the mouth of the chamber, the mercuryattained its limit, or ran down, in the barometer, which, as Imentioned before, was one of an extended construction. It thenindicated an altitude on my part of 132,000 feet, or five-and-twentymiles, and I consequently surveyed at that time an extent of theearth's area amounting to no less than the threehundred-and-twentieth part of its entire superficies. At nine o'clockI had again lost sight of land to the eastward, but not before Ibecame aware that the balloon was drifting rapidly to the N. N. W.The convexity of the ocean beneath me was very evident indeed,although my view was often interrupted by the masses of cloud whichfloated to and fro. I observed now that even the lightest vaporsnever rose to more than ten miles above the level of the sea.

"At half past nine I tried the experiment of throwing out a handfulof feathers through the valve. They did not float as I had expected;but dropped down perpendicularly, like a bullet, en masse, and withthe greatest velocity -- being out of sight in a very few seconds. Idid not at first know what to make of this extraordinary phenomenon;not being able to believe that my rate of ascent had, of a sudden,met with so prodigious an acceleration. But it soon occurred to methat the atmosphere was now far too rare to sustain even thefeathers; that they actually fell, as they appeared to do, with greatrapidity; and that I had been surprised by the united velocities oftheir descent and my own elevation.

"By ten o'clock I found that I had very little to occupy my immediateattention. Affairs went swimmingly, and I believed the balloon to begoing upward witb a speed increasing momently although I had nolonger any means of ascertaining the progression of the increase. Isuffered no pain or uneasiness of any kind, and enjoyed betterspirits than I had at any period since my departure from Rotterdam,busying myself now in examining the state of my various apparatus,and now in regenerating the atmosphere within the chamber. Thislatter point I determined to attend to at regular intervals of fortyminutes, more on account of the preservation of my health, than fromso frequent a renovation being absolutely necessary. In the meanwhileI could not help making anticipations. Fancy revelled in the wild anddreamy regions of the moon. Imagination, feeling herself for onceunshackled, roamed at will among the ever-changing wonders of ashadowy and unstable land. Now there were boary and time-honoredforests, and craggy precipices, and waterfalls tumbling with a loudnoise into abysses without a bottom. Then I came suddenly into stillnoonday solitudes, where no wind of heaven ever intruded, and wherevast meadows of poppies, and slender, lily-looking flowers spreadthemselves out a weary distance, all silent and motionless forever.Then again I journeyed far down away into another country where itwas all one dim and vague lake, with a boundary line of clouds. Andout of this melancholy water arose a forest of tall eastern trees,like a wilderness of dreams. And I have in mind that the shadows ofthe trees which fell upon the lake remained not on the surface wherethey fell, but sunk slowly and steadily down, and commingled with thewaves, while from the trunks of the trees other shadows werecontinually coming out, and taking the place of their brothers thusentombed. "This then," I said thoughtfully, "is the very reason whythe waters of this lake grow blacker with age, and more melancholy asthe hours run on." But fancies such as these were not the solepossessors of my brain. Horrors of a nature most stern and mostappalling would too frequently obtrude themselves upon my mind, andshake the innermost depths of my soul with the bare supposition oftheir possibility. Yet I would not suffer my thoughts for any lengthof time to dwell upon these latter speculations, rightly judging thereal and palpable dangers of the voyage sufficient for my undividedattention.

"At five o'clock, p.m., being engaged in regenerating the atmospherewithin the chamber, I took that opportunity of observing the cat andkittens through the valve. The cat herself appeared to suffer againvery much, and I had no hesitation in attributing her uneasinesschiefly to a difficulty in breathing; but my experiment with thekittens had resulted very strangely. I had expected, of course, tosee them betray a sense of pain, although in a less degree than theirmother, and this would have been sufficient to confirm my opinionconcerning the habitual endurance of atmospheric pressure. But I wasnot prepared to find them, upon close examination, evidently enjoyinga high degree of health, breathing with the greatest ease and perfectregularity, and evincing not the slightest sign of any uneasinesswhatever. I could only account for all this by extending my theory,and supposing that the highly rarefied atmosphere around mightperhaps not be, as I had taken for granted, chemically insufficientfor the purposes of life, and that a person born in such a mediummight, possibly, be unaware of any inconvenience attending itsinhalation, while, upon removal to the denser strata near the earth,he might endure tortures of a similar nature to those I had so latelyexperienced. It has since been to me a matter of deep regret that anawkward accident, at this time, occasioned me the loss of my littlefamily of cats, and deprived me of the insight into this matter whicha continued experiment might have afforded. In passing my handthrough the valve, with a cup of water for the old puss, the sleevesof my shirt became entangled in the loop which sustained the basket,and thus, in a moment, loosened it from the bottom. Had the wholeactually vanished into air, it could not have shot from my sight in amore abrupt and instantaneous manner. Positively, there could nothave intervened the tenth part of a second between the disengagementof the basket and its absolute and total disappearance with all thatit contained. My good wishes followed it to the earth, but of course,I had no hope that either cat or kittens would ever live to tell thetale of their misfortune.

"At six o'clock, I perceived a great portion of the earth's visiblearea to the eastward involved in thick shadow, which continued toadvance with great rapidity, until, at five minutes before seven, thewhole surface in view was enveloped in the darkness of night. It wasnot, however, until long after this time that the rays of the settingsun ceased to illumine the balloon; and this circumstance, althoughof course fully anticipated, did not fail to give me an infinite dealof pleasure. It was evident that, in the morning, I should behold therising luminary many hours at least before the citizens of Rotterdam,in spite of their situation so much farther to the eastward, andthus, day after day, in proportion to the height ascended, would Ienjoy the light of the sun for a longer and a longer period. I nowdetermined to keep a journal of my passage, reckoning the days fromone to twenty-four hours continuously, without taking intoconsideration the intervals of darkness.

"At ten o'clock, feeling sleepy, I determined to lie down for therest of the night; but here a difficulty presented itself, which,obvious as it may appear, had escaped my attention up to the verymoment of which I am now speaking. If I went to sleep as I proposed,how could the atmosphere in the chamber be regenerated in theinterim? To breathe it for more than an hour, at the farthest, wouldbe a matter of impossibility, or, if even this term could be extendedto an hour and a quarter, the most ruinous consequences might ensue.The consideration of this dilemma gave me no little disquietude; andit will hardly be believed, that, after the dangers I had undergone,I should look upon this business in so serious a light, as to give upall hope of accomplishing my ultimate design, and finally make up mymind to the necessity of a descent. But this hesitation was onlymomentary. I reflected that man is the veriest slave of custom, andthat many points in the routine of his existence are deemedessentially important, which are only so at all by his havingrendered them habitual. It was very certain that I could not dowithout sleep; but I might easily bring myself to feel noinconvenience from being awakened at intervals of an hour during thewhole period of my repose. It would require but five minutes at mostto regenerate the atmosphere in the fullest manner, and the only realdifficulty was to contrive a method of arousing myself at the propermoment for so doing. But this was a question which, I am willing toconfess, occasioned me no little trouble in its solution. To be sure,I had heard of the student who, to prevent his falling asleep overhis books, held in one hand a ball of copper, the din of whosedescent into a basin of the same metal on the floor beside his chair,served effectually to startle him up, if, at any moment, he should beovercome with drowsiness. My own case, however, was very differentindeed, and left me no room for any similar idea; for I did not wishto keep awake, but to be aroused from slumber at regular intervals oftime. I at length hit upon the following expedient, which, simple asit may seem, was hailed by me, at the moment of discovery, as aninvention fully equal to that of the telescope, the steam-engine, orthe art of printing itself.

"It is necessary to premise, that the balloon, at the elevation nowattained, continued its course upward with an even and undeviatingascent, and the car consequently followed with a steadiness soperfect that it would have been impossible to detect in it theslightest vacillation whatever. This circumstance favored me greatlyin the project I now determined to adopt. My supply of water had beenput on board in kegs containing five gallons each, and ranged verysecurely around the interior of the car. I unfastened one of these,and taking two ropes tied them tightly across the rim of thewicker-work from one side to the other; placing them about a footapart and parallel so as to form a kind of shelf, upon which I placedthe keg, and steadied it in a horizontal position. About eight inchesimmediately below these ropes, and four feet from the bottom of thecar I fastened another shelf -- but made of thin plank, being theonly similar piece of wood I had. Upon this latter shelf, and exactlybeneath one of the rims of the keg, a small earthern pitcher wasdeposited. I now bored a hole in the end of the keg over the pitcher,and fitted in a plug of soft wood, cut in a tapering or conicalshape. This plug I pushed in or pulled out, as might happen, until,after a few experiments, it arrived at that exact degree oftightness, at which the water, oozing from the hole, and falling intothe pitcher below, would fill the latter to the brim in the period ofsixty minutes. This, of course, was a matter briefly and easilyascertained, by noticing the proportion of the pitcher filled in anygiven time. Having arranged all this, the rest of the plan isobvious. My bed was so contrived upon the floor of the car, as tobring my head, in lying down, immediately below the mouth of thepitcher. It was evident, that, at the expiration of an hour, thepitcher, getting full, would be forced to run over, and to run overat the mouth, which was somewhat lower than the rim. It was alsoevident, that the water thus falling from a height of more than fourfeet, could not do otherwise than fall upon my face, and that thesure consequences would be, to waken me up instantaneously, even fromthe soundest slumber in the world.

"It was fully eleven by the time I had completed these arrangements,and I immediately betook myself to bed, with full confidence in theefficiency of my invention. Nor in this matter was I disappointed.Punctually every sixty minutes was I aroused by my trustychronometer, when, having emptied the pitcher into the bung-hole ofthe keg, and performed the duties of the condenser, I retired againto bed. These regular interruptions to my slumber caused me even lessdiscomfort than I had anticipated; and when I finally arose for theday, it was seven o'clock, and the sun had attained many degreesabove the line of my horizon.

"April 3d. I found the balloon at an immense height indeed, and theearth's apparent convexity increased in a material degree. Below mein the ocean lay a cluster of black specks, which undoubtedly wereislands. Far away to the northward I perceived a thin, white, andexceedingly brilliant line, or streak, on the edge of the horizon,and I had no hesitation in supposing it to be the southern disk ofthe ices of the Polar Sea. My curiosity was greatly excited, for Ihad hopes of passing on much farther to the north, and mightpossibly, at some period, find myself placed directly above the Poleitself. I now lamented that my great elevation would, in this case,prevent my taking as accurate a survey as I could wish. Much,however, might be ascertained. Nothing else of an extraordinarynature occurred during the day. My apparatus all continued in goodorder, and the balloon still ascended without any perceptiblevacillation. The cold was intense, and obliged me to wrap up closelyin an overcoat. When darkness came over the earth, I betook myself tobed, although it was for many hours afterward broad daylight allaround my immediate situation. The water-clock was punctual in itsduty, and I slept until next morning soundly, with the exception ofthe periodical interruption.

"April 4th. Arose in good health and spirits, and was astonished atthe singular change which had taken place in the appearance of thesea. It had lost, in a great measure, the deep tint of blue it hadhitherto worn, being now of a grayish-white, and of a lustre dazzlingto the eye. The islands were no longer visible; whether they hadpassed down the horizon to the southeast, or whether my increasingelevation had left them out of sight, it is impossible to say. I wasinclined, however, to the latter opinion. The rim of ice to thenorthward was growing more and more apparent. Cold by no means sointense. Nothing of importance occurred, and I passed the day inreading, having taken care to supply myself with books.

"April 5th. Beheld the singular phenomenon of the sun rising whilenearly the whole visible surface of the earth continued to beinvolved in darkness. In time, however, the light spread itself overall, and I again saw the line of ice to the northward. It was nowvery distinct, and appeared of a much darker hue than the waters ofthe ocean. I was evidently approaching it, and with great rapidity.Fancied I could again distinguish a strip of land to the eastward,and one also to the westward, but could not be certain. Weathermoderate. Nothing of any consequence happened during the day. Wentearly to bed.

"April 6th. Was surprised at finding the rim of ice at a verymoderate distance, and an immense field of the same materialstretching away off to the horizon in the north. It was evident thatif the balloon held its present course, it would soon arrive abovethe Frozen Ocean, and I had now little doubt of ultimately seeing thePole. During the whole of the day I continued to near the ice. Towardnight the limits of my horizon very suddenly and materiallyincreased, owing undoubtedly to the earth's form being that of anoblate spheroid, and my arriving above the flattened regions in thevicinity of the Arctic circle. When darkness at length overtook me, Iwent to bed in great anxiety, fearing to pass over the object of somuch curiosity when I should have no opportunity of observing it.

"April 7th. Arose early, and, to my great joy, at length beheld whatthere could be no hesitation in supposing the northern Pole itself.It was there, beyond a doubt, and immediately beneath my feet; but,alas! I had now ascended to so vast a distance, that nothing couldwith accuracy be discerned. Indeed, to judge from the progression ofthe numbers indicating my various altitudes, respectively, atdifferent periods, between six A.M. on the second of April, andtwenty minutes before nine A.M. of the same day (at which time thebarometer ran down), it might be fairly inferred that the balloon hadnow, at four o'clock in the morning of April the seventh, reached aheight of not less, certainly, than 7,254 miles above the surface ofthe sea. This elevation may appear immense, but the estimate uponwhich it is calculated gave a result in all probability far inferiorto the truth. At all events I undoubtedly beheld the whole of theearth's major diameter; the entire northern hemisphere lay beneath melike a chart orthographically projected: and the great circle of theequator itself formed the boundary line of my horizon. YourExcellencies may, however, readily imagine that the confined regionshitherto unexplored within the limits of the Arctic circle, althoughsituated directly beneath me, and therefore seen without anyappearance of being foreshortened, were still, in themselves,comparatively too diminutive, and at too great a distance from thepoint of sight, to admit of any very accurate examination.Nevertheless, what could be seen was of a nature singular andexciting. Northwardly from that huge rim before mentioned, and which,with slight qualification, may be called the limit of human discoveryin these regions, one unbroken, or nearly unbroken, sheet of icecontinues to extend. In the first few degrees of this its progress,its surface is very sensibly flattened, farther on depressed into aplane, and finally, becoming not a little concave, it terminates, atthe Pole itself, in a circular centre, sharply defined, wboseapparent diameter subtended at the balloon an angle of aboutsixty-five seconds, and whose dusky hue, varying in intensity, was,at all times, darker than any other spot upon the visible hemisphere,and occasionally deepened into the most absolute and impenetrableblackness. Farther than this, little could be ascertained. By twelveo'clock the circular centre had materially decreased incircumference, and by seven P.M. I lost sight of it entirely; theballoon passing over the western limb of the ice, and floating awayrapidly in the direction of the equator.

"April 8th. Found a sensible diminution in the earth's apparentdiameter, besides a material alteration in its general color andappearance. The whole visible area partook in different degrees of atint of pale yellow, and in some portions had acquired a brilliancyeven painful to the eye. My view downward was also considerablyimpeded by the dense atmosphere in the vicinity of the surface beingloaded with clouds, between whose masses I could only now and thenobtain a glimpse of the earth itself. This difficulty of directvision had troubled me more or less for the last forty-eight hours;but my present enormous elevation brought closer together, as itwere, the floating bodies of vapor, and the inconvenience became, ofcourse, more and more palpable in proportion to my ascent.Nevertheless, I could easily perceive that the balloon now hoveredabove the range of great lakes in the continent of North America, andwas holding a course, due south, which would bring me to the tropics.This circumstance did not fail to give me the most heartfulsatisfaction, and I hailed it as a happy omen of ultimate success.Indeed, the direction I had hitherto taken, had filled me withuneasiness; for it was evident that, had I continued it much longer,there would have been no possibility of my arriving at the moon atall, whose orbit is inclined to the ecliptic at only the small angleof 5 degrees 8' 48".

"April 9th. To-day the earth's diameter was greatly diminished, andthe color of the surface assumed hourly a deeper tint of yellow. Theballoon kept steadily on her course to the southward, and arrived, atnine P.M., over the northern edge of the Mexican Gulf.

"April 10th. I was suddenly aroused from slumber, about five o'clockthis morning, by a loud, crackling, and terrific sound, for which Icould in no manner account. It was of very brief duration, but, whileit lasted resembled nothing in the world of which I had any previousexperience. It is needless to say that I became excessively alarmed,having, in the first instance, attributed the noise to the burstingof the balloon. I examined all my apparatus, however, with greatattention, and could discover nothing out of order. Spent a greatpart of the day in meditating upon an occurrence so extraordinary,but could find no means whatever of accounting for it. Went to beddissatisfied, and in a state of great anxiety and agitation.

"April 11th. Found a startling diminution in the apparent diameter ofthe earth, and a considerable increase, now observable for the firsttime, in that of the moon itself, which wanted only a few days ofbeing full. It now required long and excessive labor to condensewithin the chamber sufficient atmospheric air for the sustenance oflife.

"April 12th. A singular alteration took place in regard to thedirection of the balloon, and although fully anticipated, afforded methe most unequivocal delight. Having reached, in its former course,about the twentieth parallel of southern latitude, it turned offsuddenly, at an acute angle, to the eastward, and thus proceededthroughout the day, keeping nearly, if not altogether, in the exactplane of the lunar elipse. What was worthy of remark, a veryperceptible vacillation in the car was a consequence of this changeof route -- a vacillation which prevailed, in a more or less degree,for a period of many hours.

"April 13th. Was again very much alarmed by a repetition of the loud,crackling noise which terrified me on the tenth. Thought long uponthe subject, but was unable to form any satisfactory conclusion.Great decrease in the earth's apparent diameter, which now subtendedfrom the balloon an angle of very little more than twenty-fivedegrees. The moon could not be seen at all, being nearly in myzenith. I still continued in the plane of the elipse, but made littleprogress to the eastward.

"April 14th. Extremely rapid decrease in the diameter of the earth.To-day I became strongly impressed with the idea, that the balloonwas now actually running up the line of apsides to the point ofperigee- in other words, holding the direct course which would bringit immediately to the moon in that part of its orbit the nearest tothe earth. The moon iself was directly overhead, and consequentlyhidden from my view. Great and long-continued labor necessary for thecondensation of the atmosphere.

"April 15th. Not even the outlines of continents and seas could nowbe traced upon the earth with anything approaching distinctness.About twelve o'clock I became aware, for the third time, of thatappalling sound which had so astonished me before. It now, however,continued for some moments, and gathered intensity as it continued.At length, while, stupefied and terror-stricken, I stood inexpectation of I knew not what hideous destruction, the car vibratedwith excessive violence, and a gigantic and flaming mass of somematerial which I could not distinguish, came with a voice of athousand thunders, roaring and booming by the balloon. When my fearsand astonishment had in some degree subsided, I had little difficultyin supposing it to be some mighty volcanic fragment ejected from thatworld to which I was so rapidly approaching, and, in all probability,one of that singular class of substances occasionally picked up onthe earth, and termed meteoric stones for want of a betterappellation.

"April 16th. To-day, looking upward as well as I could, through eachof the side windows alternately, I beheld, to my great delight, avery small portion of the moon's disk protruding, as it were, on allsides beyond the huge circumference of the balloon. My agitation wasextreme; for I had now little doubt of soon reaching the end of myperilous voyage. Indeed, the labor now required by the condenser hadincreased to a most oppressive degree, and allowed me scarcely anyrespite from exertion. Sleep was a matter nearly out of the question.I became quite ill, and my frame trembled with exhaustion. It wasimpossible that human nature could endure this state of intensesuffering much longer. During the now brief interval of darkness ameteoric stone again passed in my vicinity, and the frequency ofthese phenomena began to occasion me much apprehension.

"April 17th. This morning proved an epoch in my voyage. It will beremembered that, on the thirteenth, the earth subtended an angularbreadth of twenty-five degrees. On the fourteenth this had greatlydiminished; on the fifteenth a still more remarkable decrease wasobservable; and, on retiring on the night of the sixteenth, I hadnoticed an angle of no more than about seven degrees and fifteenminutes. What, therefore, must have been my amazement, on awakeningfrom a brief and disturbed slumber, on the morning of this day, theseventeenth, at finding the surface beneath me so suddenly andwonderfully augmented in volume, as to subtend no less thanthirty-nine degrees in apparent angular diameter! I wasthunderstruck! No words can give any adequate idea of the extreme,the absolute horror and astonishment, with which I was seizedpossessed, and altogether overwhelmed. My knees tottered beneath me-- my teeth chattered -- my hair started up on end. "The balloon,then, had actually burst!" These were the first tumultuous ideas thathurried through my mind: "The balloon had positively burst! -- I wasfalling -- falling with the most impetuous, the most unparalleledvelocity! To judge by the immense distance already so quickly passedover, it could not be more than ten minutes, at the farthest, beforeI should meet the surface of the earth, and be hurled intoannihilation!" But at length reflection came to my relief. I paused;I considered; and I began to doubt. The matter was impossible. Icould not in any reason have so rapidly come down. Besides, althoughI was evidently approaching the surface below me, it was with a speedby no means commensurate with the velocity I had at first so horriblyconceived. This consideration served to calm the perturbation of mymind, and I finally succeeded in regarding the phenomenon in itsproper point of view. In fact, amazement must have fairly deprived meof my senses, when I could not see the vast difference, inappearance, between the surface below me, and the surface of mymother earth. The latter was indeed over my head, and completelyhidden by the balloon, while the moon -- the moon itself in all itsglory -- lay beneath me, and at my feet.

"The stupor and surprise produced in my mind by this extraordinarychange in the posture of affairs was perhaps, after all, that part ofthe adventure least susceptible of explanation. For thebouleversement in itself was not only natural and inevitable, but hadbeen long actually anticipated as a circumstance to be expectedwhenever I should arrive at that exact point of my voyage where theattraction of the planet should be superseded by the attraction ofthe satellite -- or, more precisely, where the gravitation of theballoon toward the earth should be less powerful than its gravitationtoward the moon. To be sure I arose from a sound slumber, with all mysenses in confusion, to the contemplation of a very startlingphenomenon, and one which, although expected, was not expected at themoment. The revolution itself must, of course, have taken place in aneasy and gradual manner, and it is by no means clear that, had I evenbeen awake at the time of the occurrence, I should have been madeaware of it by any internal evidence of an inversion -- that is tosay, by any inconvenience or disarrangement, either about my personor about my apparatus.

"It is almost needless to say that, upon coming to a due sense of mysituation, and emerging from the terror which had absorbed everyfaculty of my soul, my attention was, in the first place, whollydirected to the contemplation of the general physical appearance ofthe moon. It lay beneath me like a chart -- and although I judged itto be still at no inconsiderable distance, the indentures of itssurface were defined to my vision with a most striking and altogetherunaccountable distinctness. The entire absence of ocean or sea, andindeed of any lake or river, or body of water whatsoever, struck me,at first glance, as the most extraordinary feature in its geologicalcondition. Yet, strange to say, I beheld vast level regions of acharacter decidedly alluvial, although by far the greater portion ofthe hemisphere in sight was covered with innumerable volcanicmountains, conical in shape, and having more the appearance ofartificial than of natural protuberance. The highest among them doesnot exceed three and three-quarter miles in perpendicular elevation;but a map of the volcanic districts of the Campi Phlegraei wouldafford to your Excellencies a better idea of their general surfacethan any unworthy description I might think proper to attempt. Thegreater part of them were in a state of evident eruption, and gave mefearfully to understand their fury and their power, by the repeatedthunders of the miscalled meteoric stones, which now rushed upward bythe balloon with a frequency more and more appalling.

"April 18th. To-day I found an enormous increase in the moon'sapparent bulk -- and the evidently accelerated velocity of my descentbegan to fill me with alarm. It will be remembered, that, in theearliest stage of my speculations upon the possibility of a passageto the moon, the existence, in its vicinity, of an atmosphere, densein proportion to the bulk of the planet, had entered largely into mycalculations; this too in spite of many theories to the contrary,and, it may be added, in spite of a general disbelief in theexistence of any lunar atmosphere at all. But, in addition to what Ihave already urged in regard to Encke's comet and the zodiacal light,I had been strengthened in my opinion by certain observations of Mr.Schroeter, of Lilienthal. He observed the moon when two days and ahalf old, in the evening soon after sunset, before the dark part wasvisible, and continued to watch it until it became visible. The twocusps appeared tapering in a very sharp faint prolongation, eachexhibiting its farthest extremity faintly illuminated by the solarrays, before any part of the dark hemisphere was visible. Soonafterward, the whole dark limb became illuminated. This prolongationof the cusps beyond the semicircle, I thought, must have arisen fromthe refraction of the sun's rays by the moon's atmosphere. Icomputed, also, the height of the atmosphere (which could refractlight enough into its dark hemisphere to produce a twilight moreluminous than the light reflected from the earth when the moon isabout 32 degrees from the new) to be 1,356 Paris feet; in this view,I supposed the greatest height capable of refracting the solar ray,to be 5,376 feet. My ideas on this topic had also receivedconfirmation by a passage in the eighty-second volume of thePhilosophical Transactions, in which it is stated that at anoccultation of Jupiter's satellites, the third disappeared afterhaving been about 1" or 2" of time indistinct, and the fourth becameindiscernible near the limb.{*4}

"Cassini frequently observed Saturn, Jupiter, and the fixed stars,when approaching the moon to occultation, to have their circularfigure changed into an oval one; and, in other occultations, he foundno alteration of figure at all. Hence it might be supposed, that atsome times and not at others, there is a dense matter encompassingthe moon wherein the rays of the stars are refracted.

"Upon the resistance or, more properly, upon the support of anatmosphere, existing in the state of density imagined, I had, ofcourse, entirely depended for the safety of my ultimate descent.Should I then, after all, prove to have been mistaken, I had inconsequence nothing better to expect, as a finale to my adventure,than being dashed into atoms against the rugged surface of thesatellite. And, indeed, I had now every reason to be terrified. Mydistance from the moon was comparatively trifling, while the laborrequired by the condenser was diminished not at all, and I coulddiscover no indication whatever of a decreasing rarity in the air.

"April 19th. This morning, to my great joy, about nine o'clock, thesurface of the moon being frightfully near, and my apprehensionsexcited to the utmost, the pump of my condenser at length gaveevident tokens of an alteration in the atmosphere. By ten, I hadreason to believe its density considerably increased. By eleven, verylittle labor was necessary at the apparatus; and at twelve o'clock,with some hesitation, I ventured to unscrew the tourniquet, when,finding no inconvenience from having done so, I finally threw openthe gum-elastic chamber, and unrigged it from around the car. Asmight have been expected, spasms and violent headache were theimmediate consequences of an experiment so precipitate and full ofdanger. But these and other difficulties attending respiration, asthey were by no means so great as to put me in peril of my life, Idetermined to endure as I best could, in consideration of my leavingthem behind me momently in my approach to the denser strata near themoon. This approach, however, was still impetuous in the extreme; andit soon became alarmingly certain that, although I had probably notbeen deceived in the expectation of an atmosphere dense in proportionto the mass of the satellite, still I had been wrong in supposingthis density, even at the surface, at all adequate to the support ofthe great weight contained in the car of my balloon. Yet this shouldhave been the case, and in an equal degree as at the surface of theearth, the actual gravity of bodies at either planet supposed in theratio of the atmospheric condensation. That it was not the case,however, my precipitous downfall gave testimony enough; why it wasnot so, can only be explained by a reference to those possiblegeological disturbances to which I have formerly alluded. At allevents I was now close upon the planet, and coming down with the mostterrible impetuosity. I lost not a moment, accordingly, in throwingoverboard first my ballast, then my water-kegs, then my condensingapparatus and gum-elastic chamber, and finally every article withinthe car. But it was all to no purpose. I still fell with horriblerapidity, and was now not more than half a mile from the surface. Asa last resource, therefore, having got rid of my coat, hat, andboots, I cut loose from the balloon the car itself, which was of noinconsiderable weight, and thus, clinging with both hands to thenet-work, I had barely time to observe that the whole country, as faras the eye could reach, was thickly interspersed with diminutivehabitations, ere I tumbled headlong into the very heart of afantastical-looking city, and into the middle of a vast crowd of uglylittle people, who none of them uttered a single syllable, or gavethemselves the least trouble to render me assistance, but stood, likea parcel of idiots, grinning in a ludicrous manner, and eyeing me andmy balloon askant, with their arms set a-kimbo. I turned from them incontempt, and, gazing upward at the earth so lately left, and leftperhaps for ever, beheld it like a huge, dull, copper shield, abouttwo degrees in diameter, fixed immovably in the heavens overhead, andtipped on one of its edges with a crescent border of the mostbrilliant gold. No traces of land or water could be discovered, andthe whole was clouded with variable spots, and belted with tropicaland equatorial zones.

"Thus, may it please your Excellencies, after a series of greatanxieties, unheard of dangers, and unparalleled escapes, I had, atlength, on the nineteenth day of my departure from Rotterdam, arrivedin safety at the conclusion of a voyage undoubtedly the mostextraordinary, and the most momentous, ever accomplished, undertaken,or conceived by any denizen of earth. But my adventures yet remain tobe related. And indeed your Excellencies may well imagine that, aftera residence of five years upon a planet not only deeply interestingin its own peculiar character, but rendered doubly so by its intimateconnection, in capacity of satellite, with the world inhabited byman, I may have intelligence for the private ear of the States'College of Astronomers of far more importance than the details,however wonderful, of the mere voyage which so happily concluded.This is, in fact, the case. I have much -- very much which it wouldgive me the greatest pleasure to communicate. I have much to say ofthe climate of the planet; of its wonderful alternations of heat andcold, of unmitigated and burning sunshine for one fortnight, and morethan polar frigidity for the next; of a constant transfer ofmoisture, by distillation like that in vacuo, from the point beneaththe sun to the point the farthest from it; of a variable zone ofrunning water, of the people themselves; of their manners, customs,and political institutions; of their peculiar physical construction;of their ugliness; of their want of ears, those useless appendages inan atmosphere so peculiarly modified; of their consequent ignoranceof the use and properties of speech; of their substitute for speechin a singular method of inter-communication; of the incomprehensibleconnection between each particular individual in the moon with someparticular individual on the earth -- a connection analogous with,and depending upon, that of the orbs of the planet and thesatellites, and by means of which the lives and destinies of theinhabitants of the one are interwoven with the lives and destinies ofthe inhabitants of the other; and above all, if it so please yourExcellencies -- above all, of those dark and hideous mysteries whichlie in the outer regions of the moon -- regions which, owing to thealmost miraculous accordance of the satellite's rotation on its ownaxis with its sidereal revolution about the earth, have never yetbeen turned, and, by God's mercy, never shall be turned, to thescrutiny of the telescopes of man. All this, and more- much more --would I most willingly detail. But, to be brief, I must have myreward. I am pining for a return to my family and to my home, and asthe price of any farther communication on my part -- in considerationof the light which I have it in my power to throw upon many veryimportant branches of physical and metaphysical science -- I mustsolicit, through the influence of your honorable body, a pardon forthe crime of which I have been guilty in the death of the creditorsupon my departure from Rotterdam. This, then, is the object of thepresent paper. Its bearer, an inhabitant of the moon, whom I haveprevailed upon, and properly instructed, to be my messenger to theearth, will await your Excellencies' pleasure, and return to me withthe pardon in question, if it can, in any manner, be obtained.

"I have the honor to be, etc., your Excellencies' very humbleservant,

Hans Pfaall."

Upon finishing the perusal of this very extraordinary document,Professor Rub-a-dub, it is said, dropped his pipe upon the ground inthe extremity of his surprise, and Mynheer Superbus Von Underdukhaving taken off his spectacles, wiped them, and deposited them inhis pocket, so far forgot both himself and his dignity, as to turnround three times upon his heel in the quintessence of astonishmentand admiration. There was no doubt about the matter -- the pardonshould be obtained. So at least swore, with a round oath, ProfessorRub-a-dub, and so finally thought the illustrious Von Underduk, as hetook the arm of his brother in science, and without saying a word,began to make the best of his way home to deliberate upon themeasures to be adopted. Having reached the door, however, of theburgomaster's dwelling, the professor ventured to suggest that as themessenger had thought proper to disappear -- no doubt frightened todeath by the savage appearance of the burghers of Rotterdam -- thepardon would be of little use, as no one but a man of the moon wouldundertake a voyage to so vast a distance. To the truth of thisobservation the burgomaster assented, and the matter was therefore atan end. Not so, however, rumors and speculations. The letter, havingbeen published, gave rise to a variety of gossip and opinion. Some ofthe over-wise even made themselves ridiculous by decrying the wholebusiness; as nothing better than a hoax. But hoax, with these sort ofpeople, is, I believe, a general term for all matters above theircomprehension. For my part, I cannot conceive upon what data theyhave founded such an accusation. Let us see what they say:

Imprimus. That certain wags in Rotterdam have certain especialantipathies to certain burgomasters and astronomers.

Don't understand at all.

Secondly. That an odd little dwarf and bottle conjurer, both of whoseears, for some misdemeanor, have been cut off close to his head, hasbeen missing for several days from the neighboring city of Bruges.

Well -- what of that?

Thirdly. That the newspapers which were stuck all over the littleballoon were newspapers of Holland, and therefore could not have beenmade in the moon. They were dirty papers -- very dirty -- and Gluck,the printer, would take his Bible oath to their having been printedin Rotterdam.

He was mistaken -- undoubtedly -- mistaken.

Fourthly, That Hans Pfaall himself, the druken villain, and the threevery idle gentlemen styled his creditors, were all seen, no longerthan two or three days ago, in a tippling house in the suburbs,having just returned, with money in their pockets, from a trip beyondthe sea.

Don't believe it -- don't believe a word of it.

Lastly. That it is an opinion very generally received, or which oughtto be generally received, that the College of Astronomers in the cityof Rotterdam, as well as other colleges in all other parts of theworld, -- not to mention colleges and astronomers in general, -- are,to say the least of the matter, not a whit better, nor greater, norwiser than they ought to be.





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