Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

direction contrary to the lights. Having made these arrangements, I felt no hesitation to undertake a nocturnal voyage. I ascended from Tivoli, at eleven at night, under the Russian Aag as a token of peace There was not any decided current in the atmosphere, but only urdulations, which tossed me about, I believe, a great part of the night. To this it was owing, that I was at first carried towards St. Cloud, and afterwards brought back over Vincennes, in a diametrically opposite direction. How favourable this circumstance would have been to the speculation of those who pretend to direct balloons! I was in the full force of my ascension when the fireworks of Tivoli were let off. The rockets scarcely seemed to rise from the earth. Paris, with its lamps, appeared a plane, studded with li minous spots. Forty minutes after my departure 1 üllained an elevation of ,3.0 fathoms. The thermometer fell three degrees below 9. My balloon dilated considerably as it passed through a cloud in which the lights lost their brilliancy, and seemed ready to be extinguished. It was as urgent to give vent to the hydrogen an, dilated to such a degree as to threaten to burst the balloon, as it was interesting to collect some of the air of this region. Both these operations I performed at once without difficulty, and the emission of the gas brought me to a milder region. At 1. o'clock I was only six hundred futions from the carth, and heard the barking of dogs A quarter of an hour afterwards, I lost sight of all the lights on the earth, grew extremely cold, and could no longer perceive the stars, doubtless on account of the clouds At one in the morning, the cold still continuing, I was carried to a higher elevation 1 he hydrogen gas again expanded. About two, I perceived the stars, and aw several meteors dancing about the balloon ; but at such a distunce as not to give me any alarm At half after two the day began to dawn with me, and having again descended, I perceived the earth, which I had not before seen since my departure. At a quarter to three, I heard country people speak, and remarking the illumination of my balloon. Having asked them, they informed me that I was over the department of L’Aisne. The sun gradually approaching, afforded me, at half past three, the magnificent spectacle of his rising above an octan of clouds. The warmth of his rays acting on the balloon, the hydrogen gas again expanded. The atmospherick air became more rarified, while there was nothing to add to the quantity of the counterbalancing weight. The conseque ce a new ascension, during which I was tossed about between Rheims and Chalons, and carried, at four o'clock, to an elevation of more than eight thousand fathoms. There, under a magnificent sky and resplendent sun, I experienced a cold of ten degrees. The balloon dilated much more considerably than it had yet done. The temperature was insupportable. Tormented by cold, hunger, and a disposition to sleep, I resolved to descend, in an oblique direction, which brought me to the ground in the commune of Courmelois, near the banks of the Vesle, five leagues from Rheims, not far from Loges, and fortyfive leagues from Paris, after a voyage of seven hours and a half. The air collected, forty minutes after my departure, in a cloud in which the lights lost their brilliancy, and seemed on the point of going out, presented, on analysis, no remarkable difference from the air taken on the surface of the earth. There was oniy a very small additional portion of carbonick acid, but not sufficient to produce any change in the state of my lights. It was nothing but the density of the clouds, ready to be converted into rain, that diminished their brilliancy. Though I was carried, at four o'clock, to the height of more than three thousand fathoms, my head was not so swollen but that I could put on my hat. On the conirary, I felt

was

such a pressure upon the temples and jaws, as to produce pain. The sun, at that elevation, lost none of its resplendence I never beheld that luminary so brilliant, and the loadstone lost none of its magnetick virtues. Thus falls the system invented by Mr. Robertson a few years since, and already discredited by reason. Thus the story of swollen heads; of air without oxygen, collected by a living being ; of the sun without resplendence; of the loadstone without virtue; of matter without gravity ; of the moon the colour of blood; and of all the wonderful things invented by the same aëronaut, can, in future, find a place only in the wretched rhapsodies of the celebrated Kotzebue.

GARNERIN.

Second Ascension by night, of M. Garnerin. My second aerial journey by night will not afford an opportunity for the brilliant narratives which I have had occasion to make in the course of my forty preceding ascensions I shall not have to describe the majestick appearances which nature continualiy offers to the eyes of ar aëronaut who ascends in favourable weather. I can only give a narrative of an aërial tempest which was nigh terminating in a shipwreck The obstacles which the wind caused to the inflation of the balloon, sufficiently apprized me of the approach of the storm ; and to the difficulties of the weather was added the turbulence of a party, by which I was prevented from placing the cord of the valve, so as to regulate the tube, which, in case of expansion, was to conduct the gas into a direction different from the lights which surrounded the bottom of the balloon. I was to have been accompanied by M. de Chassenton ; but the aërial storm, which continually increased until the moment of my departure, gave me reason to apprehend such a disaster as Mr. Blanchard, and another aëronaut, met with in Holland. M. de Chassenton was actually in the boat. I must bear witness to his determination ; for I am convinced that nothing could have made this young man, remarkable for his merit, quit the boat, if the well grounded apprehension which I entertained, of seeing him exposed 10 certain destruction, had not suggested to me the idea of declaring to him, that the balloon was not capable of carrying up two persons. It was thus, in the most adverse weather, and exposed to the greatest opposition and the tunult of a cabal, the head of which it is easy to guess at, that I ascended from Tivoli, at half past ten o'clock, on the night of the twenty.first of September. An unexampled rapidity of ascension, but extremely necessary to prevent me from coming in contact with the adjoining houses, raised me above the clouds, and in a few minutes carried me to an immense height, the extent of which I cannot precisely ascertain, on account of the dangers and embarrassments which suddenly affected my imagination, and prevented me from observing the declension of the mercury in the barometer Elevated in an instant to the frozen regions, the balloon became subject to a degree of expansion which inspired me with the greatest apprehension. There was no alternative between certain death and giving an instant vent to the gas; and this at the risk of seeing the balloon take fire. I gradually opened, with one hand, an orifice of about two feet dian eter. by which ihe gas escaped in large volumes, while with the other, I extinguished as many of the lights as I could. During this effort, I several times was near overbalancing myself, and falling out of the boat. Deprived of the opportunity of regulating the valve, my balloon, like a ship without a rudder, floated in air, obeying the influence of the temperature, the winds, and the rain. Whenever the force of these made me descend, the storm, which kept still increasing,

obliged me to throw out ballast for the purpose of avoiding it, and escaping from imminent shipwreck. At length, at four o'clock in the morning, after having been almost continually enveloped in thick clouds, through which I could seldom see the moon, all my means of supporting myself in the. air were exhausted. Whatever skill I possessed was no longer of use to me. Jy boat several times struck against the ground a d rebounded from thence. The tempest often drove me against the sides and tops of mountains. Whenever my anchor caugat in a tree, the balloon was so violently agitated by the wind, that I experienced all the inconvenience of a violent sea-sickness. Plunged at one time to the bottom of a precipice, in an instant after I ascended, and acquired a new elevation. The violence of the concussions exhausted my strength, and I lay for a half hour in the boat in a state of insensibility. During this tempest I recovered. I perceived Mont Tonnerre, and it was in the midst of crashes of thunder, and at a moment which I supposed would be my last, that I planted upon this celebrated mountain the eagle of Napoleon joined to that of Alexander I was carried away for some time longer by gusts of wind ; but fortunately some peasants came to my assistance at the moment that the anchor book. ed in a tree They took hold of the cords which hung from the balloon, and landed me in a forest upon the side of a mountain, at half past five in the morning, seven hours after my departure, and more than 104. lcayues distant from Paris. They took me to Clausen, in the canton of Wald. fishbach, and department of Mont Tonnerre. M. Cesar, a man of information, and mayor of the neighbouring town, came and offered me every assistance in his power, and, at my request, drew up a narrative, of which he gave me a copy. I was splendidly entertained the next day at Deux Ponts by a society of Friends of the Arts, consisting of publick functionaries, the officers of the 12th regiment of Cuirassiers, and of the members of the lodge of freemasons.

GARNERIN.

LAPLAND MANNERS AND COURTSHIP.

To the Editor of the Literary Panorama. SIR,

IT appears to me that the Panorama enters into the spirit of Pope's famous adage :

The proper study of mankind, is man; for I have perused in it, with great pleasure, those accounts which it has presented of the customs and manners of different nations.

Certainly, mankind is so far of one family, that the same passions, desires, and aversions, which mark the disposition of the human mind, in one country, are equally vigorous and active in others. If we analyse the heart beneath the torrid zone, we shall find it influenced by the same sentiments and affections as beneath the frozen pole. There seem to be some which are innate and attached to it, as naturally as the qualities of certain animals are attached to them. Fidelity is the character of the dog, wherever he is taken under human protection; and intelligence is the character of the horse, wherever the horse is attended to

I have been lately reading Colonel Skioldebrand's Travels to the North Cape, from which I lately extracted a few thoughts, that you favoured by insertion. Some of the portraits of men and manners which it offers, I

now transmit for your decision. The north produces men of stout propor. tions, and answerable bodily powers. It also produces women of athletick frame, pleasing manners, and virtuous carriage. The sensibilities of the sex, which are never lost on observers; the frank yet correct deportment which always meets with applause, and sometimes with admiration ; the cheerful gayety which well knows where to stop, and to maintain its privilege of repulse. are as well known, under the Arctick circle, as among our own amiable and modest fen.ales. As an instance, I beg leave to introduce to you the Colonel's account of Christina of Kolara.

“ At Kolara, a village situated on the is and of Yllessari, 3* (Swedish) miles from Kengis:0} miles beyond Tornea, one of those young lasses, who h. d visited us in our tent at Kengis, was there, and saluted us very politely. We learned afterwards, that her mother, the widow of a rich settler, was proprietress of the place.

“ Christina of Kolara was a young beauty, of a fair complexion, and of Amazonian proportions: and we soon perceived that her bodily strength was fully correspondent to her size. She was fond of playfulness to a certain point ; but she repulsed the smallest excess, with astonishing vehemence; and never failed to celebrate her victory by bursts of laughter. In the morning I bathed in water of the heat of 60°, to have the pleasure of being attended by her; for such is the custom when a stranger desires a bath, the handsomest girl of the village waits on him. Christina, lightly habited, was charming, and performed her office with a grace, and easy deportment, which heightened her charms. We quitted the village directly afterwards, at half past nine o'clock. Christina had dressed herself es. tremely neatly, took a small parcel which belonged to us, under pretext of carrying it to the river's side, where we were to embark at half a quarter of a mile from the village. She followed us sportively, and amusing herself with the effect of her charms. But at the moment of our departure, changing the expression of her countenance, she took her leave with accents and looks replete with sweetness. As we increased our distance from the shore, we saw the reflection of Christina with her light hair, and her scarlet bonnet, in the watery mirrour. She dropped us a graceful little courtesy, and disappeared: but I acknowledge, that I fancied I still saw her, though she was no longer there.” P 66.

Neither do the frozen zone, perpetual snows, and a half year's winter, deprive the sex of that coquetry in which some of them indulge. They like to see and to be seen, to be admired, to attract notice, to gaze and be gazed on. “ The Laplanders,” says the Colonel, “ are the greatest gossips in the world. They talk all day long;” and we may suppose, that if this be the character of the men, the women are not famous for silence. 'They talk, and they like to be talked to. I doubt not but what this is as it ought to be. Nature has wise purposes to answer by every quality which is truly natural, and has not been sophisticated by circumstances in which art unhappily predominates. Take the portrait of a Lapland lass.

“ On our way, I amused myself with remarking the young Lapland girl, who gave herself all the airs of the most finished coquette ; and who was incessantly occupied in ogling through a twig of birch which she carried in her hand for the purpose of driving away the flies. Sometimes, without being pursued, she seemed to be running away ; but with a slowness which left full exercise for the hope of ccming up with her. Eighteen centuries ago Virgil wrote:

Et fugit ad salices, et se cupit ante videri. The difference between the demeanour of this girl, and that of the frolicka

Borne but virtuous Christina of Kolara, was the same as is generally observed between the manners of the Laplanders and that of the Westro. bothnians."

We find that wealth has powerful charms, in this remote corner of the world, as well as among ourselves. The rent roll of an estate, the parchments and all the operations of lawyers preparatory to a marriage, are nothing more than counterparts to the estimated number of reindeer, pieces of silver, and other paraphernalia at which the Laplanders value their daughters. The manner of providing a fortune for those daughters, with the hospitality which detains the newly married pair a twelvemonth in the paternal dwelling, during which time a great increase of riches may take place, is deserving of attention As to the assumed reluctance of the bride, it is a law of the sex, which has prevailed in all ages, and in all places, among nations the most savage, and the most refined, though it does not, on all occasions, require main force to drag a bride to church, among civilized and polite people.

“ The marriages of the Laplanders are conducted in the following manner. The parents of a young man choose a spouse for him, and on these occasions riches are considered as the only merit. The father, followed by his near kindred, leads him, whether with his will. or against it, to the tent where the young woman resides whom he has fixed on for a daughter in law, and begins by offering brandy to her father. If he refuses to drink, the whole is over ; but if he accepts the liquor', the proposition is made, together with the price which is intended to be paid. This usually consists in so many reindeer, and pieces of silver, &c. During this treaty, the young man is bound by decorum to remain out of the hut, where he employs himself in cleaving wood, or rendering some other service to the family of his future spouse. Ai length he obtains permission to offer her some of the provisions which he has brought with him. At first, she declines them, as in duty bound; but at length she comes out of her tent, and the young man follows her. If she then accepts his presents, it is a mark of her consent. Often, the negotiation lasts during some years ; because it is a settled custom, that every visit which the youth makes to his expected father in law, he should bring brandy with him. And as the Laplanders are fond of this spirit, the fathers sometimes prolong their enjoyments, by retarding those of the young folks. When going to visit his mistress, the lover amuses himself by singing verses, which he composes on his way, and which express his impatience to behold the object of bis affections, especially, if it happens that the choice of his parents has coincided with his own inclination The melody is a wild strain, derived from his fancy. If the marriage does not take place, the quantity of brandy, which has been drunk during the negotiation, must be returned in full ; but, if he agreement is completed, the price fixed on is immediately paid to the father of the bride. On the wedding day, the bride resists, with all her might, the proposed expedition to the church, and force is necessary to carry her to it. The wedding dresses are nearly the same as those for holydays. A silver crown attached to the hair; several ribands which flow over the shoulders and down the back; and a rose of ribands on the bosom, are the only additional ornaments. At the return from church, the bride's father gives a repast, which is composed in part of provisions brought by the guests. The son in law lives the first year with the father of is wife; after which his own father fetches him away, with his wife, and ali nis property, which consists mostly in a herd of reindeer. The custom is, that on the birth of a daughter, her father selects a couple of

« VorigeDoorgaan »