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balloon suddenly and rapidly shot up into the
sky. The parachute came toppling through the
lower air, a hopeless ruin. It fell at Lee, and
here not only was the parachute carried away
piecemeal, but the dead man's purse was stolen
from his pocket; his watch, his snuff-box, his
eye-glass were taken; even the cap was stolen
from his head; the shoes were pulled from his
feet, the buttons from his dress.

Of Cocking's last mind on the subject of Ins
parachute I have, in an imperfect newspaper
cutting, a record by Professor Faraday. Mr.
Faraday's authority having been cited at the
inquest, he wrote to a daily newspaper as
follows: "I knew Mr. Cocking long ago, was a
fellow member with him at the City
Philosophical Society, and heard him deliver the
lecture twenty-three years since, referred to by Mr.
Gye at the inquest; and the recollection of his
companionship, abilities, and kindness at that
time adds greatly to my feelings of sorrow for
his melancholy death. I did not know that he
thought of putting his parachute to the proof
by a descent until I saw his intention announced
in the papers, and did not see him or the
parachute until the day of the descent. He then
asked me at the gardens my opinion of its safety,
and I said that, as to its capability of retarding
his descent, it was purely a matter of calculation
into which I could not go. He said that he had
made both experiments and calculations, and was
fully assured the velocity of descent would not
be greater than that of a man falling from a
height of two feet. I then remarked upon the
weakness of the construction, especially of the
upper ring, and asked why he had not given it a
form better able to resist collapsion? Why it
was not assisted by stretchers, or bracing, &c.?
He gave me the same answer generally that he
had given to Mr. Gye, that it was strong
enough, and that he objected to more weight
above. I made other objections, as, for instance,
to the opening in the middle of the parachute,
the place of the centre of gravity, &c., but
finding him perfectly satisfied with his
preparations and resolved to ascend (as is fully proved
by the evidence on the inquest), finding, also, by
the care of Mr. Gye that every precaution was
taken to enable him to abandon his intention at
any moment, I desisted from making further
remarks, which might tend to disturb his
presence of mind, though they would not have
prevented his ascent. I, however, said not a word
to him to advance his going; but, being doubtful
and anxious, had expressed myself so to some on
the ground, and amongst others to Mr. Green,
who asking me whether I would rather be in his
or Mr. Cocking's situation, I said in his; and
this he told to Mr. Cocking in my hearing. With
these feelings on my mind I retired in part, and
did not speak to Mr. Cocking for the last hour
and a half.

"Hearing that Mr. Mason was disturbing
Mr. Cocking's attention, I did venture to say to
the former gentleman that, as Mr. Cocking was
resolved to ascend, I thought it unwise. Mr.
Mason told me that he had made calculations,
the result of which was that the descent would
be a very rapid one. I observed that Mr.
Cocking had also told me he had made
experiments and calculations, the results of which
were that the descent would be slow. Mr. Mason's
objections and calculations, as far as I know, had
no relation to the strength of the parachute, or
to the actual cause of the failure and sad result.

"The opinion given by Mr. Green and Mr.
Gye (who appear to me to be the best judges
under the circumstances) regarding the failure
of the parachute, makes me glad that I said no
more to Mr. Cocking than I did. The retention
of the rope attached to the balloon at the
moment of separation may have been due to some
disturbance of mind through anxiety, thus
bringing on the fatal termination;—"

Here ends rny newspaper cutting. If the
rope theory be true, however, I cannot
believe that any fear caused Cocking to keep the
rope too long in his hand. He was not capable
of doubting the perfection of his parachute, and
he pulled the fatal trigger, I am quite sure, with
a confident exultation that may have been as
destructive of cool presence of mind as fear itself.

As I have remembered that the dead man's
shoes were stolen from his feet, let me not forget
the spirit of human kindness that his fate
awakened. His life had not been that of a
money-maker; he had but laboriously earned
bread as he ate it, for himself, his wife, and the
two infirm women whom he had made it part of
his life's duty to support. The sale of his little
model, and of his balloon books and drawings,
paid his debts. Beyond this, the efforts of
friends produced a fund, trivial indeed as
compared with the value of a patient man's unflinching
labour year by year, yet sufficient to stay for
the moment all pinch of distress, and to provide
for the widow, who became a governess, a little
life annuity. The Queen generously headed with
fifty pounds a subscription-list, that attained to
no great length. The proprietors of Vauxhall
gave the gardens for a benefit, of which the
expenses for gas and advertisements reached a
hundred and nine pounds, and the receipts were
a hundred and eighty. But, half the money
gained for the widow at Vauxhall was presently
lost by another benefit, at the Hackney Gardens,
of which the receipts were twenty-two pounds,
the expenses sixty-three. The London Gas
Company that had provided the means of taking
up the parachute, and was only in the remotest
way a party to the disaster, generously
subscribed thirty pounds to the widow's fund.
Many withheld active sympathy for affliction
which they held to be caused by a most rash
adventure; for how could they be told then, the
true story of the child-hearted enthusiast, when
it would have been cold desecration to lay bare
the simple secrets of his home!