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By the pictures that have come down to us,
this great balloon did not inflate as a globe
strictly, but took a sausage-shape rather, being
divided into rings or zones, wherein were
depicted those royal L's before spoken of.
A royal blue sausage, then, it stood up,
quivering and struggling for release. Everybody
was filled with delight; the chronicler
tells us, that the delight was only equalled by
the astonishment. People looked, one at the
other; the Marshal Duke miscarried suddenly
in one of his smartest epigrams; a prolonged
round of applause burst from two hundred and
sixty thousand hands.

Then, M. Montgolfier and his assistants
proceeded to attach to the cords a sort
of wooden cage, in which had been placed a
sheep, a cock, a duck, some hay, and a
barometer. Then was discharged the second
cannon, by way of warning; the wind having
now begun to rise a little, and to sway the
balloon unpleasantly. At one minute, indeed, a
sudden twist laid six of the workmen prostrate.
It was time, therefore, to think of letting go,
before it unmanageably went. Wherefore, as
soon as the third cannon was discharged, the
cords were cut, and the balloon sailed away
upward majestically, royal ciphers and
all, then for the first time introduced to
aerial latitudes. The wind being strong, it
was observed to bear off in a sort of oblique
direction, still rising all the while. Within
twenty-five seconds it was a good half-league
from the Palace of Versailles, and seemed
moving at the rate of some seventy leagues
an hour.

It was still in sight when a misfortune
came about that spoiled all. One portion
had not been made strong enough, and, the
pressure being greatest in that direction,
the result was a huge rent, through which
the vapour escaped rapidly. Down came the
grand royal blue sausage and the royal
cipher, tumbling headlong and ingloriously,
lighting eventually on the trees along the
road leading from Vaucresson to Carlfour
Maréchal. People all set off running in that
direction; and the more eager courtiers (les
plus zèlés) came running back to his Majesty
with the news that the animals were all
alive; that the sheep was actually at that
moment eating its hay; that the cock only
had come to grief, being found with his beak
broken; that the barometer was all safe;
and that the balloon had suffered little or no
damage. Divers explanations were offered
for the broken beak. It might have been
the shock; or perhaps the noble bird had
been scared, and so had dashed his head
against the sides of his cage. However
that might be, everybody was delighted.
We are told, by Savant Jenkins, that " The
king, the queen, the princes and princesses
of the blood, and the whole court, were
extremely satisfied. "M. Montgolfier," adds
Jenkins, "had then the honour of being
presented to the king " (note, that by the
precious flunkeyism of the day, the royal
vision, at that previous explanation of the
machinery, was to be taken as non-cognisant
of M. Montgolfier's person), "who gave him
a most flattering reception; afterwards to
the queen, and then to all the royal family,
who congratulated him on the success of this
attempt. M. Montgolfier went afterwards
to dine with M. le Contrôleur-Général, to
meet many gentlemen of the Academy and
many philosophical amateurs of distinguished
rank!"

Happy Moutgolfier! He should have
expired on the spot, and yielded up his soul
in a transport, at the close of that dinner!
It should be added, that all the details of the
show were carried out by the gentlemen
known as "MM. des Ménus-plaisirs du Roi,"
that is to say, by the masters of the royal
small-sports; and our French Jenkins tells
us that their arrangements were all that
could be desired.

The ladies and gentlemen of quality and
science, as may be conceived, could talk of
nothing but the balloon. Their proposed
application of it to practical purposes was, however,
characteristic. The Marshal Duke and other
gallants were for turning it into what may
be called a cloister-escape, and expatiated on
the happiness of being able to float over the
gloomy wall and descend into the garden, to
the utter astonishment of the jealous guardians
of such places. Before very long, ingenious
amateurs were enabled to supply themselves
with toy balloons made of goldbeaters' leaf,
and bearing the name of Minimum. They
were selling in the shops, these minimums, at
the reasonable charges of six francs, three
francs, and even so low as forty sous. Science
was thus brought within the means of the
lowest. And, we are told, all Paris bought
minimums.

Thus did M. Montgolfier let off his
balloon in presence of the king and quality of
France, with its freight of the sheep, the hay,
the barometer, and the cock with the broken .
beak. Perhaps there was a certain significance
here, suggestive of another no less
famous cock, who was shortly to have his
beak broken utterly, and his plumage torn,
in a serious fight.

Now ready, price Five Shillings and Sixpence, neatly
bound in cloth,
THE SIXTEENTH VOLUME
OF
HOUSEHOLD WORDS,
Containing the Numbers issued between the Fourth of
July and the Twelfth of December, Eighteen Hundred
and Fifty-Seven.

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