HISTORY OF THE GREAT WAR
BASED ON OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS
BY DIRECTION OF THE HISTORICAL SECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF IMPERIAL DEFENCE
THE WAR IN THE AIR
Being the Story of The part played in the Great War by the Royal Air Force
OXFORD THE CLARENDON PRESS 1922
Oxford University Press
London Edinburgh Glasgow Copenhagen New York Toronto Melbourne Cape Town Bombay Calcutta Madras Shanghai
Humphrey Milford Publisher to the UNIVERSITY
The History of which this is the first volume is, in the main, the history of the part played in the war by British air forces. It is based chiefly on the records of the Air Ministry collected and preserved at the Historical Section. The staff of the Section have spared no trouble to collect an immense amount of material and arrange it for use, to consult living witnesses, to verify facts down to the minutest details, and to correct any errors that may have crept into the narrative. Their main purpose has been to secure that any statement of fact made in this book shall be true and demonstrable. If in any particular instances they have failed in this purpose, it has not been for lack of pains and care.
Official records do not in themselves make history. They are colourless and bare. In the business of interpreting and supplementing them we have been much helped by the kindness of many military and naval officers and of many civilian experts. Their help, most of which is acknowledged in the text, has supplied us with the liveliest things in this book. We could wish that we had more of it. Naval and military officers do not advertise, and are reluctant to speak publicly of the part that they played in the war. They are silent on all that may seem to tell to their own credit or to the discredit of others, and this silence easily develops into a fixed habit of reticence. We are the more grateful to those who have helped us to a true account by telling of what they saw. The best part of the book is yet to come; if the theme is to be worthily treated, it must be by the help of those who remember and of those who know.
The writer of this history has endeavoured to make his narrative intelligible to those who, like himself, are outsiders, and, with that end in view, he has avoided, as far as possible, the masonic dialect of the services. For the few and cautious opinions that he has expressed he alone is responsible. In controverted questions, though he has not always been careful to conceal his own opinion, he has always tried so to state the grounds for other opinions that those who hold these other opinions may think his statement not unfair. If his own opinion is wrong, the corrective will usually be found near at hand. The position of an outsider has grave disabilities; if a measure of compensation for these disabilities is anywhere to be found, it must be sought in freedom from the heat of partisan zeal and from the narrowness of corporate loyalty.
Some of the men who early took thought for their country's need, and quietly laboured to prepare her against the day of trial, are here celebrated, and their names, we hope, rescued from neglect. The men who flew over the fire of enemy guns were so many that comparatively few of their names, and these chosen almost by accident, can here be mentioned. There were thousands of others just as good. The heroes of this story, let it be said once and for all, are only samples.
Some apology perhaps is necessary for the variety which has been found inevitable in naming particular men. A man's christian name and surname are his own, but change and promotion were rapid during the war, so that the prefixes to these names varied from year to year. Where we are describing a particular deed, we give the actors the rank that they held at the time. Where we speak more generally, we give them the rank that they held when this history was written.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION pp. 1-14
New means of warfare in the Great War—submarines and aircraft. The first free flight of an aeroplane, December 17, 1903. Attitude of the peoples; English stolidity. The navy and the air. The German menace hastens the making of our air service. The British air force at the outbreak of the war, and at its close. The achievement of the British air force. Uses of aircraft in war extended and multiplied—reconnaissance, artillery observation, photography, contact patrol, battle in the air, bombing. Naval developments—kite balloons, coast patrol, convoy of vessels, seaplanes and seaplane-carriers, work against submarines. Secret dropping of agents. Development of machines. New scientific devices. Men of science and men of action. The supremacy of the infantry in war. The making of its tradition by the Royal Air Force.
CHAPTER I. The Conquest of the Air. pp. 15-66
Our ignorance of man's history. The conquest of the sea and the conquest of the air. Pioneers of flight. The physical basis of flight. Essential features of an aeroplane. Two kinds of aircraft—floating machines and soaring machines. Early legends and adventures. Progress the reward of risk. Wilbur Wright's view. Progress towards aerial navigation in the age of Louis XIV, and of the French Revolution. The Royal Society and Bishop Wilkins. Joseph Glanvill's prophecies. Sir William Temple's satire. Study of the flight of birds by Borelli. Lana's aerial ship. The discovery of gases. Soap-bubbles filled with hydrogen in 1782. The Montgolfier hot-air balloon, 1783. The hydrogen balloon of Professor Charles. The first aeronaut—Pilatre de Rozier. First ascents in Great Britain; James Tytler and Vincenzo Lunardi. Lunardi's narrative. Dr. Johnson and Horace Walpole on balloons. The Great Nassau. The balloon as a spectacle. Scientific work of James Glaisher. His highest ascent, September 5, 1862. Pioneers of aviation—Sir George Cayley, John Stringfellow. Foundation of Aeronautical Society, 1866. Francis Wenham's paper on aerial locomotion. Fermentation of ideas. The study of soaring birds—Cayley, M. Mouillard. The gliders; stories of Captain Lebris; the work and writings of Otto Lilienthal; his death and influence. Percy Pilcher and his work. Other experiments—Montgomery, Chanute, Phillips, Maxim, Ader. Laurence Hargrave; his inventions; his public spirit. Professor Samuel Pierpont Langley; his whirling table; his discoveries. His flying machine of 1896. His design of a machine to carry a man; failure of trials in 1903. Wilbur and Orville Wright; their method of attacking the problem; practice in equilibrium. The history of their experiments; difficulties and disappointments. Their perseverance, and their great discovery—the combination of wing-warping with a movable rudder. Their glider of 1902—the victory machine. Their perfect control. Their first power machine. Their flights on December 17, 1903. The age of the flying machine had come at last.
CHAPTER II. The Aeroplane and the Airship. pp. 67-109
The Wrights improve their machine, and practise it in many flights over Huffman Prairie. Indifference of the neighbouring farmers; and of American, French, and British Governments. Wilbur Wright's visit to France, 1908. Record flights. Struggle to secure patents. Death of Wilbur Wright.
European pioneers. Ellehammer. German airships and French aeroplanes. Mr. Haldane's prophecy. French airship experiments. Successful voyage of La France, 1884. German airships of Woelfert and Schwarz. Brutality of the crowd. Alberto Santos Dumont; his airships. Controversy on the rotary principle. Santos Dumont's successes. Disasters to the airships of Severo and Bradsky. Count von Zeppelin. His first airship. Advantages and disadvantages of the rigid type. Early trials. List of pre-war Zeppelins. Wrecks and progress. Parseval airships. Schuette-Lanz airships. French aviation. Captain F. Ferber. The Antoinette engine. The Voisins. Delagrange, Farman, Bleriot, Esnault-Pelterie. First aeroplane flight over French soil by Santos Dumont. Diverse experiments. French improvements. The monoplane. Tractors and pushers. Ailerons. Centralized control. The wheeled undercarriage. The horizontal tail-plane. Early French flights. Wilbur Wright at Le Mans. Competitions and prizes. Bleriot's cross-Channel flight. Grahame-White and Paulhan. Glenn Curtiss. The Circuit de l'Est. Aviation meetings. The Champagne week. The Gnome engine. Blackpool and Doncaster. Chavez flies across the Alps. Record-making and record-breaking.
CHAPTER III. Flight in England. pp. 110-45
English aviation late and sporadic. Private adventure and sport as against continental organization. Prospect of war the cause of the formation of the Royal Flying Corps. A few pioneers encouraged by the Government—Mr. Cody, Lieutenant Dunne. The Dunne aeroplane. The history of Mr. A. V. Roe. He makes the first flight over English soil, in 1907, at Brooklands. Receives notice to quit. Is refused the use of Laffan's Plain. Is threatened with prosecution for flying over Lea Marshes. His perseverance and success. The famous Avro machine, 1913. Dependence of England on private effort. The Aero Club. Mr. Sopwith and Mr. de Havilland. Their famous machines. Mr. Jose Weiss and his gliders. Mr. Howard Wright sets up the first aeroplane factory in 1908. The Hon. Alan Boyle makes the first cross-country trip, 1910. The Short Brothers at Shellness, Isle of Sheppey. Their work for the Aero Club. Mr. Cecil Grace and the Hon. Charles Rolls. Mr. Moore-Brabazon flies a circular mile, 1909. Mr. Frank McClean establishes the aerodrome at Eastchurch. Mr. G. B. Cockburn teaches four naval officers to fly. Beginnings of the naval air service. Mr. Holt Thomas brings Paulhan to Brooklands, where an aerodrome is made. Paulhan makes a flight of nearly three hours. Beginners at Brooklands. Mr. Alan Boyle's story. The Arcadian community at Brooklands. Foundation of the London aerodrome at Hendon. Aeroplane races. The 'Circuit of Europe' and the 'Circuit of Britain'. Crowds of spectators at Hendon. Promoters of flight; Mr. Holt Thomas. The Larkhill aerodrome. Military flying; Captain Fulton; Captain Dickson, his skill as a pilot, his appearance at the army manoeuvres of 1910, his patriotism, his death in 1913; Lieutenant Gibbs, his adventures in Spain. Civilians at Larkhill; Mr. Robert Loraine, Mr. Barber, Mr. Cockburn. The Bristol Flying School at Larkhill; M. Henry Jullerot, Mr. Gordon England, Mr. Harry Busteed. Creation of the Air Battalion, Royal Engineers, in February 1911. Debt of the nation to Captain Fulton and Mr. Cockburn. Private enterprise more useful to military than to naval flying.
CHAPTER IV. The Beginnings of the Air Force. pp. 146-97
English respect for precedent. The air force developed by stages from a balloon detachment of the Royal Engineers. The balloon in war. Balloon experiments at Woolwich and Chatham. Balloons in Bechuanaland, 1884; in the Soudan, 1885. Success of balloons at Aldershot manoeuvres, 1889. Balloon Factory established at South Farnborough, 1894. Balloons in South African War, 1899-1900. Energy of the factory. Colonel Templer and Colonel Capper. The first British army airship, the Nulli Secundus, 1907. Appointment of Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, 1909, to combine theory and practice. The National Physical Laboratory. Growth of the factory under Mr. Mervyn O'Gorman, 1909-16. Its services to aviation. Private makers of aircraft stand aloof. The designing office at the factory. Its services during the war. Famous factory types of aeroplane—the B.E., the F.E., the S.E., the R.E. The question of stability; work of Mr. Lanchester and Professor Bryan. The story of Mr. Busk. Workmanship and safety. Notable devices invented at the factory.
The navy employs private firms of aircraft makers. The Short brothers. Factory airships from 1908 to 1913. All airships assigned to the navy in 1913. The Mayfly fiasco, 1908-11. Captain Murray Sueter and Captain Bertram Dickson on the command of the air. The true doctrine—freedom and the open highways.
French military aviation in 1911. Reports of Lieutenant Glyn and Captain Sykes. German aeronautics in 1912. Report of Captain Sueter and Mr. O'Gorman. Changed conditions of naval warfare. British naval airship section reconstituted. Purchase of foreign airships. British rigid airships ordered in 1913, too late for the war. German belief in the airship. Private efforts of British naval officers. Commander Oliver Swann first gets off the water in an Avro aeroplane fitted with floats, 1911. Lieutenant C. R. Samson flies off the deck of H.M.S. Africa, 1911. Lieutenant Samson's first seaplane. The first flying boat.
The problem of the making of an air force. The need of discipline. Early doings of the Air Battalion, 1911. Difficulties of policy. Lighter than air and heavier than air. Aeroplanes few; airships unpopular. Royal Engineers and others. Mr. Cockburn teaches the battalion to fly. They fly from Larkhill to Farnborough. Cross-country flights. Army manoeuvres of 1911; adventurers of the Air Battalion. The accident to Lieutenant Reynolds. Record flight of Lieutenant Barrington-Kennett. Death of Lieutenant Cammell. Our apprenticeship in the air. The English fashion.
CHAPTER V. The Royal Flying Corps. pp. 198-276
Institution of the Royal Flying Corps. Plans prepared by General Henderson, Captain Sykes, and Major MacInnes. History in the making. Choice of the squadron as the unit of the new force. Pressure of time. Institution of the Central Flying School. The question of the rank of pilots. The question of the independence of the Flying Corps. The attitude of the navy. The Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps becomes the Royal Naval Air Service. The Naval Flying School at Eastchurch. The case against the independence of the air force; and the case for it. The temper of the air. The language difficulty. The Air Committee of 1912 and its functions. Need for an Air Ministry. Experimental work of the Naval Air Service. Uses of the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corps. Debt to the Royal Engineers. Training and establishment. Variety of trades enrolled. The group of early officers, under Captain Sykes. Captain Patrick Hamilton. The first two aeroplane squadrons, commanded by Captain Brooke-Popham and Captain Burke. The Airship Company of the Air Battalion becomes No. 1 Squadron of the Flying Corps. The story of Major Maitland. The airships handed over to the navy, 1913. Development of wireless telegraphy. A brief history and description of wireless telegraphy. Experiments in adapting it for the use of aircraft. The work of Captain Lefroy; and of Lieutenant Fitzmaurice. Success of wireless at the manoeuvres of 1912. Improvement of apparatus. Wireless in seaplanes; successes of 1913. Wireless in aeroplanes.
Work of the headquarters staff of the Military Wing. The beginnings of a great tradition. The experimental branch. The story of Major Musgrave. The work of the aeroplane squadrons. Captain Eustace Loraine. Fatalities of 1912. The ban on monoplanes. Mr. Howard Flanders. Work at the Central Flying School. Fatal accidents. Formation of new squadrons.
No. 3 Squadron on Salisbury Plain. Co-operation with artillery and infantry. Military aeroplane trials. 'Military airmen also flew.' Co-operation with cavalry. No. 3 Squadron at the manoeuvres of 1912. Lessons of the manoeuvres. Winter difficulties. Manoeuvres of 1913. Reports by Major Brooke-Popham and Lieutenant Barrington-Kennett. Details and efficiency. Experiments with machine-guns; and with cameras. The first night flight. Non-commissioned pilots. Major McCudden on No. 3 Squadron.
No. 2 Squadron. Major C. J. Burke; his story and character. His maxims. His famous machine, the first B.E. The squadron moves by air from Farnborough to Montrose. Practice at St. Andrews. The Irish Command manoeuvres of 1913. Statistics of the squadron. Captain Longcroft's long flight. Major Burke's diary.
Other squadrons. The Concentration Camp at Netheravon. Reconnaissance in war. Other uses of aeroplanes at first claimed for airships. Uses ultimately found for aerial acrobatics—the loop, the spin. The machine-gun and the pusher machine. Aerodynamical knowledge. The S.E. 5. The 'Christmas tree'. Importance of engine power.
The Naval Wing. Problems of defence. Coastal stations. Seaplanes at the naval manoeuvres of 1913. Mr. Churchill's programme. Detection of submarines. Bomb-dropping experiments. Anti-airship experiments. Machine-guns. The Central Air Office, Sheerness. Poor supply of munitions. Separation of the naval and military wings. The Royal Naval Air Service at the Naval Review, 1914. War orders.
German aviation British report on the 'Prince Henry Circuit', May, 1914. The coming of the war.
CHAPTER VI. The War: The Royal Flying Corps from Mons to Ypres. pp. 277-356
The Prussian doctrine of war. The Serajevo murders. Austria and Serbia. Germany refuses mediation and makes war on Russia and France. Great Britain declares war, August 4, 1914. The cause of civilization. The German plan of campaign. The British army in France. Mobilization of Royal Flying Corps. The Aircraft Park. The squadrons. List of officers of the four squadrons. The machines. Amiens. Maubeuge. Flying Corps fired on by British troops. Union Jack markings. The German wheel through Belgium. French strategy. The retreat from Mons. First aerial reconnaissances. The reconnaissances of August 22. Sergeant-Major Jillings wounded in the air. Lieutenants Waterfall and Bayly brought down. Aerial reconnaissance on its trial. Early mistakes. List of places occupied by H.Q., R.F.C., during retreat. German movements observed. A typical air report. The western wind. The finding of Sir Douglas Haig. Help to General Smith-Dorrien at Le Cateau. The detection of enveloping movements. The British army escapes from von Kluck. Von Kluck wheels towards the Oise. His change of direction observed from the air. One of the reports. British retreat continues. The Sixth French Army on the Ourcq. Summary of British aerial work during the retreat. Alarms. Experiences of pilots. High spirits. Early bomb-dropping. First German machine seen by British at Maubeuge. Fighting in the air. German machines brought down. The battle of the Marne. Machines assigned to corps commands, September 6.
Observation of the battle. Advance of headquarters to Fere-en-Tardenois. General Joffre's thanks to the Flying Corps. Storm of September 12. The battle of the Aisne. Adventure of Lieutenants Dawes and Freeman. Position warfare. Artillery observation. Wireless—Lieutenants Lewis and James. An early wireless message. The clock code. Popularity of wireless. Photography. The dropping of darts. German 'Archies'. The race for the sea. British army moves north; Flying Corps shifted to St. Omer. No. 6 Squadron arrives. Strategic reconnaissance. Long-distance flights. The battle of Ypres. Union Jack marking abolished. Photography and wireless. Earlier methods of ranging. Their inferiority. Fighting quality of British aeroplanes; German prisoners' evidence. The losses of Ypres. Withdrawal of German troops observed from the air. Sympathy of Flying Corps for the infantry. The German officer and his pilot.
CHAPTER VII. The Royal Naval Air Service in 1914. pp. 357-409
Strength of the Naval Wing. Progress in wireless and in armament. Uncertain purposes. The stimulant of war. Mr. F. K. McClean. Coastal patrols. Channel patrols. Airship logs. A Zeppelin sighted. Hardships of North Sea patrols. Squadron Commander Seddon's experience. Practice value of patrols. Seaplanes at Scapa Flow. Seaplane-carriers—Empress, Engadine, and Riviera. Imperfections of the seaplane. The doctrine of the initiative in war. Offensive policy of the Royal Naval Air Service. The Eastchurch Squadron under Commander Samson goes to Ostend, August 27, 1914. Their motor-car reconnaissance to Bruges. They are ordered to return to England. Delayed by an accident. The Admiralty changes its policy, and orders them to operate from Dunkirk against Zeppelins. Adventures in armed motor-cars. Fight with Germans between Cassel and Bailleul. The expedition to Lille. Armoured cars. Marine reinforcements. The fight outside Doullens. Advanced base at Morbecque. Attacks designed on German communications in co-operation with French territorials and cavalry. The affair at Douai—Commander Samson's story. Diverse activities of Naval Air Service. Shortage of machines. Storm of September 12. The Naval Air Service co-operates on the Belgian coast with the Seventh Division of the British army. Air raids on Duesseldorf. The evacuation of Antwerp. The British Empire and 'side-shows'.
Naval aeroplanes work for the British army. The base at Dunkirk; its importance, and its influence on the war.
The air raid on Friedrichshafen, November 21, 1914. Secret preparations. The course from Belfort to Lake Constance. Lieutenant Sippe's log. Effect of the bombs. Squadron Commander Briggs taken prisoner. German alarm and later costly defences. The praise of the Avro. The question of Swiss neutrality.
The air raid on Cuxhaven, Christmas Day 1914, supported by light cruisers and destroyers. The purposes of the raid. The supporting force unmolested in the Bight of Heligoland. Inspected by Zeppelins. Commodore Tyrwhitt's remarks on Zeppelin tactics. Reconnaissance flight of seaplane No. 136 over the German navy.
The war in 1914. Increase of British responsibilities, and of the air force. The temper of the air force. The Epic of Youth.
CHAPTER VIII. The Expansion of the Air Force. pp. 410-89
The squadrons take to France, in August 1914, all efficient pilots, and all serviceable machines. What was left. Further call for fighting aeroplanes. The making of the new air force. British mastery of the air by July 1916.
British power of organization. Early control of military aviation. The Military Aeronautics Directorate. Sir David Henderson takes command in France. Major Trenchard and Major Brancker take charge at home.
General Trenchard and the Royal Flying Corps. His previous history. Given command of the Military Wing at Farnborough, to make something out of nothing. Helped by Major Brancker, who is appointed Deputy Director of Military Aeronautics. Previous history of Major Brancker. His flight as observer during cavalry manoeuvres in India, 1911. Returns to England, learns to fly, and joins Military Aeronautics Directorate.
Lord Kitchener at the War Office asks for new squadrons. Bold action of Directorate. Enlistment of mechanics. Agreement with Admiralty for allotment of machines and engines. The placing of orders. Avoidance of standardization. Opinion of pilots on their machines liable to error. Examples—the Sopwith Tabloid and the D.H. 2. Sudden demands of the war. Machines ordered. New firms employed.
Training scheme for pilots. New aerodromes all over England. Lord Kitchener's energy. Formation flying. Fifty new squadrons demanded. Official objections. 'Double this. K.' Good repute of British aviation for safety, quality, and performance. The architecture of the new air force. Institution of wings to co-operate with army corps, November 1914. Transfers and promotions. Wings paired to form a brigade. Army wings and corps wings. Introduction of equipment officers who do not fly. Race for efficiency in machines. The importance of morale. Harmful newspaper agitations. General Trenchard's achievement. Lessons of experience. Fighting aeroplanes; wireless; anti-aircraft guns; photography. Experimental machine with every squadron. Training of pilots at the Central Flying School. Training of observers begins late in the war. Meaning of the observer's badge.
General Henderson relinquishes command. His death, 1921, and character.
Continuous growth of Flying Corps. Observation and fighting. Bombing raids and night-flying. Programmes of the Royal Flying Corps command. Contrast between German and British artillery observation. Need for British anti-aircraft guns. Number of machines in a squadron raised to eighteen in 1916. Programmes of 1916 and 1917. The war ends before the latter is completed. Small early reinforcements. The supply of pilots. French supply machines to us during earlier years of the war. Military and naval officers posted to Paris to arrange supply.
The expansion of the Royal Naval Air Service. The problem of helping the navy from the air. The seaplane. The vessels designed to carry aircraft. Difficulty of landing an aeroplane on the deck of a moving vessel. The feat first accomplished, August 1917.
Kites and balloons. The Parseval kite balloon. The Drachen and the Cacquot. Wing Commander Maitland's report. Kite-balloon centre established at Roehampton. The first kite-balloon ship—the Manica. Experiments with kite balloons towed by ships. Demand of the army for kite balloons on the western front. This demand supplied by the navy.
The invention of the type of small airship called the Submarine Scout. The flying boat. Sopwith Bat boat. Work of Colonel J. C. Porte at Felixstowe. His earlier career. Achievements in 1918 of Felixstowe flying boats.
Torpedo aircraft. Experiments. Use of the torpedo seaplane at Gallipoli. Slowness of its practical development. Causes of this delay. Operational difficulties. The Cuckoo, a torpedo aeroplane, produced in 1917. The Argus built to carry torpedo aeroplanes, 1918. The value of torpedo aircraft. Dreaded by Dreadnoughts. Unpopular with pilots.
The navy and private firms. Need for fighting machines, and for powerful engines. Rivalry between military and naval air services. Demand for squadrons on western front. Two naval squadrons offered in 1914, and refused. Development of aerial fighting, and of bomb-dropping. The Fokker menace in 1916. Admiralty lend four Nieuport scouts to help No. 6 Squadron. Success of the experiment. A naval squadron on the western front near Amiens, October 1916. Four fighting naval squadrons on the western front in 1917. The achievements of these squadrons.
The problem of unity of control. The War Office and the Admiralty. Director of the Air Department responsible to each of the Sea Lords. The Central Air Office at Sheerness, under the Nore Command, abolished in February 1915, and the Royal Naval Air Service placed under the orders of the Director of the Air Department. Points of difficulty raised by Commander-in-Chief of the Nore. Verdict of the naval law branch. The question of discipline. Rapid growth of Naval Air Service. Small professional training of officers entered from civil life. The navy absorbs the Royal Naval Air Service into itself, August 1915. Consequences of this. Appointment of senior naval officers to air service commands. Discipline and science. Some advantages of the change—establishment of training depot at Cranwell, and of the famous Fifth Group at Dunkirk.
Naval plan for long-distance bombing raids over Essen and Berlin. No. 3 Wing at Luxeuil formed for this purpose. The army's needs; the Luxeuil Wing broken up. Probable effects of such raids. Believers in frightfulness are very susceptible to fright.
The emergence of the new air force. How the air will come into its own.
When Great Britain declared war upon Germany in August 1914, she staked her very existence as a free nation upon an incalculable adventure. Two new means and modes of warfare, both of recent invention, enormously increased the difficulties of forecast and seemed to make precedents useless. Former wars had been waged on the land and on the sea; the development of submarines and aircraft opened up secret ways of travel for armed vessels under the sea and promised almost unlimited possibilities of observation and offence from the heights of the air.
Of these two new weapons the submarine was brought earlier to a state of war efficiency, and because it seemed to threaten the security of our island and the power of our navy, it excited the greater apprehension. But the navigation of the air, whether by airship or aeroplane, is now recognized for the more formidable novelty. The progress of the war has proved that within the narrow seas the submarine can be countered, and that the extension of its capabilities on the high seas is beset with difficulties. For aircraft the possibilities are immense. It is not extravagant to say that the 17th of December 1903, when the Wright brothers made the first free flight through the air in a power-driven machine, marks the beginning of a new era in the history of the world.
The differences to be looked for in this new era were both over-estimated and under-estimated, according to the temper of those who considered them. Imaginative people, and sentimental people, looked for the speedy fulfilment of Tennyson's vision:
For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be; Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails, Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales; Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue; Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm, With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm; Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the World.
The Germans, who as a people fall easy victims to agreeable sentiment, indulged extravagant hopes from war in the air, and expected great achievements from their Zeppelins. On the other hand, the English, who are less excitable, were comparatively slow as a nation to appreciate the importance of the new invention. Conservative and humorous minds are always conscious chiefly of the immutable and stable elements in human life, and do not readily pay respect to novelty. Those who were responsible for the naval and military defences of the country preserved great coolness, and refused to let judgement outrun experience. They knew well that the addition to man's resources of yet another mode of travel or transport does not alter the enduring principles of strategy. They regarded the experiment benevolently, and, after a time, were willing to encourage it, but 'up to the end of the year 1911', says an official report, 'the policy of the Government with regard to all branches of aerial navigation was based on a desire to keep in touch with the movement rather than to hasten its development. It was felt that we stood to gain nothing by forcing a means of warfare which tended to reduce the value of our insular position and the protection of our sea-power.' When the Wright brothers offered to sell their invention to the British Admiralty, the offer was refused.
It is natural enough that believers in the new art, who devoted years of disinterested thought and labour to getting it recognized, and who truly foresaw its enormous importance, should be impatient of so cautious an attitude. But the attitude itself was also natural and excusable. The British navy is a great trust, responsible not so much for the progress of the nation as for its very existence. Untried courses, new investments, brilliant chances, do not commend themselves to trustees. By adherence to a tried policy and to accustomed weapons the navy had ridden out many a storm that threatened national wreckage; what it had done so often it believed that it could do again; and it was slow to grasp at new weapons before their value was proved. So the progress of aerial science followed what, in this country, is the normal course. We have had many great poets and many great inventors. We sometimes starve our poets, but we make classics of their works. We sometimes leave our inventors to struggle unaided with difficulties, but when they succeed we adopt their inventions as part of the national inheritance, and pay to their names a respect greater than bounty-fed dependence can ever command or deserve. Their failures are their own, their successes belong to their country; and if success brings them no other reward, they can at least claim a part in the honour universally paid to soldiers and sailors, whose profession is sacrifice.
As soon as it became clear that no nation could without extreme peril to itself neglect the new weapon, the Government took up the problem in earnest. Private enterprise might, no doubt, have been trusted to improve and develop aircraft for the various uses of peace, but the question was a question of war. The purposes and ambitions of the German Empire had again and again been freely expressed, in no moderate language, and the German menace lay like a long vague shadow across the peace of Europe. Peaceful citizens, with many other things to think of, might fail to see it, but no such blindness was possible for those who had charge of the defences of the country. The Committee of Imperial Defence, in the few years before the war, took expert advice. The Government, acting on this advice, furnished us with the nucleus of an air force. They made their own flying school, and established their own factory for the output of aircraft. They organized an air service with naval and military wings. They formed advisory and consultative committees to grapple with the difficulties of organization and construction. They investigated the comparative merits and drawbacks of airships and aeroplanes. The airships, because they seemed fitter for reconnaissance over the sea, were eventually assigned wholly to the Naval Wing. No very swift progress was made with these in the years before the war. The expenses of adequate experiment were enormous, and the long tale of mishaps to Zeppelins seemed to show that the risks were great. The experts who were consulted pointed out that the only way to test the value of the larger type of airship was to build such airships ourselves, that Germany had patiently persevered in her airship policy in the face of disaster and loss, and that if we were to succeed with airships it would be necessary to warn the public that heavy losses, in the initial stage, were unavoidable. Opinion in this island, it is right to remember, was strong against the airship, or gas-bag, and Germany's enthusiastic championship of the Zeppelin made the aeroplane more popular in England. So our airship policy was tentative and experimental; a few small airships were in use, but none of the large size and wide range required for effective naval reconnaissance. Good and rapid progress, on the other hand, was made with aeroplanes and seaplanes, and when war broke out we had a small but healthy service, both naval and military, ready to take the air.
Four squadrons of the Military Wing, or Royal Flying Corps, that is to say, forty-eight machines, with a few additional machines in reserve, bore a part in the retreat from Mons. A detachment of the Naval Wing, or Royal Naval Air Service, was sent to Belgium, and after bearing a part in the defence of Antwerp, established itself at Dunkirk, which remained throughout the war a centre for aerial operations. These were the beginnings; in the four years and three months of the war the air service grew and multiplied a hundredfold. At the date of the armistice, the 11th of November 1918, there were operating in France and Belgium ninety-nine squadrons of the Royal Air Force. In August 1914 there had been less than two hundred and fifty officers in the service, all told; in November 1918 there were over thirty thousand. In August 1914 the total of machines, available for immediate war service, was about a hundred and fifty; in November 1918 there were more than twenty-two thousand in use, almost all of them enormously more powerful and efficient than the best machines of the earlier date. In the course of the war our air forces accounted for more than eight thousand enemy machines; dropped more than eight thousand tons of bombs on enemy objectives; fired more than twelve million rounds of ammunition at targets on the ground; took more than half a million photographs; brought down nearly three hundred enemy balloons; and suffered a total of casualties not far short of eighteen thousand. Not less important in its influence on the fortunes of the war than any of these achievements, perhaps more important than all of them, was the work done by aircraft in detecting movements of the enemy and in directing the fire of our gunners upon hostile batteries. This work cannot be exactly assessed or tabulated, but the German gunner knew where to look for the enemy he most dreaded.
A rapid summary of this kind shows that the history of the war in the air is inseparable from the history of the development of the art of flying. Of those who were competent to handle a machine in the air during the years before the war by far the greater number served with the colours. With the outbreak of war civilian flying, except for training purposes, abruptly ceased. The necessities of war compelled and quickened invention. When a nation is fighting for its life, money and energy are expended without check, and it may be doubted whether in the whole history of mankind any art in its infant stage has been so magnificently supported and advanced by war as the art of flying was supported and advanced by the greatest war of all.
No history can be expected to furnish a full record of all the acts of prowess that were performed in the air during the long course of the war. Many of the best of them can never be known; the Victoria Cross has surely been earned, over and over again, by pilots and observers who went east, and lie in unvisited graves. The public dearly loves a hero; but the men who have been both heroic and lucky must share their honours, as they are the first to insist, with others whose courage was not less, though their luck failed them. There is a quaint system, in use in the air service, of reckoning the activities of the service in terms of hours flown, taking as the unit for addition every single hour flown by each individual machine. By this method of calculation, the hours flown by the air service, on all fronts, during the war can be shown to be much over a million. The work of an ant-hill, reckoned on the same basis, would present a stupendous total. If the heroism of the air service, that is to say, their deeds of surpassing courage and devotion, could be thus computed, the figure would run into thousands; and this would be the fairest, though not the most dramatic, statement of the case. The officers in command have always been unwilling to pay regard to 'star turns'; what they have coveted for the service is not a low range of achievement rising now and again into sharp fantastic peaks, but a high tableland of duty and efficiency. They obtained their desire, in a result more surprising than any single exploit can ever be. They made courage and devotion the rule, not the exception. The work of the air service on a war front consists of often-repeated short periods of intense strain. One pilot described it well by saying that it is like going to the dentist every day. To exact the highest standard of conduct under this strain, not as an ideal to be aimed at, but as a working rule, might well seem to be winding up human nature to a point where it must break. The commanders of the air service did not hesitate to take the risk. They trusted human nature, and were amply rewarded. The experiences of the war revealed, to a generation that had almost forgotten them, the ancient and majestic powers of man, the power of his mind over his body, the power of his duty over his mind. When the builders have been praised for their faith and for their skill, the last word of wonder and reverence must be kept for the splendid grain of the stuff that was given them to use in the architecture of their success.
Those matters are fittest for history which exhibit a process of growth. The great periods of human history are not the long periods; they are those times of change and crisis when the movements of humanity are quickened and made visible, when the stationary habits and conservative traditions of mankind are broken up, and one phase of civilization gives place to another, as the bud, long and slowly matured, suddenly bursts into flower. The story of the war in the air is a perfect example of this quickening process, whereby developments long secretly prepared, and delayed until hope is saddened, are mysteriously touched with life, and exhibit the tendencies of ages condensed in the events of a few crowded years. The flying machine, which at the end of the nineteenth century was a toy, ten years later was added to the most valuable resources of man, and ten years later again bid fair to alter the conditions of his life on the surface of the earth. The war, though it did not cause this great change, accelerated it enormously. War is exacting, and it is difficult to think of any peaceful uses of aircraft which do not find their counterpart in naval and military operations. When General Townshend was besieged in Kut, there came to him by aeroplane not only food (in quantities sadly insufficient for his needs), but salt, saccharine, opium, drugs and surgical dressings, mails, spare parts for wireless plant, money, and a millstone weighing seventy pounds, which was dropped by means of a parachute. In the actual operations of the war the uses of aircraft, and especially of the aeroplane, were very rapidly extended and multiplied. The earliest and most obvious use was reconnaissance. To the Commander-in-Chief a detailed knowledge of the enemy's dispositions and movements is worth more than an additional army corps; aeroplanes and balloons furnished him with eyes in the air. As observation was the first purpose of aircraft, so it remains the most important. During the war it was developed in many directions. The corps machines operating on the western front devoted themselves among other things to detecting enemy batteries and to directing the fire of our own artillery. As soon as a wireless installation for aeroplanes came into use, and the observer was thus brought into close touch with his own gunners, this kind of observation became deadly in its efficiency, and was the chief agent in defeating the German scheme of victory by gun-power. When once a hostile battery was located, and our guns, by the aid of observation from the air, were ranged upon it, the fire of that battery was quickly silenced. Other branches of observation, developed during the war, were photography from the air and contact patrol. Complete photographic maps of Hun-land, as the territory lying immediately behind the enemy lines was everywhere called, were made from a mosaic of photographs, and were continually renewed. No changes, however slight, in the surface of the soil could escape the record of the camera when read by the aid of a magnifying glass. Contact patrol, or reports by low-flying aeroplanes on the exact position of the advancing infantry, came later, and supplemented the use of the telephone, which was liable to be destroyed by shell-fire. Our contact patrols saved us from a world of those most distressing of casualties, the losses inflicted on troops by their own guns.
Serious battle in the air, which was engaged on no large scale until the second year of the war, was, in its essence, an attempt to put out the eyes of the other side. In the early days officers often took a revolver, a carbine, or a rifle, into the air with them, but machines designed expressly for fighting, and armed with Lewis or Vickers guns, did not appear in force until it became necessary to counter the attacks made by the Fokker on our observation machines. Then began that long series of dramatic combats, splendid in many of its episodes, which fascinated the attention of the public, and almost excluded from notice the humbler, but not less essential, and not less dangerous, duties of those whose main business it was to observe.
Lastly, the offensive powers of aircraft have been so rapidly developed, especially during the latest period of the war, that it was only the coming of the armistice that saved mankind from a hurricane of slaughter. In 1914 a few small bombs were carried by officers into the air, and were gingerly dropped over the side of the machine. Accuracy of aim was impossible. In the large modern bombing machine the heavier bombs weigh almost three-quarters of a ton; they are mechanically released from the rack on which they are hung, and when the machine is flying level, at a known pace and height, good practice can be made, by the aid of an adjustable instrument, on any target. Even more desolating in its effect is the work done by low-flying aeroplanes, armed with machine-guns, against enemy troops on the march. Raids on the enemy communications, for the destruction of supplies and the cutting off of reinforcements, played a great part in the later phases of the war; and long-distance raids over enemy centres served to bring the civil population into sympathy with the sufferings of the army.
All these activities belong to war on the land, and the aeroplanes of the Royal Naval Air Service bore a part in them. Members of the naval squadrons at Antwerp carried out the earliest bombing raids into Germany. The kite balloons, which rose like a palisade behind our lines and kept the enemy under observation, were, in the early time of the war, supplied by the navy. Moreover, the navy had work of its own to do in the air. The business of coast defence and patrol, the convoy of vessels—in short, all the office-work that would fall to an Inspector-General of the Seven Seas had to be done by the navy. The seaplane and the flying boat can come to rest on the surface of the sea, but it is no secret that they are not always comfortable there, and there were attached to the Naval Air Service certain special vessels, constructed or adapted to be seaplane-carriers. The credit of defeating Germany's submarine campaign belongs, in part at least, to the air service, working in co-operation with the destroyers and a swarm of smaller craft. In favourable weather submarines below the surface of the water can sometimes be seen from the air, and the depth-charge, another invention of the war, dropped by surface craft, is the means of their destruction.
An occasional duty of aircraft may fitly be mentioned here. It is sometimes desirable that a missionary should be deposited at a quiet spot behind the enemy lines, and when he wishes to communicate with those who sent him out it sometimes becomes necessary to supply him with a basket of pigeons. When communication is interrupted on the troubled surface of the earth, it can often be renewed in the air.
As the uses of aircraft multiplied, so did their designs, and where many various tasks were performed, in the beginning of the war, by a single type of machine, good in its day, there are now many types of machine, each with special fitness for its own purpose. How far these developments may yet go, no man can tell, and prophecy is idle; what is certain is that many operations of war and peace which have never yet been performed are within the reach of the aircraft that are now at our disposal. A beleaguered city could be victualled. A force of a thousand men, with rations and ammunition, could be landed, in a few hours, to operate in the rear of an invading army. But the world is tired of war, and the advances of the immediate future will rather be made in the direction of peaceful traffic and peaceful communication.
The history of the war in the air is the history of the rapid progress of an art and the great achievements of a service. In the nature of things the progress of the art must claim a share in the record. If the battle of Trafalgar had been fought only some ten short years after the first adventurer trusted himself to the sea on a crazy raft, the ships, rather than the men, would be the heroes of that battle, and Nelson himself would be overshadowed by the Victory. The men who fought the war in the air have overcome more than their enemies; they, and those who worked for them on the ground, have successfully grappled with problem after problem in the perfecting of the art of flight. A whole world of scientific devices, from the Pitot tube, which indicates the speed of the machine through the air, to the Dreyer automatic oxygen apparatus, which enables the pilot to breathe in the rarefied upper reaches of the atmosphere and to travel far above the summit of high mountain ranges, has become a part of daily usage. A machine is the embodiment of human thought, and if it sometimes seems to be almost alive, that is because it springs of live parents. The men of science, who worked for humanity, must have an honour only less than the honour paid to the men of action, who died for their country. These last, the pilots and observers who are dead and gone, would not ask to be exalted above other branches of the fighting services. Their pride was to serve the army on the land and the navy on the sea. The men who march often admire and extol the courage of the men who fly, and they are right; but the men who fly, unless they are very thoughtless, know that the heaviest burden of war, its squalor and its tediousness, is borne on the devoted shoulders of the infantryman. All other arms, even ships of war themselves, in many of their uses, are subservient to the infantry. Man must live, and walk, and sleep on the surface of the earth, and there, in the few feet of soil that have been fertilized by contact with the air, he must grow his food. These are the permanent conditions, and they give the infantry its supremacy in war. A country that is conquered must be controlled and administered; a city that surrenders must be occupied. Battles can be won in the air or on the sea, and the mark of victory is this, that the patient infantry, military and civil, can then advance, to organize peace. An immense sympathy for the sufferings of the infantry, an immense admiration for their dogged perseverance in their never-ending task, is felt by all those whose business it is to assist them from the air. It would be an ill service to the men of the air force, and a foolish ambition, to try to raise them in consideration above the heads of the men whose servants and helpers they are.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon. The air service has its own advantages, its own trials, and its own marks of distinction. Life in the service was lived at high pressure, and was commonly short. Throughout the war our machines were continually at work over enemy territory, but the pilots of the beginning of the war were not crossing the lines at its close. A few were acting in administrative posts; some had returned, disabled, to civil life; the rest have passed, and their work has been carried on by generation after generation of their successors. The air service still flourishes; its health depends on a secret elixir of immortality, which enables a body to repair its severest losses. The name of this elixir is tradition, and the greatest of all the achievements of the air service is that in a very few years, under the hammer of war, it has fashioned and welded its tradition, and has made it sure. Critics who speak of what they have not felt and do not know have sometimes blamed the air service because, being young, it has not the decorum of age. The Latin poet said that it is decorous to die for one's country; in that decorum the service is perfectly instructed. But those who meet the members of a squadron in their hours of ease, among gramophones and pictorial works of art suggestive of luxury, forget that an actor in a tragedy, though he play his part nobly on the stage, is not commonly tragic in the green-room. If they desire intensity and gravity, let them follow the pilot out on to the aerodrome, and watch his face in its hood, when the chocks are pulled away, and he opens the throttle of the engine. No Greek sculpture is finer in its rendering of life and purpose. To see him at his best they would have to accompany him, through the storm of the anti-aircraft guns, into those fields of air where every moment brings some new trial of the quickness of his brain and the steadiness of his nerve. He is now in the workshop where tradition is made, to be handed down as an heirloom to the coming generations. It will not fail to reach them. The Royal Air Force is strong in the kind of virtue that propagates itself and attains to a life beyond a life. The tradition is safe.
THE CONQUEST OF THE AIR
We know next to nothing of man's greatest achievements. His written history is the history of yesterday, and leaves him very much the same being as it finds him, with the same habits, the same prejudices, and only slightly enhanced powers. The greatest and most significant advances were prehistoric. What invention, of which any record remains, can compare in importance with the invention of speech; and what day in the world's history is more worthy of celebration than that day, the birthday of thought and truth, when a sound, uttered by the breath, from being the expression of a feeling became the mark of a thing? The man who first embarked on the sea has been praised for the triple armour of his courage; but he must be content with praise; his biography will never be written. The North American Indians are reckoned a primitive people, but when first they come under the notice of history they bring with them one of the most perfect of human inventions—the birch-bark canoe. What centuries of dreams and struggles and rash adventures went to the inventing and perfecting of that frail boat? What forgotten names deserve honour for the invention of the paddle and the sail? The whole story is beyond recovery in the rapidly closing backward perspective of time. Man's eyes are set in his head so that he may go forward, and while he is healthy and alert he does not trouble to look behind him. If the beginnings of European civilization are rightly traced to certain tribes of amphibious dwellers on the coast of the Mediterranean, who reared the piles of their houses in the water, and so escaped the greater perils of the land, then some sort of rudimentary navigation was the first condition of human progress, and sea-power, which defies the devastators of continents, had earlier prophets than Admiral Mahan. But the memory of these thousands of years has passed like a watch in the night.
The conquest of the sea can never be recorded in history; even the conquest of the air, which was achieved within the lifetime of all but the very youngest of those who are now alive, admits of no sure or perfect record. The men who bore a part in it, and still survive, are preoccupied with the future, and are most of them impatient of their own past. Where knowledge begins, there begin also conflicting testimonies and competing claims. It is no part of the business of this history of the war in the air to compare these testimonies or to resolve these claims. To narrate how man learned to fly would demand a whole treatise, and the part of the history which ends in December 1903 is the most difficult and uncertain part of all. Yet the broad outlines of the process can be sketched and determined. It is a long story of legends and dreams, theories and fancies, all suddenly transformed into facts; a tale of the hopes of madmen suddenly recognized as reasonable ambitions. When in the light of the present we look back on the past our eyes are opened, and we see many things that were invisible to contemporaries. We are able, for the first time, to pay homage to the pioneers, who saw the promised kingdom, but did not enter it. No place has hitherto been found for their names in serious history. The Dictionary of National Biography, with its supplement, includes the lives of all the famous men of this nation who died before King George the Fifth was king. Yet it contains no mention of Sir George Cayley, the Father of British Aeronautics; nor of John Stringfellow, who, in 1848, constructed the first engine-driven aeroplane that ever flew through the air; nor of Francis Herbert Wenham, whose classic treatise on Aerial Locomotion, read at the first meeting of the Aeronautical Society, in 1866, expounds almost every principle on which modern aviation is founded; nor of James Glaisher, who, in 1862; made the highest recorded balloon ascent; nor of Percy Sinclair Pilcher, who lost his life in experimenting with one of his own gliders in 1899. These men attracted little enough notice in their own day, and were regarded as amiable eccentrics; but they all thought long and hard on aerial navigation, and step by step, at their own costs, they brought it nearer to accomplishment.
Now that the thing has been done, it seems strange that it was not done earlier. At no time was it possible for man to forget his disabilities; the birds were always above him, in easy possession. If he attributed their special powers wholly to the lightness of their structure and the strength of their muscles, the variety of flying creatures might have taught him better. The fact is that there is no unique design for flight; given the power and its right use, almost anything can fly. If the sea-gull can fly, so can the duck, with a much heavier body and a much less proportion of wing. The moth can fly; but so can the beetle. The flying-fish can fly, or rather, can leap into the air and glide for a distance of many yards. With the requisite engine-power a portmanteau or a tea-tray could support itself in the air. The muscular power of man, it is now generally accepted, is not sufficient to support his weight in level flight on still air, but if the principles of flight had been understood, there was no need to wait for the invention of the powerful internal-combustion engine; a steam-engine in a well-designed aeroplane might have performed very useful flights. It was knowledge that lingered. Newton, when he saw an apple fall in his garden at Woolsthorpe, 'began to think of gravity extending to the orb of the moon'. If he had been in the habit of skimming flat stones on calm water, he might have bent his mind to the problem of flight, and might even have anticipated some of the discoveries in aerodynamics which were reserved for the last century—in particular, the relations of speed and angle of incidence to the reactions of air resistance on a moving plane. The fact which is the basis of all aeroplane flight is that a perfectly horizontal plane, free to fall through the air, has its time of falling much retarded if it is in rapid horizontal motion. This is what makes gliding possible. Now let the plane which is being propelled in a horizontal direction be slightly tilted up, so that its front, or leading edge, is higher than its back, or trailing edge. The reaction of the air can then be resolved into two components, technically called 'lift' and 'drag'; lift, which tends to raise the plane, and drag, which retards it in its forward motion. When the angle of incidence of the plane is small, that is, when it is only slightly tilted from its direction of motion, the greater part of the air reaction is converted into lift. This is what makes flying possible. A moderate speed through the air will enable the plane to lift much more than its own weight.
This is not a technical treatise, but some further facts of signal importance in the theory and practice of flight are better explained at once, in so far as the beautiful exactitude of mathematical demonstration can be expressed in the crudities of popular speech. The lift produced by the reaction of the air acts on the whole plane, but not equally on all parts of it. At a flying angle, that is, when the angle of incidence of the plane is small, the upward force is greatest on those parts of the plane which are immediately behind the leading edge. The wings of any soaring bird are long and narrow, and thus are perfectly designed for their work. A square-winged bird would be a poor soarer; a bird the breadth of whose wings should be greater than their length could hardly fly at all. The wings of a flying machine are called planes, or aerofoils; the length of the wing is called the span of the plane; the breadth of the wing is called the chord of the plane. The proportion of the span to the chord, that is, the proportion of the length of the wing to its breadth, is called the 'aspect ratio' of the plane; and a plane, or wing, that is long and narrow is said to have a high aspect ratio. A higher aspect ratio than is found in any bird or any flying machine would theoretically improve its powers of flight, but the practicable span of the plane, or length of the wing, is limited by the need for rigidity and strength. The albatross, nevertheless, the king of soaring birds, has enormously long and narrow wings; and the planes of some flying machines have an aspect ratio almost as high as the slats of a Venetian blind.
The wings of a flying machine, it has been said, are called planes, but they are not true planes. Like the wings of a bird, they are 'cambered', that is to say, they curve upward from the leading edge and downward again to the trailing edge. Some of the most valuable work contributed by the laboratory to the science of flight has had for its object the determination of the best form of camber, or curve of the plane. In the result, that form of camber has been found to be best which attains its maximum depth a little way only behind the leading edge, and gradually becomes shallower towards the trailing edge. Such a form of curve produces a comparatively smooth and untroubled partial vacuum above the plane, just behind its leading edge, and this vacuum is the factor of chief importance in the lift of the plane.
The above is a brief and rough statement of some principles of aviation which have been ascertained by long experiment and the labour of many minds. It is by experiment that flight has been achieved. The Newton who shall reduce all the observed phenomena to a few broad and simple laws is yet to come. A bird is simpler than an aeroplane in that its wings both support it and drive it forward, whereas all aerial machines, both those that are heavier than air and those that are lighter than air, are at present driven forward by the thrust of an airscrew, revolving at the rate of some twenty to thirty times a second.
There are only two kinds of flying machine, the lighter than air and the heavier than air, of which two kinds the simplest types are the soap-bubble and the arrow. These two kinds have often been in competition with each other; and their rivalry, which has sometimes delayed progress, still continues. The chief practical objection to machines lighter than air is that they are buoyed up by vulnerable receptacles containing hydrogen or some other highly inflammable gas. As soon as helium, which is a light non-inflammable gas, shall be produced in quantity at a reasonable expense, this objection will be lessened. The advantage of the lighter-than-air, or floating, machine over the heavier-than-air, or soaring, machine is that it can remain stationary in the air without loss of height, and that its great size and lifting power enable it to supply comfortable quarters for its staff, who not only travel in it, but, if need be, can inhabit it for days. The airship has a promising future, but it can never wholly supersede the soaring machine, which is heavier than air, and flies as birds fly.
A fascinating story, part legend, part fiction, might be told of the earliest reputed inventors. The fable of Daedalus perhaps grew up round the memory of a man of mechanical genius, for Daedalus was the author of many inventions before he flew from Crete to Italy. Aulus Gellius, in his entertaining book of anecdotes called the Attic Nights, tells how the philosopher Archytas of Tarentum invented a mechanical pigeon, which was filled with some kind of light air, and flew. The two schools of aeronautics were here reconciled. Other mechanists were Roger Bacon, who is reported to have designed a flying chariot; and Regiomontanus, astronomer and mathematician, who made a mechanical eagle which flew to meet the Emperor Charles the Fifth, on his solemn entry into the city of Nuremberg. It is not necessary to inquire whether these stories are true or false; what is certain is that the inventors did not leave their inventions as a legacy to their fellows. For a like reason Leonardo da Vinci, who busied himself with a mechanism which should enable man to operate wings with his legs, and who left a short treatise on the art of flight, has no place in the history. His mechanism is merely a drawing; his treatise remained in manuscript. The adventurers who risked their lives on wings of their own making are truer ancestors of the flying man. In 1507 John Damian, who was held in esteem as an alchemist and physician at the court of King James IV of Scotland, 'took in hand to fly with wings, and to that effect he caused make a pair of wings of feathers, which being fastened upon him, he flew off the castle wall of Stirling, but shortly he fell to the ground and brake his thigh-bone'. The poet Dunbar attacked him in a satirical poem, and the reputation of a charlatan has stuck to him, but he deserves credit for his courageous attempt. So does the Marquis de Bacqueville, who, in 1742, attached to his arms and legs planes of his own design, and launched himself from an upper story of his house in Paris, in the attempt to fly across the river Seine to the Tuileries, about two hundred yards away. He glided some distance, and then fell on a washerwoman's barge in the stream, breaking his leg in the fall. These and other disastrous attempts might be defended in the words of Wilbur Wright, written in 1901, while he was experimenting with his own gliders. 'There are two ways', he says, 'of learning how to ride a fractious horse: one is to get on him and learn by actual practice how each motion and trick may be best met; the other is to sit on a fence and watch the beast awhile, and then retire to the house and at leisure figure out the best way of overcoming his jumps and kicks. The latter system is the safest; but the former, on the whole, turns out the larger proportion of good riders. It is very much the same in learning to ride a flying machine; if you are looking for perfect safety you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial.' This pronouncement, by the highest authority, may serve as an apology for some of those whose attempts were reckoned madness or quackery, and whose misfortunes, during many long centuries, are the only material available for the history of human flight.
[Footnote 1: From the History of Scotland, by John Lesley, Bishop of Ross, written about 1570.]
[Footnote 2: Journal of the Western Society of Engineers, vol. vi, No. 6, December 1901.]
Two periods of modern European history are notable for a quickening of human interest in the problem of aerial navigation. They are the age of Louis XIV of France, and the age of the French Revolution. Both were times of great progress in science, and of illimitable hopes; but the earlier period, which in England witnessed the foundation of the Royal Society, was notable chiefly for advance in the physical and mathematical sciences; while the later period was more addicted to chemistry, and was the age of Lavoisier, Priestley, Cavendish, and Black. The former age, though it attained to nothing practical, made some progress in the theory of flight; the latter age invented the balloon.
The Royal Society took its origin in the meetings in London, during the troublous times of the Civil War, of 'divers worthy persons inquisitive into natural philosophy'. One of these worthy persons was John Wilkins, mathematician, philosopher, and divine, who, being parliamentarian in his sympathies, was, on the expulsion of the Royalists from Oxford, made Warden of Wadham College in that University. At Wadham, in the Warden's lodgings, the 'Experimental philosophical Club', as Aubrey calls it, renewed its meetings. Sprat, the early historian of the Royal Society, explains that religion and politics were forbidden topics. 'To have been always tossing about some theological question would have been to make that their private diversion of which they had had more than enough in public; to have been musing on the Civil Wars would have made them melancholy; therefore Nature alone could entertain them.' After the Restoration a meeting was held at Gresham College in London, and a committee was appointed, with Wilkins as chairman, to draw up a scheme for the Royal Society. The King approved of the scheme submitted to him, and the society received its charter in 1662.
Wilkins was a famous man in his day; he married a sister of Oliver Cromwell, and in his later years was Bishop of Chester. But his great work was the founding of the Royal Society; and his philosophical (or, as they would now be called, scientific) writings, which belong to his earlier years in London, show very clearly with what high expectations the society started on its labours. The first of these writings, published in 1638, is a discourse to prove that there may be another habitable World in the Moon. The second considers the possibility of a passage thither. The third maintains that it is probable that our Earth is one of the planets. The fourth, which is entitled Mercury; or, the Secret Messenger, discusses how thoughts may be communicated from a distance. The fifth and last, published in 1648, is called Mathematical Magic, and is divided into two books, under the titles Archimedes; or, Mechanical Powers, and Daedalus; or, Mechanical Motions. In this latter book Wilkins treats of mills, clocks, and the contrivance of motion by rarefied air; of the construction of an ark for submarine navigation, and of its uses in war; of a sailing chariot, to be driven on the land as ships are on the sea; of the possibility of perpetual motion; and, in chapters vii and viii, of the art of flying. There are four ways, according to Wilkins, whereby flying in the air may be attempted. The first is by spirits or angels; but this branch of the subject does not belong to natural philosophy. The next is by the help of fowls, which the learned Francis Bacon thought deserving of further experiment. Two ways remain of flying by our own strength; we may use wings fastened immediately to the body, or we may devise a flying chariot. If we are to use wings, he says, we must be brought up in the constant practice of them from youth, first 'running on the ground, as an ostrich or tame goose will do ... and so by degrees learn to rise higher.... I have heard it from credible testimony, that one of our own nation hath proceeded so far in this experiment, that he was able by the help of wings, in such a running pace, to step constantly ten yards at a time.' The arms of a man extended are weak, and easily wearied, so he thinks it would be worth the inquiry whether the wings might not be worked by the legs being thrust out and drawn in again one after the other, so as each leg should move both wings. But the best way of flying would be by a flying chariot, big enough to carry several persons, who might take turns to work it. Wilkins is quite honest in recognizing the difficulties of this scheme. He deals fully with the chief of them—whether so large and heavy a machine can be supported by so thin and light a body as the air; and whether the strength of the persons in it can be sufficient for the motion of it. In his attempt to show that these objections are not insuperable, he makes some true remarks. He had watched soaring birds, and had seen how they could swim up and down in the air without any sensible motion of the wings. When the right proportions of the machine are found out, and men by long practice have attained to skill and experience, we may perhaps, he thinks, be able to imitate the birds. If, after all, it be found that some greater motive power is required, we must not despair of the invention of such a power. The main difficulty will be not so much in maintaining the machine in flight as in raising it from the ground. 'When once it is aloft in the air, the motion of it will be easy, as it is in the flight of all kind of birds, which being at any great distance from the earth, are able to continue their motion for a long time and way, with little labour and weariness.' The right proportion of the wings, both for length and breadth; the special contrivances necessary for ascent, descent, or a turning motion—these and many more such questions can only be resolved, he maintains, by particular experiments. The sails of ships have been perfected by degrees, and the attempt to fly must meet with many difficulties and inconveniences for which only long experience and frequent trial can suggest a remedy.
So far Wilkins went; and he went no farther. His speculations, however, made a deep impression on his own age, gave a bias to the researches of his fellows, and, incidentally, aroused a storm of ridicule. When Joseph Glanvill, in his vigorous little treatise called Scepsis Scientifica (1665), wrote a forecast of the possible achievements of the Royal Society, he borrowed his hopes from Wilkins. 'Should these heroes go on', he says, 'as they have happily begun, they will fill the world with wonders, and posterity will find many things that are now but rumours, verified into practical realities. It may be, some ages hence, a voyage to the southern unknown tracts, yea, possibly the Moon, will not be more strange than one to America. To them that come after us it may be as ordinary to buy a pair of wings to fly into remotest regions, as now a pair of boots to ride a journey. And to confer at the distance of the Indies, by sympathetic conveyances, may be as usual to future times, as to us in a literary correspondence. The restoration of grey hairs to juvenility, and renewing the exhausted marrow, may at length be effected without a miracle; and the turning the now comparative desert world into a paradise, may not improbably be expected from late agriculture.' Again, when Sir William Temple, some thirty years later, cast contempt upon the Moderns in his Essay of Ancient and Modern Learning, it was the speculations of Wilkins that provoked his keenest satire. 'I have indeed heard of wondrous Pretensions and Visions of Men, possess'd with Notions of the strange Advancement of Learning and Sciences, on foot in this Age, and the Progress they are like to make in the next; as, the Universal Medicine, which will certainly cure all that have it; the Philosopher's Stone, which will be found out by Men that care not for Riches: the transfusion of young Blood into old Men's Veins, which will make them as gamesome as the Lambs, from which 'tis to be derived; an Universal Language, which may serve all Men's Turn, when they have forgot their own: the Knowledge of one another's Thoughts, without the grievous Trouble of Speaking: the Art of Flying, till a Man happens to fall down and break his Neck: Double-bottom'd Ships, whereof none can ever be cast away, besides the first that was made: the admirable Virtues of that noble and necessary Juice called Spittle, which will come to be sold, and very cheap, in the Apothecaries' Shops: Discoveries of new Worlds in the Planets, and Voyages between this and that in the Moon, to be made as frequently as between York and London: which such poor Mortals as I am think as wild as those of Ariosto, but without half so much Wit, or so much Instruction; for there, these modern Sages may know where they may hope in Time to find their lost Senses, preserved in Vials, with those of Orlando.'
Both Sir William Temple and Joseph Glanvill were men of acute intelligence and complete sanity; the one an aged statesman deeply versed in the deceits and follies of men; the other a young cleric, educated in the Oxford of the Commonwealth, and stirred to enthusiasm by what he had there heard of the progress of natural philosophy. In this perennial debate the man of the world commonly triumphs; he plays for the stakes that are on the table, and does not put faith in deferred gains. For something like two hundred years Sir William Temple's triumph was almost complete. Now things have changed, and Glanvill's rhapsody comes nearer to the truth. Wireless telegraphy, radium, the discoveries of bacteriology, and not least the conquest of the air, have taken the edge off the sallies of the wit, and have verified the dreams of the prophet.
What most delayed the science and art of flight, which made no progress during the whole of the eighteenth century, was an imperfect understanding of the flight of birds. The right way to achieve flight, as events were to prove, was by the study and practice of gliding. But birds were believed to support, as well as to raise, themselves in the air chiefly by what in the jargon of science is called orthogonal flight, that is, by direct downward flapping of the wings. This view received authoritative support from a famous treatise written in the seventeenth century by Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, an Italian professor of mathematical and natural philosophy. Borelli, who held professorships at the Universities of Florence and Pisa, and corresponded with many members of the Royal Society, was an older man than Wilkins, but his book on the movements of animals (De Motu Animalium), which included a section on the flight of birds (De Volatu), was not published till 1680, when both he and Wilkins were dead. It was long held in high esteem for its anatomical exposition of the action of flying, and some of its main contentions cast a damp upon the hopes of man. The bones of a bird, says Borelli, are thin tubes of exceeding hardness, much lighter, and at the same time stronger, than the bones of a man. The pectoral muscles, which move the wings, are massive and strong—more than four times stronger, in proportion to the weight they have to move, than the legs of a man. And he states his conclusion roundly—it is impossible that man should ever achieve artificial flight by his own strength. This view, dogmatically stated by one who was a good mathematician and a good anatomist, became the orthodox view, and had an enduring influence. All imitation of the birds by man, and further, all schemes of navigating the air in a machine dynamically supported, seemed, by Borelli's argument, to have been thrust back into the limbo of vanities.
There remained only the hope that some means might be found of buoying man up in the air, thereby leaving him free to apply his muscular and mechanical powers to the business of driving himself forward. Another celebrated treatise of the seventeenth century pointed the way to such a means. Francesco Lana, a member of the Society of Jesus in Rome, spent the greater part of his life in scientific research. He planned a large encyclopaedia, embodying all existing science, in so far as it was based on experiment and proof. Of this work only two volumes appeared during his lifetime; he died at Brescia in the year 1687. But long before he died, he had produced, in 1670, a preliminary sketch of his great work; and it is this earlier and shorter treatise which contains the two famous chapters on the Aerial Ship. The aerial ship is to be buoyed up in the air by being suspended from four globes, made of thin copper sheeting, each of them about twenty-five feet in diameter. From these globes the air is to be exhausted, so that each of them, being lighter than air, will support the weight of two or three men. The ship being thus floated can be propelled by oars and sails.
Any modern reader, without asking for further specifications, can pronounce this design absurd. Lana was prevented by his vow of poverty from spending any money on experiment, so that he had to meet only argumentative objections, not those much more formidable obstacles, the ordeal of the inventor, which present themselves when a machine is theoretically perfect and will not work. The difficulties which he foresaw are real enough. The process of exhausting the air from the globes might, he thought, prove troublesome. The pressure of the atmosphere on the outer surface, it might be held, would crush or break the globes, to which he replied that that pressure would be equal on all sides, and would therefore rather strengthen the globes than break them. The ship, some might object, could not be propelled by oars; Lana thinks it could, but suggests, to comfort the objectors, that oars will rarely be necessary, for there will always be a wind. The weight of the machine and of the persons in it will fortunately prevent it from rising to heights where breathing becomes impossible. 'I do not foresee', says Lana, 'any other difficulties that could prevail against this invention, save one only, which to me seems the greatest of them all, and that is that God would never surely allow such a machine to be successful, since it would create many disturbances in the civil and political governments of mankind. Where is the man who can fail to see that no city would be proof against surprise, when the ship could at any time be steered over its squares, or even over the courtyards of dwelling-houses, and brought to earth for the landing of its crew?... Iron weights could be hurled to wreck ships at sea, or they could be set on fire by fireballs and bombs; nor ships alone, but houses, fortresses, and cities could be thus destroyed, with the certainty that the airship could come to no harm as the missiles could be hurled from a vast height.'
The extravagance of Lana's design must not be allowed to rob him of the credit of being, in some sense, the inventor of the balloon. A balloon filled with gas, and lighter than air, was in his day inconceivable; the composition of the atmosphere was unknown, and the chemistry of gases was not understood. But he had followed the physical investigations of the seventeenth century, and was well acquainted with Torricelli's demonstration of the weight of the atmosphere. The only practical way for him to make a vessel lighter than air was to empty it of the air within it, and Torricelli's invention of the barometer seemed to bring such a device within reach. The common pump begat the barometer; the barometer begat the balloon. But the enormous pressure of the atmosphere on a vessel encasing a vacuum, though Lana had triumphed over it in argument, could not be so easily dealt with in practice. The success of the balloon was delayed until, by the discovery and production of a gas lighter than air, a frail and thin envelope could be supported against the pressure from without by an equal pressure from within.
For ballooning what was chiefly necessary was a thorough knowledge of gases and of the means of producing them. The older chemistry, or alchemy, devoted all its attention, for centuries, to the precious metals, and knew nothing of gas. Medical chemistry, which succeeded it, was concerned chiefly with the curative properties of various chemical preparations. When Robert Boyle, and the investigators who came after him, put aside this age-long preoccupation with wealth and healing, and set themselves to determine, by observation and experiment, the nature of common substances, and the possibility of resolving them into simpler elements, modern chemistry began. Four states of matter, namely, earth, air, fire, and water, were recognized by the older chemists, and were by them called elements; it was the work of the eighteenth century to investigate these, and especially to separate the constituents of air and of water. In 1774 Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen. In 1782 Henry Cavendish showed that hydrogen, when burnt, produces water. At a much earlier date hydrogen had been produced by the action of acid on metals, and had been found to be many times lighter than air. Dr. Joseph Black, professor of chemistry in the University of Edinburgh, was the first to suggest, in 1767, that a balloon inflated with hydrogen would rise in the air; and the experiment was successfully tried with soap-bubbles by Tiberius Cavallo, in the year 1782.
Nevertheless, the famous first balloon, which ascended in 1783, was not filled with hydrogen, and was invented by what may be called a happy accident. The brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier were the sons of a wealthy paper-maker at Annonay, not very far from Lyons. The suggestion of their balloon came to them from observing that thick opaque clouds float high in the air. Linen material was readily accessible to them at the factory, and they resolved to try whether a large balloon, some thirty-three feet in diameter, filled with smoke vapours, would rise in the air. Their experiment was successful. On the 5th of June 1783 they filled their balloon with smoke (and therefore with hot air) over a fire of chips and shavings; it rose easily, and travelled to a distance of about a mile and a half before it cooled and sank. The fame of this experiment quickly reached Paris, the centre of science and fashion, and awakened rivalry. Under the direction of Professor Charles, a well-known physicist, two brothers whose surname was Robert made from varnished silk a balloon of about thirteen feet in diameter; it was filled with hydrogen, and on the 27th of August 1783, in the presence of a large and excited assembly, it rose from the Champ de Mars and travelled some fifteen miles into the country, where it fell, and produced a panic among the peasantry. On the 19th of September Joseph Montgolfier was brought to Versailles to give a demonstration of his new invention in the presence of the King and Queen. On this occasion his balloon rose 1,500 feet into the air, carrying with it a sheep, a cock, and a duck, the first living passengers, whom it deposited unhurt when it came to ground again after a short flight. Thereafter society went balloon-mad. Pilatre de Rozier, a young native of Metz, determined to attempt an aerial voyage. During the month of October he experimented with a captive balloon of the Montgolfier type, from which he suspended a brazier, so that by a continued supply of heated air the balloon should maintain its buoyancy. On the 21st of November 1783, accompanied by the Marquis d'Arlandes, he rose in a free balloon from the Bois de Boulogne, and made a successful voyage of twenty minutes, during which time he travelled over Paris for a distance of about five miles. Ten days later, on behalf of the savants, M. Charles retorted with a voyage of twenty-seven miles, in a hydrogen balloon, from Paris to Nesle; he was accompanied by one of the brothers Robert, and when Robert left the car at Nesle the balloon, lightened of a part of its burden, rose rapidly with M. Charles to a height of two miles in the air. Most of the fittings of the modern hydrogen balloon, the hoop and netting, for instance, from which the car is suspended, and the valve at the top of the balloon for the release of the gas, were devised by Charles. The unfortunate Pilatre de Rozier met his death on the 15th of June 1785, in an attempt to cross from Boulogne to England. In order to avoid a constant wastage of hydrogen in controlling the height of the balloon, he devised a double balloon; the larger one, above, was filled with hydrogen, the smaller one, below, was worked with hot air from a brazier, on the Montgolfier principle. At a height of some three thousand feet, while it was still over French territory, the double balloon caught fire and fell flaming to the earth.
The earliest balloon ascents in England followed close upon the French experiments. On the 25th of November 1783 Count Francesco Zambeccari sent up an oil-silk hydrogen balloon, ten feet in diameter, from the Artillery Ground in Moorfields; it travelled forty-eight miles, and fell at Petworth in Sussex. On the 22nd of February 1784 a balloon of five feet in diameter, liberated at Sandwich in Kent, travelled seventy-five miles, and after crossing the Channel, fell at Warneton in Flanders. To inflate a bag with gas and let it take its chance in the air is no great achievement, but these were flights of good promise. The first person in Great Britain to navigate the air was James Tytler, a Scot, who on the 27th of August 1784 ascended in a fire-balloon, that is, a balloon filled with hot air, from Comely Gardens, Edinburgh, and travelled about half a mile. Tytler had been employed by the booksellers to edit the second edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, of which he wrote the greater part, at a salary of seventeen shillings a week; he passed his life in poverty, and his balloon adventure attracted little attention. The public mania for ballooning as a spectacle began with the ascents of Vincenzo Lunardi, secretary to the Neapolitan ambassador in England. Lunardi's first ascent, which was well advertised, was made from the Artillery Ground in Moorfields on the 15th of September 1784, in the presence of nearly two hundred thousand spectators. His hydrogen balloon, of about thirty-two feet in diameter, sailed high over London, and descended near Ware in Hertfordshire. His record of his sensations, written in imperfect English, and published in 1784 under the title of An Account of the First Aerial Voyage in England, deserves quotation:
'At five minutes after two, the last gun was fired, the cords divided, and the Balloon rose, the company returning my signals of adieu with the most unfeigned acclamations and applauses. The effect was that of a miracle on the multitudes which surrounded the place; and they passed from incredulity and menace into the most extravagant expressions of approbation and joy.
'At the height of twenty yards, the Balloon was a little depressed by the wind, which had a fine effect; it held me over the ground for a few seconds, and seemed to pause majestically before its departure.
'On discharging a part of the ballast, it ascended to the height of two hundred yards. As a multitude lay before me of a hundred and fifty thousand people, who had not seen my ascent from the ground, I had recourse to every stratagem to let them know I was in the gallery, and they literally rent the air with their acclamations and applause. In these stratagems I devoted my flag, and worked with my oars, one of which was immediately broken and fell from me. A pigeon too escaped, which, with a dog, and cat, were the only companions of my excursion.
'When the thermometer had fallen from 68 deg. to 61 deg. I perceived a great difference in the temperature of the air. I became very cold, and found it necessary to take a few glasses of wine. I likewise eat the leg of a chicken, but my bread and other provisions had been rendered useless by being mixed with the sand which I carried as ballast.
'When the thermometer was at fifty, the effect of the atmosphere, and the combination of circumstances around, produced a calm delight, which is inexpressible, and which no situation on earth could give. The stillness, extent, and magnificence of the scene rendered it highly awful. My horizon seemed a perfect circle; the terminating line several hundred miles in circumference. This I conjectured from the view of London; the extreme points of which, formed an angle of only a few degrees. It was so reduced on the great scale before me, that I can find no simile to convey an idea of it. I could distinguish Saint Paul's and other churches, from the houses. I saw the streets as lines, all animated with beings, whom I knew to be men and women, but which I should otherwise have had a difficulty in describing. It was an enormous beehive, but the industry of it was suspended. All the moving mass seemed to have no object but myself, and the transition from the suspicion, and perhaps contempt, of the preceding hour, to the affectionate transport, admiration and glory of the present moment, was not without its effect on my mind. I recollected the puns on my name, and was glad to find myself calm. I had soared from the apprehensions and anxieties of the Artillery Ground, and felt as if I had left behind me all the cares and passions that molest mankind.
[Footnote 3: In some of the papers, witticisms appeared on the affinity of Lunatic and Lunardi.]
'Indeed, the whole scene before me filled the mind with a sublime pleasure, of which I never had a conception. The critics imagine, for they seldom speak from experience, that terror is an ingredient in every sublime sensation. It was not possible for me to be on earth in a situation so free from apprehension. I had not the slightest sense of motion from the Machine, I knew not whether it went swiftly or slowly, whether it ascended or descended, whether it was agitated or tranquil, but by the appearance or disappearance of objects on the earth. I moved to different parts of the gallery, I adjusted the furniture, and apparatus, I uncorked my bottle, eat, drank, and wrote, just as in my study. The height had not the effect, which a much lesser degree of it has near the earth, that of producing giddiness. The broomsticks of the witches, Ariosto's flying-horse, and even Milton's sunbeam, conveying the angel to the earth, have all an idea of effort, difficulty, and restraint, which do not affect a voyage in the Balloon.
'Thus tranquil, and thus situated, how shall I describe to you a view, such as the ancients supposed Jupiter to have of the earth, and to copy which there are no terms in any language. The gradual diminution of objects, and the masses of light and shade are intelligible in oblique and common prospects. But here every thing wore a new appearance, and had a new effect. The face of the country had a mild and permanent verdure, to which Italy is a stranger. The variety of cultivation, and the accuracy with which property is divided, give the idea ever present to a stranger in England, of good civil laws and an equitable administration; the rivers meandering; the sea glist'ning with the rays of the sun; the immense district beneath me spotted with cities, towns, villages, houses, pouring out their inhabitants to hail my appearance: you will allow me some merit at not having been exceedingly intoxicated with my situation.
'The interest which the spectators took in my voyage was so great, that the things I threw down were divided and preserved as our people would relicks of the most celebrated saints. And a gentlewoman, mistaking the oar for my person, was so affected with my supposed destruction, that she died in a few days.'