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LUNCH IN A BALLOON!

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LUNCH IN A BALLOON! (From the Daily News.) An invitation to a luncheon in the car of a balloon sounds at first ahout as singular as an invitation to breakfast in a diving bell, or to dinner in a pneumatic tube. Such an invitation was, however, forwarded to us on Thursday and remembering that ere this ball- quets have been held within gasometers and brewers' vats, and that even London aldermen have feasted in sewers, there seems after all nothing very incongruous in selecting the car of a balloon for the same whole- some purpose. To this day the visitor to the pretty little town of Sceaux, near Paris, can eat his lapia saute in a summer-house perched upon the topmost branches of the trees at Robinson and in certain parts of the metropolis it is considered a refinement of luxury to take refreshment upon public-house roofs, to which quite a rural air is imparted by stonecrop on parapets and scarlet runners on strings. Why not, therefore, a luncheon in the car of a balloon ? The proprietors of the captive balloon now making daily ascents from the Ashburnham-grounds, Chelsea, from whom our invitation proceeded, evidently saw no reason why they should not entertain their guests in their own manner and we, after partaking of their hospitality, are certainly not inclined to find fault with their arrangements. The thing might, it is true, be carried too far. We should not, for instance, care to take our meals in a balloon every day, or even to lunch there every day. In the height of the summer it might be agreeable to sit a thousand feet or so above the top of St. Paul's, and sip something soothing or dally with one's knife and fork but in the long run a salle-k-manger suspended fifteen hun- dred feet in mid air would seem somewhat too lofty and ambitious, even although there were no stairs to climb in order to reach it. Once now and then, however, there is something rather novel and exhilarating in treating the car of a balloon as though it were a dining-room or a railway buffet, and in eat- ing a repast among the clouds. Sooth to say, however, the clouds were not reached on Thursday. The invi- tation stated that the luncheon would take place in the air, weather permitting. Now the weather did not permit, and therefore the luncheon was, for the most part, consumed close to the ground. To understand the arrangements made, however, it should be stated that the balloon is secured by a very stout cable, coiled round a windlass worked by steam machinery. It is also fastened by strong tackle to rings fixed in the ground, and to posts supporting the high canvas walls of the immense arena in the middle of which it stands. When the order has been given to let go all these fastenings, the windlass has only to be unwound, and the huge ball steadily risea as the cable is. paid out. It rit's steadily; that is to say, if the wind is gentle. On Thursday, however, the wind was not gentle, but inclined to be somewhat rude—nay, even bo:sterol1s. As a natural conf<equence, when the balloon ha.d ascended some 280 or 3C0 feet into the air, it seemed to chafe against the leading-strings in which it was held, and to manifest a strong desire to go off on its own account upon an aerial voyage. The trusty cab e giving no encouragement ta these wild vagaries, something like a struggle took place between the two, the car of course lurching, and rocking too and fro, and its inmates enjovmg something of the sensation which is experienced during a storm on shipboard. For a few moments it seemed as though the destruc- tion of glass and crockery would be disastrous. But a touching conservative instinct had impelled every man to look after the bottle that was before him, and the plate that was stiil unemptied, and the damage done, therefore, was inconsiderable. In a few wo- ments more the balloon steadily descended to the place whence it had ari>en, and the trip was at an end. The luncheon had commenced before this brief ascent, and it was continued now with undiminished spin1 notwithstanding the disappointment the company had met with owing to the unruly strngth of the north- east wind. Mr. Glaisher had been unanimously voted into the chair, which was purely a figurative one, for every one and the work of toast making and returning thanks went on as earnestly as though the scene of tll. festivities were the London I avern or Fishmongers' HalL Air. Glaisher emphatically protested against the belief that the balloon is a mere toy, and alluded to the scientific investigations which he had carried out by its aid. That it would be of yet further service to science there could be no doubt, and special inteiest attached to it from the efforts now being methodically made to solve the great problem of aerial navigation. Mr. Glaisher then referred to the Aeronautical Socit t., and alluded in highly complimentary terms to the presi- dent, Lord Dufferin, who was one of the company. His lordship, in replying, modestly said that he could take no credit for himself in that capacity. What he had done for the Aeronautical Society was much tht same as was done by a bag of sand in the car of t balloon. He had merely given it a little weight ^rosvenor, as another member cf thi *v humorous remarks, in the same sense, and air. Frederick W. Brearey, the Hon. Sec- retary, followed by expressing his conviction that the problem of aerial navigation was at least in a fair way of beimj scientifically investigated, and perhaps of being practically solved. 1\1 W. Fonvielle, the scientific editor of the Paris Librrte, spoke with nuith eirnestness upon the same .-ubjr-ct, and when a couple of hours or so had been spent in this pleasant manner, the company separated with an undertaking to meet again another evening, when it is to be hoped the weather will be favonrahle to a more satisfactory trip. It was stated that the Duke of Sutherland would be of the party, and that perhaps Lady Dufferin would join it. No ladies were present on Thursday, but many are expected to make the ascent during the season. It may be well to state that the proprietors of the captive balloon claim to have taken every precaution to ensure the safety of the pub'ic. The car, which is nearly forty feet in circumference, will comfortably hold thirty persons. Twenty-two stood in it yesterday and lunched without inconvenience. There is not Innch fear, therefore, of overcrowding. Every time an ascent is made an experienced aeronaut will be in the car, and unless the weather is favourable the balloon will not go up. This latter condition is to be rigidly adhered to under all circumstances.

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\PROFESSOR FAWCETT, M.P.,…