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sea. We have not now any Drake, or Columbus, to undertake this voyage, or any Dædalus to invent a conveyance through the air.
“ I answer, though we have not, yet why may not succeeding times raise up some spirits as eminent for new attempts and strange inventions, as any that were before them? 'Tis the opinion of Keplar, that as soon as the art of flying is found out, some of their nation will make one of the first colonies, that shall transplant into that other world. I suppose, his appropriating this pre-eminence to his own countrymen, may arise from an overpartial affection to them. But yet thus far I agree with him, that whenever that art is invented, or any other, whereby a man may be conveyed some twenty miles high, or thereabouts, then 'tis not altogether improbable that some or other may be successful in this attempt.
“For the better clearing of which I shall first lay down, and then answer those doubts that may make it seem utterly impossible..
“ These are chiefly three.
“The first, taken from the natural heaviness of a man's body, whereby it is made unfit for the motion of ascent, together with the vast distance of that place from us.
“ 2. From the extreme coldness of the æthereal air.
“ Both which must needs make it impassible, though it were but as many single miles thither, as it is thousands.”
And then he comes to a query which, we do wonder, did not frighten him from any further prosecution of his scheme. For having shewn that, even if men could fly, the swiftest of them would probably be half a year before he arrived at his journey's end, he asks the following very natural question.
“. And how were it possible for any to tarry so long without diet or sleep?
“1. For diet. I suppose there could be no trusting to that fancy of Philo the Jew, (mentioned before,) who thinks that the musick of the spheres should supply the strength of food.
“ Nor can we well conceive how a man should be able to carry so much luggage with him, as might serve for his Viaticum in so tedious a journey.
“ 2. But if he could : yet he must have some time to rest and sleep in. And I believe he shall scarce find any lodgings by the way. No inns to entertain passengers, nor any castles in the air (unless they be enchanted ones) to receive poor pilgrims or errant knights. And so, consequently, he cannot have any possible hopes of reaching thither.”
We have certainly no intention of following our author through the dull train of reasoning-or rather through that complicated web of conceits and hypotheses-by the aid of which he overcomes or eludes the three first of his difficulties. . It is sufficient for us to say, that after soundly swingeing Aristotle
“ for teaching that heaviness is an absolute quality of itself, and really distinct from condensity," and honouring with his approbation certain admirable but inapplicable doctrines of “ the learned Verulam ;" he comes to the following notable conclusion, wherein, after writing more weary passages 'than we have patience to count, he does not seem to us to have made any great progress towards his promised demonstration.
“ From hence then (I say) you may conceive, that if a man were beyond this sphere, he might there stand as firmly in the open air as now upon the earth. And if he might stand there, why might he not also go there? And if so, then there is a possibility likewise of having other conveniences for travelling.” Quod erat demonstrandum. ia
But then recurs the grand difficulty: how is a man to carry with him provisions for half a year's journey ? For as to sleeping by the way, to provide for which would have puzzled a less sanguine projector than the bishop, in that he finds nothing to stop him.
“ Seeing we do not then spend ourselves in any labour, we shall not, it may be, need the refreshment of sleep. But if we do, we cannot desire a softer bed than the air, where we may repose ourselves firmly and safely as in our chambers."
But, still as to the viaticum!—how is that affair to be
here, and accordingly, after approaching the question two or three times, and as often running away from it, he puts a bold face on the matter, and, girding up his loins, attacks the difficulty thus. The manner in which he contrives to introduce a hit at the papists is capital.
“ And here it is considerable, that since our bodies will then be devoid of gravity, and other impediments of motion, we shall not at all spend ourselves in any labour, and so consequently not much need the reparation of diet; but may, perhaps, live altogether without it, as those creatures have done, who by reason of their sleeping for many days together, have not spent any spirits, and so not wanted any food, which is commonly related of serpents, crocodiles, bears, cuckoos, swallows, and such like. To this purpose, Mendoca reckons up divers strange relations. As that of Epimenides, who is storied to have slept seventy-five years. And another of a rustic in Germany, who being accidentally covered with a hay-rick, slept there for all the autumn, and the winter following, without any nourishment.
. “Or, if this will not serve, yet why may not a papist fast so long, as well as Ignatius or Xaverius? Or if there be such a strange efficacy in the bread of the Eucharist, as their miraculous relations do attribute to it, why then, that may serve well enough for their viaticum. . VOL. VIII. PART II.
smells nourish us? Plutarch and Pliny, and divers other ancients, tell us of a nation in India that lived only upon pleasing odours. And 'tis the common opinion of physicians, that these do strangely both strengthen and repair the spirits. Hence was it, that Democritus was able, for divers days together, to feed himself with the mere smell of hot bread.
“ Or if it be necessary that our stomachs must receive the food, why then it is not impossible that the purity of the æthereal air, being not mixed with any improper vapours, may be so agreeable to our bodies, as to yield us sufficient nourishment.
“I know it is the common opinion, that no element can prove aliment, because it is not proportionate to the bodies of living creatures which are compounded. But,
“1.-This æthereal air is not an element; and though it be purer, yet it is perhaps of a greater agreeableness to man's nature and constitution.
"2.-If we consult experience and the credible relations of others, we shall find it probable enough, that many things receive nourishment from mere elements. : "First, for the earth; Aristotle and Pliny, those two great naturalists, tell us of some creatures that are fed only with this. And it was the curse of the serpent, Gen. 3. 14. Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life..
who lived several weeks together by the mere drinking of water. Rondoletius (to whose diligence these later times are much beholding for sundry observations concerning the nature of aquatils) affirms, that his wife did keep a fish in a glass of water, without any other food, for three years, in which space it was constantly augmented, till at first it could not come out of the place at which it was put in, and at length was too big for the glass itself, though that were of a large capacity. Cardan tells us of some worms that are bred and nourished by the snow, from which being once separated, they die. .
“ Thus also is it with the air, which we may well conceive does chiefly concur to the nourishing of all vegetables. For if their food were all sucked out from the earth, there must needs be then some sensible decay in the ground by them, especially since they do every year renew their leaves and fruits; which being so many, and so often, could not be produced without abundance of nourishment. To this purpose is the experiment of trees cut down, which will of themselves put forth sprouts. As also that of onions and the semper-vive, which will strangely shoot forth, and grow as they hang in the open air. Thus likewise is it with some sensible creatures; the camelion (saith Pliny and Solinus) is merely nourished by this; and so are the birds of paradise, treated of by many, which reside constantly in the air, nature having not bestowed upon them any legs, and therefore they are never seen upon the ground but being dead. If you ask how they multiply? Tis answered, they lay their eggs on the backs
of one another, upon which they sit till their young ones be fledged. Rondoletius, from the history of Hermolaus Barbarus, tells us of a priest (of whom one of the popes had the custody) that lived forty years upon mere air. As also of a maid in France, and another in Germany, that for divers years together did feed on nothing but this : nay, he affirms that he himself had seen one who lived till ten years of age without any other nourishment. You may find most of these, and some other examples to this purpose, gathered together by Mendoca. Viridar. lib. 4. prob. 23, 24. Now, if this elementary air, which is mixed with such improper vapors, may accidentally nourish some persons, perhaps then, that pure æthereal air may of itself be more natural to our tempers.
“ But if none of these conjectures may satisfy, yet there may happily be some possible means for the conveyance of other food, as shall be shewed afterwards.
This grand difficulty once mastered, the road to the moon seems easy enough : at least, so thinks the bishop. Accordingly, he crows through half a dozen pages over the ingenious
the very end of his treatise that he stumbles upon another difficulty, which well nigh destroys the whole speculation. Por, though he has provided in the notable way already described for overcoming the cold and rarity of the atmosphere, and for a full supply of sleep and food by the road, he has yet left one small element out of his calculation, without which this goodly scheme falls to pieces. For how, in the name of wonder, are we to be conveyed ?. Little would it boot a man bound for the East Indies to assure him, that he may get biscuits and fresh water at Madeira and the Cape, that he may sleep upon the passage as much as he likes, and to demonstrate to him with all possible clearness, that the human body may pass along the surface of the waters, unless you provided him with vessel, rudder, compass, and all the means of actual navigation. Some thought like this seems to have struck the bishop in the midst of his triumph, and to have brought him down from the clouds rather precipitately. Nil desperandum, however; so he takes heart, and after cudgelling his brains for a while, he actually presents us not with one conveyance only, but with a choice.
“ If it be here inquired, what means there may be conjectured for our ascending beyond the sphere of the earth's magnetical vigour.
“I answer. 1. It is not perhaps impossible that a man may be able to fly, by the application of wings to his own body; as angels are pictured, as Mercury and Daedalus are feigned, and as hath been attempted by divers, particularly by a Turk in Constantinople, as Busbequius relates.
*%. If there be such a great rück in Madagascar, as Marcus
Polus, the Venetian, mentions, the feathers in whose wings are twelve feet long, which can soop up a horse and his rider, or an elephant, as our kites do a mouse; why then it is but teaching one of these to carry a man, and he may ride up thither, as Ganymede does upon an eagle. . “ Or if neither of these ways will serve, yet I do seriously, and upon good grounds, affirm it possible to make a flying chariot, in which a man may sit, and give such a motion unto it, as shall convey him through the air. And this perhaps might be made large enough to carry divers men at the same time, together with food for their viaticum, and commodities for traffic. It is not the bigness of any thing in this kind, that can hinder its motion, if the motive faculty be answerable thereunto. We see a great ship swims as well as a small cork, and an eagle flies in the air as well as a little gnat.
“ This engine may be contrived from the same principles by which Archytas made a wooden dove, and Regiomontanus a wooden eagle.
“I conceive it were no difficult matter (if a man had leisure) to shew more particularly the means of composing it."
and research, once less of comm hundred and fallen into un
To which commodious and available vehicles, we marvel, that the bishop did not think of adding the Beetle, on which Trygæus, in The Peace, of Aristophanes, performs a similar journey.
Such, then, is one of the serious speculations in which a learned prelate in the days of Charles II. was wont to busy himself. We have thought it right, in these times of ingenuity and research, once more to direct the attention of such projectors as may have less of common sense than of leisure and money, to a scheme which a hundred and fifty years ago seemed very promising, but which has latterly fallen into unmerited oblivion. We beg it may be observed, that our duty is now discharged ; and that if a passage to the moon is not speedily discovered by some aërial Parry, no blame 'can, in common justice, be attached either to Bishop Wilkins or to l'he Retrospective Review.
Art. XI.-The Memoirs of the Honourable Sir John Reresby,
Bart. and last Governor of York, containing several Private and Remarkable Transactions, from the Restoration to the Revolution inclusively. Published from the original Manuscript. London: printed for Samuel Harding, Bookseller on the Pavement in St. Martin's Lane, 1734.
The Memoirs of Sir John Reresby belong to that rare and valuable class of works, which appear to have been written not