The Dominion of the Air - J. M. Bacon - Страница 1 из 348


THE DOMINION OF THE AIR
The Story of Aerial Navigation
by Rev. J. M. Bacon
CHAPTER I. THE DAWN OF AERONAUTICS.
"He that would learn to fly must be brought up to the constant practice
of it from his youth, trying first only to use his wings as a tame goose
will do, so by degrees learning to rise higher till he attain unto skill
and confidence."
So wrote Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, who was reckoned a man of genius
and learning in the days of the Commonwealth. But so soon as we come to
inquire into the matter we find that this good Bishop was borrowing from
the ideas of others who had gone before him; and, look back as far as
we will, mankind is discovered to have entertained persistent and often
plausible ideas of human flight. And those ideas had in some sort of
way, for good or ill, taken practical shape. Thus, as long ago as the
days when Xenophon was leading back his warriors to the shores of
the Black Sea, and ere the Gauls had first burned Rome, there was a
philosopher, Archytas, who invented a pigeon which could fly, partly by
means of mechanism, and partly also, it is said, by aid of an aura or
spirit. And here arises a question. Was this aura a gas, or did men use
it as spiritualists do today, as merely a word to conjure with?
Four centuries later, in the days of Nero, there was a man in Rome who
flew so well and high as to lose his life thereby. Here, at any rate,
was an honest man, or the story would not have ended thus; but of the
rest--and there are many who in early ages aspired to the attainment


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