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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


82 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. ing alighted at Campsie, about twelve miles distant, where he was received by the Rev. Mr. Lapsley, minister of that place, who transmitted an account of his descent to one of the Glasgow journals. The fifth ascent of Lunardi in Scotland, and the second at Edinburgh, again occurred at Heriot’s Hospital Green. He made offer of the profits of this second exhibition for the benefit of the Charity Workhouse, but the directors politely declined accepting his offer, on the ground that, however desirous they might be to promote the interest of the institution, they were unwilling that any one should rbk his Zife for its benefit. On Tuesday the 20th December, Lunardi took his flight a few minutes before one o’clock. On this occasion he was dressed in the uniform of the Scots Archers, having been previously admitted an honorary member of that body, as well as having had the freedom of Edinburgh conferred upon him. He was also provided with a cork jacket, as on the former occasion furnished by Dr. Rae, togeLher with other precautionary means of safety, in case of an immersion in the German Ocean.’ These, as it happened, were not without their use. The balloon ascended with great rapidity, taking a more easterly direction than formerly, and was seen, by means of a telescope, about two o’clock, in rather a perilous situation, about two miles north-east of Gullanness. Not far from this place, it appears the balloou had descended so low as to immerse the car in the water, when some fishermen observing the occurrence, imniediately proceeded to his rescue. Owing, however, to the rapidity with which the car was dragged, nearly three quarters of an hour elapsed before they were able to render any assistance ; and when they came up, Lunardi was breast deep in the water, and benumbed with cold. They were then five or sib miles from land. He would have cut away the balloon, but seeing the fishermen approaching, he was unwilling to lose it by doing so. On leaving the car for the boat, however, the balloon, being thus lightened, rose with great force, carrying every appendage with it in its flight. hir. Lunardi was then taken to Mr. Nisbet’s of Dirleton, where he spent the evening. In a letter dated that night to the magistrates of Edinburgh, he speaks lightly of his danger, expresses reget at losing the balloon, but was hopeful that the people would be satisfied with his conduct. Fortunately the balloon was picked up next day by the May cutter, about twelve miles off Anstruther. Lunardi then returned to England, exhibiting his aerial ingenuity in the provincial towns (having been in London some time previous to his arrival in Scotland); A very unfortunate occurrence took place on his ascending at Newcastle : -A Mr. Heron having hold of one of the ropes, incautiously twisted it round his arm, and not being able to disentangle himself in time, he was lifted up to a considerable height, when the rope giving way, he fell, and was killed on the spot. Mr. Heron was on the eve of marriage, and at the time the accident occurred the lady of his affections-was by his side. wind, that he would be driven into the German Ocean. me up.” Fortunately for him somebody didpick him up. On this occasion, says our informant, Lunardi was positively assured, from the diction of the “ Me don’t mind that-somebody will pick
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 83 Mr. Lunardi again visited Edinburgh the year following (1 786), and ascended the third time from Heriot’s Hospital Green, on the 31st of July. On this occasion a lady (Mrs. Lamash, an actress) was to have accompanied him, and had actually taken her seat in the car ; but the balloon being unable to ascend with both, Lunardi ascended alone. In consequence of little wind, he came down about two miles distant. On his return to the city in the evening, he was carried through the streets in his car by the populace, and received other demonstrations of admiration, Very little is known of Mr. Lunardi’s personal history, save that he was a native of Italy, and some time Secretary to the then late Neapolitan ambassador. In 1786, he published an account of his aerial voyages in Scotland, which he dedicated to the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. This small volume, although proving him to be a man of education, and some talent as a writer, throws very little light upon his history. It consists of a series of letters addressed to his guardian, (‘ Chevalier Gerardo Compagni.” These letters were evidently written under the impulse of the moment, and afford a connected detail of his progress in Scotland. They are chiefly interesting at this distance of time, as showing;the feelings and motives of one, who, whether his “labours were misdirected” or not, obtained an extraordinary degree of notoriety. In short, the volume is amusing in this particular, and adds another proof to the many, that few, very few, seek the advancement of society, or of the sciences, for humanity’s sake alone, Fame is the grand stimulus. A portrait of the author is prefixed, which corresponds extremely well with Mr. Kay’s sketches of him. Lunardi must have been at that time a very young man. The young adventurer, on his arrival in the Scottish capital, is much pleased with its ancient and romantic appearance. He expresses himself with great animation on all he sees around him, and apparently with great sincerity. As a specimen of the man and his opinions, we are induced to make one or two extracts. In the first letter, after describing his arrival, he says :- “ I have apartments in Walker’s Hotel, Prince’s Street, from whence I behold innumerable elegant baildings, and my ears are saluted with the sounds of industry from many others similarly arising. It vibrates more forcibly on the chords of my heart than the most harmonious notes of music, and gives birth to sensations that.1 would not exchange for all the boasted pleasures of luxury and dissipation.” These sentiments would have done credit to one less gay and youthful than Lunardi. In another letter he says, ‘‘ I am now happy in the acquaintance of the Hon. Henry Erskine, Sir William Forbes, and Major Fraser.” True to his clime, however, the letters of Lnnardi betray in him all the volatility and passion ascribed to his countrymen. At one moment he is in ecstasy, the other in despair, He had chosen George Square for his first display, and had contracted with Isaac Braidwood of the Luckenbooths, who had actually begun to enclose the area, when an order from the Magistrates stopped farther proceedings. The Hail to the voice of labour !
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