The Baldwin Librar
~ UlnceX ~i~,, C~4*u~.iab
PROJECTILE TRAINS FOR THE MOON.
EARTH TO THE MOON
DIRECT IN NINETY-SEVEN HOURS
AND TWENTY MINUTES:
AND A TRIP ROUND IT.
AUTHOR OF "A JOUrBEY TO THH CENTRE OF THE EARTH."
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH
LOUIS MERCIER, M.A., (OxoN,) AND ELEANOR E. KING.
WITH EIGHTY FULL PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & COMPANY.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
WI JouiSey to tlie OCerte of tfe fti.
WITH 53 ILLUSTRATIONS. ONE VOL. 12mo, $2.00.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
THE GUN CLUB .
PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMMUNICATION .
EFFECT OF THE PRESIDENT'S COMMUNICATION
REPLY PROM THE OBSERVATORY OF CAMBRIDGE ..
THE ROMANCE OF THE MOON
THE PERMISSIVE LIMITS OF IGNORANCE AND BELIEF IN THE t
THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL
HISTORY OF THE CANNON .
THE QUESTION OF THE POWDERS .
ONE ENEMY v. TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS OF FRIENDS
CHAPTER XI. PAGE
FLORIDA AND TEXAS. 54
URBI ET ORBI. 59
STONES HILL 65
PICKAXE AND TROWEL 10
THE FiTE OP THE CASTING 75
THE COLUvBIAD 80
A TELEGRAPHIC DESPATCH 85
THE PASSENGER OF THE C"ATLANTA" 86
A MONSTER MEETING 92
ATTACK AND RIPOSTE 99
How A FENCHMAN MANAGES AN APPAIR 108
THE NEW CITIZEN OP THE UNITED STATES 117
THE PROJECTILE VEHICLE .. 122
THE TELESCOPE OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS .* 125
FnwAL DETAILS. 128
CHAPTER XXVI. PAGE
FrPi .. 13
Foui WEATHER 138
A NE STAB .. 141
ROUND THE MOON.
FROM TWENTY MINUTES PAST TEN TO FORTY-SEVEN MINUTES PAST
TEN P.3 .. .. .151
THE FIRST HAI-HOUB 157
THEIR PLACE OF SHELTER 169
A LrTLE ALGEBA .. ... 178
THE COLu o SPACE 185
QUESTION AND ANSWER 194
A MOM ENTI INTo TOXICATION 202
AT SEVENTY.EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN LEAGUES 212
THE CONSEQUENCES OP A DEVIATION. .221
CHAPTER X. PAGE
THE OBSERVERS OF THE MOON 228
FANCY AND REALITY 232
OROGRAPHIC DETAILS 236
LUNAR LANDSCAPES : 243
THE NIGHT OF THREE HUNDRED AND FInTY-FOUR HOURS AND A HALF 251
HYPERBOLA OR PARABOLA .. 260
THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE 270
GAVE QUESTIONS 281
A STRUGGLE AGAINST THE IMPOSSIBLE 289
THE SOUNDINGS OF THE SUSQUEHANNA" .299
J. T. MASTON RECALLED. .805
RECOVERED FROM THE SEA 312
THE END .820
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The Artillery-men of the Gun Club 4
President Barbicane 10
Meeting of the Gun Club 12
The Torchlight Procession 16
Cambridge Observatory .19
The Moon's Diso .25
Barbicane holds forth 33
The Rodman Columbiad 34
Cannon at Malta in the time of the Knights .. 36
Ideal Sketch of J. T. Maston's Gun 42
The invention of Gunpowder by the Monk Schwartz 44
Captain Nicholl .49
Nicholl published a number of Letters in the Newspapers 51
It became necessary to keep an eye upon the Deputies 57
The Subscription was opened .60
The Manufactory at Coldspring, near New York 63
Tampa Town, previous to the undertaking 66
They were compelled to ford several Rivers 68
The Work progressed regularly 73
The Casting. 77
Tampa Town, after the undertaking 82
The Banquet in the Columbiad 84
President Barbicane at his Window .87
Michel Ardan. .88
The Meeting 92
Projectile Trains for the Moon 95
Attack and Riposte 101
The Platform was suddenly carried away 106
Maston burst into the Room .. 108
In the midst of this Snare was a poor little Bird 112
" Go with me, and see whether we are stopped on our journey 115
The Cat taken out of the Shell 120
The Arrival of the Projectile at Stones Hill 122
J. T. Maston had grown fat 124
The Telescope of the Rocky Mountains 127
Vlll LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The Interior of the Projectile ... 130
An innumerable Multitude covered the Prairie round Stones Hill 133
Fire!! .. .. .136
Effect of the Explosion. 138
The Director at his Post. 139
The Gas caught fire 152
Diana and Satellite 154
The courageous Frenchman 57
They raised Barbicane .159
It was an enormous Disc 163
They gave her a pie 170
The Sun chose to be of the party .172
Ardan plunged his hand rapidly into certain mysterious boxes 176
" Do I understand it ?" cried Ardan; my head is splitting with it" 183
Satellite was thrown out 193
It was the Body of Satellite .201
" I could have ventured out on the top of the Projectile 206
They struck up a frantic dance .210
"The Oxygen!" he exclaimed .212
" Ah! if Raphael had seen us thus" 217
The Telescope at Parsonstown .228
How many people have heard speak of the Moon! .232
" This plain would then be nothing but an immense Cemetery .241
"What Giant Oxen!". .. .245
He could'distinguish nothing but Desert Beds .247
" It is the fault of the Moon" 252
Nothing could equal the splendour of this starry world 256
" The vapour of our breath will fall in snow around us 258
A Discussion arose ... ... 261
A Prey to frightful Terror 267
What a sight! 268
"The Sun!" 271
" Light and Heat; all Life is contained in them". 278
He distinguished all this. .. 275
Can you picture to yourselves ? 277
A violent Contraction of the Lunar Crust 282
Around the Projectile were the Objects which had been thrown out 291
" These practical people have sometimes most inopportune ideas 295
Ardan applied the lighted Match 296
,' I fancy I see them" 301
A few feet nearer. 8304
The unfortunate man had disappeared. 811
The descent began 815
" White all, Barbicane" 819
The Apotheosis was worthy of the three Heroes. 322
FROM THE EARTH .TO THE MOON.
THE GUN CLUB.
DURING the War of the Rebellion, a new and influential club
was established in the city of Baltimore in the State of Mary-
land. It is well known with what energy the taste for military
matters became developed amongst that nation of ship-owners,
shopkeepers, and mechanics. Simple tradesmen jumped their
counters to become extemporized captains, colonels, and gen-
erals, without having ever passed the School of Instruction at
West Point: nevertheless, they quickly rivalled their compeers of
the old continent, and, like them, carried off victories by dint of
lavish expenditure in ammunition, money, and men.
But the point in which the Americans singularly distanced the
Europeans was in the science of gunnery. Not, indeed, that their
weapons retained a higher degree of perfection than theirs, but
that they exhibited unheard-of dimensions, and consequently
attained hitherto unheard-of ranges. In point of grazing, plung-
ing, oblique, or enfilading, or point-blank firing, the English,
French, and Prussians have nothing to learn; but their cannon,
howitzers, and mortars are mere pocket-pistols compared with the
formidable engines of the American artillery.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
This fact need surprise no one. The Yankees, the first me-
chanicians in the world, are engineers-just as the Italians are
musicians and the Germans metaphysicians-by right of birth.
Nothing is more natural, therefore, than to perceive them
applying their audacious ingenuity to the science of gunnery.
Witness the marvels of Parrott, Dahlgren, and Rodman. The
Anmstrong, Palliser, and Beaulieu guns were compelled to bow
before their transatlantic rivals.
Now when an American has an idea, he directly seeks a second
American to share it. If there be three, they elect a president
and two secretaries. Given four, they name a keeper of records,
and the office is ready for work; five, they convene a general
meeting, and the club is fully constituted. So things were
managed in Baltimore. The inventor of a new cannon associated
himself with the caster and the borer. Thus was formed the
nucleus of the Gun Club." In a single month after its forma-
tion it numbered 1833 effective members and 30,565 corre-
One condition was imposed as a sine qud non upon every can-
didate for admission into the association, and that was the
condition of having designed, or (more or less) perfected a
cannon; or, in default of a cannon, at least a fire-arm of some
description. It may, however, be mentioned that mere inventions
of revolvers, five-shooting carbines, and similar small arms, met
with but little consideration. Artillerists always commanded the
chief place of favour.
The estimation in which these gentlemen were held, according
to one of the most scientific exponents of the Gun Club, was
" proportional to the masses of their guns, and in the direct ratio
of the square of the distances attained by their projectiles."
The Gun Club once founded, it is easy to conceive the result
of the inventive genius of the Americans. Their military
weapons attained colossal proportions, and their projectiles, ex-
ceeding the prescribed limits, unfortunately occasionally olt in
THE GUN CLUB. 3
two some unoffending pedestrians. These inventions, in fact,
left far in the rear the timid instruments of European artil-
It is but fair to add that these Yankees, brave as they have
ever proved themselves to be, did not confine themselves to
theories and formula, but that they paid heavily, in proprid
person, for their inventions. Amongst them were to be counted
officers of all ranks, from lieutenants to generals; military men of
every age, from those who were just making their debut in the
profession of arms up to those who had grown old on the gun-
carriage. Mary had found their rest on the field of battle whose
names figured in the Book of Honour" of the Gun Club; and of
those who made good their return the greater proportion bore the
marks of their indisputable valour. Crutches, wooden legs, arti
ficial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc jaws, silver craniums, pla-
tinum noses, were all to be found in the collection; and it was
calculated by the great statistician Pitcairn that throughout the
Gun Club there was not quite one arm between four persons, and
exactly two legs between six.
Nevertheless, these valiant artillerists took no particular
account of these little facts, and felt justly proud when the
despatches of a battle returned the number of victims at tenfold
the quantity of the projectiles expended.
One day, however-sad and melancholy day! -peace was
signed between the survivors of the war; the thunder of the guns
gradually ceased, the mortars were silent, the howitzers were
muzzled for an indefinite period, the cannon, with muzzles
depressed, were returned into the arsenal, the shot were repiled,
all bloody reminiscences were effaced; the cotton-plants grew
luxuriantly in the well-manured fields, all mourning garments
were laid aside, together with grief; and the Gun Club was
relegated to profound inactivity.
Some few of the more advanced and inveterate theorists set
themselves again to work upon calculations regarding the laws of
4 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOOV.
projectiles. They reverted invariably to gigantic shells and
howitzers of unparalleled calibre. Still, in default of practical
experience, what was the value of mere theories ? Consequently,
the club-rooms became deserted, the servants dozed in the ante-
chambers, the newspapers grew mouldy on the tables, sounds of
snoring came from dark corners, and the members of the Gun
Club, erstwhile so noisy in their sdaices, were reduced to silence
by this disastrous peace and gave themselves up wholly to dreams
of a Platonic kind of artillery.
"This is horrible!" said Tom Hunter one evening, while
rapidly carbonizing his wooden legs in the fire-place of the
smoking-room; nothing to do! nothing to look forward to! what
a loathsome existence! When again shall the guns arouse us in
the morning with their delightful reports?"
"Those days are gone by," said jolly Bilsby, trying to extend
his missing arms. "It was delightful once upon a time! One
invented a gun, and hardly was it cast, when one hastened to try
it in the face of the enemy! Then one returned to camp with a
word of encouragement from Sherman or a friendly shake of the
hand from M'Clellan. But now the generals taw gone back to
their counters; and in place of projectiles, they despatch bales
of cotton. By Jove, the future of gunnery in America is
"Ay and no war in prospect!" continued the famous James
T. Maston, scratching with his steel hook his gutta-percha
cranium. "Not a cloud in the horizon! and that too at such a
critical period in the progress of the science of artillery! Yes,
gentlemen! I who address you have myself this very morning
perfected a model (plan, section, elevation, &c.) of a mortar
destined to change all the conditions of warfare !"
"No! is it possible?" replied Tom Hunter, his thoughts
reverting involuntarily to a former invention of the IIon. J. T.
Maston, by which, at its first trial, he had succeeded in killing
three hundred and thirty-seven people.
THE ARTILLERY MEN OF THE GUN CLUB.
THE GUN CLUB. 5
"Fact!" replied he. "Still, what is the use of so many
studies worked out, so many difficulties vanquished? It's mere
waste of time The New World seems to have made up its mind
to live in peace; and our bellicose Tribune predicts some approach-
ing catastrophes arising out of this scandalous increase of popu-
"Nevertheless," replied Colonel Blomsberry, "they are always
struggling in Europe to maintain the principle of nationali-
"Well, there might be some field for enterprise down there;
and if they would accept our services-"
What are you dreaming of?" screamed Bilsby; work at gun-
nery for the benefit of foreigners ?"
That would be better than doing nothing here," returned the
Quite so," said J. T. Maston; "but still we need not dream of
"And why not ?" demanded the colonel.
"Because their ideas of progress in the Old World are contrary
to our American habits of thought. Those fellows believe that
one can't become a general without having served first as an
ensign; which is as much as to say that one can't point a gun
without having first cast it oneself! "
"Ridiculous!" replied Tom Hunter, whittling with his bowie-
knife the arms of his easy-chair; "but if that be the case
there, all that is left for us is to plant tobacco and distil whale-
"What!" roared J. T. Maston, "shall we not employ these
remaining years of our life in perfecting fire-arms ? Shall there
never be a fresh opportunity of trying the ranges of projectiles ?
Shall the air never again be lighted with the glare of our guns ?
No international difficulty ever arise to enable us to declare war
against some transatlantic power ? Shall not the French sink one
PROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
of our steamers, or the English, in defiance of the rights of
nations, hang a few of our countrymen ?"
"No such luck," replied Colonel Blomsberry; "nothing of the
kind is likely to happen; and even if it did, we should not profit
by it. American susceptibility is fast declining, and we are all
going to the dogs."
"It is too true," replied J. T. Maston, with fresh violence;
"there are a thousand grounds for fighting, and yet we don't
fight. We save up our arms and legs for the benefit of nations
who don't know what to do with them! But stop-without going
out of one's way to find a cause for war-did not North America
once belong to the English ?"
"Undoubtedly," replied Tom Hunter, stamping his crutch with
Well then," replied J. T. Maston, "why should not England
in her turn belong to the Americans ? "
"It would be but just and fair," returned Colonel Blomsberry.
Go and propose it to the President of the United Slates," cried
J. T. Maston, and see how he will receive you."
"Bah!" growled Bilsby between the four teeth which the war
had left him; that will never do I "
By Jove! cried J. T. Maston, "he mustn't count on my vote
at the next election! "
Nor on ours," replied unanimously all the bellicose in-
"Meanwhile," replied J. T. M., "allow me to say that, if I can-
not get an opportunity to try my new mortars on a real field of
battle, I shall say good-bye to the members of the Gun Club, and
go and bury myself in the prairies of Arkansas! I
"In that case we will accompany you," cried the others. *
Matters were in this unfortunate condition, and the club was
threatened with approaching dissolution, when an unexpected
circumstance occurred to prevent so deplorable a catastrophe.
On the morrow after this conversation every member, of the
THE GUN CLUB. 7
association received a sealed circular couched in the following
BALTIORE, Oct. 3.
The President of the Gun Club has the honour to inform his colleagues
that, at the meeting of the 5th instant, he will bring before them a com-
munication of an extremely interesting nature. He requests, therefore,
that they will make it convenient to attend in accordance with the present
"ITPEY BARBICANE, P.G.C."
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMMUNICATION.
ON the 5th of October, at 8 p.m., a dense crowd pressed towards
the saloons of the Gun Club at No. 21, Union Square. All the
members of the association resident in Baltimore attended the
invitation of their president. As regards the corresponding mem-
bers, notices were delivered by hundreds throughout the streets of
the city, and, large as was the great hall, it was quite inadequate
to accommodate the crowd of savants. They overflowed into the
adjoining rooms, down the narrow passages, into the outer court-
yards. There they ran against the vulgar herd who pressed up
to the doors, each struggling to reach the front ranks, all eager to
learn the nature of the important communication oi President
Barbicane; all pushing, squeezing, crushing with that perfect
freedom of action which is peculiar to the masses when educated
in ideas of "self-government."
On that evening a stranger who might have chanced to be in
Baltimore could not have gained admission for love or money
into the great hall. That was reserved exclusively for resident
or corresponding members; no one else could possibly have
obtained a place; and the city magnates, municipal councillors,
and "select men" were compelled to mingle with the mere
townspeople in order to catch stray bits of news from the interior.
Nevertheless the vast hall presented a curious spectacle. Its
immense area was singularly adapted to the purpose. Lofty
pillars formed of cannon, superposed upon huge mortars as a base,
supported the fine ironwork of the arches, a perfect piece of cast-
PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMMUNICATION. 9
iron lacework. Trophies of blunderbuses, matchlocks, arquebuses,
carbines, all kinds of fire-arms, ancient and modern, were pic-
turesquely interlaced against the walls. The gas lit up in full
glare myriads of revolvers grouped in the form of lustres, whilst
groups of pistols, and candelabra formed of muskets bound
together, completed this magnificent display of brilliance. Models
of cannon, bronze castings, sights covered with dents, plates
battered by the shots of the Gun Club, assortments of rammers
and sponges, chaplets of shells, wreaths of projectiles, garlands
of howitzers-in short," all the apparatus of the artillerist, en.
chanted the eye by this wonderful arrangement and induced i
kind of belief that their real purpose was ornamental rather thar
At the further end of the saloon the president, assisted by foui
secretaries, occupied a large platform. His chair, supported by t.
carved gun-carriage, was modelled upon the ponderous propor-
tions of a 32-inch mortar. It was pointed at an angle of ninety
degrees, and suspended upon trunnions, so that the president
could balance himself upon it as upon a rocking-chair, a very
agreeable fact in the very hot weather. Upon the table (a huge
iron plate supported upon six carronnades) stood an inkstand of
exquisite elegance, made of a beautifully chased Spanish piece,
and a sonnette, which, when required, could give forth a report
equal to that of a revolver. During violent debates this novel
kind of bell scarcely sufficed to drown the clamour of these
In front of the table benches arranged in zigzag form, like the
circumvallations of a retrenchment, formed a succession of bastions
and curtains set apart for the use of the members of the club;
and on this especial evening one might say, "All the world was
on the ramparts." The president was sufficiently well known,
however, for all to be assured that he would not put his col-
leagues to discomfort without some very strong motive.
Impey Barbicane was a man of forty years of age, calm, cold,
FROM THE EARTH TO 7HE MOON.
austere; of a singularly serious and self-contained demeanour,
punctual as a chronometer, of imperturbable temper and immov-
able character; by no means chivalrous, yet adventurous withal,
and always bringing practical ideas to bear upon the very rashest
enterprises; an essentially New-Englander, a Northern colonist,
a descendant of the old anti-Stuart Roundheads, and the impla-
cable enemy of the gentlemen of the South, those ancient Cava-
liers of the mother-country. In a word, he was a Yankee to the
Barbicane had made a large fortune as a timber-merchant.
Being nominated Director of Artillery during the war, he proved
himself fertile in invention.' Bold in his conceptions, he contri-
buted powerfully to the progress of that arm and gave an
immense impetus to experimental researches.
He was a personage of the middle height, having, by a rare
exception in the Gun Club, all his limbs complete. His strongly-
marked features seemed drawn by square and rule; and if it be
true that, in order to judge of a man's character one must look at
his profile, Barbicane, so examined, exhibited the most certain
indications of energy, audacity, and sang-froid.
At this moment he was sitting in his armchair, silent,
absorbed, lost in reflection, sheltered under his high-crowned
hat-a kind of black silk cylinder which always seems firmly
screwed upon the head of an American.
Just when the deep-toned clock in the great hall struck eight,
Barbicane, as if he lad been set in motion by a spring, raised
himself up. A profound silence ensued, and the speaker, in a
somewhat emphatic tone of voice, commenced as follows:-
My brave colleagues, too long already a paralyzing peace has
plunged the members of the Gun Club in deplorable inactivity.
After a period of years full of incidents we have been compelled
to abandon our labours, and to stop short on the road of progress.
I do not hesitate to state, boldly, that any war which should
recall us to arms would be welcome!" (Tremendous applause)
PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMMUNICATION.
"But war, gentlemen, is impossible under existing circum-
stances; and, however we may desire it, many years may
elapse before our cannon shall again thunder in the field of battle.
We must make up our minds, then, to seek in another train
of ideas some field for the activity which we all pine for."
The meeting felt that the president was now approaching the
critical point, and redoubled their attention accordingly.
For some months past, my brave colleagues," continued Bar-
bicane, "I have been asking myself whether, while confining our-
selves to our own particular objects, we could not enter upon
some grand experiment worthy of the nineteenth century; and
whether the progress of artillery science would not enable us to
carry it out to a successful issue. I have been considering,
working, calculating; and the result of my studies is the con-
viction that we are safe to succeed in an enterprise which to any
other country would appear wholly impracticable. This project,
the result of long elaboration, is the object of my present commu-
nication. It is worthy of yourselves, worthy of the antecedents
of the Gun Club; and it cannot fail to make some noise in the
A thrill of excitement ran through the meeting.
Barbicane, having by a rapid movement firmly fixed his hat
upon his head, calmly continued his harangue:-
There is no one among you, my brave colleagues, who has
not seen the Moon, or, at least, heard speak of it. Don't be sur-
prised if I am about to discourse to you regarding this Queen of
the Night. It is perhaps reserved for us to become the Colum-
buses of this unknown world. Only enter into my plans, and
second me with all your power, and I will lead you to its con-
quest, and its name shall be added to those of the thirty-six
States which compose this Great Union."
"Three cheers for the Moon roared the Gun Club, with one
The moon, gentlemen, has been carefully studied," continued
12 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
Barbicane; "her mass, density, and weight; her constitution,
motions, distance, as well as her place in the solar system, have all
been exactly determined. Selenographic charts have been con-
structed with a perfection which equals, if it does not even sur-
pass, that of our terrestrial maps. Photography has given us
proofs of the incomparable beauty of our satellite; in short, all is
known regarding the moon which mathematical science, astro-
nomy, geology, and optics can learn about her. But up to the
present moment no direct communication has "been established
A violent movement of interest and surprise here greeted this
remark of the speaker.
"Permit me," he continued, "to recount to you briefly how
certain ardent spirits, starting on imaginary journeys, have pene-
trated the secrets of our satellite. "In the seventeenth century a
certain David Fabricius boasted of having seen with his own eyes
the inhabitants of the moon. In 1649 a Frenchman, one Jean
Baudoin, published a 'Journey performed from the Earth to the
Moon by Domingo Gonzalez,' a Spanish Adventurer. At the
same period Cyrano de Bergerac published that celebrated
'Journeys in the Moon' which met with such success in France.
Somewhat later another Frenchman, named Fontenelle, wrote
'The Plurality of Worlds,' a chef-d'ouvre of its time. About
1835 a small treatise, translated from the New York American,
related how Sir John Herschell, having been despatched to the
Cape of Good Hope for the purpose of making there some astro-
nomical calculations, had, by means of a telescope brought to
perfection by means of internal lighting, reduced the apparent
distance of the moon to eighty yards I He then distinctly per-
ceived caverns frequented by hippopotami, green mountains
bordered by golden lace-work, sheep with horns of ivory, a white
species of deer, and inhabitants with membranous wings, like
bats. This brochure, the work of an American named Locke,
had a great sale. But, to bring this rapid sketch to a close,
MEETING OF THE GUN CLUB.
PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMM JNICATION. 13
I will only add that a certain Hans Pfaal, of Rotterdam, launching
himself in a balloon filled with a gas extracted from nitrogen,
thirty-seven times lighter than hydrogen, reached the moon after
a passage of nineteen hours. This journey, like all the previous
ones, was purely imaginary; still, it was the work of a popular
American author-I mean, Edgar Poe! "
"Cheers for Edgar Poe! roared the assemblage, electrified by
their president's words.
I have now efiumerated," said Barbicane, "the experiments
which I call purely paper ones, and wholly insufficient to establish
serious relations with the Queen of Night. Nevertheless, I am
bound to add that some practical geniuses have attempted to
establish actual communication with her. Thus, a few years ago,
a German geometrician proposed to send a scientific expedition to
the steppes of Siberia. There, on those vast plains, they were to
describe enormous geometric figures, drawn in characters of
reflecting luminosity, amongst which was the prop. regarding the
'square of the hypothenuse,' commonly called the 'Ass's bridge'
by the French. 'Eveiy intelligent being,' said the geometrician,
'must understand the scientific meaning of that figure. The
Selenites, do they exist, will respond by a similar figure; and, a
communication being thus once established, it will be easy to
form an alphabet which shall enable us to converse with the inha-
bitants of the moon.' So spoke the German geometrician; but
his project was never put into practice, and up to the present day
there is no bond in existence between the earth and her satellite.
It is reserved for the practical genius of Americans to establish a
communication with the sidereal world. The means of arriving
thither are simple, easy, certain, infallible and that is the
purpose of my present proposal."
A storm of acclamations greeted these words. There was not
a single person in the whole audience who was not overcome,
carried away, lifted out of himself by the speaker's words !
Long continued applause resounded from all sides.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
As soon as the excitement had partially subsided, Barbicane
resumed his speech in a somewhat graver voice.
"You know," said he, "what progress artillery science has
made during the last few years, and what a degree of perfection
fire-arms of every kind have reached. Moreover, you are well
aware that, in general terms, the resisting power of cannon and
the expansive force of gunpowder are practically unlimited.
Well! starting from this principle, I ask myself whether, sup-
posing sufficient apparatus could be obtained constructed upon
the conditions of ascertained resistance, it might not be possible
to project a shot up to the moon ?"
At these words a murmur of amazement escaped from a
thousand panting chests; then succeeded a moment of perfect
silence, resembling that profound stillness which precedes the
bursting of a thunderstorm. In point of fact, a thunderstorm
did peal forth, but it was the thunder of applause, of cries, and
of uproar which made the very hall tremble. The president at-
tempted to speak, but could not. It was fully ten minutes
before he could make himself heard.
Suffer me to finish," he calmly continued. "I have looked
at the question in all its bearings, I have resolutely attacked
it, and by incontrovertible calculations I find that a projectile
endowed with an initial velocity of 12,000 yards per second, and
aimed at the moon, must necessarily reach it. I have the honour,
my brave colleagues, to propose a trial of this little experi-
EFFECT OF THE PRESIDENT'S COMMUNICATION. 15
EFFECT OF THE PRESIDENT'S COMMUNICATION.
IT is impossible to describe the effect produced by the last
words of the hon. president-the cries, the shouts, the succession
of roars, hurrahs, and all the varied vociferations which the
American language is capable of supplying. It was a scene of
indescribable confusion and uproar. They shouted, they clapped,
they stamped on the floor of the hall. All the weapons in the
museum discharged at once could not have more violently set in
motion the waves of sound. One need not be surprised at
this. There are some cannoneers nearly as noisy as their own
Barbicane remained calm in the midst of this enthusiastic
clamour; perhaps he was desirous of addressing a few- more
words to his colleagues, for by his gestures he demanded silence,
and his powerful alarum was worn out by its violent reports. No
attention, however, was paid to his request. He was presently
torn from his seat and passed from the hands of his faithful col-
leagues into the arms of a no less excited crowd.
Nothing can astound an American. It has often been asserted
that the word impossible is not a French one. People have
evidently been deceived by the dictionary. In America, all is
easy, all is simple; and as for mechanical difficulties, they are
overcome before they arise. Between Barbicane's proposition and
its realization no true Yankee would have allowed even the
semblance ofa difficulty to be possible. A thing with them is
no sooner said than done.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
The triumphal progress of the president continued throughout
the evening. It was a regular torchlight procession. Irish, Ger-
mans, French, Scotch, all the heterogeneous units which make up
the population of Maryland shouted in their respective vernacu-
lars; and the "vivas," "hurrahs," and "bravos" were inter-
mingled in inexpressible enthusiasm.
Just at this crisis, as though she comprehended all this agita-
tion regarding herself, the Moon shone forth with serene splendour,
eclipsing by her intense illumination all the surrounding lights.
The Yankees all turned their gaze towards her resplendent orb,
kissed their hands, called her by all kinds of endearing names.
Between eight o'clock and midnight one optician in Jones'-Fall
Street made his fortune by the sale of opera-glasses.
Midnight arrived, and the enthusiasm showed no signs of dimi-
nution. It spread equally among all classes of citizens-men
of science, shopkeepers, merchants, porters, chair-men, as well
as "greenhorns," were stirred in their innermost fibres. A
national enterprise was at stake. The whole city, high and low,
the quays bordering the Patapsco, the ships lying in the basins,
disgorged a crowd drunk with joy, gin, and whisky. Every one
chattered, argued, discussed, disputed, applauded, from the gentle-
man lounging upon the bar-room settee with his tumbler of
sherry-cobbler before him down to the waterman who got
drunk upon his knock-me-down in the dingy taverns of Fell
About 2 a.m., however, the excitement began to subside.
President Barbicane reached his house, bruised, crushed, and
squeezed almost to a mummy. A Hercules could not have re-
sisted a similar outbreak of enthusiasm. The crowd gradually
deserted the squares and streets. The four railways from
Philadelphia and Washington, Harrisburg and Wheeling, which
converge at Baltimore, whirled away the heterogeneous popula-
tion to the four corners of the United States, and the city sub
sided into comparative tranquillity.
THE TORCHLIGHT PROCESSION.
EFFECT OF THE PRESIDENT'S COMMUNICATION. 17
On the following day, thanks to the telegraphic wires, five
hundred newspapers and journals, daily, weekly, monthly, or bi-
monthly, all took up the question. They examined it under all
its different aspects, physical, meteorological, economical, or
moral, up to its bearings on politics or civilization. ,They debated
whether the moon was a finished world, or whether it was des-
tined to undergo any further transformation. Did it resemble
the earth at the period when the latter was destitute as yet of an
atmosphere ? What kind of spectacle would its hidden hemi-
sphere present to our terrestrial spheroid ? Granting that the
question at present was simply that of sending a projectile up to
the moon, every one must see that that involved the commence-
ment of a series of experiments. All must hope that some day
America would penetrate the deepest secrets of that mysterious
orb; and some even seemed to fear lest its conquest should not
sensibly derange the equilibrium of Europe.
The project once under discussion, not a single paragraph sug-
gested a doubt of its realization. All the papers, pamphlets,
reports-all the journals published by the scientific, literary, and
religious societies enlarged upon its advantages; and the Society
of Natural History of Boston, the Society- of Science and Art of
Albany, the Geographical and Statistical Society of New York,
the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, and the Smithsonian
of Washington sent innumerable letters of congratulation to the
Gun Club, together with offers, of immediate assistance and
From that day forward Impey Barbicane became one of the
greatest citizens of the United States, a kind of Washington of
Science. A single trait of feeling, taken from many others, will
serve to show the point which this homage of a whole people to a
single individual attained.
Some few days after this memorable meeting of the Gun Club,
the manager of an English company announced, at the Baltimore
theatre, the production of "Much ado about Nothing." But the
18 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
populace, seeing in that title an allusion damaging to Barbicane's
project, broke into the auditorium, smashed the benches, and com-
pelled the unlucky director to alter his playbill. Being a sensible
man, he bowed to the public will and replaced the offending
comedy by "As 7ou like it;" and for many weeks he realized
REPLY FROM THE OBSERVATORY OF CAMBRIDGE. 19
REPLY FROM THE OBSERVATORY OF CAMBRIDGE.
BARBICANE, however, lost not one moment amidst all the
enthusiasm of which he had become the object. His first care
was to reassemble his colleagues in the board-room of the Gun
Club. There, after some discussion, it was agreed to consult the
astronomers regarding the astronomical part of the enterprise.
Their reply once ascertained, they could then discuss the
mechanical means, and nothing should be wanting to ensure the
success of this great experiment.
A note couched in precise terms, containing special interroga-
tories, was then drawn up and addressed to the Observatory of
Cambridge in Massachusetts. This city, where the first Univer-
sity of the United States was founded, is justly celebrated for its
astronomical staff. There are to be found assembled all the most
eminent men of science. Here is to be seen at work that power-
ful telescope which enabled Bond to resolve the nebula of Andro-
meda, and Clarke to discover the satellite of Sirius. This cele-
brated institution fully justified on all points the confidence
reposed in it by the Gun Club.
So, after two days, the reply so impatiently awaited was placed
in the hands of President Barbicane.
It was couched in the following terms :-
"The Director of the Cambridge Observatory to the President of the Gun Club
"CAMBRIDGE, Oct. 7.
"On the receipt of your favour of the 6th inst., addressed to the Observa.
tory of Cambridge in the name of the Members of the Baltimore Gun Club,
20 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
our staffwas immediately called together, and it was judged expedient to
reply as follows:-
"The questions which have been proposed to it are these,-
"'1. Is it possible to transmit a projectile up to the moon P
"'2. What is the exact distance which separates the earth from its satel.
"'3. What will be the period of transit of the projectile when endowed
with sufficient initial velocity P and, consequently, at what moment ought
it to be discharged in order that it may touch the moon at a particular
"'4. At what precise moment will the moon present herself in the most
favourable position to be reached by the projectile ?
"'5. What point in the heavens ought the cannon to be aimed at which
is intended to discharge the projectile ?
"' 6.,What place will the moon occupy in the heavens at the moment of
the projectile's departure?'
"Regarding the first question, 'Is it possible to transmit a projectile up to
"Answer.-Yes; provided it possess an initial velocity of 1200 yards per
second; calculations prove that to be sufficient. In proportion as we recede
,from the earth the action of gravitation diminishes in the inverse ratio of the
square of the distance; that is to say, at three times a given distance the
action is nine times less. Consequently, the weight of a shot will decrease,
and will become reduced to zero at the instant that the attraction of the
moon exactly counterpoises that of the earth; that is to say, at j of its
passage. At that instant the projectile will have no weight whatever; and,
if it passes that point, it will fall into the moon by the sole effect of the
lunar attraction. The theoretical possibility of the experiment is therefore
absolutely demonstrated; its success must depend upon the power of the
"As to the second question, 'What is the exact distance which separates
the earth from its satellite ?'
Answer.-The moon does not describe a circle round the earth, but rather
an ellipse, of which our earth occupies one of the foci; the consequence,
therefore, is, that at certain times it approaches nearer to, and at others it
recedes farther from, the earth; in astronomical language, it is at one time
in apogee, at another in perigee. Now the difference between its greatest
and its least distance is too considerable to be left out of consideration. In.
point of fact, in its apogee the moon is 247,552 miles, and in its perigee,
218,657 miles only distant; a fact which makes a difference of 28,895 miles,
or more than one ninth of the entire distance. The perigee distance, there-
fore, is that which ought to serve as the basis of all calculations.
"To the third question:-
Answer.-If the shot should preserve continuously its initial velocity of
12,000 yards per second, it would require little more than nine hours to
reach its destination; but, inasmuch as that initial velocity will be con-
REPLY FROM THE OBSERVATORY OF CAMBRIDGE. 2T
tinually decreasing, it results that, taking everything into consideration, it
will occupy 300,000 seconds, that is 83hrs. 20m. in reaching the point where
the attraction of the earth and moon will be in egqilibrio. From this point
it will fall into the moon in 50,000 seconds, or 13hrs. 53m. 20sec. It will be
desirable, therefore, to discharge it 97hrs. 13m. 20sec. before the arrival of
the moon at the point aimed at.
"Regarding question four, 'At what precise moment will the moon
present herself in the most favourable position, &c. P'
"Answer.-After what has been said above, it will be necessary, first of
all, to choose the period when the moon will be in perigee, and also the
moment when she will be crossing the zenith, which latter event will further
diminish the entire distance by a length equal to the radius of the earth,
i. e. 3919 miles; the result of which will be that the final passage remaining
to be accomplished will be .214,976 miles. But although the moon passes
her perigee every month, she does not reach the zenith always at exactly
the same moment. She does not appear under these two conditions simul-
taneously, except at long intervals of time. It will be necessary, therefore,
to wait for the moment when her passage in perigee shall coincide with that
in the zenith. Now, by a fortunate circumstance, on the 4th December in
the ensuing year the moon will present these two conditions. At midnight
she will be in perigee, that is, at her shortest distance from the earth, and
at the same moment sne will be crossing the zenith.
"On the fifth question, At what point in the heavens ought the cannon
to be aimed ?'
"Answer.-The preceding remarks being admitted, the cannon ought to
be pointed to the zenith of the place. Its fire, therefore, will be perpen-
dicular to the plane of the horizon; and the projectile will soonest pass
beyond the range of the terrestrial attraction. But, in order that the moon
should reach the zenith of a given place, it is necessary that the place should
not exceed in latitude the declination of the luminary; in other words, it
must be comprised within the degrees 00 and 280 of lat. N. or S. In every
other spot the fire must necessarily be oblique, which would seriously
militate against the success of the experiment.
"As to the sixth question, 'What place will the moon occupy in the
heavens at the moment of the projectile's departure ?'
Answer.-At the moment when the projectile shall be discharged into
space, the moon, which travels daily forward 130 10' 35", will be distant
from the zenith point by four times that quantity, i. e. by 520 42' 20", a space
which corresponds to the path which she will describe during the entire
journey of the projectile. But, inasmuch as it is equally necessary to take
into account the deviation which the rotary motion of the earth will impart
to the shot, and as the shot cannot reach the moon until after a deviation
equal to 16 radii of the earth, which, calculated upon the moon's orbit, are
equal to about eleven degrees, it becomes necessary to add these eleven
degrees to those which express the retardation of the moon just mentioned:
that is to say, in round numbers, about 64 degrees. Consequently, at the
22 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
moment of firing the visual radius applied to the moon will describe, with
the vertical line of the place, an angle of sixty-four degrees.
These are our answers to the questions proposed to the Observatory of
Cambridge by the members of the Gun Club:-
To sum up,-
1st. The cannon ought to be planted in a country situated between 0*
and 280 of N. or S. lat.
"2ndly. It ought to be pointed directly towards the zenith of the place.
"3rdly. The projectile ought to be propelled with an initial velocity of
12,000 yards per second.
"4thly. It ought to-be discharged at 10hrs. 46m. 40sec. of the 1st
December of the ensuing year.
"5thly. It will meet the moon four days after its discharge, precisely at
midnight on the 4th December, at the moment of its transit across the
"The members of the Gun Club ought, therefore, without delay, to com-
mence the works necessary for such an experiment, and to be prepared to
set to work at the moment determined upon; for, if they should suffer this
4th December to go by, they will not find the moon again under the same condi-
tions of perigee and of zenith until eighteen years and eleven days afterwards.
The Staff of the Cambridge Observatory place themselves entirely at
their disposal in respect of all questions of theoretical astronomy; and here.
with add their congratulations to those of all the rest of America.
For the Astronomical Staff,
J. M. BELFAST,
"Director ofthe Observatory of Cambridge."
THE ROMANCE OF THE MOON. 23
THE ROMANCE OF THE MOON.
AN observer endued with an infinite range of vision, and placed
in that unknown centre around which the entire world revolves,
might have beheld myriads of atoms filling all space during the
chaotic epoch of the universe. Little by little, as ages went on, a
change took place; a general law of attraction manifested itself, to
which the hitherto errant atoms became obedient: these atoms
combined together chemically according to their affinities, formed
themselves into molecules, and composed those nebulous masses
with which the depths of the heavens are strewed.
These masses became immediately endued with a rotary motion
around their own central point. This centre, formed of indefinite
molecules, began to revolve round its own axis during its gradual
condensation; then, following the immutable laws of mechanics,
in proportion as its bulk diminished by condensation, its rotary
motion became accelerated, and these two effects continuing, the
result was the formation of one principal star, the centre of the
By attentively watching, the observer would then have per-
ceived the other molecules of the mass, following the example of
this central star, become likewise condensed by gradually acce-
lerated rotation, and gravitating round it in the shape of
innumerable stars. Thus was formed the Nebulm, of which
astronomers have reckoned up nearly 5000.
Amongst these 5000 nebule there is one which has received
the name of the Milky Way, and which contains eighteen
24 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
millions of stars, each of which has become the centre of a solar
If the observer bad then specially directed his attention to one
of the more humble and less brilliant of these stellar bodies, a star
of the fourth class, that which is arrogantly called the Sun, all the
phenomena to which the formation of the Universe is to be
ascribed would have been successively fulfilled before his eyes.
In fact, he would have perceived this sun, as yet in the gaseous
state, and composed of moving molecules, revolving round its axis
in order to accomplish its work of concentration. This motion,
faithful to the laws of mechanics, would have been accelerated
with the diminution of its volume; and a moment would have
arrived when the centrifugal force would have overpowered the
centripetal, which causes the molecules all to tend towards the
Another phenomenon would now have passed before the
observer's eye, and the molecules situated on the plane of the
equator escaping, like a stone from a sling of which the cord had
suddenly snapped, would have formed around the sun sundry con-
centric rings resembling that of Saturn. In their turn, again,
these rings of cosmical matter, excited by a rotary motion round
the central mass, would have been broken up and decomposed
into secondary nebulosities, that is to say, into planets. Similarly
he would have observed these planets throw off one or more rings
each, which became the origin of the secondary bodies which we
Thus, then, advancing from atom to molecule, from molecule to
nebulous mass, from that to a principal star, from star to sun,
from sun to planet, and hence to satellite, we have the whole
series of transformations undergone by the heavenly bodies during
the first days of the world.
Now, of those attendant bodies which the sun maintains in
their elliptical orbits by the great law of gravitation, some few in
their turn possess satellites. Uranus has eight, Saturn eight,
THE MOON'S DISC.
THE ROMANCE OF THE MOON. 25
Jupiter four, Neptune possibly three, and the Earth one. This
last, one of the least important of the entire solar system, we
call the Moon; and it is she whom the daring genius of the
Americans professed their intention of conquering.
The moon, by her comparative proximity, and the constantly
varying appearances produced by her several phases, has always
occupied a considerable share of the attention of the inhabitants
of the earth.
From the time of Thales of Miletus, in the fifth century B.C.,
down to that of Copernicus in the fifteenth and Tycho Brahe in
the sixteenth centuryA.D., observations have been from time to time
carried on with more or less correctness, until in the present day
the altitudes of the lunar mountains have been determined with
exactitude. Galileo explained the phenomena of the lunar light
produced during certain of her phases by the existence of moun-
tains, to which he assigned a mean altitude of 27,000 feet. After
him Hdvelius, an astronomer of Dantzic, reduced the highest
elevations to 15,000 feet ; but the calculations of Riccioli brought
them up again to 21,000 feet.
At the close of the eighteenth century Herschell, armed with
a powerful telescope, considerably reduced the preceding measure-
ments. He assigned a height of 11,400 feet to the maximum
elevations, and reduced the mean of the different altitudes to little
more than 2400 feet. But Herschell's calculations were in their
turn corrected by the observations of Halley, Nasmyth, Bianchini,
Gruithuysen, and others ; but it was reserved for the labours of
BoEer and Mmdler finally to solve the question. They succeeded
in measuring 1905 different elevations, of which six exceed
15,000 feet, and twenty-two exceed 14,400 feet. The highest
summit of all towers to a height of 22,606 feet above the surface
of the lunar disc. At the same period the examination of the
moon was completed. She appeared completely riddled with
craters, and her essentially volcanic character was apparent at
each observation. By the absence of refraction in the rays of the
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
planets occulted by her we conclude that she is absolutely devoid
of an atmosphere. The absence of air entails the absence of
water. It became, therefore, manifest that the Selenites, to
support life under such conditions, must possess a special organi-
zation of their own, must differ remarkably from the inhabitants
of the earth.
At length, thanks to modern art, instruments of still higher
perfection searched the moon without intermission, not leaving a
single point of her surface unexplored ; and notwithstanding
that her diameter measures 2150 miles, her surface equals the
1-15th par of that of our globe, and her bulk the 1-49th
part of that of the terrestrial spheroid-not one of her secrets
was able to escape the eyes of the astronomers ; and these skilful
men of science carried to even greater degree their prodigious
Thus they remarked that, during full moon, the disc appeared
scored in certain parts with white lines ; and, duriftg the phases,
with black. On prosecuting the study of these with still greater
precision, they succeeded in obtaining an exact account of the
nature of these lines. They were long and narrow furrows sunk
between parallel ridges, bordering generally upon the edges of the
craters. Their length varied between ten and 100 miles, and their
width was about 1600 yards. Astronomers called them chasms,
but they could not get any farther. Whether these chasms were
the dried-up beds of ancient rivers or not they were unable
thoroughly to ascertain.
The Americans, amongst others, hoped one day or other to
determine this geological question. They also undertook to
examine the true nature of that system of parallel ramparts dis-
covered on the moon's surface by Gruithuysen, a learned pr ofessor
of Munich, who considered them to be a system of fortifications
thrown up by the Selenitic engineers." These two points, yet
obscure, as well as others, no doubt, could not be definitively
settled except by direct communication with the moon.
THE ROMANCE OF THE MOON. 27
Regarding the degree of intensity of its light, there was nothing
more to learn on this point. It was known that it is 300,000
times weaker than that of the sun, and that its heat has no ap-
preciable effect upon the thermometer. As to the phenomenon
known as the ashy light," it is explained naturally by the effect
of the transmission of the solar rays from the earth to the moon,
which give the appearance of completeness to the lunar disc, while
it presents itself under the crescent form during its first and last
Such was the state of knowledge acquired regarding the earth's
satellite, which the Gun Club undertook to perfect in all its
aspects, cosmographic, geological, political, and moral
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
THE PERMISSIVE LIMITS OF IGNORANCE AND BELIEF IN THE
THE immediate result of Barbicane's proposition was to place
upon the orders of the day all the astronomical facts relative to
the Queen of Night. 'Everybody set to work to study assiduously.
One would have thought that the moon had just appeared for the
first time, and that no one had ever before caught a glimpse of
her in the heavens. The papers revived all the old anecdotes in
which the "sun of the wolves" played a part; they recalled the
influences which the ignorance of past ages ascribed to her; in
short, all America was seized with seleno-mania, or had become
The scientific journals, for their part, dealt more especially with
the questions which touched upon the enterprise of the Gun Club.
The letter of the Observatory of Cambridge was published by
them, and commented upon with unreserved approval.
Until that time most people had been ignorant of the mode in
which the distance which separates the moon from the earth is
calculated. They took advantage of this fact to explain to' them
that this distance was obtained by measuring the parallax of the
moon. The term parallax proving caviaree to the general," they
further explained that it meant the angle formed by the inclination
of two straight lines drawn from either extremity of the earth's
radius to the moon. On doubts being expressed as to the correct-
ness of this method, they immediately proved that not only was
the mean distance 234,347 miles, but that astronomers could not
THE PERMISSIVE LIMITS OF IGNORANCE, ETC. 29
possibly be in error in their estimate by more than 70 miles either
To those who were not familiar with the motions of the moon,
they demonstrated that she possesses two distinct motions, the first
being that of rotation upon her axis, the second that of revolution
round the earth, accomplishing both together in an equal period of
time, that is to say, in 271 days.
The motion of rotation is that which produces day and night on
the surface of the moon; save that there is only one day and one
night in the lunar month, each lasting 354-. hours. But, happily
for her, the face turned towards the terrestrial globe is illuminated
by it with an intensity equal to the light of fourteen moons. As
to the other face, always invisible to us, it has of necessity 354
hours of absolute night, tempered only by that "pale -glimmer
which falls upon it from the stars."
Some well-intentioned but rather obstinate persons, could not at
first comprehend how, if the moon displays invariably the same
face to the earth during her revolution, she can describe one turn
round herself. To such they answered, "Go into your dining-
room, and walk round the table in such a way as always to keep
your face turned towards the centre; by the time you will have
achieved one complete round you will have completed one turn
round yourself, since your eye will have traversed successively
every point of the room. Well, then, the room is the heavens, the
table is the earth, and the moon is yourself." And they would go
So, then, the moon displays invariably the same face to the
earth; nevertheless, to be quite exact, it is necessary to add that,
in consequence of certain fluctuations of north and south, and of
west and east, termed her liberation, she permits rather more than
the half, that is to say, five-sevenths, to be seen.
As soon as the ignoramuses came to understand as much as the
Director of the Observatory himself knew, they began to worry
themselves regarding her revolution round the earth, whereupon
30 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
twenty scientific reviews immediately came to the rescue. They
pointed out to them then that the firmament, with its infinitude of
stars, may be considered as one vast dial-plate, upon which the
moon travels, indicating the true time to all the inhabitants of the
earth; that it is during this movement that the Queen of Night
exhibits her different phases; that the moon is full when she is in
opposition with the sun, that is, when the three bodies are on the
same straight line, the earth occupying the centre; that she is new
when she is in conjunction with the sun, that is, when she is
between it and the earth; and lastly, that she is in herfirst or last
quarter, when she makes with the sun and the earth an angle of
which she herself occupies the apex.
Regarding the altitude which the moon attains above the hori-
zon, the letter of the Cambridge Observatory had said all that was
to be said in that respect. Every one knew that this altitude
varies according to the latitude of the observer. But the only
zones of the globe in which the moon passes the zenith, that is, the
point directly over the head of the spectator, are of necessity
comprised between the twenty-eighth parallels and the equator.
Hence the importance of the advice to try the experiment upon
some point of that part of the globe, in order that the projectile
might be discharged perpendicularly, and so the soonest escape
the action of gravitation. This was "an essential condition to the
success of the enterprise, and continued actively to engage the
Regarding the path described by the moon in her revolution
round the earth, the Cambridge Observatory had demonstrated
that this path is a re-entering curve, not a perfect circle, but an
ellipse, of which the earth occupies one of the foci. It was also
well understood that it is farthest removed from the earth during
its apogee, and approaches most nearly to it at its perigee.
Such then was the extent of knowledge possessed by every
American on the subject, and of which no one could decently
profess ignorance. Still, while these true principles were being
THE PERMISSIVE LIMITS OF IGNORANCE, ETC. 31
rapidly disseminated many errors and illusory fears proved less
easy to eradicate.
For instance, some worthy persons maintained that the moon
was an ancient comet which, in describing its elongated orbit round
the sun, happened to pass near the earth, and became confined
within her circle of attraction. These drawing-room astronomers
professed so to explain the charred aspect of the moon-a
disaster which they attributed to the. intensity of the.solar heat;
only, on being reminded that comets have an atmosphere, and
that the moon has little or none, they were fairly at a loss for
Others again, belonging to the doubting class expressed certain
fears as to the position of the moon. They had heard it said that,
according to observations made in the time of the Caliphs, her
revolution had become accelerated in a certain degree. Hence
they concluded, logically enough, that an acceleration of motion
ought to be accompanied by a corresponding diminution in the
distance separating the two bodies; and that, supposing the
double effect to be continued to infinity, the moon would end by
one day falling into the earth. However, they became reassured
as to the fate of future generations on being apprised that, accord-
ing to the calculations of Laplace, this acceleration of motion is
confined within very restricted limits, and that a proportional
diminution of speed will be certain to succeed it. So, then, the
stability of the solar system would not be deranged in ages to
Their remains but the third class, the superstitious. These
worthies were not content merely to rest in ignorance; they must
know all about things which had no existence whatever, and as
to the moon, they had long known all about her. One set regarded
her disc as a polished mirror, by means of which people could see
each other from different points of the earth and interchange their
thoughts. Another set pretended that out of one thousand new
mnons that had been observed, nine hundred and fifty had been
32 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
attended'with remarkable disturbances, such as cataclysms, revolu-
tions, earthquakes, the deluge, &c. Then they believed in some
mysterious influence exercised by her over human destinies-that
every Selenite was attached to some inhabitant of the earth by a
tie of sympathy; they maintained that the entire vital system is
subject to her control, &c., &c. But in time the majority renounced
these vulgar errors, and espoused the true side of the question. As
for the Yankees, they had no other ambition than to take posses-
sion of this new continent of the sky, and to plant upon the summit
of its highest elevation the star-spangled banner of the United
States of America.
BARBICANE HOLDS FORTH.
THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL. 33
THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL.
THE Observatory of Cambridge in its memorable letter had treated
the question from a purely astronomical point of view. The
mechanical part still remained.
President Barbicane had, without loss of time, nominated a
Working Committee of the Gun Club. The duty of this Com-
mittee was to resolve the three grand questions of the cannon, the
projectile, and the powder. It was composed of four members of
great technical knowledge, Barbicane (with a casting vote in case
of equality), General Morgan, Major Elphinstone, and J. T. Mas-
ton, to whom were confided the functions of secretary. On the
8th of October the Committee met at the house of President Bar-
bicane, 3, Republican Street. The meeting was opened by the
Gentlemen," said he, "we have to resolve one of the most
important problems in the whole of the noble science of gunnery.
It might appear, perhaps, the most logical course to devote our
first meeting to the discussion of the engine to be employed.
Nevertheless, after mature consideration, it has appeared to me
that the question of the projectile must take precedence of that of
the cannon, and that the dimensions of the latter must necessarily
depend upon those of the former."
Suffer me to say a word," here broke in J. T. Maston. Per-
mission having been granted, Gentlemen," said he, with an
inspired accent, our president is right in placing the question of
the projectile above all others. The ball we are about to discharge
14. FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
at the moon is our ambassador to her, and I wish to consider it
from a moral point of view. The cannon-ball, gentlemen, to my
mind, is the most magnificent manifestation of human power. If
Providence has created the stars and the planets, man has called
the cannon-ball into existence. Let Providence claim the swift-
ness of electricity and of light, of the stars, the comets, and the
planets, of wind and sound-we claim to have invented the swift-
ness of the cannon-ball, a hundred times superior to that of the
swiftest horses or railway train. How glorious will be the moment
when, infinitely exceeding all hitherto attained velocities, we shall
launch our new projectile with the rapidity of seven miles a second!
Shall it not, gentlemen-shall it not be received up there with
the honours due to a terrestrial ambassador ?"
Overcome with emotion the orator sat down and applied himself
to a huge plate of sandwiches before him.
And now," said Barbicane, let us quit the domain of poetry
and come direct to the question."
By all means," replied the members, each with his mouth full
The problem before us," continued the president, is how to
communicate to a projectile a velocity of 12,000 yards per second.
Let us at present examine the velocities hitherto attained. General
Morgan will be able to enlighten us on this point."
And the more easily," replied the general, "that during the
war I was a member of the Committee of experiments. I may
say, then, that the 100-pounder Dahlgrens, which carried a
distance of 5000 yards, impressed upon their projectile an initial
velocity of 500 yards a second. The Rodman Columbiad threw a
shot weighing half a ton a distance of six miles, with a velocity
of 800 yards per second-a result which Armstrong and Palisser
have never obtained in England."
"This," replied Barbicane, "is, I believe, the maximum
velocity ever attained ?"
"It is so," replied the general.
THE RODMAN COLUMBTIA).
THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL. 35
Ah!" groaned J. T. Maston, "if my mortar had not
"Yes," quietly replied Barbicane, "but it did burst. We
must take, then, for our starting-point this velocity of 800 yards.
We must increase it twenty-fold. Now, reserving for another
discussion the means of producing this velocity, I will call your
attention to the dimensions which it will be proper to assign to
the shot. You understand that we have nothing to do here with
projectiles weighing at most but half a ton."
Why not ?" demanded the major.
"Because the shot," quickly replied J. T. Maston, must be big
enough to attract the attention of the inhabitants of the moon,
if there are any ?"
Yes," replied Barbicane, "and for another reason more impor-
What mean you ?" asked the major.
"I mean that it is not enough to discharge a projectile, and
then take no further notice of it; .we must follow it throughout
its course, up to the moment when it shall reach its goal."
What ?" shouted the general and the major in great surprise.
"Undoubtedly," replied Barbicane, composedly, "or our ex-
periment would produce no result."
"But then," replied the major, "you will have to give this
projectile enormous dimensions."
"No! Be so good as to listen. You know that optical in
struments have acquired great perfection ; with certain telescopes
we have succeeded in obtaining enlargements of 6000 times and
reducing the moon to within forty miles' distance. Now, at this
distance, any objects sixty feet square would be perfectly visible.
It, then, the penetrative power of telescopes has not been further
increased, it is because that power detracts from their light ; and
the moon, which is but a reflecting mirror, does not give back
sufficient light to enable us to perceive objects of lessor magni-
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
"Well, then, what do you propose to do ?" asked the general,
"Would you give your projectile a diameter of sixty feet ?"
Do you intend, then, to increase the luminous power of the
"Exactly so. If I can succeed in diminishing the density of
the atmosphere through which the moon's light has to travel I
shall have rendered her light more intense. To effect that object
it will be enough to establish a telescope on some elevated moun-
tain. That is what we will do."
"I give it up," answered the major. "You have such a way
of simplifying things. And what enlargement do you expect to
obtain in this way ?"
One of 48,000 times, which should bring the moon within an
apparent distance of five miles ; and, in order to be visible,
objects need not have a diameter of more than nine feet."
So, then," cried J. T. Maston, our projectile need not be
more than nine feet in diameter."
"Let me observe, however," interrupted Major Elphinstone,
"this will involve a weight such as-"
"My dear major," replied Barbicane, "before discussing its
weight, permit me to enumerate some of the marvels which our
ancestors have achieved in this respect. I don't mean to pretend
that the science of gunnery has not advanced, but it is as well to
bear in mind that during the middle ages they obtained results
more surprising, I will venture to say, than ours. For instance,
during the siege of Constantinople by Mahomet II., in 1453,
stone shot of 19001bs. weight were employed. At Malta, in the
time of the knights, there was a gun of the fortress of St. Elmo
which threw a projectile weighing 25001bs. And, now, what is
the extent of what we have seen ourselves ? Armstrong guns
discharging shot of 5001bs., and the Rodman guns projectiles
of half a ton It seems, then, that if projectiles have gained
in range, they have lost far more in weight. Now, if we
CANNON AT MALTA IN THE TIME OF THE KNIGHTS.
THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL.
turn our efforts in that direction, we ought to arrive, with
the progress of science, at ten times the weight of the shot of
Mahomet II. and the Knights of Malta."
"Clearly," replied the major; "but what metal do you
calculate upon employing ?"
Simply cast iron," said General Morgan.
But," interrupted the major, since the weight of a shot is
proportionate to its volume, an iron ball of nine feet in diameter
would be of tremendous weight."
"Yes, if it were solid, not if it were hollow."
Hollow ? then it would be a shell ?"
"Yes, a shell," replied Barbicane; decidedly it must be. A
solid shot of 108 inches would weigh more than 200,0001bs.,
a weight evidently far too great. Still, as we must reserve a
certain stability for our projectile, I propose to give it a weight of
"What, then, will be the thickness of the sides ?" asked the
If we follow the usual proportion," replied Morgan, "a
diameter of 108 inches would require sides of two feet thickness,
That would be too much," replied Barbicane; for you will
observe that the question is not that of a shot intended to pierce
an iron plate : it will suffice, therefore, to give it sides strong
enough to resist the pressure of the gas. The problem, therefore,
is this-What thickness ought a cast-iron shell to have in order
not to weigh more than 20,0001bs. ? Our clever secretary will
soon enlighten us upon this point."
Nothing easier," replied the worthy secretary of the Com-
mittee; and, rapidly tracing a few algebraical formula upon
paper, among which n" and x' frequently appeared, he presently
"The sides will require a thickness of less than two inches."
"Will that be enough ?" asked the major doubtfully.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
"Clearly not!" replied the president.
"What is to be done, then?" said Elphinstone, with a puzzled
"Employ another metal instead of iron."
"Copper?" said Morgan.
"No; that would be too heavy. I have better than that tc
What then?" asked the major.
"Aluminium!" replied Barbicane.
"Aluminium?" cried his three colleagues in chorus.
"Unquestionably, my friends. This valuable metal possesses
the whiteness of silver, the indestructibility of gold, the tenacity
of iron, the fusibility of copper, the lightness of glass. It is
easily wrought, is very widely distributed, forming the base of
most of the rocks, is three times lighter than iron, and seems to
have been created for the express purpose of furnishing us with
the material for our projectile."
"But, my dear president," said the major, "is not the cost
price of aluminium extremely high?"
"It was so at its first discovery, but it has fallen now to nine
dollars the pound."
"But still, nine dollars the pound!" replied the major, who
was not willing readily to give in; "even that is an enormous
"Undoubtedly, my dear major; but not beyond our reach."
"What will the projectile weigh then?" asked Morgan.
"Here is the result of my calculations," replied Barbicane.
"A shot of 108 inches in diameter, and 12 inches in thickness,
would weigh, in cast-iron, 67,4401bs.; cast in aluminium, its
weight will be reduced to 19,2501bs."
"Capital!" cried the major; "but do you know that, at nine
dollars the pound, this projectile will cost-"
"One hundred and seventy-three thousand and fifty dollars
($173,050). I know it quite welL But fear not, my friends; the
THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL. 39
money will not be wanting for our enterprise, I will answer foi
it. Now what say you to aluminium, gentlemen?"
"Adopted!" replied the three members of the Committee.
So ended the first meeting.. The question of the projectile was
40 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
HISTORY OF THE CANNON.
THE resolutions passed at the last meeting produced a great effect
out of doors. Timid people took fright at the idea of a shot
weighing 20,0001bs. being launched into space; they asked what
cannon could ever transmit a sufficient velocity to such a mighty
mass. The minutes of the second meeting were destined triuum-
phantly to answer such questions. The following evening the
discussion was renewed.
My dear colleagues," said Barbicane, without further preamble,
"the subject now before us is the construction of the engine, its
length, its composition, and its weight. It is probable that we
shall end by giving it gigantic dimensions; but however ginat
may be the difficulties in the way, our mechanical genius will
readily surmount them. Be good enough, then, to give me your
attention, and do not hesitate to make objections at the close. I
have no fear of them. The problem before us is how to commu-
nicate an initial force of 12,000 yards per second to a shell of 108
inches in diameter, weighing 20,0001bs. Now when a projectile
is launched into space, what happens to it? It is acted upon by
three independent forces, the resistance of the air, the attraction
of the earth, and the force of impulsion with which it is endowed.
Let us examine these three forces. The resistance of the air is
of little importance. The atmosphere of the earth does not
exceed forty miles. Now, with the given rapidity, the projectile
will have traversed this in five seconds, and the period is too
brief for the resistance of the medium to he regarded otherwise
HISTORY OF THE CANNON. 41
than as insignificant. Proceeding, then, to the attraction of the
earth, that is, the weight of the shell, we know that this weight
will diminish in the inverse ratio of the square of the distance.
When a body left to itself falls to the surface of the earth, it falls
five feet in the first second; and if the same body were removed
257,542 miles farther off, in other words, to the distance of the
moon, its fall. would be reduced to about half a line in the first
second. That is almost equivalent to a state of perfect rest.
Our business, then, is to overcome progressively this action of
gravitation. The mode of accomplishing -that is by the force of
"There's the difficulty," broke in the major.
"True," replied the president; "but we will overcome that,
for this force of impulsion will depend upon the length of the
engine and the powder employed, the latter being limited only by
the resisting power of the former. Our business, then, to-day is
with the dimensions of the cannon."
"Now, up to the present time," said Barbicane, "our longest
guns have not exceeded twenty-five feet in length. We shall
therefore astonish the world by the dimensions we shall be
obliged to adopt. It must evidently be, then, a gun of great
range, since the length of the piece will increase the detention of
the gas accumulated behind the projectile; but there is no advan-
tage in passing certain limits."
"Quite so," said the major. "What is the rule in such a
Ordinarily the length of a gun is 20 to 25 times the diameter
of the shot, and its weight 235 to 240 times that of the shot."
That is not enough," cried J. T. Maston impetuously.
I agree with you, my good friend; and, in fact, following
this proportion for a projectile nine feet in diameter, weighing
30,0001bs., the gun would only have a length of 225 feet, and a
weight of 7,200,0001bs."
Ridiculous rejoined Maston. "As well take a pistol."
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
I think so too," replied Barbicane; that is why I propose
to quadruple that length, and to construct a gun of 900 feet."
The general and the major offered some objections; never-
theless, the proposition, actively supported by the secretary, was
But," said Elphinstone, "what thickness'must we give it ? "
A thickness of six feet," replied Barbicane.
You surely don't think of mounting a mass like that upon a
carriage ?" asked the major.
It would be a superb idea, though," said Maston.
But impracticable," replied Barbicane. "No; I think of
sinking this engine in the earth alone,.binding it with hoops of
wrought iron, and finally surrounding it with a thick mass of
masonry of stone and cement. The piece once cast, it must be
bored with great precision, so as "to preclude any possible
windage. So there will be no loss whatever of gas, and all
the expansive force of the powder will be employed in the
One simple question," said Elphinstone : "is our gun to be
"No, certainly not," replied Barbicane; "we require an
enormous initial velocity; and you are well aware that a shot
quits a rifled gun less rapidly than it does a smooth-bore."
True," rejoined the major.
The Committee here adjourned for a few minutes to tea and
On the discussion being renewed, "Gentlemen," said Barbi-
cane, "we must now take into consideration the metal to be
employed. Our cannon must be possessed of great tenacity,
great hardness, be infusible by heat, indissoluble, and inoxydable
by the corrosive action of acids."
There is no doubt about that," replied the major; and as
we shall have to employ an immense quantity of metal, we shall
not be at a loss for choice."
IDEAL SKETCH OF J. T. MASTON'S GUN.
HISTORY OF THE CANNON. 43
Well, then," said Morgan, I propose the best alloy hitherto
known, which consists of 100 parts of copper, 12 of tin, and 6 of
I admit," replied the president, "that this composition has
yielded excellent results, but in the present case it would be too
expensive, and very difficult to work. I think, then, that we
ought to adopt a material excellent in its way and of low price,
such as cast iron. What is your advice, major ? "
"I quite agree with you," replied Elphinstone.
In fact," continued Barbicane, cast iron cost ten times less
than bronze; it is easy to cast, it runs readily from the moulds of
sand, it is easy of manipulation, it is at once economical of money
and of time. In addition, it is excellent as a material, and I well
remember that during the war, at the siege of Atlanta, some iron
guns fired one thousand rounds at intervals of twenty minutes
Cast iron is very brittle, though," replied Morgan.
Yes, but it possesses great resistance. I will now ask our
worthy secretary to calculate the weight of a cast-iron gun with
a bore of nine feet and a thickness of six feet of metal."
"In a moment," replied Maston. Then, dashing off some alge-
braical formula with marvellous facility, in a minute or two he
declared the following result:-
The cannon will weigh 68,040 tons. And, at two cents a
pound, it will cost- ?"
Maston, the major, and the general regarded Barbicane with
Well, gentlemen," replied the president, "I repeat what I
said yesterday. Make yourselves easy; the millions will not be
With this assurance of their president the Committee sepa-
rated, after having fixed their third meeting for the following
44 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
THE QUESTION OF THE POWDER.
THERE remained for consideration merely the question of powders.
The public awaited with interest its final decision. The size of
the projectile, the length of the cannon being settled, what would
be the quantity of powder necessary to produce impulsion ?
It is generally asserted that gunpowder was invented in the
fourteenth century by the monk Schwartz, who paid for his
grand discovery with his life. It is, however, pretty well proved
that this story ought to be ranked amongst the legends of the
middle ages. Gunpowder was not invented by any one; it was
the lineal successor of the Greek fire, which, like itself, was
composed of sulphur and saltpetre. Few persons are acquainted
with the mechanical power of gunpowder. Now this is pre-
cisely what is necessary to be understood in order to comprehend
the importance of the question submitted to the committee.
A litre of gunpowder weighs about 21bs.; during combustion
it produces 400 litres of gas. This gas, on being liberated and
acted upon by a temperature raised to 2400 degrees, occupies a
space of 4000 litres: consequently the volume of powder is to the
volume of gas produced by its combustion as 1 to 4000. One
may judge, therefore, of the tremendous pressure of this gas when
compressed within a space 4000 times too confined. All this was,
of course, well known to the members of the committee when
they met on the following evening.
The first speaker on this occasion was Major Elphinstone,
THE INVENTION OF GUNPOWDER BY THE MONK SCHWARTZ.
THE QUESTION OF THE POWDERS.
who had been the director of the gunpowder factories during the
"Gentlemen," said this distinguished chemist, "I begin with
some figures which will serve as the basis' of our calculation.
The old 24-pounder shot required for its discharge 161bs. of
You are certain of the amount ?" broke in Barbicane.
Quite certain," replied the major. The Armstrong cannon
employs only 751bs. of powder for a projectile of 8001bs., and the
Rodman Columbiad uses only 160lbs. of powder to send its half-
ton shot a distance of six miles. These facts cannot be called in
question, for I myself raised the point during the depositions taken
before the Committee of Artillery."
"Quite true," said the general.
"Well," replied the major, "these figures go to prove that the
quantity of powder is not increased with the weight of the shot ;
that is to say, if a 24-pounder shot requires 161bs. of- powder ;-
in other words, if in ordinary guns we employ a quantity of
powder equal to two-thirds of the weight of the projectile, this
proportion is not constant. Calculate, and you will see that in
place of 3331bs. of powder, the quantity is reduced to no more
"What are you aiming at ? asked the president.
If you push. your theory to extremes, my dear major," said
J. A. Maston, "you will get to this, that as soon as your
shot becomes sufficiently heavy you will not require any powder
"Our friend Maston is always at his jokes, even in serious
matters," cried the major; "but let him make his mind easy, I
am going presently to propose gunpowder enough to satisfy his
artillerist's propensities. I only keep to statistical facts when I
say that during the war, and for the very largest guns, the weight
of powder was reduced, as the result of experience, to a tenth part
of the weight of the shot."
40 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
"Perfectly correct," said Morgan; "but before deciding the
quantity of powder necessary to give the impulse, I think it would
be as well-"
We shall have to employ a large-grained powder," continued
the major, its combustion is more rapid than that of the small."
"No doubt about that," replied Morgan, but it is very
destructive, and ends by enlarging the bore of the pieces."
"Granted ; but that which is injurious to a gun destined to
perform long service is not so to our Columbiad. We shall run
no danger of an explosion ; and it is necessary that our powder
should take fire instantaneously in order that its mechanical effect
may be complete."
"We must have," said Maston, "several touch-holes, so as to
fire it at different points at the same time."
"Certainly," replied Elphinstone ; "but that will render tho
working of the piece more difficult. I return then to my large-
grained powder,which removes those difficulties. In his Columbiad
charges Rodman employed a powder as large as chestnuts, made
of willow charcoal, simply dried in cast-iron pans. This powder
was hard and glittering, left no trace upon the hand, contained
hydrogen and oxygen in large proportion, took fire instantaneously,
and, though very destructive, did not sensibly injure the mouth-
Up to this point Barbicane had kept aloof from the discussion;
he left the others to speak while he himself listened; he had
evidently got an idea. He now simply said, Well, my friends,
what quantity of powder do you propose ?"
The three members look at one another.
"Two hundred thousand pounds," at last said Morgan.
"Five hundred thousand," added the major.
"Eight hundred thousand," screamed Maston.
A moment of silence followed this triple proposal; it was at
last broken by the president.
Gentlemen," he quietly said, "I start from this principle, that
THE QUESTION OF THE POWDERS. 47
the resistance of a gun, constructed under the given conditions, is
unlimited. I shall surprise our friend Maston, then, by stigma-
tizing his calculations as timid ; and I propose to double his
800,0001bs. of powder."
Sixteen hundred thousand pounds ? shouted Maston, leaping
from his seat.
We shall have to come then to my ideal of a cannon half a
mile long ; for you see 1,600,0001bs. will occupy a space of about
20,000 cubic feet; and since the contents of your cannon do not
exceed 54,000 cubic feet, it would be half full; and the bore will
not be more than long enough for the gas to communicate to the
projectile sufficient impulse."
Nevertheless," said the president, "I hold to that quantity of
powder. Now, 1,600,0001bs. of powder will create 6,000,000,000
of litres of gas. Six thousand millions You quite understand?"
What is to be done then ?" said the general.
"The thing is very simple; we must reduce this enormous
quantity of powder, while preserving to it its mechanical power."
Good; but by what means?"
"I am going to tell you," replied Barbicane quietly. Nothing
is more easy than to reduce this mass to one quarter of its bulk.
You know that curious cellular matter which constitutes the
elementary tissues of vegetables? This substance is found quite
pure in many bodies, especially in cotton, which is nothing more
than the down of the seeds of the cotton plant. Now cotton, com-
bined with cold nitric acid, becomes transformed into a substance
eminently insoluble, combustible, and explosive. It was first dis-
covered in 1832, by Braconnot, a French chemist, who called it
xyloidine. In 1838 another Frenchman, Pelouze, investigated its
different properties, and finally, in 1846, Schonbein, Professor of
Chemistry at Bale, proposed its employment for purposes-of war.
This powder, now called pyroxyle, or fulminating cotton, is pre-
pared with great facility by simply plunging cotton for fifteen
PROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
minutes in nitric acid, then washing it in water, then drying it,
and it is ready for use."
"Nothing could be more simple," said Morgan.
"Moreover, pyroxyle is unaltered by moisture-a valuable
property to us, inasmuch as it would take several days to charge
the cannon. It ignites at 170 degrees in place of 240, and its com-
bustion is so rapid that one may set light to it on the top of
ordinary powder, without the latter having time to ignite."
"Perfect!" exclaimed the major.
Only it is more expensive."
What matter ?" cried J. T. Maston.
"Finally, it imparts to projectiles a velocity four times superior
to that of gunpowder. I will even add, that if we mix with it
one-eighth of its own weight of nitrate of potass, its expansive
force is again considerably augmented."
Will that be necessary ? asked the major.
"I think not," replied Barbicane. "So, then, in place of
1,600,0001bs. of powder, we shall have but 400,0001bs. of ful-
minating cotton; and since we can, without danger, compress
5001bs. of cotton into 27 cubic feet, the whole quantity will not
occupy a height of more than 180 feet within the bore of the
Columbiad. In this way the shot will have more than 700 feet
of bore to traverse under a force of 6,000,000,000 litres of gas
before taking its flight towards the moon."
At this junction J. T. Maston could not repress his emotion;
he flung himself into the arms of his friend with the violence of a
projectile, and Barbicane would have been stove in if he had not
This incident terminated the third meeting of the Committee.
Barbicane and his bold colleagues, to whom nothing seemed
impossible, had succeeded in solving the complex problems of pro-
jectile, cannon, and powder. Their plan was drawn up, and it
only remained to put it in execution.
A mere matter of detail, a bagatelle," said J. T. Maston.
ONE ENEMY V. TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS OF FRIENDS. 49
ONE ENEMY V. TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS OF FRIENDS.
THE American public took a lively interest in the smallest details
of the enterprise of the Gun Club. It followed day by day the
discussions of the committee. The most simple preparation for
the great experiment, the questions of figures which it involved,
the mechanical difficulties to be resolved-in one word, the entire
plan of work-roused the popular excitement to the highest
The purely scientific attraction was suddenly intensified by the
We have seen what legions of admirers and friends Barbicane's
project had rallied round its author. There was, however, one
single individual alone in all the States of the Union who pro-
tested against the attempt of the Gun Club. He attacked it
furiously on every opportunity; and human nature is such that
Barbicane felt more keenly the opposition of that one man than
he did the applause of all the others. He was well aware of the
motive of this antipathy, the origin of this solitary enmity, the
cause of its personality and old standing, and in what rivalry of
self-love it had its rise.
This persevering enemy the President of the Gun Club had
never seen. Fortunate that it was so, for a meeting between the
two men would certainly have been attended with serious conse-
quences. This rival was a man of science, like Barbicane himself,
of a fiery, daring, and violent disposition; a pure Yankee. His
name was Captain Nicholl; he lived at Philadelphia.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
Most people are aware of the curious struggle which arose
during the Federal war between the guns and the armour of iron-
plated ships. The result was the entire reconstruction of the navy
of both the continents; as the one grew heavier, the other became
thicker in proportion. The "Merrimac," the "Monitor," the
"Tennessee,'" the "Weehawken" discharged enormous projec-
tiles themselves, after having been armour-clad against the pro-
jectiles of others. In fact they did to others that which they would
not they should do to them-that grand principle of immorality
upon which rests the whole art of war.
Now if Barbicane was a great founder of shot, Nicholl was a
great forger of plates; the one cast night and day at Baltimore,
the other forged day and night at Philadelphia. As soon as ever
Barbicane invented a new shot, Nicholl invented a new plate,
each followed a current of ideas essentially opposed to the other.
Happily for these citizens, so useful to their country, a distance
of from fifty to sixty miles separated them from one another, and
they had never yet met. Which of these two inventors had the
advantage over the other it was difficult to decide from the results
obtained. By last accounts, however, it would seem that the
armour-plate would in the end have to give way to the shot;
nevertheless, there were competent judges who had their doubts
on the point.
At the last experiment the cylindro-conical projectiles of
Barbicane stuck like so many pins in the Nicholl plates. On that
day the Philadelphian iron-forger then believed himself victorious,
and could not evince contempt enough for his rival; but when
the other afterwards substituted for conical shot simple 6001b.
shells, at very moderate velocity, the captain was obliged to
give in. In fact, these projectiles knocked his best metal plate to
Matters were at this stage, and victory seemed to rest with
the shot, when the war came to an end on the very day when
Nicholl had completed a new armour-plate of w-onght steel. I.
NICIHOLL PUBLISHED A NUMBER OF LETTERS
IN TIE NEWSPAPERS.
ONE ENEMY V. TWENTY-FlVE MILLIONS OF FRIENDS. 51
was a masterpiece of its kind, and bid defiance to all the projectiles
in the world. The captain had it conveyed to the Polygon at
Washington, challenging the President of the Gun Club to break
it. Barbicane, peace having been declared, declined to try the
Nicholl, now furious, offered to expose his plate to the shock
of any shot, solid, hollow, round, or conical. Refused by the
president, who did not choose to compromise his last success.
Nicholl, disgusted by this obstinacy, tried to tempt Barbicane
by offering him every chance. He proposed to fix the plate
within two hundred yards of the gun. Barbicane still obstinate
in refusal. A hundred yards ? Not even seventy-five I
"At fifty then !" roared the captain through the newspapers.
" At twenty-five yards !! and I'll stand behind !!!"
Barbicane returned for answer that, even if Captain Nicholl
would be so good as to stand in front, he would not fire any more.
Nicholl could not contain himself at this reply; threw out hints
of cowardice; that a man who refused to fire a cannon-shot was
pretty near being afraid of it; that artillerists who fight at six
miles' distance are substituting mathematical formula for indivi-
To these insinuations Barbicane returned no answer; perhaps
he never heard of them, so absorbed was he in the calculations
for his great enterprise.
When his famous communication was made to the Gun Club,
the captain's wrath passed all bounds; with his intense jealousy
was mingled a feeling of absolute impotence. How was he to
invent anything to beat this 900-feet Columbiad ? What armour-
plate could ever resist a projectile of 30,0001bs. weight ? Over-
whelmed at first under this violent shock, he by and by recovered
himself, and resolved to crush the proposal by the weight of his
He then violently attacked the labours of the Gun Club, pub-
lished a number of letters in the newspapers, endeavoured to
FRO.If THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
prove Barbicane ignorant of the first principles of gunnery. He
maintained that it was absolutely impossible to impress upon any
body whatever a velocity of 12,000 yards per second; that even
with such a velocity a projectile of such a weight could not
transcend the limits of the earth's atmosphere. Further still,
even regarding the velocity to be acquired, and granting it to be
sufficient, the shell could not resist the pressure of the gas deve-
loped by the ignition of 1,600,0001bs. of powder; and supposing
it to resist that pressure, it would be the less able to support that
temperature; it would melt on quitting the Columbiad, and fall
back in a red-hot shower upon the heads of the imprudent
Barbicane continued his work without regarding these attacks.
Nicholl then took up the question in its other aspects. Without
touching upon its uselessness in all points of view, he regarded
the experiment as fraught with extreme danger, both to the
citizens, who might sanction by their presence so reprehensible a
spectacle, and also to the towns in the neighbourhood of this
deplorable cannon. He also observed that if the projectile did
not succeed in reaching its destination (a result absolutely impos-
sible), it must inevitably fall back upon the earth, and that the
shock of such a mass, multiplied by the square of its velocity,
would seriously endanger every point of the globe. Under the
circumstances, therefore, and without interfering with the rights
of free citizens, it was a case for the intervention of Government,
which ought not to endanger the safety of all for the pleasure of
Spite of all his arguments, however, Captain Nicholl remained
alone in his opinion. Nobody listened to him, and he did not
succeed in alienating a single admirer from the President of the
Gun Club. The latter did not even take the pains to refute the
arguments of his rival.
Nicholl, driven into his last entrenchments, and not able to fight
personally in the cause, resolved to fight with money. He pub-
ONE ENEMY V. TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS OF FRIENDS. 53
lished, therefore, in the Richmond Inquirer a series of wagers,
conceived in these terms, and on an increasing scale :-
No. 1 (1000 dols.).-That the necessary funds for the experi-
ment of the Gun Club will not be forthcoming.
No. 2 (2000 dols.).-That the operation of casting a cannon
of 900 feet is impracticable, and cannot possibly
No. 3 (3000 dols.).-That it is impossible to load the Colum-
biad, and that the pyroxyle will take fire spontane-
ously under the pressure of the projectile.
No. 4 (4000 dols.).-That the Columbiad will burst at the
No. 5 (5000 dols.).-That the shot will not travel farther than
six miles, and that it will fall back again a few
seconds after its discharge.
It was an important sum, therefore, which the captain risked
in his invincible obstinacy. He had no less than 15,000 dollars
Notwithstanding the importance of the challenge, on the 19th
of May he received a sealed packet containing the following
superbly laconic reply:-
"BATmIOaE, Oct. 19.
54 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
FLORIDA AND TEXAS.
ONE question yet remained to be decided: it was necessary to
choose a favourable spot for the experiment. According to the
advice of the Observatory of Cambridge, the gun must be fired
perpendicularly to the plane of the horizon, that is to say, towards
the zenith. Now the moon does not traverse the zenith, except
in places situated between 00 and 28' of latitude. It became,
then, necessary to determine exactly that spot on the globe where
the immense Columbiad should be cast.
On the 20th of October, at a general meeting of the Gun Club,
Barbicane produced a magnificent map of the United States.
"Gentlemen," said he, in opening the discussion, "I presume
that we are all agreed that this experiment cannot and ought not
to be tried anywhere but within the limits of the soil of the
Union. Now, by good fortune, certain frontiers of the United
States extend downwards as far as the 28th parallel of the north
latitude. If you will cast your eye over this map, you will see
that we have at our disposal the whole of the southern portion of
Texas and Florida."
It was finally agreed, then, that the Columbiad must be cast on
the soil of either Texas or Florida. The result, however, of this
decision was to create a rivalry entirely without precedent
between the different towns of these two states.
The 28th parallel, on reaching the American coast, traverses
the peninsula of Florida, dividing it into two nearly equal por
tioas. Then, plunging into the Gulf of Mexico, it subtends the
FLORIDA AND TEXAS. 55
arc formed by the coast of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana;
then skirting Texas, off which it cuts an angle, it continues its
course over Mexico, crosses the Sonora, Old California, and loses
itself in the Pacific Ocean. It was, therefore, only those
portions of Texas and Florida which were situated below this
parallel which came within the prescribed conditions of latitude.
Florida, in its southern part, reckons no cities of importance; it
is simply studded with forts raised against the roving Indians.
One solitary town, Tampa Town, was able to put in a claim in
favour of its situation.
In Texas, on the contrary, the towns are much more numerous
and important. Corpus. Christi, in the county of Nuaces, and all
the cities situated on the Rio Bravo, Laredo, Comalites, San
Ignacio on the Web, Rio Grande city on the Starr, Edinburgh
in the Hidalgo, Santa Rita, Elpanda, Brownsville in the Cameron,
formed an imposing league against the pretensions of Florida.
So, scarcely was the decision known, when the Texian and
Floridan deputies arrived at Baltimore in an incredibly short
space of time. From that very moment President Barbicane and
the influential members of the Gun Club were besieged day and
night by formidable claims. If seven cities of Greece contended
for the honour of having given birth to Homer, here were two
entire states threatening to come to blows about the question of a
The rival parties promenaded the streets with arms in their
hands; and at every occasion of their meeting a collision was to
be apprehended which might have been attended with disastrous
results. Happily the prudence and address of President Barbi-
cane averted the danger. These personal demonstrations found a
division in the newspapers of the different states. The New
York Herald and the Tribune supported Texas, while the Times
and the American Review espoused the cause of the Floridan
Deputies. The members of the Gun Club could not decide to
which to give the preference.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
Texas produced its array of twenty-six counties; Florida
replied that twelve counties were better than twenty-six in a
country only one-sixth part of the size.
Texas plumed itself upon its 330,000 natives; Florida with
a far smaller territory, boasted of being much more densely
populated with 56,000.
The Texians, through the columns of the Herald, claimed that
some regard should be had to a state which grew the best cotton
in all America, produced the best green oak for the service of the
navy, and contained the finest oil, besides iron mines, in which the
yield was 50 per cent. of pure metal.
To this the American Review replied that the soil of Florida,
although not equally rich, afforded the best conditions for the
moulding and casting of the Columbiad, consisting as it did of
sand and argillaceous earth.
"That may be all very well," replied the Texians; "but you
must first get to this country. Now the communications with
Florida are difficult, while the coast of Texas offers the bay of
Galveston, which possesses a circumference of fourteen leagues,
and is capable of containing the navies of the entire
"A pretty notion truly," replied the papers in the interest of
Florida, that of Galveston Bay, below the 29th parallel Have
we not got the bay of Espiritu Santo, opening precisely upon the
28th degree, and by which ships can reach Tampa Town by direct
A fine bay! half choked with sand!" "Choked yourselves!"
returned the others.
Thus the war went on for several days, when Florida endea-
voured to draw her adversary away on to fresh ground; and one
morning the Times hinted that, the enterprise being essentially
American, it ought not to be attempted upon other than purely
To these words Texas retorted, "American! are we not as
IT BECAME NECESSARY TO KEEP AN EYE UPON
FLORIDA AND TEXAS. 57
much so as you? Were not Texas and Florida both incorporated
into the Union in 1845?"
"Undoubtedly," replied the Times; but we have belonged to
the Americans ever since 1820."
"Yes!" returned the Tribune; "after having been Spaniards
or English for 200 years, you were sold to the United States for
five million dollars!"
Well! and why need we blush for that? Was not Louisiana
bought from Napoleon in 1803 at the price of sixteen million
"Scandalous!" roared the Texian deputies. "A wretched
little strip of country like Florida to dare to compare itself to
Texas, who, in place of selling herself, asserted her own inde-
pendence, drove out the Mexicans in March 2, 1836, and declared
herself a federal republic after the victory gained by Samuel
Houston, on the banks of the San Jacinto, over the troops of
Santa Anna!-a country, in fine, which voluntarily annexed itself
to the United States of America !"
Yes; because it was afraid of the Mexicans !" replied Florida.
"Afraid!" From this moment the state of things became
intolerable. A sanguinary encounter seemed daily imminent
between the two parties in the streets of Baltimore. It became
necessary to keep an eye upon the deputies.
President Barbicane knew not which way to look. Notes,
documents, letters full of menaces showered down upon his house.
Which side ought he to take? As regarded the appropriation of
the soil, the facility of communication, the rapidity of transport,
the claims of both states were evenly balanced. As for political
prepossessions, they had nothing to do with the question.
This dead block had existed for some little time, when Bar-
bicane resolved to get rid of it at once. He called a meeting of
his colleagues, and laid before them a proposition which, it will
be seen, was profoundly sagacious.
"On carefully considering," he said, "what is going on now
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
between Florida and Texas, it is clear that the same difficulties
will recur with all the towns of the favoured state. The rivalry
will descend from state to city, and so on downwards. Now
Texas possesses eleven towns within the prescribed conditions,
which will further dispute the honour and create us new enemies,
while Florida has only one. I go in, therefore, for Florida and
This decision, on being made known, utterly crushed the
Texian deputies. Seized with an indescribable fury, they ad-
dressed threatening letters to the different members of the Gun
Club by name. The magistrates had but one course to take, and
they took it. They chartered a special train, forced the Texians
into it whether they would or no; and they quitted the city with
a speed of thirty miles an hour.
Quickly, however, as they were despatched, they found time
to hurl one last and bitter sarcasm at their adversaries.
Alluding to the extent of Florida, a mere peninsula confined
between two seas, they pretended that it could never sustain the
shock of the discharge, and that it would bust up at the very
"Very well, let it bust up!" replied the Floridans, with a
brevity worthy of the days of ancient Sparta.
ORBI ET ORBI. 59
URBI ET ORBI.
THE astronomical, mechanical, and topographical difficulties re-
solved, finally came the question of finance. The sum required
was far too great for any individual, or even any single state, to
provide the requisite millions.
President Barbicane undertook, despite of the matter being a
purely American affair, to render it one of universal interest, and
to request the financial co-operation of all peoples. It was, he
maintained, the right and the duty of the whole earth to interfere
in the affairs of its satellite. The subscription opened at Balti-
more extended properly to the whole world--Urbi et orbi.
This subscription was successful beyond all expectation; not-
withstanding that it was a question not of lending but of giving
the money. It was a purely disinterested operation in the
strictest sense of the term, and offered not the slightest chance
The effect, however, of Barbicane's communication was not con-
fined to the frontiers of the United States; it crossed the Atlantic
and Pacific, invading simultaneously Asia and Europe, Africa and
Oceania. The observatories of the Union placed themselves in
immediate communication with those of foreign countries. Some,
such as those of Paris, Petersburg, Berlin, Stockholm, Hamburg,
Malta, Lisbon, Benares, Madras, and others, transmitted their
good wishes; the rest maintained a prudent silence, quietly
awaiting the result. As for the observatory at Greenwich,
seconded as it was by the twenty-two astronomical establishments
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
of Great Britain, it spoke plainly enough. It boldly denied the
possibility of success, and pronounced in favour of the theories of
Captain Nicholl. But this was nothing more than mere English
On the 8th of October President Barbicane published a mani-
festo full of enthusiasm, in which he made an appeal to all per-
sons of good will upon the face of the earth." This document,
translated into all languages, met with immense success.
Subscription lists were opened in all the principal cities of the
Union, with a central office at the Baltimore Bank, 9, Baltimore
In addition, subscriptions were received at the following
banks in the different states of the two continents:-
At Vienna, with S. M. de Rothschild.
,, Petersburg, Stieglitz and Co.
,, Paris, The Credit Mobilier.
,, Stockholm, Tottie and Arfuredson.
,, London, N. M. Rothschild and Son.
,, Turin, Ardouin and Co.
,, Berlin, Mendelssohn.
Geneva, Lombard, Odier, and Co.
,, Constantinople, The Ottoman Bank.
Brussels, J. Lambert.
,, Madrid, Daniel Weisweller.
,, Amsterdam, Netherlands Credit Co.
,, Rome, Torlonia and Co.
,, Lisbon, Lecesne.
,, Copenhagen, Private Bank.
,, Rio Janeiro, do.
Monte Video, do.
,, Valparaiso and Lima, Thomas la Chambre an 1 Co.
,, Mexico, Martin Daran and Co.
Three days after the manifesto of PresidentBarbicane 4,000,000
of dollars were paid into the different towns of the Union. With
THE SUBSCRIPTION WAS OPENED.
URBI ET ORBIT.
such a balance the Gun Club might begin operations at once.
But some days later advices were received to the effect that the
foreign subscriptions were being eagerly taken up. Certain
countries distinguished themselves by their liberality; others
untied their purse-strings with less facility-matter of tempera-
ment. Figures are, however, more eloquent than words, and
here is the official statement of the sums which were paid in to
the credit of the Gun Club at the close of the subscription.
Russia paid in as her contingent the enormous sum of 368.733
roubles. No one need be surprised at this, who bears in mind
the scientific taste of the Russians, and the impetus which they
have given to astronomical studies-thanks to their numerous
France began by deriding the pretensions of the Americans.
The moon served as a pretext for a thousand stale puns and a
score of ballads, in which bad taste contested the palm with
ignorance. But as formerly the French paid before singing, so
now they paid after having had their laugh, and they subscribed
for a sum of 1,253,930 francs. At that price they had a right to
enjoy themselves a little.
Austria showed herself generous in the midst of her financial
crisis. Her public contributions amounted to the sum of 216,000
florins-a perfect godsend.
52,000 rix-dollars were the remittance of Sweden and Norway;
the amount is large for the country, but it would undoubtedly
have been considerably increased had the subscription been opened
in Christiania simultaneously with that at Stockholm. For some
reason or other the Norwegians do not like to send their money
Prussia, by a remittance of 250,000 thalers, testified her high
approval of the enterprise.
Turkey behaved generously; but she had a personal interest in
the matter. The moon, in fact, regulates the cycle of her years
and her fast of Ramadan. She could not do less than give
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
1,372,640 piastres ; and she gave them with an eagerness
which denoted, however, some pressure on the part of the
Belgium distinguished herself among the second-rate states
by a grant of 513,000 francs-about two centimes per head of
Holland and her colonies interested themselves to the extent of
110,000 florins,only demanding an allowance of five per cent.
discount for paying ready money.
Denmark, a little contracted in territory, gave nevertheless
9000 ducats, proving her love for scientific experiments.
The Germanic Confederation pledged itself to 34,285 florins.
It was impossible to ask for more; besides, they would not have
Though very much crippled, Italy found 200,000 lire in the
pockets of her people. If she had had Venetia she would have
done better; but she had not.
The States of the Church thought that they could not send
less than 7010 Roman crowns; and Portugal carried her devotion
to science as far as 30,000 cruzados. It was the widow's mite-
eighty-six piastres; but self-constituted empires are always rather
short of money.
257 francs, this was the modest'contribution of Switzerland to
the American work. One must freely admit that she did not see
the practical side of the matter. It did not seem to her that the
mere despatch of a shot to the moon could possibly establish any
relation of affairs with her; and it did not seem prudent to her to
embark her capital in so hazardous an enterprise. After all,
perhaps she was right.
As to Spain, she could not scrape together more than 110 reals.
She gave as an excuse that she had her railways to finish. The
truth is, that science is not favourably regarded in that country, it
is still in a backward state; and, moreover, certain Spaniards, not
by any means the least educated, did not form a correct estimate
THE MANUFACTORY AT COLDSPRING, NEAR NEW YORK.
URBI ET ORBI. 03
of the bulk of the projectile compared with that of the moon.
They feared that it would disturb the established order of things.
TI that case it were better to keep aloof; which they did to the
tune of some reals.
There remained but England; and we know the contemptuous
antipathy with which she received Barbicane's proposition. The
English have but one soul for the whole twenty-six millions of
inhabitants which Great Britain contains. They hinted that the
enterprise of the Gun Club was contrary to the principle of non-
intervention." And they did not subscribe a single farthing.
At this intimation the Gun Club merely shrugged its shoulders
and returned to its great work. When South America, that is to
say, Peru, Chili, Brazil, the provinces of La Plata and Columbia,
had poured forth their quota into their hands, the sum of 300,000
dollars, it found itself in possession of a considerable capital, of
which the following is a statement :-
United States subscriptions 4,000,000 dollars.
Foreign subscriptions 1,446,675
Total 5,446,675 ,
Such was the sum which the public poured into the treasury
of the Gun Club.
Let no one be surprised at the vastness of the amount. The
work of casting, boring, masonry, the transport of workmen,
their establishment in an almost uninhabited country, the con-
struction of furnaces and workshops, the plant, the powder, the
projectile, and incidental expenses, would, according to the esti-
mates, absorb nearly the whole. Certain cannon shots in the
Federal war cost 1000 dollars a-piece. This one of President
Barbicane, unique in the annals of gunnery, might well cost five
thousand times more.
On the 20th of October a contract was entered into with the
manufactory at Coldspring, near New York, which during the
war had furnished the largest Parrott cast-iron guns. It was
64 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
stipulated between the contracting parties that the manufactory of
Coldspring should engage to transport to Tampa Town, in southern
Florida, the necessary materials for casting the Columbiad. The
work was bound to be completed at latest by the 15th of October
following, and the cannon delivered in good condition under
penalty of a forfeit of 100 dollars a day to the moment when
the moon should again present herself under the same conditions-
that is to say, in eighteen years and eleven days.
The engagement of the workmen, their pay, and all the
necessary details of the work, devolved upon the Goldspring
This contract, executed in duplicate, was signed by Barbicane,
President of the Gun Club, of the. one part, and T. Murphison,
director of the Coldspring manufactory, of the other, who thus
executed the deed on behalf of their respective principals.
STONES HILL. O0
WHEN the decision was arrived at by the Gun Club, to the dis-
paragement of Texas, every one in America, where reading is an
universal acquirement, set to work to study the geography of
Florida. Never before had there been such a sale for works like
Bertram's Travels in Florida, Roman's Natural History of East and
West Florida, William's Territory of Florida, and Cleland on the
Cultivation of the Sugar-Cane in Florida. It became necessary to
issue fresh editions of these works.
Barbicane had something better to do than to read. He desired
to see things with his own eyes, and to mark the exact position
of the proposed gun. So, without a moment's loss of time, he
placed at the disposal of the Cambridge Observatory the funds
necessary for the construction of a telescope, and entered into
negotiations with the house of Breadwill and Co., of Albany, for
the construction of an aluminium projectile of the required size.
He then quitted Baltimore, accompanied by J. T. Maston, Major
Elphinstone, and the manager of the Coldspring Factory.
On the following day, the four fellow-travellers arrived at New
Orleans. There they immediately embarked on board the "Tam-
pico," a despatch-boat belonging to the Federal navy, which the
Government had placed at their disposal ; and, getting up steam,
the banks of the Louisiana speedily disappeared from sight.
The passage was not long. Two days after starting, the
'Tampico," having made four hundred and eighty miles, came in
sight of the coast of Florida. On a nearer approach Barbicane
00 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
found himself in view of a low, flat country of somewhat barren
aspect. After coasting along a series of creeks abounding in
lobsters and oysters, the Tampico entered the bay of Espiritu
Santo, where she finally anchored in a small natural harbour,
formed by the embouchure of the River Hillisborough, at seven
p.m., on the 22nd October.
Our four passengers disembarked at once. Gentlemen," said
Barbicane, we have no time to lose ; to-morrow we must obtain
horses, and proceed to reconnoitre the country."
Barbicane had scarcely set his foot on shore when three thousand
of the inhabitants of Tampa Town came forth to meet him, an
honour due to the president who had signalized their country by
Declining, however, every kind of ovation, Barbicane ensconced
himself in a room of the Franklin Hotel.
On the morrow some of those small horses of the Spanish breed,
full of vigour and of fire, stood snorting under his windows;
but instead of four steeds, here were fifty, together with their
riders. Barbicane descended with his three fellow-travellers;
and much astonished were they all to find themselves in the
midst of such a cavalcade. He remarked that every horseman
carried a carbine slung across his shoulders and pistols in his
On expressing his surprise at these preparations, he was speedily
enlightened by a young Floridan, who quietly said,-
Sir, there are Seminoles there."
What do you mean by Seminoles?"
"Savages who scour the prairies. We thought it best, there-
fore, to escort you on your road."
"Pooh cried J. T. Maston, mounting his steed.
"'All right," said the Floridan; but it is true enough, never-
Gentlemen," answered Barbicane, I thank you for your kind
attention ; but it is time to be off."
TAMPA TOWN PREVIOUS TO THE UNDERTAKING.
It was five a.m. when Barbicane and his party, quitting Tampa
Town, made their way along the coast in the direction of Alifia
Creek. This little river falls into Hillisborough Bay twelve miles
above Tampa Town. Barbicane and his escort coasted along its
right bank to the eastward. Soon the waves of the bay dis-
appeared behind a bend og rising ground, and the Floridan
" champagne" alone offered itself to view.
Florida, discovered on Palm Sunday, in 1512, by Juan Ponce
de Leon, was originally named Pascha Florida. It little deserved
that designation with its dry and parched coasts. But after some
few miles of tract the nature of the soil gradually changes and
the country shows itself worthy of the name. Cultivated plains
soon appear, where are-united all the productions of the northern
and tropical floras, terminating in prairies abounding with pine-
apples and yams, tobacco, rice, cotton-plants, and sugar-canes,
which extend beyond reach of sight, flinging their riches broad-
cast with careless prodigality.
Barbicane appeared highly pleased on observing the progressive
elevation of the land; and in answer to a question of J. T. Maston,
"My worthy friend, we cannot do better than sink our Colum-
biad in these high grounds."
To get nearer to the moon, perhaps ? said the secretary of
the Gun Club.
"Not exactly," replied Barbicane, smiling; "do you not see
that amongst these elevated plateaus we shall have a much easier
work of it ? No struggles with the water-springs, which will
save us long and expensive tubings ; and we shall be working in
daylight instead of down a deep and narrow well. Our business,
then, is to open our trenches upon ground some hundreds of yards
above the level of the sea."
You are right, sir," struck in Murchison, the engineer
"and, if I mistake not, we shall ere long find a suitable spot for
065 FROM THE EARTH 70 THE MOON.
"I wish we were at the first stroke of the pickaxe," said the
"And I wish we were at the last," cried J. T. Maston.
About ten a.m. the little band had crossed a dozen miles To
fertile plains succeeded a region of forests. There perfumes of
the most varied kinds mingled together in tropical profusion. These
almost impenetrable forests were composed of pomegranates,
orange-trees, citrons, figs, olives, apricots, bananas, huge vines,
whose blossoms and fruits rivalled each other in colour and per-
fume. Beneath the odorous shade of these magnificent trees
fluttered and warbled a little world of brilliantly plumaged birds.
J. T. Maston aid the major could not repress their admiration
on finding themselves in presence of the glorious beauties of this
wealth of nature. President Barbicane, however, less sensitive
to these wonders, was in haste to press forward ; the very
luxuriance of the country was displeasing to him. They hastened
onwards, therefore, and were compelled to ford several rivers, not
without danger, for they were infested with huge alligators from
fifteen to eighteen feet long. Maston courageously menaced them
with his steel hook, but he only succeeded in frightening some
pelicans and teal, while tall flamingos- stared stupidly at the
At length these denizens of the swamps disappeared in their
turn ; smaller trees became thinly scattered among less dense
thickets-a few isolated groups detached the in midst of endless
plains over which ranged herds of startled deer.
"At last," cried Barbicane, rising in his stirrups, here we are
at the region of pines !"
"Yes and of savages too," replied the major.
In fact, some Seminoles had just come in sight upon the horizon;
they rode violently backwards and forwards on their fleet horses,
brandishing their spears or discharging their guns with a dull
report. These hostile demonstrations, however, had no effect upon
Barbicane and his companions.
THEY WERE COMPELLED TO FORD SEVERAL RIVERS.
STONES HILL. 69
They were then occupying the centre of a rocky plain, which
the sun scorched with its parching rays. This was formed by a
considerable elevation of the soil, which seemed to offer to the
members of the Gun Club all the conditions requisite for the
construction of their Columbiad.
Halt !" said Barbicane, reining up. Has this place any local
"It is called Stones Hill," replied one of the Floridans.
Barbicane, without saying a word, dismounted, seized his instru-
ments, and began to note his position with extreme exactness.
The little band, drawn up in rear, watched his proceedings in pro-
At this moment the sun passed the meridian. Barbicane, after
a few moments, rapidly wrote down the result of his observations,
This spot is situated 1800 feet above the level of the sea, in
270 7' N. lat. and 50 7' W. long. of the meridian of Washington.
It appears to me by its rocky and barren character to offer all the
conditions requisite for our experiment. On that plain will be
raised our magazines, workshops, furnaces, and workmen's huts ;
and here, from this very spot," said he, stamping his foot on the
summit of Stones Hill, "hence shall our projectile take its flight'
into the regions of the Solar World."
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