TmB Btlvui LhrJ
Earth to the Moon
DIRECT IN NINETY-SEVEN HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES:
AND A TRIP ROUND IT.
ILL USTRA TED.
WM. L. ALLISON COMPANY,
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
I. THEGUN CLUB .................... 5
II. PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMMUNICATION ..... IO
III. EFFECT OF THE PRESIDENT'S COMMUNICATION 17
IV. REPLY FROM THE OBSERVATORY OF CAMBRIDGE. 20
V. THE ROMANCE OF THE MOON ............ .. 24
VI. THE PERMISSIVE LIMITS OF IGNORANCE AND BELIEF
IN THE UNITED STATES . .... .28
VII. THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL. ... .... 32
VIII. HISTORY OF THE CANNON .............. 38
IX. THE QUESTION OF THE POWDERS .......... 41
X. ONE ENEMY v. TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS OF FRIENDS 46
XI. FLORIDA AND TEXAS. . ....... 5o
XII. URBI ET ORBI .... ............... 54
XIII. STONES HILL ................... 59
XIV. PICKAXE AND TROWEL ....... .... 64
XV. THE FETE OF iHE CASTING ........... 68
XVI. THE COLUMBIAD .................... 72
XVII. A TELEGRAPHIC DESPATCH ................. 75
XVIII. THE PASSENGER OF THE ATLANTA". ...... 76
XIX. A MONSTER MEETING ...... ........... 82
XX. ATTACK AND RIPOSTE ................ 88
XXI. How A FRENCHMAN MANAGES AN AFFAIR .... 95
XXII. THE NEW CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES ..... 103
XXIII. THE PROJECTILE VEHICLE ............. 107
XXIV. THE TELESCOPE OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. .... IIO
XXV. FINAL DETAILS .................... 112
XXVI. FIRE! ........................ 117
XXVII. FOUL WEATHER ...... ... .12
XXVIII. A NEW STAR ..................... 123
ILLUSTRATION. PROJECTILE TRAINS FOR THE MOON, FRONTISPIECE
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
STHE GUN CLUB.
DURING the War of the Rebellion, a new and influen-
tial club was established in the city of Baltimore in the
State of Maryland. It is well known with what energy
the taste for military matters became developed amongst
that nation of ship-owners, shop-keepers, and mechanics.
Simple tradesmen jumped their counters to become
extemporized captains, colonels, and generals, 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,
But the point in which the Americans singularly dis-
tanced 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, plunging,
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
This fact need surprise no one. The Yankees, the
first mechanicians 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 ingenu-
ity to the science of gunnery. Witness the marvels of
Parrott, Dahlgren, and Rodman. The Armstrong, Pal-
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
liser, 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 Balti-
more. 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
formation it numbered 1833 effective members and 30,-
565 corresponding members.
One condition was imposed as a sine qua non upon
every candidate 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 favor.
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 dis-
tances 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, exceeding the prescribed limits, unfortunately
occasionally cut in two some unoffending pedestrians.
These inventions, in fact, left far in the rear the timid
instruments of European artillery.
It is but fair to add that these Yankees, brave as they
have ever proved themselves to be, did not confine them-
selves to theories and formulae, but that they paid
heavily, in proprii persona, for their inventions. Amongst
them w -re to be counted officers of all ranks, from lieu-
tenants 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-
THE GUN CLUB.
carriage. Many had found their rest on the field of battle
whose names figured in the "Book of Honor" of the
Gun Club; and of those who made good their return the
greater proportion bore the marks of their indisputable
valor. Crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel
hooks, caoutchouc jaws, silver craniums, platinum noses,
were all to' be found in the collection; and it was calcu-
lated 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 particu-
lar 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 ex-
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 re-
turned into the arsenal, the shot were replied, all bloody
reminiscences were effaced; the cotton-plants grew luxu-
riantly 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 theor-
ists set themselves again to work upon calculations re-
garding the laws of projectiles. They reverted invari-
ably to gigantic shells and howitzers of unparalleled
calibre. Still, in default of practical experience, wht
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 mem-
bers of the Gun Club, erstwhile so noisy in their s6ances,
were reduced to silence by this disastrous peace, and gave
themselves up wholly to dreams of a Platonic kind of
"This is horrible!" said Tom Hunter one evening,
while rapidly carbonizing his wooden legs in the fire-
Slace of the smoking-room; "nothing to do! nothing to
ook forward to! what a loathsome existence! Where
FROM THE EARTH T'O THE MOON.
again shall the guns arouse us in the morning with their
delightful reports i"
"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 encourage-
ment from Sherman or a friendly shake of the hand from
M'Clellan. But now the generals are 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 ad-
dress 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 Hon.
J. T. Maston, by which, at its first trial, he had succeeded
in killing three hundred and thirty-seven people.
"Fact!" replied he. "Still, what is the use of so
many studies worked out, so many difficulties van-
quished? 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 approaching catastro-
phes arising out of this scandalous increase of popula-
Nevertheless," replied Colonel Blomsberry, "they are
always struggling in Europe to maintain the principle of
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 gunnery for the benefit of foreigners? "
"That would be better than doing nothing here," re
turned the coloAe.
THE GUN CLUB.
"Quite so," said J. T. Maston: "but still we need not
dream of that expedient."
And why not?" demanded the colonel.
Because their ideas of progress in the Old World are
contrary to our American habits of thought. Those fel-
lows believe that one can't become a general without hav-
ing served first as an ensign; which is as much as to say
that one can't point a gun without having first cast it
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-oil."
"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 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; "noth-
ing 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 vio-
lence; 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
"Undoubtedly," replied Tom Hunter, stamping his
crutch with fury.
"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 Bloms-
"Go and propose it to the President of the United
States," cried J. T. Maston, "and see how he will receive
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
"Bah!" growled Bilsby between the four teeth which
the war had left him; "that will never do!"
"By Jove!" cried J. C. Maston, "he mustn't count on
my vote at the next election!"
"Nor on ours," replied unanimously all the bellicose
"Meanwhile," replied J. T. M., "allow me to say that,
if I cannot get an opportunity to try my new mortars on
a real field of battle, I shall say good-bye to the mem-
bers of the Gun Club, and go and bury myself in the
prairies of Arkansas!"
"In that case we will accompany you," cried the
Matters were in this unfortunate condition, and the
club was threatened with approaching dissolution, when
an unexpected circumstance occurred to prevent so de-
plorable a catastrophe.
On the morrow after this conversation every member of
the association received a sealed circular couched in the
"BALTIMORE, Oct. 3.
"The President of the Gun Club has the honor to in-
form his colleagues that, at the meeting of the 5th in-
stant, he will bring before them a communication of an
extremely interesting nature. He requests, therefore,
that they will make it convenient to attend in accordance
with the present invitation.-Very cordially,
"IMPEY BARBICANE, P. G. C."
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 resi-
dent in Baltimore attended the invitation of their presi-
dent. As regards the corresponding members, notices
PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMMUNICATION.
were delivered by hundreds throughout the streets of the
city, and, large as was the great hall, it was quite inade-
quate to accommodate the crowd of savants. They over-
flowed into the adjoining rooms, down the narrow pas-
sages, 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 of 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 spec-
tacle. 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-iron lacework. Tro-
phies of blunderbuses, matchlocks, arquebuses, carbines,
all kinds of fire-arms, ancient and modern, were pictur-
esquely 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 cast-
ings, sights covered with dents, plates battered by the
shts of the Gun Club, assortments of rammers and
sponges, chaplets of shells, wreaths of projectiles, gar-
lands of howitzers-in short, all the apparatus of the ar-
tillerist, enchanted the eye by this wonderful arrange-
ment and induced a kind of belief that their real purpose
was ornamental rather than deadly.
At the further end of the saloon the president, assisted
by four secretaries, occupied a large platform. His chair,
supported by a carved gun-carriage, was modelled upon
the ponderous proportions of a 32-inch mortar. It was
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
pointed at an angle of ninety degrees, and suspended
upon trunnions, so that the president could balance him-
self 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 Span-
ish 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 clamor of these excitable artillerists.
In front of the table benches arranged in zigzag form,
like the circumvallations of a retrenchment, formed a suc-
cession 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, fol
all to be assured that he would not put his colleagues to
discomfort without some very strong motive.
Impey Barbicane was a man of forty years of age, calm,
cold, austere; of a singularly serious and self-contained
demeanor, punctual as a chronometer, of imperturbable
temper and immovable character; by no means chival-
rous, yet adventurous withal, and always bringing prac-
tical ideas to bear upon the very rashest enterprises; an
essentially New-Englander, a Northern colonist, a de-
scendant of the old anti-Stuart Roundheads, and the
implacable enemy of the gentlemen of the South, those
ancient Cavaliers of the mother-country. In a word, he
was a Yankee to the backbone.
Barbicane had made a large fortune as a timber-mer-
chant. Being nominated Director of Artillery during the
war, he proved himself fertile in invention. Bold in his
conceptions, he contributed powerfully 'to the progress
of that arm and gave an immense impetus to experimen-
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-fraid-
PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMMUNICATION.
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-traed clock in the great hall struck
eight, Barbicane, as if he had 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 labors,
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 )
" But war, gentlemen, is impossible under existing cir-
cumstances; 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 approach-
ing the critical point, and redoubled their attention
For some months past, my brave colleagues," con-
tinued Barbicane, I have been asking myself whether,
while confining ourselves 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, cal-
culating; and the result of my studies is the conviction
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 communication. It is worthy of yourselves,
worthy of the antecedents of the Gun Club; and it can-
not fail to make some noise in the world."
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:-
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
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 surprised if I am about to discourse to you
regarding this Queen of the Night. It is perhaps
reserved for us to become, the Columbuses 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 voice.
"The moon, gentlemen, has been carefully studied,"
continued Barbicane; "her mass, density, and weight;
her constitution, motions, distance, as well as her place in
the solar system, have all been exactly determined. Selen-
Dgraphic charts have been constructed with a perfection
which equals, if it does not even surpass, that of our ter-
restrial maps. Photography has given us proofs of the
incomparable beauty of our satellite; in short, all is
known regarding the moon which mathematical science,
astronomy, geology, and optics can learn about her. But
up to the present moment no direct communication has
been established with her."
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 jour-
neys, have penetrated 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, pub-
lished a 'Journey performed from the Earth to the Moon
by Domingo Gonzalez,' a Spanish Adventurer. At tl-c
same period Cyrano de Bergerac published that cele-
brated 'Journeys in the Moon' which met with such suc-
cess in France. Somewhat later another Frenchman,
named Fontenelle, wrote The Plurality of Worlds,' a chef-
d'ceuvre of its time. About 1835 a small treatise trans-
latec 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 astrono-
mical calculations, had, by means of a telescope brought
PRESIDENT BARBICANE'S COMMUNICATION.
to perfection by means of internal lighting, reduced the
apparent distance of the moon to eighty yards! He then
distinctly perceived caverns frequented by hippopotami,
green mountains bordered by golden lace-work, sheep
with horns of ivory, a white species of deer, and inhabi-
tants 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, I will only add
that a certain Hans Pfaal, of Rotterdam, launching him-
self 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,
"Cheers for Edgar Poe!" roared the assemblage,
electrified by their president's words.
"I have now enumerated," said Barbicane, "the experi-
ments which I call purely paper ones, and wholly insuffi-
cient to establish serious relations with the Queen of
Night. Nevertheless, I am bound to add that some
practical geniuses have attempted to establish actual com-
munication 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.
'Every intelligent being,' said the geometrician, 'must un-
derstand the scientific meaning of that figure. The Selen-
ites, 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 con-
verse with the inhabitants 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 re-
served 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."
16 FROM THE EARTH TC THE MOON.
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
Long continued applause resounded from all sides. -
As soon as the excitement had partially subsided, Bar-
bicane 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. More-
over, you are well aware that, in general terms, the resist-
ing power of cannon and the expansive force of gun-
powder are practically unlimited. Well! starting from
this principle, I ask myself whether, supposing sufficient
apparatus could be obtained constructed upon the con-
ditions 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 attempted to speak, but
could not. It was fully ten minutes before he could make
"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 calcula-
tions I find that a projectile endowed with an initial velo-
city of 12,ooo yards per second, and aimed at the moon,
must necessarily reach it. I have the honor, my brave
colleagues, to propose a trial, of this little experiment."
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 voci-
ferations 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 guns.
SBarbicane remained calm in the midst of this enthu-
siastic clamor; 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 colleagues 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 mechan-
ical difficulties, they are overcome before, they arise.
Between Barbicane's proposition and its realization no
true Yankee would have allowed even the semblance of
a difficulty to be possible. A thing with them is no
sooner said than done.
The triumphal progress of the president continued
throughout the, evening. It was a regular torchlight
procession. Irish, Germans, French, Scotch, all the
heterogeneous units which make up the .population of
Maryland shouted in their respective vernaculars; and
the "vivas," hurrahs," and "bravos were intermingled
in inexpressible enthusiasm.
Just at this crisis, as though she comprehended all
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
this agitation regarding herself, the Moon shone forth
with serene splendor, eclipsing by her intense illumina-
tion' 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 diminution. It spread equally among all classes of
citizens-men of science, shopkeepers, merchants, port-
ers, 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 border-
ing 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 gentlemen 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 Point.
About 2 a. m., however, the excitement began to sub-
side. President Barbicane reached his house, bruised,
crushed, and squeezed almost to a mummy. .A Hercules
could not have resisted 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 population to the four
corners of the United States, and the city subsided into
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 destined 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 hemisphere present to our terrestrial spheroid?
Granting that the question at present was .simply that of
EFFECT OF THE PRESIDENT'S COMMUNICATION 19
sending a projectile up to the moon, every one must see
that that involved the commencement 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 para-
graph suggested a doubt of its realization. All the
papers, pamphlets, reports-all the journals published by
"he scientific, literary, and religious societies enlarged
ipon its advantages; and the Society of Natural History
o .Boston, the Society of Science and Art of Albany, the
Gev"taphical and Statistical Society of New York, the
Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, and the Smithson-
ian of Washington sent innumerable letters of congratu-
latei to the Gun Club, together with offers of immediate
assistnc and money.
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 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 populace, seeing in that title
an allusion damaging to Barbicane's project, broke into
the auditorium, smashed the benches, and compelled the
unlucky director to alter his playbill. Being a sensible
man, he bowed to the public will and replaced the offend-
ing comedy by "As you like it;" and for many weeks
he realized fabulous profits.
REPLY FROM THE OBSERVATORY OF CAMBRIDGE.
BARBICANE, however, lost not one moment amidst ail
the enthusiasm of which he had become the object. His
first care was to resemble 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 suc-
cess of this great experiment.
A note couched in precise terms, containing special
interrogatories, was then drawn up and addressed to the
Observatory of Cambridge in Massachusetts. This city,
where the first University 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 Andromeda, and Clarke to discover the satellite of
Sirius. This celebrated 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 Presi-
dent of the Gun Club at Baltimore.
CAMBRIDGE, Oct. 7.
"On the receipt of your favor of the 6th inst., addressed
to the Observatory of Cambridge in the name of the
Members of the Baltimore Gun Club, our staff was im-
mediately called together, and it was judged expedient
to reply as follows:-
"'The questions which have been proposed to it are
"' Is it possible to transmit a projectile up to the
REPLY FROM THE OBSERVATORY AT CAMBRIDGE. 21
"'2. What is the exact distance which separates the
earth from its satellite ?
"' 3. What will be the period of transit of the projectile
when endowed with sufficient initial velocity ? and, con-
sequently, at what moment ought it to be discharged in
order that it may touch the moon at a particular point ?
"'4. At what precise moment will the moon present
herself in the most favorable 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 pro-
"'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 trans-
mit a projectile up to the moon ?'
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 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 engine employed.
"As to the second question, 'What is the exact dis-
tance which separates the earth from from its satellite?'
Answer.-The moon does not describe a circle round
the earth, but rather an ellipse, of which our earth occu-
pies 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
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
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 cal-
"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 destina-
tion but, inasmuch as that initial velocity will be con-
tinually decreasing, it results that, taking everything into
consideration, it will occupy 300,000 seconds, that is
83hrs. 2om. in reaching the point where the attraction of
the earth and moon will be in equilibrio. From this
point it will fall into the moon in 50,000 seconds, or
I3hrs. 53m. 20sec. It will be desirable, therefore, to
discharge it 97hrs. 13m. 2osec. 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 favorable posi-
tion, &c. ?'
Answer.-After what has been said above, it will be
necessary, first of all, to chose 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 dimin.
ish 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 simultaneously, except at long
intervals of time. It will be necessary, therefore, to wait
for the moment when her passage in perigee shall coin-
cide with that in the zenith. Now, by a fortunate cir-
cumstance, 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 she will be
crossing the zenith.
On the fifth question, 'At what point in the heavens
ought the cannon to be aimed ?'
REPLY FROM THE OBSERVATORY AT CAMBRIDGE. 23
"Answer.-The preceding remarks being admitted, the
cannon ought tb be pointed to the zenith of the place.
Its fire, therefore, will be perpendicular 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 o and 280 of lat. N.
or S. In every other spot the fire must necessarily be
oblique, which would seriously militate against the suc-
cess of the experiment.
"As to the sixth question, 'What place will the moon
occupy in the heavens at the moment of the projectile's
Answer.-At the moment when the projectile shall
be. discharged into space, the moon, which travels daily
forward 130 Io' 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, inas-
much 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 moment of firing
the visual radius applied to the moon will describe, with
the vertical line of the place, an angle of sixty-four
"These are our answers to the questions proposed to
the Observatory of Cambridge by the members of the
"To sum up,-
Ist. The cannon ought to be planted in a country
situated between o and 280 of N. or S. lat.
2ndly. It ought to be pointed directly towards the
zenith of the place.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOO.
3rdly. The projectile ought to be propelled with an
initial velocity of 12,ooo yards per second.
"4thly. It ought to be discharged at Io hrs. 46 m.
40 sec. of the ist December of the ensuing year.
5thly. It will meet the moon four days after its dis-
charge, precisely at midnight on the 4th December at
the moment of its transit across the zenith.
The members of the Gun Club ought, therefore, with-
out delay, to commence 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 conditions of perigee and of zenith
until eighteen years and eleven days afterwards.
The Staff of the Cambridge Observatory place them-
selves entirely at their disposal in respect of all questions
of theoretical astronomy, and herewith add their con-
gratulations to those of all the rest of America.
"For the Astronomical Staff,
"J. M. BELFAST,
Director of the Observatory of Cambridge."
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 9
THE ROMANCE OF THE MOON.
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 nebulous mass.
By attentively watching, the observer would then have
perceived the other molecules of the mass, following the
example of this central star, become likewise condensed
by gradually accelerated rotation, and gravitating round
it in the shape of innumerable stars. Thus was formed
the Nebula, of which astronomers have reckoned up
Amongst these 5000 nebulae there is one which has
received the name of the Milky Way, and which contains
eighteen millions of stars, each of which has become the
centre of a solar world.
If the observer had then specially directed his atten-
tion 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 fulfiled 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 concen-
tration. 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 concentric rings resem-
bling 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 decom-
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
posed 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 ori-
gin of the secondary bodies which we call satellites.
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 satel-
lite, we have the whole series of transformations under-
gone by the heavenly bodies during the first days of the
Now, of those attendant bodies which the sun main-
tains in their elliptical orbits by the great law of gravi-
tation, some few in their turn possess satellites.- Uranus
has eight, Saturn eight, 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 con-
stantly varying appearances produced by her several
phases, has always occupied a considerable share of the
attention of the inhabitants of the earth.
From the tim- of Thales of Miletus, in the fifth-cen-
tury, B. c., down to that of Copernicus in the fifteenth and
Tycho Brahe in the sixteenth century A. 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 pro-
duced during certain of her phases by the existence of
mountains, to which he assigned a mean altitude of 27,-
ooo feet. After him Hevelius, an astronomer of Dantzic,
reduced the highest elevations to 15,000 feet; but the
calculations of Riccioli brought them up again to 21,-
At the close of the eighteenth century Herschell,
armed with a powerful telescope, considerably reduced
the preceding measurements. He assigned a height of
11,400 feet to the maximum elevations, and reduced the
mean of the different altitudes to little more than 2,400
feet. But Herschell's calculations were in their turn cor-
rected by the observations of Halley, Nasmyth, Bia-
THE ROMANCE OF THE MOON.
chini, Gruithuysen, and others; but it was reserved for
the labors of Bceer and Maedler finally to solve the ques-
tion. They succeeded in measuring 1905 different eleva-
tions, of which six exceeded 15,000 feet, and twenty-two
exceed 14,400 feet. The highest summit of all towers
to a height of 22,600 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 appar-
ent at each observation. By the absence of refraction in
the rays of the 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, there-
fore, manifest that the Selenites, to support life under
such conditions, must possess a special organization of
their own, must differ remarkably from the inhabitants of
At length, thanks to modern art, instruments of still
higher perfection searched the moon without intermis-
sion, not leaving a single point of her surface unex-
plored; and notwithstanding that her diameter measures
2150 miles, her surface equals the I-I5th part of that of
our globe, and her bulk the I-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 pro-
Thus they remarked that, during full moon, the disc
appeared scored in certain parts with white lines; and,
during 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 par-
allel ridges, bordering generally upon the edges of the
craters. Their length varied between ten and Ioo 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, amofgst others, hoped one day or
other to determine this geological question. They also
undertook to examine the true nature of that system of
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
parallel ramparts discovered on the moon's surface by
Gruithuysen, a learned professor of Munich, who con-
sidered them to be a system of fortifications thrown up
by the Selenitic engineers." These two points, yet ob-
scure, as well as others, no doubt, could not be defini-
tively settled except by direct communication with the
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 appreciable effect upon the ther-
mometer. As to the phenomenon known as the "ashy
light," it is explained naturally by the effect of the trans-
mission 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 dur-
ing its first and last phases.
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,.polit-
ical, and moral.
THE PERMISSIVE LIMITS OF IGNORANCE AND BELIEF IN
THE UNITED STATES.
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
THE PERMISSIVE LIMITS OF IGNORANCE, ETC. 29
ages ascribed to her; in short, all America was seized
with seleno-mania, or had become moon-mad.
The scientific journals, for their part, dealt more espec-
ially with the questions which touched upon the enter-
prise 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 ob-
tained 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 inclina-
tion of two straight lines drawn from either extremity of
the earth's radius to the moon. On doubts being expressed
as to the correctness of this method, they immediately
proved that not only was the mean distance 234,347
miles but that astronomers could not 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 demonstrattl that she possesses two dis-
tinct 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 27Y 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
3543 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 revolu-
tion, 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
FRCM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
face turned towards the centre; by the time you will
have achieved one complete round you will have com-
pleted one tuin 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 away de-
So, then, the moon displays invariably the same face
to the earth; nevertheless, to be quite exact, it is neces-
sary 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 revolu-
tion round the earth, whereupon 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 inhabi-
tants 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 her
first 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 horizon, 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 pofnt
directly over the head of the spectator, are of necessity
comprised between the twenty-eight 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 perpendic-
ularly, and so the soonest escape the action of gravita-
THE PERMISSIVE LIMITS OF IGNORANCE, ETC. 31
tion. This was an essential condition to the success of
the enterprise, and continued actively to engage the pub-
Regarding the path described by the moon in her rev-
olution 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 foi. 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 rapidly disseminated many errors
and illusory fears proved 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 acceler-
ated in a certain degree. Hence they concluded, logic-
ally enough, that an acceleration of motion ought to be
accompanied by a corresponding diminution in the dis-
tance 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, according 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 come.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
Their remains but the third class, the superstitious.
These worthies were not content merely to rest in ignor-
ance; 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 mi, ror, 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 moons that had been observed, nine hun-
dred and fifty had been attended with remarkable distuib-
ances, such as cataclysms, revolutions, 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.
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, nomi-
nated a Working Committe of the Gun Club. The duty
of this Committee was to resolve the three grand ques,
tions of the cannon, the projectile, and the powder. It
was composed of four members of great technical knowl-
edge, Barbicane (with a casting vote in case of equality),
General Morgan, Major Elphinstone, and J. T. Maston,
to whom were confided the functions of secretary. On
THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL.
the 8th of October the Committee met at the house of
President Barbicane, 3, Republican Street. The meeting
was opened by the president himself.
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 discus-
sion 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.
Permission having been granted, Gentlemen," said he,
with an inspired accent, our president is right in plac-
ing the question of the projectile above all others. The
ball we are about to discharge at the moon is our ambas-
sador 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 swiftness of electricity ard of light, of the
stars, the comets, and the planets, of wind and sound-
we claim to have invented the swiftness of the cannon-
ball, a hundred times superior to that of the swiftest
horses or railway train. How glorious will be the
moment, infinitely exceeding all hitherto attained veloc-
ities, we shall launch our new projectile with the rapid-
ity of seven miles a second! Shall it not, gentlemen-
shall it hot be received up there with the honors due to
a terrestrial ambassador? "
Overcome with emotion the orator sat down and
applied himself to a huge plate of sandwiches before
"And now," said Barbicane, "let us quit the do-
main of poetry and come direct to the nuestinn."
"By all means," replied the memisr, e~ with his
mouth full of sandwich.
The problem before us," continued the president," is
how to to communicate to a projectile a velocity of 12,-
0oo yards per second. Let uz at Dresent examine the
"ROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
velocities hitherto attained. General Morgan will be able
to enlighten us on this point."
"And the more easily," replied the general, "that dur-
ing the war I was a member of the Committee of exper-
iments. I may say, then, that the Ioo po-under Dahl-
grens, which carried a distance of 5oo0 yards, impressed
upon their projectile an initial velocity of 500 yards a
second. The Rodman Columbiad threw a shot weigh-
ing 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 maxi-
mum velocity ever attained?"
It is so," replied the general.
"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 under-
stand 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 important still."
"What mean you ? asked the major.
I mean that 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
"Undoubtedly," replied Barbicane, composedly, "oi'
our experiment 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
THE HYMN OF THE CANNON-BALL.
instruments have required great perfection; with cer-
tain telescopes we have succeeded in obtaining enlarge-
ments of 600 times and reducing the moon to within
forty miles' distance. Now, at this distance, any objects
sixty feet square would be perfectly visible. If, 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 per-
ceive objects of lesser magnitude."
"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 moon ?"
"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 estab-
lish a telescope on some elevated mountain. 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 Elphin-
stone, this will involve a weight such as-"
My dear major," replied Barbicane, before discuss-
ing 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 gun-
nery has i advanced, but it is as well to bear in mind
that durir ; the middle ages they obtained results more
surprising 3 will venture to say, than ours. For instance,
during thj seige of Constantinople by Mahomet II., in
1453, stone shot of 1900 lbs. weight were employed. At
FROM THE EARTH TO TUE MOON.
Malta, in the time of the knights, there was a gun of the
fortress of St. Elmo which threw a projectile weighing
2500 lbs. And, now, what is the extent of what we have
seen ourselves? Armstrong guns discharging shot of
500 lbs., 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 turn our
efforts in that direction, we ought to arrive, with the prog-
ress 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
200,00o lbs., 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 20,000 lbs."
"What, then, will be the thickness of the sides?"
asked the major.
"If we follow the usual proportion," replied Morgan,
"a diameter of o18 inches would require sides of two
feet thickness, or less."
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,ooo lbs. ? Our clever secretary will soon
enlighten us upon this point."
Nothing easier," replied the worthy secretary of the
Committee; and, rapidly tracing a few algeb cial formula
upon paper, among which n2 and .a frequei tly appeared,
he presently said,-
"The sides will require a thickness of less than two
THE HYMN OF aii CANNON-BALL.
"Will that be enough?" asked the major doubtfully.
Clearly not replied the president.
What is to be done? said Elphinstone, with a puz-
Employ another metal instead of iron."
Copper?" said Morgan.
No; that would be too heavy. I have better than
that to offer."
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 first discovery, but it has fallen now to
nine dollars the pound."
But still, nine dollars the pound I" replied the major,
who was not willing readily to give in; even that is
an enormous price."
"Undoubtedly, my dear major; but not beyond our
What will- the projectile weigh then ?" asked Mor-
Here is the result of my calculations," replied
Barbicane. "A shot of o18 inches in diameter, and 12
inches in thickness, would weigh, in cast-iron, 67,440
lbs.; cast in aluminium, its weight will be reduced to
"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 money will not be wanting for our enter-
prise, I will answer for it. Now what say you to alu-
minium, gentlemen ?"
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
"Adopted!" replied the three members of the Com-
So ended the first meeting. The question of the pro.
jectile was definitely settled.
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 20,000 lbs. being launched
into space; they asked what cannon could ever transmit
a sufficient velocity to such a mighty mass. The min-
utes of the second meeting were destined triumphantly to
answer such questions. The following even;n- the dis-
cussion 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 di-
mensions; but however great 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
communicate an initial force of 12,000 yards per second
to a shell of o08 inches in diameter, weighing 20,000 lbs.
Now when a projectile is launched into space, what hap-
pens 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 be regarded otherwise than as insignificant. Proceed-
HISTORY OF THE CANNC N.
ing, 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 over-
come progressively this action of gravitation. The mode
of accomplishing that is by the force of impulsion."
"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
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 advantage in passing certain
Quite so," said the major. What is the rule in such
"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, fol-
lowing this proportion for a projectile nine feet in diam-
eter, weighing 30,000 lbs., the gun would only have a
length of 225 feet, and a weight of 7,200,000 lbs."
Ridiculous !" rejoined Maston. As well take a pis-
"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;
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
nevertheless, the proposition, actively supported by the
secretary, was definitely adopted.
"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 pow-
der will be employed in the propulsion."
One simple question," said Elphinstone: is our gun
to be rifled ?"
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-
"True," rejoined the major.
The Committee here adjourned for a few minutes to
tea and sandwiches.
On the discussion being renewed, Gentlemen," said
Barbicane, "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, indis-
soluble,, 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."
Well, then," said Morgan, I propose the best alloy
hitherto known, which consists of Ioo parts of copper, 12
of tin, and 6 of brass."
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? "
THE QUESTION OF THE POWDERS.
"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 algebraical formulae 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 uneasy looks.
"Well, gentlemen," replied the president, "I repeat
what I- said yesterday. Make yourselves easy; the mil-
lions will not be wanting."
With this assurance of their president the Committee
separated, after having fixed their third meeting for the
THE QUESTION OF THE POWDERS.
THERE remained for consideration merely the question
ol 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 pow-
der necessary to produce impulsion?
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
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 sul-
phur 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
A litre of gunpowder weighs about 2 lbs.; during com-
bustion it produces 400 litres of gas. This gas, on being
liberated and acted upon by a temperature raised to 2400
degrees, occupies a space 4000 litres: consequently
the volume of powder is to the volume of gas produced
by its combustion as I to 4000. One may judge, there-
fore, of the tremendous pressure of this gas when com-
pressed 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 Elphin-
stone, who had been the director of the gunpowder fac-
tories during the war.
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 16 lbs. of powder."
You are certain of the amount ? broke in Barbicane.
Quite certain," replied the major. The Armstrong
cannon employs only 75 lbs. of powder for a projectile
of 8oo lbs.. and the Rodman Columbiad uses only 160
Ibs. 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 be-
fore 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 16 lbs. of powder;--n oth'- words, if in or9ip-
THE QUESTION OF THE POWDERS.
ary guns we employ a quantity of powder equal into two-
thirds of the weight of the projectile, this proportion is
not constant. Calculate, and you will see that in place
of 333 lbs. of powder, the quantity is reduced to no more
than 160 lbs."
"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 at all."
Our friend Maston is always at his jokes, even in se-
rious 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 saythat 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."
"Perfectly correct," said Morgan; "but before decid-
ing 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
"Granted; but that which is injurious to a gun des-
tined to perform long service is not so to our Columbiad.
We shall run no danger of an explosion; and it is nec-
essary 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 ren-
der the working of the piece more difficult. I return
then to my large-grained powder, which removes those
difficulties. In his Columbiad charges Rodman em-
ployed 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, con-
tained hydrogen and oxygen in large proportion, took
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
fire instantaneously, and, though very destructive, did not
sensibly injure the, mouth-piece."
Up to this point Barbicane had kept aloof from the dis-
cussion; he left the others to speak while he himself lis-
tened; he had evidently got an idea. He now simply
said, Well, my friends, what quantity of powder do you
propose ? "
The three members looked 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 prin-
ciple, that the resistance of a gun, constructed under the
given conditions, is unlimited. I shall surprise our friend
Maston, then, by stigmatizing his calculations as timid;
and I propose to double his 800,000 lbs. 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 I,6oo lbs. 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
"Nevertheless," said the president, "I hold to that
quantity of powder.' Now, I,6oo,ooo lbs. of powder will
create 6,o000,00,000 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 enor-
mous quantity of powder, while preserving to its mechan-
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 vege-
tables? This substance is found quite pure in many
THE QUESTION OF THE POWDERS.
ladies, especially in cotton, which is nothing more than
the down of the seeds of the cotton plant. Now cotton,
combined with cold nitric acid, becomes transformed
into a substance eminently insoluble, combustible, and
explosive. It was first discovered 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 pur-
poses. This powder, now called pyroxyle, or fulminating
cotton, is prepared with great facility by simply plunging
cotton for fifteen 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 val-
uable 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 combustion it 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 nitre of
potass, its expansive force is again considerably aug-
Will that be necessary ? asked the major.
I think not," replied Barbicane. So, then, in place
of I,0oo,ooo Ibs. of powder, we shall have but 400,000 lbs,
of fulminating cotton; and since we can, without danger,
compress 500 lbs. 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,oTo,ooo,ooo litres of gas before taking its
flight towards the moon."
At this junction J. T. Maston co Id not repress his
enzotion; he flung himself into the arms of his friend
wikh the violence of a projectile, and Barbicane would
hawe been stove in if he had not been bomb-proof
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
This incident terminated the third meeting of the Com-
Barbicane and his bold colleagues, to whom nothing
seemed impossible, had succeeded in solving the com-
plex problems of projectile, cannon, and powder. Their
plan was drawn up, and it only remained to put it in
"A mere matter of detail, a bagatelle," said J. T. Mas-
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 mechan-
ical difficulties to be resolved-in one word, the entire
plan of work-roused the popular excitement to the
The purely scientific attraction was suddenly intensi-
fied by the following incident:-
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 protested against the attempt of the
Gun Clubv He attacked it furiously on every opportu-
nity, 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 aisw.. standing, and in what
rivalry of self-love it had .s rise.
This persevering enemy of the president of the Gun
Club had never seen. Fortunate that it was so, for a meet-
ing between the two men would- certainly have been
ONE ENEMY V. TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS OF FRIENDS. 47
attended with serious consequences. 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.
M )t people are aware of the curious struggle which
arose during the Federal war between the guns and the
armor of iron-plated ships. The result was the entire
-econstruction of the navy of both the continents; as the
9ne.grew heavier, the other became thicker in proportion,
The Merrimac," the Monitor," the Tennessee," the
"Weehawken discharged enormous projectiles them-
selves, after having been armor-clad against the projec-
tiles of others. In fact they did to others that which
they would not they should do to them-that grand prin-
ciple of immorality upon which rests the whole art of
Now if Barbicane was a great founder of shot, Nicholl
was a great forger of plates; the one east night and day
at Baltimore,the other forged day and night at Philadel-
phia. 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 armor-plate would in the end have
to give way to the shot; nevertheless, there were compe-
tent 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 con-
tempt enough for his rival; but when the other after-
wards substituted for conical shot simple 6000 lb. shells,
at very moderate velocity, the captain was obliged to
give in. In fact. these projectiles knocked his best metal
plate to shivers.
Matters were at this stage. and victory seemed to re!
with the shot, when the war came to an end on the ver
day when Nicholl had completed a new armor-plate o
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
wrought steel. It was a masterpiece of its kind, and bid
defiance to all the projectiles in the world. Ths captain
had it conveyed to to the Polygon at Washington, chal-
lenging the President of the Gun Club to break it.
Barbicane, peace having been declared, declined to try
Nicholl, now furious, offered to expose his plate to the
shock of any shot, solid, hollow, round, or conical. Re-
fused by the president who did not choose to compro-
mise 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 !
At fifty then !" roared the captain through the news-
?apers. 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 substitu-
ting mathematical formulae for individual courage.
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 armor-plate could ever
resist a projectile of 30,000 Ibs. weight? Overwhelmed
at first under this violent shock, he by and by recovered
himself, and resolved to crush the proposal by the weight
of his arguments.
i, ,i4 n violently attacked the labors of the Gun Club,
published a number of letters in the newspapers, endeav-
ored to frove Barbicane ignorant of the first principles
of gunnery. He maintained that it was absolutely im-
possible to impress upon any body whatever a velocity
ONE ENEMY V. TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS OF FRIENDS. 49
of 12,000 yards per second; that even with such a veloc-
ity a projectile of such 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 developed by the ignition of r,6oo,ooo lbs. 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 spectators.
Barbicane continued his work without regarding these
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 neighborhood of this deplorable cannon.
He also observed that if the projectile did not succeed in
reaching its designation (a result absolutely impossible),
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 one indi-
Spite of all his arguments, however, Captain Nicholl
remain 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 published, therefore, in the Richmond
Inquirer a series of wagers, conceived in these terms, and
on an increasing scale:-
No. I (iooo dols.).-That the necessary funds for the
experiment of the Gun Club will not be forth-
No. 2 (2000 dols.).-That the operation of casting a
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
cannon of 900 feet is impracticable, and cannot
No. 3 (3000 dols.).-That it is impossible to load the
Columbiad, and that the pyroxyle will take fire
spontaneously unki the pressure of the pro-
No. 4 (4ooo dols.).-Th.it 'he Columbiad will burst at
the first fire.
No. 5 (5000 dols.).-That the slotw-illot travel farther
than six miles, and thai- i wil1 fall back again
a few seconds after its discharge.
It was an important sum, therefore, whici: ti:e captain
risked in his invincible obstinacy. He hacd nc less than
15,000 dollars at stake.
Notwithstanding the importance of the challenge. ci
the 19th of May he received a sealed packet containing
the following superbly laconic reply:-
"BALTIMORE, Oct. 19.
FLORIDA AND TEXAS.
ONE question yet remained to be decided: it was neces-
sary to choose a favorable spot for the experiment. Ac-
cording 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 situ-.
ated between o 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 dis-
FLORDA AND TEXAS.
cussion, I presume that we are all agreed that this ex-
periment 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 lati-
tude. If you will cast your eye over this map, you will
see that we have at our disposal the whole of the south-
ern 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
re ;ult, however, of this decision was to create a rivaly
entirely without precedent between the different towns of
th 'se two states.
The 28th parallel, on reaching the American coast,
traverses the peninsula of Florida, dividing it into two
nearly equal portions. Then, plunging into the Gulf of
Mexico, it subtends the arc formed by the coast of Ala-
bama, 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
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 favor 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 impos-
ing 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 beseiged day and night by formidable claims. If
seven cities of Greece contended for the honor of having
siven birth to Homer, here were two entire states
FROM THE EARTH TO THE M~OON.
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 Barbicane averted the danger.
These personal demonstrations found a division in the
newspapers of the different states. The New York 1ecr-
ald and the Tribuie 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.
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 con-
ditions 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 com-
munications 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 con-
taining the navies of the entire world !"
A pretty notion truly," replied the papers in the inter-
est of Florida, "that of Galveston Bay, below the 29th
parallel! Haye we not got the bay of Espiritu Santo,
opening precisely upon the 28t/i degree, and by which
ships can reach Tampa Town by direct route ?"
"A fine bay! half choked with sand!" "Choked your-
selves 1" returned the oth-
RLORIDA AND TEXAS.
Thus the war went on for several days, when Florida
endeavored 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 American territory.
To these words Texas retorted, "American! are we
not as much so as you? Were not Texas and Florida
both incorporated into the Union in 1845 ?"
"Undoubtedly," replied the Tinies; "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 1"
"Well! and why need we blush for that? Was not
Louisiana bought from Napoleon in 1803 at the price of
sixteen million dollars ?"
"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 independence, 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
"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
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 com-
munication, the rapidity of transport, the claims of both-
states were evenly balanced. As for political preposses-
sions, they had nothing to do with the question.
This dead block had existed for some little time,
when Barbicane resolved to get rid of it at once. He
called a meeting of his colleagues, and laid befcq them
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
a proposition which, it will be seen, was profoundly
On carefully considering," he said, what is going on
now between Florida and Texas, it is clear that the same
difficulties will recur with all the towns of the favored
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 dis-
pute the honor and create us new enemies, while Florida
has only one. I go in, therefore, for Florida and Tampa
This decision, on being made known, utterly crushed
the Texian deputies. Seized with an indescribable fury,
they addressed threatening letters to the different mem-
bers of the Gun Club by name. The magistrates had
but one course to take, and they took it. They char-
tered 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 adver-
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 first shot.
"Very well, let it bust up!" replied the Floridans,
with a brevity worthy of the days of ancient Sparta.
URBI ET ORBI.
THE astronomical, mechanical, and topographical diffi-
culties resolved, 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
URBI ET ORBL
oeing a purely American affair, to render it one of uni-
versal 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 Baltimore extended
properly to the whole world-Urbietorbi.
This subscription was successful beyond all expecta-
tion; notwithstanding that it was a question not of lend-
ing but of giving the money. It was a purely disinter-
ested operation in the strictest sense of the term, and
offered not the slightest chance of profit.
The effect, however, of Barbicane's communication
was not confined to the frontiers of the United States;
it crossed the Atlantic and Pacific, invading simulta-
neously Asia and Europe, Africa and Oceanica. The ob-
servatories 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 of Great Britain,
it spoke plainly enough. It boldly denied the possibility
of success, and pronounced in favor of the theories of
Captain Nicholl. But this was nothing more than mere
On the 8th of October President Barbicane published
a manifesto full of enthusiasm, in which he made an
appeal to "all persons 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 Street.
In addition, subscriptions were received at the follow-
ing 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 Sc
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
Turin, Ardouin and Co.
Geneva, Lombard, Odier, and Co.
Constantinople, The Ottoman Bank.
Brussels, J. Lambert.
Madrid, Daniel Weisweller.
Amsterdam, Netherlands Credit Co.
Rome, Torlonia and Co.
Copenhagen, Private Bank.
Rio Janeiro, do.
Monte Video, do.
Valparaiso and Lima, Thomas la Chambre and Co.
Mexico, Martin Daran and Co.
Three days after the manifesto of President Barbicane
4,000,ooo of dollars were paid into the different towns of
the Union. With 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 distin-
guished 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 observatories.
France began by deriding the pretensions of the Amer-
icans. 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 them-
selves a little.
Austria showed herself generous in the midst of her
financial crisis. Her publications amounted to the sum
of 216.onn florins-a perfect godsend,
URBI- ET ORBI.
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 simulta-
neously with that at Stockholm. For some reason or
other the Norwegians do not like to send their money to
Prussia, by a remittance of 250,000 thalers, testified
her high approvalof 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 1,372,640 piastres; and she gave
them with an eagerness which, denoted, however, some
pressure on the part of the Government.
Belgium distinguished herself among the second-rate
states by a grant of 513,000 francs-about two centimes
per head of her population.
Holland and her colonies interested themselves to the
extent of IIo,ooo florins, only demanding an allowance
of five per cent. discount for paying ready money.
Denmark, a little contracted in territory, gave never-
theless 9000 ducats, proving her love for scientific ex-
The Germanic Confederation pledged itself to 34,285
florins. It was impossible to ask for more besides, they
would not have given it.
Though very much crippled, Italy found 200,000 lire
in the pockets of her people. If she had had Venetia
would have done better; but she had not.
The States of the Church thought that they could not
send less than 7040 Roman crowns; and Portugal
carried her devotion to science as far as 30,000 cru-
zados. It was the widow's mite-eighty-six piastres;
but self-constituted empires are always rather short of
257 francs, this was the modest contribution of Switzer-
land 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
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
capital in so hazardous an enterprise. After all, perhaps
she was right.
As to Spain, she could not scrape together more than
S0o reals. She gave as an excuse that she had her rail-
ways to finish. The truth is, that science is not favorably
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 of the
bulk of the projectile compared with that of the moon.
They feared that it would disturb the established order
of things. In 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 con-
temptuous 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-interven-
tion." 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 .4,000,0oo 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 construction of furnaces and workshops, the
plant, the powder, the projectile, and incidental expenses,
would, according to the estimates, absorb nearly the
whole. Certain cannon shots in the Federal war cost
ioo0 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 stipulated between the contract-
ing 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 Ioo dollars a day
to the moment when the moon should again present her-
self 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
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 manufac-
tory, of the other, who thus executed the deed on behalf
of their respective principals.
WHEN the decision was arrived at by the Gun Club, to
the disparagement 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, Wil-
liam'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.
Rarbicane had something better to do tbf to read.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
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 con-
struction 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 Cold-
On the following day, the four fellow-travellers arrived
at New Orleans. There they immediately embarked on
board the Tampico," a despatch-boat belonging to the
Federal navy, which the Government had placed at their
disposal; and, getting up steam, the banks of the Louis-
isiana speedily disappeared from sight.
The passage was not long. Two days after starting,
tlte Tampico," having made four hundred and eighty
miles, came in sight of the coast of Florida. On a nearer
approach Barbicane 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 harbor, formed by
the embouchure of the River Hillisborough, at seven p.
m., on.the 22nd October.
Our four passengers disembarked at once. Gentle-
men," said Barbicane, we have no time to lose; to-mor-
row we must obtain horses, and proceed to reconnoitre
Barbicane had scarcely set his foot on shore when
three thousand of the inhabitants of Tampa Town came
forth to meet him, an honor due to the president who
had signalized their country by his choice.
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 vigor 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
"Sir, there are Seminoles there."
"What do you mean by Seminoles ?"
"Savages who scour the prairies. We thought it best,
therefore, to escort you on your road."
"Pooh !" cried J. T. Maston, mounting his steed.
"All right," said the Floridan; "but it is true enough,
"Gentlemen," answered Barbicane, "I thank you for
your kind attention; but it is time to be off."
It -was five a. m. when Barbicane and his party, quit-
ting Tampa Town, made their way along the coast in the
direction of Alifia Creek. This little river falls into Hil-
lisborough Bay twr3ve miles above Tampa Town. Barbi-
cane and his escort coasted along its right bank to the east-
ward. Soon the waves of the bay disappeared behind a
bend of 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, fling-
ing their riches broadcast 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, replied,-
"My worthy friend, we cannot do better than sink our
Columbiad in these high grounds."
To get nearer to the moon, perhaps ? said the secre-
tary of the Gun Club.
"Not exactly"' replied Barbicane, smiling; "do you
FROMI THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
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," stuck in Murchinson, the engin-
eer; "and, if I mistake not, we shall ere long find a
suitable spot for our purpose."
I wish we were at the first stroke of the pickaxe,"
said the president.
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 impenetra-
ble forests were composed of pomegranates, orange-trees,
citrons, figs, olives, apricots, bananas, huge vines, whose
blossoms and fruits rivalled each other in color and per-
fume. Beneath the odorous shade of these magnificent
trees fluttered and warbled a little world of brilliantly
J. T. Maston and 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 alliga-
tors from fifteen to eighteen feet long Maston coura-
geously menaced them with his steel hook, but he only
succeeded in frightening some pelicans and teal, while
tall flamingos stared stupidly at the party.
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 in
the 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 dis-
charging their guns with a dull report. These hostile
demonstrations, however, had no effect upon Barbicane
and his companions.
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 Colum-
"Halt! said Barbicane, reining up. Has this place
any local appellation ?"
"It is called Stones Hill," replied one of the Flori-
-Barbicane, without saying a word, dismounted, seized
his instruments, and began to note his position with ex-
treme exactness. The little band, drawn up in rear,
watched his proceedings in profound silence.
At this moment the sun passed the meridian. Barbi-
cane, after a few moments, rapidly wrote down the result
of his observations, and said,-
"This spot is situated 18oo 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 bar-
ren 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 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."
PICKAXE AND TROWEL.
THE same evening Barbicane and his companions
returned to Tampa Town; and Murchinson, the engineer,
re-embarked on board the Tampico" for New Orleans.
His object was to enlist an army of workmen, and to
collect together the greater part of the materials. The
members of the Gun Club remained .at Tampa Town,
for the purpose of setting on foot the preliminary
works by the aid of the people of the country.
Eight days after its departure, the Tampico," returned
into the bay of Espiritu Santo, with a whole flotilla of
steamboats. Murchinson had succeed in assembling
together fifteen hundred artisans. Attracted by the high
pay and considerable bounties offered by the Gun Club,
he had enlisted a choice legion of stokers, iron-found-
ers, lime-burners, miners, brickmakers, and artisans of
every trade, without distinction of color. As many of
these people brought their families with them, their
departure resembled a perfect emigration.
On the 31st October, at ten o'clock in the morning,
the troop disembarked on the quays of Tampa Town;
and one may imagine the activity which prevaded that
little town, whose population was thus doubled in a sin-
During the first few days they were busy discharging
the cargo brought by the flotilla, the machines, and the
rations, as well as a large number of huts constructed of
iron plates, separately pieced and numbered. At the
same period Barbicane laid the first sleepers of a railway
fifteen miles in length, intended to unite Stones Hill with
Tampa Town. On the first of November Barbicane
quitted Tampa Town with a detachment of workmen;
and on the following day the whole town of huts was
erected round Stones Hill. This they enclosed with
palisades; and in respect of energy and activity, it might
have shortly been mistaken for one of the great cities of
PICKAXE AND TROWEL.
the Union. Everything was placed under a complete
system of discipline, and the works were commenced in
most perfect order.
The nature of the soil having been carefully examined,
by means of repeated borings, the work of excavation
was fixed for the 4th of November.
On that day Barbicane called together his foremen and
addressed them as follows :-" You are well aware, my
friends, of the object with which I have assembled you
together in this wild part of Florida. Our business is to
construct a cannon measuring nine feet in its interior
diameter, six feet thick, and with a stone revetment of
nineteen and a half feet in thickness. We have, there-
fore; a well of sixty feet in diameter to dig down to a
depth of nine hundred feet. This great work must be
completed within eight months, so that you have 2,543,400
cubic feet of earth to excavate in 255 days; that is to
say, in round numbers, 2000 cubic feet per day. That
which would present no difficulty to a thousand navies
working in open country will be of course more trouble-
some in a comparatively confined space. However, the
thing must be done, and I reckon for its accomplishment
upon your courage as much as upon your skill..
At eight o'clock in the morning the first stroke of the
pickaxe was struck upon the soil of Florida; and from
that moment that prince of tools was never inactive for
one moment in the hands of the excavators. The gangs
relieved each other every three hours.
On the 4th of November fifty workmen commenced
digging, in the very centre of the enclosed space on the
summit of Stones Hill, a circular hole sixty feet in diam-
eter. The pickaxe first struck upon a kind of black
earth, six inches in thickness, which was speedily disposed
of. To this earth succeeded two feet of fine sand, which
was carefully laid aside as being valuable for serving for
the casting of the inner mould. After the sand appeared
some compact white clay, resembling the chalk .of Great
Britain, which extended down to a depth of four feet.
Then the iron of the picks struck upon the hard bed of
the soil; a kind of rock formed of petrified shells, very
dry, very solid, and which the picks could with difficulty
penetrate. At this point the excavation exhibited a
M. THE EARTH TO THE MOON,
depth of six feet and a half, and the work of the masonry
At the bottom of this excavation they constructed a
wheel of oak, a kind of circle strongly bolted together,
and of immense strength. The centre of this wooden
disc was hollowed out to a diameter equal to the exterior
diameter of the Columbiad. Upon this wheel rested the
first layers of the masonry, the stones of which were
bound together by hydraulic cement, with irresistible
tenacity. The workmen, after laying the stones from the
circumference to the centre, were thus enclosed within a
kind of well twenty-one feet in diameter. When this
work was accomplished, the miners resumed their picks
and cut away the rock from underneath the wheel itself,
taking care to support it as they advanced upon blocks
of great thickness. At every two feet which the hole
gained in depth they successively withdrew the blocks.
The wheel then sank little by little, and with it the mas,
sive ring of masonry, on the upper bed of which the
masons labored incessantly, always reserving some vent
holes to permit the escape of gas during the operation of
This kind of work required on the part of the work-
men extreme nicety and minute attention. Mor6 than
one, in digging underneath the wheel, was dangerously
injured by the splinters of stone. But their ardor never
relaxed, night or day. By day they worked under'the
rays of the scorching sun; by, night, under the gleam of
the electric light. The sounds of the picks against the
rock, the bursting of mines, the grinding of the machines,
the wreaths of smoke scattered through the air, traced
around Stones Hill a circle of terror which the herds of
buffalos and the war parties of the Seminoles never ven-
tured to pass. Nevertheless, the works advanced regu-
larly, as the steam-cranes actively removed the rubbish.
Of unexpected obstacles there was little account; and
with regard to foreseen difficulties, they were speedily
At the expiration of the first month the well had
attained the depth assigned for that lapse of time, viz.
II2 feet. This depth was doubled in December, and
trebled in January.
PICKAXE AND TROWEL.
During the month of February the workmen had to
contend with a sheet of water which made its way right
across the outer soil. It became necessary to employ
very powerful pumps and compressed air-engines to
drain it off, so as to close up the orifice from whence it
issued; just as one stops a leak on board ship. They at
last succeeded in getting the upper hand of these
untoward streams; only, in consequence of the loosen-
ing of the soil, the wheel partly gave way, and a slight
partial settlement ensued. This accident cost the life of
No fresh occurrence thenceforward arrested the prog-
ress of the operation; and on the Ioth of June, twenty
days before the expiration of the period fixed by Barbi-
cane, the well, lined throughout with its facing of stone,
had attained the depth of 900 feet. At the bottom the
masonry rested upon a massive block measuring thirty
feet in thickness, whilst on the upper portion it was level
with the surrounding soil.
President Barbicane and the members of the Gun Club
warmly congratulated their engineer Murchison: the
cyclopean work had been accomplished with extraordin-
During these eight months B'arbicane never quitted
Stones Hill for a single instant. Keeping ever close by
the work of excavation, he busied himself incessantly
with the welfare and health of his workpeople, and was
singularly fortunate in warding off the epidemics common
to large communities of men, and so disastrous in those
regions of the globe which are exposed to the influences
of tropical climates.
Many workmen, it is true, paid with their lives for the
rashness inherent in these dangerous labors; but these
mishaps are impossible to be avoided, and they are
classed amongst details with which the Americans trouble
themselves but little. They have in fact more regard
for human nature in general than for the individual in
Nevertheless, Barbicane professed opposite principles
to these, and put them in force at every opportunity.
So, thanks to his care, his intelligence, his useful inter-
vention in all difficulties, his prodigious and humane
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
sagacity, the average of accidents did not exceed that of
transatlantic countries, noted for their excessive precau-
tions, France, for instance, among others, where they
reckon about one accident for every two hundred thous-
and francs of work.
THE FETE OF THE CASTING.
DURING the eight months which were employed in the
work of excavation the preparatory works of the cast-
ing had been carried on simultaneously with extreme
rapidity. A stranger arriving at Stones Hill would have
been surprised at the spectacle offered to his view:
At 600 yards from the well, and circularly arranged
around it as a central point, rose 1200 reverberating
ovens, each six feet in diameter, and separated from each
other by an interval of three feet. The circumference
occupied by these 1200 ovens presented a length of two
miles. Being all constructed on the same plan, each
with its high quadrangular chimney, they produced a
most singular effect.
It will be remembered that on their third meeting the
Committee had decided to use cast-iron for the Colum-
biad, and in particular the white description. This metal
in fact is the most tenacious, the most ductile, and the
most malleable, and consequently suitable for all mould-
ing operations; and when smelted with pit coal, is of
superior quality for all engineering works requiring great
resisting power, such as cannon, steam boilers, hydraulic
presses, and the like.
Cast-iron, however, if subjected to only one single
fusion, is rarely sufficiently homogeneous; and it requires
a second fusion completely to refine it by dispossessing it
of its last earthly deposits. So before being forwarded to
Tampa Town, the iron ore, molten in the great furnaces
of Coldspring, and brought into contact with coal and
THE FATE OF THE CASTINGS.
silicium heated to a high temperature, was carburized
and transformed into cast-iron. After this first operation,
the metal was sent on to Stones Hill. They had, how-
ever, to deal with 136,o000,0o lbs. of iron, a quantity far
too costly to send by railway. The cost of transport
would have been double that of material. It appeared
preferable to freight vessels at New York, and to load
them with the iron in bars. This, however, required not
less than sixty-eight vessels of Iooo tons, a veritable fleet,
which, quitting New York on the 3rd of May, on the
Ioth of the same month ascended the Bay of Espiritu
Santo, and discharged their cargoes, without dues, in the
port at Tampa Town. Thence the iron was transported
by rail to Stones Hill, and about the middle of January
this enormous mass of metal was delivered at its destina-
It will be easily understood that 1200oo furnaces were
not too many to melt simultaneously these 60,000 tons
of iron. Each of these furnaces contained nearly 140,-
ooo lbs. weight of metal. They were all built afterthe
model of those which served for the casting of the Rod-
man gun, they were trapezoidal in shape, with a high
elliptical arch. These furnaces, constructed of fireproof
brick, were especially adapted for burning pit coal, with
a flat bottom upon which the iron bars were laid. This
bottom, inclined at an angle of 250, allowed the metal to
flow into the receiving troughs; and the 1200oo converg-
ing trenches carried the molten metal down to the cen-
The day following that on which the works of the
masonry and boring had been completed, Barbicane set
to work upon the central mould. His object now was
to raise within the centre of the well, and with a coinci-
dent axis, a cylinder 900 feet high, and 9 feet in diameter,
which should exactly fill up the space reserved for the
bore of the Columbiad. This cylinder was composed of
a mixture of clay and sand, with the addition of a little
hay and straw. The space left between the mould and
the masonry was intended to be filled up by the molten
metal, which would thus form the walls six feet in thick-
ness. This cylinder, in order to maintain its equilibrium,
had to be bound by iron bands, and firmly fixed at cer-
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
tain intervals by cross-clamps fastened into the stone
lining; after the castings these would be buried in the
block of metal, leaving no external projection.
This operation was completed on the 8th of July, and
the run of the metal was fixed for the following day.
"This fete of the casting will be a grand ceremony,"
said J. T. Maston to his, friend Barbicane.
"Undoubtedly," said Barbicane; "but it will not be a
"What! will you not open the gates of the enclosure
to all comers?"
I must be very careful, Maston. The casting of the
Columbiad is an extremely delicate, not to say a danger-
ous, operation, and I should prefer its being done
privately. At the discharge of the projectile, a fete if you
like-till then, no! "
The president was right. The operation involved
unforeseen dangers, which a great influx of spectators
would have hindered him from averting. It was neces-
sary to preserve complete freedom of movement. No
one was admitted within the enclosure except a delega-
tion of members of the Gun Club, who had made the
voyage to Tampa Town. Among these was the brisk
Bilsby, Tom Hunter, Colonel Blomsberry, Major Elphin-
stone, General Morgan, and the rest of the lot to whom
the casting of the Columbiad was a matter of personal
interest. J. T. Maston became their cicerone. He
omitted no point of detail; he conducted them through-
out the magazines, workshops, through the midst of the
engines, and compelled them to visit the whole 1200
furnaces one after the other. At the end of the twelve-
hundredth visit they were pretty well knocked up.
The casting was to take place at L2 o'clock precisely.
The previous evening each furnace had been charged
with 14,000 lbs weight of metal in bars disposed cross-
ways to each other, so as to allow the hot air to circulate
freely between them. At daybreak the 1200 chimneys
vomited their torrents of flame into the air, and the
ground was agitated with dull tremblings. As many
pounds of metal as there were to cast, so many pounds
of coal were there to burn. Thus there were 68,000 tons
of coal which .projected in- the face of the sun a thick
THE FfTE OF THE CASTINGS.
curtain of smoke. The heat soon became insupportable
within the circle of furnaces, the rumbling of which
resembled the rolling of thunder. The powerful ventila-
tors added their continuous blasts and saturated with
oxygen the glowing plates. The operation, to be suc-
cessful, required to be conducted with great rapidity.
On a signal given by a cannon-shot each furnace was to
give vent to the molten iron and completely to empty
itself. These arrangements made, foremen and workmen
waited the preconcerted moment with an impatience
mingled with a certain'amount of emotion. Not a soul
remained within the enclosure. Each superintendent
took his post by the aperture of the run.
Barbicane and his colleagues, perched on a neighbor-
ing eminence, assisted at the operation. In front of them
was a piece of artillery ready to give fire on the signal
from the engineer. Some minutes before midday the
first driblets of metal began to flow; the reservoirs filled
little by little; and, by the time that the whole melting
was completely accomplished, it was kept in abeyance
for a few minutes in order to facilitate the separation of
Twelve o'clock struck! A gun-shot suddenly pealed
forth and shot its flame into the air. Twelve hundred
melting-troughs were simultaneously opened and twelve
hundred fiery serpents crept towards the central well,
unrolling their incandescent curves. There, down they
plunged with a terrific noise into a depth of 900 feet. It
was an exciting and a magnificent spectacle. The
ground trembled, while these molten waves, launching
into the sky their wreaths of smoke, evaporated the
moisture of the mould and hurled it upwards through
the vent-holes of the stone lining in the form of dense
vapor-clouds. These artificial clouds unrolled their
thick spirals to a height of Iooo yards into the air. A
savage, wandering somewhere beyond the limits of the
horizon, might have believed that some new crater was
forming in the bosom of Florida, although there was
neither any eruption, nor typhoon, nor storm, nor strug-
gle of the elements, nor any of those terrible phenomena
which nature is capable of producing. No, it was man
alone who had produced these reddish vapors, these
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
gigantic flames worthy of a volcano itself, these tremen-
dous vibrations resembling the shock of an earthquake,
these reverberations rivalling those of hurricanes and
storms; and it was his hand which precipitated into an
abyss, dug by himself, a whole Niagara of molten metal I
HAD the casting succeeded ? They were reduced to
mere conjecture. There was indeed every reason to
expect success, since the mould had absorbed the entire
mass of the molten metal; still some considerable time
must elapse before they could arrive at any certainty upon
The patience of the members of the Gun Club was
sorely tried during this period of time. But they could
do nothing, J. T. Maston escaped roasting by a miracle.
Fifteen days after the casting an immense column of
smoke was still rising in the open sky, and the ground
burnt the soles of the feet within a radius of 200 feet
round the summit of Stones Hill. It was impossible to
approach nearer. All they could do was to wait with
what patience they might.
Here we are at the Ioth August," exclaimed J. T.
Maston one morning, only four months to the Ist of
December! We shall never be ready in time!" Barbi-
cane said nothing, but his silence covered serious irrita-
However, daily observations revealed a certain change
going on in the state of the ground. About the I5th
August the vapors ejected had sensibly diminished in
intensity and thickness. Some days afterwards the earth
exhaled only a slight puff of smoke, the last breath of
the monster enclosed within its circle of stone. Little by
little the belt of heat contracted, until on the 22td
August Barbicane, his colleagues, and the engineer were
enabled to set foot on the iron sheet which lay level upon
the summit of Stones Hill.
"At last! exclaimed the President of the Gun Club,
with an immense sigh of relief.
The work was resumed the same day. They proceeded
at once to extract the interior mould, for the purpose of
clearing out the boring of the piece. Pickaxes and bor-
ing irons were set to work without intermission. The
clayey and sandy soils had acquired extreme hardness
under the action of the heat; but by the aid of the
machines, the rubbish on being dug out was rapidly carted
away on railway wagons; and such was the ardor of
the work, sc persuasive the arguments of Barbicane's
dollars, that by the 3rd of September all traces of the
mould had entirely disappeared.
Immediately the operation of boring was commenced;
and by the aid of powerful machines, a few weeks later,
the inner surface of the immense tube had been rendered
perfectly cylindrical, and the bore of the piece had
acquired a thorough polish.
At length, on the 22nd of September, less than a
twelvemonth after Barbicane's original proposition, the
enormous weapon, accurately bored, and exactly verti-
cally pointed, was ready for work. There was only the
moon now to wait for; and they were pretty sure that
she would not fail in the rendezvous.
The ecstacy of J. T. Maston knew no bounds, and he
narrowly escaped a frightful fall while staring down the
tube. But for the strong hand of Colonel Blomsberry,
the worthy secretary, like a modern Erostratus, would
have found his death in the depths of the Columbiad.
The cannon was then finished; there was no possible
doubt as to its perfect completion. So, on the 6th of
October, Captain Nicholl opened an account between
himself and President Barbicane, in which he debited
himself to the latter in the sum of 2000 dollars. One
may believe that the Captain's wrath was increased to its
highest point, and must have made him seriously ill.
However, he had still three bets of three, four, and five
thousand dollars, respectively; and if he gained two out
FROM THE EaRTH TO THE MOON.
of these, his position would aot be very bad. But the
money question did not enter into his calculations; it
was the success of his rival in casting a cannon against
which iron plates sixty feet thick would have been
ineffectual, that dealt him a terrible blow.
After the 23rd of September the enclosure of Stones
Hill was thrown open to the public; and it will be easily
imagined what was the concourse of visitors to this spot i
There was an incessant flow of people to and from Tampa
Town and the place, which resembled a procession, or
rather, in fact, a pilgrimage.
It was already clear to be seen that, on the day of the
experiment itself, the aggregate of spectators would be
counted by millions; for they were already arriving from
all parts of the earth upon this narrow strip of promon-
tory. Europe was emigrating to America.
Up to that time, however, it must be confessed, the
curiosity of the numerous comers was but scantily grati-
fied. Most had counted upon witnessing the spectacle
of the casting, and they were treated to nothing but
smoke. This was sorry food for hungry eyes; but
Barbicane would admit no one to that operation. Then
ensued grumbling, discontent, murmurs; they blamed
the President, taxed him with dictatorial conduct. His
proceedings were declared un-American." There was
very nearly a riot round Stones Hill; but Barbicane
remained inflexible. When, howe- er, the Columbiad was
entirely finished, this state of closed doors could no longer
be maintained; besides it would have been bad taste, and
even imprudence, to affront the public feeling. Barbi-
cane, therefore, opened the enclosure to all comers; but,
true to his practical disposition, he determined to coin
money out of the public curiosity.
It was something, indeed, to be enabled to contemplate
this immense Columbiad; but to descend into its depths,
this seemed to the Americans the ne plus ultra of earthly
felicity. Consequently, there was not one curious specta-
tor who was not willing to give himself the treat of visit-
ing the interior of this metallic abyss. Baskets suspended
from steam-cranes permitted them to satisfy their curios-
ity. There was a perfect mania. Woman, children, old
mea, all made ft a point of duty to penetrate the mys-
teries of the colossal gun. The fare for the descent was
fixed at five dollars per head; and, despite this high
charge, during the two months which preceded the
experiment, the influx of visitors enabled the Gun Club
to pocket nearly 500,000 dollars!
It is needless to say that the first visitors of the
Columbiad were the members of the Gun Club. This
privilege was justly reserved for that illustrious body.
The ceremony took place on the 25th September. A
basket of honor took down the President, J. T. Maston,
Major Elphinstone, General Morgan, Colonel Bloms-
berry, and other members of the club, to the number of
ten in all. How hot it was at the bottom of that long
tube of metal! They were half suffocated. But what
delight! What ecstacy! A table had been laid with six
covers on the massive stone which formed the bottom of
the Columbiad, and lighted by a jet of electric light
resembling that of day itself. Numerous exquisite
dishes, which seemed to descend from heaven, were
placed successively before the guests, and the richest
wines of France flowed in profusion during this splendid
repast, served nine hundred feet beneath the surface of
The festival was animated, not to say somewhat noisy.
Toasts flew backward and forwards. They drank to the
earth and to her satellite, to the Gun Club, the Union, the
moon, Diana, Phcebe; Selene, the peaceful courier of the
night"! All the hurrahs, carried upwards upon the so-
norous waves of the immense acoustic tube, arrived with
the sound of thunder at its mouth; and the multitude
ranged round Stones Hill heartily united their shouts
with those of the ten revellers hidden from view at the
bottom of the gigantic Columbiad.
J. T. Maston was no longer master of himself. Whether
he shouted or gesticulated, ate or drank most, would be
a difficult matter to determine. At all events, he would
not have given his place up for an empire, "not even if
the cannon-loaded, primed, and fired at that very
moment-were to blow him in pieces into the planetary
A TELEGRAPHIC DESPATCH.
THE great works undertaken by the Gun Club had now
virtually come to an end; and two months still remained
before the day for the discharge of the shot to the moon.
To the general impatience these two months appeared as
long as years! Hitherto the smallest details of the
operation had been daily chronicled by the journals,
which the public devoured with eager eyes.
Just at this moment a circumstance, the most unex-
pected, the most extraordinary and incredible, occurred
to rouse afresh their panting spirits, and to throw every
mind into a state 5f the most violent excitement.
One day, the 3oth September, at 3.47 p. m., a telegram,
transmitted by cable from Valentia (Ireland) to New-
foundland and the American mainland, arrived at the
address of President Barbicane.
The President tore open the envelope, read the des-
patch, and, despite his remarkable powers of self-control,
his lips turned pale and his eyes grew dim, on reading
the twenty words of this telegram.
Here is the text of the despatch, which figures now in
the archives of the Gun Club:-
"30 September, 4 a. m.
"Barbicane, Tampa Town, Flordia, United States.
"Substitute for your spherical shell a cylindro-conical
projectile. I shall go inside. Shall arrive by steamer
i fE PASSENGER OF THE "ATLANTA."
IF his astounding news, instead of flying through the
electric wires, had simply arrived by posts in the ordinary
sealed envelope, Barbicane would not have hesitated a
moment. He would have held his tongue about it, both
as a measure of prudence, and in order not to have to
reconsider his plans. This telegram might be a cover
for some jest, especially as it came from a Frenchman.
What human being would ever have conceived the idea
of such a journey ? and, if sucn a person really existed,
he must be an idiot, whom one would shut up in a luna-
tic ward, rather than within the walls of the projectile.
The contents of the despatch, however, speedily became
known; for the telegraphic officials possessed but little
discretion, and Michel Ardan's proposition ran at once
throughout the several States of the Union. Barbicane
had, therefore, no further motive for keeping silence.
Consequently, he called together such of his colleagues
as were at the moment in Tampa Town, and without any
expression of his own opinions simply read to them the
laconic text itself. It was received with every possible
variety of expressions of doubt, incredulity, and derision
from every one, with the exception of J. T. Maston, who
exclaimed, It is a grand idea, however !"
When Barbicane originally proposed to send a shot to
the moon every one looked upon the enterprise as simple
and practicable enough-a mere question of gunnery;
but when a person, professing to be a reasonable being,
offered to take passage within the projectile, the whole
thing became a farce, or, in plainer language, a humbug.
One question, however, remained. Did such a being
exist? This telegram flashed across the depths of the
Atlantic, the designation of the vessel on board which he
was to take his passage, the date assigned for his speedy
arrival, all combined to impart a certain character of
reality to the proposal. They must get some clearer
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
notion of the matter. Scattered groups of inquirers at
length condensed themselves into a compact crowd,
which made straight for. the residence of President Bar-
bicane. That worthy individual was keeping quiet with
the intention of watching events as they arose. But he
had forgotten to take into account the public impatience;
and it was with no pleasant countenance that he watched
the population of Tampa Town gathering under his
windows. The murmurs and vociferations below presently
obliged him to appear. He came forward, therefore, and
on silence being procured, a citizen put point blank to
him the following questions:--'Is the person mentioned
in the telegram, under the name of Michael Ardan, on
his way here? Yes or no."
"Gentlemen," replied Barbicane, "I know no more
than you do."
"We must know," roared the impatient voices.
"Time will show," calmly replied the President.
"Time has no business to keep a whole country in
suspense," replied the orator. Have you altered the
plans of the projectile according to the request of the
Not yet, gentlemen; but you are right! we must have
better information to go by. The telegraph must com-
plete its information."
"To the telegraph !" roared the crowd.
Barbicane descended; and heading the immense
assemblage, led the way to the telegraph office. A few
minutes later a telegram was despatched to the secretary
of the underwriters at Liverpool, requesting answers to
the following queries:-
"About the ship 'Altanta'-when did she leave
Europe ? Had she on board a Frenchman named Michae.
Two hours afterwards Barbicane received information
too exact to leave room for the smallest remaining
"The steamer 'Atlanta' from Liverpool put to sea on
the 2nd October, bound for Tampa Town, having on
board a Frenchman borne on the list of passengers by
ihe name of Michael Ardan."
That very evening he wrote to the house of Breadwill
THE PASSENGER OF THE ATLANTA."
and Co., requesting them to suspend the casting of the
projectile until the receipt of further orders. On the 2oth
October, at 9 a. m., the semaphores of the Bahama Canal
signalled a thick smoke on the horizon. Two hours later
a large steamer exchanged signals with them. The name
of the "Atlanta flew at once over Tampa Town. At
four o'clock the English vessel entered the Bay of
Espiritu Santo. At five it crossed the passage of Hillis-
borough Bay at fill steam. At six she cast anchor at
Port Tampa. The anchor had scarcely caught the sandy
bottom when 500 boats surrounded the "Atlanta," and
the steamer was taken by assault. Barbicane was the
first to set foot on deck, and in a voice of which he vainly
tried to conceal the emotion, called Michael Ardan."
Here!" replied an individual perched on the poop.
Barbicane, with arms crossed, looked fixedly at the
passenger of the '' Atlanta."
He was a man of about 42 years of age, of large build,
but slightly round-shouldered. His massive head
momentarily shook a shock of reddish hair, which resem-
bled a lion's mane. 'His fade was short with a broad
forehead, and furnished with a moustache as bristly as a
cat's and little patches of yellowish whisker upon full
cheeks. Round, wildish eyes, slightly nearsighted, com-
pleted a physiognomy essentially feline. His nose was
firmly shaped, his mouth particularly sweet in expres-
sion, high forehead, intelligent and furrowed with wrinkles
like a newly-ploughed field. The body was powerfully
developed and firmly fixed upon long legs. Muscular
arms, and a general air of decision gave him the appear-
ance of a hardy, jolly companion. He was dressed in a
suit of ample dimensions, loose neckerchief, open shirt-
collar, disclosing a robust neck ; his cuffs were invariably
unbuttoned, through which appeared a pair of red hands.
On the bridge of the steamer, in the midst of the
crowd, he bustled to and fro, never still for a moment,
" dragging his anchors," as the sailors say, gesticulating,
making free with everybody, biting his nails with nervous
avidity. He was one of those originals which nature
sometimes invents in the freak of a moment, and of which
she then breaks the mould.
Amongst other peculiarities; this curiosity gave him-
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. -
self out for a sublime ignoramus, "like Shakespeare,"
and professed supreme contempt for all scientific men.
Those fellows," as he called them, are only fit to mark
the points, while we play the game." He was, in fact, a
thorough Bohemian, adventurous, but not an adventurer;
a hair-brained fellow, a kind of Icarus, only possessing
relays of wings. For the rest, he was ever in scrapes,
ending invariably by falling on his feet, like those little
pith figures which they sell for children's toys. In two
words, his motto was I have my opinions," and the love
of the impossible constituted his ruling passion.
Such was the passenger of the "Atlanta," always
excitable, as if boiling under the action of some internal
fire by the character of his physical organization. If
ever two individuals -offered a striking contrast to each
other, these were certainly Michel Ardan and the Yankee
Barbicane; both, moreover, being equally enterprising
and daring, each in his own way.
The scrutiny which the President of the Gun Club
had instituted regarding this new rival was quickly inter-
rupted by the shouts and hurrahs of the crowd. The
cries became at last so uproarious, and the popular
enthusiasm assumed so -personal a form, that Michel
Ardan, after having shaken hands some thousands of
times, at the imminent risk of leaving his fingers behind
him, was fain at last to make a bolt for his cabin.
Barbicane followed him without uttering a word.
You are Barbicane, I suppose !" said Michel Ardan
in a tone of voice in which he would have addressed a
friend of twenty years' standing.
"Yes," replied the President of the G. C.
"All right! how d'ye do, Barbicane? how are you
getting on-pretty well ? that's right."
So," said Barbicane, without further preliminary,
" you are quite determined to go."
Nothing will stop you ? "
Nothing. Have you modified your projectile accord-
ing to my telegram."
"I waited for your arrival. But," asked Barbicane
aWain, "have you carefully reflected ? "
"Reflected? have I any time to spare? I find an
THE PASSENGER OF THE "ATLANTA."
opportunity of making a tour in the moon, and I mean
to profit by it. There is the whole gist of the matter."
Barbicane looked hard at this man who spoke so
lightly of his project with such complete absence of
anxiety. But, at least," said he, "you have some plans,
some means of carrying your project into execution?"
Excellent, my dear Barbicane; only permit me to
offer one remark :-My wish is to tell my story once for
all, to everybody, and then to have done with it; then
there will be no need for recapitulation. So, if you have
no objection, assemble your friends, colleagues, the whole
town, all Florida, all America if you like, and to-morrow
I shall be ready to explain my plans and answer any
objections whatever that may be advanced. You may
rest assured I shall wait without stirring. Will that suit
"All right," replied Barbicane.
So saying, the President left the cabin and informed
the crowd of the proposal of- Michel Ardan. His words
were received with clappings of hands and shouts of joy.
They had removed all difficulties. To-morrow every one
would contemplate at his ease this European hero. How-
ever, some of the spectators, more infatuated than the
rest, would not leave the deck of the "Atlanta." They
passed the night on board. Amongst others, J. T. Mas-
ton got his hook fixed in the combing of the poop, and
it pretty nearly required the capstan to get it out again.
He is a hero! a hero! he cried, a theme of which
he was never tired of ringing the changes; "and we are
only like weak, silly women, compared with this Euro-
As to the president, after having suggested to the visi-
tors it was time to retire, he re-entered the passenger's
cabin, and remained there till the bell of the steamer
made it midnight.
But then the two rivals in popularity shook hands
heartily and parted on terms of intimate friendship. -
A MONSTER MEETING.
ON the following day Barbicane, fearing that indiscreet
questions might be put to Michel Arden, was desirous
of reducing the number of the audience to a few of the
initiated, his own colleagues for instance. He might as
well have tried 'o check the Falls of Niagara! He was
compelled, therefore, to give up the idea, and to let his
new friend run the chances of a public conference. The
place chosen for this monster meeting was a vast plain
situated in the rear of the town. In a few hours, thanks
to the help of the shipping in port, an immense roofing
of canvas was stretched over the parched prairie, and pro-
tected it from the burning rays of the sun. There 3o0,-
ooo people braved for many hours the stifling heat while
awaiting the arrival of the Frenchman. Of this crowd
of spectators a first set could both see and hear; a sec-
ond set saw badly and heard nothing at all; and as for
the third, it could neither see nor hear anything at all.
At three o'clock Michel Arden made his appearance,
accompanied by the principal members of the Gun Club.
He was supported on his right by President Barb.icane,
and on his left by J. T. Maston, more radiant than the
midday sun and nearly as ruddy. Ardan mounted a
platform, from the top of which his view extended over
a sea of black hats. He exhibited riot the slightest
embarrassment; he was just as gay, familiar, and pleas-
ant as if he were at home. To the hurrahs which
greeted him he replied by a graceful bow; then, waving
his hand to request silence, he spoke in perfectly correct
English as follows:-
4," Gentlemen, despite the very hot weather I request
your patience for a short time while I offer some expla-
nations regarding the projects which seem to have so
interested you. I am neither an orator nor a man of
science, and I had no idea of addressing you in public;
but my friend Barbicane has told me that you would like
A MONSTER MEETING.
to hear me, and I am quite at your service. Listen to
me, therefore, with your 6oo,ooo ears, and please to
excuse the faults of the speaker. Now pray do not
forget that you see before you a perfect ignoramus,
whose ignorance goes so far that he cannot even under-
stand the difficulties! It seemed to him that it was a
matter quite simple, natural, and easy to take one's place
in a projectile and start for the moon! That journey
must be undertaken sooner or latter; and, as for the
mode of locomotion adopted, it follows simply the law
of progress. Man began by walking on all-fours ; then,
one fine day, on two feet; then in a carriage; then in a
stage-coach; and lastly by railway. Well; the projectile
is the vehicle of the future, and the planets themselves
are nothing else! Now some of you, gentlemen, may
imagine that the velocity we propose to impart to it is
extravagant. It is nothing of the kind. All the stars
exceed it in rapidity, and the earth herself is at this
moment carrying us round the sun at three times as
rapid a rate, and yet she is a mere lounger on the way
compared with many others of the planets! And her
velocity is constantly decreasing. Is it not evident, then,
I ask you, that there will some day appear velocities far
greater than these, of which light or electricity will
probably be the mechanical agent?
Yes, gentlemen," continued the orator, "in spite of
the opinions of certain narrow-minded people, who would
shut up the human race upon this globe, as within some
magic circle which it must never outstep, we shall one
day travel to the moon, the planets, and the stars, with
the same facility, rapidity and certainty as we now make
the voyage from Liverpool to New York Distance is
but a relative expression, and must end by being reduced
The assembly, strongly predisposed as they were in
favor of the French hero, were slightly staggered at this
bold theory. Michel Arden perceived the fact.
"Gentlemen," he continued with a pleasant smile,
"you do not seem quite convinced. Very good! Let
us reason the matter out. Do you know how long it
would take an express train to reach the moon? Three
hundred days; no more 1 And what is that? The dig-
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
tance is no more than nine times the circumference of the
earth; and there are no sailors or travelers, of even mod-
erate activity, who have not made longer journeys than
that in their lifetime. And now consider that I shall be
only ninety-seven hours on my journey. Ah I see you
are reckoning that the moon is a long way off from the
earth, and that one must think twice before making the
experiment. What would you say, then, if we were
talking of going to Neptune, which revolves at a distance
of more than two thousand seven hundred and twenty
millions of miles from the sun! And yet what is that
compared with the distance of the fixed stars, some of
which, such as Arcturus, are at billions of miles distant
from us ? And then you talk of the distance which sep-
arates the planets from the sun! And there are people
who affirm that such a thing as distance exists. Absurd-
ity, folly, idiotic nonsense! Would you know what 1
think of our own solar universe? Shall I tell you my
theory? It is very simple! In my opinion the solar
system is a solid, homogeneous body; the planets which
compose it are in actual contact with each other; and
whatever space exists between them" is nothing more
than the space which separates the molecules of the
densest metal, such as silver, iron, or platinum! I have
the right, therefore, to affirm, and I repeat, with the con-
viction which must penetrate all your minds, 'Distance
is but an empty name: distance does not really exist! '"
Hurrah! cried one voice (need it be said it was that
of J. T. Maston ?). "Distance does not exist!" And
overcome by the energy of his movements, he nearly
fell from the platform to the ground. Hejust escaped a
severe fall, which would have proved to him that distance
was by no means an empty name.
Gentlemen," resumed the orator, I repeat that the
distance between the earth and her satellite is a mere
trifle, and undeserving of serious consideration. I am
convinced that before twenty years are over one half of
our earth will have paid a visit to the moon. Now, my
worthy friends, if you have any question to put to me,
you will I fear, sadly embarrass a poor man like myself;
still I will do my best to answer you."
Up to this point the President of the Gun Club had
A MONSTER MEETING. 85
been satisfied with the turn which the discussion had
assumed. It became now, however, desirable to divert
Ardan from questions of a practical nature, with which
he was doubtless far less conversant. Barbicane, there-
fore, hastened to get in a word, and began by asking his
new friend whether he thought that the moon and the
planets were inhabited.
"You put before me a great problem, my worthy
President," replied the orator, smiling. "Still, men of
great intelligence, such as Plutarch, Swedenborg, Bernar-
din de St. Pierre, and others have, if I mistake not,
pronounced in the affirmative. Looking at the question
from the natural philosopher's point of view, I should
say that nothing useless existed in the world; and, replying
to your question by another, I should venture to assert,
that if these worlds are habitable, they either are, have
been, or will be inhabited."
No one could answer more logically or fairly,"
replied the president. The question then reverts to this:
Are these worlds habitable? For my own part I believe
For myself, I feel certain of it," said Michel Ardan.
Nevertheless," retorted one of the audience, "there
are many arguments against the habitability of the
worlds. The conditions of life must evidently be greatly
modified upon the majority of them. To mention only
the planets, we should be either broiled alive in some, or
frozen to death in others, according as they are more or
less removed from the sun."
I regret," replied Michel Ardan, "that I have not the
honor of personally knowing my contradictor, for I'
would have attempted to answer him. His objection
has its merits, I admit; but I think we may successfully
combat it, as well as all others which affect the habita-
bility of the other worlds. If I were a natural philos-
opher, I would tell him that if less of caloric were set in
motion upon the planets which are nearest to the sun;
and more, on the contrary, upon those which are farthest
removed from it, this simple fact would alone suffice to
equalize the heat, and to render the temperature of those
worlds supportable by beings organized like ourselves.
If I were a naturalist, I would tell him that, according
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
to some illustrious men of science, nature has furnished
us with instances upon the earth of animals existing
under.very varying conditions of life; that fish respire
in a medium fatal to other animals; that amphibious
creatures possess a double existence very difficult of
explanation; that certain denizens of the seas maintain
life at enormous depths, and there support a pressure
equal to that of fifty or sixty atmospheres without being
crushed; that several aquatic insects, insensible to tem-
perature, are met with equally among boiling springs and
in the frozen plains of the Polar Sea; in fine, that we
cannot help recognizing in nature a diversity of means of
operation oftentimes incomprehensible, but not the less
real. If I were a chemist, I would tell him that the
aerolites, bodies evidently formed exteriorly of our ter-
restrial globe, have, upon analysis, revealed indisputable
traces of carbon, a substance which owes its origin solely
to organized beings, and which, according to the experi-
ments of Reichenbach, must necessarily itself have been
endued with animation. And lastly, were I a theologian,
I would tell him that the scheme of the Divine Redemp-
tion, according to St. Paul, seems to be applicable, nor
merely to the earth, but to all the celestial worlds. But,
unfortunately I am neither theologian, nor chemist, not
naturalist, nor philosopher; therefore, in my absolute
ignorance of the great laws which govern the universe, I
confine myself to saying in reply,' I do not know whether
the worlds are inhabited or not; and since I do not know,
lam going to see!'"
Whether Michel Ardan's antagonist hazarded any
further arguments or not it is impossible to say, for the
uproarious shouts of the crowd would not allow any
expression of opinion to gain a hearing. On silence
being restored, the triumphant orator contented himself
with adding the following remarks:-
Gentlemen, you will observe that I have but slightly
touched upon this great question; There is another
altogether different line of arguments in favor of the
habitability of the stars, which I omit for the present.
I only desire to call attention to one point. To those
who maintain that the planets are not inhabited one'may
reply :-You might be perfectly in the right, if you could
A MONSTER MEETING. 17
only show that the earth is the best possible world, spite of
what Voltaire has said. She has but one satellite, while
Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn, Neptune have each several, an
advantage by no means to be despised. But that which
renders our own globe so uncomfortable is the inclina-
tion of its axis to the plane of its orbit. Hence the
inequality of days and nights; hence the disagreeable
diversity of the seasons. On the surface of our unhappy
spheriod we are always either too hot or too cold; we
are frozen in winter, broiled in summer; it is the planet
of rheumatism, coughs, bronchitis; while on the surface
of Jupiter, for example, where the axis is but slightly
inclined, the inhabitants may enjoy uniform temperatures.
It possesses zones of perpetual springs, summers,
autumns, and winters; every Jovian may choose for
himself what climate he likes, and there spend the whole
of his life- in security from all variations of temperature.
You will, I am sure, readily admit this superiority of
Jupiter over our own planet, to say nothing of his years,
which equal twelve of ours Under such auspices, and
such marvellous conditions of existence, it appears to
me that the inhabitants of so fortunate a world must be
in every respect superior to ourselves. All we require,
in order to attain to such perfection, is the mere trifle of
having an axis of rotation less inclined to the plane of
its orbit !"
"Hurrah!" roared an energetic voice, "let us unite
our efforts, invent the necessary machines, and rectify
the earth's axis!"
A thunder of applause followed this proposal, the
author of which was, of course, no other than J. T.
Maston. And, in all probability, if truth must be told,
if the Yankees could only have found a point of applica-
tion for.it, they would have constructed a lever capable
of raising the earth and rectifying its axis. It was just
this deficiency which baffled these daring mechanicians.
ATTACK AND RIPOSTE.
As soon as the excitement had subsided, the follow-
ing words were heard uttered in a strong and deter-
Now that the speaker has favored us with so much
imagination, would he be so good as to return to his sub-
ject and give us a little practical view of the question? "
All eyes were directed toward the person who spoke.
He was a little dried-up man, of an active figure, with an
American "goatee" beard. Profiting by the different
movements in the crowd, he had managed by degrees to
gain the front row of spectators. There, with arms
crossed and stern gaze, he watched the hero of the meet-
ing. After having put his question he remained silent,
and appeared to take no notice of the thousands of looks
directed towards himself, nor of the murmur of disappro-
bation excited by his words. Meeting at first with no
reply, he repeated his question with marked emphasis,
adding, We are here to talk about the moon and not
about the earth."
"You are right, sir," replied Michel Ardan; "the dis-
cussion has become irregular. We will return to the
"Sir." said the unknown, "you pretend that our satel-
lite is inhabited. Very good; but if Selenites do exist,
that race of beings assuredly must live without breathing,
for-I warn you 'for your own sake-there is not the
smallest particle of air on the surface of the moon."
At this remark Ardan pushed up his shock of red
hair; he saw that he was on the point of being involved
in a struggle with this person upon the very gist of the
whole question. He looked sternly at him in his turn
"Oh! so there is no air in the moon ? And pray, if
you are so good, who ventures to affirm that?"
"The men of science."
ATTACK AND RIPOSTE.
"Sir," replied Michel, "pleasantly apart, I have a pro-
found respect for men of science who do possess science,
but a profound contempt for men of science who do
"Do you know any who belong to the latter category ?"
Decidedly. In France there are some who maintain
that, mathematically, a bird cannot possibly fly; and
others who demonstrate theoretically that fishes were
never made to live in water."
I have nothing to do with persons of that descrip-
tion, and I can quote, in support of my statement, names
which you cannot refuse deference to."
Then, sir, you will sadly embarrass a poor ignorant,
who, besides, asks nothing better than to learn."
"Why, then, do you introduce scientific questions ;f
you have never studied them?" asked the unknown
For the reason that 'he is always brave who never
suspects danger.' I know nothing, it is true; but it is
precisely my very weakness which constitutes my
"'Your weakness amounts to folly," retorted the un-
known in a passion.
"All the better," replied our Frenchman, if it car-
ries me up to the moon."
Barbicane and his colleagues devoured with their eyes
the intruder who had so boldly placed himself in antag-
onism to their enterprise. Nobody knew him, and the
president, uneasy as to the result of so free a,discussion,
watched his new friend with some anxiety. The meeting
began to be somewhat fidgetty also, for the contest
directed their attention to the dangers, if not the actual
impossibilities, of the proposed expedition.
Sir," replied Ardan's antagonist, there are many
and incontrovertible reasons which prove the absence of
an atmosphere in the moon. I might say that, 2 priori,
if one ever did exist, it must have been absorbed by the
earth; but I prefer to bring forward indisputable facts."
Bring them forward then, sir, as many as you please."
"You know," said the stranger, "that when any luqpi-
90 FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
nous rays cross a medium such as the air, they are de-
flected out of the straight line; in other words, they
undergo refraction. Well! When stars are occulted by
the moon, their rays, on grazing the edge of her disc,
exhibit not the least deviation, nor offer the slightest
indication of refraction. It follows, therefore, that the
moon cannot be surrounded by an atmosphere."
In point of fact," replied Ardan, this is your chief,
if not your only argument; and a really scientific man
might be puzzled to answer it. For myself, I will simply
say that it is defective, because it assumes that the angular
diameter of the moon has been completely determined,
which is not the case. But let us proceed. Tell me,
my dear sir, do you admit the existence of volcanoes on
the moon's surface?"
Extinct, yes! In activity, no!"
These volcanoes, however, were at one time in a
state of activity ? "
True but, as they furnished themselves the oxygen
necessary for combustion, the mere fact of their eruption
does not prove the presence of an atmosphere."
Proceed again, then; and let us set aside this class
of arguments in order to come to direct observations. In
1715 the astronomers Louville and Halley, watching the
eclipse of the 3rd May, remarked some very extraordi-
nary scintillations. These jets of light, rapid in nature,
and of frequent recurrence, they attributed to thunder-
storms generated in the lunar atmosphere."
"In 1715," replied the unknown, "the astronomers
Louville and Halley mistook for lunar phenomena some
which were purely terrestrial, such as meteoric or other
bodies which are generated in our own atmosphere.
This was the scientific explanation at the time of the
facts; and that is my answer now."
On again, then," replied Ardan; Herschel, in 1787,
observed a great number of luminous points on the
moon's surface, did he not ? "
Yes! but without offering any solution of them.
Herschel himself never inferred from them the necessity
of a lunar atmosphere. And I may add that Bseer and
Madler, the two great authorities upon the moon, are
quite agreed as to the entire absence of air on its surf~,"
ATTACK AND RIPOSTE.
A movement was here manifest among the assemblage,
who appeared to be growing excited by the arguments
of this singular personage.
Let us proceed," replied Ardan, with perfect cool-
ness, and come to one important fact. A skilful French
astronomer, M. Laussedat, in watching the eclipse of
July 18, 1860, proved that the horns of the solar cres-
cent were rounded and truncated. Now, this appearance
could only have been produced by a deviation of the
solar rays in traversing the atmosphere of the moon.
There is no other possible explanation of the fact."
But is this established as a fact? "
Absolutely certain !"
A counter-movement here took place in favor of the
hero of the meeting, whose opponent was now reduced
to silence. Ardan resumed the conversation; and, with-
out exhibiting any exultation at the advantage he had
You see, then, my dear sir, we must not pronounce
with absolute positiveness against the existence of an
atmosphere in the moon. That atmosphere is, probably,
of extreme rarity; nevertheless at the present day science
generally admits that it exists."
Not in the mountains, at all events," returned the
unknown, unwilling to give in.
No! but at the bottom of the valleys, and not ex-
ceeding a few hundred feet in height."
In any case you will do well to take every precau-
tion, for the air will be terribly rarified."
My good sir, there will always be enough for a soli-
tary individual; besides, once arrived up there, I shall
do my best to economize, and not to breathe except on
grand occasions !"
A tremendous roar of laughter rang in the ears of the
mysterious interlocutor, who glared fiercely round upon
"Then," continued Ardan, with a careless air, since
we are in accord regarding the presence of a certain
atmosphere, we are forced to admit the presence of a cer-
tain quantity of water. This is a happy consequence for
me. Moreover, my amiable contradictor, permit me to
submit to you one further observation. We only know
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
one side of the moon's disc; and if there is but little air
on the face presented to us, it is possible that there is
plenty on the one turned away from us."
And for what reason ? "
"Because the moon, under the action of the earth's
attraction, has assumed the form of an egg, which we
look at from the-smaller end. Hence it follows, by Hau-
sen's calculations, that its centre of gravity is situated in
the other hemisphere. Hence it results that the great
mass of air and water must have been drawn away to the
other face of our satellite during the first days of its crea-
Pure fancies cried the unknown.
"No! Pure theories! which are based upon the laws
of mechanics, ard it seems difficult to me to refute them.
I appeal then to this- meeting, and I put it to them
whether life, such as exists upon the earth, is possible on
the surface of the moon ? "
Three hundred thousand auditors at once applauded
the proposition. Ardan's opponent tried to get in another
word, but he could not obtain a hearing. Cries and
menaces fell upon him like hail.
"Enough! enough !" cried some.
"Drive the intruder off! shouted others-
"Turn him out! roared the exasperated crowd.
But he holding firmly on to the platform did not budge
an inch, and let the storm pass on, which would soon
have assumed formidable proportions, if Michel Ardan
had not quieted it by a gesture. He was too chivalrous
to abandon his opponent in an apparent extremity.
You wished to say a few more words?" he asked,
in a pleasant voice,
"Yes, a thousand; or rather, no, only one! If you
persevere in your enterprise, you must be a-"
Very rash person! How can you treat me as such?
me, who have demanded a cylindro-conical projectile,
in order to prevent turning round and round on my way
like a squirrel ?"
But, unhappy man, the dreadful recoil will smash
you to pieces at your starting."
My dear contradictor, you have just put your finger
upon the true and the only difficulty; nevertheless, 3
ATTACK AND BIPOSTB.
have too good an opinion of the industrial genius of the
Americans not to believe that they will succeed in over-
But the heat developed by the rapidity of the pro-
jectile in crossing the strata of air? "
Oh the walls are thick, and I shall soon have crossed
But victuals and water ?"
"I have calculated for a twelvemonth's supply, and I
shall be only four days on the journey."
But for air to breathe on the road ? "
I shall make it by chemical process."
But your fall on the moon supposing you ever reach
"It will be six times less dangerous than a sudden
fall upon the earth, because the weight will be only
one-sixth as great on the surface of the moon."
Still it will be enough to smash you like glass !"
What is to prevent my retarding the shock by means
of rockets conveniently placed, and lighted at the right
"But after all, supposing all difficulties surmounted,
all obstacles removed, supposing everything combined to
favor you, and granting that you may arrive safe and
sound in the moon, how will you come back?
"I am not coming back!"
At. this reply, almost sublime in its very simplicity,
the assembly became silent. But its silence was more
eloquent than could have been its cries of enthusiasm.
The unknown profited by the opportunity and once more
"You will inevitably kill yourself!" he cried; "and
your death will be that of a madman, useless even to
"Go on, my dear unknown, for truly your prophecies
are most agreeable! "
It really is too much! cried Michel Ardan's adver-
sary. I do not know why I should continue so frivo-
lous a discussion! Please yourself about this insane
expedition We need not trouble ourselves aboutyou "
Pray don't stand upon ceremony l"
No I another person is responsible for your act."
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
Who, may I ask ? demanded Michel Ardan in an
The ignoramus who organized this equally absurd
and impossible experiment!"
The attack was direct. Barbicane, ever since the inter-
ference of the unknown, had been making fearful efforts
of self-control; now, however, seeing himself directly
attacked, he could restrain himself no longer. He rose
suddenly, and was rushing upon the enemy who thus
braved him to the face, when all at once he found himself
separated from him.
The platform was lifted by a hundred strong arms,
and the President of the Gun Club shared with Michel
Ardan triumphal honors. The shield was heavy, but the
bearers came in continuous relays, disputing, struggling,
even fighting among themselves- in their eagerness to
lend their shoulders to this demonstration.
However, the unknown had not profited by the tumult.
to quit his post. Besides, he could not have done it in
the midst of that compact crowd. There he held on in
the front row, with crossed arms, glaring at President
The shouts of the immense crowd continued at their
highest pitch throughout this triumphant march. Michel
Ardan took it all with evident pleasure. His face
gleamed with delight. Several times the platform seemed
seized with pitching and rolling like a weather-beaten
ship. But the two heroes of the meeting had good sea-
legs. They never stumbled; and their vessel arrived
without dues at the port of Tampa Town.
Michel Ardan managed fortunately to escape from the
last embraces of his vigorous admirers. He made for
the Hotel Franklin, quickly gained his chamber, and slid
under the bed-clothes, while an army of a hundred thous-
and men kept watch under his windows.
During this time a scene, short, grave, and decisive,
took place between the mysterious personage and the
President of the Gun Club.
Barbicane, free at last, had gone straight at his adver-
"Come !" he said shortly.
The other followed him on to the quay; and the two
HOW A FRENCHMAN MANAGES AN AFFAIR.
presently found themselves alone at the entrance of an
open wharf on Jones' Fall.
The two enemies, still mutually unknown, gazed at
Who are you? asked Barbicane.
"Captain Nicholl !"
So I suspected. Hitherto chance has never thrown
you in my way."
I am come for that purpose."
"You have insulted me!"
"And you. will answer to me for this insult ?"
"At this very moment."
No! I desire that all that passes between us shall
be secret. There is a wood situated three miles from
Tampa, the wood of Skersnaw. Do you know ;t ?"
"I know it."
Will you be so good as to enter it to-morrow morn-
ing at five o'clock, on one side? "
Yes if you will enter at the other side at the same
"And you will not forget your rifle?" said Barbicane.
No more than you will forget yours," replied Nicholl.
These words having been coldly spoken, the President
of the Gun Club and the captain .parted. Barbicane
returned to his lodging; but, instead of snatching a few
hours of repose, he passed the night in endeavoring to
discover a means of evading the recoil of the projectile,
and resolving the difficult problem proposed by Michel
Ardan during the discussion at the meeting.
HOW A FRENCHMAN MANAGES AN AFFAIR.
WHILE the contract of this duel was being discussed
by the president and the captain-this dreadful, savage
duel, in which each adversary became a man-.hunter-
Michel Ardan was resting from the fatigues of his tri-
FROM TfrE EARTH TO THE MOON.
umph. Resting is hardly an appropriate expression, for
American beds rival marble or granite tables for hard-
Ardan was sleeping, then,'badly enough, tossing about
between the cloths which served him for sheets, and he
was dreaming of making a more comfortable couch in
his projectile when a frightful noise disturbed his dreams.
Thundering blows shook his door. They seemed to be
caused by some iron instrument. A great deal of loud
talking was distinguishable in this racket, which was
rather too early in the morning. "Open the door,"
some one shrieked, "for Heaven's sake!" Ardan saw
no reason for complying with a demand so roughly
expressed. However, he got up ahd opened the door
just as it was giving way before the blows of this deter-
mined visitor. The secretary of the Gun Club burst into
the room. A bomb could not have made more noise or
have entered the room with less ceremony.
"Last night," cried J. T. Maston, ex abrupto, "our
president was publicly insulted during the meeting. He
provoked his adversary, who is none other than Captain
Nicholl! They are fighting this morning in the wood of
Skersnaw. I heard all particulars from the mouth of
Barbicane himself. If he is killed, then our scheme is at
end. We must prevent this duel; and one man alone
has enough influence over Barbicane to stop him, and
that man is Michel Ardan."
While J. T. Maston was speaking, Michel Ardan, with-
out interrupting him, had hastily put on his clothes; and,
in less than two minutes, the two friends were making
for the suburbs of Tampa Town with rapid strides.
It was during this walk that Maston told Ardan the
state of the case. He told him the real causes of the
hostility between Barbicane and Nicholl; how it was of
old date, and why, thanks to unknown friends, the presi-
dent and the captain had, as yet, never met face to face.
He added that it arose simply from a rivalry between
iron plates and shot, and, finally, that the scene at the
meeting was only the long-wished-for opportunity for
Nicholl to pay off an old grudge.
Nothing is more dreadful than private duels in Amer-
ic~a The two adversaries attack each other like wild
HOW A FRENCHMAN MANAGES AN AFFAIR. 97
beasts. Then it is that they might well covet those won-
derful properties of the Indians of the prairies-theit
quick intelligence, their ingenious cunning, their scent
of the enemy. A single mistake, a moment's hesitation,
a single false step may cause death. On these occasions
Yankees are often accompanied by their dogs, and keep
up the struggle for hours.
What demons you are! cried Michel Ardan, when
his companion had depicted this scene to him with much
"Yes we are," replied J. T. modestly; "but we had
better make haste."
Though Michel Ardan and he had crossed the plain
still wet with dew, and had taken the shortest route over
creeks and rice-fields, they could not reach Skersnaw
under five hours and a half.
Barbicane must have passed the border half an hour
There was an old bushman working there, occupied in
selling fagots from trees that had been leveled by his axe.
Maston ran towards him, saying, Have you seen a
man go into the wood, armed with a rifle? Barbicane,
the president, my best friend ? "
The worthy secretary of the Gun Club thought that
his president must be known by all the world. But the
bushman did not seem to understand him.
"A hunter ?" said Ardan.
"A hunter? Yes," replied the bushman.
"Long ago?" -
About an hour."
"Too late!" cried Maston.
Have you heard any gun-shots?" asked Ardan.
Not one I that hunter did not look as if he knew how
What is to be done ? said Maston.
"We must go into the wood, at the rik of getting a
ball which is not intended for !s."
"Ah !" cried Maston, in a tone which could not be
mistaken, I would rather have twenty balls in my own
head than one in Barbicane's."
... M THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
"Forward, then," said Ardan, pressing his companion's
A few moments later the two friends had disappeared
in the copse. It was a dense thicket, in which rose huge
cypresses, sycamores, tulip-trees, olives, tamarinds, oaks,
and magnolias. These different trees had interwoven
their branches into an inextricable maze, through which
the eye could not penetrate. Michel Ardan and Maston
walked side by side in silence through the tall grass, cut-
ting themselves a path through the strong creepers, cast-
ing curious glances on the bushes, and momentarily
expecting to hear the sound of rifles. As for the traces
which Barbicane ought to have left of his passage through
the wood, there was not a vestige of them visible: so
they followed the barely perceptible paths along which
Indians had tracked some enemy, and which the dense
foliage darkly overshadowed.
After an hour spent in vain pursuit the two stopped,
in intensified anxiety.
"It must be all over," said Maston, discouraged. "A
man like Barbicane would not dodge with his enemy, or
ensnare him, would not even manoeuvre! He is too
open, too brave. He has gone straight ahead, right into
the danger, and doubtless far enough from the bushman
for the wind to prevent his hearing the report of the
"But surely," replied Michel Ardan, "since we
entered the wood we should have heard !"
"And what if we came too late?" cried Maston in
tones of despair.
For once Arden had no reply to make, he and Maston
resuming their walk in silence. From time to time,
indeed, they raised great shouts, calling alternately Bar-
bicane and Nicholl, neither of whom, however, answered
their' cries. Only-the birds, awakened by the sound,
flew past them and disappeared. among the branches,
while some frightened deer fled precipitately before
For another hour their search was continued. The
greater part of the wood had been explored. There was
nothing to reveal the presence of the combatants. The
information of the bushman was after all doubtful, and
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