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THE advancement of knowledge is the triumph of truth, and, as such, is the eventual interest of mankind; inasmuch as the extension of reason is by its very definition the necessary object of rational beings. Timid theologians have trembled on the confines of some topics which might lead to dangerous discovery; forgetful that religion and truth, if not identical, are at least inseparable. Some nice and sensitive chemists have forborne the search of the ne plus ultra in alchemy, dreading that, as gold is the great fountain of wickedness on earth, the indefinite increase of that metal might be the unlimited multiplication of human evil; but forgetting that in all human affairs, from fluids up to theories, there is a specific gravity in all things which keeps constant the level of terrestrial operations, and prevents the restless brain of man from raising any edifice, in brick or discovery, high enough to be the ruin of his own species. To me, however, the one consideration that the eternal search of knowledge and truth is the very object of our faculties, has been the main spring of my life, and although my individual sufferings have been far from light, yet at their present distance the contemplation gives me pleasure, and I have the satisfaction to reflect that I am now in possession of an art which is continually employed, day and night, for the benefit of the present generation and of ages yet to come.

I was born in the Semlainogorod of Moscow, and for ten years applied intensely to chemistry. I confess the failure of many eminent predecessors prevented my attempting the philosopher's stone; my whole thoughts were engaged on the contemplation of gravity-on that mysterious invisible agent which pervaded the whole universe-which made my pen drop from my fingers-the planets move round the sun-and the very sun itself, with its planets, moons, and satellites, revolve for ever, with myriads of others, round the final centre of universal gravity,-that mysterious spot, perhaps the residence of those particular emanations of Providence which regard created beings. At length I discovered the actual ingredients of this omnipresent agent. It is little more than a combination of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and azote; but the proportions of these constituent parts had long baffled me, and I still withhold them from my species for obvious reasons.

Knowledge is power,—and the next easy step from the discovery of the elements, was the decomposition of gravity, and the neutralization of its parts in any substance at my pleasure. I was more like a lunatic than a rational chemist;- —a burning furor drove me to an immediate essay of my art, and stripped me of the power and will to calculate on consequences. Imagine me in my laboratory. I constructed a gravitation-pump-applied it to my body-turned the awful engine, and stood in an instant the first of all created beings-devoid of weight! Up sprung my hair-my arms swung from my sides above the level of my shoulders, by the involuntary action of the muscles, which were no longer curbed by the re-action of their weight. I laughed like a fool or a fiend,-closed my arms carefully to my side, compressed or concealed my bristling hair under my cap, and walked forth from my study to seek some retired spot in the city where I might make instant experiment of a jump. With the greatest difficulty I preserved a decent gait; I walked with the uneasy unsteady motion of a man in water whose toes might barely reach the bottom: conscious as I was of my security, I felt every instant apprehensive of a fall. Nothing could have reconciled me to the disagreeable sensation I experienced but the anticipation of No. 28.



vaulting unfettered into the air. I stood behind the cathedral of the Seven Towers; nobody was near-I looked hurriedly around, and made the spring! I rose with a slow, uniform motion,-but, gracious heaven! imagine my horror and distress when I found that nothing but the mere resistance of the air opposed my progress; and, when at last it stopped my flight, I found myself many hundred feet above the citymotionless, and destitute of every means of descent. I tore my hair, and cursed myself, for overlooking so obvious a result. My screams drew thousands to the singular sight. I stretched my arms towards the earth, and implored assistance. Poor fool! I knew it was impracticable.


But conceive the astonishment of the people! I was too high to be personally known ;-they called to me, and I answered; but they were unable to catch the import; for sound, like myself, rises better than it falls. I heard myself called an angel, a ghost, a dragon, a unicorn, and a devil. I saw a procession of priests come under me to exorcise me; but had Satan himself been free of gravity he had been as unable to descend at their bidding as myself. At length the fickle mob began to jeer me-the boys threw stones at me, and a clever marksman actually struck me on the side with a bullet; it was too high to penetrate-it merely gave me considerable pain, drove me a few feet higher, and sunk again to the ground. Alas! I thought, would to God it had pierced me; for even the weight of that little ball would have dragged me back to earth. At length the shades of evening hid the city from my sight; the murmur of the crowd gradually died away, and there I still was, terrified, and motionless-nearer to heaven than such a fool could merit to rise again. What was to be the end of this? I must starve and be stared at! I poured out a torrent of incoherent prayers to heaven-but heaven seemed as deaf as I deserved. Imagine my joy when a breeze sprung up, and I felt myself floating in darkness over the town: but even now new horrors seized me;—I might be driven downwards into the Moskwa and drowned; I might be dashed against the cathedral and crushed. Just as I thought on this, my head struck violently against the great bell of Boris Godunuff;-the blow and the deep intonation of the bell deprived me for some minutes of life and recollection. When I revived I found I was lying gently pressed by the breeze against the balustrades. I pulled myself carefully along the church, pushed myself down the last column, and ran as straight as my light substance would permit me to my house. With far greater joy than when I had been disrobed of it, I speedily applied a proper condensation of gravity to my body, fell on my knees to thank heaven for my deliverance, and slunk into bed, thoroughly ashamed of my day's performance. The next day, to escape suspicion, I joined the re-assembled crowd-looked upward as serious as the rest, gazed about for yesterday's phenomenon, and I dare say was the only one who felt no disappointment in its disappearance. Any one would imagine that, after this trial, I should have burnt my pump, left gravity to its own operations. But no! I felt I was reserved for great things;— such a discovery was no every-day occurrence, and I would work up every energy of my soul rather than relinquish this most singular, though frightful, field of experi



I was too cautious to deprive myself again entirely of gravity. In fact, in my late experiment, as in others, when I talk of extracting my gravity entirely, I mean just enough to leave me of the same weight as the atmosphere. Had I been lighter than that, I should have risen involuntarily upward, like an air-bubble in a bucket. Even as it was, I found myself inclined to rise and fall with every variation of the atmosphere, and I had serious thoughts of offering myself to the university as a barometer,

that, by a moderate salary, I might pass the remainder of my days in tranquillity and honour. My object now was merely to render myself as light as occasion required: besides, I found that, by continual contact with the earth and atmosphere, I always imbibed gradually a certain portion of weight, though by extremely slow and imperceptible degrees; for the constituent parts of gravity, which I have mentioned, enter largely, as every chemist knows, into the composition of all earths and airs: thus, in my late essay, I should certainly have eventually descended to earth without the intervention of the breeze; indeed, I should probably have been starved first, though my body would have at least sunk down for the gratification of my friends.

Three furred coats and a pair of skates I gained by leaping at fairs in the Sloboda, and subsistence for three weeks by my inimitable performance on the tight-rope: but when at last I stood barefoot on a single needle, and balanced myself head downwards on a bodkin, all Moscow rung with applause. But the great object of all my earthly hopes was to gain the affections of a young widow in the Kremlin, whose heart I hoped to move by the unrivalled effects of my despair. I jumped head-foremost from a chair on the hard floor; twice I sprung into a well, and once I actually threw myself from the highest spire in Moscow. I always lay senseless after my falls, screamed at my revival, and counterfeited severe contusions. But in vain! I found my person or pretensions disagreeable to her, and determined in some great pursuit to forget my disappointment. A thought struck me. I knew that mortal man had conceived nothing so sublime, and yet it was in my power! I prepared a large tube, and bound myself round with vast bales of provisions, which, with myself, I severally divested of gravity. It was a bright moonlight night. I stood in my garden, with a weightless watch in my hand, gazing on the heavens through the tube. I am confident there was in my face the intrepid air of one who on great occasions can subdue the little feelings of the heart. I had resolved on visiting the planet Venus, and had prudently waited till she was in that part of her orbit which was most distant from the sun and nearest to the earth; the first of which might enable me to endure the heat of her atmosphere, and the latter to subsist on the stock of provisions I could conveniently carry. In fact, I had no doubt but that owing to the extreme cold of a great part of the journey, the evaporations from the pores of my body would be little or nothing, and I could, consequently, subsist on a trifling meal. I had arranged some elastic rods of steel to project me with considerable velocity along the tube, the moment. the planet should face it; and, by simple multiplication, I was enabled, from the given velocity of projection, and the known distance of the planet, to compute to a day the period of my arrival there. In fact I took double provisions, partly from overabundant precaution, and partly to support me on an immediate return, in case I found the heat oppressive. The moment approached-arrived! The planet stood shining on me down the tube. I looked wildly round me for a last farewell, and was on the point of loosing the springs, when a horrid doubt flashed on me. United saints of Constantinople! should a light breeze blow me from the line of projection, aye, even a single inch, I should shoot past the planet, fly off into immeasurable space and darkness from eternity, whirl raving along cold uncomfortable chaos, or plunge headlong into the sun itself! A moment more, and I had been lost. I stood fixed like a statue, with distended lips, gazing on the frightful planet; my eyes swam roundmy ears rung with hideous sounds-all my limbs were paralyzed; I shrieked wildly, fainted, and should have sunk to earth, had I not been utterly devoid of weight. But, lifeless as my body stood, my thoughts still teemed with the frightful horrors I had escaped my phrenzy bore me on my voyage, and to this day the recollections

of the delirium are fresh on my mind. Methought I was on the very journey I had meditated ;—already the earth had faded to a twinkling speck, and Venus, with an expanded disk, lay glittering before me: unhappy being! I had committed blunder on blunder; I had forgot the motion of the planet herself, and the effects of refraction and the aberration of light, and I saw, at the distance of many hundred miles, that I should exactly miss her. It was even so: imagine the horrors of my dream, when, after a bitter journey of twenty-three millions of miles, I exactly missed her by a foot-had there been a tree, a bush, or a large stone, I might have saved myself. I strained my powerless fingers at the planet in vain ;—I skimmed along the surface rapidly, and at length found myself as swiftly leaving it on one side as I had approached it on the other. And then I fancied I was rushing quickly towards the sun, and, in an approach of some years, suffered as many years the horrid anticipation of approaching combustion. Well, I thought I passed safely and unscathed by the sun, and launched past him into infinite darkness, except where a stray comet, carrying fuel to the sun, flashed a few years' glitter on my path. Sometimes, in the utter silence of this boundless solitude, some large unseen body would whiz by me with a rushing whirl, rolling in its orbit even here beyond the reach of light, yet still obeying the universal laws of gravitation ;-alas, how I envied that mass its gravity! And then I heard strange sounds, the hisses of snakes and the shrieks of evil spirits, but saw nothing: sometimes I felt my body pierced, and bruised, and blown about by the winds; and heard my name screamed out at intervals in the waste: and then all would pass away, and leave me still shooting silently on in the same black, hopeless, everlasting track.

After this my phrenzy turned, and methought I stood even on the surface of the planet Venus. The ground, if ground it was, seemed nothing but colour : I stooped to touch it my hand passed unresisted through the surface. There was a perpetual undulation on its face; not of substance, but of colour: every hue I had seen was there; but all were light, and pale, and fleeting; blue faded into violet, violet to the lightest green, green into gentle silver, in perpetual and quick succession. I looked round for the inhabitants of this strange place ;-methought they too were colours ; I saw innumerable forms of bright hues moving to and fro;-they had neither shape nor substance-but their outline was in continual change, now swelling to a circle, sinking to an oval, and passing through every variety of curve; emitting the most glittering coruscations, and assuming every diversity of tint. But all these forms were of the brightest and most powerful colours, in opposition to the pale surface along which they floated. But there was order in their motions, and I could discover they were rational beings holding intercourse by faculties we neither have nor can conceive; for at one time I saw a number collect about a pale feeble light, whose corascations grew less frequent, and the vividness of its colours faded :—at last it seemed to die away, and to melt into the surface of the planet from very sameness of colour; and then the forms that stood about were for some time feeble and agitated, and at last dispersed. This, I thought, is the death of an inhabitant of the planet Venus. I watched two bright colours that seemed to dance about each other, floated in the most winning curves, and sparkled as they passed. Sometimes they almost met, drew back, and again approached. At the end, in a shower of light, they swam together, and were blended into one for ever. There is love then, I thought, even in this unsubstantial clime. A little after, I saw vast troops of hues collect and flash violently; but their flashes were not the soft gentle colours I had just seen, but sharp and dazzling like forked lightning. Vast quantities faded into nothing, and there re

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