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Aerostation attempted in Portugal in 1709.-p. 201.
In 1759 Pedro Norberto de Aucourt e Padilha published a book entitled Raridades da Natureza e da Arte, divididas pelos quatro Elementos. It contains a short article
the various attempts which men have made at flying; and it is there stated that P. Bartholomeu Lourenço de Gusman laboured at this project, and in fact raised himself into the air in a machine of pasteboard, or strong paper, in the presence of King Joam V. “O Padre Bartholomeu Lourenço de Gusmao trabalhou no mesmo projecto, e com effeito em huma maquina de papelam se elevou na presença do Senhor Rey D. Joam V.”—p. 428.
An imaginary representation of this aerostatic machine was published at Lisbon in 1774... na Officina de Simam Thaddeo Ferreira ... with this inscription
Maquina Aerostatica que pela primeira vez se vio na Europa, inventada pelo celebre
Alexandre de Gusma):
The representation is absurd, and the explanation not less
The elevating, or as it is there called, the attractive secret, is placed in two metallic globes. In all parts this is merely imaginary. A note says, that “notwithstanding the author of the machine has affirmed that the magnet, by virtue of which the boat was made to rise in the air, was contained in the globes, the elevation was in fact not occasioned by any attractive virtue, but by the force of gas confined within those globes, which the author called the secret, and which he would not reveal, having perhaps good reasons for concealing it. Certain it is that the author was a man of talents, and of great capacity, and that trial was made of such a machine, according to the testimonies of certain respectable old persons, who are still living in our Court, in spite of there being some who deny it, perhaps for malice, or for ignorance."
The print is so fantastic, and the explanation accompanying it so impossible, that the fact of P. Bartholomeu's ascent would be rather discredited than confirmed by them, if it were not for the testimony which has been previously adduced. I happen, however, to possess a copy of the petition presented to the Court by P. Bartholomeu, in which he states the supposed uses of his invention. It is in a manuscript collection of Portugueze and Spanish Tracts and Letters, in nine vols. folio, quoted in my History of Brazil as 'the Pinheiro Collection, from the name of the Dezembargador, to whom it seems originally to have belonged. He had discovered, he says, an instrument for travelling through the air as easily as by land or sea, and with much greater expedition, even at the rate of more than 200 leagues a day. By this means important despatches might be transmitted to the armies and to the remotest countries almost in the very time that they are resolved on: and in this the King of Portugal was interested much away, without the enemy being able to impede them. The regions which are nearest to the pole might be discovered, and the glory of that discovery which other nations had so often in vain attempted, would be secured for the Portugueze nation, The true longitude of all parts of the world might be ascertained, owing to the want of which knowledge, and the errors of the charts in consequence, so many shipwrecks were occasioned. Other infinite advantages there were, some of which were obvious, and others which time would show, altogether making it well worthy his Majesty's attention. There were inconveniences also, which would arise when men had the
any other sovereign, by reason of the greater distance of his dominions. By this means misgovernment in the conquests might be speedily put an end to, arising as they did mainly because of the length of time which elapsed before intelligence from them could reach the Court. Their treasures moreover might be remitted with much greater speed and security: merchants could transmit their letters and remittances with the same celerity: besieged places might be reinforced with men, munition, and supplies; and those persons who wished to retire from them might at any time be brought
power of passing so certainly from one kingdom to another; but these might be prevented by giving the exclusive privilege of using it to one person, who should at all times execute the orders which were given. The petitioner therefore requested that privilege for himself and his heirs; and that no person in Portugal or its conquests should make use of the instrument, nor ever make one, without his consent, on pain of confiscation of all his property, half to the informer, half to the inventor, besides such other penalties as his Majesty might think the importance of the business required. He petitioned also for a reward for so great a discovery.
The answer of the Dezembargo do Paço is given, which is an unanimous opinion, upon sight of the invention, that the reward should be increased. The answer is dated April 20, 1709, the day on which the pamphlet says the ascent was made ; but in the MS, the ascent is said to have been made from the India House.
I subjoin the original as accurately as I can transcribe it from a very indistinct hand. It seems to have been incora rectly written or transcribed. The transcript must have been made before the year 1750, and it establishes the fact of an ascent, and that the machine must have been a balloon, which the projector expected he should be able to guide.
Petiçum que fez o P. Bartholomeu Lourenço ao Dezembargo do Paço, para que se lhe concedesse fazer hum invento que havia andar pelo ar; e com effeito, se lhe concedeo ; o qual fez elevando-o a Caza da India, o fez subir ao ar.
Senhor Diz o P. Bartholomeu Lourenço, que elle tem descuberto hum instrumento para se andar pello ar, da mesma sorte do que pella terra, e pella mar, e com muito mais brevidade, fazendo lhe muitas vezes duzentas e mais legoas por dia; no qual instrumento se poderam levar os avizos de mais importancia aos exercitos, e as terras muito remotas quasi no mesmo tempo em que se rezolveram. Em que enteressa Vossa Magestade muito mais que nenhum dos outros Principes, pella mayor distancia dos seus dominios, cortandose desta sorte os desgovernos das conquistas, que procedem em grande parte de chegar muito tarde as noticias dellas a Vossa Magestade ; alem do que podera Vossa Magestade mandar vir o preciozo dellas muito mas brevemente e mas seguro, poderam os homems de negocio passar letras e cabedaes com a mesma brevedade ; todas as praças sitiadas poderam ser socorridas tanto de gente como de muniçoens e viveres, a todo o tempo retiraremse dellas todas as pessoas que quizerem, sem que o inimigo o possa impedir; descubrirse hao as regioens que ficam mais vizinhas ao Polo do Mundo, sendo da Naçam Portugueza a gloria deste descobrimento, que tantas vezes tem intentado inutilmente os estrangeiros; saberse hao as verdadeyras longitudes de todo o mundo, que por estarem erradas nas mapas cauzam muitos naufragios, alem de infinitas conveniencias que mostrara o tempo, e outros que por se sam notorias, que todas merecem a real atençam de Vossa Magestade. Por que deste invento tam util se pode seguir muitos discordios, e facilitandose muito mais na confiança de se poder passar logo a outro reyno, estando restricto o dito uzo a huma so pessoa, a quem se mandem a todo o tempo as ordens qui forem convenientes a respeito do dito transporte prohibendose a todas as mais, sob graves penas, e he bem se remunera ao suplicante o invento de tanta importancia.
Pide a Vossa Magestade seja servido conceder ao suplicante o privilegio de que, pondo por obra o dito invento, nenhuma pessoa de qualquier qualidade que for, possa uzar delle em nenhum tempo neste reyno e seus conquistas, com quaesquer pretextos, sem licença do suplicante, ou de seus herdeyros, sob pena do perdimento de todos os seus bens ; a metade para o suplicante, e outra a metade para quem o acuzar, e sobre mais penas que Vossa Magestade lhe parecer que pide a importancia deste negocio; as quaes todas teram lugar tanto que constar que algum faz o dito invento, ainda que nam tinha uzado delle, para que non fique frustada as ditas penas ausentandose o que as tiver encorrido.
Despacho do Dezembargo de Paço. Consultouse no Dezembargo do Paço a favor do requirimento, com todos os votos, a que devia augmentarse o premio a vista da obra.—Lisboa, 20 Abril, 1709.
Sylvius, in his continuation of Aitzema's great history, has an account of a French adventurer who perished miserably in an attempt at flying at Regensburg, in the year 1673. The relation is far from clear, which Sylvius himself regrets. Dressed in wet clothes, he was to fly from a high tower on an outstretched sail, with some sort of fire works fastened on his back and to his hands and feet. This should seem the mere feat of a desperate exhibiter ; but then it is said that by means of these fireworks the flight was to be performed; that he had often performed it successfully, and that when he lost his balance and hung by one hand, he held the other to his nostrils to prevent suffocation from the smoke and stench, and that he fell in consequence, not of burning, but of suffocation. From this it might seem that what was called his fireworks was an apparatus for producing gas, though the manner of applying it is inexplicable. Had it been a mere descent, set off with