While the text attempts to maintain an empirical tone in the vein of scientific observation, there are times when it displays far more literary characteristics. Baldwin also uses his published account to recall the joy and awe inspired in him as the balloon brings him closer to the skies in passages such as these:
"... what Scenes of Grandeur and Beauty! ...to look down on the unexpected Change already wrought in the Works of Art and Nature, contracted to a Span by the new perspective, diminished almost beyond the Bounds of Credibility"
Airopaidia wished to convey to readers the excitement of the new discoveries. Infusing accounts of balloon voyages with literary language was an important part of transmitting not only the new sights, but the feelings and emotions associated with them. Its blend of scientific and literary language along with its innovative illustrations demonstrate how we interact with and understand our environment not only through the empirical, observational lens but also through the lens of language and art. Like the audio installation, the book embodies the new perspectives made possibly by the fusion of the arts, humanities and the sciences.
If you want to learn more about the objects on display in Weather Notes, book an exhibition ticket to see the other objects on display on the fourth floor of Senate House Library (library members go free of charge). You can also book a place on our upcoming exhibition tour on 24 August, starting at 2:30PM.
- The Porteus Library
- The Bromhead Library
- Clare Brant, Balloon Madness: Flights of Imagination in Britain, 1783-1786 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2017)
- Michael R. Lynn, The sublime invention: ballooning in Europe, 1783-1820 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2010)
- Lily Ford, "'For the Sake of the Prospect': Experiencing the World from Above in the Late 18th Century", published on Brewminate: A Bold Blend of News and Ideas, 21 July 2016.