CHAPTER IX. EARLY METHODS AND IDEAS.
Founded on physical facts more or less correct in themselves, come a number of tales of olden days, which are at least more marvellous than credible, the following serving as an example. The scientific truth underlying the story is the well-known expedient of placing a shrivelled apple under the receiver of an air pump. As the air becomes rarefied the apple swells, smooths itself out, and presently becomes round and rosy as it was in the summer time. It is recorded that on one occasion a man of mature years made an ascent, accompanied by his son, and, after reaching some height, the youth remarked on how young his father was looking. They still continued to ascend, and the same remark was repeated more than once. And at last, having now reached attenuated regions, the son cried in astonishment, "Why, dad, you ought to be at school!" The cause of this remark was that in the rarefied air all the wrinkles had come out of the old man's face, and his cheeks were as chubby as his son's.
This discussion of old ideas should not be closed without mention of a plausible plea for the balloon made by Wise and others on the score of its value to health. Lofty ascents have proved a strain on even robust constitutions - the heart may begin to suffer, or ills akin to mountain sickness may intervene before a height equal to that of our loftiest mountain is reached. But many have spoken of an exhilaration of spirits not inferior to that of the mountaineer, which is experienced, and without fatigue, in sky voyages reasonably indulged in - of a light-heartedness, a glow of health, a sharpened appetite, and the keen enjoyment of mere existence. Nay, it has been seriously affirmed that "more good may be got by the invalid in an hour or two while two miles up on a fine summer's day than is to be gained in an entire voyage from New York to Madeira by sea."