Montgolfier’s Balloon

1783: humankind ascending:
Louis Sixteenth watches enthralled as
Jean-Francois de Rozier stokes the flames
and Francois Larent releases the tethers, gasping
as the Montgolfier brothers’ majestic balloon surges
upward 1000 meters, its heated air more buoyant
than the surrounding air that kept it earthbound. Jean-
Michel, the older brother, studied the phenomenon two
years earlier when he placed a linen sheet above an open
flame. “Etienne!” he cried, “Come behold the future of
the world!” At launch, sensing the pull of destiny, de
Rozier places a lamb, a rooster, and a duck inside the
the basket: an Aesopian apotheosis to usher in a
bold new age. And for one breathless moment,
he himself is tempted to leap inside, thereby
becoming the first human to climb, in
fiery, momentous triumph,
of Being and enter
Heaven with neither
escort nor invitation.

Fred White