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As an author, Cavallo had succeeded in positioning himself as a scientific popularizer. His previous book, which explored another wildly popular scientific discovery -- A Complete Treatise Of Electricity In Theory And Practice; With Original Experiments (1777) – was published in several increasingly lengthy editions throughout the last decades of the century.
Ironically, balloning’s very popularity often seemed to undermine the scientific claims of its practitioners. Faced with the tendency of some critics to dismiss ballooning as nothing more than the latest fad and the people involved in it as nothing more than showmen, investigatiors such as Cavallo used these sorts of detailed technological images and descriptions as a way of implicitly insisting on their scientific integrity. Ultimately, however, ballooning may best be viewed as an important element of the broader struggle of many eighteenth-century thinkers to promote science as the basis of an enlightened but accessible form of public culture. Below is an example of an advertisement for a series of “Instructive and Entertaining” lectures on Natural and Experimental Philosophy, the ticket price including “a View of the Balloon Floating.”
MR. J. WEAVOR, has the Honour to announce to the LADIES and GENTLEMEN of
LEEDS, and its Environs, his having finished his Course of Lectures at the City of York and Town of Tadcaster, to a numerous and polite Audience ; and with great Submission informs them of his Arrival in this Town, with an extensive and elegant Apparatus. He proposes to deliver his Instructive and Entertaining COURSE of LECTURES on NATURAL and EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY, as soon as Forty or more Subscribers are obtained ; at the large and commodious ASSEMBLY-ROOM, the Rose and-Crown, LEEDS.
The Course to contain Twelve Lectures on the following Subjects:
I. Compendious Exordium, or Introduction to the Course, in which will be shewn the superlative Excellence of Science ; the Estimation it has ever been held in by the most respectable Characters of all Ages for its Usefulness, both in a moral and commercial Capacity.
II. A Definition of Matter and its Properties, viz. Its In-activity, Mobility, Divisibility, Attraction, Cohesion, Repulsion, Gravitation, Expansion, Contraction, Magnetism, Electricity, Elementary Parts, &c.
PNEUMATICS, or the Doctrine of the Atmosphere ; its Weight, Elasticity, vivifying Spirit, and the peculiar Properties of inflammable Gas, or Air, in the Construction of Air-Balloons (where one will be kept floating during the Lecture); its Use in the Vegetable, Animal, and Fossil Kingdoms, when in a proper State; and its noxious Qualities and dire Effects when contaminated.-Exemplified by analyzing certain Bodies, and the blowing up Mines and artificial Earthquakes on a small and harmless scale.....
The Solar System explained and made evident to every Capacity, on an Orrery, Planetarium, Celestial and Terrestrial Globe, and other expensive and necessary Apparatus. The Theory of Tides and Harvest Moon, will also be explained on the Globes and central Machine.
In the Course of these Lectures will be introduced that de-lightful Science of Optics; also Electricity....
Subscribers Tickets to this Course Lectures, and a View of the Balloon floating, will admit Two Ladies or One Gentlemen, at One Guinea each.-Non-subscribers 28. 6d. any particular Lecture, and is in view the Balloon.
The Use of the Globes, Maps, Planesphere, &c. taught at vacant Hours, 10s. 6d. each Pupil. An Hour best calculated to suit the Convenience of the Subscribers will be fixed on, of which timely Notice will be given.
An Analysis of the Course may be had of Mr. WEAVOR, at the Rose-and Crown, 1s. 6d. each.
Subscriptions taken in at Mr. Binns's; the Rest of the Booksellers; the Circulating-Library; and of Mr. WEAVOR, at the Rose-and-Crown.
(The Leeds Mercury, Tuesday 13 April, 1784, Issue 896), printed by James Bowling.