Treasure's description

Sadlerís balloons

Sadlerís balloons

Two rather spasmodically written diaries belonging to Richard Paget are a small but delightful part of the extensive papers of the Paget family of Cranmore in Somerset. They relate to the Oxford years of his all too brief life and mention two balloon flights. Our illustration is of the entry for James Sadler's hydrogen balloon flight of November 12th, 1784. The King of France was said to have offered 'a reward of 2000 Louis d'ors' for a balloon crossing the English Channel, in which Sadler was pre-empted by Blanchard and Jeffries. Nevertheless, Sadler's balloons continued to generate intense interest, for, at the time of a flight in 1785, Paget remarks, 'The droves of country squires, ladies, nobility, farmers, blackguards, pickpockets, & all kinds of people, of all ranks & degrees, that were incessantly pouring in, & thronging the streets of Oxford, were prodigious'. The diaries also reveal enthusiasm for antiquarian pursuits and concert-going. A riot in the Sheldonian Theatre, arising from dissatisfaction with the singer, Madame Mara, is described, at which 'our wise V.C. put himself absolutely at the head of the mob', and there is comment on the concerts which accompanied the award of an honorary degree to Haydn. DM106/419