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Foster (fl. 1858) to his cousin

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01450.712.02 Author/Creator: Foster (fl. 1858) Place Written: Providence, Rhode Island Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 14 June 1858 Pagination: 4 p.

Summary of Content: Describes Class Day at Brown University and an upcoming event called Whately Burial, in which juniors carry a coffin through the streets containing one of their textbooks, Whately's Logic. Comments on last year's Whately Burial and getting caught in the rain. Mentions hot air ballooning in Providence, in which a the ballon reached heights of 1000 feet and a rabbit was dropped down in parachute. Describes the parachuting process.

Full Transcript: Brown University June 14 /58
You will excuse me for not writing to you before I did not forget you by any means: and when I received a paper ...from you Thursday I determined to answer at my earliest opportunity. Thursday was class day. An oration and Poem were delivered by two seniors. The hall (of Chapel) was crowded. The American Brass Band attended and discoursed very fine music during the exercises. There are thirty three Seniors now, I believe. Their commencement take [sic] place next September before the term begins. There will be on the second of July an exhibition, called Whately Burial in which the students by night carry a coffin, through the streets, stuffed with Whately's logic. The students disfigure themselves with old clothes, paint (not oil) etc. They carry torches also. This is a junior exercise therefore the juniors go ahead or rather behind the band, followed by the hearse next the Seniors Sophs. and Freshmen. A very [2] pleasing sight I assure you. They go down the harbor and after a few interesting literary exercise they deposit the 'body' in the 'deep' while the band plays a dirge. Last year they returned at three o'clock in the morning, somewhat fatigued. The weather has been very unpleasant since Friday morning. That eve I went over to a river called Seekonk with some students to bathe, it began to sprinkle when we arrived and we were forced to seek shelter, not under the trees for it lightened [sic] and we dare not go there; so we had to run to the nearest house (a toll house by the bridge. But as it did not seem like ceasing we started off homeward and before we arrived we were wet to the skin as we had no umbrellas) but by shifting our clothes and get up a little 'information' as Mrs. Parkingstone says, we were prevented from getting cold. The next day I made a fire and dried all my wet clothes the room terrible hot. The rain poured down all day (Sat.) and it was very cloudy Sunday, though it did not rain. If you see any of my folks will you tell them that I received the carpet bag Sat afternoon with the [3] letters etc? There was to be a balloon ascension here last Thursday but the wind was so strong that it was thrown over onto one side, and a hole made in it through which the gas escaped and then the balloon collapsed. This balloon made an ascension some time ago about 2 weeks and succeeded finely landing about 5 miles to the north in a field. About 15 partial accessions were made by means of a line and [?]lass to the height of 1000 feet and more asking $5.00 a head. When the balloon made her final ascent she carried up a Prov. Lady, with two gentlemen where a great way up they dropped a parachute containing a live rabbit which descended in safety. A parachute (pronounced para shute) is a contrivance by which the balloon is prevented from too rapid descent, which is made a good deal like an umbrella, for letting any thing descend, but different on a balloon, the rabbit is attached to it in a box or bag and the whole closed like any parasol or sunshade is [thrown] out, the rabbit of course being heavy, will pull the apparatus perpendicular. when this will open as an umbrella does when [4] a gust of wind strikes this beneath when the fastening is not preventing umbrellas to open. I have not heard of the fate of the rabbit, but yet I suppose he is all right. This parachute descended slowly to appearance and soon got out of sight as the wind blew it Northerly. I sent a paper Harvey perhaps he will let you read the account, 'up in the air', Well I see that I have nearly reached the end of the letter paper and also the end of my [budget] of things worth writing a thing more to be considered than paper or pen. But I hope you will write soon and also any of your folks. I should be happy to receive and answer all letters from my relative especially your folks.
With best of health except a little cold.
I subscribe
Yours truly,
(Excuse all mistakes)
(for I cant stop copy)
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Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: AviationEducationDeathBallooningScience and Technology

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

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