Incidental details begging to be expanded into their own story; no.27

From Grimoires: A History of Magic Books:

Barrett, described in one newspaper as ‘a miniature-painter, and an amateur of chemistry’, was better known in his lifetime for his failed ballooning exploits than his knowledge of magic. Three times in the year 1802 he drummed up a large paying crowd to see him attempt a balloon assent[sic?], and three times he failed embarrassingly. Regarding his attempt at Greenwich, one reporter complained, ‘at no public exhibition do we ever recollect such a complete want of management as at Mr. Barrett’s Balloon,’ while at Swansea the platform collapsed as he began to address the crowd, damaging his balloon, and causing injury to a number of spectators. He departed to the sound of hootings and howlings from the crowd. Reporting on this third fiasco The Morning Chronicle stated, ‘we hope it will be the last. In short, he does not seem to possess a sufficient knowledge of chemistry.’

Smith claimed some of these conjurations and talismans were culled from ancient manuscripts in the possession of the Mercurii, a secret magic society of which he was a member – perhaps the only one. However, one was also attributed to George Graham, a friend of Smith’s, who was a disaster-prone occult balloonist in the Barrett mould.

Love this book 🙂 Disaster-prone occult balloonists…


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