‘Bodkin’s Aeronautical Experiences’ (3 October, 1863)

Baxter Park was officially opened on the 9th of September 1863, and was a significant public event in that year. ‘The Journal’s’ owner John Leng had a singular influence on the creation of the public park as he convinced Sir David Baxter to do something for Dundee where his father (William Baxter) had not [Small, Gordon, The Lengs: Dundee’s Other Publishing Dynasty (Dundee, 2009)].

The opening of the park was to include a large procession of military men, sailors, local guilds,  and the Earl of Dalhousie and Provost of Dundee. Much excitement was also generated by the prospect of the inflation of a large balloon by Henry Coxwell, whom a year earlier had gained fame for his daring ascent into the stratosphere. Unfortunately Coxwell’s balloon had to be cancelled due to the direction of the wind.

This is the fourth Tammas Bodkin column on the events surrounding the opening of the park. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

Maister Editor,—Accordin’ to promise, I’m aboot to gie ye a scrift o’ my voyage to the cluds in Mr Coxwell’s Mammoth balloon—no a real material serial flight, ye maun understand, but the immaterial ane I made in my sleep on the eventfu’ nicht succeedin’ the opening o’ the Park. Though but the baseless fabric o’ a vision, that voyage through the cloudy regions seemed real enough to me at the time, an’ the recollection o’t still remains veevely pictured on memory’s tablet, insomuch that I’m truly like to swarf wi’ terrification whenever I think o’t.

Undootedly the primary causes o’ that visionary voyage were the sups o’ drink I had drucken i’ the booth wi’ Andro Sooter, the general excitement o’ the spectacle, the particular excitement o’ first tynin’ Tibbie in the crood, an’ syne findin’ her lyin’ aboon the bed in an agony o’ grief, pourin’ oot tears at the lavish rate I described last week—no to mention the fact that, immediately before gaen to bed, I had partaken o’ a wechty supper, consistin’ o’ fried ham an’ petawtis, whereof I fevoored an inordinate quantity, as, to tell the truth, I felt unco yapish after hingin’ on my legs the haill afternoon, wi’ naethin’ o’ meat kind on my stammack except a bawbee biscuit that I had eaten when on my way to the Barrack Park to marshal my professional brethren for the procession. But whatever the causes may hae been, the result was that I had nae sooner closed my een than I fell into a sleep that was far frae provin’ refreshin’ either to soul or body. Continue reading “‘Bodkin’s Aeronautical Experiences’ (3 October, 1863)”