10 OCTOBER 1970, Page 33

A hundred years ago

From .the 'Spectator', 8 October 1870—There is a regular Mfinchausen story in a Belgian paper called the Nouvelles du Jour about the grappling of a French and Prussian balloon before Paris on September 30 (yesterday week). M. Nadar'S balloon, the Intrepide, encountered, it seems, on the outskirts of Paris a balloon which hoisted French colours, and then began firing at the Intrepide. The lntrepide very nearly collapsed; but M. Nadar scrambled up into the netting in the most gallant way, and managed to stop the gap. He then began firing into the Prussian balloon, which had by this time hoisted the Prussian flag, and while M. Nadar 's balloon rose again, the Prussian balloon fell like a stone among the Prussian pickets. The lp:Wpide, of course, took its flight into Paris, and probably lived happily ever afterwards. This amazing story is said to be confirmed by one of Dr. Russell's letters, dated September 30, —in which, however, he only relates how two balloons, grappling together, were seen to fall suddenly, and to fall together,—an account which does not at all confirm that of the Brussels journal. If the story be true, M. Nadar Will certainly deserve to be called one of "the Powers of the air," if not pretiselt their 'prince.