I have been cataloging my collection of books about Holland and have been enjoying reading bits of them as I go along. One of the really interesting ones is A Cruise or, three months on the Continent. It was written by ‘a Naval Officer’ and published in London by Law and Whitaker in 1818. It describes a journey that takes the writer from Ostend to Amsterdam and through Belgium to northern France. In Paris the writer visits an amusement park ‘like our Vauxhall’ and describes the world’s first rollercoaster. It was based on the earlier Russian version where the carts slid down on hills of ice. In Paris though, the carts rode on tracks, which makes them more like the modern version. They were drawn up to the place from where they were launched by means of an intricate horse powered system of cables and pulleys.
Unfortunately, a short time before the author’s visit an accident occurred which he describes in the book:
“… there has lately been a misfortune, wherein two people lost their lives, from the only chance of casualty that could possibly occur. The wheel having having slipped from its axis, the chariot, abruptly checked in the rapid revolution of its decent, violently precipitated the unfortunate sufferers on the bar that was locked in front to secure their safety, and by the shock bereft them of an existence in which they had exultingly leaped to experience the exited feelings of danger over the ground of hitherto undisputed security.”
I love the language he used to describe what apparently was the early 19th century equivalent of bungee jumping.