Page:Historical account of Lisbon college.djvu/96

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Dr. Preston. As soon as the Professor, after going through the usual routine of proofs and formalities, had invited all present who were not satisfied with his reasons to produce their objections, Allen stood forward. At once the eyes of the whole assembly were fixed upon him with the deepest attention, while he commenced his attack upon the Thesis. Tradition which has preserved this anecdote, does not say what was the subject of the dispute, but it relates that the Professor found himself so beset with difficulties, so pressed and straitened by the logic of his adversary, that the only answer he was able to give was "Mentiris," or the "lie direct." No sooner had the word passed his lips than Allen bowed to the Professor and assembly and, accompanied by his friend, retired. This incident forms the subject of one of the verses of the College Song.

Here Preston, immortal, fair Wisdom s fond son,
Commenced the bright course which so nobly was run ;
Here Allen, invincible, learned to defy
Every weapon of logic except "Sir, you lie."

Soon after the invention of balloons by Mongolfier in 1782, an attempt in the same direction was made by the Professor of Philosophy at the Royal convent of Mafra. The balloon had been constructed on a large and expensive scale, the day was fixed for the ascent, and the Court and an immense concourse of spectators from the Capital had assembled at the place. To the indescribable mortification of the artist, the balloon was found too heavy and refused to rise from the earth. In consequence of this failure, Father Allen was strongly urged to make a trial, and with some reluctance he consented. The projectors spared no expense in the construction of the balloon. It was a Mongolfier inflated by burning within it oat straw, and the inflation continued by inflamed spirits of wine. The aeronaut was an immense baboon dressed in the habit of a sailor, a most mischievous creature, which in punishment of his misdeeds had been