History of Literature








 

Rudolf Erich Raspe

 

"The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen"





 

 




THE SURPRISING ADVENTURES


OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN


 

 

1895











THE SECOND VOLUME





 

PREFACE

TO THE SECOND VOLUME

Baron Munchausen has certainly been productive of much benefit to the literary world; the numbers of egregious travellers have been such, that they demanded a very Gulliver to surpass them. If Baron de Tott dauntlessly discharged an enormous piece of artillery, the Baron Munchausen has done more; he has taken it and swam with it across the sea. When travellers are solicitous to be the heroes of their own story, surely they must admit to superiority, and blush at seeing themselves out-done by the renowned Munchausen: I doubt whether any one hitherto, Pantagruel, Gargantua, Captain Lemuel, or De Tott, has been able to out-do our Baron in this species of excellence: and as at present our curiosity seems much directed to the interior of Africa, it must be edifying to have the real relation of Munchausen's adventures there before any further intelligence arrives; for he seems to adapt himself and his exploits to the spirit of the times, and recounts what he thinks should be most interesting to his auditors.

I do not say that the Baron, in the following stories, means a satire on any political matters whatever. No; but if the reader understands them so, I cannot help it.

If the Baron meets with a parcel of negro ships carrying whites into slavery to work upon their plantations in a cold climate, should we therefore imagine that he intends a reflection on the present traffic in human flesh? And that, if the negroes should do so, it would be simple justice, as retaliation is the law of God! If we were to think this a reflection on any present commercial or political matter, we should be tempted to imagine, perhaps, some political ideas conveyed in every page, in every sentence of the whole. Whether such things are or are not the intentions of the Baron the reader must judge.

We have had not only wonderful travellers in this vile world, but splenetic travellers, and of these not a few, and also conspicuous enough. It is a pity, therefore, that the Baron has not endeavoured to surpass them also in this species of story-telling. Who is it can read the travels of Smellfungus, as Sterne calls him, without admiration? To think that a person from the North of Scotland should travel through some of the finest countries in Europe, and find fault with everything he meets—nothing to please him! And therefore, methinks, the Tour to the Hebrides is more excusable, and also perhaps Mr. Twiss's Tour in Ireland. Dr. Johnson, bred in the luxuriance of London, with more reason should become cross and splenetic in the bleak and dreary regions of the Hebrides.

The Baron, in the following work, seems to be sometimes philosophical; his account of the language of the interior of Africa, and its analogy with that of the inhabitants of the moon, show him to be profoundly versed in the etymological antiquities of nations, and throw new light upon the abstruse history of the ancient Scythians, and the Collectanea.

His endeavour to abolish the custom of eating live flesh in the interior of Africa, as described in Bruce's Travels, is truly humane. But far be it from me to suppose, that by Gog and Magog and the Lord Mayor's show he means a satire upon any person or body of persons whatever: or, by a tedious litigated trial of blind judges and dumb matrons following a wild goose chase all round the world, he should glance at any trial whatever.

Nevertheless, I must allow that it was extremely presumptuous in Munchausen to tell half the sovereigns of the world that they were wrong, and advise them what they ought to do; and that instead of ordering millions of their subjects to massacre one another, it would be more to their interest to employ their forces in concert for the general good; as if he knew better than the Empress of Russia, the Grand Vizier, Prince Potemkin, or any other butcher in the world. But that he should be a royal Aristocrat, and take the part of the injured Queen of France in the present political drama, I am not at all surprised; but I suppose his mind was fired by reading the pamphlet written by Mr. Burke.








CHAPTER XXI

The Baron insists on the veracity of his former Memoirs—Forms a design of making discoveries in the interior parts of Africa—His discourse with Hilaro Frosticos about it—His conversation with Lady Fragrantia—The Baron goes, with other persons of distinction, to Court; relates an anecdote of the Marquis de Bellecourt.

All that I have related before, said the Baron, is gospel; and if there be any one so hardy as to deny it, I am ready to fight him with any weapon he pleases. Yes, cried he, in a more elevated tone, as he started from his seat, I will condemn him to swallow this decanter, glass and all perhaps, and filled with kerren-wasser [a kind of ardent spirit distilled from cherries, and much used in some parts of Germany]. Therefore, my dear friends and companions, have confidence in what I say, and pay honour to the tales of Munchausen. A traveller has a right to relate and embellish his adventures as he pleases, and it is very unpolite to refuse that deference and applause they deserve.

Having passed some time in England since the completion of my former memoirs, I at length began to revolve in my mind what a prodigious field of discovery must be in the interior part of Africa. I could not sleep with the thoughts of it; I therefore determined to gain every proper assistance from Government to penetrate the celebrated source of the Nile, and assume the viceroyship of the interior kingdoms of Africa, or, at least, the great realm of Monomotapa. It was happy for me that I had one most powerful friend at court, whom I shall call the illustrious Hilaro Frosticos. You perchance know him not by that name; but we had a language among ourselves, as well we may, for in the course of my peregrinations I have acquired precisely nine hundred and ninety-nine leash of languages. What! gentlemen, do you stare? Well, I allow there are not so many languages spoken in this vile world; but then, have I not been in the moon? and trust me, whenever I write a treatise upon education, I shall delineate methods of inculcating whole dozens of languages at once, French, Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, Cherokee, &c., in such a style as will shame all the pedagogues existing.

Having passed a whole night without being able to sleep for the vivid imagination of African discoveries, I hastened to the levee of my illustrious friend Hilaro Frosticos, and having mentioned my intention with all the vigour of fancy, he gravely considered my words, and after some awful meditations thus he spoke: Olough, ma genesat, istum fullanah, cum dera kargos belgarasah eseum balgo bartigos triangulissimus! However, added he, it behoveth thee to consider and ponder well upon the perils and the multitudinous dangers in the way of that wight who thus advanceth in all the perambulation of adventures: and verily, most valiant sire and Baron, I hope thou wilt demean thyself with all that laudable gravity and precaution which, as is related in the three hundred and forty-seventh chapter of the Prophilactics, is of more consideration than all the merit in this terraqueous globe. Yes, most truly do I advise thee unto thy good, and speak unto thee, most valiant Munchausen, with the greatest esteem, and wish thee to succeed in thy voyage; for it is said, that in the interior realms of Africa there are tribes that can see but just three inches and a half beyond the extremity of their noses; and verily thou shouldest moderate thyself, even sure and slow; they stumble who walk fast. But we shall bring you unto the Lady Fragrantia, and have her opinion of the matter. He then took from his pocket a cap of dignity, such as described in the most honourable and antique heraldry, and placing it upon my head, addressed me thus:—"As thou seemest again to revive the spirit of ancient adventure, permit me to place upon thy head this favour, as a mark of the esteem in which I hold thy valorous disposition."

The Lady Fragrantia, my dear friends, was one of the most divine creatures in all Great Britain, and was desperately in love with me. She was drawing my portrait upon a piece of white satin, when the most noble Hilaro Frosticos advanced. He pointed to the cap of dignity which he had placed upon my head. "I do declare, Hilaro," said the lovely Fragrantia, "'tis pretty, 'tis interesting; I love you, and I like you, my dear Baron," said she, putting on another plume: "this gives it an air more delicate and more fantastical. I do thus, my dear Munchausen, as your friend, yet you can reject or accept my present just as you please; but I like the fancy, 'tis a good one, and I mean to improve it: and against whatever enemies you go, I shall have the sweet satisfaction to remember you bear my favour on your head!"

I snatched it with trepidation, and gracefully dropping on my knees, I three times kissed it with all the rapture of romantic love. "I swear," cried I, "by thy bright eyes, and by the lovely whiteness of thine arm, that no savage, tyrant, or enemy upon the face of the earth shall despoil me of this favour, while one drop of the blood of the Munchausens doth circulate in my veins! I will bear it triumphant through the realms of Africa, whither I now intend my course, and make it respected, even in the court of Prester John."

"I admire your spirit," replied she, "and shall use my utmost interest at court to have you despatched with every pomp, and as soon as possible; but here comes a most brilliant company indeed, Lady Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs, Lord Spigot, and Lady Faucet, and the Countess of Belleair."

After the ceremonies of introduction to this company were over, we proceeded to consult upon the business; and as the cause met with general applause, it was immediately determined that I should proceed without delay, as soon as I obtained the sovereign approbation. "I am convinced," said Lord Spigot, "that if there be any thing really unknown and worthy of our most ardent curiosity, it must be in the immense regions of Africa; that country, which seems to be the oldest on the globe, and yet with the greater part of which we are almost utterly unacquainted; what prodigious wealth of gold and diamonds must not lie concealed in those torrid regions, when the very rivers on the coast pour forth continual specimens of golden sand! 'Tis my opinion, therefore, that the Baron deserves the applause of all Europe for his spirit, and merits the most powerful assistance of the sovereign."

So flattering an approbation, you may be sure, was delightful to my heart, and with every confidence and joy I suffered them to take me to court that instant. After the usual ceremonies of introduction, suffice it to say that I met with every honour and applause that my most sanguine expectations could demand. I had always a taste for the fashionable je ne sais quoi of the most elegant society, and in the presence of all the sovereigns of Europe I ever found myself quite at home, and experienced from the whole court the most flattering esteem and admiration. I remember, one particular day, the fate of the unfortunate Marquis de Bellecourt. The Countess of Rassinda, who accompanied him, looked most divinely. "Yes, I am confident," said the Marquis de Bellecourt to me, "that I have acted according to the strictest sentiments of justice and of loyalty to my sovereign. What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted? and though I did not receive a word nor a look, yet I cannot think—no, it were impossible to be misrepresented. Conscious of my own integrity, I will try again—I will go boldly up." The Marquis de Bellecourt saw the opportunity; he advanced three paces, put his hand upon his breast and bowed. "Permit me," said he, "with the most profound respect, to——." His tongue faltered—he could scarcely believe his sight, for at that moment the whole company were moving out of the room. He found himself almost alone, deserted by every one. "What!" said he, "and did he turn upon his heel with the most marked contempt? Would he not speak to me? Would he not even hear me utter a word in my defence?" His heart died within him—not even a look, a smile from any one. "My friends! Do they not know me? Do they not see me? Alas! they fear to catch the contagion of my——. Then," said he, "adieu!—'tis more than I can bear. I shall go to my country seat, and never, never will return. Adieu, fond court, adieu!—"

The venerable Marquis de Bellecourt stopped for a moment ere he entered his carriage. Thrice he looked back, and thrice he wiped the starting tear from his eye. "Yes," said he, "for once, at least, truth shall be found—in the bottom of a well!"

Peace to thy ghost, most noble marquis! a King of kings shall pity thee; and thousands who are yet unborn shall owe their happiness to thee, and have cause to bless the thousands, perhaps, that shall never even know thy name; but Munchausen's self shall celebrate thy glory!





 





CHAPTER XXII

Preparations for the Baron's expedition into Africa—Description of his chariot; the beauties of its interior decorations; the animals that drew it, and the mechanism of the wheels.

Everything being concluded, and having received my instructions for the voyage, I was conducted by the illustrious Hilaro Frosticos, the Lady Fragrantia, and a prodigious crowd of nobility, and placed sitting upon the summit of the whale's bones at the palace; and having remained in this situation for three days and three nights, as a trial ordeal, and a specimen of my perseverance and resolution, the third hour after midnight they seated me in the chariot of Queen Mab. It was a prodigious dimension, large enough to contain more stowage than the tun of Heidelberg, and globular like a hazel-nut: in fact, it seemed to be really a hazel-nut grown to a most extravagant dimension, and that a great worm of proportionable enormity had bored a hole in the shell. Through this same entrance I was ushered. It was as large as a coach-door, and I took my seat in the centre, a kind of chair self-balanced without touching anything, like the fancied tomb of Mahomet. The whole interior surface of the nutshell appeared a luminous representation of all the stars of heaven, the fixed stars, the planets, and a comet. The stars were as large as those worn by our first nobility, and the comet, excessively brilliant, seemed as if you had assembled all the eyes of the beautiful girls in the kingdom, and combined them, like a peacock's plumage, into the form of a comet—that is, a globe, and a bearded tail to it, diminishing gradually to a point. This beautiful constellation seemed very sportive and delightful. It was much in the form of a tadpole! and, without ceasing, went, full of playful giddiness, up and down, all over the heaven on the concave surface of the nutshell. One time it would be at that part of the heavens under my feet, and in the next minute would be over my head. It was never at rest, but for ever going east, west, north, or south, and paid no more respect to the different worlds than if they were so many lanterns without reflectors. Some of them he would dash against and push out of their places; others he would burn up and consume to ashes: and others again he would split into fritters, and their fragments would instantly take a globular form, like spilled quicksilver, and become satellites to whatever other worlds they should happen to meet with in their career. In short, the whole seemed an epitome of the creation, past, present, and future; and all that passes among the stars during one thousand years was here generally performed in as many seconds.

I surveyed all the beauties of the chariot with wonder and delight. "Certainly," cried I, "this is heaven in miniature!" In short, I took the reins in my hand. But before I proceed on my adventures, I shall mention the rest of my attendant furniture. The chariot was drawn by a team of nine bulls harnessed to it, three after three. In the first rank was a most tremendous bull named John Mowmowsky; the rest were called Jacks in general, but not dignified by any particular denomination. They were all shod for the journey, not indeed like horses, with iron, or as bullocks commonly are, to drag on a cart; but were shod with men's skulls. Each of their feet was, hoof and all, crammed into a man's head, cut off for the purpose, and fastened therein with a kind of cement or paste, so that the skull seemed to be a part of the foot and hoof of the animal. With these skull-shoes the creatures could perform astonishing journeys, and slide upon the water, or upon the ocean, with great velocity. The harnesses were fastened with golden buckles, and decked with studs in a superb style, and the creatures were ridden by nine postillions, crickets of a great size, as large as monkeys, who sat squat upon the heads of the bulls, and were continually chirping at a most infernal rate, loud in proportion to their bodies.

The wheels of the chariot consisted of upwards of ten thousand springs, formed so as to give the greater impetuosity to the vehicle, and were more complex than a dozen clocks like that of Strasburgh. The external of the chariot was adorned with banners, and a superb festoon of laurel that formerly shaded me on horseback. And now, having given you a very concise description of my machine for travelling into Africa, which you must allow to be far superior to the apparatus of Monsieur Vaillant, I shall proceed to relate the exploits of my voyage.





 

CHAPTER XXIII

The Baron proceeds on his voyage—Convoys a squadron to Gibraltar —Declines the acceptance of the island of Candia—His chariot damaged by Pompey's Pillar and Cleopatra's Needle—The Baron out-does Alexander—Breaks his chariot, and splits a great rock at the Cape of Good Hope.

Taking the reins in my hand, while the music gave a general salute, I cracked my whip, away they went, and in three hours I found myself just between the Isle of Wight and the main land of England. Here I remained four days, until I had received part of my accompaniment, which I was ordered to take under my convoy. 'Twas a squadron of men-of-war that had been a long time prepared for the Baltic, but which were now destined for the Mediterranean. By the assistance of large hooks and eyes, exactly such as are worn in our hats, but of a greater size, some hundredweight each, the men-of-war hooked themselves on to the wheels of the vehicle: and, in fact, nothing could be more simple or convenient, because they could be hooked or unhooked in an instant with the utmost facility. In short, having given a general discharge of their artillery, and three cheers, I cracked my whip, away we went, helter skelter, and in six jiffies I found myself and all my retinue safe and in good spirits just at the rock of Gibraltar. Here I unhooked my squadron, and having taken an affectionate leave of the officers, I suffered them to proceed in their ordinary manner to the place of their destination. The whole garrison were highly delighted with the novelty of my vehicle; and at the pressing solicitations of the governor and officers I went ashore, and took a view of that barren old rock, about which more powder has been fired away than would purchase twice as much fertile ground in any part of the world! Mounting my chariot, I took the reins, and again made forward, in mad career, down the Mediterranean to the isle of Candia. Here I received despatches from the Sublime Porte, entreating me to assist in the war against Russia, with a reward of the whole island of Candia for my alliance. At first I hesitated, thinking that the island of Candia would be a most valuable acquisition to the sovereign who at that time employed me, and that the most delicious wines, sugar, &c., in abundance would flourish on the island; yet, when I considered the trade of the East India Company, which would most probably suffer by the intercourse with Persia through the Mediterranean, I at once rejected the proposal, and had afterwards the thanks of the Honourable the House of Commons for my propriety and political discernment.

Having been properly refreshed at Candia, I again proceeded, and in a short time arrived in the land of Egypt. The land of this country, at least that part of it near the sea, is very low, so that I came upon it ere I was aware, and the Pillar of Pompey got entangled in the various wheels of the machine, and damaged the whole considerably. Still I drove on through thick and thin, till, passing over that great obelisk, the Needle of Cleopatra, the work got entangled again, and jolted at a miserable rate over the mud and swampy ground of all that country; yet my poor bulls trotted on with astonishing labour across the Isthmus of Suez into the Red Sea, and left a track, an obscure channel, which has since been taken by De Tott for the remains of a canal cut by some of the Ptolemies from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean; but, as you perceive, was in reality no more than the track of my chariot, the car of Queen Mab.

As the artists at present in that country are nothing wonderful, though the ancient Egyptians, 'tis said, were most astonishing fellows, I could not procure any new coach-springs, or have a possibility of setting my machine to rights in the kingdom of Egypt; and as I could not presume to attempt another journey overland, and the great mountains of marble beyond the source of the Nile, I thought it most eligible to make the best way I could, by sea, to the Cape of Good Hope, where I supposed I should get some Dutch smiths and carpenters, or perhaps some English artists; and my vehicle being properly repaired, it was my intention thence to proceed, overland, through the heart of Africa. The surface of the water, I well knew, afforded less resistance to the wheels of the machine—it passed along the waves like the chariot of Neptune; and in short, having gotten upon the Red Sea, we scudded away to admiration through the pass of Babelmandeb to the great Western coast of Africa, where Alexander had not the courage to venture.

And really, my friends, if Alexander had ventured toward the Cape of Good Hope he most probably would have never returned. It is difficult to determine whether there were then any inhabitants in the more southern parts of Africa or not; yet, at any rate, this conqueror of the world would have made but a nonsensical adventure; his miserable ships, not contrived for a long voyage, would have become leaky, and foundered, before he could have doubled the Cape, and left his Majesty fairly beyond the limits of the then known world. Yet it would have been an august exit for an Alexander, after having subdued Persia and India, to be wandering the Lord knows where, to Jup or Ammon, perhaps, or on a voyage to the moon, as an Indian chief once said to Captain Cook.

But, for my part, I was far more successful than Alexander; I drove on with the most amazing rapidity, and thinking to halt on shore at the Cape, I unfortunately drove too close, and shattered the right side wheels of my vehicle against the rock, now called the Table Mountain. The machine went against it with such impetuosity as completely shivered the rock in a horizontal direction; so that the summit of the mountain, in the form of a semi-sphere, was knocked into the sea, and the steep mountain becoming thereby flattened at the top, has since received the name of the Table Mountain, from its similarity to that piece of furniture.

Just as this part of the mountain was knocked off, the ghost of the Cape, that tremendous sprite which cuts such a figure in the Lusiad, was discovered sitting squat in an excavation formed for him in the centre of the mountain. He seemed just like a young bee in his little cell before he comes forth, or like a bean in a bean-pod; and when the upper part of the mountain was split across and knocked off, the superior half of his person was discovered. He appeared of a bottle-blue colour, and started, dazzled with the unexpected glare of the light: hearing the dreadful rattle of the wheels, and the loud chirping of the crickets, he was thunder-struck, and instantly giving a shriek, sunk down ten thousand fathoms into the earth, while the mountain, vomiting out some smoke, silently closed up, and left not a trace behind!








CHAPTER XXIV

The Baron secures his chariot, &c., at the Cape and takes his passage for England in a homeward-bound Indiaman—Wrecked upon an island of ice, near the coast of Guinea—Escapes from the wreck, and rears a variety of vegetables upon the island—Meets some vessels belonging to the negroes bringing white slaves from Europe, in retaliation, to work upon their plantations in a cold climate near the South Pole—Arrives in England, and lays an account of his expedition before the Privy Council—Great preparations for a new expedition—The Sphinx, Gog and Magog, and a great company attend him—The ideas of Hilaro Frosticos respecting the interior parts of Africa.

I perceived with grief and consternation the miscarriage of all my apparatus; yet I was not absolutely dejected: a great mind is never known but in adversity. With permission of the Dutch governor the chariot was properly laid up in a great storehouse, erected at the water's edge, and the bulls received every refreshment possible after so terrible a voyage. Well, you may be sure they deserved it, and therefore every attendance was engaged for them, until I should return.

As it was not possible to do anything more I took my passage in a homeward-bound Indiaman, to return to London, and lay the matter before the Privy Council.

We met with nothing particular until we arrived upon the coast of Guinea, where, to our utter astonishment, we perceived a great hill, seemingly of glass, advancing against us in the open sea; the rays of the sun were reflected upon it with such splendour, that it was extremely difficult to gaze at the phenomenon. I immediately knew it to be an island of ice, and though in so very warm a latitude, determined to make all possible sail from such horrible danger. We did so, but all in vain, for about eleven o'clock at night, blowing a very hard gale, and exceedingly dark, we struck upon the island. Nothing could equal the distraction, the shrieks, and despair of the whole crew, until I, knowing there was not a moment to be lost, cheered up their spirits, and bade them not despond, but do as I should request them. In a few minutes the vessel was half full of water, and the enormous castle of ice that seemed to hem us in on every side, in some places falling in hideous fragments upon the deck, killed one half of the crew; upon which, getting upon the summit of the mast, I contrived to make it fast to a great promontory of the ice, and calling to the remainder of the crew to follow me, we all escaped from the wreck, and got upon the summit of the island.

The rising sun soon gave us a dreadful prospect of our situation, and the loss, or rather iceification, of the vessel; for being closed in on every side with castles of ice during the night, she was absolutely frozen over and buried in such a manner that we could behold her under our feet, even in the central solidity of the island. Having debated what was best to be done, we immediately cut down through the ice, and got up some of the cables of the vessel, and the boats, which, making fast to the island, we towed it with all our might, determined to bring home island and all, or perish in the attempt. On the summit of the island we placed what oakum and dregs of every kind of matter we could get from the vessel, which, in the space of a very few hours, on account of the liquefying of the ice, and the warmth of the sun, were transformed into a very fine manure; and as I had some seeds of exotic vegetables in my pocket, we shortly had a sufficiency of fruits and roots growing upon the island to supply the whole crew, especially the bread-fruit tree, a few plants of which had been in the vessel; and another tree, which bore plum-puddings so very hot, and with such exquisite proportion of sugar, fruit, &c., that we all acknowledged it was not possible to taste anything of the kind more delicious in England: in short, though the scurvy had made such dreadful progress among the crew before our striking upon the ice, the supply of vegetables, and especially the bread-fruit and pudding-fruit, put an almost immediate stop to the distemper.

We had not proceeded thus many weeks, advancing with incredible fatigue by continual towing, when we fell in with a fleet of Negro-men, as they call them. These wretches, I must inform you, my dear friends, had found means to make prizes of those vessels from some Europeans upon the coast of Guinea, and tasting the sweets of luxury, had formed colonies in several new discovered islands near the South Pole, where they had a variety of plantations of such matters as would only grow in the coldest climates. As the black inhabitants of Guinea were unsuited to the climate and excessive cold of the country, they formed the diabolical project of getting Christian slaves to work for them. For this purpose they sent vessels every year to the coast of Scotland, the northern parts of Ireland, and Wales, and were even sometimes seen off the coast of Cornwall. And having purchased, or entrapped by fraud or violence, a great number of men, women, and children, they proceeded with their cargoes of human flesh to the other end of the world, and sold them to their planters, where they were flogged into obedience, and made to work like horses all the rest of their lives.

My blood ran cold at the idea, while every one on the island also expressed his horror that such an iniquitous traffic should be suffered to exist. But, except by open violence, it was found impossible to destroy the trade, on account of a barbarous prejudice, entertained of late by the negroes, that the white people have no souls! However, we were determined to attack them, and steering down our island upon them, soon overwhelmed them: we saved as many of the white people as possible, but pushed all the blacks into the water again. The poor creatures we saved from slavery were so overjoyed, that they wept aloud through gratitude, and we experienced every delightful sensation to think what happiness we should shower upon their parents, their brothers and sisters and children, by bringing them home safe, redeemed from slavery, to the bosom of their native country.

Having happily arrived in England, I immediately laid a statement of my voyage, &c., before the Privy Council, and entreated an immediate assistance to travel into Africa, and, if possible, refit my former machine, and take it along with the rest. Everything was instantly granted to my satisfaction, and I received orders to get myself ready for departure as soon as possible.

As the Emperor of China had sent a most curious animal as a present to Europe, which was kept in the Tower, and it being of an enormous stature, and capable of performing the voyage with éclat, she was ordered to attend me. She was called Sphinx, and was one of the most tremendous though magnificent figures I ever beheld. She was harnessed with superb trappings to a large flat-bottomed boat, in which was placed an edifice of wood, exactly resembling Westminster Hall. Two balloons were placed over it, tackled by a number of ropes to the boat, to keep up a proper equilibrium, and prevent it from overturning, or filling, from the prodigious weight of the fabric.

The interior of the edifice was decorated with seats, in the form of an amphitheatre, and crammed as full as it could hold with ladies and lords, as a council and retinue for your humble servant. Nearly in the centre was a seat elegantly decorated for myself, and on either side of me were placed the famous Gog and Magog in all their pomp.

The Lord Viscount Gosamer being our postillion, we floated gallantly down the river, the noble Sphinx gambolling like the huge leviathan, and towing after her the boat and balloons.

Thus we advanced, sailing gently, into the open sea; being calm weather, we could scarcely feel the motion of the vehicle, and passed our time in grand debate upon the glorious intention of our voyage, and the discoveries that would result.

"I am of opinion," said my noble friend, Hilaro Frosticos, "that Africa was originally inhabited for the greater part, or, I may say, subjugated by lions which, next to man, seem to be the most dreaded of all mortal tyrants. The country in general—at least, what we have been hitherto able to discover, seems rather inimical to human life; the intolerable dryness of the place, the burning sands that overwhelm whole armies and cities in general ruin, and the hideous life many roving hordes are compelled to lead, incline me to think, that if ever we form any great settlements therein, it will become the grave of our countrymen. Yet it is nearer to us than the East Indies, and I cannot but imagine, that in many places every production of China, and of the East and West Indies, would flourish, if properly attended to. And as the country is so prodigiously extensive and unknown, what a source of discovery must not it contain! In fact, we know less about the interior of Africa than we do of the moon; for in this latter we measure the very prominences, and observe the varieties and inequalities of the surface through our glasses—

"Forests and mountains on her spotted orb.

"But we see nothing in the interior of Africa, but what some compilers of maps or geographers are fanciful enough to imagine. What a happy event, therefore, should we not expect from a voyage of discovery and colonisation undertaken in so magnificent a style as the present! what a pride—what an acquisition to philosophy!"





 

CHAPTER XXV

Count Gosamer thrown by Sphinx into the snow on the top of Teneriffe—Gog and Magog conduct Sphinx for the rest of the voyage—The Baron arrives at the Cape, and unites his former chariot, &c., to his new retinue—Passes into Africa, proceeding from the Cape northwards—Defeats a host of lions by a curious stratagem—Travels through an immense desert—His whole company, chariot, &c., overwhelmed by a whirlwind of sand—Extricates them, and arrives in a fertile country.

The brave Count Gosamer, with a pair of hell-fire spurs on, riding upon Sphinx, directed the whole retinue towards the Madeiras. But the Count had no small share of an amiable vanity, and perceiving great multitudes of people, Gascons, &c., assembled upon the French coast, he could not refrain from showing some singular capers, such as they had never seen before: but especially when he observed all the members of the National Assembly extend themselves along the shore, as a piece of French politeness, to honour this expedition, with Rousseau, Voltaire, and Beelzebub at their head; he set spurs to Sphinx, and at the same time cut and cracked away as hard as he could, holding in the reins with all his might, striving to make the creature plunge and show some uncommon diversion. But sulky and ill-tempered was Sphinx at the time: she plunged indeed—such a devil of a plunge, that she dashed him in one jerk over her head, and he fell precipitately into the water before her. It was in the Bay of Biscay, all the world knows a very boisterous sea, and Sphinx, fearing he would be drowned, never turned to the left or the right out of her way, but advancing furious, just stooped her head a little, and supped the poor count off the water, into her mouth, together with the quantity of two or three tuns of water, which she must have taken in along with him, but which were, to such an enormous creature as Sphinx, nothing more than a spoonful would be to any of you or me. She swallowed him, but when she had got him in her stomach, his long spurs so scratched and tickled her, that they produced the effect of an emetic. No sooner was he in, but out he was squirted with the most horrible impetuosity, like a ball or a shell from the calibre of a mortar. Sphinx was at this time quite sea-sick, and the unfortunate count was driven forth like a sky-rocket, and landed upon the peak of Teneriffe, plunged over head and ears in the snow—requiescat in pace!

I perceived all this mischief from my seat in the ark, but was in such a convulsion of laughter that I could not utter an intelligible word. And now Sphinx, deprived of her postillion, went on in a zigzag direction, and gambolled away after a most dreadful manner. And thus had everything gone to wreck, had I not given instant orders to Gog and Magog to sally forth. They plunged into the water, and swimming on each side, got at length right before the animal, and then seized the reins. Thus they continued swimming on each side, like tritons, holding the muzzle of Sphinx, while I, sallying forth astride upon the creature's back, steered forward on our voyage to the Cape of Good Hope.

Arriving at the Cape, I immediately gave orders to repair my former chariot and machines, which were very expeditiously performed by the excellent artists I had brought with me from Europe. And now everything being refitted, we launched forth upon the water: perhaps there never was anything seen more glorious or more august. 'Twas magnificent to behold Sphinx make her obeisance on the water, and the crickets chirp upon the bulls in return of the salute; while Gog and Magog, advancing, took the reins of the great John Mowmowsky, and leading towards us chariot and all, instantly disposed of them to the forepart of the ark by hooks and eyes, and tackled Sphinx before all the bulls. Thus the whole had a most tremendous and triumphal appearance. In front floated forwards the mighty Sphinx, with Gog and Magog on each side; next followed in order the bulls with crickets upon their heads; and then advanced the chariot of Queen Mab, containing the curious seat and orrery of heaven; after which appeared the boat and ark of council, overtopped with two balloons, which gave an air of greater lightness and elegance to the whole. I placed in the galleries under the balloons, and on the backs of the bulls, a number of excellent vocal performers, with martial music of clarionets and trumpets. They sung the "Watery Dangers," and the "Pomp of Deep Cerulean!" The sun shone glorious on the water while the procession advanced toward the land, under five hundred arches of ice, illuminated with coloured lights, and adorned in the most grotesque and fanciful style with sea-weed, elegant festoons, and shells of every kind; while a thousand water-spouts danced eternally before and after us, attracting the water from the sea in a kind of cone, and suddenly uniting with the most fantastical thunder and lightning.

Having landed our whole retinue, we immediately began to proceed toward the heart of Africa, but first thought it expedient to place a number of wheels under the ark for its greater facility of advancing. We journeyed nearly due north for several days, and met with nothing remarkable except the astonishment of the savage natives to behold our equipage.

The Dutch Government at the Cape, to do them justice, gave us every possible assistance for the expedition. I presume they had received instruction on that head from their High Mightinesses in Holland. However, they presented us with a specimen of some of the most excellent of their Cape wine, and showed us every politeness in their power. As to the face of the country, as we advanced, it appeared in many places capable of every cultivation, and of abundant fertility. The natives and Hottentots of this part of Africa have been frequently described by travellers, and therefore it is not necessary to say any more about them. But in the more interior parts of Africa the appearance, manners, and genius of the people are totally different.

We directed our course by the compass and the stars, getting every day prodigious quantities of game in the woods, and at night encamping within a proper enclosure for fear of the wild beasts. One whole day in particular we heard on every side, among the hills, the horrible roaring of lions, resounding from rock to rock like broken thunder. It seemed as if there was a general rendezvous of all these savage animals to fall upon our party. That whole day we advanced with caution, our hunters scarcely venturing beyond pistol shot from the caravan for fear of dissolution. At night we encamped as usual, and threw up a circular entrenchment round our tents. We had scarce retired to repose when we found ourselves serenaded by at least one thousand lions, approaching equally on every side, and within a hundred paces. Our cattle showed the most horrible symptoms of fear, all trembling, and in cold perspiration. I directly ordered the whole company to stand to their arms, and not to make any noise by firing till I should command them. I then took a large quantity of tar, which I had brought with our caravan for that purpose, and strewed it in a continued stream round the encampment, within which circle of tar I immediately placed another train or circle of gunpowder, and having taken this precaution, I anxiously waited the lions' approach. These dreadful animals, knowing, I presume, the force of our troop, advanced very slowly, and with caution, approaching on every side of us with an equal pace, and growling in hideous concert, so as to resemble an earthquake, or some similar convulsion of the world. When they had at length advanced and steeped all their paws in the tar, they put their noses to it, smelling it as if it were blood, and daubed their great bushy hair and whiskers with it equal to their paws. At that very instant, when, in concert, they were to give the mortal dart upon us, I discharged a pistol at the train of gunpowder, which instantly exploded on every side, made all the lions recoil in general uproar, and take to flight with the utmost precipitation. In an instant we could behold them scattered through the woods at some distance, roaring in agony, and moving about like so many Will-o'-the-Wisps, their paws and faces all on fire from the tar and the gun-powder. I then ordered a general pursuit: we followed them on every side through the woods, their own light serving as our guide, until, before the rising of the sun, we followed into their fastnesses and shot or otherwise destroyed every one of them, and during the whole of our journey after we never heard the roaring of a lion, nor did any wild beast presume to make another attack upon our party, which shows the excellence of immediate presence of mind, and the terror inspired into the savage enemies by a proper and well-timed proceeding.

We at length arrived on the confines of an immeasurable desert—an immense plain, extending on every side of us like an ocean. Not a tree, nor a shrub, nor a blade of grass was to be seen, but all appeared an extreme fine sand, mixed with gold-dust and little sparkling pearls.

The gold-dust and pearls appeared to us of little value, because we could have no expectation of returning to England for a considerable time. We observed, at a great distance, something like a smoke arising just over the verge of the horizon, and looking with our telescopes we perceived it to be a whirlwind tearing up the sand and tossing it about in the heavens with frightful impetuosity. I immediately ordered my company to erect a mound around us of a great size, which we did with astonishing labour and perseverance, and then roofed it over with certain planks and timber, which we had with us for the purpose. Our labour was scarcely finished when the sand came rolling in like the waves of the sea; 'twas a storm and river of sand united. It continued to advance in the same direction, without intermission, for three days, and completely covered over the mound we had erected, and buried us all within. The intense heat of the place was intolerable; but guessing, by the cessation of the noise, that the storm was passed, we set about digging a passage to the light of day again, which we effected in a very short time, and ascending, perceived that the whole had been so completely covered with the sand, that there appeared no hills, but one continued plain, with inequalities or ridges on it like the waves of the sea. We soon extricated our vehicle and retinue from the burning sands, but not without great danger, as the heat was very violent, and began to proceed on our voyage. Storms of sand of a similar nature several times attacked us, but by using the same precautions we preserved ourselves repeatedly from destruction. Having travelled more than nine thousand miles over this inhospitable plain, exposed to the perpendicular rays of a burning sun, without ever meeting a rivulet, or a shower from heaven to refresh us, we at length became almost desperate, when, to our inexpressible joy, we beheld some mountains at a great distance, and on our nearer approach observed them covered with a carpet of verdure and groves and woods. Nothing could appear more romantic or beautiful than the rocks and precipices intermingled with flowers and shrubs of every kind, and palm-trees of such a prodigious size as to surpass anything ever seen in Europe. Fruits of all kinds appeared growing wild in the utmost abundance, and antelopes and sheep and buffaloes wandered about the groves and valleys in profusion. The trees resounded with the melody of birds, and everything displayed a general scene of rural happiness and joy.









CHAPTER XXVI

A feast on live bulls and kava—The inhabitants admire the European adventurers—The Emperor comes to meet the Baron, and pays him great compliments—The inhabitants of the centre of Africa descended from the people of the moon proved by an inscription in Africa, and by the analogy of their language, which is also the same with that of the ancient Scythians—The Baron is declared sovereign of the interior of Africa on the decease of the Emperor—He endeavours to abolish the custom of eating live bulls, which excites much discontent—The advice of Hilaro Frosticos upon the occasion—The Baron makes a speech to an Assembly of the states, which only excites greater murmurs—He consults with Hilaro Frosticos.

Having passed over the nearest mountains we entered a delightful vale, where we perceived a multitude of persons at a feast of living bulls, whose flesh they cut away with great knives, making a table of the creature's carcase, serenaded by the bellowing of the unfortunate animal. Nothing seemed requisite to add to the barbarity of this feast but kava, made as described in Cook's voyages, and at the conclusion of the feast we perceived them brewing this liquor, which they drank with the utmost avidity. From that moment, inspired with an idea of universal benevolence, I determined to abolish the custom of eating live flesh and drinking of kava. But I knew that such a thing could not be immediately effected, whatever in future time might be performed.

Having rested ourselves during a few days, we determined to set out towards the principal city of the empire. The singularity of our appearance was spoken of all over the country as a phenomenon. The multitude looked upon Sphinx, the bulls, the crickets, the balloons, and the whole company, as something more than terrestrial, but especially the thunder of our fire-arms, which struck horror and amazement into the whole nation.

We at length arrived at the metropolis, situated on the banks of a noble river, and the emperor, attended by all his court, came out in grand procession to meet us. The emperor appeared mounted on a dromedary, royally caparisoned, with all his attendants on foot through respect for his Majesty. He was rather above the middle stature of that country, four feet three inches in height, with a countenance, like all his countrymen, as white as snow! He was preceded by a band of most exquisite music, according to the fashion of the country, and his whole retinue halted within about fifty paces of our troop. We returned the salute by a discharge of musketry, and a flourish of our trumpets and martial music. I commanded our caravan to halt, and dismounting, advanced uncovered, with only two attendants, towards his Majesty. The emperor was equally polite, and descending from his dromedary, advanced to meet me. "I am happy," said he, "to have the honour to receive so illustrious a traveller, and assure you that everything in my empire shall be at your disposal."

I thanked his Majesty for his politeness, and expressed how happy I was to meet so polished and refined a people in the centre of Africa, and that I hoped to show myself and company grateful for his esteem, by introducing the arts and sciences of Europe among the people.

I immediately perceived the true descent of this people, which does not appear of terrestrial origin, but descended from some of the inhabitants of the moon, because the principal language spoken there, and in the centre of Africa, is very nearly the same. Their alphabet and method of writing are pretty much the same, and show the extreme antiquity of this people, and their exalted origin. I here give you a specimen of their writing [Vide Otrckocsus de Orig. Hung. p. 46]:—Stregnah, dna skoohtop.

These characters I have submitted to the inspection of a celebrated antiquarian, and it will be proved to the satisfaction of every one, in his next volume, what an immediate intercourse there must have been between the inhabitants of the moon and the ancient Scythians, which Scythians did not by any means inhabit a part of Russia, but the central part of Africa, as I can abundantly prove to my very learned and laborious friend. The above words, written in our characters, are Sregnah dna skoohtop; that is, The Scythians are of heavenly origin. The word Sregnah, which signifies Scythians, is compounded of sreg or sre, whence our present English word sire, or sir: and nah, or gnah, knowledge, because the Scythians united the essentials of nobility and learning together: dna signifies heaven, or belonging to the moon, from duna, who was anciently worshipped as goddess of that luminary. And skooh-top signifies the origin or beginning of anything, from skoo, the name used in the moon for a point in geometry, and top or htop, vegetation. These words are inscribed at this day upon a pyramid in the centre of Africa, nearly at the source of the river Niger; and if any one refuses his assent, he may go there to be convinced.

The emperor conducted me to his court amidst the admiration of his courtiers, and paid us every possible politeness that African magnificence could bestow. He never presumed to proceed on any expedition without consulting us, and looking upon us as a species of superior beings, paid the greatest respect to our opinions. He frequently asked me about the states of Europe, and the kingdom of Great Britain, and appeared lost in admiration at the account I gave him of our shipping, and the immensity of the ocean. We taught him to regulate the government nearly on the same plan with the British constitution, and to institute a parliament and degrees of nobility. His majesty was the last of his royal line, and on his decease, with the unanimous consent of the people, made me heir to the whole empire. The nobility and chiefs of the country immediately waited upon me with petitions, entreating me to accept the government. I consulted with my noble friends, Gog and Magog, &c., and after much consultation it was agreed that I should accept the government, not as actual and independent monarch of the place, but as viceroy to his Majesty of England.

I now thought it high time to do away the custom of eating of live flesh and drinking of kava, and for that purpose used every persuasive method to wean the majority of the people from it. This, to my astonishment, was not taken in good part by the nation, and they looked with jealousy at those strangers who wanted to make innovations among them.

Nevertheless, I felt much concern to think that my fellow-creatures could be capable of such barbarity. I did everything that a heart fraught with universal benevolence and good will to all mankind could be capable of desiring. I first tried every method of persuasion and incitement. I did not harshly reprove them, but I invited frequently whole thousands to dine, after the fashion of Europe, upon roasted meat. Alas, 'twas all in vain! my goodness nearly excited a sedition. They murmured among themselves, spoke of my intentions, my wild and ambitious views, as if I, O heaven! could have had any personal interested motive in making them live like men, rather than like crocodiles and tigers. In fine, perceiving that gentleness could be of no avail, well knowing that when complaisance can effect nothing from some spirits, compulsion excites respect and veneration, I prohibited, under the pain of the severest penalties, the drinking of kava, or eating of live flesh, for the space of nine days, within the districts of Angalinar and Paphagalna.

But this created such an universal abhorrence and detestation of my government, that my ministers, and even myself, were universally pasquinadoed; lampoons, satires, ridicule, and insult, were showered upon the name of Munchausen wherever it was mentioned; and in fine, there never was a government so much detested, or with such little reason.

In this dilemma I had recourse to the advice of my noble friend Hilaro Frosticos. In his good sense I now expected some resource, for the rest of the council, who had advised me to the former method, had given but a poor specimen of their abilities and discernment, or I should have succeeded more happily. In short, he addressed himself to me and to the council as follows:—

"It is in vain, most noble Munchausen, that your Excellency endeavours to compel or force these people to a life to which they have never been accustomed. In vain do you tell them that apple-pies, pudding, roast beef, minced pies, or tarts, are delicious, that sugar is sweet, that wine is exquisite. Alas! they cannot, they will not comprehend what deliciousness is, what sweetness, or what the flavour of the grape. And even if they were convinced of the superior excellence of your way of life, never, never would they be persuaded; and that if for no other reason, but because force or persuasion is employed to induce them to it. Abandon that idea for the present, and let us try another method. My opinion, therefore, is, that we should at once cease all endeavours to compel or persuade them. But let us, if possible, procure a quantity of fudge from England, and carelessly scatter it over all the country; and from this disposal of matters I presume—nay, I have a moral certainty, that we shall reclaim this people from horror and barbarity."

Had this been proposed at any other time, it would have been violently opposed in the council; but now, when every other attempt had failed, when there seemed no other resource, the majority willingly submitted to they knew not what, for they absolutely had no idea of the manner, the possibilities of success, or how they could bring matters to bear. However, 'twas a scheme, and as such they submitted. For my part, I listened with ecstasy to the words of Hilaro Frosticos, for I knew that he had a most singular knowledge of human kind, and could humour and persuade them on to their own happiness and universal good. Therefore, according to the advice of Hilaro, I despatched a balloon with four men over the desert to the Cape of Good Hope, with letters to be forwarded to England, requiring, without delay, a few cargoes of fudge.

The people had all this time remained in a general state of ferment and murmur. Everything that rancour, low wit, and deplorable ignorance could conceive to asperse my government, was put in execution. The most worthy, even the most beneficent actions, everything that was amiable, were perverted into opposition.

The heart of Munchausen was not made of such impenetrable stuff as to be insensible to the hatred of even the most worthless wretch in the whole kingdom; and once, at a general assembly of the states, filled with an idea of such continued ingratitude, I spoke as pathetic as possible, not, methought, beneath my dignity, to make them feel for me: that the universal good and happiness of the people were all I wished or desired; that if my actions had been mistaken, or improper surmises formed, still I had no wish, no desire, but the public welfare, &c. &c. &c.

Hilaro Frosticos was all this time much disturbed; he looked sternly at me—he frowned, but I was so engrossed with the warmth of my heart, my intentions, that I understood him not: in a minute I saw nothing but as if through a cloud (such is the force of amiable sensibility)—lords, ladies, chiefs—the whole assembly seemed to swim before my sight. The more I thought on my good intentions, the lampoons which so much affected my delicacy, good nature, tenderness—I forgot myself—I spoke rapid, violent—beneficence—fire—tenderness—alas! I melted into tears!

"Pish! pish!" said Hilaro Frosticos.

Now, indeed, was my government lampooned, satirised, carribonadoed, bepickled, and bedevilled. One day, with my arm full of lampoons, I started up as Hilaro entered the room, the tears in my eyes: "Look, look here, Hilaro!—how can I bear all this? It is impossible to please them; I will leave the government—I cannot bear it! See what pitiful anecdotes—what surmises: I will make my people feel for me—I will leave the government!"

"Pshaw!" says Hilaro. At that simple mono-syllable I found myself changed as if by magic! for I ever looked on Hilaro as a person so experienced—such fortitude, such good sense. "There are three sails, under the convoy of a frigate," added Hilaro, "just arrived at the Cape, after a fortunate passage, laden with the fudge that we demanded. No time is to be lost; let it be immediately conducted hither, and distributed through the principal granaries of the empire."





 

CHAPTER XXVII

A proclamation by the Baron—Excessive curiosity of the people to know what fudge was—The people in a general ferment about it—They break open all the granaries in the empire—The affections of the people conciliated—An ode performed in honour of the Baron—His discourse with Fragrantia on the excellence of the music.

Some time after I ordered the following proclamation to be published in the Court Gazette, and in all the other papers of the empire:—

BY THE MOST MIGHTY AND PUISSANT LORD,
HIS EXCELLENCY THE
LORD BARON MUNCHAUSEN.

Whereas a quantity of fudge has been distributed through all the granaries of the empire for particular uses; and as the natives have ever expressed their aversion to all manner of European eatables, it is hereby strictly forbidden, under pain of the severest penalties, for any of the officers charged with the keeping of the said fudge to give, sell, or suffer to be sold, any part or quantity whatever of the said material, until it be agreeable unto our good will and pleasure.

Dated in our Castle of Gristariska

this Triskill of the month of

Griskish, in the year Moulikasra-

navas-kashna-vildash.

This proclamation excited the most ardent curiosity all over the empire. "Do you know what this fudge is?" said Lady Mooshilgarousti to Lord Darnarlaganl. "Fudge!" said he, "Fudge! no: what fudge?" "I mean," replied her Ladyship, "the enormous quantity of fudge that has been distributed under guards in all the strong places in the empire, and which is strictly forbidden to be sold or given to any of the natives under the severest penalties." "Lord!" replied he, "what in the name of wonder can it be? Forbidden! why it must, but pray do you, Lady Fashashash, do you know what this fudge is? Do you, Lord Trastillauex? or you, Miss Gristilarkask? What! nobody know what this fudge can be?"

It engrossed for several days the chit-chat of the whole empire. Fudge, fudge, fudge, resounded in all companies and in all places, from the rising until the setting of the sun; and even at night, when gentle sleep refreshed the rest of mortals, the ladies of all that country were dreaming of fudge!

"Upon my honour," said Kitty, as she was adjusting her modesty piece before the glass, just after getting out of bed, "there is scarce anything I would not give to know what this fudge can be." "La! my dear," replied Miss Killnariska, "I have been dreaming the whole night of nothing but fudge; I thought my lover kissed my hand, and pressed it to his bosom, while I, frowning, endeavoured to wrest it from him: that he kneeled at my feet. No, never, never will I look at you, cried I, till you tell me what this fudge can be, or get me some of it. Begone! cried I, with all the dignity of offended beauty, majesty, and a tragic queen. Begone! never see me more, or bring me this delicious fudge. He swore, on the honour of a knight, that he would wander o'er the world, encounter every danger, perish in the attempt, or satisfy the angel of his soul."

The chiefs and nobility of the nation, when they met together to drink their kava, spoke of nothing but fudge. Men, women, and children all, all talked of nothing but fudge. 'Twas a fury of curiosity, one general ferment, and universal fever—nothing but fudge could allay it.

But in one respect they all agreed, that government must have had some interested view, in giving such positive orders to preserve it, and keep it from the natives of the country. Petitions were addressed to me from all quarters, from every corporation and body of men in the whole empire. The majority of the people instructed their constituents, and the parliament presented a petition, praying that I would be pleased to take the state of the nation under consideration, and give orders to satisfy the people, or the most dreadful consequences were to be apprehended. To these requests, at the entreaty of my council, I made no reply, or at best but unsatisfactory answers. Curiosity was on the rack; they forgot to lampoon the government, so engaged were they about the fudge. The great assembly of the states could think of nothing else. Instead of enacting laws for the regulation of the people, instead of consulting what should seem most wise, most excellent, they could think, talk, and harangue of nothing but fudge. In vain did the Speaker call to order; the more checks they got the more extravagant and inquisitive they were.

In short, the populace in many places rose in the most outrageous and tumultuous manner, forced open the granaries in all places in one day, and triumphantly distributed the fudge through the whole empire.

Whether on account of the longing, the great curiosity, imagination, or the disposition of the people, I cannot say—but they found it infinitely to their taste; 'twas intoxication of joy, satisfaction, and applause.

Finding how much they liked this fudge, I procured another quantity from England, much greater than the former, and cautiously bestowed it over all the kingdom. Thus were the affections of the people regained; and they, from hence, began to venerate, applaud, and admire my government more than ever. The following ode was performed at the castle, in the most superb style, and universally admired:—

     ODE.

     Ye bulls and crickets, and Gog, Magog,
     And trump'ts high chiming anthrophog,
     Come sing blithe choral all in og,
     Caralog, basilog, fog, and bog!

     Great and superb appears thy cap sublime,
     Admired and worshipp'd as the rising sun;
     Solemn, majestic, wise, like hoary Time,
     And fam'd alike for virtue, sense, and fun.

     Then swell the noble strain with song,
     And elegance divine,
     While goddesses around shall throng,
     And all the muses nine.

     And bulls, and crickets, and Gog, Magog,
     And trumpets chiming anthrophog,
     Shall sing blithe choral all in og,
     Caralog, basilog, fog, and bog!

This piece of poetry was much applauded, admired, and encored in every public assembly, celebrated as an astonishing effort of genius; and the music, composed by Minheer Gastrashbark Gkrghhbarwskhk, was thought equal to the sense!—Never was there anything so universally admired, the summit of the most exquisite wit, the keenest praise, the most excellent music.

"Upon my honour, and the faith I owe my love," said I, "music may be talked of in England, but to possess the very soul of harmony the world should come to the performance of this ode." Lady Fragrantia was at that moment drumming with her fingers on the edge of her fan, lost in a reverie, thinking she was playing upon——Was it a forte piano?

"No, my dear Fragrantia," said I, tenderly taking her in my arms while she melted into tears; "never, never, will I play upon any other——!"

Oh! 'twas divine, to see her like a summer's morning, all blushing and full of dew!










CHAPTER XXVIII

The Baron sets all the people of the empire to work to build a bridge from their country to Great Britain—His contrivance to render the arch secure—Orders an inscription to be engraved on the bridge—Returns with all his company, chariot, etc., to England—Surveys the kingdoms and nations under him from the middle of the bridge.

"And now, most noble Baron," said the illustrious Hilaro Frosticos, "now is the time to make this people proceed in any business that we find convenient. Take them at this present ferment of the mind, let them not think, but at once set them to work." In short, the whole nation went heartily to the business, to build an edifice such as was never seen in any other country. I took care to supply them with their favourite kava and fudge, and they worked like horses. The tower of Babylon, which, according to Hermogastricus, was seven miles high, or the Chinese wall, was a mere trifle, in comparison to this stupendous edifice, which was completed in a very short space of time.

It was of an immense height, far beyond anything that ever had been before erected, and of such gentle ascent, that a regiment of cavalry with a train of cannon could ascend with perfect ease and facility. It seemed like a rainbow in the heavens, the base of which appeared to rise in the centre of Africa, and the other extremity seemed to stoop into great Britain. A most noble bridge indeed, and a piece of masonry that has outdone Sir Christopher Wren. Wonderful must it have been to form so tremendous an arch, especially as the artists had certain difficulties to labour against which they could not have in the formation of any other arch in the world—I mean, the attraction of the moon and planets: Because the arch was of so great a height, and in some parts so elongated from the earth, as in a great measure to diminish in its gravitation to the centre of our globe; or rather, seemed more easily operated upon by the attraction of the planets: So that the stones of the arch, one would think, at certain times, were ready to fall up to the moon, and at other times to fall down to the earth. But as the former was more to be dreaded, I secured stability to the fabric by a very curious contrivance: I ordered the architects to get the heads of some hundred numbskulls and blockheads, and fix them to the interior surface of the arch, at certain intervals, all the whole length, by which means the arch was held together firm, and its inclination to the earth eternally established; because of all the things in the world, the skulls of these kind of animals have a strange facility of tending to the centre of the earth.

The building being completed, I caused an inscription to be engraved in the most magnificent style upon the summit of the arch, in letters so great and luminous, that all vessels sailing to the East or West Indies might read them distinct in the heavens, like the motto of Constantine.

KARDOL BAGARLAN KAI TON FARINGO SARGAI RA
MO PASHROL VATINEAC CAL COLNITOS RO NA FILNAT
AGASTRA SA DINGANNAL FANO.

That is to say, "As long as this arch and bond of union shall exist, so long shall the people be happy. Nor can all the power of the world affect them, unless the moon, advancing from her usual sphere, should so much attract the skulls as to cause a sudden elevation, on which the whole will fall into the most horrible confusion."

An easy intercourse being thus established between Great Britain and the centre of Africa, numbers travelled continually to and from both countries, and at my request mail coaches were ordered to run on the bridge between both empires. After some time, having settled the government to my satisfaction, I requested permission to resign, as a great cabal had been excited against me in England; I therefore received my letters of recall, and prepared to return to Old England.

In fine, I set out upon my journey, covered with applause and general admiration. I proceeded with the same retinue that I had before—Sphinx, Gog and Magog, &c., and advanced along the bridge, lined on each side with rows of trees, adorned with festoons of various flowers, and illuminated with coloured lights. We advanced at a great rate along the bridge, which was so very extensive that we could scarcely perceive the ascent, but proceeded insensibly until we arrived on the centre of the arch. The view from thence was glorious beyond conception; 'twas divine to look down on the kingdoms and seas and islands under us. Africa seemed in general of a tawny brownish colour, burned up by the sun: Spain seemed more inclining to a yellow, on account of some fields of corn scattered over the kingdom; France appeared more inclining to a bright straw-colour, intermixed with green; and England appeared covered with the most beautiful verdure. I admired the appearance of the Baltic Sea, which evidently seemed to have been introduced between those countries by the sudden splitting of the land, and that originally Sweden was united to the western coast of Denmark; in short, the whole interstice of the Gulf of Finland had no being, until these countries, by mutual consent, separated from one another. Such were my philosophical meditations as I advanced, when I observed a man in armour with a tremendous spear or lance, and mounted upon a steed, advancing against me. I soon discovered by a telescope that it could be no other than Don Quixote, and promised myself much amusement in the rencounter.





 

CHAPTER XXIX

The Baron's retinue is opposed in a heroic style by Don Quixote, who in his turn is attacked by Gog and Magog—Lord Whittington, with the Lord Mayor's show, comes to the assistance of Don Quixote—Gog and Magog assail his Lordship—Lord Whittington makes a speech, and deludes Gog and Magog to his party—A general scene of uproar and battle among the company, until the Baron, with great presence of mind, appeases the tumult.

"What art thou?" exclaimed Don Quixote on his potent steed. "Who art thou? Speak! or, by the eternal vengeance of mine arm, thy whole machinery shall perish at sound of this my trumpet!"

Astonished at so rude a salutation, the great Sphinx stopped short, and bridling up herself, drew in her head, like a snail when it touches something that it does not like: the bulls set up a horrid bellowing, the crickets sounded an alarm, and Gog and Magog advanced before the rest. One of these powerful brothers had in his hand a great pole, to the extremity of which was fastened a cord of about two feet in length, and to the end of the cord was fastened a ball of iron, with spikes shooting from it like the rays of a star; with this weapon he prepared to encounter, and advancing thus he spoke:—

"Audacious wight! that thus, in complete steel arrayed, doth dare to venture cross my way, to stop the great Munchausen. Know then, proud knight, that thou shalt instant perish 'neath my potent arm."

When Quixote, Mancha's knight, responded firm:—

"Gigantic monster! leader of witches, crickets, and chimeras dire! know thou, that here before yon azure heaven the cause of truth, of valour, and of faith right pure shall ordeal counter try it!"

Thus he spoke, and brandishing his mighty spear, would instant prodigies sublime perform, had not some wight placed 'neath the tail of dark Rosinante furze all thorny base; at which, quadrupedanting, plunged the steed, and instant on the earth the knight roared credo for his life.

At that same moment ten thousand frogs started from the morions of Gog and Magog, and furiously assailed the knight on every side. In vain he roared, and invoked fair Dulcinea del Toboso: for frogs' wild croaking seemed more loud, more sonorous than all his invocations. And thus in battle vile the knight was overcome, and spawn all swarmed upon his glittering helmet.

"Detested miscreants!" roared the knight; "avaunt! Enchanters dire and goblins could alone this arduous task perform; to rout the knight of Mancha, foul defeat, and war, even such as ne'er was known before. Then hear, O del Toboso! hear my vows, that thus in anguish of my soul I urge, midst frogs, Gridalbin, Hecaton, Kai, Talon, and the Rove! [for such the names and definitions of their qualities, their separate powers.] For Merlin plumed their airy flight, and then in watery moonbeam dyed his rod eccentric. At the touch ten thousand frogs, strange metamorphosed, croaked even thus: And here they come, on high behest, to vilify the knight that erst defended famed virginity, and matrons all bewronged, and pilgrims hoar, and courteous guise of all! But the age of chivalry is gone, and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever?"

He spake, and sudden good Lord Whittington, at head of all his raree-show, came forth, armour antique of chivalry, and helmets old, and troops, all streamers, flags and banners glittering gay, red, gold, and purple; and in every hand a square of gingerbread, all gilded nice, was brandished awful. At a word, ten thousand thousand Naples biscuits, crackers, buns, and flannel-cakes, and hats of gingerbread encountered in mid air in glorious exaltation, like some huge storm of mill-stones, or when it rains whole clouds of dogs and cats.

The frogs, astonished, thunderstruck, forgot their notes and music, that before had seemed so terrible, and drowned the cries of knight renown, and mute in wonder heard the words of Whittington, pronouncing solemn:—"Goblins, chimeras dire, or frogs, or whatsoe'er enchantment thus presents in antique shape, attend and hear the words of peace; and thou, good herald, read aloud the Riot Act!"

He ceased, and dismal was the tone that softly breathed from all the frogs in chorus, who quick had petrified with fright, unless redoubted Gog and Magog, both with poles, high topped with airy bladders by a string dependent, had not stormed against his lordship. Ever and anon the bladders, loud resounding on his chaps, proclaimed their fury against all potent law, coercive mayoralty; when he, submissive, thus in cunning guile addressed the knights assailant:—"Gog, Magog, renowned and famous! what, my sons, shall you assail your father, friend, and chief confessed? Shall you, thus armed with bladders vile, attack my title, eminence, and pomp sublime? Subside, vile discord, and again return to your true 'legiance. Think, my friends, how oft your gorgeous pouch I've crammed, all calapash, green fat, and calapee. Remember how you've feasted, stood inert for ages, until size immense you've gained. And think, how different is the service of Munchausen, where you o'er seas, cold, briny, float along the tide, eternal toiling like to slaves of Algiers and Tripoli. And ev'n on high, balloon like, through the heavens have journeyed late, upon a rainbow or some awful bridge stretched eminent, as if on earth he had not work sufficient to distress your potent servitudes, but he should also seek in heaven dire cause of labour! Recollect, my friends, even why or wherefore should you thus assail your lawful magistrate, or why desert his livery? or for what or wherefore serve this German Lord Munchausen, who for all your labour shall alone bestow some fudge and heroic blows in war? Then cease, and thus in amity return to friendship aldermanic, bungy, brown, and sober."

Ceased he then, right worshipful, when both the warring champions instant stemmed their battle, and in sign of peace and unity returning, 'neath their feet reclined their weapons. Sudden at a signal either stamped his foot sinistrine, and the loud report of bursten bladder stunned each ear surrounding, like the roar of thunder from on high convulsing heaven and earth.

'Twas now upon the saddle once again the knight of Mancha rose, and in his hand far balancing his lance, full tilt against the troops of bulls opposing run. And thou, shrill Crillitrilkril, than whom no cricket e'er on hob of rural cottage, or chimney black, more gladsome turned his merry note, e'en thou didst perish, shrieking gave the ghost in empty air, the sport of every wind; for e'en that heart so jocund and so gay was pierced, harsh spitted by the lance of Mancha, while undaunted thou didst sit between the horns that crowned Mowmowsky. And now Whittington advanced, 'midst armour antique and the powers Magog and Gog, and with his rod enchanting touched the head of every frog, long mute and thunderstruck, at which, in universal chorus and salute, they sung blithe jocund, and amain advanced rebellious 'gainst my troop.

While Sphinx, though great, gigantic, seemed instinctive base and cowardly, and at the sight of storming gingerbread, and powers, Magog and Gog, and Quixote, all against her, started fierce, o'erturning boat, balloons, and all; loud roared the bulls, hideous, and the crash of wheels, and chaos of confusion drear, resounded far from earth to heaven. And still more fierce in charge the great Lord Whittington, from poke of ermine his famed Grimalkin took. She screamed, and harsh attacked my bulls confounded; lightning-like she darted, and from half the troop their eyes devouring tore. Nor could the riders, crickets throned sublime, escape from rage, from fury less averse than cannons murder o'er the stormy sea. The great Mowmowsky roared amain and plunged in anguish, shunning every dart of fire-eyed fierce Grimalkin. Dire the rage of warfare and contending crickets, Quixote and great Magog; when Whittington advancing—"Good, my friends and warriors, headlong on the foe bear down impetuous." He spoke, and waving high the mighty rod, tipped wonderful each bull, at which more fierce the creatures bellowed, while enchantment drear devoured their vitals. And all had gone to wreck in more than mortal strife, unless, like Neptune orient from the stormy deep, I rose, e'en towering o'er the ruins of my fighting troops. Serene and calm I stood, and gazed around undaunted; nor did aught oppose against my foes impetuous. But sudden from chariot purses plentiful of fudge poured forth, and scattered it amain o'er all the crowd contending. As when old Catherine or the careful Joan doth scatter to the chickens bits of bread and crumbs fragmented, while rejoiced they gobble fast the proffered scraps in general plenty and fraternal peace, and "hush," she cries, "hush! hush!"








CHAPTER XXX

The Baron arrives in England—the Colossus of Rhodes comes to congratulate him—Great rejoicings on the Baron's return, and a tremendous concert—The Baron's discourse with Fragrantia, and her opinion of the Tour to the Hebrides.

Having arrived in England once more, the greatest rejoicings were made for my return; the whole city seemed one general blaze of illumination, and the Colossus of Rhodes, hearing of my astonishing feats, came on purpose to England to congratulate me on such unparalleled achievements. But above all other rejoicings on my return, the musical oratorio and song of triumph were magnificent in the extreme. Gog and Magog were ordered to take the maiden tower of Windsor, and make a tambourine or great drum of it. For this purpose they extended an elephant's hide, tanned and prepared for the design, across the summit of the tower, from parapet to parapet, so that in proportion this extended elephant's hide was to the whole of the castle what the parchment is to a drum, in such a manner that the whole became one great instrument of war.

To correspond with this, Colossus took Guildhall and Westminster Abbey, and turning the foundations towards the heavens, so that the roofs of the edifices were upon the ground, he strung them across with brass and steel wire from side to side, and thus, when strung, they had the appearance of most noble dulcimers. He then took the great dome of St. Paul's, raising it off the earth with as much facility as you would a decanter of claret. And when once risen up it had the appearance of a quart bottle. Colossus instantly, with his teeth, cracked off the superior part of the cupola, and then applying his lips to the instrument, began to sound it like a trumpet. 'Twas martial beyond description—tantara!tara!ta!

During the concert I walked in the park with Lady Fragrantia: she was dressed that morning in a chemise à la reine. "I like," said she, "the dew of the morning, 'tis delicate and ethereal, and, by thus bespangling me, I think it will more approximate me to the nature of the rose [for her looks were like Aurora]; and to confirm the vermilion I shall go to Spa." "And drink the Podhon spring?" added I, gazing at her from top to toe. "Yes," replied the lovely Fragrantia, "with all my heart; 'tis the drink of sweetness and delicacy. Never were there any creatures like the water-drinkers at spa; they seem like so many thirsty blossoms on a peach-tree, that suck up the shower in the scorching heat. There is a certain something in the waters that gives vigour to the whole frame, and expands every heart with rapture and benevolence. They drink! good gods! how they do drink! and then, how they sleep! Pray, my dear Baron, were you ever at the falls of Niagara?" "Yes, my lady," replied I, surprised at such a strange association of ideas; "I have been, many years ago, at the Falls of Niagara, and found no more difficulty in swimming up and down the cataracts than I should to move a minuet." At that moment she dropped her nosegay. "Ah," said she, as I presented it to her, "there is no great variety in these polyanthuses. I do assure you, my dear Baron, that there is taste in the selection of flowers as well as everything else, and were I a girl of sixteen I should wear some rosebuds in my bosom, but at five-and-twenty I think it would be more apropos to wear a full-blown rose, quite ripe, and ready to drop off the stalk for want of being pulled—heigh-ho!" "But pray, my lady," said I, "how do you like the concert?" "Alas!" said she, languishingly, while she laid her hand upon my shoulder, "what are these bodiless sounds and vibration to me? and yet what an exquisite sweetness in the songs of the northern part of our island:—'Thou art gone awa' from me, Mary!' How pathetic and divine the little airs of Scotland and the Hebrides! But never, never can I think of that same Doctor Johnson—that CONSTABLE, as Fergus MacLeod calls him—but I have an idea of a great brown full-bottomed wig and a hogshead of porter! Oh, 'twas base! to be treated everywhere with politeness and hospitality, and in return invidiously to smellfungus them all over; to go to the country of Kate of Aberdeen, of Auld Robin Gray, 'midst rural innocence and sweetness, take up their plaids, and dance. Oh! Doctor, Doctor!"

"And what would you say, Fragrantia, if you were to write a tour to the Hebrides?" "Peace to the heroes," replied she, in a delicate and theatrical tone; "peace to the heroes who sleep in the isle of Iona; the sons of the wave, and the chiefs of the dark-brown shield! The tear of the sympathising stranger is scattered by the wind over the hoary stones as she meditates sorrowfully on the times of old! Such could I say, sitting upon some druidical heap or tumulus. The fact is this, there is a right and wrong handle to everything, and there is more pleasure in thinking with pure nobility of heart than with the illiberal enmities and sarcasm of a blackguard."





 

CHAPTER XXXI

A litigated contention between Don Quixote, Gog, Magog, &c.—A grand court assembled upon it—The appearance of the company—The matrons, judges, &c.—The method of writing, and the use of the fashionable amusement quizzes—Wauwau arrives from the country of Prester John, and leads the whole Assembly a wild-goose chase to the top of Plinlimmon, and thence to Virginia—The Baron meets a floating island in his voyage to America—Pursues Wauwau with his whole company through the deserts of North America—His curious contrivance to seize Wauwau in a morass.

The contention between Gog and Magog, and Sphinx, Hilaro Frosticos, the Lord Whittington, &c., was productive of infinite litigation. All the lawyers in the kingdom were employed, to render the affair as complex and gloriously uncertain as possible; and, in fine, the whole nation became interested, and were divided on both sides of the question. Colossus took the part of Sphinx, and the affair was at length submitted to the decision of a grand council in a great hall, adorned with seats on every side in form of an amphitheatre. The assembly appeared the most magnificent and splendid in the world. A court or jury of one hundred matrons occupied the principal and most honourable part of the amphitheatre; they were dressed in flowing robes of sky-blue velvet adorned with festoons of brilliants and diamond stars; grave and sedate-looking matrons, all in uniform, with spectacles upon their noses; and opposite to these were placed one hundred judges, with curly white wigs flowing down on each side of them to their very feet, so that Solomon in all his glory was not so wise in appearance. At the ardent request of the whole empire I condescended to be the president of the court, and being arrayed accordingly, I took my seat beneath a canopy erected in the centre. Before every judge was placed a square inkstand, containing a gallon of ink, and pens of a proportionable size; and also right before him an enormous folio, so large as to serve for table and book at the same time. But they did not make much use of their pens and ink, except to blot and daub the paper; for, that they should be the more impartial, I had ordered that none but the blind should be honoured with the employment: so that when they attempted to write anything, they uniformly dipped their pens into the machine containing sand, and having scrawled over a page as they thought, desiring them to dry it with sand, would spill half a gallon of ink upon the paper, and thereby daubing their fingers, would transfer the ink to their face whenever thy leaned their cheek upon their hand for greater gravity. As to the matrons, to prevent an eternal prattle that would drown all manner of intelligibility, I found it absolutely necessary to sew up their mouths; so that between the blind judges and the dumb matrons methought the trial had a chance of being terminated sooner than it otherwise would. The matrons, instead of their tongues, had other instruments to convey their ideas: each of them had three quizzes, one quiz pendent from the string that sewed up her mouth, and another quiz in either hand. When she wished to express her negative, she darted and recoiled the quizzes in her right and left hand; and when she desired to express her affirmative, she, nodding, made the quiz pendent from her mouth flow down and recoil again. The trial proceeded in this manner for a long time, to the admiration of the whole empire, when at length I thought proper to send to my old friend and ally, Prester John, entreating him to forward to me one of the species of wild and curious birds found in his kingdom, called a Wauwau. This creature was brought over the great bridge before mentioned, from the interior of Africa, by a balloon. The balloon was placed upon the bridge, extending over the parapets on each side, with great wings or oars to assist its velocity, and under the balloon was placed pendant a kind of boat, in which were the persons to manage the steerage of the machine, and protect Wauwau. This oracular bird, arriving in England, instantly darted through one of the windows of the great hall, and perched upon the canopy in the centre to the admiration of all present. Her cackling appeared quite prophetic and oracular; and the first question proposed to her by the unanimous consent of the matrons and judges was, Whether or not the moon was composed of green cheese? The solution of this question was deemed absolutely necessary before they could proceed farther on the trial.

Wauwau seemed in figure not very much differing from a swan, except that the neck was not near so long, and she stood after an admirable fashion like to Vestris. She began cackling most sonorously, and the whole assembly agreed that it was absolutely necessary to catch her, and having her in their immediate possession, nothing more would be requisite for the termination of this litigated affair. For this purpose the whole house rose up to catch her, and approached in tumult, the judges brandishing their pens, and shaking their big wigs, and the matrons quizzing as much as possible in every direction, which very much startled Wauwau, who, clapping her wings, instantly flew out of the hall. The assembly began to proceed after her in order and style of precedence, together with my whole train of Gog and Magog, Sphinx, Hilaro Frosticos, Queen Mab's chariot, the bulls and crickets, &c., preceded by bands of music; while Wauwau, descending on the earth, ran on like an ostrich before the troop, cackling all the way. Thinking suddenly to catch this ferocious animal, the judges and matrons would suddenly quicken their pace, but the creature would as quickly outrun them, or sometimes fly away for many miles together, and then alight to take breath until we came within sight of her again. Our train journeyed over a most prodigious tract of country in a direct line, over hills and dales, to the summit of Plinlimmon, where we thought to have seized Wauwau; but she instantly took flight, and never ceased until she arrived at the mouth of the Potomac river in Virginia.

Our company immediately embarked in the machines before described, in which we had journeyed into Africa, and after a few days' sail arrived in North America. We met with nothing curious on our voyage, except a floating island, containing some very delightful villages, inhabited by a few whites and negroes; the sugar cane did not thrive there well, on account, as I was informed, of the variety of the climates; the island being sometimes driven up as far as the north pole, and at other times wafted under the equinoctial. In pity to the poor islanders, I got a huge stake of iron, and driving it through the centre of the island, fastened it to the rocks and mud at the bottom of the sea, since which time the island has become stationary, and is well known at present by the name of St. Christopher's, and there is not an island in the world more secure.

Arriving in North America, we were received by the President of the United States with every honour and politeness. He was pleased to give us all the information possible relative to the woods and immense regions of America, and ordered troops of the different tribes of the Esquimaux to guide us through the forests in pursuit of Wauwau, who, we at length found, had taken refuge in the centre of a morass. The inhabitants of the country, who loved hunting, were much delighted to behold the manner in which we attempted to seize upon Wauwau; the chase was noble and uncommon. I determined to surround the animal on every side, and for this purpose ordered the judges and matrons to surround the morass with nets extending a mile in height, on various parts of which net the company disposed themselves, floating in the air like so many spiders upon their cobwebs. Magog, at my command, put on a kind of armour that he had carried with him for the purpose, corselet of steel, with gauntlets, helmet, &c., so as nearly to resemble a mole. He instantly plunged into the earth, making way with his sharp steel head-piece, and tearing up the ground with his iron claws, and found not much difficulty therein, as morass in general is of a soft and yielding texture. Thus he hoped to undermine Wauwau, and suddenly rising, seize her by the foot, while his brother Gog ascended the air in a balloon, hoping to catch her if she could escape Magog. Thus the animal was surrounded on every side, and at first was very much terrified, knowing not which way she had best to go. At length hearing an obscure noise under ground, Wauwau took flight before Magog could have time to catch her by the foot. She flew to the right, then to the left, north, east, west, and south, but found on every side the company prepared upon their nets. At length she flew right up, soaring at a most astonishing rate towards the sun, while the company on every side set up one general acclamation. But Gog in his balloon soon stopped Wauwau in the midst of her career, and snared her in a net, the cords of which he continued to hold in his hand. Wauwau did not totally lose her presence of mind, but after a little consideration, made several violent darts against the volume of the balloon; so fierce, as at length to tear open a great space, on which the inflammable air rushing out, the whole apparatus began to tumble to the earth with amazing rapidity. Gog himself was thrown out of the vehicle, and letting go the reins of the net, Wauwau got liberty again, and flew out of sight in an instant.

Gog had been above a mile elevated from the earth when he began to fall, and as he advanced the rapidity increased, so that he went like a ball from a cannon into the morass, and his nose striking against one of the iron-capped hands of his brother Magog, just then rising from the depths, he began to bleed violently, and, but for the softness of the morass, would have lost his life.









CHAPTER XXXII

The Baron harangues the company, and they continue the pursuit—The Baron, wandering from his retinue, is taken by the savages, scalped, and tied to a stake to be roasted; but he contrives to extricate himself, and kills the savages—The Baron travels overland through the forests of North America, to the confines of Russia—Arrives at the castle of the Nareskin Rowskimowmowsky, and gallops into the kingdom of Loggerheads—A battle, in which the Baron fights the Nareskin in single combat, and generously gives him his life—Arrives at the Friendly Islands, and discourses with Omai—The Baron, with all his attendants, goes from Otaheite to the isthmus of Darien, and having cut a canal across the isthmus, returns to England.

"My friends, and very learned and profound Judiciarii," said I, "be not disheartened that Wauwau has escaped from you at present: persevere, and we shall yet succeed. You should never despair, Munchausen being your general; and therefore be brave, be courageous, and fortune shall second your endeavours. Let us advance undaunted in pursuit, and follow the fierce Wauwau even three times round the globe, until we entrap her."

My words filled them with confidence and valour, and they unanimously agreed to continue the chase. We penetrated the frightful deserts and gloomy woods of America, beyond the source of the Ohio, through countries utterly unknown before. I frequently took the diversion of shooting in the woods, and one day that I happened with three attendants to wander far from our troop, we were suddenly set upon by a number of savages. As we had expended our powder and shot, and happened to have no side-arms, it was in vain to make any resistance against hundreds of enemies. In short, they bound us, and made us walk before them to a gloomy cavern in a rock, where they feasted upon what game they had killed, but which not being sufficient, they took my three unfortunate companions and myself, and scalped us. The pain of losing the flesh from my head was most horrible; it made me leap in agonies, and roar like a bull. They then tied us to stakes, and making great fires around us, began to dance in a circle, singing with much distortion and barbarity, and at times putting the palms of their hands to their mouths, set up the war-whoop. As they had on that day also made a great prize of some wine and spirits belonging to our troop, these barbarians, finding it delicious, and unconscious of its intoxicating quality, began to drink it in profusion, while they beheld us roasting, and in a very short time they were all completely drunk, and fell asleep around the fires. Perceiving some hopes, I used most astonishing efforts to extricate myself from the cords which I was tied, and at length succeeded. I immediately unbound my companions, and though half roasted, they still had power enough to walk. We sought about for the flesh that had been taken off our heads, and having found the scalps, we immediately adapted them to our bloody heads, sticking them on with a kind of glue of a sovereign quality, that flows from a tree in that country, and the parts united and healed in a few hours. We took care to revenge ourselves on the savages, and with their own hatchets put every one of them to death. We then returned to our troop, who had given us up for lost, and they made great rejoicings on our return. We now proceeded in our journey through this prodigious wilderness, Gog and Magog acting as pioneers, hewing down the trees, &c., at a great rate as we advanced. We passed over numberless swamps and lakes and rivers, until at length we discovered a habitation at some distance. It appeared a dark and gloomy castle, surrounded with strong ramparts, and a broad ditch. We called a council of war, and it was determined to send a deputation with a trumpet to the walls of the castle, and demand friendship from the governor, whoever he might be, and an account if aught he knew of Wauwau. For this purpose our whole caravan halted in the wood, and Gog and Magog reclined amongst the trees, that their enormous strength and size should not be discovered, and give umbrage to the lord of the castle. Our embassy approached the castle, and having demanded admittance for some time, at length the drawbridge was let down, and they were suffered to enter. As soon as they had passed the gate it was immediately closed after them, and on either side they perceived ranks of halberdiers, who made them tremble with fear. "We come," the herald proclaimed, "on the part of Hilaro Frosticos, Don Quixote, Lord Whittington, and the thrice-renowned Baron Munchausen, to claim friendship from the governor of this puissant castle, and to seek Wauwau." "The most noble the governor," replied the officer, "is at all times happy to entertain such travellers as pass through these immense deserts, and will esteem it an honour that the great Hilaro Frosticos, Don Quixote, Lord Whittington, and the thrice-renowned Baron Munchausen, enter his castle walls."

In short, we entered the castle. The governor sat with all our company to table, surrounded by his friends, of a very fierce and warlike appearance. They spoke but little, and seemed very austere and reserved, until the first course was served up. The dishes were brought in by a number of bears walking on their hind-legs, and on every dish was a fricassee of pistols, pistol-bullets, sauce of gunpowder, and aqua-vitæ. This entertainment seemed rather indigestible by even an ostrich's stomach, when the governor addressed us, and informed me that it was ever his custom to strangers to offer them for the first course a service similar to that before us; and if they were inclined to accept the invitation, he would fight them as much as they pleased, but if they could not relish the pistol-bullets, &c., he would conclude them peaceable, and try what better politeness he could show them in his castle. In short, the first course being removed untouched, we dined, and after dinner the governor forced the company to push the bottle about with alacrity and to excess. He informed us that he was the Nareskin Rowskimowmowsky, who had retired amidst these wilds, disgusted with the court of Petersburgh. I was rejoiced to meet him; I recollected my old friend, whom I had known at the court of Russia, when I rejected the hand of the Empress. The Nareskin, with all his knights-companions, drank to an astonishing degree, and we all set off upon hobby horses in full cry out of the castle. Never was there seen such a cavalcade before. In front galloped a hundred knights belonging to the castle, with hunting horns and a pack of excellent dogs; and then came the Nareskin Rowskimowmowsky, Gog and Magog, Hilaro Frosticos, and your humble servant, hallooing and shouting like so many demoniacs, and spurring our hobby horses at an infernal rate until we arrived in the kingdom of Loggerheads. The kingdom of Loggerheads was wilder than any part of Siberia, and the Nareskin had here built a romantic summer-house in a Gothic taste, to which he would frequently retire with his company after dinner. The Nareskin had a dozen bears of enormous stature that danced for our amusement, and their chiefs performed the minuet de la cour to admiration. And here the most noble Hilaro Frosticos thought proper to ask the Nareskin some intelligence about Wauwau, in quest of whom we had travelled over such a tract of country, and encountered so many dangerous adventures, and also invited the Nareskin Rowskimowmowsky to attend us with all his bears in the expedition. The Nareskin appeared astonished at the idea; he looked with infinite hauteur and ferocity on Hilaro, and affecting a violent passion asked him, "Did he imagine that the Nareskin Rowskimowmowsky could condescend to take notice of a Wauwau, let her fly what way she would! Or did he think a chief possessing such blood in his veins could engage in such a foreign pursuit? By the blood and by the ashes of my great grandmother, I would cut off your head!"

Hilaro Frosticos resented this oration, and in short a general riot commenced. The bears, together with the hundred knights, took the part of the Nareskin, and Gog and Magog, Don Quixote, the Sphinx, Lord Whittington, the bulls, the crickets, the judges, the matrons, and Hilaro Frosticos, made noble warfare against them.

I drew my sword, and challenged the Nareskin to single combat. He frowned, while his eyes sparkled fire and indignation, and bracing a buckler on his left arm, he advanced against me. I made a blow at him with all my force, which he received upon his buckler, and my sword broke short.

Ungenerous Nareskin; seeing me disarmed, he still pushed forward, dealing his blows upon me with the utmost violence, which I parried with my shield and the hilt of my broken sword, and fought like a game-cock.

An enormous bear at the same time attacked me, but I ran my hand still retaining the hilt of my broken sword down his throat, and tore up his tongue by the roots. I then seized his carcase by the hind-legs, and whirling it over my head, gave the Nareskin such a blow with his own bear as evidently stunned him. I repeated my blows, knocking the bear's head against the Nareskin's head, until, by one happy blow, I got his head into the bear's jaws, and the creature being still somewhat alive and convulsive, the teeth closed upon him like nutcrackers. I threw the bear from me, but the Nareskin remained sprawling, unable to extricate his head from the bear's jaws, imploring for mercy. I gave the wretch his life: a lion preys not upon carcases.

At the same time my troop had effectually routed the bears and the rest of their adversaries. I was merciful, and ordered quarter to be given.

At that moment I perceived Wauwau flying at a great height through the heavens, and we instantly set out in pursuit of her, and never stopped until we arrived at Kamschatka; thence we passed to Otaheite. I met my old acquaintance Omai, who had been in England with the great navigator, Cook, and I was glad to find he had established Sunday schools over all the islands. I talked to him of Europe, and his former voyage to England. "Ah!" said he, most emphatically, "the English, the cruel English, to murder me with goodness, and refine upon my torture—took me to Europe, and showed me the court of England, the delicacy of exquisite life; they showed me gods, and showed me heaven, as if on purpose to make me feel the loss of them."

From these islands we set out, attended by a fleet of canoes with fighting-stages and the chiefest warriors of the islands, commanded by Omai. Thus the chariot of Queen Mab, my team of bulls and the crickets, the ark, the Sphinx, and the balloons, with Hilaro Frosticos, Gog and Magog, Lord Whittington, and the Lord Mayor's show, Don Quixote, &c., with my fleet of canoes, altogether cut a very formidable appearance on our arrival at the Isthmus of Darien. Sensible of what general benefit it would be to mankind, I immediately formed a plan of cutting a canal across the isthmus from sea to sea.

For this purpose I drove my chariot with the greatest impetuosity repeatedly from shore to shore, in the same track, tearing up the rocks and earth thereby, and forming a tolerable bed for the water. Gog and Magog next advanced at the head of a million of people from the realms of North and South America, and from Europe, and with infinite labour cleared away the earth, &c., that I had ploughed up with my chariot. I then again drove my chariot, making the canal wider and deeper, and ordered Gog and Magog to repeat their labour as before. The canal being a quarter of a mile broad, and three hundred yards in depth, I thought it sufficient, and immediately let in the waters of the sea. I did imagine, that from the rotatory motion of the earth on its axis from west to east the sea would be higher on the eastern than the western coast, and that on the uniting of the two seas there would be a strong current from the east, and it happened just as I expected. The sea came in with tremendous magnificence, and enlarged the bounds of the canal, so as to make a passage of some miles broad from ocean to ocean, and make an island of South America. Several sail of trading vessels and men-of-war sailed through this new channel to the South Seas, China, &c., and saluted me with all their cannon as they passed.

I looked through my telescope at the moon, and perceived the philosophers there in great commotion. They could plainly discern the alteration on the surface of our globe, and thought themselves somehow interested in the enterprise of their fellow-mortals in a neighbouring planet. They seemed to think it admirable that such little beings as we men should attempt so magnificent a performance, that would be observable even in a separate world.

Thus having wedded the Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea, I returned to England, and found Wauwau precisely in the very spot whence she had set out, after having led us a chase all round the world.





 

CHAPTER XXXIII

The Baron goes to Petersburgh, and converses with the Empress— Persuades the Russians and Turks to cease cutting one another's throats, and in concert cut a canal across the Isthmus of Suez—The Baron discovers the Alexandrine Library, and meets with Hermes Trismegistus—Besieges Seringapatam, and challenges Tippoo Sahib to single combat—They fight—The Baron receives some wounds to his face, but at last vanquishes the tyrant—The Baron returns to Europe, and raises the hull of the "Royal George."

Seized with a fury of canal-cutting, I took it in my head to form an immediate communication between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, and therefore set out for Petersburgh.

The sanguinary ambition of the Empress would not listen to my proposals, until I took a private opportunity, taking a cup of coffee with her Majesty, to tell her that I would absolutely sacrifice myself for the general good of mankind, and if she would accede to my proposals, would, on the completion of the canal, ipso facto, give her my hand in marriage!

"My dear, dear Baron," said she, "I accede to everything you please, and agree to make peace with the Porte on the conditions you mention. And," added she, rising with all the majesty of the Czarina, Empress of half the world, "be it known to all subjects, that We ordain these conditions, for such is our royal will and pleasure."

I now proceeded to the Isthmus of Suez, at the head of a million of Russian pioneers, and there united my forces with a million of Turks, armed with shovels and pickaxes. They did not come to cut each other's throats, but for their mutual interest, to facilitate commerce and civilisation, and pour all the wealth of India by a new channel into Europe. "My brave fellows," said I, "consider the immense labour of the Chinese to build their celebrated wall; think of what superior benefit to mankind is our present undertaking; persevere, and fortune will second your endeavours. Remember it is Munchausen who leads you on, and be convinced of success."

Saying these words, I drove my chariot with all my might in my former track, that vestige mentioned by the Baron de Tott, and when I was advanced considerably, I felt my chariot sinking under me. I attempted to drive on, but the ground, or rather immense vault, giving way, my chariot and all went down precipitately. Stunned by the fall, it was some moments before I could recollect myself, when at length, to my amazement, I perceived myself fallen into the Alexandrine Library, overwhelmed in an ocean of books; thousands of volumes came tumbling on my head amidst the ruins of that part of the vault through which my chariot had descended, and for a time buried my bulls and all beneath a heap of learning. However, I contrived to extricate myself, and advanced with awful admiration through the vast avenues of the library. I perceived on every side innumerable volumes and repositories of ancient learning, and all the science of the Antediluvian world. Here I met with Hermes Trismegistus, and a parcel of old philosophers debating upon the politics and learning of their days. I gave them inexpressible delight in telling them, in a few words, all the discoveries of Newton, and the history of the world since their time. These gentry, on the contrary, told me a thousand stories of antiquity that some of our antiquarians would give their very eyes to hear.

In short, I ordered the library to be preserved, and I intend making a present of it, as soon as it arrives in England, to the Royal Society, together with Hermes Trismegistus, and half a dozen old philosophers. I have got a beautiful cage made, in which I keep these extraordinary creatures, and feed them with bread and honey, as they seem to believe in a kind of doctrine of transmigration, and will not touch flesh. Hermes Trismegistus especially is a most antique looking being, with a beard half a yard long, covered with a robe of golden embroidery, and prates like a parrot. He will cut a very brilliant figure in the Museum.

Having made a track with my chariot from sea to sea, I ordered my Turks and Russians to begin, and in a few hours we had the pleasure of seeing a fleet of British East Indiamen in full sail through the canal. The officers of this fleet were very polite, and paid me every applause and congratulation my exploits could merit. They told me of their affairs in India, and the ferocity of that dreadful warrior, Tippoo Sahib, on which I resolved to go to India and encounter the tyrant. I travelled down the Red Sea to Madras, and at the head of a few Sepoys and Europeans pursued the flying army of Tippoo to the gates of Seringapatam. I challenged him to mortal combat, and, mounted on my steed, rode up to the walls of the fortress amidst a storm of shells and cannon-balls. As fast as the bombs and cannon-balls came upon me, I caught them in my hands like so many pebbles, and throwing them against the fortress, demolished the strongest ramparts of the place. I took my mark so direct, that whenever I aimed a cannon-ball or a shell at any person on the ramparts I was sure to hit him: and one time perceiving a tremendous piece of artillery pointed against me, and knowing the ball must be so great it would certainly stun me, I took a small cannon-ball, and just as I perceived the engineer going to order them to fire, and opening his mouth to give the word of command, I took aim and drove my ball precisely down his throat.

Tippoo, fearing that all would be lost, that a general and successful storm would ensue if I continued to batter the place, came forth upon his elephant to fight me; I saluted him, and insisted he should fire first.

Tippoo, though a barbarian, was not deficient in politeness, and declined the compliment; upon which I took off my hat, and bowing, told him it was an advantage Munchausen should never be said to accept from so gallant a warrior: on which Tippoo instantly discharged his carbine, the ball from which, hitting my horse's ear, made him plunge with rage and indignation. In return I discharged my pistol at Tippoo, and shot off his turban. He had a small field-piece mounted with him on his elephant, which he then discharged at me, and the grape-shot coming in a shower, rattled in the laurels that covered and shaded me all over, and remained pendant like berries on the branches. I then, advancing, took the proboscis of his elephant, and turning it against the rider, struck him repeatedly with the extremity of it on either side of the head, until I at length dismounted him. Nothing could equal the rage of the barbarian finding himself thrown from his elephant. He rose in a fit of despair, and rushed against my steed and myself: but I scorned to fight him at so great a disadvantage on his side, and directly dismounted to fight him hand to hand. Never did I fight with any man who bore himself more nobly than this adversary; he parried my blows, and dealt home his own in return with astonishing precision. The first blow of his sabre I received upon the bridge of my nose, and but for the bony firmness of that part of my face, it would have descended to my mouth. I still bear the mark upon my nose.

He next made a furious blow at my head, but I, parrying, deadened the force of his sabre, so that I received but one scar on my forehead, and at the same instant, by a blow of my sword, cut off his arm, and his hand and sabre fell to the earth; he tottered for some paces, and dropped at the foot of his elephant. That sagacious animal, seeing the danger of his master, endeavoured to protect him by flourishing his proboscis round the head of the Sultan.

Fearless I advanced against the elephant, desirous to take alive the haughty Tippoo Sahib; but he drew a pistol from his belt, and discharged it full in my face as I rushed upon him, which did me no further harm than wound my cheek-bone, which disfigures me somewhat under my left eye. I could not withstand the rage and impulse of that moment, and with one blow of my sword separated his head from his body.

I returned overland from India to Europe with admirable velocity, so that the account of Tippoo's defeat by me has not as yet arrived by the ordinary passage, nor can you expect to hear of it for a considerable time. I simply relate the encounter as it happened between the Sultan and me; and if there be any one who doubts the truth of what I say, he is an infidel, and I will fight him at any time and place, and with any weapon he pleases.

Hearing so many persons talk about raising the "Royal George," I began to take pity on that fine old ruin of British plank, and determined to have her up. I was sensible of the failure of the various means hitherto employed for the purpose, and therefore inclined to try a method different from any before attempted. I got an immense balloon, made of the toughest sail-cloth, and having descended in my diving-bell, and properly secured the hull with enormous cables, I ascended to the surface, and fastened my cables to the balloon. Prodigious multitudes were assembled to behold the elevation of the "Royal George," and as soon as I began to fill my balloon with inflammable air the vessel evidently began to move: but when my balloon was completely filled, she carried up the "Royal George" with the greatest rapidity. The vessel appearing on the surface occasioned a universal shout of triumph from the millions assembled on the occasion. Still the balloon continued ascending, trailing the hull after like a lantern at the tail of a kite, and in a few minutes appeared floating among the clouds.

It was then the opinion of many philosophers that it would be more difficult to get her down then it had been to draw her up. But I convinced them to the contrary by taking my aim so exactly with a twelve-pounder, that I brought her down in an instant.

I considered, that if I should break the balloon with a cannon-ball while she remained with the vessel over the land, the fall would inevitable occasion the destruction of the hull, and which, in its fall, might crush some of the multitude; therefore I thought it safer to take my aim when the balloon was over the sea, and pointing my twelve-pounder, drove the ball right through the balloon, on which the inflammable air rushed out with great force, and the "Royal George" descended like a falling star into the very spot from whence she had been taken. There she still remains, and I have convinced all Europe of the possibility of taking her up.





A portrait of Baron Karl Münchhausen
ca. 1740 as a Cuirassier in Riga.




CHAPTER XXXIV

The Baron makes a speech to the National Assembly, and drives out all the members—Routs the fishwomen and the National Guards—Pursues the whole rout into a Church, where he defeats the National Assembly, &c., with Rousseau, Voltaire, and Beelzebub at their head, and liberates Marie Antoinette and the Royal Family.

Passing through Switzerland on my return from India, I was informed that several of the German nobility had been deprived of the honours and immunities of their French estates. I heard of the sufferings of the amiable Marie Antoinette, and swore to avenge every look that had threatened her with insult. I went to the cavern of these Anthropophagi, assembled to debate, and gracefully putting the hilt of my sword to my lips—"I swear," cried I, "by the sacred cross of my sword, that if you do not instantly reinstate your king and his nobility, and your injured queen, I will cut the one half of you to pieces."

On which the President, taking up a leaden inkstand, flung it at my head. I stooped to avoid the blow, and rushing to the tribunal seized the Speaker, who was fulminating against the Aristocrats, and taking the creature by one leg, flung him at the President. I laid about me most nobly, drove them all out of the house, and locking the doors put the key in my pocket.

I then went to the poor king, and making my obeisance to him—"Sire," said I, "your enemies have all fled. I alone am the National Assembly at present, and I shall register your edicts to recall the princes and the nobility; and in future, if your majesty pleases, I will be your Parliament and Council." He thanked me, and the amiable Marie Antoinette, smiling, gave me her hand to kiss.

At that moment I perceived a party of the National Assembly, who had rallied with the National Guards, and a vast procession of fishwomen, advancing against me. I deposited their Majesties in a place of safety, and with my drawn sword advanced against my foes. Three hundred fishwomen, with bushes dressed with ribbons in their hands, came hallooing and roaring against me like so many furies. I scorned to defile my sword with their blood, but seized the first that came up, and making her kneel down I knighted her with my sword, which so terrified the rest that they all set up a frightful yell and ran away as fast as they could for fear of being aristocrated by knighthood.

As to the National Guards and the rest of the Assembly, I soon put them to flight; and having made prisoners of some of them, compelled them to take down their national, and put the old royal cockade in its place.

I then pursued the enemy to the top of a hill, where a most noble edifice dazzled my sight; noble and sacred it was but now converted to the vilest purposes, their monument de grands hommes, a Christian church that these Saracens had perverted into abomination. I burst open the doors, and entered sword in hand. Here I observed all the National Assembly marching round a great altar erected to Voltaire; there was his statue in triumph, and the fishwomen with garlands decking it, and singing "Ca ira!" I could bear the sight no longer; but rushed upon these pagans, and sacrificed them by dozens on the spot. The members of the Assembly, and the fishwomen, continued to invoke their great Voltaire, and all their masters in this monument de grands hommes, imploring them to come down and succour them against the Aristocrats and the sword of Munchausen. Their cries were horrible, like the shrieks of witches and enchanters versed in magic and the black art, while the thunder growled, and storms shook the battlements, and Rousseau, Voltaire, and Beelzebub appeared, three horrible spectres; one all meagre, mere skin and bone, and cadaverous, seemed death, that hideous skeleton; it was Voltaire, and in his hand were a lyre and a dagger. On the other side was Rousseau, with a chalice of sweet poison in his hand, and between them was their father Beelzebub!

I shuddered at the sight, and with all the enthusiasm of rage, horror, and piety, rushed in among them. I seized that cursed skeleton Voltaire, and soon compelled him to renounce all the errors he had advanced; and while he spoke the words, as if by magic charm, the whole assembly shrieked, and the pandemonium began to tumble in hideous ruin on their heads.

I returned in triumph to the palace, where the Queen rushed into my arms, weeping tenderly. "Ah, thou flower of nobility," cried she, "were all the nobles of France like thee, we should never have been brought to this!"

I bade the lovely creature dry her eyes, and with the King and Dauphin ascend my carriage, and drive post to Mont-Medi, as not an instant was to be lost. They took my advice and drove away. I conveyed them within a few miles of Mont-Medi, when the King, thanking me for my assistance, hoped I would not trouble myself any farther, as he was then, he presumed, out of danger; and the Queen also, with tears in her eyes, thanked me on her knees, and presented the Dauphin for my blessing. In short, I left the King eating a mutton chop. I advised him not to delay, or he would certainly be taken, and setting spurs to my horse, wished them a good evening, and returned to England. If the King remained too long at table, and was taken, it was not my fault.

 

 
     
         
 

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