History of Literature


Rudolf Erich Raspe


"The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen"



Rudolf Erich Raspe



Rudolf Erich Raspe

Rudolf Erich Raspe (March 1736 – November 1794) was a German librarian, writer and scientist, and he was called by his biographer John Carswell a "rogue". He is best known for his collection of tall tales, The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, originally a satirical work with political aims.


Raspe was born in Hanover, studied law and jurisprudence at Göttingen and Leipzig and worked as a librarian for the university of Göttingen. From 1767 he was responsible for some collections of Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), before having to flee to England in 1775 after pilfering some gems that were supposedly in his care. He was employed by Matthew Boulton in mines in Cornwall. At the same time, he also authored books in geology and the history of art. The Trewhiddle Ingot, found in 2003, is a 150-year-old lump of tungsten found at Trewhiddle Farm. This may predate the earliest known smelting of the metal (which requires extremely high temperatures) and has led to speculation that it may have been produced during a visit by Rudolf Erich Raspe to Happy-Union mine (at nearby Pentewan) in the late eighteenth century. Raspe was also a chemist with a particular interest in tungsten.[1][2] He also worked for the famous publisher John Nichols in several projects. In 1791 he moved to Scotland, and after an involvement in a mining swindle there (salting a mine), he left. He finally moved to Ireland where he managed a copper mine on the Herbert Estate in Killarney. He died in Killarney, County Kerry, of typhoid, in November 1794.

The Baron Munchausen tales were made famous when they were 'borrowed', translated into German, and embellished somewhat by Gottfried August Bürger in 1786--and have been among the favourite reading of subsequent generations, as well as the basis of several films, including Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

















It is a curious fact that of that class of literature to which Munchausen belongs, that namely of Voyages Imaginaires, the three great types should have all been created in England. Utopia, Robinson Crusoe, and Gulliver, illustrating respectively the philosophical, the edifying, and the satirical type of fictitious travel, were all written in England, and at the end of the eighteenth century a fourth type, the fantastically mendacious, was evolved in this country. Of this type Munchausen was the modern original, and remains the classical example. The adaptability of such a species of composition to local and topical uses might well be considered prejudicial to its chances of obtaining a permanent place in literature. Yet Munchausen has undoubtedly achieved such a place. The Baron's notoriety is universal, his character proverbial, and his name as familiar as that of Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, or Robinson Crusoe, mariner, of York. Condemned by the learned, like some other masterpieces, as worthless, Munchausen's travels have obtained such a world-wide fame, that the story of their origin possesses a general and historic interest apart from whatever of obscurity or of curiosity it may have to recommend it.

The work first appeared in London in the course of the year 1785. No copy of the first edition appears to be accessible; it seems, however, to have been issued some time in the autumn, and in the Critical Review for December 1785 there is the following notice: "Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia. Small 8vo, IS. (Smith). This is a satirical production calculated to throw ridicule on the bold assertions of some parliamentary declaimers. If rant may be best foiled at its own weapons, the author's design is not ill-founded; for the marvellous has never been carried to a more whimsical and ludicrous extent." The reviewer had probably read the work through from one paper cover to the other. It was in fact too short to bore the most blasé of his kind, consisting of but forty-nine small octavo pages. The second edition, which is in the British Museum, bears the following title; "Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia; humbly dedicated and recommended to country gentlemen, and if they please to be repeated as their own after a hunt, at horse races, in watering places, and other such polite assemblies; round the bottle and fireside. Smith. Printed at Oxford. 1786." The fact that this little pamphlet again consists of but forty-nine small octavo pages, combined with the similarity of title (as far as that of the first edition is given in the Critical Review), publisher, and price, affords a strong presumption that it was identical with the first edition. This edition contains only chapters ii., iii., iv., v., and vi. (pp. 10-44) of the present reprint. These chapters are the best in the book and their substantial if peculiar merit can hardly be denied, but the pamphlet appears to have met with little success, and early in 1786 Smith seems to have sold the property to another bookseller, Kearsley. Kearsley had it enlarged, but not, we are expressly informed, in the preface to the seventh edition, by the hand of the original author (who happened to be in Cornwall at the time). He also had it illustrated and brought it out in the same year in book form at the enhanced price of two shillings, under the title: "Gulliver Reviv'd: The Singular Travels, Campaigns, Voyages and Sporting Adventures of Baron Munnikhouson commonly pronounced Munchausen; as he relates them over a bottle when surrounded by his friends. A new edition considerably enlarged with views from the Baron's drawings. London. 1786." A well-informed Critical Reviewer would have amended the title thus: "Lucian reviv'd: or Gulliver Beat with his own Bow."

Four editions now succeeded each other with rapidity and without modification. A German translation appeared in 1786 with the imprint London: it was, however, in reality printed by Dieterich at Göttingen. It was a free rendering of the fifth edition, the preface being a clumsy combination of that prefixed to the original edition with that which Kearsley had added to the third.

The fifth edition (which is, with the exception of trifling differences on the title-page, identical with the third, fourth, and sixth) is also that which has been followed in the present reprint down to the conclusion of chapter twenty, where it ends with the words "the great quadrangle." The supplement treating of Munchausen's extraordinary flight on the back of an eagle over France to Gibraltar, South and North America, the Polar Regions, and back to England is derived from the seventh edition of 1793, which has a new sub-title:—"Gulliver reviv'd, or the Vice of Lying properly exposed." The preface to this enlarged edition also informs the reader that the last four editions had met with extraordinary success, and that the supplementary chapters, all, that is, with the exception of chapters ii., iii., iv., v., and vi., which are ascribed to Baron Munchausen himself, were the production of another pen, written, however, in the Baron's manner. To the same ingenious person the public was indebted for the engravings with which the book was embellished. The seventh was the last edition by which the classic text of Munchausen was seriously modified. Even before this important consummation had been arrived at, a sequel, which was within a fraction as long as the original work (it occupies pp. 163-299 of this volume), had appeared under the title, "A Sequel to the Adventures of Baron Munchausen. . . . Humbly dedicated to Mr. Bruce the Abyssinian traveller, as the Baron conceives that it may be some service to him, previous to his making another journey into Abyssinia. But if this advice does not delight Mr. Bruce, the Baron is willing to fight him on any terms he pleases." This work was issued separately. London, 1792, 8vo.

Such is the history of the book during the first eight or constructive years of its existence, beyond which it is necessary to trace it, until at least we have touched upon the long-vexed question of its authorship.

Munchausen's travels have in fact been ascribed to as many different hands as those of Odysseus. But (as in most other respects) it differs from the more ancient fabulous narrative in that its authorship has been the subject of but little controversy. Many people have entertained erroneous notions as to its authorship, which they have circulated with complete assurance; but they have not felt it incumbent upon them to support their own views or to combat those of other people. It has, moreover, been frequently stated with equal confidence and inaccuracy that the authorship has never been settled. An early and persistent version of the genesis of the travels was that they took their origin from the rivalry in fabulous tales of three accomplished students at Göttingen University, Bürger, Kästner, and Lichtenberg; another ran that Gottfried August Bürger, the German poet and author of "Lenore," had at a later stage of his career met Baron Munchausen in Pyrmont and taken down the stories from his own lips. Percy in his anecdotes attributes the Travels to a certain Mr. M. (Munchausen also began with an M.) who was imprisoned at Paris during the Reign of Terror. Southey in his "Omniana" conjectured, from the coincidences between two of the tales and two in a Portuguese periodical published in 1730, that the English fictions must have been derived from the Portuguese. William West the bookseller and numerous followers have stated that Munchausen owed its first origin to Bruce's Travels, and was written for the purpose of burlesquing that unfairly treated work. Pierer boldly stated that it was a successful anonymous satire upon the English government of the day, while Meusel with equal temerity affirmed in his "Lexikon" that the book was a translation of the "well-known Munchausen lies" executed from a (non-existent) German original by Rudolph Erich Raspe. A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1856 calls the book the joint production of Bürger and Raspe.

Of all the conjectures, of which these are but a selection, the most accurate from a German point of view is that the book was the work of Bürger, who was the first to dress the Travels in a German garb, and was for a long time almost universally credited with the sole proprietorship. Bürger himself appears neither to have claimed nor disclaimed the distinction. There is, however, no doubt whatever that the book first appeared in English in 1785, and that Bürger's German version did not see the light until 1786. The first German edition (though in reality printed at Göttingen) bore the imprint London, and was stated to be derived from an English source; but this was, reasonably enough, held to be merely a measure of precaution in case the actual Baron Munchausen (who was a well-known personage in Göttingen) should be stupid enough to feel aggrieved at being made the butt of a gross caricature. In this way the discrepancy of dates mentioned above might easily have been obscured, and Bürger might still have been credited with a work which has proved a better protection against oblivion than "Lenore," had it not been for the officious sensitiveness of his self-appointed biographer, Karl von Reinhard. Reinhard, in an answer to an attack made upon his hero for bringing out Munchausen as a pot-boiler in German and English simultaneously, definitely stated in the Berlin Gesellschafters of November 1824, that the real author of the original work was that disreputable genius, Rudolph Erich Raspe, and that the German work was merely a free translation made by Bürger from the fifth edition of the English work. Bürger, he stated, was well aware of, but was too high-minded to disclose the real authorship.

Taking Reinhard's solemn asseveration in conjunction with the ascertained facts of Raspe's career, his undoubted acquaintance with the Baron Munchausen of real life and the first appearance of the work in 1785, when Raspe was certainly in England, there seems to be little difficulty in accepting his authorship as a positive fact. There is no difficulty whatever, in crediting Raspe with a sufficient mastery of English idiom to have written the book without assistance, for as early as January 1780 (since which date Raspe had resided uninterruptedly in this country) Walpole wrote to his friend Mason that "Raspe writes English much above ill and speaks it as readily as French," and shortly afterwards he remarked that he wrote English "surprisingly well." In the next year, 1781, Raspe's absolute command of the two languages encouraged him to publish two moderately good prose-translations, one of Lessing's "Nathan the Wise," and the other of Zachariae's Mock-heroic, "Tabby in Elysium." The erratic character of the punctuation may be said, with perfect impartiality, to be the only distinguishing feature of the style of the original edition of "Munchausen."

Curious as is this long history of literary misappropriation, the chequered career of the rightful author, Rudolph Erich Raspe, offers a chapter in biography which has quite as many points of singularity.

Born in Hanover in 1737, Raspe studied at the Universities of Göttingen and Leipsic. He is stated also to have rendered some assistance to a young nobleman in sowing his wild oats, a sequel to his university course which may possibly help to explain his subsequent aberrations. The connection cannot have lasted long, as in 1762, having already obtained reputation as a student of natural history and antiquities, he obtained a post as one of the clerks in the University Library at Hanover.

No later than the following year contributions written in elegant Latin are to be found attached to his name in the Leipsic Nova Acta Eruditorum. In 1764 he alluded gracefully to the connection between Hanover and England in a piece upon the birthday of Queen Charlotte, and having been promoted secretary of the University Library at Göttingen, the young savant commenced a translation of Leibniz's philosophical works which was issued in Latin and French after the original MSS. in the Royal Library at Hanover, with a preface by Raspe's old college friend Kästner (Göttingen, 1765). At once a courtier, an antiquary, and a philosopher, Raspe next sought to display his vocation for polite letters, by publishing an ambitious allegorical poem of the age of chivalry, entitled "Hermin and Gunilde," which was not only exceedingly well reviewed, but received the honour of a parody entitled "Harlequin and Columbine." He also wrote translations of several of the poems of Ossian, and a disquisition upon their genuineness; and then with better inspiration he wrote a considerable treatise on "Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry," with metrical translations, being thus the first to call the attention of Germany to these admirable poems, which were afterwards so successfully ransacked by Bürger, Herder, and other early German romanticists.

In 1767 Raspe was again advanced by being appointed Professor at the Collegium Carolinum in Cassel, and keeper of the landgrave of Hesse's rich and curious collection of antique gems and medals. He was shortly afterwards appointed Librarian in the same city, and in 1771 he married. He continued writing on natural history, mineralogy, and archæology, and in 1769 a paper in the 59th volume of the Philosophical Transactions, on the bones and teeth of elephants and other animals found in North America and various boreal regions of the world, procured his election as an honorary member of the Royal Society of London. His conclusion in this paper that large elephants or mammoths must have previously existed in boreal regions has, of course, been abundantly justified by later investigations. When it is added that Raspe during this part of his life also wrote papers on lithography and upon musical instruments, and translated Algarotti's Treatise on "Architecture, Painting, and Opera Music," enough will have been said to make manifest his very remarkable and somewhat prolix versatility. In 1773 he made a tour in Westphalia in quest of MSS., and on his return, by way of completing his education, he turned journalist, and commenced a periodical called the Cassel Spectator, with Mauvillon as his co-editor. In 1775 he was travelling in Italy on a commission to collect articles of vertu for the landgrave, and it was apparently soon after his return that he began appropriating to his own use valuable coins abstracted from the cabinets entrusted to his care. He had no difficulty in finding a market for the antiques which he wished to dispose of, and which, it has been charitably suggested, he had every intention of replacing whenever opportunity should serve. His consequent procedure was, it is true, scarcely that of a hardened criminal. Having obtained the permission of the landgrave to visit Berlin, he sent the keys of his cabinet back to the authorities at Cassel—and disappeared. His thefts, to the amount of two thousand rixdollars, were promptly discovered, and advertisements were issued for the arrest of the Councillor Raspe, described without suspicion of flattery as a long-faced man, with small eyes, crooked nose, red hair under a stumpy periwig, and a jerky gait. The necessities that prompted him to commit a felony are possibly indicated by the addition that he usually appeared in a scarlet dress embroidered with gold, but sometimes in black, blue, or grey clothes. He was seized when he had got no farther than Klausthal, in the Hartz mountains, but he lost no time in escaping from the clutches of the police, and made his way to England. He never again set foot on the continent.

He was already an excellent English scholar, so that when he reached London it was not unnatural that he should look to authorship for support. Without loss of time, he published in London in 1776 a volume on some German Volcanoes and their productions; in 1777 he translated the then highly esteemed mineralogical travels of Ferber in Italy and Hungary. In 1780 we have an interesting account of him from Horace Walpole, who wrote to his friend, the Rev. William Mason: "There is a Dutch sçavant come over who is author of several pieces so learned that I do not even know their titles: but he has made a discovery in my way which you may be sure I believe, for it proves what I expected and hinted in my 'Anecdotes of Painting,' that the use of oil colours was known long before Van Eyck." Raspe, he went on to say, had discovered a MS. of Theophilus, a German monk in the fourth century, who gave receipts for preparing the colours, and had thereby convicted Vasari of error. "Raspe is poor, and I shall try and get subscriptions to enable him to print his work, which is sensible, clear, and unpretending." Three months later it was, "Poor Raspe is arrested by his tailor. I have sent him a little money, and he hopes to recover his liberty, but I question whether he will be able to struggle on here." His "Essay on the Origin of Oil Painting" was actually published through Walpole's good service in April 1781. He seems to have had plans of going to America and of excavating antiquities in Egypt, where he might have done good service, but the bad name that he had earned dogged him to London. The Royal Society struck him off its rolls, and in revenge he is said to have threatened to publish a travesty of their transactions. He was doubtless often hard put to it for a living, but the variety of his attainments served him in good stead. He possessed or gained some reputation as a mining expert, and making his way down into Cornwall, he seems for some years subsequent to 1782 to have been assay-master and storekeeper of some mines at Dolcoath. While still at Dolcoath, it is very probable that he put together the little pamphlet which appeared in London at the close of 1785, with the title "Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia," and having given his jeu d'esprit to the world, and possibly earned a few guineas by it, it is not likely that he gave much further thought to the matter. In the course of 1785 or 1786, he entered upon a task of much greater magnitude and immediate importance, namely, a descriptive catalogue of the Collection of Pastes and Impressions from Ancient and Modern Gems, formed by James Tassie, the eminent connoisseur. Tassie engaged Raspe in 1785 to take charge of his cabinets, and to commence describing their contents: he can hardly have been ignorant of his employé's delinquencies in the past, but he probably estimated that mere casts of gems would not offer sufficient temptation to a man of Raspe's eclectic tastes to make the experiment a dangerous one. Early in 1786, Raspe produced a brief but well-executed conspectus of the arrangement and classification of the collection, and this was followed in 1791 by "A Descriptive Catalogue," in which over fifteen thousand casts of ancient and modern engraved gems, cameos, and intaglios from the most renowned cabinets in Europe were enumerated and described in French and English. The two quarto volumes are a monument of patient and highly skilled industry, and they still fetch high prices. The elaborate introduction prefixed to the work was dated from Edinburgh, April 16, 1790.

This laborious task completed, Raspe lost no time in applying himself with renewed energy to mineralogical work. It was announced in the Scots Magazine for October 1791 that he had discovered in the extreme north of Scotland, where he had been invited to search for minerals, copper, lead, iron, manganese, and other valuable products of a similar character. From Sutherland he brought specimens of the finest clay, and reported a fine vein of heavy spar and "every symptom of coal." But in Caithness lay the loadstone which had brought Raspe to Scotland. This was no other than Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, a benevolent gentleman of an ingenious and inquiring disposition, who was anxious to exploit the supposed mineral wealth of his barren Scottish possessions. With him Raspe took up his abode for a considerable time at his spray-beaten castle on the Pentland Firth, and there is a tradition, among members of the family, of Sir John's unfailing appreciation of the wide intelligence and facetious humour of Raspe's conversation. Sinclair had some years previously discovered a small vein of yellow mundick on the moor of Skinnet, four miles from Thurso. The Cornish miners he consulted told him that the mundick was itself of no value, but a good sign of the proximity of other valuable minerals. Mundick, said they, was a good horseman, and always rode on a good load. He now employed Raspe to examine the ground, not designing to mine it himself, but to let it out to other capitalists in return for a royalty, should the investigation justify his hopes. The necessary funds were put at Raspe's disposal, and masses of bright, heavy material were brought to Thurso Castle as a foretaste of what was coming. But when the time came for the fruition of this golden promise, Raspe disappeared, and subsequent inquiries revealed the deplorable fact that these opulent ores had been carefully imported by the mining expert from Cornwall, and planted in the places where they were found. Sir Walter Scott must have had the incident (though not Raspe) in his mind when he created the Dousterswivel of his "Antiquary." As for Raspe, he betook himself to a remote part of the United Kingdom, and had commenced some mining operations in country Donegal, when he was carried off by scarlet fever at Muckross in 1794. Such in brief outline was the career of Rudolph Erich Raspe, scholar, swindler, and undoubted creator of Baron Munchausen.

The merit of Munchausen, as the adult reader will readily perceive, does not reside in its literary style, for Raspe is no exception to the rule that a man never has a style worthy of the name in a language that he did not prattle in. But it is equally obvious that the real and original Munchausen, as Raspe conceived and doubtless intended at one time to develop him, was a delightful personage whom it would be the height of absurdity to designate a mere liar. Unfortunately the task was taken out of his hand and a good character spoiled, like many another, by mere sequel-mongers. Raspe was an impudent scoundrel, and fortunately so; his impudence relieves us of any difficulty in resolving the question,—to whom (if any one) did he owe the original conception of the character whose fame is now so universal.

When Raspe was resident in Göttingen he obtained, in all probability through Gerlach Adolph von Munchausen, the great patron of arts and letters and of Göttingen University, an introduction to Hieronynimus Karl Friedrich von Munchausen, at whose hospitable mansion at Bodenwerder he became an occasional visitor. Hieronynimus, who was born at Bodenwerder on May 11, 1720, was a cadet of what was known as the black line of the house of Rinteln Bodenwerder, and in his youth served as a page in the service of Prince Anton Ulrich of Brunswick. When quite a stripling he obtained a cornetcy in the "Brunswick Regiment" in the Russian service, and on November 27, 1740, he was created a lieutenant by letters patent of the Empress Anna, and served two arduous campaigns against the Turks during the following years. In 1750 he was promoted to be a captain of cuirassiers by the Empress Elizabeth, and about 1760 he retired from the Russian service to live upon his patrimonial estate at Bodenwerder in the congenial society of his wife and his paragon among huntsmen, Rösemeyer, for whose particular benefit he maintained a fine pack of hounds. He kept open house, and loved to divert his guests with stories, not in the braggart vein of Dugald Dalgetty, but so embellished with palpably extravagant lies as to crack with a humour that was all their own. The manner has been appropriated by Artemus Ward and Mark Twain, but it was invented by Munchausen. Now the stories mainly relate to sporting adventures, and it has been asserted by one contemporary of the baron that Munchausen contracted the habit of drawing such a long-bow as a measure of self-defence against his invaluable but loquacious henchman, the worthy Rösemeyer. But it is more probable, as is hinted in the first preface, that Munchausen, being a shrewd man, found the practice a sovereign specific against bores and all other kinds of serious or irrelevant people, while it naturally endeared him to the friends of whom he had no small number.

He told his stories with imperturbable sang froid, in a dry manner, and with perfect naturalness and simplicity. He spoke as a man of the world, without circumlocution; his adventures were numerous and perhaps singular, but only such as might have been expected to happen to a man of so much experience. A smile never traversed his face as he related the least credible of his tales, which the less intimate of his acquaintance began in time to think he meant to be taken seriously. In short, so strangely entertaining were both manner and matter of his narratives, that "Munchausen's Stories" became a by-word among a host of appreciative acquaintance. Among these was Raspe, who years afterwards, when he was starving in London, bethought himself of the incomparable baron. He half remembered some of his sporting stories, and supplemented these by gleanings from his own commonplace book. The result is a curious medley, which testifies clearly to learning and wit, and also to the turning over of musty old books of facetiæ written in execrable Latin.

The story of the Baron's horse being cut in two by the descending portcullis of a besieged town, and the horseman's innocence of the fact until, upon reaching a fountain in the midst of the city, the insatiate thirst of the animal betrayed his deficiency in hind quarters, was probably derived by Raspe from the Facetiæ Bebelianæ of Heinrich Bebel, first published at Strassburgh in 1508.

There it is given as follows: "De Insigni Mendacio. Faber clavicularius quem superius fabrum mendaciorum dixi, narravit se tempore belli, credens suos se subsecuturos equitando ad cujusdam oppidi portas penetrasse: et cum ad portas venisset cataractam turre demissam, equum suum post ephippium discidisse, dimidiatumque reliquisse, atque se media parte equi ad forum usque oppidi equitasse, et caedem non modicam peregisse. Sed cum retrocedere vellet multitudine hostium obrutus, tum demum equum cecidisse seque captum fuisse."

The drinking at the fountain was probably an embellishment of Raspe's own. Many of Bebel's jests were repeated in J. P. Lange's Delicioe Academicoe (Heilbronn, 1665), a section of which was expressly devoted to "Mendacia Ridicula"; but the yarn itself is probably much older than either. Similarly, the quaint legend of the thawing of the horn was told by Castiglione in his Cortegiano, first published in 1528. This is how Castiglione tells it: A merchant of Lucca had travelled to Poland in order to buy furs; but as there was at that time a war with Muscovy, from which country the furs were procured, the Lucchese merchant was directed to the confines of the two countries. On reaching the Borysthenes, which divided Poland and Muscovy, he found that the Muscovite traders remained on their own side of the river from distrust, on account of the state of hostilities. The Muscovites, desirous of being heard across the river announced the prices of their furs in a loud voice; but the cold was so intense that their words were frozen in the air before they could reach the opposite side. Hereupon the Poles lighted a fire in the middle of the river, which was frozen into a solid mass; and in the course of an hour the words which had been frozen up were melted, and fell gently upon the further bank, although the Muscovite traders had already gone away. The prices demanded were, however, so high that the Lucchese merchant returned without making any purchase. A similar idea is utilised by Rabelais in Pantagruel, and by Steele in one of his Tatlers. The story of the cherry tree growing out of the stag's head, again, is given in Lange's book, and the fact that all three tales are of great antiquity is proved by the appearance of counterparts to them in Lady Guest's edition of the Mabinogion. A great number of nugoe canoroe of a perfectly similar type are narrated in the sixteenth century "Travels of the Finkenritter" attributed to Lorenz von Lauterbach.

To humorous waifs of this description, without fixed origin or birthplace, did Raspe give a classical setting amongst embroidered versions of the baron's sporting jokes. The unscrupulous manner in which he affixed Munchausen's own name to the completed jeu d'esprit is, ethically speaking, the least pardonable of his crimes; for when Raspe's little book was first transformed and enlarged, and then translated into German, the genial old baron found himself the victim of an unmerciful caricature, and without a rag of concealment. It is consequently not surprising to hear that he became soured and reticent before his death at Bodenwerder in 1797.

Strangers had already begun to come down to the place in the hope of getting a glimpse of the eccentric nobleman, and foolish stories were told of his thundering out his lies with apoplectic visage, his eyes starting out of his head, and perspiration beading his forehead. The fountain of his reminiscences was in reality quite dried up, and it must be admitted that this excellent old man had only too good reason to consider himself an injured person.

In this way, then, came to be written the first delightful chapters of Baron Munchausen's "Narrative of his Travels and Campaigns in Russia." It was not primarily intended as a satire, nor was it specially designed to take of the extravagant flights of contemporary travellers. It was rather a literary frivolity, thrown off at one effort by a tatterdemalion genius in sore need of a few guineas.

The remainder of the book is a melancholy example of the fallacy of enlargements and of sequels. Neither Raspe nor the baron can be seriously held responsible for a single word of it. It must have been written by a bookseller's hack, whom it is now quite impossible to identify, but who was evidently of native origin; and the book is a characteristically English product, full of personal and political satire, with just a twang of edification. The first continuation (chapters one and seven, to twenty, inclusive), which was supplied with the third edition, is merely a modern rechauffé, with "up to date" allusions, of Lucian's Vera Historia. Prototypes of the majority of the stories may either be found in Lucian or in the twenty volumes of Voyages Imaginaires, published at Paris in 1787. In case, however, any reader should be sceptical as to the accuracy of this statement he will have no very great difficulty in supposing, as Dr. Johnson supposed of Ossian, that anybody could write a great amount of such stuff if he would only consent to abandon his mind to the task.

With the supplementary chapters commence topical allusions to the recently issued memoirs of Baron de Tott, an enterprising Frenchman who had served the Great Turk against the Russians in the Crimea (an English translation of his book had appeared in 1785). The satire upon this gallant soldier's veracity appears to be quite undeserved, though one can hardly read portions of his adventures without being forcibly reminded of the Baron's laconic style. It is needless to add that the amazing account of De Tott's origin is grossly libellous. The amount of public interest excited by the æronautical exploits of Montgolfier and Blanchard was also playfully satirised. Their first imitator in England, Vincenzo Lunardi, had made a successful ascent from Moorfields as recently as 1784, while in the following year Blanchard crossed the channel in a balloon and earned the sobriquet Don Quixote de la Manche. His grotesque appropriation of the motto "Sic itur ad astra" made him, at least, a fit object for Munchausen's gibes. In the Baron's visit to Gibraltar we have evidence that the anonymous writer, in common with the rest of the reading public, had been studying John Drinkwater's "History of the Siege of Gibraltar" (completed in 1783), which had with extreme rapidity established its reputation as a military classic. Similarly, in the Polar adventures, the "Voyage towards the North Pole," 1774, of Constantine John Phipps, afterwards Lord Mulgrave, is gently ridiculed, and so also some incidents from Patrick Brydone's "Tour through Sicily and Malta" (1773), are, for no obvious reason, contemptuously dragged in. The exploitation of absurd and libellous chap-book lives of Pope Clement XIV., the famous Ganganelli, can only be described as a low bid for vulgar applause. A French translation of Baron Friedrich von Trenck's celebrated Memoirs appeared at Metz in 1787, and it would certainly seem that in overlooking them the compiler of Munchausen was guilty of a grave omission. He may, however, have regarded Trenck's adventures less as material for ridicule than as a series of hâbleries which threatened to rival his own.

The Seventh Edition, published in 1793, with the supplement (pp. 142- 161), was, with the abominable proclivity to edification which marked the publisher of the period (that of "Goody Two-Shoes" and "Sandford and Merton"), styled "Gulliver Reviv'd: or the Vice of Lying Properly Exposed." The previous year had witnessed the first appearance of the sequel, of which the full title has already been given, "with twenty capital copperplates, including the baron's portrait." The merit of Munchausen as a mouthpiece for ridiculing traveller's tall-talk, or indeed anything that shocked the incredulity of the age, was by this time widely recognised. And hence with some little ingenuity the popular character was pressed into the service of the vulgar clamour against James Bruce, whose "Travels to Discover the Sources of the Nile" had appeared in 1790. In particular Bruce's description of the Abyssinian custom of feeding upon "live bulls and kava" provoked a chorus of incredulity. The traveller was ridiculed upon the stage as Macfable, and in a cloud of ephemeral productions; nor is the following allusion in Peter Pindar obscure:—

     "Nor have I been where men (what loss alas!)
     Kill half a cow, then send the rest to grass."

The way in which Bruce resented the popular scepticism is illustrated by the following anecdote told by Sir Francis Head, his biographer. A gentleman once observed, at a country house where Bruce was staying, that it was not possible that the natives of Abyssinia could eat raw meat! "Bruce said not a word, but leaving the room, shortly returned from the kitchen with a piece of raw beef-steak, peppered and salted in the Abyssinian fashion. 'You will eat that, sir, or fight me,' he said. When the gentleman had eaten up the raw flesh (most willingly would he have eaten his words instead), Bruce calmly observed, 'Now, sir, you will never again say it is impossible.'" In reality, Bruce seems to have been treated with much the same injustice as Herodotus. The truth of the bulk of his narrative has been fully established, although a passion for the picturesque may certainly have led him to embellish many of the minor particulars. And it must be remembered, that his book was not dictated until twelve years after the events narrated.

Apart from Bruce, however, the sequel, like the previous continuation, contains a great variety of political, literary, and other allusions of the most purely topical character—Dr. Johnson's Tour in the Hebrides, Mr. Pitt, Burke's famous pamphlet upon the French Revolution, Captain Cook, Tippoo Sahib (who had been brought to bay by Lord Cornwallis between 1790 and 1792). The revolutionary pandemonium in Paris, and the royal flight to Varennes in June 1791, and the loss of the "Royal George" in 1782, all form the subjects of quizzical comments, and there are many other allusions the interest of which is quite as ephemeral as those of a Drury Lane pantomime or a Gaiety Burlesque.

Nevertheless the accretions have proved powerless to spoil "Munchausen." The nucleus supplied by Raspe was instinct with so much energy that it has succeeded in vitalising the whole mass of extraneous extravagance.

Although, like "Gulliver's Travels," "Munchausen" might at first sight appear to be ill-suited, in more than one respect, for the nursery, yet it has proved the delight of children of all ages; and there are probably few, in the background of whose childish imagination the astonishing Munchausen has not at one time or another, together with Robinson Crusoe, Jack-the-Giant-Killer, and the Pied Piper of Hamelyn, assumed proportions at once gigantic and seductively picturesque.

The work, as has been shown, assumed its final form before the close of the eighteenth century; with the nineteenth it commenced its triumphant progress over the civilised world. Some of the subsequent transformations and migrations of the book are worthy of brief record.

A voluminous German continuation was published at Stendhal in three volumes between 1794 and 1800. There was also a continuation comprising exploits at Walcheren, the Dardanelles, Talavera, Cintra, and elsewhere, published in London in 1811. An elaborate French translation, with embellishments in the French manner, appeared at Paris in 1862. Immerman's celebrated novel entitled "Munchausen" was published in four volumes at Dusseldorf in 1841, and a very free rendering of the Baron's exploits, styled "Munchausen's Lugenabenteuer," at Leipsic in 1846. The work has also been translated into Dutch, Danish, Magyar (Bard de Mánx), Russian, Portuguese, Spanish (El Conde de las Maravillas), and many other tongues, and an estimate that over one hundred editions have appeared in England, Germany, and America alone, is probably rather under than above the mark.

The book has, moreover, at the same time provided illustrations to writers and orators, and the richest and most ample material for illustrations to artists. The original rough woodcuts are anonymous, but the possibilities of the work were discovered as early as 1809, by Thomas Rowlandson, who illustrated the edition published in that year. The edition of 1859 owed embellishments to Crowquill, while Cruikshank supplied some characteristic woodcuts to that of 1869. Coloured designs for the travels were executed by a French artist Richard in 1878, and illustrations were undertaken independently for the German editions by Riepenhausen and Hosemann respectively. The German artist Adolph Schrödter has also painted a celebrated picture representing the Baron surrounded by his listeners. But of all the illustrations yet invented, the general verdict has hitherto declared in favour of those supplied to Théophile Gautier's French edition of 1862 by Gustave Doré, who fully maintained by them the reputation he had gained for work of a similar genre in his drawings for Balzac's Contes Drôlatiques. When, however, the public has had an opportunity of appreciating the admirably fantastic drawings made by Mr. William Strang and Mr. J. B. Clark for the present edition, they will probably admit that Baron Munchausen's indebtedness to his illustrations, already very great, has been more than doubled.




Baron Munnikhouson or Munchausen, of Bodenweder, near Hamelyn on the Weser, belongs to the noble family of that name, which gave to the King's German dominions the late prime minister and several other public characters equally bright and illustrious. He is a man of great original humour; and having found that prejudiced minds cannot be reasoned into common sense, and that bold assertors are very apt to bully and speak their audience out of it, he never argues with either of them, but adroitly turns the conversation upon indifferent topics and then tells a story of his travels, campaigns, and sporting adventures, in a manner peculiar to himself, and well calculated to awaken and shame the common sense of those who have lost sight of it by prejudice or habit.

As this method has been often attended with good success, we beg leave to lay some of his stories before the public, and humbly request those who shall find them rather extravagant and bordering upon the marvellous, which will require but a very moderate share of common sense, to exercise the same upon every occurrence of life, and chiefly upon our English politics, in which old habits and bold assertions, set off by eloquent speeches and supported by constitutional mobs, associations, volunteers, and foreign influence, have of late, we apprehend, but too successfully turned our brains, and made us the laughing-stock of Europe, and of France and Holland in particular.


Having heard, for the first time, that my adventures have been doubted, and looked upon as jokes, I feel bound to come forward and vindicate my character for veracity, by paying three shillings at the Mansion House of this great city for the affidavits hereto appended.

This I have been forced into in regard of my own honour, although I have retired for many years from public and private life; and I hope that this, my last edition, will place me in a proper light with my readers.


We, the undersigned, as true believers in the profit, do most solemnly affirm, that all the adventures of our friend Baron Munchausen, in whatever country they may lie, are positive and simple facts. And, as we have been believed, whose adventures are tenfold more wonderful, so do we hope all true believers will give him their full faith and credence. GULLIVER. x SINBAD. x ALADDIN. x Sworn at the Mansion House 9th Nov. last, in the absence of the Lord Mayor. JOHN (the Porter).






The Baron relates an account of his first travels—The astonishing effects of a storm—Arrives at Ceylon; combats and conquers two extraordinary opponents—Returns to Holland.

Some years before my beard announced approaching manhood, or, in other words, when I was neither man nor boy, but between both, I expressed in repeated conversations a strong desire of seeing the world, from which I was discouraged by my parents, though my father had been no inconsiderable traveller himself, as will appear before I have reached the end of my singular, and, I may add, interesting adventures. A cousin, by my mother's side, took a liking to me, often said I was fine forward youth, and was much inclined to gratify my curiosity. His eloquence had more effect than mine, for my father consented to my accompanying him in a voyage to the island of Ceylon, where his uncle had resided as governor many years.

We sailed from Amsterdam with despatches from their High Mightinesses the States of Holland. The only circumstance which happened on our voyage worth relating was the wonderful effects of a storm, which had torn up by the roots a great number of trees of enormous bulk and height, in an island where we lay at anchor to take in wood and water; some of these trees weighed many tons, yet they were carried by the wind so amazingly high, that they appeared like the feathers of small birds floating in the air, for they were at least five miles above the earth: however, as soon as the storm subsided they all fell perpendicularly into their respective places, and took root again, except the largest, which happened, when it was blown into the air, to have a man and his wife, a very honest old couple, upon its branches, gathering cucumbers (in this part of the globe that useful vegetable grows upon trees): the weight of this couple, as the tree descended, over-balanced the trunk, and brought it down in a horizontal position: it fell upon the chief man of the island, and killed him on the spot; he had quitted his house in the storm, under an apprehension of its falling upon him, and was returning through his own garden when this fortunate accident happened. The word fortunate, here, requires some explanation. This chief was a man of a very avaricious and oppressive disposition, and though he had no family, the natives of the island were half-starved by his oppressive and infamous impositions.

The very goods which he had thus taken from them were spoiling in his stores, while the poor wretches from whom they were plundered were pining in poverty. Though the destruction of this tyrant was accidental, the people chose the cucumber-gatherers for their governors, as a mark of their gratitude for destroying, though accidentally, their late tyrant.

After we had repaired the damages we sustained in this remarkable storm, and taken leave of the new governor and his lady, we sailed with a fair wind for the object of our voyage.

In about six weeks we arrived at Ceylon, where we were received with great marks of friendship and true politeness. The following singular adventures may not prove unentertaining.

After we had resided at Ceylon about a fortnight I accompanied one of the governor's brothers upon a shooting party. He was a strong, athletic man, and being used to that climate (for he had resided there some years), he bore the violent heat of the sun much better than I could; in our excursion he had made a considerable progress through a thick wood when I was only at the entrance.

Near the banks of a large piece of water, which had engaged my attention, I thought I heard a rustling noise behind; on turning about I was almost petrified (as who would not be?) at the sight of a lion, which was evidently approaching with the intention of satisfying his appetite with my poor carcase, and that without asking my consent. What was to be done in this horrible dilemma? I had not even a moment for reflection; my piece was only charged with swan-shot, and I had no other about me: however, though I could have no idea of killing such an animal with that weak kind of ammunition, yet I had some hopes of frightening him by the report, and perhaps of wounding him also. I immediately let fly, without waiting till he was within reach, and the report did but enrage him, for he now quickened his pace, and seemed to approach me full speed: I attempted to escape, but that only added (if an addition could be made) to my distress; for the moment I turned about I found a large crocodile, with his mouth extended almost ready to receive me. On my right hand was the piece of water before mentioned, and on my left a deep precipice, said to have, as I have since learned, a receptacle at the bottom for venomous creatures; in short I gave myself up as lost, for the lion was now upon his hind-legs, just in the act of seizing me; I fell involuntarily to the ground with fear, and, as it afterwards appeared, he sprang over me. I lay some time in a situation which no language can describe, expecting to feel his teeth or talons in some part of me every moment: after waiting in this prostrate situation a few seconds I heard a violent but unusual noise, different from any sound that had ever before assailed my ears; nor is it at all to be wondered at, when I inform you from whence it proceeded: after listening for some time, I ventured to raise my head and look round, when, to my unspeakable joy, I perceived the lion had, by the eagerness with which he sprung at me, jumped forward, as I fell, into the crocodile's mouth! which, as before observed, was wide open; the head of the one stuck in the throat of the other! and they were struggling to extricate themselves! I fortunately recollected my couteau de chasse, which was by my side; with this instrument I severed the lion's head at one blow, and the body fell at my feet! I then, with the butt-end of my fowling-piece, rammed the head farther into the throat of the crocodile, and destroyed him by suffocation, for he could neither gorge nor eject it.

Soon after I had thus gained a complete victory over my two powerful adversaries, my companion arrived in search of me; for finding I did not follow him into the wood, he returned, apprehending I had lost my way, or met with some accident.

After mutual congratulations, we measured the crocodile, which was just forty feet in length.

As soon as we had related this extraordinary adventure to the governor, he sent a waggon and servants, who brought home the two carcases. The lion's skin was properly preserved, with its hair on, after which it was made into tobacco-pouches, and presented by me, upon our return to Holland, to the burgomasters, who, in return, requested my acceptance of a thousand ducats.

The skin of the crocodile was stuffed in the usual manner, and makes a capital article in their public museum at Amsterdam, where the exhibitor relates the whole story to each spectator, with such additions as he thinks proper. Some of his variations are rather extravagant; one of them is, that the lion jumped quite through the crocodile, and was making his escape at the back door, when, as soon as his head appeared, Monsieur the Great Baron (as he is pleased to call me) cut it off, and three feet of the crocodile's tail along with it; nay, so little attention has this fellow to the truth, that he sometimes adds, as soon as the crocodile missed his tail, he turned about, snatched the couteau de chasse out of Monsieur's hand, and swallowed it with such eagerness that it pierced his heart and killed him immediately!

The little regard which this impudent knave has to veracity makes me sometimes apprehensive that my real facts may fall under suspicion, by being found in company with his confounded inventions.


In which the Baron proves himself a good shot—He loses his horse, and finds a wolf—Makes him draw his sledge—Promises to entertain his company with a relation of such facts as are well deserving their notice.

I set off from Rome on a journey to Russia, in the midst of winter, from a just notion that frost and snow must of course mend the roads, which every traveller had described as uncommonly bad through the northern parts of Germany, Poland, Courland, and Livonia. I went on horseback, as the most convenient manner of travelling; I was but lightly clothed, and of this I felt the inconvenience the more I advanced north-east. What must not a poor old man have suffered in that severe weather and climate, whom I saw on a bleak common in Poland, lying on the road, helpless, shivering, and hardly having wherewithal to cover his nakedness? I pitied the poor soul: though I felt the severity of the air myself, I threw my mantle over him, and immediately I heard a voice from the heavens, blessing me for that piece of charity, saying—

"You will be rewarded, my son, for this in time."

I went on: night and darkness overtook me. No village was to be seen. The country was covered with snow, and I was unacquainted with the road.

Tired, I alighted, and fastened my horse to something like a pointed stump of a tree, which appeared above the snow; for the sake of safety I placed my pistols under my arm, and laid down on the snow, where I slept so soundly that I did not open my eyes till full daylight. It is not easy to conceive my astonishment to find myself in the midst of a village, lying in a churchyard; nor was my horse to be seen, but I heard him soon after neigh somewhere above me. On looking upwards I beheld him hanging by his bridle to the weather-cock of the steeple. Matters were now very plain to me: the village had been covered with snow overnight; a sudden change of weather had taken place; I had sunk down to the churchyard whilst asleep, gently, and in the same proportion as the snow had melted away; and what in the dark I had taken to be a stump of a little tree appearing above the snow, to which I had tied my horse, proved to have been the cross or weather-cock of the steeple!

Without long consideration I took one of my pistols, shot the bridle in two, brought the horse, and proceeded on my journey. [Here the Baron seems to have forgot his feelings; he should certainly have ordered his horse a feed of corn, after fasting so long.]

He carried me well—advancing into the interior parts of Russia. I found travelling on horseback rather unfashionable in winter, therefore I submitted, as I always do, to the custom of the country, took a single horse sledge, and drove briskly towards St. Petersburg. I do not exactly recollect whether it was in Eastland or Jugemanland, but I remember that in the midst of a dreary forest I spied a terrible wolf making after me, with all the speed of ravenous winter hunger. He soon overtook me. There was no possibility of escape. Mechanically I laid myself down flat in the sledge, and let my horse run for our safety. What I wished, but hardly hoped or expected, happened immediately after. The wolf did not mind me in the least, but took a leap over me, and falling furiously on the horse, began instantly to tear and devour the hind-part of the poor animal, which ran the faster for his pain and terror. Thus unnoticed and safe myself, I lifted my head slyly up, and with horror I beheld that the wolf had ate his way into the horse's body; it was not long before he had fairly forced himself into it, when I took my advantage, and fell upon him with the butt-end of my whip. This unexpected attack in his rear frightened him so much, that he leaped forward with all his might: the horse's carcase dropped on the ground, but in his place the wolf was in the harness, and I on my part whipping him continually: we both arrived in full career safe at St. Petersburg, contrary to our respective expectations, and very much to the astonishment of the spectators.

I shall not tire you, gentlemen, with the politics, arts, sciences, and history of this magnificent metropolis of Russia, nor trouble you with the various intrigues and pleasant adventures I had in the politer circles of that country, where the lady of the house always receives the visitor with a dram and a salute. I shall confine myself rather to the greater and nobler objects of your attention, horses and dogs, my favourites in the brute creation; also to foxes, wolves, and bears, with which, and game in general, Russia abounds more than any other part of the world; and to such sports, manly exercises, and feats of gallantry and activity, as show the gentleman better than musty Greek or Latin, or all the perfume, finery, and capers of French wits or petit-maîtres.


An encounter between the Baron's nose and a door-post, with its wonderful effects—Fifty brace of ducks and other fowl destroyed by one shot—Flogs a fox out of his skin—Leads an old sow home in a new way, and vanquishes a wild boar.

It was some time before I could obtain a commission in the army, and for several months I was perfectly at liberty to sport away my time and money in the most gentleman-like manner. You may easily imagine that I spent much of both out of town with such gallant fellows as knew how to make the most of an open forest country. The very recollection of those amusements gives me fresh spirits, and creates a warm wish for a repetition of them. One morning I saw, through the windows of my bed-room, that a large pond not far off was covered with wild ducks. In an instant I took my gun from the corner, ran down-stairs and out of the house in such a hurry, that I imprudently struck my face against the door-post. Fire flew out of my eyes, but it did not prevent my intention; I soon came within shot, when, levelling my piece, I observed to my sorrow, that even the flint had sprung from the cock by the violence of the shock I had just received. There was no time to be lost. I presently remembered the effect it had on my eyes, therefore opened the pan, levelled my piece against the wild fowls, and my fist against one of my eyes. [The Baron's eyes have retained fire ever since, and appear particularly illuminated when he relates this anecdote.] A hearty blow drew sparks again; the shot went off, and I killed fifty brace of ducks, twenty widgeons, and three couple of teals. Presence of mind is the soul of manly exercises. If soldiers and sailors owe to it many of their lucky escapes, hunters and sportsmen are not less beholden to it for many of their successes. In a noble forest in Russia I met a fine black fox, whose valuable skin it would have been a pity to tear by ball or shot. Reynard stood close to a tree. In a twinkling I took out my ball, and placed a good spike-nail in its room, fired, and hit him so cleverly that I nailed his brush fast to the tree. I now went up to him, took out my hanger, gave him a cross-cut over the face, laid hold of my whip, and fairly flogged him out of his fine skin.

Chance and good luck often correct our mistakes; of this I had a singular instance soon after, when, in the depth of a forest, I saw a wild pig and sow running close behind each other. My ball had missed them, yet the foremost pig only ran away, and the sow stood motionless, as fixed to the ground. On examining into the matter, I found the latter one to be an old sow, blind with age, which had taken hold of her pig's tail, in order to be led along by filial duty. My ball, having passed between the two, had cut his leading-string, which the old sow continued to hold in her mouth; and as her former guide did not draw her on any longer, she had stopped of course; I therefore laid hold of the remaining end of the pig's tail, and led the old beast home without any further trouble on my part, and without any reluctance or apprehension on the part of the helpless old animal.

Terrible as these wild sows are, yet more fierce and dangerous are the boars, one of which I had once the misfortune to meet in a forest, unprepared for attack or defence. I retired behind an oak-tree just when the furious animal levelled a side-blow at me, with such force, that his tusks pierced through the tree, by which means he could neither repeat the blow nor retire. Ho, ho! thought I, I shall soon have you now! and immediately I laid hold of a stone, wherewith I hammered and bent his tusks in such a manner, that he could not retreat by any means, and must wait my return from the next village, whither I went for ropes and a cart, to secure him properly, and to carry him off safe and alive, in which I perfectly succeeded.


Reflections on Saint Hubert's stag—Shoots a stag with cherry-stones; the wonderful effects of it—Kills a bear by extraordinary dexterity; his danger pathetically described—Attacked by a wolf, which he turns inside out—Is assailed by a mad dog, from which he escapes—The Baron's cloak seized with madness, by which his whole wardrobe is thrown into confusion.

You have heard, I dare say, of the hunter and sportsman's saint and protector, St. Hubert, and of the noble stag, which appeared to him in the forest, with the holy cross between his antlers. I have paid my homage to that saint every year in good fellowship, and seen this stag a thousand times, either painted in churches, or embroidered in the stars of his knights; so that, upon the honour and conscience of a good sportsman, I hardly know whether there may not have been formerly, or whether there are not such crossed stags even at this present day. But let me rather tell what I have seen myself. Having one day spent all my shot, I found myself unexpectedly in presence of a stately stag, looking at me as unconcernedly as if he had known of my empty pouches. I charged immediately with powder, and upon it a good handful of cherry-stones, for I had sucked the fruit as far as the hurry would permit. Thus I let fly at him, and hit him just on the middle of the forehead, between his antlers; it stunned him—he staggered—yet he made off. A year or two after, being with a party in the same forest, I beheld a noble stag with a fine full grown cherry-tree above ten feet high between his antlers. I immediately recollected my former adventure, looked upon him as my property, and brought him to the ground by one shot, which at once gave me the haunch and cherry-sauce; for the tree was covered with the richest fruit, the like I had never tasted before. Who knows but some passionate holy sportsman, or sporting abbot or bishop, may have shot, planted, and fixed the cross between the antlers of St. Hubert's stag, in a manner similar to this? They always have been, and still are, famous for plantations of crosses and antlers; and in a case of distress or dilemma, which too often happens to keen sportsmen, one is apt to grasp at anything for safety, and to try any expedient rather than miss the favourable opportunity. I have many times found myself in that trying situation.

What do you say of this, for example? Daylight and powder were spent one day in a Polish forest. When I was going home a terrible bear made up to me in great speed, with open mouth, ready to fall upon me; all my pockets were searched in an instant for powder and ball, but in vain; I found nothing but two spare flints: one I flung with all my might into the monster's open jaws, down his throat. It gave him pain and made him turn about, so that I could level the second at his back-door, which, indeed, I did with wonderful success; for it flew in, met the first flint in the stomach, struck fire, and blew up the bear with a terrible explosion. Though I came safe off that time, yet I should not wish to try it again, or venture against bears with no other ammunition.

There is a kind of fatality in it. The fiercest and most dangerous animals generally came upon me when defenceless, as if they had a notion or an instinctive intimation of it. Thus a frightful wolf rushed upon me so suddenly, and so close, that I could do nothing but follow mechanical instinct, and thrust my fist into his open mouth. For safety's sake I pushed on and on, till my arm was fairly in up to the shoulder. How should I disengage myself? I was not much pleased with my awkward situation—with a wolf face to face; our ogling was not of the most pleasant kind. If I withdrew my arm, then the animal would fly the more furiously upon me; that I saw in his flaming eyes. In short, I laid hold of his tail, turned him inside out like a glove, and flung him to the ground, where I left him.

The same expedient would not have answered against a mad dog, which soon after came running against me in a narrow street at St. Petersburg. Run who can, I thought; and to do this the better, I threw off my fur cloak, and was safe within doors in an instant. I sent my servant for the cloak, and he put it in the wardrobe with my other clothes. The day after I was amazed and frightened by Jack's bawling, "For God's sake, sir, your fur cloak is mad!" I hastened up to him, and found almost all my clothes tossed about and torn to pieces. The fellow was perfectly right in his apprehensions about the fur cloak's madness. I saw him myself just then falling upon a fine full-dress suit, which he shook and tossed in an unmerciful manner.


The effects of great activity and presence of mind—A favourite hound described, which pups while pursuing a hare; the hare also litters while pursued by the hound—Presented with a famous horse by Count Przobossky, with which he performs many extraordinary feats.

All these narrow and lucky escapes, gentlemen, were chances turned to advantage by presence of mind and vigorous exertions, which, taken together, as everybody knows, make the fortunate sportsman, sailor, and soldier; but he would be a very blamable and imprudent sportsman, admiral, or general, who would always depend upon chance and his stars, without troubling himself about those arts which are their particular pursuits, and without providing the very best implements, which insure success. I was not blamable either way; for I have always been as remarkable for the excellency of my horses, dogs, guns, and swords, as for the proper manner of using and managing them, so that upon the whole I may hope to be remembered in the forest, upon the turf, and in the field. I shall not enter here into any detail of my stables, kennel, or armoury; but a favourite bitch of mine I cannot help mentioning to you; she was a greyhound, and I never had or saw a better. She grew old in my service, and was not remarkable for her size, but rather for her uncommon swiftness. I always coursed with her. Had you seen her you must have admired her, and would not have wondered at my predilection, and at my coursing her so much. She ran so fast, so much, and so long in my service, that she actually ran off her legs; so that, in the latter part of her life, I was under the necessity of working and using her only as a terrier, in which quality she still served me many years.

Coursing one day a hare, which appeared to me uncommonly big, I pitied my poor bitch, being big with pups, yet she would course as fast as ever. I could follow her on horseback only at a great distance. At once I heard a cry as it were of a pack of hounds—but so weak and faint that I hardly knew what to make of it. Coming up to them, I was greatly surprised. The hare had littered in running; the same had happened to my bitch in coursing, and there were just as many leverets as pups. By instinct the former ran, the latter coursed: and thus I found myself in possession at once of six hares, and as many dogs, at the end of a course which had only begun with one.

I remember this, my wonderful bitch, with the same pleasure and tenderness as a superb Lithuanian horse, which no money could have bought. He became mine by an accident, which gave me an opportunity of showing my horsemanship to a great advantage. I was at Count Przobossky's noble country-seat in Lithuania, and remained with the ladies at tea in the drawing-room, while the gentlemen were down in the yard, to see a young horse of blood which had just arrived from the stud. We suddenly heard a noise of distress; I hastened down-stairs, and found the horse so unruly, that nobody durst approach or mount him. The most resolute horsemen stood dismayed and aghast; despondency was expressed in every countenance, when, in one leap, I was on his back, took him by surprise, and worked him quite into gentleness and obedience with the best display of horsemanship I was master of. Fully to show this to the ladies, and save them unnecessary trouble, I forced him to leap in at one of the open windows of the tea-room, walked round several times, pace, trot, and gallop, and at last made him mount the tea-table, there to repeat his lessons in a pretty style of miniature which was exceedingly pleasing to the ladies, for he performed them amazingly well, and did not break either cup or saucer. It placed me so high in their opinion, and so well in that of the noble lord, that, with his usual politeness, he begged I would accept of this young horse, and ride him full career to conquest and honour in the campaign against the Turks, which was soon to be opened, under the command of Count Munich.

I could not indeed have received a more agreeable present, nor a more ominous one at the opening of that campaign, in which I made my apprenticeship as a soldier. A horse so gentle, so spirited, and so fierce—at once a lamb and a Bucephalus, put me always in mind of the soldier's and the gentleman's duty! of young Alexander, and of the astonishing things he performed in the field.

We took the field, among several other reasons, it seems, with an intention to retrieve the character of the Russian arms, which had been blemished a little by Czar Peter's last campaign on the Pruth; and this we fully accomplished by several very fatiguing and glorious campaigns under the command of that great general I mentioned before.

Modesty forbids individuals to arrogate to themselves great successes or victories, the glory of which is generally engrossed by the commander—nay, which is rather awkward, by kings and queens who never smelt gunpowder but at the field-days and reviews of their troops; never saw a field of battle, or an enemy in battle array.

Nor do I claim any particular share of glory in the great engagements with the enemy. We all did our duty, which, in the patriot's, soldier's, and gentleman's language, is a very comprehensive word, of great honour, meaning, and import, and of which the generality of idle quidnuncs and coffee-house politicians can hardly form any but a very mean and contemptible idea. However, having had the command of a body of hussars, I went upon several expeditions, with discretionary powers; and the success I then met with is, I think, fairly and only to be placed to my account, and to that of the brave fellows whom I led on to conquest and to victory. We had very hot work once in the van of the army, when we drove the Turks into Oczakow. My spirited Lithuanian had almost brought me into a scrape: I had an advanced fore-post, and saw the enemy coming against me in a cloud of dust, which left me rather uncertain about their actual numbers and real intentions: to wrap myself up in a similar cloud was common prudence, but would not have much advanced my knowledge, or answered the end for which I had been sent out; therefore I let my flankers on both wings spread to the right and left and make what dust they could, and I myself led on straight upon the enemy, to have nearer sight of them: in this I was gratified, for they stood and fought, till, for fear of my flankers, they began to move off rather disorderly. This was the moment to fall upon them with spirit; we broke them entirely—made a terrible havoc amongst them, and drove them not only back to a walled town in their rear, but even through it, contrary to our most sanguine expectation.

The swiftness of my Lithuanian enabled me to be foremost in the pursuit; and seeing the enemy fairly flying through the opposite gate, I thought it would be prudent to stop in the market-place, to order the men to rendezvous. I stopped, gentlemen; but judge of my astonishment when in this market-place I saw not one of my hussars about me! Are they scouring the other streets? or what is become of them? They could not be far off, and must, at all events, soon join me. In that expectation I walked my panting Lithuanian to a spring in this market-place, and let him drink. He drank uncommonly, with an eagerness not to be satisfied, but natural enough; for when I looked round for my men, what should I see, gentlemen! the hind part of the poor creature—croup and legs were missing, as if he had been cut in two, and the water ran out as it came in, without refreshing or doing him any good! How it could have happened was quite a mystery to me, till I returned with him to the town-gate. There I saw, that when I rushed in pell-mell with the flying enemy, they had dropped the portcullis (a heavy falling door, with sharp spikes at the bottom, let down suddenly to prevent the entrance of an enemy into a fortified town) unperceived by me, which had totally cut off his hind part, that still lay quivering on the outside of the gate. It would have been an irreparable loss, had not our farrier contrived to bring both parts together while hot. He sewed them up with sprigs and young shoots of laurels that were at hand; the wound healed, and, what could not have happened but to so glorious a horse, the sprigs took root in his body, grew up, and formed a bower over me; so that afterwards I could go upon many other expeditions in the shade of my own and my horse's laurels.


The Baron is made a prisoner of war, and sold for a slave—Keeps the Sultan's bees, which are attacked by two bears—Loses one of his bees; a silver hatchet, which he throws at the bears, rebounds and flies up to the moon; brings it back by an ingenious invention; falls to the earth on his return, and helps himself out of a pit—Extricates himself from a carriage which meets his in a narrow road, in a manner never before attempted nor practised since—The wonderful effects of the frost upon his servant's French horn.

I was not always successful. I had the misfortune to be overpowered by numbers, to be made prisoner of war; and, what is worse, but always usual among the Turks, to be sold for a slave. [The Baron was afterwards in great favour with the Grand Seignior, as will appear hereafter.] In that state of humiliation my daily task was not very hard and laborious, but rather singular and irksome. It was to drive the Sultan's bees every morning to their pasture-grounds, to attend them all the day long, and against night to drive them back to their hives. One evening I missed a bee, and soon observed that two bears had fallen upon her to tear her to pieces for the honey she carried. I had nothing like an offensive weapon in my hands but the silver hatchet, which is the badge of the Sultan's gardeners and farmers. I threw it at the robbers, with an intention to frighten them away, and set the poor bee at liberty; but, by an unlucky turn of my arm, it flew upwards, and continued rising till it reached the moon. How should I recover it? how fetch it down again? I recollected that Turkey-beans grow very quick, and run up to an astonishing height. I planted one immediately; it grew, and actually fastened itself to one of the moon's horns. I had no more to do now but to climb up by it into the moon, where I safely arrived, and had a troublesome piece of business before I could find my silver hatchet, in a place where everything has the brightness of silver; at last, however, I found it in a heap of chaff and chopped straw. I was now for returning: but, alas! the heat of the sun had dried up my bean; it was totally useless for my descent: so I fell to work, and twisted me a rope of that chopped straw, as long and as well as I could make it. This I fastened to one of the moon's horns, and slid down to the end of it. Here I held myself fast with the left hand, and with the hatchet in my right, I cut the long, now useless end of the upper part, which, when tied to the lower end, brought me a good deal lower: this repeated splicing and tying of the rope did not improve its quality, or bring me down to the Sultan's farm. I was four or five miles from the earth at least when it broke; I fell to the ground with such amazing violence, that I found myself stunned, and in a hole nine fathoms deep at least, made by the weight of my body falling from so great a height: I recovered, but knew not how to get out again; however, I dug slopes or steps with my finger-nails [the Baron's nails were then of forty years' growth], and easily accomplished it.

Peace was soon after concluded with the Turks, and gaining my liberty, I left St. Petersburg at the time of that singular revolution, when the emperor in his cradle, his mother, the Duke of Brunswick, her father, Field-Marshal Munich, and many others were sent to Siberia. The winter was then so uncommonly severe all over Europe, that ever since the sun seems to be frost-bitten. At my return to this place, I felt on the road greater inconveniences than those I had experienced on my setting out.

I travelled post, and finding myself in a narrow lane, bid the postillion give a signal with his horn, that other travellers might not meet us in the narrow passage. He blew with all his might; but his endeavours were in vain, he could not make the horn sound, which was unaccountable, and rather unfortunate, for soon after we found ourselves in the presence of another coach coming the other way: there was no proceeding; however, I got out of my carriage, and being pretty strong, placed it, wheels and all, upon my head: I then jumped over a hedge about nine feet high (which, considering the weight of the coach, was rather difficult) into a field, and came out again by another jump into the road beyond the other carriage: I then went back for the horses, and placing one upon my head, and the other under my left arm, by the same means brought them to my coach, put to, and proceeded to an inn at the end of our stage. I should have told you that the horse under my arm was very spirited, and not above four years old; in making my second spring over the hedge, he expressed great dislike to that violent kind of motion by kicking and snorting; however, I confined his hind legs by putting them into my coat-pocket. After we arrived at the inn my postillion and I refreshed ourselves: he hung his horn on a peg near the kitchen fire; I sat on the other side.

Suddenly we heard a tereng! tereng! teng! teng! We looked round, and now found the reason why the postillion had not been able to sound his horn; his tunes were frozen up in the horn, and came out now by thawing, plain enough, and much to the credit of the driver; so that the honest fellow entertained us for some time with a variety of tunes, without putting his mouth to the horn—"The King of Prussia's March," "Over the Hill and over the Dale," with many other favourite tunes; at length the thawing entertainment concluded, as I shall this short account of my Russian travels.

Some travellers are apt to advance more than is perhaps strictly true; if any of the company entertain a doubt of my veracity, I shall only say to such, I pity their want of faith, and must request they will take leave before I begin the second part of my adventures, which are as strictly founded in fact as those I have already related.


The Baron relates his adventures on a voyage to North America, which are well worth the reader's attention—Pranks of a whale—A sea-gull saves a sailor's life—The Baron's head forced into his stomach—A dangerous leak stopped à posteriori.

I embarked at Portsmouth in a first-rate English man-of-war, of one hundred guns, and fourteen hundred men, for North America. Nothing worth relating happened till we arrived within three hundred leagues of the river St. Laurence, when the ship struck with amazing force against (as we supposed) a rock; however, upon heaving the lead we could find no bottom, even with three hundred fathom. What made this circumstance the more wonderful, and indeed beyond all comprehension, was, that the violence of the shock was such that we lost our rudder, broke our bowsprit in the middle, and split all our masts from top to bottom, two of which went by the board; a poor fellow, who was aloft furling the mainsheet, was flung at least three leagues from the ship; but he fortunately saved his life by laying hold of the tail of a large sea-gull, who brought him back, and lodged him on the very spot from whence he was thrown. Another proof of the violence of the shock was the force with which the people between decks were driven against the floors above them; my head particularly was pressed into my stomach, where it continued some months before it recovered its natural situation. Whilst we were all in a state of astonishment at the general and unaccountable confusion in which we were involved, the whole was suddenly explained by the appearance of a large whale, who had been basking, asleep, within sixteen feet of the surface of the water. This animal was so much displeased with the disturbance which our ship had given him—for in our passage we had with our rudder scratched his nose—that he beat in all the gallery and part of the quarter-deck with his tail, and almost at the same instant took the mainsheet anchor, which was suspended, as it usually is, from the head, between his teeth, and ran away with the ship, at least sixty leagues, at the rate of twelve leagues an hour, when fortunately the cable broke, and we lost both the whale and the anchor. However, upon our return to Europe, some months after, we found the same whale within a few leagues of the same spot, floating dead upon the water; it measured above half a mile in length. As we could take but a small quantity of such a monstrous animal on board, we got our boats out, and with much difficulty cut off his head, where, to our great joy, we found the anchor, and above forty fathom of the cable, concealed on the left side of his mouth, just under his tongue. [Perhaps this was the cause of his death, as that side of his tongue was much swelled, with a great degree of inflammation.] This was the only extraordinary circumstance that happened on this voyage. One part of our distress, however, I had like to have forgot: while the whale was running away with the ship she sprung a leak, and the water poured in so fast, that all our pumps could not keep us from sinking; it was, however, my good fortune to discover it first. I found it a large hole about a foot diameter; you will naturally suppose this circumstance gives me infinite pleasure, when I inform you that this noble vessel was preserved, with all its crew, by a most fortunate thought! in short, I sat down over it, and could have dispensed with it had it been larger; nor will you be surprised when I inform you I am descended from Dutch parents. [The Baron's ancestors have but lately settled there; in another part of his adventures he boasts of royal blood.]

My situation, while I sat there, was rather cool, but the carpenter's art soon relieved me.


Bathes in the Mediterranean—Meets an unexpected companion—Arrives unintentionally in the regions of heat and darkness, from which he is extricated by dancing a hornpipe—Frightens his deliverers, and returns on shore.

I was once in great danger of being lost in a most singular manner in the Mediterranean: I was bathing in that pleasant sea near Marseilles one summer's afternoon, when I discovered a very large fish, with his jaws quite extended, approaching me with the greatest velocity; there was no time to be lost, nor could I possibly avoid him. I immediately reduced myself to as small a size as possible, by closing my feet and placing my hands also near my sides, in which position I passed directly between his jaws, and into his stomach, where I remained some time in total darkness, and comfortably warm, as you may imagine; at last it occurred to me, that by giving him pain he would be glad to get rid of me: as I had plenty of room, I played my pranks, such as tumbling, hop, step, and jump, &c., but nothing seemed to disturb him so much as the quick motion of my feet in attempting to dance a hornpipe; soon after I began he put me out by sudden fits and starts: I persevered; at last he roared horridly, and stood up almost perpendicularly in the water, with his head and shoulders exposed, by which he was discovered by the people on board an Italian trader, then sailing by, who harpooned him in a few minutes. As soon as he was brought on board I heard the crew consulting how they should cut him up, so as to preserve the greatest quantity of oil. As I understood Italian, I was in most dreadful apprehensions lest their weapons employed in this business should destroy me also; therefore I stood as near the centre as possible, for there was room enough for a dozen men in this creature's stomach, and I naturally imagined they would begin with the extremities; however, my fears were soon dispersed, for they began by opening the bottom of the belly. As soon as I perceived a glimmering of light I called out lustily to be released from a situation in which I was now almost suffocated. It is impossible for me to do justice to the degree and kind of astonishment which sat upon every countenance at hearing a human voice issue from a fish, but more so at seeing a naked man walk upright out of his body; in short, gentlemen, I told them the whole story, as I have done you, whilst amazement struck them dumb.

After taking some refreshment, and jumping into the sea to cleanse myself, I swam to my clothes, which lay where I had left them on the shore. As near as I can calculate, I was near four hours and a half confined in the stomach of this animal.


Adventures in Turkey, and upon the river Nile—Sees a balloon over Constantinople; shoots at, and brings it down; finds a French experimental philosopher suspended from it—Goes on an embassy to Grand Cairo, and returns upon the Nile, where he is thrown into an unexpected situation, and detained six weeks.

When I was in the service of the Turks I frequently amused myself in a pleasure-barge on the Marmora, which commands a view of the whole city of Constantinople, including the Grand Seignior's Seraglio. One morning, as I was admiring the beauty and serenity of the sky, I observed a globular substance in the air, which appeared to be about the size of a twelve-inch globe, with somewhat suspended from it. I immediately took up my largest and longest barrel fowling-piece, which I never travel or make even an excursion without, if I can help it; I charged with a ball, and fired at the globe, but to no purpose, the object being at too great a distance. I then put in a double quantity of powder, and five or six balls: this second attempt succeeded; all the balls took effect, and tore one side open, and brought it down. Judge my surprise when a most elegant gilt car, with a man in it, and part of a sheep which seemed to have been roasted, fell within two yards of me. When my astonishment had in some degree subsided, I ordered my people to row close to this strange aërial traveller.

I took him on board my barge (he was a native of France): he was much indisposed from his sudden fall into the sea, and incapable of speaking; after some time, however, he recovered, and gave the following account of himself, viz.: "About seven or eight days since, I cannot tell which, for I have lost my reckoning, having been most of the time where the sun never sets, I ascended from the Land's End in Cornwall, in the island of Great Britain, in the car from which I have been just taken, suspended from a very large balloon, and took a sheep with me to try atmospheric experiments upon: unfortunately, the wind changed within ten minutes after my ascent, and instead of driving towards Exeter, where I intended to land, I was driven towards the sea, over which I suppose I have continued ever since, but much too high to make observations.

"The calls of hunger were so pressing, that the intended experiments upon heat and respiration gave way to them. I was obliged, on the third day, to kill the sheep for food; and being at that time infinitely above the moon, and for upwards of sixteen hours after so very near the sun that it scorched my eyebrows, I placed the carcase, taking care to skin it first, in that part of the car where the sun had sufficient power, or, in other words, where the balloon did not shade it from the sun, by which method it was well roasted in about two hours. This has been my food ever since." Here he paused, and seemed lost in viewing the objects about him. When I told him the buildings before us were the Grand Seignior's Seraglio at Constantinople, he seemed exceedingly affected, as he had supposed himself in a very different situation. "The cause," added he, "of my long flight, was owing to the failure of a string which was fixed to a valve in the balloon, intended to let out the inflammable air; and if it had not been fired at, and rent in the manner before mentioned, I might, like Mahomet, have been suspended between heaven and earth till doomsday."

The Grand Seignior, to whom I was introduced by the Imperial, Russian, and French ambassadors, employed me to negotiate a matter of great importance at Grand Cairo, and which was of such a nature that it must ever remain a secret.

I went there in great state by land; where, having completed the business, I dismissed almost all my attendants, and returned like a private gentleman; the weather was delightful, and that famous river the Nile was beautiful beyond all description; in short, I was tempted to hire a barge to descend by water to Alexandria. On the third day of my voyage the river began to rise most amazingly (you have all heard, I presume, of the annual overflowing of the Nile), and on the next day it spread the whole country for many leagues on each side! On the fifth, at sunrise, my barge became entangled with what I at first took for shrubs, but as the light became stronger I found myself surrounded by almonds, which were perfectly ripe, and in the highest perfection. Upon plumbing with a line my people found we were at least sixty feet from the ground, and unable to advance or retreat. At about eight or nine o'clock, as near as I could judge by the altitude of the sun, the wind rose suddenly, and canted our barge on one side: here she filled, and I saw no more of her for some time. Fortunately we all saved ourselves (six men and two boys) by clinging to the tree, the boughs of which were equal to our weight, though not to that of the barge: in this situation we continued six weeks and three days, living upon the almonds; I need not inform you we had plenty of water. On the forty-second day of our distress the water fell as rapidly as it had risen, and on the forty-sixth we were able to venture down upon terra firma. Our barge was the first pleasing object we saw, about two hundred yards from the spot where she sunk. After drying everything that was useful by the heat of the sun, and loading ourselves with necessaries from the stores on board, we set out to recover our lost ground, and found, by the nearest calculation, we had been carried over garden-walls, and a variety of enclosures, above one hundred and fifty miles. In four days, after a very tiresome journey on foot, with thin shoes, we reached the river, which was now confined to its banks, related our adventures to a boy, who kindly accommodated all our wants, and sent us forward in a barge of his own. In six days more we arrived at Alexandria, where we took shipping for Constantinople. I was received kindly by the Grand Seignior, and had the honour of seeing the Seraglio, to which his highness introduced me himself.


Pays a visit during the siege of Gibraltar to his old friend General Elliot—Sinks a Spanish man-of-war—Wakes an old woman on the African coast—Destroys all the enemy's cannon; frightens the Count d'Artois, and sends him to Paris—Saves the lives of two English spies with the identical sling that killed Goliath; and raises the siege.

During the late siege of Gibraltar I went with a provision-fleet, under Lord Rodney's command, to see my old friend General Elliot, who has, by his distinguished defence of that place, acquired laurels that can never fade. After the usual joy which generally attends the meeting of old friends had subsided, I went to examine the state of the garrison, and view the operations of the enemy, for which purpose the General accompanied me. I had brought a most excellent refracting telescope with me from London, purchased of Dollond, by the help of which I found the enemy were going to discharge a thirty-six pounder at the spot where we stood. I told the General what they were about; he looked through the glass also, and found my conjectures right. I immediately, by his permission, ordered a forty-eight pounder to be brought from a neighbouring battery, which I placed with so much exactness (having long studied the art of gunnery) that I was sure of my mark.

I continued watching the enemy till I saw the match placed at the touch-hole of their piece; at that very instant I gave the signal for our gun to be fired also.

About midway between the two pieces of cannon the balls struck each other with amazing force, and the effect was astonishing! The enemy's ball recoiled back with such violence as to kill the man who had discharged it, by carrying his head fairly off, with sixteen others which it met with in its progress to the Barbary coast, where its force, after passing through three masts of vessels that then lay in a line behind each other in the harbour, was so much spent, that it only broke its way through the roof of a poor labourer's hut, about two hundred yards inland, and destroyed a few teeth an old woman had left, who lay asleep upon her back with her mouth open. The ball lodged in her throat. Her husband soon after came home, and endeavoured to extract it; but finding that impracticable, by the assistance of a rammer he forced it into her stomach. Our ball did excellent service; for it not only repelled the other in the manner just described, but, proceeding as I intended it should, it dismounted the very piece of cannon that had just been employed against us, and forced it into the hold of the ship, where it fell with so much force as to break its way through the bottom. The ship immediately filled and sank, with above a thousand Spanish sailors on board, besides a considerable number of soldiers. This, to be sure, was a most extraordinary exploit; I will not, however, take the whole merit to myself; my judgment was the principal engine, but chance assisted me a little; for I afterwards found, that the man who charged our forty-eight pounder put in, by mistake, a double quantity of powder, else we could never have succeeded so much beyond all expectation, especially in repelling the enemy's ball.

General Elliot would have given me a commission for this singular piece of service; but I declined everything, except his thanks, which I received at a crowded table of officers at supper on the evening of that very day.

As I am very partial to the English, who are beyond all doubt a brave people, I determined not to take my leave of the garrison till I had rendered them another piece of service, and in about three weeks an opportunity presented itself. I dressed myself in the habit of a Popish priest, and at about one o'clock in the morning stole out of the garrison, passed the enemy's lines, and arrived in the middle of their camp, where I entered the tent in which the Prince d'Artois was, with the commander-in-chief, and several other officers, in deep council, concerting a plan to storm the garrison next morning. My disguise was my protection; they suffered me to continue there, hearing everything that passed, till they went to their several beds. When I found the whole camp, and even the sentinels, were wrapped up in the arms of Morpheus, I began my work, which was that of dismounting all their cannon (above three hundred pieces), from forty-eight to twenty-four pounders, and throwing them three leagues into the sea. Having no assistance, I found this the hardest task I ever undertook, except swimming to the opposite shore with the famous Turkish piece of ordnance, described by Baron de Tott in his Memoirs, which I shall hereafter mention. I then piled all the carriages together in the centre of the camp, which, to prevent the noise of the wheels being heard, I carried in pairs under my arms; and a noble appearance they made, as high at least as the rock of Gibraltar. I then lighted a match by striking a flint stone, situated twenty feet from the ground (in an old wall built by the Moors when they invaded Spain), with the breech of an iron eight-and-forty pounder, and so set fire to the whole pile. I forgot to inform you that I threw all their ammunition-waggons upon the top.

Before I applied the lighted match I had laid the combustibles at the bottom so judiciously, that the whole was in a blaze in a moment. To prevent suspicion I was one of the first to express my surprise. The whole camp was, as you may imagine, petrified with astonishment: the general conclusion was, that their sentinels had been bribed, and that seven or eight regiments of the garrison had been employed in this horrid destruction of their artillery. Mr. Drinkwater, in his account of this famous siege, mentions the enemy sustaining a great loss by a fire which happened in their camp, but never knew the cause; how should he? as I never divulged it before (though I alone saved Gibraltar by this night's business), not even to General Elliot. The Count d'Artois and all his attendants ran away in their fright, and never stopped on the road till they reached Paris, which they did in about a fortnight; this dreadful conflagration had such an effect upon them that they were incapable of taking the least refreshment for three months after, but, chameleon-like, lived upon the air.

If any gentleman will say he doubts the truth of this story, I will fine him a gallon of brandy and make him drink it at one draught.

About two months after I had done the besieged this service, one morning, as I sat at breakfast with General Elliot, a shell (for I had not time to destroy their mortars as well as their cannon) entered the apartment we were sitting in; it lodged upon our table: the General, as most men would do, quitted the room directly; but I took it up before it burst, and carried it to the top of the rock, when, looking over the enemy's camp, on an eminence near the sea-coast I observed a considerable number of people, but could not, with my naked eye, discover how they were employed. I had recourse again to my telescope, when I found that two of our officers, one a general, the other a colonel, with whom I spent the preceding evening, and who went out into the enemy's camp about midnight as spies, were taken, and then were actually going to be executed on a gibbet. I found the distance too great to throw the shell with my hand, but most fortunately recollecting that I had the very sling in my pocket which assisted David in slaying Goliath, I placed the shell in it, and immediately threw it in the midst of them: it burst as it fell, and destroyed all present, except the two culprits, who were saved by being suspended so high, for they were just turned off: however, one of the pieces of the shell fled with such force against the foot of the gibbet, that it immediately brought it down. Our two friends no sooner felt terra firma than they looked about for the cause; and finding their guards, executioner, and all, had taken it in their heads to die first, they directly extricated each other from their disgraceful cords, and then ran down to the sea-shore, seized a Spanish boat with two men in it, and made them row to one of our ships, which they did with great safety, and in a few minutes after, when I was relating to General Elliot how I had acted, they both took us by the hand, and after mutual congratulations we retired to spend the day with festivity.


An interesting account of the Baron's ancestors—A quarrel relative to the spot where Noah built his ark—The history of the sling, and its properties—A favourite poet introduced upon no very reputable occasion—queen Elizabeth's abstinence—The Baron's father crosses from England to Holland upon a marine horse, which he sells for seven hundred ducats.

You wish (I can see by your countenances) I would inform you how I became possessed of such a treasure as the sling just mentioned. (Here facts must be held sacred.) Thus then it was: I am a descendant of the wife of Uriah, whom we all know David was intimate with; she had several children by his majesty; they quarrelled once upon a matter of the first consequence, viz., the spot where Noah's ark was built, and where it rested after the flood. A separation consequently ensued. She had often heard him speak of this sling as his most valuable treasure: this she stole the night they parted; it was missed before she got out of his dominions, and she was pursued by no less than six of the king's body-guards: however, by using it herself she hit the first of them (for one was more active in the pursuit than the rest) where David did Goliath, and killed him on the spot. His companions were so alarmed at his fall that they retired, and left Uriah's wife to pursue her journey. She took with her, I should have informed you before, her favourite son by this connection, to whom she bequeathed the sling; and thus it has, without interruption, descended from father to son till it came into my possession. One of its possessors, my great-great-great-grandfather, who lived about two hundred and fifty years ago, was upon a visit to England, and became intimate with a poet who was a great deer-stealer; I think his name was Shakespeare: he frequently borrowed this sling, and with it killed so much of Sir Thomas Lucy's venison, that he narrowly escaped the fate of my two friends at Gibraltar. Poor Shakespeare was imprisoned, and my ancestor obtained his freedom in a very singular manner. Queen Elizabeth was then on the throne, but grown so indolent, that every trifling matter was a trouble to her; dressing, undressing, eating, drinking, and some other offices which shall be nameless, made life a burden to her; all these things he enabled her to do without, or by a deputy! and what do you think was the only return she could prevail upon him to accept for such eminent services? setting Shakespeare at liberty! Such was his affection for that famous writer, that he would have shortened his own days to add to the number of his friend's.

I do not hear that any of the queen's subjects, particularly the beef-eaters, as they are vulgarly called to this day, however they might be struck with the novelty at the time, much approved of her living totally without food. She did not survive the practice herself above seven years and a half.

My father, who was the immediate possessor of this sling before me, told me the following anecdote:—

He was walking by the sea-shore at Harwich, with this sling in his pocket; before his paces had covered a mile he was attacked by a fierce animal called a seahorse, open-mouthed, who ran at him with great fury; he hesitated a moment, then took out his sling, retreated back about a hundred yards, stooped for a couple of pebbles, of which there were plenty under his feet, and slung them both so dexterously at the animal, that each stone put out an eye, and lodged in the cavities which their removal had occasioned. He now got upon his back, and drove him into the sea; for the moment he lost his sight he lost also ferocity, and became as tame as possible: the sling was placed as a bridle in his mouth; he was guided with the greatest facility across the ocean, and in less than three hours they both arrived on the opposite shore, which is about thirty leagues. The master of the Three Cups, at Helvoetsluys, in Holland, purchased this marine horse, to make an exhibition of, for seven hundred ducats, which was upwards of three hundred pounds, and the next day my father paid his passage back in the packet to Harwich.

—My father made several curious observations in this passage, which I will relate hereafter.


The frolic; its consequences—Windsor Castle—St. Paul's—College of Physicians—Undertakers, sextons, &c., almost ruined—Industry of the apothecaries.


This famous sling makes the possessor equal to any task he is desirous of performing.

I made a balloon of such extensive dimensions, that an account of the silk it contained would exceed all credibility; every mercer's shop and weaver's stock in London, Westminster, and Spitalfields contributed to it: with this balloon and my sling I played many tricks, such as taking one house from its station, and placing another in its stead, without disturbing the inhabitants, who were generally asleep, or too much employed to observe the peregrinations of their habitations. When the sentinel at Windsor Castle heard St. Paul's clock strike thirteen, it was through my dexterity; I brought the buildings nearly together that night, by placing the castle in St. George's Fields, and carried it back again before daylight, without waking any of the inhabitants; notwithstanding these exploits, I should have kept my balloon, and its properties a secret, if Montgolfier had not made the art of flying so public.

On the 30th of September, when the College of Physicians chose their annual officers, and dined sumptuously together, I filled my balloon, brought it over the dome of their building, clapped the sling round the golden ball at the top, fastening the other end of it to the balloon, and immediately ascended with the whole college to an immense height, where I kept them upwards of three months. You will naturally inquire what they did for food such a length of time? To this I answer, Had I kept them suspended twice the time, they would have experienced no inconvenience on that account, so amply, or rather extravagantly, had they spread their table for that day's feasting.

Though this was meant as an innocent frolic, it was productive of much mischief to several respectable characters amongst the clergy, undertakers, sextons, and grave-diggers: they were, it must be acknowledged, sufferers; for it is a well-known fact, that during the three months the college was suspended in the air, and therefore incapable of attending their patients, no deaths happened, except a few who fell before the scythe of Father Time, and some melancholy objects who, perhaps to avoid some trifling inconvenience here, laid the hands of violence upon themselves, and plunged into misery infinitely greater than that which they hoped by such a rash step to avoid, without a moment's consideration.

If the apothecaries had not been very active during the above time, half the undertakers in all probability would have been bankrupts.



The Baron sails with Captain Phipps, attacks two large bears, and has a very narrow escape—Gains the confidence of these animals, and then destroys thousands of them; loads the ship with their hams and skins; makes presents of the former, and obtains a general invitation to all city feasts—A dispute between the Captain and the Baron, in which, from motives of politeness, the Captain is suffered to gain his point—The Baron declines the offer of a throne, and an empress into the bargain.

We all remember Captain Phipps's (now Lord Mulgrave) last voyage of discovery to the north. I accompanied the captain, not as an officer, but as a private friend. When we arrived in a high northern latitude I was viewing the objects around me with the telescope which I introduced to your notice in my Gibraltar adventures. I thought I saw two large white bears in violent action upon a body of ice considerably above the masts, and about half a league distance. I immediately took my carbine, slung it across my shoulder, and ascended the ice. When I arrived at the top, the unevenness of the surface made my approach to those animals troublesome and hazardous beyond expression: sometimes hideous cavities opposed me, which I was obliged to spring over; in other parts the surface was as smooth as a mirror, and I was continually falling: as I approached near enough to reach them, I found they were only at play. I immediately began to calculate the value of their skins, for they were each as large as a well-fed ox: unfortunately, at the very instant I was presenting my carbine my right foot slipped, I fell upon my back, and the violence of the blow deprived me totally of my senses for nearly half an hour; however, when I recovered, judge of my surprise at finding one of those large animals I have been just describing had turned me upon my face, and was just laying hold of the waistband of my breeches, which were then new and made of leather: he was certainly going to carry me feet foremost, God knows where, when I took this knife (showing a large clasp knife) out of my side-pocket, made a chop at one of his hind feet, and cut off three of his toes; he immediately let me drop and roared most horribly. I took up my carbine and fired at him as he ran off; he fell directly. The noise of the piece roused several thousand of these white bears, who were asleep upon the ice within half a mile of me; they came immediately to the spot. There was no time to be lost. A most fortunate thought arrived in my pericranium just at that instant. I took off the skin and head of the dead bear in half the time that some people would be in skinning a rabbit, and wrapped myself in it, placing my own head directly under Bruin's; the whole herd came round me immediately, and my apprehensions threw me into a most piteous situation to be sure: however, my scheme turned out a most admirable one for my own safety. They all came smelling, and evidently took me for a brother Bruin; I wanted nothing but bulk to make an excellent counterfeit: however, I saw several cubs amongst them not much larger than myself. After they had all smelt me, and the body of their deceased companion, whose skin was now become my protector, we seemed very sociable, and I found I could mimic all their actions tolerably well; but at growling, roaring, and hugging they were quite my masters. I began now to think that I might turn the general confidence which I had created amongst these animals to my advantage.

I had heard an old army surgeon say a wound in the spine was instant death. I now determined to try the experiment, and had again recourse to my knife, with which I struck the largest in the back of the neck, near the shoulders, but under great apprehensions, not doubting but the creature would, if he survived the stab, tear me to pieces. However, I was remarkably fortunate, for he fell dead at my feet without making the least noise. I was now resolved to demolish them every one in the same manner, which I accomplished without the least difficulty; for although they saw their companions fall, they had no suspicion of either the cause or the effect. When they all lay dead before me, I felt myself a second Samson, having slain my thousands.

To make short of the story, I went back to the ship, and borrowed three parts of the crew to assist me in skinning them, and carrying the hams on board, which we did in a few hours, and loaded the ship with them. As to the other parts of the animals, they were thrown into the sea, though I doubt not but the whole would eat as well as the legs, were they properly cured.

As soon as we returned I sent some of the hams, in the captain's name, to the Lords of Admiralty, others to the Lords of the Treasury, some to the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, a few to each of the trading companies, and the remainder to my particular friends, from all of whom I received warm thanks; but from the city I was honoured with substantial notice, viz., an invitation to dine at Guildhall annually on Lord Mayor's day.

The bear-skins I sent to the Empress of Russia, to clothe her majesty and her court in the winter, for which she wrote me a letter of thanks with her own hand, and sent it by an ambassador extraordinary, inviting me to share the honours of her crown; but as I never was ambitious of royal dignity, I declined her majesty's favour in the politest terms. The same ambassador had orders to wait and bring my answer to her majesty personally, upon which business he was absent about three months: her majesty's reply convinced me of the strength of her affections, and the dignity of her mind; her late indisposition was entirely owing (as she, kind creature! was pleased to express herself in a late conversation with the Prince Dolgoroucki) to my cruelty. What the sex see in me I cannot conceive, but the Empress is not the only female sovereign who has offered me her hand.

Some people have very illiberally reported that Captain Phipps did not proceed as far as he might have done upon that expedition. Here it becomes my duty to acquit him; our ship was in a very proper trim till I loaded it with such an immense quantity of bear-skins and hams, after which it would have been madness to have attempted to proceed further, as we were now scarcely able to combat a brisk gale, much less those mountains of ice which lay in the higher latitudes.

The captain has since often expressed a dissatisfaction that he had no share in the honours of that day, which he emphatically called bear-skin day. He has also been very desirous of knowing by what art I destroyed so many thousands, without fatigue or danger to myself; indeed, he is so ambitious of dividing the glory with me, that we have actually quarrelled about it, and we are not now upon speaking terms. He boldly asserts I had no merit in deceiving the bears, because I was covered with one of their skins; nay, he declares there is not, in his opinion, in Europe, so complete a bear naturally as himself among the human species.

He is now a noble peer, and I am too well acquainted with good manners to dispute so delicate a point with his lordship.


Our Baron excels Baron Tott beyond all comparison, yet fails in part of his attempt—Gets into disgrace with the Grand Seignior, who orders his head to be cut off—Escapes, and gets on board a vessel, in which he is carried to Venice—Baron Tott's origin, with some account of that great man's parents—Pope Ganganelli's amour—His Holiness fond of shell-fish.

Baron de Tott, in his Memoirs, makes as great a parade of a single act as many travellers whose whole lives have been spent in seeing the different parts of the globe; for my part, if I had been blown from Europe to Asia from the mouth of a cannon, I should have boasted less of it afterwards than he has done of only firing off a Turkish piece of ordnance. What he says of this wonderful gun, as near as my memory will serve me, is this:—"The Turks had placed below the castle, and near the city, on the banks of Simois, a celebrated river, an enormous piece of ordnance cast in brass, which would carry a marble ball of eleven hundred pounds weight. I was inclined," says Tott, "to fire it, but I was willing first to judge of its effect; the crowd about me trembled at this proposal, as they asserted it would overthrow not only the castle, but the city also; at length their fears in part subsided, and I was permitted to discharge it. It required not less than three hundred and thirty pounds' weight of powder, and the ball weighed, as before mentioned, eleven hundredweight. When the engineer brought the priming, the crowds who were about me retreated back as fast as they could; nay, it was with the utmost difficulty I persuaded the Pacha, who came on purpose, there was no danger: even the engineer who was to discharge it by my direction was considerably alarmed. I took my stand on some stone-work behind the cannon, gave the signal, and felt a shock like that of earthquake! At the distance of three hundred fathom the ball burst into three pieces; the fragments crossed the strait, rebounded on the opposite mountain, and left the surface of the water all in a foam through the whole breadth of the channel."

This, gentlemen, is, as near as I can recollect, Baron Tott's account of the largest cannon in the known world. Now, when I was there not long since, the anecdote of Tott's firing this tremendous piece was mentioned as a proof of that gentleman's extraordinary courage.

I was determined not to be outdone by a Frenchman, therefore took this very piece upon my shoulder, and, after balancing it properly, jumped into the sea with it, and swam to the opposite shore, from whence I unfortunately attempted to throw it back into its former place. I say unfortunately, for it slipped a little in my hand just as I was about to discharge it, and in consequence of that it fell into the middle of the channel, where it now lies, without a prospect of ever recovering it: and notwithstanding the high favour I was in with the Grand Seignior, as before mentioned, this cruel Turk, as soon as he heard of the loss of his famous piece of ordnance, issued an order to cut off my head. I was immediately informed of it by one of the Sultanas, with whom I was become a great favourite, and she secreted me in her apartment while the officer charged with my execution was, with his assistants, in search of me.

That very night I made my escape on board a vessel bound to Venice, which was then weighing anchor to proceed on her voyage.

The last story, gentlemen, I am not fond of mentioning, as I miscarried in the attempt, and was very near losing my life into the bargain: however, as it contains no impeachment of my honour, I would not withhold it from you.

Now, gentlemen, you all know me, and can have no doubt of my veracity. I will entertain you with the origin of this same swaggering, bouncing Tott.

His reputed father was a native of Berne, in Switzerland; his profession was that of a surveyor of the streets, lanes, and alleys, vulgarly called a scavenger. His mother was a native of the mountains of Savoy, and had a most beautiful large wen on her neck, common to both sexes in that part of the world; she left her parents when young, and sought her fortune in the same city which gave his father birth; she maintained herself while single by acts of kindness to our sex, for she never was known to refuse them any favour they asked, provided they did but pay her some compliment beforehand. This lovely couple met by accident in the street, in consequence of their being both intoxicated, for by reeling to one centre they threw each other down; this created mutual abuse, in which they were complete adepts; they were both carried to the watch-house, and afterwards to the house of correction; they soon saw the folly of quarrelling, made it up, became fond of each other, and married; but madam returning to her old tricks, his father, who had high notions of honour, soon separated himself from her; she then joined a family who strolled about with a puppet-show. In time she arrived at Rome, where she kept an oyster-stand. You have all heard, no doubt of Pope Ganganelli, commonly called Clement XIV.: he was remarkably fond of oysters. One Good Friday, as he was passing through this famous city in state, to assist at high mass at St. Peter's Church, he saw this woman's oysters (which were remarkably fine and fresh); he could not proceed without tasting them. There were about five thousand people in his train; he ordered them all to stop, and sent word to the church he could not attend mass till next day; then alighting from his horse (for the Pope always rides on horseback upon these occasions) he went into her stall, and ate every oyster she had there, and afterwards retired into the cellar where she had a few more. This subterraneous apartment was her kitchen, parlour, and bed-chamber. He liked his situation so much that he discharged all his attendants, and to make short of the story, His Holiness passed the whole night there! Before they parted he gave her absolution, not only for every sin she had, but all she might hereafter commit.

Now, gentlemen, I have his mother's word for it (and her honour cannot be doubted), that Baron Tott is the fruit of that amour. When Tott was born, his mother applied to His Holiness, as the father of her child; he immediately placed him under the proper people, and as he grew up gave him a gentleman's education, had him taught the use of arms, procured him promotion in France, and a title, and when he died he left him a good estate.


A further account of the journey from Harwich to Helvoetsluys— Description of a number of marine objects never mentioned by any traveller before—Rocks seen in this passage equal to the Alps in magnitude; lobsters, crabs, &c., of an extraordinary magnitude—A woman's life saved—The cause of her falling into the sea—Dr. Hawes' directions followed with success.

I omitted several very material parts in my father's journey across the English Channel to Holland, which, that they may not be totally lost I will now faithfully give you in his own words, as I heard him relate them to his friends several times.

"On my arrival," says my father, "at Helvoetsluys, I was observed to breathe with some difficulty; upon the inhabitants inquiring into the cause, I informed them that the animal upon whose back I rode from Harwich across to their shore did not swim! Such is their peculiar form and disposition, that they cannot float or move upon the surface of the water; he ran with incredible swiftness upon the sands from the shore, driving fish in millions before him, many of which were quite different from any I had yet seen, carrying their heads at the extremity of their tails. I crossed," continued he, "one prodigious range of rocks, equal in height to the Alps (the tops or highest parts of these marine mountains are said to be upwards of one hundred fathoms below the surface of the sea), on the sides of which there was a great variety of tall, noble trees, loaded with marine fruit, such as lobsters, crabs, oysters, scollops, mussels, cockles, &c. &c.; some of which were a cart-load singly! and none less than a porter's! All those which are brought on shore and sold in our markets are of an inferior dwarf kind, or, properly, waterfalls, i.e., fruit shook off the branches of the tree it grows upon by the motion of the water, as those in our gardens are by that of the wind! The lobster-trees appeared the richest, but the crab and oysters were the tallest. The periwinkle is a kind of shrub; it grows at the foot of the oyster-tree, and twines round it as the ivy does the oak. I observed the effect of several accidents by shipwreck, &c., particularly a ship that had been wrecked by striking against a mountain or rock, the top of which lay within three fathoms of the surface. As she sank she fell upon her side, and forced a very large lobster-tree out of its place. It was in the spring, when the lobsters were very young, and many of them being separated by the violence of the shock, they fell upon a crab-tree which was growing below them; they have, like the farina of plants, united, and produced a fish resembling both. I endeavoured to bring one with me, but it was too cumbersome, and my salt-water Pegasus seemed much displeased at every attempt to stop his career whilst I continued upon his back; besides, I was then, though galloping over a mountain of rocks that lay about midway the passage, at least five hundred fathom below the surface of the sea, and began to find the want of air inconvenient, therefore I had no inclination to prolong the time. Add to this, my situation was in other respects very unpleasant; I met many large fish, who were, if I could judge by their open mouths, not only able, but really wished to devour us; now, as my Rosinante was blind, I had these hungry gentlemen's attempts to guard against, in addition to my other difficulties.

"As we drew near the Dutch shore, and the body of water over our heads did not exceed twenty fathoms, I thought I saw a human figure in a female dress then lying on the sand before me with some signs of life; when I came close I perceived her hand move: I took it into mine, and brought her on shore as a corpse. An apothecary, who had just been instructed by Dr. Hawes [the Baron's father must have lived very lately if Dr. Hawes was his preceptor], of London, treated her properly, and she recovered. She was the rib of a man who commanded a vessel belonging to Helvoetsluys. He was just going out of port on a voyage, when she, hearing he had got a mistress with him, followed him in an open boat. As soon as she had got on the quarter-deck she flew at her husband, and attempted to strike him with such impetuosity, that he thought it most prudent to slip on one side, and let her make the impression of her fingers upon the waves rather than his face: he was not much out in his ideas of the consequence; for meeting no opposition, she went directly overboard, and it was my unfortunate lot to lay the foundation for bringing this happy pair together again.

"I can easily conceive what execrations the husband loaded me with when, on his return, he found this gentle creature waiting his arrival, and learned the means by which she came into the world again. However, great as the injury is which I have done this poor devil, I hope he will die in charity with me, as my motive was good, though the consequences to him are, it must be confessed, horrible."


This is a very short chapter, but contains a fact for which the Baron's memory ought to be dear to every Englishman, especially those who may hereafter have the misfortune of being made prisoners of war.

On my return from Gibraltar I travelled by way of France to England. Being a foreigner, this was not attended with any inconvenience to me. I found, in the harbour of Calais, a ship just arrived with a number of English sailors as prisoners of war. I immediately conceived an idea of giving these brave fellows their liberty, which I accomplished as follows:—After forming a pair of large wings, each of them forty yards long, and fourteen wide, and annexing them to myself, I mounted at break of day, when every creature, even the watch upon deck, was fast asleep. As I hovered over the ship I fastened three grappling irons to the tops of the three masts with my sling, and fairly lifted her several yards out of the water, and then proceeded across to Dover, where I arrived in half an hour! Having no further occasion for these wings, I made them a present to the governor of Dover Castle, where they are now exhibited to the curious.

As to the prisoners, and the Frenchmen who guarded them, they did not awake till they had been near two hours on Dover Pier. The moment the English understood their situation they changed places with their guard, and took back what they had been plundered of, but no more, for they were too generous to retaliate and plunder them in return.


Voyage eastward—The Baron introduces a friend who never deceived him: wins a hundred guineas by pinning his faith upon that friend's nose—Game started at sea—Some other circumstances which will, it is hoped, afford the reader no small degree of amusement.

In a voyage which I made to the East Indies with Captain Hamilton, I took a favourite pointer with me; he was, to use a common phrase, worth his weight in gold, for he never deceived me. One day when we were, by the best observations we could make, at least three hundred leagues from land, my dog pointed; I observed him for near an hour with astonishment, and mentioned the circumstance to the captain and every officer on board, asserting that we must be near land, for my dog smelt game. This occasioned a general laugh; but that did not alter in the least the good opinion I had of my dog. After much conversation pro and con, I boldly told the captain I placed more confidence in Tray's nose than I did in the eyes of every seaman on board, and therefore proposed laying the sum I had agreed to pay for my passage (viz., one hundred guineas) that we should find game within half an hour. The captain (a good, hearty fellow) laughed again, desired Mr. Crowford the surgeon, who was prepared, to feel my pulse; he did so, and reported me in perfect health. The following dialogue between them took place; I overheard it, though spoken low, and at some distance.

CAPTAIN His brain is turned; I cannot with honour accept his wager.

SURGEON I am of a different opinion; he is quite sane, and depends more upon the scent of his dog than he will upon the judgment of all the officers on board; he will certainly lose, and he richly merits it.

CAPTAIN Such a wager cannot be fair on my side; however, I'll take him up, if I return his money afterwards.

During the above conversation Tray continued in the same situation, and confirmed me still more in my former opinion. I proposed the wager a second time, it was then accepted.

Done! and done! were scarcely said on both sides, when some sailors who were fishing in the long-boat, which was made fast to the stern of the ship, harpooned an exceeding large shark, which they brought on board and began to cut up for the purpose of barrelling the oil, when, behold, they found no less than six brace of live partridges in this animal's stomach!

They had been so long in that situation, that one of the hens was sitting upon four eggs, and a fifth was hatching when the shark was opened!!! This young bird we brought up by placing it with a litter of kittens that came into the world a few minutes before! The old cat was as fond of it as of any of her own four-legged progeny, and made herself very unhappy, when it flew out of her reach, till it returned again. As to the other partridges, there were four hens amongst them; one or more were, during the voyage, constantly sitting, and consequently we had plenty of game at the captain's table; and in gratitude to poor Tray (for being a means of winning one hundred guineas) I ordered him the bones daily, and sometimes a whole bird.



A second visit (but an accidental one) to the moon—The ship driven by a whirlwind a thousand leagues above the surface of the water, where a new atmosphere meets them and carries them into a capacious harbour in the moon—A description of the inhabitants, and their manner of coming into the lunarian world—Animals, customs, weapons of war, wine, vegetables, &c.

I have already informed you of one trip I made to the moon, in search of my silver hatchet; I afterwards made another in a much pleasanter manner, and stayed in it long enough to take notice of several things, which I will endeavour to describe as accurately as my memory will permit.

I went on a voyage of discovery at the request of a distant relation, who had a strange notion that there were people to be found equal in magnitude to those described by Gulliver in the empire of BROBDIGNAG. For my part I always treated that account as fabulous: however, to oblige him, for he had made me his heir, I undertook it, and sailed for the South seas, where we arrived without meeting with anything remarkable, except some flying men and women who were playing at leap-frog, and dancing minuets in the air.

On the eighteenth day after we had passed the Island of Otaheite, mentioned by Captain Cook as the place from whence they brought Omai, a hurricane blew our ship at least one thousand leagues above the surface of the water, and kept it at the height till a fresh gale arising filled the sails in every part, and onwards we travelled at a prodigious rate; thus we proceeded above the clouds for six weeks. At last we discovered a great land in the sky, like a shining island, round and bright, where, coming into a convenient harbour, we went on shore, and soon found it was inhabited. Below us we saw another earth, containing cities, trees, mountains, rivers, seas, &c., which we conjectured was this world which we had left. Here we saw huge figures riding upon vultures of a prodigious size, and each of them having three heads. To form some idea of the magnitude of these birds, I must inform you that each of their wings is as wide and six times the length of the main sheet of our vessel, which was about six hundred tons burthen. Thus, instead of riding upon horses, as we do in this world, the inhabitants of the moon (for we now found we were in Madam Luna) fly about on these birds. The king, we found, was engaged in a war with the sun, and he offered me a commission, but I declined the honour his majesty intended me. Everything in this world is of extraordinary magnitude! a common flea being much larger than one of our sheep: in making war, their principal weapons are radishes, which are used as darts: those who are wounded by them die immediately. Their shields are made of mushrooms, and their darts (when radishes are out of season) of the tops of asparagus. Some of the natives of the dog-star are to be seen here; commerce tempts them to ramble; their faces are like large mastiffs', with their eyes near the lower end or tip of their noses: they have no eyelids, but cover their eyes with the end of their tongues when they go to sleep; they are generally twenty feet high. As to the natives of the moon, none of them are less in stature than thirty-six feet: they are not called the human species, but the cooking animals, for they all dress their food by fire, as we do, but lose not time at their meals, as they open their left side, and place the whole quantity at once in their stomach, then shut it again till the same day in the next month; for they never indulge themselves with food more than twelve times a year, or once a month. All but gluttons and epicures must prefer this method to ours.

There is but one sex either of the cooking or any other animals in the moon; they are all produced from trees of various sizes and foliage; that which produces the cooking animal, or human species, is much more beautiful than any of the others; it has large straight boughs and flesh-coloured leaves, and the fruit it produces are nuts or pods, with hard shells at least two yards long; when they become ripe, which is known from their changing colour, they are gathered with great care, and laid by as long as they think proper: when they choose to animate the seed of these nuts, they throw them into a large cauldron of boiling water, which opens the shells in a few hours, and out jumps the creature.

Nature forms their minds for different pursuits before they come into the world; from one shell comes forth a warrior, from another a philosopher, from a third a divine, from a fourth a lawyer, from a fifth a farmer, from a sixth a clown, &c. &c., and each of them immediately begins to perfect themselves, by practising what they before knew only in theory.

When they grow old they do not die, but turn into air, and dissolve like smoke! As for their drink, they need none; the only evacuations they have are insensible, and by their breath. They have but one finger upon each hand, with which they perform everything in as perfect a manner as we do who have four besides the thumb. Their heads are placed under their right arm, and when are going to travel, or about any violent exercise, they generally leave them at home, for they can consult them at any distance; this is a very common practice; and when those of rank or quality among the Lunarians have an inclination to see what's going forward among the common people, they stay at home, i.e., the body stays at home, and sends the head only, which is suffered to be present incog., and return at pleasure with an account of what has passed.

The stones of their grapes are exactly like hail; and I am perfectly satisfied that when a storm or high wind in the moon shakes their vines, and breaks the grapes from the stalks, the stones fall down and form our hail showers. I would advise those who are of my opinion to save a quantity of these stones when it hails next, and make Lunarian wine. It is a common beverage at St. Luke's. Some material circumstances I had nearly omitted. They put their bellies to the same use as we do a sack, and throw whatever they have occasion for into it, for they can shut and open it again when they please, as they do their stomachs; they are not troubled with bowels, liver, heart, or any other intestines, neither are they encumbered with clothes, nor is there any part of their bodies unseemly or indecent to exhibit.

Their eyes they can take in and out of their places when they please, and can see as well with them in their hand as in their head! and if by any accident they lose or damage one, they can borrow or purchase another, and see as clearly with it as their own. Dealers in eyes are on that account very numerous in most parts of the moon, and in this article alone all the inhabitants are whimsical: sometimes green and sometimes yellow eyes are the fashion. I know these things appear strange; but if the shadow of a doubt can remain on any person's mind, I say, let him take a voyage there himself, and then he will know I am a traveller of veracity.


The Baron crosses the Thames without the assistance of a bridge, ship, boat, balloon, or even his own will: rouses himself after a long nap, and destroys a monster who lived upon the destruction of others.

My first visit to England was about the beginning of the present king's reign. I had occasion to go down to Wapping, to see some goods shipped, which I was sending to some friends at Hamburgh; after that business was over, I took the Tower Wharf in my way back. Here I found the sun very powerful, and I was so much fatigued that I stepped into one of the cannon to compose me, where I fell fast asleep. This was about noon: it was the fourth of June; exactly at one o'clock these cannon were all discharged in memory of the day. They had been all charged that morning, and having no suspicion of my situation, I was shot over the houses on the opposite side of the river, into a farmer's yard, between Bermondsey and Deptford, where I fell upon a large hay-stack, without waking, and continued there in a sound sleep till hay became so extravagantly dear (which was about three months after), that the farmer found it his interest to send his whole stock to market: the stack I was reposing upon was the largest in the yard, containing above five hundred load; they began to cut that first. I woke with the voices of the people who had ascended the ladders to begin at the top, and got up, totally ignorant of my situation: in attempting to run away I fell upon the farmer to whom the hay belonged, and broke his neck, yet received no injury myself. I afterwards found, to my great consolation, that this fellow was a most detestable character, always keeping the produce of his grounds for extravagant markets.




The Baron slips through the world: after paying a visit to Mount Etna he finds himself in the South Sea; visits Vulcan in his passage; gets on board a Dutchman; arrives at an island of cheese, surrounded by a sea of milk; describes some very extraordinary objects—Lose their compass; their ship slips between the teeth of a fish unknown in this part of the world; their difficulty in escaping from thence; arrive in the Caspian Sea—Starves a bear to death—A few waistcoat anecdotes—In this chapter, which is the longest, the Baron moralises upon the virtue of veracity.

Mr. Drybones' "Travels to Sicily," which I had read with great pleasure, induced me to pay a visit to Mount Etna; my voyage to this place was not attended with any circumstances worth relating. One morning early, three or four days after my arrival, I set out from a cottage where I had slept, within six miles of the foot of the mountain, determined to explore the internal parts, if I perished in the attempt. After three hours' hard labour I found myself at the top; it was then, and had been for upwards of three weeks, raging: its appearance in this state has been so frequently noticed by different travellers, that I will not tire you with descriptions of objects you are already acquainted with. I walked round the edge of the crater, which appeared to be fifty times at least as capacious as the Devil's Punch-Bowl near Petersfield, on the Portsmouth Road, but not so broad at the bottom, as in that part it resembles the contracted part of a funnel more than a punch-bowl. At last, having made up my mind, in I sprang feet foremost; I soon found myself in a warm berth, and my body bruised and burnt in various parts by the red-hot cinders, which, by their violent ascent, opposed my descent: however, my weight soon brought me to the bottom, where I found myself in the midst of noise and clamour, mixed with the most horrid imprecations; after recovering my senses, and feeling a reduction of my pain, I began to look about me. Guess, gentlemen, my astonishment, when I found myself in the company of Vulcan and his Cyclops, who had been quarrelling, for the three weeks before mentioned, about the observation of good order and due subordination, and which had occasioned such alarms for that space of time in the world above. However, my arrival restored peace to the whole society, and Vulcan himself did me the honour of applying plasters to my wounds, which healed them immediately; he also placed refreshments before me, particularly nectar, and other rich wines, such as the gods and goddesses only aspire to. After this repast was over Vulcan ordered Venus to show me every indulgence which my situation required. To describe the apartment, and the couch on which I reposed, is totally impossible, therefore I will not attempt it; let it suffice to say, it exceeds the power of language to do it justice, or speak of that kind-hearted goddess in any terms equal to her merit.

Vulcan gave me a very concise account of Mount Etna: he said it was nothing more than an accumulation of ashes thrown from his forge; that he was frequently obliged to chastise his people, at whom, in his passion, he made it a practice to throw red-hot coals at home, which they often parried with great dexterity, and then threw them up into the world to place them out of his reach, for they never attempted to assault him in return by throwing them back again. "Our quarrels," added he, "last sometimes three or four months, and these appearances of coals or cinders in the world are what I find you mortals call eruptions." Mount Vesuvius, he assured me, was another of his shops, to which he had a passage three hundred and fifty leagues under the bed of the sea, where similar quarrels produced similar eruptions. I should have continued here as an humble attendant upon Madam Venus, but some busy tattlers, who delight in mischief, whispered a tale in Vulcan's ear, which roused in him a fit of jealousy not to be appeased. Without the least previous notice he took me one morning under his arm, as I was waiting upon Venus, agreeable to custom, and carried me to an apartment I had never before seen, in which there was, to all appearance, a well with a wide mouth: over this he held me at arm's length, and saying, "Ungrateful mortal, return to the world from whence you came," without giving me the least opportunity of reply, dropped me in the centre. I found myself descending with an increasing rapidity, till the horror of my mind deprived me of all reflection. I suppose I fell into a trance, from which I was suddenly aroused by plunging into a large body of water illuminated by the rays of the sun!!

I could, from my infancy, swim well, and play tricks in the water. I now found myself in paradise, considering the horrors of mind I had just been released from. After looking about me some time, I could discover nothing but an expanse of sea, extending beyond the eye in every direction; I also found it very cold, a different climate from Master Vulcan's shop. At last I observed at some distance a body of amazing magnitude, like a huge rock, approaching me; I soon discovered it to be a piece of floating ice; I swam round it till I found a place where I could ascend to the top, which I did, but not without some difficulty. Still I was out of sight of land, and despair returned with double force; however, before night came on I saw a sail, which we approached very fast; when it was within a very small distance I hailed them in German; they answered in Dutch. I then flung myself into the sea, and they threw out a rope, by which I was taken on board. I now inquired where we were, and was informed, in the great Southern Ocean; this opened a discovery which removed all my doubts and difficulties. It was now evident that I had passed from Mount Etna through the centre of the earth to the South Seas: this, gentlemen, was a much shorter cut than going round the world, and which no man has accomplished, or ever attempted, but myself; however, the next time I perform it I will be much more particular in my observations.

I took some refreshment, and went to rest. The Dutch are a very rude sort of people; I related the Etna passage to the officers, exactly as I have done to you, and some of them, particularly the Captain, seemed by his grimace and half-sentence to doubt my veracity; however, as he had kindly taken me on board his vessel, and was then in the very act of administering to my necessities, I pocketed the affront.

I now in my turn began to inquire where they were bound? To which they answered, they were in search of new discoveries; "and if," said they, "your story is true, a new passage is really discovered, and we shall not return disappointed." We were now exactly in Captain Cook's first track, and arrived the next morning in Botany Bay. This place I would by no means recommend to the English government as a receptacle for felons, or place of punishment; it should rather be the reward of merit, nature having most bountifully bestowed her best gifts upon it.

We stayed here but three days; the fourth after our departure a most dreadful storm arose, which in a few hours destroyed all our sails, splintered our bowsprit, and brought down our topmast; it fell directly upon the box that enclosed our compass, which, with the compass, was broken to pieces. Every one who has been at sea knows the consequences of such a misfortune: we now were at a loss where to steer. At length the storm abated, which was followed by a steady, brisk gale, that carried us at least forty knots an hour for six months! [we should suppose the Baron has made a little mistake, and substituted months for days] when we began to observe an amazing change in everything about us: our spirits became light, our noses were regaled with the most aromatic effluvia imaginable: the sea had also changed its complexion, and from green became white!! Soon after these wonderful alterations we saw land, and not at any great distance an inlet, which we sailed up near sixty leagues, and found it wide and deep, flowing with milk of the most delicious taste. Here we landed, and soon found it was an island consisting of one large cheese: we discovered this by one of the company fainting away as soon as we landed: this man always had an aversion to cheese; when he recovered, he desired the cheese to be taken from under his feet: upon examination we found him perfectly right, for the whole island, as before observed, was nothing but a cheese of immense magnitude! Upon this the inhabitants, who are amazingly numerous, principally sustain themselves, and it grows every night in proportion as it is consumed in the day. Here seemed to be plenty of vines, with bunches of large grapes, which, upon being pressed, yielded nothing but milk. We saw the inhabitants running races upon the surface of the milk: they were upright, comely figures, nine feet high, have three legs, and but one arm; upon the whole, their form was graceful, and when they quarrel, they exercise a straight horn, which grows in adults from the centre of their foreheads, with great adroitness; they did not sink at all, but ran and walked upon the surface of the milk, as we do upon a bowling-green.

Upon this island of cheese grows great plenty of corn, the ears of which produce loaves of bread, ready made, of a round form like mushrooms. We discovered, in our rambles over this cheese, seventeen other rivers of milk, and ten of wine.

After thirty-eight days' journey we arrived on the opposite side to that on which we landed: here we found some blue mould, as cheese-eaters call it, from whence spring all kinds of rich fruit; instead of breeding mites it produced peaches, nectarines, apricots, and a thousand delicious fruits which we are not acquainted with. In these trees, which are of an amazing size, were plenty of birds' nests; amongst others was a king-fisher's of prodigious magnitude; it was at least twice the circumference of the dome of St. Paul's Church in London. Upon inspection, this nest was made of huge trees curiously joined together; there were, let me see (for I make it a rule always to speak within compass), there were upwards of five hundred eggs in the nest, and each of them was as large as four common hogsheads, or eight barrels, and we could not only see, but hear the young ones chirping within. Having, with great fatigue, cut open one of these eggs, we let out a young one unfeathered, considerably larger than twenty full-grown vultures. Just as we had given this youngster his liberty the old kingfisher lighted, and seizing our captain, who had been active in breaking the egg, in one of her claws, flew with him above a mile high, and then let him drop into the sea, but not till she had beaten all his teeth out of his mouth with her wings.

Dutchmen generally swim well: he soon joined us, and we retreated to our ship. On our return we took a different route, and observed many strange objects. We shot two wild oxen, each with one horn, also like the inhabitants, except that it sprouted from between the eyes of these animals; we were afterwards concerned at having destroyed them, as we found, by inquiry, they tamed these creatures, and used them as we do horses, to ride upon and draw their carriages; their flesh, we were informed, is excellent, but useless where people live upon cheese and milk. When we had reached within two days' journey of the ship we observed three men hanging to a tall tree by their heels; upon inquiring the cause of their punishment, I found they had all been travellers, and upon their return home had deceived their friends by describing places they never saw, and relating things that never happened: this gave me no concern, as I have ever confined myself to facts.

As soon as we arrived at the ship we unmoored, and set sail from this extraordinary country, when, to our astonishment, all the trees upon shore, of which there were a great number very tall and large, paid their respects to us twice, bowing to exact time, and immediately recovered their former posture, which was quite erect.

By what we could learn of this CHEESE, it was considerably larger than the continent of all Europe!

After sailing three months we knew not where, being still without compass, we arrived in a sea which appeared to be almost black: upon tasting it we found it most excellent wine, and had great difficulty to keep the sailors from getting drunk with it: however, in a few hours we found ourselves surrounded by whales and other animals of an immense magnitude, one of which appeared to be too large for the eye to form a judgment of: we did not see him till we were close to him. This monster drew our ship, with all her masts standing, and sails bent, by suction into his mouth, between his teeth, which were much larger and taller than the mast of a first-rate man-of-war. After we had been in his mouth some time he opened it pretty wide, took in an immense quantity of water, and floated our vessel, which was at least 500 tons burthen, into his stomach; here we lay as quiet as at anchor in a dead calm. The air, to be sure, was rather warm, and very offensive. We found anchors, cables, boats, and barges in abundance, and a considerable number of ships, some laden and some not, which this creature had swallowed. Everything was transacted by torch-light; no sun, no moon, no planet, to make observations from. We were all generally afloat and aground twice a-day; whenever he drank, it became high water with us; and when he evacuated, we found ourselves aground; upon a moderate computation, he took in more water at a single draught than is generally to be found in the Lake of Geneva, though that is above thirty miles in circumference. On the second day of our confinement in these regions of darkness, I ventured at low water, as we called it when the ship was aground, to ramble with the Captain, and a few of the other officers, with lights in our hands; we met with people of all nations, to the amount of upwards of ten thousand; they were going to hold a council how to recover their liberty; some of them having lived in this animal's stomach several years; there were several children here who had never seen the world, their mothers having lain in repeatedly in this warm situation. Just as the chairman was going to inform us of the business upon which we were assembled, this plaguy fish, becoming thirsty, drank in his usual manner; the water poured in with such impetuosity, that we were all obliged to retreat to our respective ships immediately, or run the risk of being drowned; some were obliged to swim for it, and with difficulty saved their lives. In a few hours after we were more fortunate, we met again just after the monster had evacuated. I was chosen chairman, and the first thing I did was to propose splicing two main-masts together, and the next time he opened his mouth to be ready to wedge them in, so as to prevent his shutting it. It was unanimously approved. One hundred stout men were chosen upon this service. We had scarcely got our masts properly prepared when an opportunity offered; the monster opened his mouth, immediately the top of the mast was placed against the roof, and the other end pierced his tongue, which effectually prevented him from shutting his mouth. As soon as everything in his stomach was afloat, we manned a few boats, who rowed themselves and us into the world. The daylight, after, as near as we could judge, three months' confinement in total darkness, cheered our spirits surprisingly. When we had all taken our leave of this capacious animal, we mustered just a fleet of ninety-five ships, of all nations, who had been in this confined situation.

We left the two masts in his mouth, to prevent others being confined in the same horrid gulf of darkness and filth. Our first object was to learn what part of the world we were in; this we were for some time at a loss to ascertain: at last I found, from former observations, that we were in the Caspian Sea! which washes part of the country of the Calmuck Tartars. How we came here is was impossible to conceive, as this sea has no communication with any other. One of the inhabitants of the Cheese Island, whom I had brought with me, accounted for it thus:—that the monster in whose stomach we had been so long confined had carried us here through some subterraneous passage; however, we pushed to shore, and I was the first who landed. Just as I put my foot upon the ground a large bear leaped upon me with its fore-paws; I caught one in each hand, and squeezed him till he cried out most lustily; however, in this position I held him till I starved him to death. You may laugh, gentlemen, but this was soon accomplished, as I prevented him licking his paws. From hence I travelled up to St. Petersburg a second time: here an old friend gave me a most excellent pointer, descended from the famous bitch before-mentioned, that littered while she was hunting a hare. I had the misfortune to have him shot soon after by a blundering sportsman, who fired at him instead of a covey of partridges which he had just set. Of this creature's skin I have had this waistcoat made (showing his waistcoat), which always leads me involuntarily to game if I walk in the fields in the proper season, and when I come within shot, one of the buttons constantly flies off, and lodges upon the spot where the sport is; and as the birds rise, being always primed and cocked, I never miss them. Here are now but three buttons left. I shall have a new set sewed on against the shooting season commences.

When a covey of partridges is disturbed in this manner, by the button falling amongst them, they always rise from the ground in a direct line before each other. I one day, by forgetting to take my ramrod out of my gun, shot it straight through a leash, as regularly as if the cook had spitted them. I had forgot to put in any shot, and the rod had been made so hot with the powder, that the birds were completely roasted by the time I reached home.

Since my arrival in England I have accomplished what I had very much at heart, viz., providing for the inhabitant of the Cheese Island, whom I had brought with me. My old friend, Sir William Chambers, who is entirely indebted to me for all his ideas of Chinese gardening, by a description of which he has gained such high reputation; I say, gentlemen, in a discourse which I had with this gentlemen, he seemed much distressed for a contrivance to light the lamps at the new buildings, Somerset House; the common mode with ladders, he observed, was both dirty and inconvenient. My native of the Cheese Island popped into my head; he was only nine feet high when I first brought him from his own country, but was now increased to ten and a half: I introduced him to Sir William, and he is appointed to that honourable office. He is also to carry, under a large cloak, a utensil in each coat pocket, instead of those four which Sir William has very properly fixed for private purposes in so conspicuous a situation, the great quadrangle.

He has also obtained from Mr. PITT the situation of messenger to his Majesty's lords of the bed-chamber, whose principal employment will now be, divulging the secrets of the Royal household to their worthy Patron.


Extraordinary flight on the back of an eagle, over France to Gibraltar, South and North America, the Polar Regions, and back to England, within six-and-thirty hours.

About the beginning of his present Majesty's reign I had some business with a distant relation who then lived on the Isle of Thanet; it was a family dispute, and not likely to be finished soon. I made it a practice during my residence there, the weather being fine, to walk out every morning. After a few of these excursions I observed an object upon a great eminence about three miles distant: I extended my walk to it, and found the ruins of an ancient temple: I approached it with admiration and astonishment; the traces of grandeur and magnificence which yet remained were evident proofs of its former splendour: here I could not help lamenting the ravages and devastations of time, of which that once noble structure exhibited such a melancholy proof. I walked round it several times, meditating on the fleeting and transitory nature of all terrestrial things; on the eastern end were the remains of a lofty tower, near forty feet high, overgrown with ivy, the top apparently flat; I surveyed it on every side very minutely, thinking that if I could gain its summit I should enjoy the most delightful prospect of the circumjacent country. Animated with this hope, I resolved, if possible, to gain the summit, which I at length effected by means of the ivy, though not without great difficulty and danger; the top I found covered with this evergreen, except a large chasm in the middle. After I had surveyed with pleasing wonder the beauties of art and nature that conspired to enrich the scene, curiosity prompted me to sound the opening in the middle, in order to ascertain its depth, as I entertained a suspicion that it might probably communicate with some unexplored subterranean cavern in the hill; but having no line I was at a loss how to proceed. After revolving the matter in my thoughts for some time, I resolved to drop a stone down and listen to the echo: having found one that answered my purpose I placed myself over the hole, with one foot on each side, and stooping down to listen, I dropped the stone, which I had no sooner done than I heard a rustling below, and suddenly a monstrous eagle put up its head right opposite my face, and rising up with irresistible force, carried me away seated on its shoulders: I instantly grasped it round the neck, which was large enough to fill my arms, and its wings, when extended, were ten yards from one extremity to the other. As it rose with a regular ascent, my seat was perfectly easy, and I enjoyed the prospect below with inexpressible pleasure. It hovered over Margate for some time, was seen by several people, and many shots were fired at it; one ball hit the heel of my shoe, but did me no injury. It then directed its course to Dover cliff, where it alighted, and I thought of dismounting, but was prevented by a sudden discharge of musketry from a party of marines that were exercising on the beach; the balls flew about my head, and rattled on the feathers of the eagle like hail-stones, yet I could not perceive it had received any injury. It instantly reascended and flew over the sea towards Calais, but so very high that the Channel seemed to be no broader than the Thames at London Bridge. In a quarter of an hour I found myself over a thick wood in France, where the eagle descended very rapidly, which caused me to slip down to the back part of its head; but alighting on a large tree, and raising its head, I recovered my seat as before, but saw no possibility of disengaging myself without the danger of being killed by the fall; so I determined to sit fast, thinking it would carry me to the Alps, or some other high mountain, where I could dismount without any danger. After resting a few minutes it took wing, flew several times round the wood, and screamed loud enough to be heard across the English Channel. In a few minutes one of the same species arose out of the wood, and flew directly towards us; it surveyed me with evident marks of displeasure, and came very near me. After flying several times round, they both directed their course to the south-west. I soon observed that the one I rode upon could not keep pace with the other, but inclined towards the earth, on account of my weight; its companion perceiving this, turned round and placed itself in such a position that the other could rest its head on its rump; in this manner they proceeded till noon, when I saw the rock of Gibraltar very distinctly. The day being clear, notwithstanding my degree of elevation, the earth's surface appeared just like a map, where land, sea, lakes, rivers, mountains, and the like were perfectly distinguishable; and having some knowledge of geography, I was at no loss to determine what part of the globe I was in.

Whilst I was contemplating this wonderful prospect a dreadful howling suddenly began all around me, and in a moment I was invested by thousands of small, black, deformed, frightful looking creatures, who pressed me on all sides in such a manner that I could neither move hand or foot: but I had not been in their possession more than ten minutes when I heard the most delightful music that can possibly be imagined, which was suddenly changed into a noise the most awful and tremendous, to which the report of cannon, or the loudest claps of thunder could bear no more proportion than the gentle zephyrs of the evening to the most dreadful hurricane; but the shortness of its duration prevented all those fatal effects which a prolongation of it would certainly have been attended with.

The music commenced, and I saw a great number of the most beautiful little creatures seize the other party, and throw them with great violence into something like a snuff-box, which they shut down, and one threw it away with incredible velocity; then turning to me, he said they whom he had secured were a party of devils, who had wandered from their proper habitation; and that the vehicle in which they were enclosed would fly with unabating rapidity for ten thousand years, when it would burst of its own accord, and the devils would recover their liberty and faculties, as at the present moment. He had no sooner finished this relation than the music ceased, and they all disappeared, leaving me in a state of mind bordering on the confines of despair.

When I had recomposed myself a little, and looking before me with inexpressible pleasure, I observed that the eagles were preparing to light on the peak of Teneriffe: they descended on the top of the rock, but seeing no possible means of escape if I dismounted determined me to remain where I was. The eagles sat down seemingly fatigued, when the heat of the sun soon caused them both to fall asleep, nor did I long resist its fascinating power. In the cool of the evening, when the sun had retired below the horizon, I was roused from sleep by the eagle moving under me; and having stretched myself along its back, I sat up, and reassumed my travelling position, when they both took wing, and having placed themselves as before, directed their course to South America. The moon shining bright during the whole night, I had a fine view of all the islands in those seas.

About the break of day we reached the great continent of America, that part called Terra Firma, and descended on the top of a very high mountain. At this time the moon, far distant in the west, and obscured by dark clouds, but just afforded light sufficient for me to discover a kind of shrubbery all around, bearing fruit something like cabbages, which the eagles began to feed on very eagerly. I endeavoured to discover my situation, but fogs and passing clouds involved me in the thickest darkness, and what rendered the scene still more shocking was the tremendous howling of wild beasts, some of which appeared to be very near: however, I determined to keep my seat, imagining that the eagle would carry me away if any of them should make a hostile attempt. When daylight began to appear, I thought of examining the fruit which I had seen the eagles eat, and as some was hanging which I could easily come at, I took out my knife and cut a slice; but how great was my surprise to see that it had all the appearance of roast beef regularly mixed, both fat and lean! I tasted it, and found it well flavoured and delicious, then cut several large slices and put in my pocket, where I found a crust of bread which I had brought from Margate; took it out, and found three musket-balls that had been lodged in it on Dover cliff. I extracted them, and cutting a few slices more, made a hearty meal of bread and cold beef fruit. I then cut down two of the largest that grew near me, and tying them together with one of my garters, hung them over the eagle's neck for another occasion, filling my pockets at the same time. While I was settling these affairs I observed a large fruit like an inflated bladder, which I wished to try an experiment upon: and striking my knife into one of them, a fine pure liquor like Hollands gin rushed out, which the eagles observing, eagerly drank up from the ground. I cut down the bladder as fast as I could, and saved about half a pint in the bottom of it, which I tasted, and could not distinguish it from the best mountain wine. I drank it all, and found myself greatly refreshed. By this time the eagles began to stagger against the shrubs. I endeavoured to keep my seat, but was soon thrown to some distance among the bushes. In attempting to rise I put my hand upon a large hedgehog, which happened to lie among the grass upon its back: it instantly closed round my hand, so that I found it impossible to shake it off. I struck it several times against the ground without effect; but while I was thus employed I heard a rustling among the shrubbery, and looking up, I saw a huge animal within three yards of me; I could make no defence, but held out both my hands, when it rushed upon me, and seized that on which the hedgehog was fixed. My hand being soon relieved, I ran to some distance, where I saw the creature suddenly drop down and expire with the hedgehog in its throat. When the danger was past I went to view the eagles, and found them lying on the grass fast asleep, being intoxicated with the liquor they had drank. Indeed, I found myself considerably elevated by it, and seeing everything quiet, I began to search for some more, which I soon found; and having cut down two large bladders, about a gallon each, I tied them together, and hung them over the neck of the other eagle, and the two smaller ones I tied with a cord round my own waist. Having secured a good stock of provisions, and perceiving the eagles begin to recover, I again took my seat. In half an hour they arose majestically from the place, without taking the least notice of their incumbrance. Each reassumed its former station; and directing their course to the northward, they crossed the Gulf of Mexico, entered North America, and steered directly for the Polar regions, which gave me the finest opportunity of viewing this vast continent that can possibly be imagined.

Before we entered the frigid zone the cold began to affect me; but piercing one of my bladders, I took a draught, and found that it could make no impression on me afterwards. Passing over Hudson's Bay, I saw several of the Company's ships lying at anchor, and many tribes of Indians marching with their furs to market.

By this time I was so reconciled to my seat, and become such an expert rider, that I could sit up and look around me; but in general I lay along the eagle's neck, grasping it in my arms, with my hands immersed in its feathers, in order to keep them warm.

In those cold climates I observed that the eagles flew with greater rapidity, in order, I suppose, to keep their blood in circulation. In passing Baffin's Bay I saw several large Greenlandmen to the eastward, and many surprising mountains of ice in those seas.

While I was surveying these wonders of nature it occurred to me that this was a good opportunity to discover the north-west passage, if any such thing existed, and not only obtain the reward offered by government, but the honour of a discovery pregnant with so many advantages to every European nation. But while my thoughts were absorbed in this pleasing reverie I was alarmed by the first eagle striking its head against a solid transparent substance, and in a moment that which I rode experienced the same fate, and both fell down seemingly dead.

Here our lives must inevitably have terminated, had not a sense of danger, and the singularity of my situation, inspired me with a degree of skill and dexterity which enabled us to fall near two miles perpendicular with as little inconveniency as if we had been let down with a rope: for no sooner did I perceive the eagles strike against a frozen cloud, which is very common near the poles, than (they being close together) I laid myself along the back of the foremost, and took hold of its wings to keep them extended, at the same time stretching out my legs behind to support the wings of the other. This had the desired effect, and we descended very safe on a mountain of ice, which I supposed to be about three miles above the level of the sea.

I dismounted, unloaded the eagles, opened one of the bladders, and administered some of the liquor to each of them, without once considering that the horrors of destruction seemed to have conspired against me. The roaring of waves, crashing of ice, and the howling of bears, conspired to form a scene the most awful and tremendous: but notwithstanding this, my concern for the recovery of the eagles was so great, that I was insensible of the danger to which I was exposed. Having rendered them every assistance in my power, I stood over them in painful anxiety, fully sensible that it was only by means of them that I could possibly be delivered from these abodes of despair.

But suddenly a monstrous bear began to roar behind me, with a voice like thunder. I turned round, and seeing the creature just ready to devour me, having the bladder of liquor in my hands, through fear I squeezed it so hard, that it burst, and the liquor flying in the eyes of the animal, totally deprived it of sight. It instantly turned from me, ran away in a state of distraction, and soon fell over a precipice of ice into the sea, where I saw it no more.

The danger being over, I again turned my attention to the eagles, whom I found in a fair way of recovery, and suspecting that they were faint for want of victuals, I took one of the beef fruit, cut it into small slices, and presented them with it, which they devoured with avidity.

Having given them plenty to eat and drink, and disposed of the remainder of my provision, I took possession of my seat as before. After composing myself, and adjusting everything in the best manner, I began to eat and drink very heartily; and through the effects of the mountain wine, as I called it, was very cheerful, and began to sing a few verses of a song which I had learned when I was a boy: but the noise soon alarmed the eagles, who had been asleep, through the quantity of liquor which they had drank, and they rose seemingly much terrified. Happily for me, however, when I was feeding them I had accidentally turned their heads towards the south-east, which course they pursued with a rapid motion. In a few hours I saw the Western Isles, and soon after had the inexpressible pleasure of seeing Old England. I took no notice of the seas or islands over which I passed.

The eagles descended gradually as they drew near the shore, intending, as I supposed, to alight on one of the Welsh mountains; but when they came to the distance of about sixty yards two guns were fired at them, loaded with balls, one of which took place in a bladder of liquor that hung to my waist; the other entered the breast of the foremost eagle, who fell to the ground, while that which I rode, having received no injury, flew away with amazing swiftness.

This circumstance alarmed me exceedingly, and I began to think it was impossible for me to escape with my life; but recovering a little, I once more looked down upon the earth, when, to my inexpressible joy, I saw Margate at a little distance, and the eagle descending on the old tower whence it had carried me on the morning of the day before. It no sooner came down than I threw myself off, happy to find that I was once more restored to the world. The eagle flew away in a few minutes, and I sat down to compose my fluttering spirits, which I did in a few hours.

I soon paid a visit to my friends, and related these adventures. Amazement stood in every countenance; their congratulations on my returning in safety were repeated with an unaffected degree of pleasure, and we passed the evening as we are doing now, every person present paying the highest compliments to my COURAGE and VERACITY.



Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy