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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_xiv [2005/11/22 18:00] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +===== CHAPTER XIV =====
  
 +//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.//
 +
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XV]]
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_xiv.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:00 (external edit)