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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_xxiv [2005/11/22 18:02] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +===== CHAPTER XXIV =====
 +
 +//The Baron secures his chariot, &c., at the Cape and takes his
 +passage for England in a homeward-bound Indiaman--Wrecked upon an
 +island of ice, near the coast of Guinea--Escapes from the wreck,
 +and rears a variety of vegetables upon the island--Meets some
 +vessels belonging to the negroes bringing white slaves from
 +Europe, in retaliation,​ to work upon their plantations in a cold
 +climate near the South Pole--Arrives in England, and lays an
 +account of his expedition before the Privy Council--Great
 +preparations for a new expedition--The Sphinx, Gog and Magog, and
 +a great company attend him--The ideas of Hilaro Frosticos
 +respecting the interior parts of Africa.//
 +
 +I perceived with grief and consternation the miscarriage of all my
 +apparatus; yet I was not absolutely dejected: a great mind is never
 +known but in adversity. With permission of the Dutch governor the
 +chariot was properly laid up in a great storehouse, erected at the
 +water'​s edge, and the bulls received every refreshment possible after
 +so terrible a voyage. Well, you may be sure they deserved it, and
 +therefore every attendance was engaged for them, until I should
 +return.
 +
 +As it was not possible to do anything more I took my passage in a
 +homeward-bound Indiaman, to return to London, and lay the matter
 +before the Privy Council.
 +
 +We met with nothing particular until we arrived upon the coast of
 +Guinea, where, to our utter astonishment,​ we perceived a great hill,
 +seemingly of glass, advancing against us in the open sea; the rays of
 +the sun were reflected upon it with such splendour, that it was
 +extremely difficult to gaze at the phenomenon. I immediately knew it
 +to be an island of ice, and though in so very warm a latitude,
 +determined to make all possible sail from such horrible danger. We did
 +so, but all in vain, for about eleven o'​clock at night, blowing a very
 +hard gale, and exceedingly dark, we struck upon the island. Nothing
 +could equal the distraction,​ the shrieks, and despair of the whole
 +crew, until I, knowing there was not a moment to be lost, cheered up
 +their spirits, and bade them not despond, but do as I should request
 +them. In a few minutes the vessel was half full of water, and the
 +enormous castle of ice that seemed to hem us in on every side, in some
 +places falling in hideous fragments upon the deck, killed one half of
 +the crew; upon which, getting upon the summit of the mast, I contrived
 +to make it fast to a great promontory of the ice, and calling to the
 +remainder of the crew to follow me, we all escaped from the wreck, and
 +got upon the summit of the island.
 +
 +The rising sun soon gave us a dreadful prospect of our situation, and
 +the loss, or rather iceification,​ of the vessel; for being closed inon every side with castles of ice during the night, she was absolutely
 +frozen over and buried in such a manner that we could behold her under
 +our feet, even in the central solidity of the island. Having debated
 +what was best to be done, we immediately cut down through the ice, and
 +got up some of the cables of the vessel, and the boats, which, making
 +fast to the island, we towed it with all our might, determined to
 +bring home island and all, or perish in the attempt. On the summit of
 +the island we placed what oakum and dregs of every kind of matter we
 +could get from the vessel, which, in the space of a very few hours, on
 +account of the liquefying of the ice, and the warmth of the sun, were
 +transformed into a very fine manure; and as I had some seeds of exotic
 +vegetables in my pocket, we shortly had a sufficiency of fruits and
 +roots growing upon the island to supply the whole crew, especially the
 +bread-fruit tree, a few plants of which had been in the vessel; and
 +another tree, which bore plum-puddings so very hot, and with such
 +exquisite proportion of sugar, fruit, &c., that we all acknowledged it
 +was not possible to taste anything of the kind more delicious in
 +England: in short, though the scurvy had made such dreadful progress
 +among the crew before our striking upon the ice, the supply of
 +vegetables, and especially the bread-fruit and pudding-fruit,​ put an
 +almost immediate stop to the distemper.
 +
 +We had not proceeded thus many weeks, advancing with incredible
 +fatigue by continual towing, when we fell in with a fleet of Negro-
 +men, as they call them. These wretches, I must inform you, my dear
 +friends, had found means to make prizes of those vessels from some
 +Europeans upon the coast of Guinea, and tasting the sweets of luxury,
 +had formed colonies in several new discovered islands near the South
 +Pole, where they had a variety of plantations of such matters as would
 +only grow in the coldest climates. As the black inhabitants of Guinea
 +were unsuited to the climate and excessive cold of the country, they
 +formed the diabolical project of getting Christian slaves to work for
 +them. For this purpose they sent vessels every year to the coast of
 +Scotland, the northern parts of Ireland, and Wales, and were even
 +sometimes seen off the coast of Cornwall. And having purchased, or
 +entrapped by fraud or violence, a great number of men, women, and
 +children, they proceeded with their cargoes of human flesh to the
 +other end of the world, and sold them to their planters, where they
 +were flogged into obedience, and made to work like horses all the rest
 +of their lives.
 +
 +My blood ran cold at the idea, while every one on the island also
 +expressed his horror that such an iniquitous traffic should be
 +suffered to exist. But, except by open violence, it was found
 +impossible to destroy the trade, on account of a barbarous prejudice,
 +entertained of late by the negroes, that the white people have no
 +souls! However, we were determined to attack them, and steering down
 +our island upon them, soon overwhelmed them: we saved as many of the
 +white people as possible, but pushed all the blacks into the water
 +again. The poor creatures we saved from slavery were so overjoyed,
 +that they wept aloud through gratitude, and we experienced every
 +delightful sensation to think what happiness we should shower upon
 +their parents, their brothers and sisters and children, by bringing
 +them home safe, redeemed from slavery, to the bosom of their native
 +country.
 +
 +Having happily arrived in England, I immediately laid a statement of
 +my voyage, &c., before the Privy Council, and entreated an immediate
 +assistance to travel into Africa, and, if possible, refit my former
 +machine, and take it along with the rest. Everything was instantly
 +granted to my satisfaction,​ and I received orders to get myself ready
 +for departure as soon as possible.
 +
 +As the Emperor of China had sent a most curious animal as a present to
 +Europe, which was kept in the Tower, and it being of an enormous
 +stature, and capable of performing the voyage with //éclat//, she was
 +ordered to attend me. She was called Sphinx, and was one of the most
 +tremendous though magnificent figures I ever beheld. She was harnessed
 +with superb trappings to a large flat-bottomed boat, in which was
 +placed an edifice of wood, exactly resembling Westminster Hall. Two
 +balloons were placed over it, tackled by a number of ropes to the
 +boat, to keep up a proper equilibrium,​ and prevent it from
 +overturning,​ or filling, from the prodigious weight of the fabric.
 +
 +The interior of the edifice was decorated with seats, in the form of
 +an amphitheatre,​ and crammed as full as it could hold with ladies and
 +lords, as a council and retinue for your humble servant. Nearly in the
 +centre was a seat elegantly decorated for myself, and on either side
 +of me were placed the famous Gog and Magog in all their pomp.
 +
 +The Lord Viscount Gosamer being our postillion, we floated gallantly
 +down the river, the noble Sphinx gambolling like the huge leviathan,
 +and towing after her the boat and balloons.
 +
 +Thus we advanced, sailing gently, into the open sea; being calm
 +weather, we could scarcely feel the motion of the vehicle, and passed
 +our time in grand debate upon the glorious intention of our voyage,
 +and the discoveries that would result.
 +
 +"I am of opinion,"​ said my noble friend, Hilaro Frosticos, "that
 +Africa was originally inhabited for the greater part, or, I may say,
 +subjugated by lions which, next to man, seem to be the most dreaded of
 +all mortal tyrants. The country in general--at least, what we have
 +been hitherto able to discover, seems rather inimical to human life;
 +the intolerable dryness of the place, the burning sands that overwhelm
 +whole armies and cities in general ruin, and the hideous life many
 +roving hordes are compelled to lead, incline me to think, that if ever
 +we form any great settlements therein, it will become the grave of our
 +countrymen. Yet it is nearer to us than the East Indies, and I cannot
 +but imagine, that in many places every production of China, and of the
 +East and West Indies, would flourish, if properly attended to. And as
 +the country is so prodigiously extensive and unknown, what a source of
 +discovery must not it contain! In fact, we know less about the
 +interior of Africa than we do of the moon; for in this latter we
 +measure the very prominences,​ and observe the varieties and
 +inequalities of the surface through our glasses--
 +
 +"​Forests and mountains on her spotted orb.
 +
 +"But we see nothing in the interior of Africa, but what some compilers
 +of maps or geographers are fanciful enough to imagine. What a happy
 +event, therefore, should we not expect from a voyage of discovery and
 +colonisation undertaken in so magnificent a style as the present! what
 +a pride--what an acquisition to philosophy!"​
 +
 +
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XXV]]
 +
  
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_xxiv.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:02 (external edit)