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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_xxxiii [2005/11/22 18:03] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +===== CHAPTER XXXIII =====
 +
 +//The Baron goes to Petersburgh,​ and converses with the Empress--
 +Persuades the Russians and Turks to cease cutting one another'​s
 +throats, and in concert cut a canal across the Isthmus of Suez--
 +The Baron discovers the Alexandrine Library, and meets with Hermes
 +Trismegistus--Besieges Seringapatam,​ and challenges Tippoo Sahib
 +to single combat--They fight--The Baron receives some wounds to
 +his face, but at last vanquishes the tyrant--The Baron returns to
 +Europe, and raises the hull of the "Royal George."//​
 +
 +Seized with a fury of canal-cutting,​ I took it in my head to form an
 +immediate communication between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, and
 +therefore set out for Petersburgh.
 +
 +The sanguinary ambition of the Empress would not listen to my
 +proposals, until I took a private opportunity,​ taking a cup of coffee
 +with her Majesty, to tell her that I would absolutely sacrifice myself
 +for the general good of mankind, and if she would accede to my
 +proposals, would, on the completion of the canal, //ipso facto//, give
 +her my hand in marriage!
 +
 +"My dear, dear Baron,"​ said she, "I accede to everything you please,
 +and agree to make peace with the Porte on the conditions you mention.
 +And," added she, rising with all the majesty of the Czarina, Empress
 +of half the world, "be it known to all subjects, that We ordain these
 +conditions, for such is our royal will and pleasure."​
 +
 +I now proceeded to the Isthmus of Suez, at the head of a million of
 +Russian pioneers, and there united my forces with a million of Turks,
 +armed with shovels and pickaxes. They did not come to cut each other'​s
 +throats, but for their mutual interest, to facilitate commerce and
 +civilisation,​ and pour all the wealth of India by a new channel into
 +Europe. "My brave fellows,"​ said I, "​consider the immense labour of
 +the Chinese to build their celebrated wall; think of what superior
 +benefit to mankind is our present undertaking;​ persevere, and fortune
 +will second your endeavours. Remember it is Munchausen who leads you
 +on, and be convinced of success."​
 +
 +Saying these words, I drove my chariot with all my might in my former
 +track, that vestige mentioned by the Baron de Tott, and when I was
 +advanced considerably,​ I felt my chariot sinking under me. I attempted
 +to drive on, but the ground, or rather immense vault, giving way, my
 +chariot and all went down precipitately. Stunned by the fall, it was
 +some moments before I could recollect myself, when at length, to my
 +amazement, I perceived myself fallen into the Alexandrine Library,
 +overwhelmed in an ocean of books; thousands of volumes came tumbling
 +on my head amidst the ruins of that part of the vault through which my
 +chariot had descended, and for a time buried my bulls and all beneath
 +a heap of learning. However, I contrived to extricate myself, and
 +advanced with awful admiration through the vast avenues of the
 +library. I perceived on every side innumerable volumes and
 +repositories of ancient learning, and all the science of the
 +Antediluvian world. Here I met with Hermes Trismegistus,​ and a parcel
 +of old philosophers debating upon the politics and learning of their
 +days. I gave them inexpressible delight in telling them, in a few
 +words, all the discoveries of Newton, and the history of the world
 +since their time. These gentry, on the contrary, told me a thousand
 +stories of antiquity that some of our antiquarians would give their
 +very eyes to hear.
 +
 +In short, I ordered the library to be preserved, and I intend making a
 +present of it, as soon as it arrives in England, to the Royal Society,
 +together with Hermes Trismegistus,​ and half a dozen old philosophers.
 +I have got a beautiful cage made, in which I keep these extraordinary
 +creatures, and feed them with bread and honey, as they seem to believe
 +in a kind of doctrine of transmigration,​ and will not touch flesh.
 +Hermes Trismegistus especially is a most antique looking being, with a
 +beard half a yard long, covered with a robe of golden embroidery, and
 +prates like a parrot. He will cut a very brilliant figure in the
 +Museum.
 +
 +Having made a track with my chariot from sea to sea, I ordered my
 +Turks and Russians to begin, and in a few hours we had the pleasure of
 +seeing a fleet of British East Indiamen in full sail through the
 +canal. The officers of this fleet were very polite, and paid me every
 +applause and congratulation my exploits could merit. They told me of
 +their affairs in India, and the ferocity of that dreadful warrior,
 +Tippoo Sahib, on which I resolved to go to India and encounter the
 +tyrant. I travelled down the Red Sea to Madras, and at the head of a
 +few Sepoys and Europeans pursued the flying army of Tippoo to the
 +gates of Seringapatam. I challenged him to mortal combat, and, mounted
 +on my steed, rode up to the walls of the fortress amidst a storm of
 +shells and cannon-balls. As fast as the bombs and cannon-balls came
 +upon me, I caught them in my hands like so many pebbles, and throwing
 +them against the fortress, demolished the strongest ramparts of the
 +place. I took my mark so direct, that whenever I aimed a cannon-ball
 +or a shell at any person on the ramparts I was sure to hit him: and
 +one time perceiving a tremendous piece of artillery pointed against
 +me, and knowing the ball must be so great it would certainly stun me,
 +I took a small cannon-ball,​ and just as I perceived the engineer going
 +to order them to fire, and opening his mouth to give the word of
 +command, I took aim and drove my ball precisely down his throat.
 +
 +Tippoo, fearing that all would be lost, that a general and successful
 +storm would ensue if I continued to batter the place, came forth upon
 +his elephant to fight me; I saluted him, and insisted he should fire
 +first.
 +
 +Tippoo, though a barbarian, was not deficient in politeness, and
 +declined the compliment; upon which I took off my hat, and bowing,
 +told him it was an advantage Munchausen should never be said to accept
 +from so gallant a warrior: on which Tippoo instantly discharged his
 +carbine, the ball from which, hitting my horse'​s ear, made him plunge
 +with rage and indignation. In return I discharged my pistol at Tippoo,
 +and shot off his turban. He had a small field-piece mounted with him
 +on his elephant, which he then discharged at me, and the grape-shot
 +coming in a shower, rattled in the laurels that covered and shaded me
 +all over, and remained pendant like berries on the branches. I then,
 +advancing, took the proboscis of his elephant, and turning it against
 +the rider, struck him repeatedly with the extremity of it on either
 +side of the head, until I at length dismounted him. Nothing could
 +equal the rage of the barbarian finding himself thrown from his
 +elephant. He rose in a fit of despair, and rushed against my steed and
 +myself: but I scorned to fight him at so great a disadvantage on his
 +side, and directly dismounted to fight him hand to hand. Never did I
 +fight with any man who bore himself more nobly than this adversary; he
 +parried my blows, and dealt home his own in return with astonishing
 +precision. The first blow of his sabre I received upon the bridge of
 +my nose, and but for the bony firmness of that part of my face, it
 +would have descended to my mouth. I still bear the mark upon my nose.
 +
 +He next made a furious blow at my head, but I, parrying, deadened the
 +force of his sabre, so that I received but one scar on my forehead,
 +and at the same instant, by a blow of my sword, cut off his arm, and
 +his hand and sabre fell to the earth; he tottered for some paces, and
 +dropped at the foot of his elephant. That sagacious animal, seeing the
 +danger of his master, endeavoured to protect him by flourishing his
 +proboscis round the head of the Sultan.
 +
 +Fearless I advanced against the elephant, desirous to take alive the
 +haughty Tippoo Sahib; but he drew a pistol from his belt, and
 +discharged it full in my face as I rushed upon him, which did me no
 +further harm than wound my cheek-bone, which disfigures me somewhat
 +under my left eye. I could not withstand the rage and impulse of that
 +moment, and with one blow of my sword separated his head from his
 +body.
 +
 +I returned overland from India to Europe with admirable velocity, so
 +that the account of Tippoo'​s defeat by me has not as yet arrived by
 +the ordinary passage, nor can you expect to hear of it for a
 +considerable time. I simply relate the encounter as it happened
 +between the Sultan and me; and if there be any one who doubts the
 +truth of what I say, he is an infidel, and I will fight him at any
 +time and place, and with any weapon he pleases.
 +
 +Hearing so many persons talk about raising the "Royal George,"​ I began
 +to take pity on that fine old ruin of British plank, and determined to
 +have her up. I was sensible of the failure of the various means
 +hitherto employed for the purpose, and therefore inclined to try a
 +method different from any before attempted. I got an immense balloon,
 +made of the toughest sail-cloth, and having descended in my diving-
 +bell, and properly secured the hull with enormous cables, I ascended
 +to the surface, and fastened my cables to the balloon. Prodigious
 +multitudes were assembled to behold the elevation of the "Royal
 +George,"​ and as soon as I began to fill my balloon with inflammable
 +air the vessel evidently began to move: but when my balloon was
 +completely filled, she carried up the "Royal George"​ with the greatest
 +rapidity. The vessel appearing on the surface occasioned a universal
 +shout of triumph from the millions assembled on the occasion. Still
 +the balloon continued ascending, trailing the hull after like a
 +lantern at the tail of a kite, and in a few minutes appeared floating
 +among the clouds.
 +
 +It was then the opinion of many philosophers that it would be more
 +difficult to get her down then it had been to draw her up. But I
 +convinced them to the contrary by taking my aim so exactly with a
 +twelve-pounder,​ that I brought her down in an instant.
 +
 +I considered, that if I should break the balloon with a cannon-ball
 +while she remained with the vessel over the land, the fall would
 +inevitable occasion the destruction of the hull, and which, in its
 +fall, might crush some of the multitude; therefore I thought it safer
 +to take my aim when the balloon was over the sea, and pointing my
 +twelve-pounder,​ drove the ball right through the balloon, on which the
 +inflammable air rushed out with great force, and the "Royal George"​
 +descended like a falling star into the very spot from whence she had
 +been taken. There she still remains, and I have convinced all Europe
 +of the possibility of taking her up.
 +
 +
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XXXIV]]
 +
  
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_xxxiii.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:03 (external edit)