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roleplaying:munchausen:supplement [2005/11/22 18:05] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +===== SUPPLEMENT =====
  
 +//​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.
 +----
 +Read the [[Preface to the second volume]]
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XXI]]
roleplaying/munchausen/supplement.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:05 (external edit)