User Tools

Site Tools



This shows you the differences between two versions of the page.

Link to this comparison view

roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_xx [2005/11/22 18:05] (current)
Line 1: Line 1:
 +===== CHAPTER XX =====
 +//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
 +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
 +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.
 +Go to the [[SUPPLEMENT]]
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_xx.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:05 (external edit)