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roleplaying:munchausen:preface_to_the_second_volume [2005/11/22 17:57] (current)
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 +===== THE SECOND VOLUME =====
 +Baron Munchausen has certainly been productive of much benefit to the
 +literary world; the numbers of egregious travellers have been such,
 +that they demanded a very Gulliver to surpass them. If Baron de Tott
 +dauntlessly discharged an enormous piece of artillery, the Baron
 +Munchausen has done more; he has taken it and swam with it across the
 +sea. When travellers are solicitous to be the heroes of their own
 +story, surely they must admit to superiority,​ and blush at seeing
 +themselves out-done by the renowned Munchausen: I doubt whether any
 +one hitherto, Pantagruel, Gargantua, Captain Lemuel, or De Tott, has
 +been able to out-do our Baron in this species of excellence: and as at
 +present our curiosity seems much directed to the interior of Africa,
 +it must be edifying to have the real relation of Munchausen'​s
 +adventures there before any further intelligence arrives; for he seems
 +to adapt himself and his exploits to the spirit of the times, and
 +recounts what he thinks should be most interesting to his auditors.
 +I do not say that the Baron, in the following stories, means a satire
 +on any political matters whatever. No; but if the reader understands
 +them so, I cannot help it.
 +If the Baron meets with a parcel of negro ships carrying whites into
 +slavery to work upon their plantations in a cold climate, should we
 +therefore imagine that he intends a reflection on the present traffic
 +in human flesh? And that, if the negroes should do so, it would be
 +simple justice, as retaliation is the law of God! If we were to think
 +this a reflection on any present commercial or political matter, we
 +should be tempted to imagine, perhaps, some political ideas conveyed
 +in every page, in every sentence of the whole. Whether such things are
 +or are not the intentions of the Baron the reader must judge.
 +We have had not only wonderful travellers in this vile world, but
 +splenetic travellers, and of these not a few, and also conspicuous
 +enough. It is a pity, therefore, that the Baron has not endeavoured to
 +surpass them also in this species of story-telling. Who is it can read
 +the travels of Smellfungus,​ as Sterne calls him, without admiration?
 +To think that a person from the North of Scotland should travel
 +through some of the finest countries in Europe, and find fault with
 +everything he meets--nothing to please him! And therefore, methinks,
 +the Tour to the Hebrides is more excusable, and also perhaps Mr.
 +Twiss'​s Tour in Ireland. Dr. Johnson, bred in the luxuriance of
 +London, with more reason should become cross and splenetic in the
 +bleak and dreary regions of the Hebrides.
 +The Baron, in the following work, seems to be sometimes philosophical;​
 +his account of the language of the interior of Africa, and its analogy
 +with that of the inhabitants of the moon, show him to be profoundly
 +versed in the etymological antiquities of nations, and throw new light
 +upon the abstruse history of the ancient Scythians, and the
 +His endeavour to abolish the custom of eating live flesh in the
 +interior of Africa, as described in Bruce'​s Travels, is truly humane.
 +But far be it from me to suppose, that by Gog and Magog and the Lord
 +Mayor'​s show he means a satire upon any person or body of persons
 +whatever: or, by a tedious litigated trial of blind judges and dumb
 +matrons following a wild goose chase all round the world, he should
 +glance at any trial whatever.
 +Nevertheless,​ I must allow that it was extremely presumptuous in
 +Munchausen to tell half the sovereigns of the world that they were
 +wrong, and advise them what they ought to do; and that instead of
 +ordering millions of their subjects to massacre one another, it would
 +be more to their interest to employ their forces in concert for the
 +general good; as if he knew better than the Empress of Russia, the
 +Grand Vizier, Prince Potemkin, or any other butcher in the world. But
 +that he should be a royal Aristocrat, and take the part of the injured
 +Queen of France in the present political drama, I am not at all
 +surprised; but I suppose his mind was fired by reading the pamphlet
 +written by Mr. Burke.
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XXI]]
roleplaying/munchausen/preface_to_the_second_volume.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 17:57 (external edit)