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The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Erich Raspe

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Etext prepared by Emma Dudding, emma_302@hotmail.com
Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com
and John Bickers, jbickers@ihug.co.nz

By Rudolph Erich Raspe

Published in 1895.


It is a curious fact that of that class of literature to which
Munchausen belongs, that namely of /Voyages Imaginaires/, the three
great types should have all been created in England. Utopia, Robinson
Crusoe, and Gulliver, illustrating respectively the philosophical, the
edifying, and the satirical type of fictitious travel, were all
written in England, and at the end of the eighteenth century a fourth
type, the fantastically mendacious, was evolved in this country. Of
this type Munchausen was the modern original, and remains the
classical example. The adaptability of such a species of composition
to local and topical uses might well be considered prejudicial to its
chances of obtaining a permanent place in literature. Yet Munchausen
has undoubtedly achieved such a place. The Baron's notoriety is
universal, his character proverbial, and his name as familiar as that
of Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, or Robinson Crusoe, mariner, of York.
Condemned by the learned, like some other masterpieces, as worthless,
Munchausen's travels have obtained such a world-wide fame, that the
story of their origin possesses a general and historic interest apart
from whatever of obscurity or of curiosity it may have to recommend

The work first appeared in London in the course of the year 1785. No
copy of the first edition appears to be accessible; it seems, however,
to have been issued some time in the autumn, and in the /Critical
Review/ for December 1785 there is the following notice: "Baron
Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in
Russia. Small 8vo, IS. (Smith). This is a satirical production
calculated to throw ridicule on the bold assertions of some
parliamentary declaimers. If rant may be best foiled at its own
weapons, the author's design is not ill-founded; for the marvellous
has never been carried to a more whimsical and ludicrous extent." The
reviewer had probably read the work through from one paper cover to
the other. It was in fact too short to bore the most blasé of his
kind, consisting of but forty-nine small octavo pages. The second
edition, which is in the British Museum, bears the following title;
"Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns
in Russia; humbly dedicated and recommended to country gentlemen, and
if they please to be repeated as their own after a hunt, at horse
races, in watering places, and other such polite assemblies; round the
bottle and fireside. Smith. Printed at Oxford. 1786." The fact that
this little pamphlet again consists of but forty-nine small octavo
pages, combined with the similarity of title (as far as that of the
first edition is given in the /Critical Review/), publisher, and
price, affords a strong presumption that it was identical with the
first edition. This edition contains only chapters ii., iii., iv., v.,
and vi. (pp. 10-44) of the present reprint. These chapters are the
best in the book and their substantial if peculiar merit can hardly be
denied, but the pamphlet appears to have met with little success, and
early in 1786 Smith seems to have sold the property to another
bookseller, Kearsley. Kearsley had it enlarged, but not, we are
expressly informed, in the preface to the seventh edition, by the hand
of the original author (who happened to be in Cornwall at the time).
He also had it illustrated and brought it out in the same year in book
form at the enhanced price of two shillings, under the title:
"Gulliver Reviv'd: The Singular Travels, Campaigns, Voyages and
Sporting Adventures of Baron Munnikhouson commonly pronounced
Munchausen; as he relates them over a bottle when surrounded by his
friends. A new edition considerably enlarged with views from the
Baron's drawings. London. 1786." A well-informed /Critical Reviewer/
would have amended the title thus: "Lucian reviv'd: or Gulliver Beat
with his own Bow."

Four editions now succeeded each other with rapidity and without
modification. A German translation appeared in 1786 with the imprint
London: it was, however, in reality printed by Dieterich at Göttingen.
It was a free rendering of the fifth edition, the preface being a
clumsy combination of that prefixed to the original edition with that
which Kearsley had added to the third.

The fifth edition (which is, with the exception of trifling
differences on the title-page, identical with the third, fourth, and
sixth) is also that which has been followed in the present reprint
down to the conclusion of chapter twenty, where it ends with the words
"the great quadrangle." The supplement treating of Munchausen's
extraordinary flight on the back of an eagle over France to Gibraltar,
South and North America, the Polar Regions, and back to England is
derived from the seventh edition of 1793, which has a new sub-title:--
"Gulliver reviv'd, or the Vice of Lying properly exposed." The preface
to this enlarged edition also informs the reader that the last four
editions had met with extraordinary success, and that the
supplementary chapters, all, that is, with the exception of chapters
ii., iii., iv., v., and vi., which are ascribed to Baron Munchausen
himself, were the production of another pen, written, however, in the
Baron's manner. To the same ingenious person the public was indebted
for the engravings with which the book was embellished. The seventh
was the last edition by which the classic text of Munchausen was
seriously modified. Even before this important consummation had been
arrived at, a sequel, which was within a fraction as long as the
original work (it occupies pp. 163-299 of this volume), had appeared
under the title, "A Sequel to the Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
. . . Humbly dedicated to Mr. Bruce the Abyssinian traveller, as the
Baron conceives that it may be some service to him, previous to his
making another journey into Abyssinia. But if this advice does not
delight Mr. Bruce, the Baron is willing to fight him on any terms he
pleases." This work was issued separately. London, 1792, 8vo.

Such is the history of the book during the first eight or constructive
years of its existence, beyond which it is necessary to trace it,
until at least we have touched upon the long-vexed question of its

Munchausen's travels have in fact been ascribed to as many different
hands as those of Odysseus. But (as in most other respects) it differs
from the more ancient fabulous narrative in that its authorship has
been the subject of but little controversy. Many people have
entertained erroneous notions as to its authorship, which they have
circulated with complete assurance; but they have not felt it
incumbent upon them to support their own views or to combat those of
other people. It has, moreover, been frequently stated with equal
confidence and inaccuracy that the authorship has never been settled.
An early and persistent version of the genesis of the travels was that
they took their origin from the rivalry in fabulous tales of three
accomplished students at Göttingen University, Bürger, Kästner, and
Lichtenberg; another ran that Gottfried August Bürger, the German poet
and author of "Lenore," had at a later stage of his career met Baron
Munchausen in Pyrmont and taken down the stories from his own lips.
Percy in his anecdotes attributes the Travels to a certain Mr. M.
(Munchausen also began with an M.) who was imprisoned at Paris during
the Reign of Terror. Southey in his "Omniana" conjectured, from the
coincidences between two of the tales and two in a Portuguese
periodical published in 1730, that the English fictions must have been
derived from the Portuguese. William West the bookseller and numerous
followers have stated that Munchausen owed its first origin to Bruce's
Travels, and was written for the purpose of burlesquing that unfairly
treated work. Pierer boldly stated that it was a successful anonymous
satire upon the English government of the day, while Meusel with equal
temerity affirmed in his "Lexikon" that the book was a translation of
the "well-known Munchausen lies" executed from a (non-existent) German
original by Rudolph Erich Raspe. A writer in the /Gentleman's
Magazine/ for 1856 calls the book the joint production of Bürger and

Of all the conjectures, of which these are but a selection, the most
accurate from a German point of view is that the book was the work of
Bürger, who was the first to dress the Travels in a German garb, and
was for a long time almost universally credited with the sole
proprietorship. Bürger himself appears neither to have claimed nor
disclaimed the distinction. There is, however, no doubt whatever that
the book first appeared in English in 1785, and that Bürger's German
version did not see the light until 1786. The first German edition
(though in reality printed at Göttingen) bore the imprint London, and
was stated to be derived from an English source; but this was,
reasonably enough, held to be merely a measure of precaution in case
the actual Baron Munchausen (who was a well-known personage in
Göttingen) should be stupid enough to feel aggrieved at being made the
butt of a gross caricature. In this way the discrepancy of dates
mentioned above might easily have been obscured, and Bürger might
still have been credited with a work which has proved a better
protection against oblivion than "Lenore," had it not been for the
officious sensitiveness of his self-appointed biographer, Karl von
Reinhard. Reinhard, in an answer to an attack made upon his hero for
bringing out Munchausen as a pot-boiler in German and English
simultaneously, definitely stated in the /Berlin Gesellschafters/ of
November 1824, that the real author of the original work was that
disreputable genius, Rudolph Erich Raspe, and that the German work was
merely a free translation made by Bürger from the fifth edition of the
English work. Bürger, he stated, was well aware of, but was too high-
minded to disclose the real authorship.

Taking Reinhard's solemn asseveration in conjunction with the
ascertained facts of Raspe's career, his undoubted acquaintance with
the Baron Munchausen of real life and the first appearance of the work
in 1785, when Raspe was certainly in England, there seems to be little
difficulty in accepting his authorship as a positive fact. There is no
difficulty whatever, in crediting Raspe with a sufficient mastery of
English idiom to have written the book without assistance, for as
early as January 1780 (since which date Raspe had resided
uninterruptedly in this country) Walpole wrote to his friend Mason
that "Raspe writes English much above ill and speaks it as readily as
French," and shortly afterwards he remarked that he wrote English
"surprisingly well." In the next year, 1781, Raspe's absolute command
of the two languages encouraged him to publish two moderately good
prose-translations, one of Lessing's "Nathan the Wise," and the other
of Zachariae's Mock-heroic, "Tabby in Elysium." The erratic character
of the punctuation may be said, with perfect impartiality, to be the
only distinguishing feature of the style of the original edition of

Curious as is this long history of literary misappropriation, the
chequered career of the rightful author, Rudolph Erich Raspe, offers a
chapter in biography which has quite as many points of singularity.

Born in Hanover in 1737, Raspe studied at the Universities of
Göttingen and Leipsic. He is stated also to have rendered some
assistance to a young nobleman in sowing his wild oats, a sequel to
his university course which may possibly help to explain his
subsequent aberrations. The connection cannot have lasted long, as in
1762, having already obtained reputation as a student of natural
history and antiquities, he obtained a post as one of the clerks in
the University Library at Hanover.

No later than the following year contributions written in elegant
Latin are to be found attached to his name in the Leipsic /Nova Acta
Eruditorum/. In 1764 he alluded gracefully to the connection between
Hanover and England in a piece upon the birthday of Queen Charlotte,
and having been promoted secretary of the University Library at
Göttingen, the young savant commenced a translation of Leibniz's
philosophical works which was issued in Latin and French after the
original MSS. in the Royal Library at Hanover, with a preface by
Raspe's old college friend Kästner (Göttingen, 1765). At once a
courtier, an antiquary, and a philosopher, Raspe next sought to
display his vocation for polite letters, by publishing an ambitious
allegorical poem of the age of chivalry, entitled "Hermin and
Gunilde," which was not only exceedingly well reviewed, but received
the honour of a parody entitled "Harlequin and Columbine." He also
wrote translations of several of the poems of Ossian, and a
disquisition upon their genuineness; and then with better inspiration
he wrote a considerable treatise on "Percy's Reliques of Ancient
Poetry," with metrical translations, being thus the first to call the
attention of Germany to these admirable poems, which were afterwards
so successfully ransacked by Bürger, Herder, and other early German

In 1767 Raspe was again advanced by being appointed Professor at the
Collegium Carolinum in Cassel, and keeper of the landgrave of Hesse's
rich and curious collection of antique gems and medals. He was shortly
afterwards appointed Librarian in the same city, and in 1771 he
married. He continued writing on natural history, mineralogy, and
archæology, and in 1769 a paper in the 59th volume of the
Philosophical Transactions, on the bones and teeth of elephants and
other animals found in North America and various boreal regions of the
world, procured his election as an honorary member of the Royal
Society of London. His conclusion in this paper that large elephants
or mammoths must have previously existed in boreal regions has, of
course, been abundantly justified by later investigations. When it is
added that Raspe during this part of his life also wrote papers on
lithography and upon musical instruments, and translated Algarotti's
Treatise on "Architecture, Painting, and Opera Music," enough will
have been said to make manifest his very remarkable and somewhat
prolix versatility. In 1773 he made a tour in Westphalia in quest of
MSS., and on his return, by way of completing his education, he turned
journalist, and commenced a periodical called the /Cassel Spectator/,
with Mauvillon as his co-editor. In 1775 he was travelling in Italy on
a commission to collect articles of vertu for the landgrave, and it
was apparently soon after his return that he began appropriating to
his own use valuable coins abstracted from the cabinets entrusted to
his care. He had no difficulty in finding a market for the antiques
which he wished to dispose of, and which, it has been charitably
suggested, he had every intention of replacing whenever opportunity
should serve. His consequent procedure was, it is true, scarcely that
of a hardened criminal. Having obtained the permission of the
landgrave to visit Berlin, he sent the keys of his cabinet back to the
authorities at Cassel--and disappeared. His thefts, to the amount of
two thousand rixdollars, were promptly discovered, and advertisements
were issued for the arrest of the Councillor Raspe, described without
suspicion of flattery as a long-faced man, with small eyes, crooked
nose, red hair under a stumpy periwig, and a jerky gait. The
necessities that prompted him to commit a felony are possibly
indicated by the addition that he usually appeared in a scarlet dress
embroidered with gold, but sometimes in black, blue, or grey clothes.
He was seized when he had got no farther than Klausthal, in the Hartz
mountains, but he lost no time in escaping from the clutches of the
police, and made his way to England. He never again set foot on the

He was already an excellent English scholar, so that when he reached
London it was not unnatural that he should look to authorship for
support. Without loss of time, he published in London in 1776 a volume
on some German Volcanoes and their productions; in 1777 he translated
the then highly esteemed mineralogical travels of Ferber in Italy and
Hungary. In 1780 we have an interesting account of him from Horace
Walpole, who wrote to his friend, the Rev. William Mason: "There is a
Dutch sçavant come over who is author of several pieces so learned
that I do not even know their titles: but he has made a discovery in
my way which you may be sure I believe, for it proves what I expected
and hinted in my 'Anecdotes of Painting,' that the use of oil colours
was known long before Van Eyck." Raspe, he went on to say, had
discovered a MS. of Theophilus, a German monk in the fourth century,
who gave receipts for preparing the colours, and had thereby convicted
Vasari of error. "Raspe is poor, and I shall try and get subscriptions
to enable him to print his work, which is sensible, clear, and
unpretending." Three months later it was, "Poor Raspe is arrested by
his /tailor/. I have sent him a little money, and he hopes to recover
his liberty, but I question whether he will be able to struggle on
here." His "Essay on the Origin of Oil Painting" was actually
published through Walpole's good service in April 1781. He seems to
have had plans of going to America and of excavating antiquities in
Egypt, where he might have done good service, but the bad name that he
had earned dogged him to London. The Royal Society struck him off its
rolls, and in revenge he is said to have threatened to publish a
travesty of their transactions. He was doubtless often hard put to it
for a living, but the variety of his attainments served him in good
stead. He possessed or gained some reputation as a mining expert, and
making his way down into Cornwall, he seems for some years subsequent
to 1782 to have been assay-master and storekeeper of some mines at
Dolcoath. While still at Dolcoath, it is very probable that he put
together the little pamphlet which appeared in London at the close of
1785, with the title "Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous
Travels and Campaigns in Russia," and having given his /jeu d'esprit/
to the world, and possibly earned a few guineas by it, it is not
likely that he gave much further thought to the matter. In the course
of 1785 or 1786, he entered upon a task of much greater magnitude and
immediate importance, namely, a descriptive catalogue of the
Collection of Pastes and Impressions from Ancient and Modern Gems,
formed by James Tassie, the eminent connoisseur. Tassie engaged Raspe
in 1785 to take charge of his cabinets, and to commence describing
their contents: he can hardly have been ignorant of his employé's
delinquencies in the past, but he probably estimated that mere casts
of gems would not offer sufficient temptation to a man of Raspe's
eclectic tastes to make the experiment a dangerous one. Early in 1786,
Raspe produced a brief but well-executed conspectus of the arrangement
and classification of the collection, and this was followed in 1791 by
"A Descriptive Catalogue," in which over fifteen thousand casts of
ancient and modern engraved gems, cameos, and intaglios from the most
renowned cabinets in Europe were enumerated and described in French
and English. The two quarto volumes are a monument of patient and
highly skilled industry, and they still fetch high prices. The
elaborate introduction prefixed to the work was dated from Edinburgh,
April 16, 1790.

This laborious task completed, Raspe lost no time in applying himself
with renewed energy to mineralogical work. It was announced in the
/Scots Magazine/ for October 1791 that he had discovered in the
extreme north of Scotland, where he had been invited to search for
minerals, copper, lead, iron, manganese, and other valuable products
of a similar character. From Sutherland he brought specimens of the
finest clay, and reported a fine vein of heavy spar and "every symptom
of coal." But in Caithness lay the loadstone which had brought Raspe
to Scotland. This was no other than Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, a
benevolent gentleman of an ingenious and inquiring disposition, who
was anxious to exploit the supposed mineral wealth of his barren
Scottish possessions. With him Raspe took up his abode for a
considerable time at his spray-beaten castle on the Pentland Firth,
and there is a tradition, among members of the family, of Sir John's
unfailing appreciation of the wide intelligence and facetious humour
of Raspe's conversation. Sinclair had some years previously discovered
a small vein of yellow mundick on the moor of Skinnet, four miles from
Thurso. The Cornish miners he consulted told him that the mundick was
itself of no value, but a good sign of the proximity of other valuable
minerals. Mundick, said they, was a good horseman, and always rode on
a good load. He now employed Raspe to examine the ground, not
designing to mine it himself, but to let it out to other capitalists
in return for a royalty, should the investigation justify his hopes.
The necessary funds were put at Raspe's disposal, and masses of
bright, heavy material were brought to Thurso Castle as a foretaste of
what was coming. But when the time came for the fruition of this
golden promise, Raspe disappeared, and subsequent inquiries revealed
the deplorable fact that these opulent ores had been carefully
imported by the mining expert from Cornwall, and planted in the places
where they were found. Sir Walter Scott must have had the incident
(though not Raspe) in his mind when he created the Dousterswivel of
his "Antiquary." As for Raspe, he betook himself to a remote part of
the United Kingdom, and had commenced some mining operations in
country Donegal, when he was carried off by scarlet fever at Muckross
in 1794. Such in brief outline was the career of Rudolph Erich Raspe,
scholar, swindler, and undoubted creator of Baron Munchausen.

The merit of Munchausen, as the adult reader will readily perceive,
does not reside in its literary style, for Raspe is no exception to
the rule that a man never has a style worthy of the name in a language
that he did not prattle in. But it is equally obvious that the real
and original Munchausen, as Raspe conceived and doubtless intended at
one time to develop him, was a delightful personage whom it would be
the height of absurdity to designate a mere liar. Unfortunately the
task was taken out of his hand and a good character spoiled, like many
another, by mere sequel-mongers. Raspe was an impudent scoundrel, and
fortunately so; his impudence relieves us of any difficulty in
resolving the question,--to whom (if any one) did he owe the original
conception of the character whose fame is now so universal.

When Raspe was resident in Göttingen he obtained, in all probability
through Gerlach Adolph von Munchausen, the great patron of arts and
letters and of Göttingen University, an introduction to Hieronynimus
Karl Friedrich von Munchausen, at whose hospitable mansion at
Bodenwerder he became an occasional visitor. Hieronynimus, who was
born at Bodenwerder on May 11, 1720, was a cadet of what was known as
the black line of the house of Rinteln Bodenwerder, and in his youth
served as a page in the service of Prince Anton Ulrich of Brunswick.
When quite a stripling he obtained a cornetcy in the "Brunswick
Regiment" in the Russian service, and on November 27, 1740, he was
created a lieutenant by letters patent of the Empress Anna, and served
two arduous campaigns against the Turks during the following years. In
1750 he was promoted to be a captain of cuirassiers by the Empress
Elizabeth, and about 1760 he retired from the Russian service to live
upon his patrimonial estate at Bodenwerder in the congenial society of
his wife and his paragon among huntsmen, Rösemeyer, for whose
particular benefit he maintained a fine pack of hounds. He kept open
house, and loved to divert his guests with stories, not in the
braggart vein of Dugald Dalgetty, but so embellished with palpably
extravagant lies as to crack with a humour that was all their own. The
manner has been appropriated by Artemus Ward and Mark Twain, but it
was invented by Munchausen. Now the stories mainly relate to sporting
adventures, and it has been asserted by one contemporary of the baron
that Munchausen contracted the habit of drawing such a long-bow as a
measure of self-defence against his invaluable but loquacious
henchman, the worthy Rösemeyer. But it is more probable, as is hinted
in the first preface, that Munchausen, being a shrewd man, found the
practice a sovereign specific against bores and all other kinds of
serious or irrelevant people, while it naturally endeared him to the
friends of whom he had no small number.

He told his stories with imperturbable /sang froid/, in a dry manner,
and with perfect naturalness and simplicity. He spoke as a man of the
world, without circumlocution; his adventures were numerous and
perhaps singular, but only such as might have been expected to happen
to a man of so much experience. A smile never traversed his face as he
related the least credible of his tales, which the less intimate of
his acquaintance began in time to think he meant to be taken
seriously. In short, so strangely entertaining were both manner and
matter of his narratives, that "Munchausen's Stories" became a by-word
among a host of appreciative acquaintance. Among these was Raspe, who
years afterwards, when he was starving in London, bethought himself of
the incomparable baron. He half remembered some of his sporting
stories, and supplemented these by gleanings from his own commonplace
book. The result is a curious medley, which testifies clearly to
learning and wit, and also to the turning over of musty old books of
/facetiæ/ written in execrable Latin.

The story of the Baron's horse being cut in two by the descending
portcullis of a besieged town, and the horseman's innocence of the
fact until, upon reaching a fountain in the midst of the city, the
insatiate thirst of the animal betrayed his deficiency in hind
quarters, was probably derived by Raspe from the /Facetiæ
Bebelianæ/ of Heinrich Bebel, first published at Strassburgh in

There it is given as follows: "De Insigni Mendacio. Faber
clavicularius quem superius fabrum mendaciorum dixi, narravit se
tempore belli, credens suos se subsecuturos equitando ad cujusdam
oppidi portas penetrasse: et cum ad portas venisset cataractam
turre demissam, equum suum post ephippium discidisse,
dimidiatumque reliquisse, atque se media parte equi ad forum usque
oppidi equitasse, et caedem non modicam peregisse. Sed cum
retrocedere vellet multitudine hostium obrutus, tum demum equum
cecidisse seque captum fuisse."

The drinking at the fountain was probably an embellishment of
Raspe's own. Many of Bebel's jests were repeated in J. P. Lange's
/Deliciœ Academicœ/ (Heilbronn, 1665), a section of which was
expressly devoted to "Mendacia Ridicula"; but the yarn itself is
probably much older than either. Similarly, the quaint legend of
the thawing of the horn was told by Castiglione in his
/Cortegiano/, first published in 1528. This is how Castiglione
tells it: A merchant of Lucca had travelled to Poland in order to
buy furs; but as there was at that time a war with Muscovy, from
which country the furs were procured, the Lucchese merchant was
directed to the confines of the two countries. On reaching the
Borysthenes, which divided Poland and Muscovy, he found that the
Muscovite traders remained on their own side of the river from
distrust, on account of the state of hostilities. The Muscovites,
desirous of being heard across the river announced the prices of
their furs in a loud voice; but the cold was so intense that their
words were frozen in the air before they could reach the opposite
side. Hereupon the Poles lighted a fire in the middle of the
river, which was frozen into a solid mass; and in the course of an
hour the words which had been frozen up were melted, and fell
gently upon the further bank, although the Muscovite traders had
already gone away. The prices demanded were, however, so high that
the Lucchese merchant returned without making any purchase. A
similar idea is utilised by Rabelais in /Pantagruel/, and by
Steele in one of his /Tatlers/. The story of the cherry tree
growing out of the stag's head, again, is given in Lange's book,
and the fact that all three tales are of great antiquity is proved
by the appearance of counterparts to them in Lady Guest's edition
of the /Mabinogion/. A great number of /nugœ canorœ/ of a
perfectly similar type are narrated in the sixteenth century
"Travels of the Finkenritter" attributed to Lorenz von Lauterbach.

To humorous waifs of this description, without fixed origin or
birthplace, did Raspe give a classical setting amongst embroidered
versions of the baron's sporting jokes. The unscrupulous manner in
which he affixed Munchausen's own name to the completed /jeu d'esprit/
is, ethically speaking, the least pardonable of his crimes; for when
Raspe's little book was first transformed and enlarged, and then
translated into German, the genial old baron found himself the victim
of an unmerciful caricature, and without a rag of concealment. It is
consequently not surprising to hear that he became soured and reticent
before his death at Bodenwerder in 1797.

Strangers had already begun to come down to the place in the hope of
getting a glimpse of the eccentric nobleman, and foolish stories were
told of his thundering out his lies with apoplectic visage, his eyes
starting out of his head, and perspiration beading his forehead. The
fountain of his reminiscences was in reality quite dried up, and it
must be admitted that this excellent old man had only too good reason
to consider himself an injured person.

In this way, then, came to be written the first delightful chapters of
Baron Munchausen's "Narrative of his Travels and Campaigns in Russia."
It was not primarily intended as a satire, nor was it specially
designed to take of the extravagant flights of contemporary
travellers. It was rather a literary frivolity, thrown off at one
effort by a tatterdemalion genius in sore need of a few guineas.

The remainder of the book is a melancholy example of the fallacy of
enlargements and of sequels. Neither Raspe nor the baron can be
seriously held responsible for a single word of it. It must have been
written by a bookseller's hack, whom it is now quite impossible to
identify, but who was evidently of native origin; and the book is a
characteristically English product, full of personal and political
satire, with just a twang of edification. The first continuation
(chapters one and seven, to twenty, inclusive), which was supplied
with the third edition, is merely a modern /rechauffé/, with "up to
date" allusions, of Lucian's /Vera Historia/. Prototypes of the
majority of the stories may either be found in Lucian or in the twenty
volumes of /Voyages Imaginaires/, published at Paris in 1787. In case,
however, any reader should be sceptical as to the accuracy of this
statement he will have no very great difficulty in supposing, as Dr.
Johnson supposed of Ossian, that anybody could write a great amount of
such stuff if he would only consent to abandon his mind to the task.

With the supplementary chapters commence topical allusions to the
recently issued memoirs of Baron de Tott, an enterprising Frenchman
who had served the Great Turk against the Russians in the Crimea (an
English translation of his book had appeared in 1785). The satire upon
this gallant soldier's veracity appears to be quite undeserved, though
one can hardly read portions of his adventures without being forcibly
reminded of the Baron's laconic style. It is needless to add that the
amazing account of De Tott's origin is grossly libellous. The amount
of public interest excited by the æronautical exploits of Montgolfier
and Blanchard was also playfully satirised. Their first imitator in
England, Vincenzo Lunardi, had made a successful ascent from
Moorfields as recently as 1784, while in the following year Blanchard
crossed the channel in a balloon and earned the sobriquet /Don Quixote
de la Manche/. His grotesque appropriation of the motto "/Sic itur ad
astra/" made him, at least, a fit object for Munchausen's gibes. In
the Baron's visit to Gibraltar we have evidence that the anonymous
writer, in common with the rest of the reading public, had been
studying John Drinkwater's "History of the Siege of Gibraltar"
(completed in 1783), which had with extreme rapidity established its
reputation as a military classic. Similarly, in the Polar adventures,
the "Voyage towards the North Pole," 1774, of Constantine John Phipps,
afterwards Lord Mulgrave, is gently ridiculed, and so also some
incidents from Patrick Brydone's "Tour through Sicily and Malta"
(1773), are, for no obvious reason, contemptuously dragged in. The
exploitation of absurd and libellous chap-book lives of Pope Clement
XIV., the famous Ganganelli, can only be described as a low bid for
vulgar applause. A French translation of Baron Friedrich von Trenck's
celebrated Memoirs appeared at Metz in 1787, and it would certainly
seem that in overlooking them the compiler of Munchausen was guilty of
a grave omission. He may, however, have regarded Trenck's adventures
less as material for ridicule than as a series of /hâbleries/ which
threatened to rival his own.

The Seventh Edition, published in 1793, with the supplement (pp. 142-
161), was, with the abominable proclivity to edification which marked
the publisher of the period (that of "Goody Two-Shoes" and "Sandford
and Merton"), styled "Gulliver Reviv'd: /or the Vice of Lying Properly
Exposed/." The previous year had witnessed the first appearance of the
sequel, of which the full title has already been given, "with twenty
capital copperplates, including the baron's portrait." The merit of
Munchausen as a mouthpiece for ridiculing traveller's tall-talk, or
indeed anything that shocked the incredulity of the age, was by this
time widely recognised. And hence with some little ingenuity the
popular character was pressed into the service of the vulgar clamour
against James Bruce, whose "Travels to Discover the Sources of the
Nile" had appeared in 1790. In particular Bruce's description of the
Abyssinian custom of feeding upon "live bulls and kava" provoked a
chorus of incredulity. The traveller was ridiculed upon the stage as
Macfable, and in a cloud of ephemeral productions; nor is the
following allusion in Peter Pindar obscure:--

"Nor have I been where men (what loss alas!)
Kill half a cow, then send the rest to grass."

The way in which Bruce resented the popular scepticism is illustrated
by the following anecdote told by Sir Francis Head, his biographer. A
gentleman once observed, at a country house where Bruce was staying,
that it was not possible that the natives of Abyssinia could eat raw
meat! "Bruce said not a word, but leaving the room, shortly returned
from the kitchen with a piece of raw beef-steak, peppered and salted
in the Abyssinian fashion. 'You will eat that, sir, or fight me,' he
said. When the gentleman had eaten up the raw flesh (most willingly
would he have eaten his words instead), Bruce calmly observed, 'Now,
sir, you will never again say it is /impossible/.'" In reality, Bruce
seems to have been treated with much the same injustice as Herodotus.
The truth of the bulk of his narrative has been fully established,
although a passion for the picturesque may certainly have led him to
embellish many of the minor particulars. And it must be remembered,
that his book was not dictated until twelve years after the events

Apart from Bruce, however, the sequel, like the previous continuation,
contains a great variety of political, literary, and other allusions
of the most purely topical character--Dr. Johnson's Tour in the
Hebrides, Mr. Pitt, Burke's famous pamphlet upon the French
Revolution, Captain Cook, Tippoo Sahib (who had been brought to bay by
Lord Cornwallis between 1790 and 1792). The revolutionary pandemonium
in Paris, and the royal flight to Varennes in June 1791, and the loss
of the "Royal George" in 1782, all form the subjects of quizzical
comments, and there are many other allusions the interest of which is
quite as ephemeral as those of a Drury Lane pantomime or a Gaiety

Nevertheless the accretions have proved powerless to spoil
"Munchausen." The nucleus supplied by Raspe was instinct with so much
energy that it has succeeded in vitalising the whole mass of
extraneous extravagance.

Although, like "Gulliver's Travels," "Munchausen" might at first sight
appear to be ill-suited, in more than one respect, for the nursery,
yet it has proved the delight of children of all ages; and there are
probably few, in the background of whose childish imagination the
astonishing Munchausen has not at one time or another, together with
Robinson Crusoe, Jack-the-Giant-Killer, and the Pied Piper of Hamelyn,
assumed proportions at once gigantic and seductively picturesque.

The work, as has been shown, assumed its final form before the close
of the eighteenth century; with the nineteenth it commenced its
triumphant progress over the civilised world. Some of the subsequent
transformations and migrations of the book are worthy of brief record.

A voluminous German continuation was published at Stendhal in three
volumes between 1794 and 1800. There was also a continuation
comprising exploits at Walcheren, the Dardanelles, Talavera, Cintra,
and elsewhere, published in London in 1811. An elaborate French
translation, with embellishments in the French manner, appeared at
Paris in 1862. Immerman's celebrated novel entitled "Munchausen" was
published in four volumes at Dusseldorf in 1841, and a very free
rendering of the Baron's exploits, styled "Munchausen's
Lugenabenteuer," at Leipsic in 1846. The work has also been translated
into Dutch, Danish, Magyar (/Bard de Mánx/), Russian, Portuguese,
Spanish (/El Conde de las Maravillas/), and many other tongues, and an
estimate that over one hundred editions have appeared in England,
Germany, and America alone, is probably rather under than above the

The book has, moreover, at the same time provided illustrations to
writers and orators, and the richest and most ample material for
illustrations to artists. The original rough woodcuts are anonymous,
but the possibilities of the work were discovered as early as 1809, by
Thomas Rowlandson, who illustrated the edition published in that year.
The edition of 1859 owed embellishments to Crowquill, while Cruikshank
supplied some characteristic woodcuts to that of 1869. Coloured
designs for the travels were executed by a French artist Richard in
1878, and illustrations were undertaken independently for the German
editions by Riepenhausen and Hosemann respectively. The German artist
Adolph Schrödter has also painted a celebrated picture representing
the Baron surrounded by his listeners. But of all the illustrations
yet invented, the general verdict has hitherto declared in favour of
those supplied to Théophile Gautier's French edition of 1862 by
Gustave Doré, who fully maintained by them the reputation he had
gained for work of a similar /genre/ in his drawings for Balzac's
/Contes Drôlatiques/. When, however, the public has had an opportunity
of appreciating the admirably fantastic drawings made by Mr. William
Strang and Mr. J. B. Clark for the present edition, they will probably
admit that Baron Munchausen's indebtedness to his illustrations,
already very great, has been more than doubled.




Baron Munnikhouson or Munchausen, of Bodenweder, near Hamelyn on the
Weser, belongs to the noble family of that name, which gave to the
King's German dominions the late prime minister and several other
public characters equally bright and illustrious. He is a man of great
original humour; and having found that prejudiced minds cannot be
reasoned into common sense, and that bold assertors are very apt to
bully and speak their audience out of it, he never argues with either
of them, but adroitly turns the conversation upon indifferent topics
and then tells a story of his travels, campaigns, and sporting
adventures, in a manner peculiar to himself, and well calculated to
awaken and shame the common sense of those who have lost sight of it
by prejudice or habit.

As this method has been often attended with good success, we beg leave
to lay some of his stories before the public, and humbly request those
who shall find them rather extravagant and bordering upon the
marvellous, which will require but a very moderate share of common
sense, to exercise the same upon every occurrence of life, and chiefly
upon our English politics, in which /old habits/ and /bold
assertions/, set off by eloquent speeches and supported by
constitutional mobs, associations, volunteers, and foreign influence,
have of late, we apprehend, but too successfully turned our brains,
and made us the laughing-stock of Europe, and of France and Holland in


Having heard, for the first time, that my adventures have been
doubted, and looked upon as jokes, I feel bound to come forward and
vindicate my character /for veracity/, by paying three shillings at
the Mansion House of this great city for the affidavits hereto

This I have been forced into in regard of my own honour, although I
have retired for many years from public and private life; and I hope
that this, my last edition, will place me in a proper light with my


/We/, the undersigned, as true believers in the /profit/, do most
solemnly affirm, that all the adventures of our friend Baron
Munchausen, in whatever country they may /lie/, are positive and
simple facts. /And/, as we have been believed, whose adventures
are tenfold more wonderful, /so/ do we hope all true believers
will give him their full faith and credence.
/Sworn at the Mansion House
9th Nov. last, in the absence
of the Lord Mayor./
JOHN (/the Porter/).





/The Baron relates an account of his first travels--The
astonishing effects of a storm--Arrives at Ceylon; combats and
conquers two extraordinary opponents--Returns to Holland./

Some years before my beard announced approaching manhood, or, in other
words, when I was neither man nor boy, but between both, I expressed
in repeated conversations a strong desire of seeing the world, from
which I was discouraged by my parents, though my father had been no
inconsiderable traveller himself, as will appear before I have reached
the end of my singular, and, I may add, interesting adventures. A
cousin, by my mother's side, took a liking to me, often said I was
fine forward youth, and was much inclined to gratify my curiosity. His
eloquence had more effect than mine, for my father consented to my
accompanying him in a voyage to the island of Ceylon, where his uncle
had resided as governor many years.

We sailed from Amsterdam with despatches from their High Mightinesses
the States of Holland. The only circumstance which happened on our
voyage worth relating was the wonderful effects of a storm, which had
torn up by the roots a great number of trees of enormous bulk and
height, in an island where we lay at anchor to take in wood and water;
some of these trees weighed many tons, yet they were carried by the
wind so amazingly high, that they appeared like the feathers of small
birds floating in the air, for they were at least five miles above the
earth: however, as soon as the storm subsided they all fell
perpendicularly into their respective places, and took root again,
except the largest, which happened, when it was blown into the air, to
have a man and his wife, a very honest old couple, upon its branches,
gathering cucumbers (in this part of the globe that useful vegetable
grows upon trees): the weight of this couple, as the tree descended,
over-balanced the trunk, and brought it down in a horizontal position:
it fell upon the chief man of the island, and killed him on the spot;
he had quitted his house in the storm, under an apprehension of its
falling upon him, and was returning through his own garden when this
fortunate accident happened. The word fortunate, here, requires some
explanation. This chief was a man of a very avaricious and oppressive
disposition, and though he had no family, the natives of the island
were half-starved by his oppressive and infamous impositions.

The very goods which he had thus taken from them were spoiling in his
stores, while the poor wretches from whom they were plundered were
pining in poverty. Though the destruction of this tyrant was
accidental, the people chose the cucumber-gatherers for their
governors, as a mark of their gratitude for destroying, though
accidentally, their late tyrant.

After we had repaired the damages we sustained in this remarkable
storm, and taken leave of the new governor and his lady, we sailed
with a fair wind for the object of our voyage.

In about six weeks we arrived at Ceylon, where we were received with
great marks of friendship and true politeness. The following singular
adventures may not prove unentertaining.

After we had resided at Ceylon about a fortnight I accompanied one of
the governor's brothers upon a shooting party. He was a strong,
athletic man, and being used to that climate (for he had resided there
some years), he bore the violent heat of the sun much better than I
could; in our excursion he had made a considerable progress through a
thick wood when I was only at the entrance.

Near the banks of a large piece of water, which had engaged my
attention, I thought I heard a rustling noise behind; on turning about
I was almost petrified (as who would not be?) at the sight of a lion,
which was evidently approaching with the intention of satisfying his
appetite with my poor carcase, and that without asking my consent.
What was to be done in this horrible dilemma? I had not even a moment
for reflection; my piece was only charged with swan-shot, and I had no
other about me: however, though I could have no idea of killing such
an animal with that weak kind of ammunition, yet I had some hopes of
frightening him by the report, and perhaps of wounding him also. I
immediately let fly, without waiting till he was within reach, and the
report did but enrage him, for he now quickened his pace, and seemed
to approach me full speed: I attempted to escape, but that only added
(if an addition could be made) to my distress; for the moment I turned
about I found a large crocodile, with his mouth extended almost ready
to receive me. On my right hand was the piece of water before
mentioned, and on my left a deep precipice, said to have, as I have
since learned, a receptacle at the bottom for venomous creatures; in
short I gave myself up as lost, for the lion was now upon his hind-
legs, just in the act of seizing me; I fell involuntarily to the
ground with fear, and, as it afterwards appeared, he sprang over me. I
lay some time in a situation which no language can describe, expecting
to feel his teeth or talons in some part of me every moment: after
waiting in this prostrate situation a few seconds I heard a violent
but unusual noise, different from any sound that had ever before
assailed my ears; nor is it at all to be wondered at, when I inform
you from whence it proceeded: after listening for some time, I
ventured to raise my head and look round, when, to my unspeakable joy,
I perceived the lion had, by the eagerness with which he sprung at me,
jumped forward, as I fell, into the crocodile's mouth! which, as
before observed, was wide open; the head of the one stuck in the
throat of the other! and they were struggling to extricate themselves!
I fortunately recollected my /couteau de chasse/, which was by my
side; with this instrument I severed the lion's head at one blow, and
the body fell at my feet! I then, with the butt-end of my fowling-
piece, rammed the head farther into the throat of the crocodile, and
destroyed him by suffocation, for he could neither gorge nor eject it.

Soon after I had thus gained a complete victory over my two powerful
adversaries, my companion arrived in search of me; for finding I did
not follow him into the wood, he returned, apprehending I had lost my
way, or met with some accident.

After mutual congratulations, we measured the crocodile, which was
just forty feet in length.

As soon as we had related this extraordinary adventure to the
governor, he sent a waggon and servants, who brought home the two
carcases. The lion's skin was properly preserved, with its hair on,
after which it was made into tobacco-pouches, and presented by me,
upon our return to Holland, to the burgomasters, who, in return,
requested my acceptance of a thousand ducats.

The skin of the crocodile was stuffed in the usual manner, and makes a
capital article in their public museum at Amsterdam, where the
exhibitor relates the whole story to each spectator, with such
additions as he thinks proper. Some of his variations are rather
extravagant; one of them is, that the lion jumped quite through the
crocodile, and was making his escape at the back door, when, as soon
as his head appeared, Monsieur the Great Baron (as he is pleased to
call me) cut it off, and three feet of the crocodile's tail along with
it; nay, so little attention has this fellow to the truth, that he
sometimes adds, as soon as the crocodile missed his tail, he turned
about, snatched the /couteau de chasse/ out of Monsieur's hand, and
swallowed it with such eagerness that it pierced his heart and killed
him immediately!

The little regard which this impudent knave has to veracity makes me
sometimes apprehensive that my /real facts/ may fall under suspicion,
by being found in company with his confounded inventions.


/In which the Baron proves himself a good shot--He loses his
horse, and finds a wolf--Makes him draw his sledge--Promises to
entertain his company with a relation of such facts as are well
deserving their notice./

I set off from Rome on a journey to Russia, in the midst of winter,
from a just notion that frost and snow must of course mend the roads,
which every traveller had described as uncommonly bad through the
northern parts of Germany, Poland, Courland, and Livonia. I went on
horseback, as the most convenient manner of travelling; I was but
lightly clothed, and of this I felt the inconvenience the more I
advanced north-east. What must not a poor old man have suffered in
that severe weather and climate, whom I saw on a bleak common in
Poland, lying on the road, helpless, shivering, and hardly having
wherewithal to cover his nakedness? I pitied the poor soul: though I
felt the severity of the air myself, I threw my mantle over him, and
immediately I heard a voice from the heavens, blessing me for that
piece of charity, saying--

"You will be rewarded, my son, for this in time."

I went on: night and darkness overtook me. No village was to be seen.
The country was covered with snow, and I was unacquainted with the

Tired, I alighted, and fastened my horse to something like a pointed
stump of a tree, which appeared above the snow; for the sake of safety
I placed my pistols under my arm, and laid down on the snow, where I
slept so soundly that I did not open my eyes till full daylight. It is
not easy to conceive my astonishment to find myself in the midst of a
village, lying in a churchyard; nor was my horse to be seen, but I
heard him soon after neigh somewhere above me. On looking upwards I
beheld him hanging by his bridle to the weather-cock of the steeple.
Matters were now very plain to me: the village had been covered with
snow overnight; a sudden change of weather had taken place; I had sunk
down to the churchyard whilst asleep, gently, and in the same
proportion as the snow had melted away; and what in the dark I had
taken to be a stump of a little tree appearing above the snow, to
which I had tied my horse, proved to have been the cross or weather-
cock of the steeple!

Without long consideration I took one of my pistols, shot the bridle
in two, brought the horse, and proceeded on my journey. [Here the
Baron seems to have forgot his feelings; he should certainly have
ordered his horse a feed of corn, after fasting so long.]

He carried me well--advancing into the interior parts of Russia. I
found travelling on horseback rather unfashionable in winter,
therefore I submitted, as I always do, to the custom of the country,
took a single horse sledge, and drove briskly towards St. Petersburg.
I do not exactly recollect whether it was in Eastland or Jugemanland,
but I remember that in the midst of a dreary forest I spied a terrible
wolf making after me, with all the speed of ravenous winter hunger. He
soon overtook me. There was no possibility of escape. Mechanically I
laid myself down flat in the sledge, and let my horse run for our
safety. What I wished, but hardly hoped or expected, happened
immediately after. The wolf did not mind me in the least, but took a
leap over me, and falling furiously on the horse, began instantly to
tear and devour the hind-part of the poor animal, which ran the faster
for his pain and terror. Thus unnoticed and safe myself, I lifted my
head slyly up, and with horror I beheld that the wolf had ate his way
into the horse's body; it was not long before he had fairly forced
himself into it, when I took my advantage, and fell upon him with the
butt-end of my whip. This unexpected attack in his rear frightened him
so much, that he leaped forward with all his might: the horse's
carcase dropped on the ground, but in his place the wolf was in the
harness, and I on my part whipping him continually: we both arrived in
full career safe at St. Petersburg, contrary to our respective
expectations, and very much to the astonishment of the spectators.

I shall not tire you, gentlemen, with the politics, arts, sciences,
and history of this magnificent metropolis of Russia, nor trouble you
with the various intrigues and pleasant adventures I had in the
politer circles of that country, where the lady of the house always
receives the visitor with a dram and a salute. I shall confine myself
rather to the greater and nobler objects of your attention, horses and
dogs, my favourites in the brute creation; also to foxes, wolves, and
bears, with which, and game in general, Russia abounds more than any
other part of the world; and to such sports, manly exercises, and
feats of gallantry and activity, as show the gentleman better than
musty Greek or Latin, or all the perfume, finery, and capers of French
wits or /petit-maîtres/.


/An encounter between the Baron's nose and a door-post, with its
wonderful effects--Fifty brace of ducks and other fowl destroyed
by one shot--Flogs a fox out of his skin--Leads an old sow home in
a new way, and vanquishes a wild boar./

It was some time before I could obtain a commission in the army, and
for several months I was perfectly at liberty to sport away my time
and money in the most gentleman-like manner. You may easily imagine
that I spent much of both out of town with such gallant fellows as
knew how to make the most of an open forest country. The very
recollection of those amusements gives me fresh spirits, and creates a
warm wish for a repetition of them. One morning I saw, through the
windows of my bed-room, that a large pond not far off was covered with
wild ducks. In an instant I took my gun from the corner, ran down-
stairs and out of the house in such a hurry, that I imprudently struck
my face against the door-post. Fire flew out of my eyes, but it did
not prevent my intention; I soon came within shot, when, levelling my
piece, I observed to my sorrow, that even the flint had sprung from
the cock by the violence of the shock I had just received. There was
no time to be lost. I presently remembered the effect it had on my
eyes, therefore opened the pan, levelled my piece against the wild
fowls, and my fist against one of my eyes. [The Baron's eyes have
retained fire ever since, and appear particularly illuminated when he
relates this anecdote.] A hearty blow drew sparks again; the shot went
off, and I killed fifty brace of ducks, twenty widgeons, and three
couple of teals. Presence of mind is the soul of manly exercises. If
soldiers and sailors owe to it many of their lucky escapes, hunters
and sportsmen are not less beholden to it for many of their successes.
In a noble forest in Russia I met a fine black fox, whose valuable
skin it would have been a pity to tear by ball or shot. Reynard stood
close to a tree. In a twinkling I took out my ball, and placed a good
spike-nail in its room, fired, and hit him so cleverly that I nailed
his brush fast to the tree. I now went up to him, took out my hanger,
gave him a cross-cut over the face, laid hold of my whip, and fairly
flogged him out of his fine skin.

Chance and good luck often correct our mistakes; of this I had a
singular instance soon after, when, in the depth of a forest, I saw a
wild pig and sow running close behind each other. My ball had missed
them, yet the foremost pig only ran away, and the sow stood
motionless, as fixed to the ground. On examining into the matter, I
found the latter one to be an old sow, blind with age, which had taken
hold of her pig's tail, in order to be led along by filial duty. My
ball, having passed between the two, had cut his leading-string, which
the old sow continued to hold in her mouth; and as her former guide
did not draw her on any longer, she had stopped of course; I therefore
laid hold of the remaining end of the pig's tail, and led the old
beast home without any further trouble on my part, and without any
reluctance or apprehension on the part of the helpless old animal.

Terrible as these wild sows are, yet more fierce and dangerous are the
boars, one of which I had once the misfortune to meet in a forest,
unprepared for attack or defence. I retired behind an oak-tree just
when the furious animal levelled a side-blow at me, with such force,
that his tusks pierced through the tree, by which means he could
neither repeat the blow nor retire. Ho, ho! thought I, I shall soon
have you now! and immediately I laid hold of a stone, wherewith I
hammered and bent his tusks in such a manner, that he could not
retreat by any means, and must wait my return from the next village,
whither I went for ropes and a cart, to secure him properly, and to
carry him off safe and alive, in which I perfectly succeeded.


/Reflections on Saint Hubert's stag--Shoots a stag with cherry-
stones; the wonderful effects of it--Kills a bear by extraordinary
dexterity; his danger pathetically described--Attacked by a wolf,
which he turns inside out--Is assailed by a mad dog, from which he
escapes--The Baron's cloak seized with madness, by which his whole
wardrobe is thrown into confusion./

You have heard, I dare say, of the hunter and sportsman's saint and
protector, St. Hubert, and of the noble stag, which appeared to him in
the forest, with the holy cross between his antlers. I have paid my
homage to that saint every year in good fellowship, and seen this stag
a thousand times, either painted in churches, or embroidered in the
stars of his knights; so that, upon the honour and conscience of a
good sportsman, I hardly know whether there may not have been
formerly, or whether there are not such crossed stags even at this
present day. But let me rather tell what I have seen myself. Having
one day spent all my shot, I found myself unexpectedly in presence of
a stately stag, looking at me as unconcernedly as if he had known of
my empty pouches. I charged immediately with powder, and upon it a
good handful of cherry-stones, for I had sucked the fruit as far as
the hurry would permit. Thus I let fly at him, and hit him just on the
middle of the forehead, between his antlers; it stunned him--he
staggered--yet he made off. A year or two after, being with a party in
the same forest, I beheld a noble stag with a fine full grown cherry-
tree above ten feet high between his antlers. I immediately
recollected my former adventure, looked upon him as my property, and
brought him to the ground by one shot, which at once gave me the
haunch and cherry-sauce; for the tree was covered with the richest
fruit, the like I had never tasted before. Who knows but some
passionate holy sportsman, or sporting abbot or bishop, may have shot,
planted, and fixed the cross between the antlers of St. Hubert's stag,
in a manner similar to this? They always have been, and still are,
famous for plantations of crosses and antlers; and in a case of
distress or dilemma, which too often happens to keen sportsmen, one is
apt to grasp at anything for safety, and to try any expedient rather
than miss the favourable opportunity. I have many times found myself
in that trying situation.

What do you say of this, for example? Daylight and powder were spent
one day in a Polish forest. When I was going home a terrible bear made
up to me in great speed, with open mouth, ready to fall upon me; all
my pockets were searched in an instant for powder and ball, but in
vain; I found nothing but two spare flints: one I flung with all my
might into the monster's open jaws, down his throat. It gave him pain
and made him turn about, so that I could level the second at his back-
door, which, indeed, I did with wonderful success; for it flew in, met
the first flint in the stomach, struck fire, and blew up the bear with
a terrible explosion. Though I came safe off that time, yet I should
not wish to try it again, or venture against bears with no other

There is a kind of fatality in it. The fiercest and most dangerous
animals generally came upon me when defenceless, as if they had a
notion or an instinctive intimation of it. Thus a frightful wolf
rushed upon me so suddenly, and so close, that I could do nothing but
follow mechanical instinct, and thrust my fist into his open mouth.
For safety's sake I pushed on and on, till my arm was fairly in up to
the shoulder. How should I disengage myself? I was not much pleased
with my awkward situation--with a wolf face to face; our ogling was
not of the most pleasant kind. If I withdrew my arm, then the animal
would fly the more furiously upon me; that I saw in his flaming eyes.
In short, I laid hold of his tail, turned him inside out like a glove,
and flung him to the ground, where I left him.

The same expedient would not have answered against a mad dog, which
soon after came running against me in a narrow street at St.
Petersburg. Run who can, I thought; and to do this the better, I threw
off my fur cloak, and was safe within doors in an instant. I sent my
servant for the cloak, and he put it in the wardrobe with my other
clothes. The day after I was amazed and frightened by Jack's bawling,
"For God's sake, sir, your fur cloak is mad!" I hastened up to him,
and found almost all my clothes tossed about and torn to pieces. The
fellow was perfectly right in his apprehensions about the fur cloak's
madness. I saw him myself just then falling upon a fine full-dress
suit, which he shook and tossed in an unmerciful manner.


/The effects of great activity and presence of mind--A favourite
hound described, which pups while pursuing a hare; the hare also
litters while pursued by the hound--Presented with a famous horse
by Count Przobossky, with which he performs many extraordinary

All these narrow and lucky escapes, gentlemen, were chances turned to
advantage by presence of mind and vigorous exertions, which, taken
together, as everybody knows, make the fortunate sportsman, sailor,
and soldier; but he would be a very blamable and imprudent sportsman,
admiral, or general, who would always depend upon chance and his
stars, without troubling himself about those arts which are their
particular pursuits, and without providing the very best implements,
which insure success. I was not blamable either way; for I have always
been as remarkable for the excellency of my horses, dogs, guns, and
swords, as for the proper manner of using and managing them, so that
upon the whole I may hope to be remembered in the forest, upon the
turf, and in the field. I shall not enter here into any detail of my
stables, kennel, or armoury; but a favourite bitch of mine I cannot
help mentioning to you; she was a greyhound, and I never had or saw a
better. She grew old in my service, and was not remarkable for her
size, but rather for her uncommon swiftness. I always coursed with
her. Had you seen her you must have admired her, and would not have
wondered at my predilection, and at my coursing her so much. She ran
so fast, so much, and so long in my service, that she actually ran off
her legs; so that, in the latter part of her life, I was under the
necessity of working and using her only as a terrier, in which quality
she still served me many years.

Coursing one day a hare, which appeared to me uncommonly big, I pitied
my poor bitch, being big with pups, yet she would course as fast as
ever. I could follow her on horseback only at a great distance. At
once I heard a cry as it were of a pack of hounds--but so weak and
faint that I hardly knew what to make of it. Coming up to them, I was
greatly surprised. The hare had littered in running; the same had
happened to my bitch in coursing, and there were just as many leverets
as pups. By instinct the former ran, the latter coursed: and thus I
found myself in possession at once of six hares, and as many dogs, at
the end of a course which had only begun with one.

I remember this, my wonderful bitch, with the same pleasure and
tenderness as a superb Lithuanian horse, which no money could have
bought. He became mine by an accident, which gave me an opportunity of
showing my horsemanship to a great advantage. I was at Count
Przobossky's noble country-seat in Lithuania, and remained with the
ladies at tea in the drawing-room, while the gentlemen were down in
the yard, to see a young horse of blood which had just arrived from
the stud. We suddenly heard a noise of distress; I hastened down-
stairs, and found the horse so unruly, that nobody durst approach or
mount him. The most resolute horsemen stood dismayed and aghast;
despondency was expressed in every countenance, when, in one leap, I
was on his back, took him by surprise, and worked him quite into
gentleness and obedience with the best display of horsemanship I was
master of. Fully to show this to the ladies, and save them unnecessary
trouble, I forced him to leap in at one of the open windows of the
tea-room, walked round several times, pace, trot, and gallop, and at
last made him mount the tea-table, there to repeat his lessons in a
pretty style of miniature which was exceedingly pleasing to the
ladies, for he performed them amazingly well, and did not break either
cup or saucer. It placed me so high in their opinion, and so well in
that of the noble lord, that, with his usual politeness, he begged I
would accept of this young horse, and ride him full career to conquest
and honour in the campaign against the Turks, which was soon to be
opened, under the command of Count Munich.

I could not indeed have received a more agreeable present, nor a more
ominous one at the opening of that campaign, in which I made my
apprenticeship as a soldier. A horse so gentle, so spirited, and so
fierce--at once a lamb and a Bucephalus, put me always in mind of the
soldier's and the gentleman's duty! of young Alexander, and of the
astonishing things he performed in the field.

We took the field, among several other reasons, it seems, with an
intention to retrieve the character of the Russian arms, which had
been blemished a little by Czar Peter's last campaign on the Pruth;
and this we fully accomplished by several very fatiguing and glorious
campaigns under the command of that great general I mentioned before.

Modesty forbids individuals to arrogate to themselves great successes
or victories, the glory of which is generally engrossed by the
commander--nay, which is rather awkward, by kings and queens who never
smelt gunpowder but at the field-days and reviews of their troops;
never saw a field of battle, or an enemy in battle array.

Nor do I claim any particular share of glory in the great engagements
with the enemy. We all did our duty, which, in the patriot's,
soldier's, and gentleman's language, is a very comprehensive word, of
great honour, meaning, and import, and of which the generality of idle
quidnuncs and coffee-house politicians can hardly form any but a very
mean and contemptible idea. However, having had the command of a body
of hussars, I went upon several expeditions, with discretionary
powers; and the success I then met with is, I think, fairly and only
to be placed to my account, and to that of the brave fellows whom I
led on to conquest and to victory. We had very hot work once in the
van of the army, when we drove the Turks into Oczakow. My spirited
Lithuanian had almost brought me into a scrape: I had an advanced
fore-post, and saw the enemy coming against me in a cloud of dust,
which left me rather uncertain about their actual numbers and real
intentions: to wrap myself up in a similar cloud was common prudence,
but would not have much advanced my knowledge, or answered the end for
which I had been sent out; therefore I let my flankers on both wings
spread to the right and left and make what dust they could, and I
myself led on straight upon the enemy, to have nearer sight of them:
in this I was gratified, for they stood and fought, till, for fear of
my flankers, they began to move off rather disorderly. This was the
moment to fall upon them with spirit; we broke them entirely--made a
terrible havoc amongst them, and drove them not only back to a walled
town in their rear, but even through it, contrary to our most sanguine

The swiftness of my Lithuanian enabled me to be foremost in the
pursuit; and seeing the enemy fairly flying through the opposite gate,
I thought it would be prudent to stop in the market-place, to order
the men to rendezvous. I stopped, gentlemen; but judge of my
astonishment when in this market-place I saw not one of my hussars
about me! Are they scouring the other streets? or what is become of
them? They could not be far off, and must, at all events, soon join
me. In that expectation I walked my panting Lithuanian to a spring in
this market-place, and let him drink. He drank uncommonly, with an
eagerness not to be satisfied, but natural enough; for when I looked
round for my men, what should I see, gentlemen! the hind part of the
poor creature--croup and legs were missing, as if he had been cut in
two, and the water ran out as it came in, without refreshing or doing
him any good! How it could have happened was quite a mystery to me,
till I returned with him to the town-gate. There I saw, that when I
rushed in pell-mell with the flying enemy, they had dropped the
portcullis (a heavy falling door, with sharp spikes at the bottom, let
down suddenly to prevent the entrance of an enemy into a fortified
town) unperceived by me, which had totally cut off his hind part, that
still lay quivering on the outside of the gate. It would have been an
irreparable loss, had not our farrier contrived to bring both parts
together while hot. He sewed them up with sprigs and young shoots of
laurels that were at hand; the wound healed, and, what could not have
happened but to so glorious a horse, the sprigs took root in his body,
grew up, and formed a bower over me; so that afterwards I could go
upon many other expeditions in the shade of my own and my horse's


/The Baron is made a prisoner of war, and sold for a slave--Keeps
the Sultan's bees, which are attacked by two bears--Loses one of
his bees; a silver hatchet, which he throws at the bears, rebounds
and flies up to the moon; brings it back by an ingenious
invention; falls to the earth on his return, and helps himself out
of a pit--Extricates himself from a carriage which meets his in a
narrow road, in a manner never before attempted nor practised
since--The wonderful effects of the frost upon his servant's
French horn./

I was not always successful. I had the misfortune to be overpowered by
numbers, to be made prisoner of war; and, what is worse, but always
usual among the Turks, to be sold for a slave. [The Baron was
afterwards in great favour with the Grand Seignior, as will appear
hereafter.] In that state of humiliation my daily task was not very
hard and laborious, but rather singular and irksome. It was to drive
the Sultan's bees every morning to their pasture-grounds, to attend
them all the day long, and against night to drive them back to their
hives. One evening I missed a bee, and soon observed that two bears
had fallen upon her to tear her to pieces for the honey she carried. I
had nothing like an offensive weapon in my hands but the silver
hatchet, which is the badge of the Sultan's gardeners and farmers. I
threw it at the robbers, with an intention to frighten them away, and
set the poor bee at liberty; but, by an unlucky turn of my arm, it
flew upwards, and continued rising till it reached the moon. How
should I recover it? how fetch it down again? I recollected that
Turkey-beans grow very quick, and run up to an astonishing height. I
planted one immediately; it grew, and actually fastened itself to one
of the moon's horns. I had no more to do now but to climb up by it
into the moon, where I safely arrived, and had a troublesome piece of
business before I could find my silver hatchet, in a place where
everything has the brightness of silver; at last, however, I found it
in a heap of chaff and chopped straw. I was now for returning: but,
alas! the heat of the sun had dried up my bean; it was totally useless
for my descent: so I fell to work, and twisted me a rope of that
chopped straw, as long and as well as I could make it. This I fastened
to one of the moon's horns, and slid down to the end of it. Here I
held myself fast with the left hand, and with the hatchet in my right,
I cut the long, now useless end of the upper part, which, when tied to
the lower end, brought me a good deal lower: this repeated splicing
and tying of the rope did not improve its quality, or bring me down to
the Sultan's farm. I was four or five miles from the earth at least
when it broke; I fell to the ground with such amazing violence, that I
found myself stunned, and in a hole nine fathoms deep at least, made
by the weight of my body falling from so great a height: I recovered,
but knew not how to get out again; however, I dug slopes or steps with
my finger-nails [the Baron's nails were then of forty years' growth],
and easily accomplished it.

Peace was soon after concluded with the Turks, and gaining my liberty,
I left St. Petersburg at the time of that singular revolution, when
the emperor in his cradle, his mother, the Duke of Brunswick, her
father, Field-Marshal Munich, and many others were sent to Siberia.
The winter was then so uncommonly severe all over Europe, that ever
since the sun seems to be frost-bitten. At my return to this place, I
felt on the road greater inconveniences than those I had experienced
on my setting out.

I travelled post, and finding myself in a narrow lane, bid the
postillion give a signal with his horn, that other travellers might
not meet us in the narrow passage. He blew with all his might; but his
endeavours were in vain, he could not make the horn sound, which was
unaccountable, and rather unfortunate, for soon after we found
ourselves in the presence of another coach coming the other way: there
was no proceeding; however, I got out of my carriage, and being pretty
strong, placed it, wheels and all, upon my head: I then jumped over a
hedge about nine feet high (which, considering the weight of the
coach, was rather difficult) into a field, and came out again by
another jump into the road beyond the other carriage: I then went back
for the horses, and placing one upon my head, and the other under my
left arm, by the same means brought them to my coach, put to, and
proceeded to an inn at the end of our stage. I should have told you
that the horse under my arm was very spirited, and not above four
years old; in making my second spring over the hedge, he expressed
great dislike to that violent kind of motion by kicking and snorting;
however, I confined his hind legs by putting them into my coat-pocket.
After we arrived at the inn my postillion and I refreshed ourselves:
he hung his horn on a peg near the kitchen fire; I sat on the other

Suddenly we heard a /tereng! tereng! teng! teng!/ We looked round, and
now found the reason why the postillion had not been able to sound his
horn; his tunes were frozen up in the horn, and came out now by
thawing, plain enough, and much to the credit of the driver; so that
the honest fellow entertained us for some time with a variety of
tunes, without putting his mouth to the horn--"The King of Prussia's
March," "Over the Hill and over the Dale," with many other favourite
tunes; at length the thawing entertainment concluded, as I shall this
short account of my Russian travels.

/Some travellers are apt to advance more than is perhaps strictly
true; if any of the company entertain a doubt of my veracity, I shall
only say to such, I pity their want of faith, and must request they
will take leave before I begin the second part of my adventures, which
are as strictly founded in fact as those I have already related./


/The Baron relates his adventures on a voyage to North America,
which are well worth the reader's attention--Pranks of a whale--A
sea-gull saves a sailor's life--The Baron's head forced into his
stomach--A dangerous leak stopped à posteriori./

I embarked at Portsmouth in a first-rate English man-of-war, of one
hundred guns, and fourteen hundred men, for North America. Nothing
worth relating happened till we arrived within three hundred leagues
of the river St. Laurence, when the ship struck with amazing force
against (as we supposed) a rock; however, upon heaving the lead we
could find no bottom, even with three hundred fathom. What made this
circumstance the more wonderful, and indeed beyond all comprehension,
was, that the violence of the shock was such that we lost our rudder,
broke our bowsprit in the middle, and split all our masts from top to
bottom, two of which went by the board; a poor fellow, who was aloft
furling the mainsheet, was flung at least three leagues from the ship;
but he fortunately saved his life by laying hold of the tail of a
large sea-gull, who brought him back, and lodged him on the very spot
from whence he was thrown. Another proof of the violence of the shock
was the force with which the people between decks were driven against
the floors above them; my head particularly was pressed into my
stomach, where it continued some months before it recovered its
natural situation. Whilst we were all in a state of astonishment at
the general and unaccountable confusion in which we were involved, the
whole was suddenly explained by the appearance of a large whale, who
had been basking, asleep, within sixteen feet of the surface of the
water. This animal was so much displeased with the disturbance which
our ship had given him--for in our passage we had with our rudder
scratched his nose--that he beat in all the gallery and part of the
quarter-deck with his tail, and almost at the same instant took the
mainsheet anchor, which was suspended, as it usually is, from the
head, between his teeth, and ran away with the ship, at least sixty
leagues, at the rate of twelve leagues an hour, when fortunately the
cable broke, and we lost both the whale and the anchor. However, upon
our return to Europe, some months after, we found the same whale
within a few leagues of the same spot, floating dead upon the water;
it measured above half a mile in length. As we could take but a small
quantity of such a monstrous animal on board, we got our boats out,
and with much difficulty cut off his head, where, to our great joy, we
found the anchor, and above forty fathom of the cable, concealed on
the left side of his mouth, just under his tongue. [Perhaps this was
the cause of his death, as that side of his tongue was much swelled,
with a great degree of inflammation.] This was the only extraordinary
circumstance that happened on this voyage. One part of our distress,
however, I had like to have forgot: while the whale was running away
with the ship she sprung a leak, and the water poured in so fast, that
all our pumps could not keep us from sinking; it was, however, my good
fortune to discover it first. I found it a large hole about a foot
diameter; you will naturally suppose this circumstance gives me
infinite pleasure, when I inform you that this noble vessel was
preserved, with all its crew, by a most fortunate thought! in short, I
sat down over it, and could have dispensed with it had it been larger;
nor will you be surprised when I inform you I am descended from Dutch
parents. [The Baron's ancestors have but lately settled there; in
another part of his adventures he boasts of royal blood.]

My situation, while I sat there, was rather cool, but the carpenter's
art soon relieved me.


/Bathes in the Mediterranean--Meets an unexpected companion--
Arrives unintentionally in the regions of heat and darkness, from
which he is extricated by dancing a hornpipe--Frightens his
deliverers, and returns on shore./

I was once in great danger of being lost in a most singular manner in
the Mediterranean: I was bathing in that pleasant sea near Marseilles
one summer's afternoon, when I discovered a very large fish, with his
jaws quite extended, approaching me with the greatest velocity; there
was no time to be lost, nor could I possibly avoid him. I immediately
reduced myself to as small a size as possible, by closing my feet and
placing my hands also near my sides, in which position I passed
directly between his jaws, and into his stomach, where I remained some
time in total darkness, and comfortably warm, as you may imagine; at
last it occurred to me, that by giving him pain he would be glad to
get rid of me: as I had plenty of room, I played my pranks, such as
tumbling, hop, step, and jump, &c., but nothing seemed to disturb him
so much as the quick motion of my feet in attempting to dance a
hornpipe; soon after I began he put me out by sudden fits and starts:
I persevered; at last he roared horridly, and stood up almost
perpendicularly in the water, with his head and shoulders exposed, by
which he was discovered by the people on board an Italian trader, then
sailing by, who harpooned him in a few minutes. As soon as he was
brought on board I heard the crew consulting how they should cut him
up, so as to preserve the greatest quantity of oil. As I understood
Italian, I was in most dreadful apprehensions lest their weapons
employed in this business should destroy me also; therefore I stood as
near the centre as possible, for there was room enough for a dozen men
in this creature's stomach, and I naturally imagined they would begin
with the extremities; however, my fears were soon dispersed, for they
began by opening the bottom of the belly. As soon as I perceived a
glimmering of light I called out lustily to be released from a
situation in which I was now almost suffocated. It is impossible for
me to do justice to the degree and kind of astonishment which sat upon
every countenance at hearing a human voice issue from a fish, but more
so at seeing a naked man walk upright out of his body; in short,
gentlemen, I told them the whole story, as I have done you, whilst
amazement struck them dumb.

After taking some refreshment, and jumping into the sea to cleanse
myself, I swam to my clothes, which lay where I had left them on the
shore. As near as I can calculate, I was near four hours and a half
confined in the stomach of this animal.


/Adventures in Turkey, and upon the river Nile--Sees a balloon
over Constantinople; shoots at, and brings it down; finds a French
experimental philosopher suspended from it--Goes on an embassy to
Grand Cairo, and returns upon the Nile, where he is thrown into an
unexpected situation, and detained six weeks./

When I was in the service of the Turks I frequently amused myself in a
pleasure-barge on the Marmora, which commands a view of the whole city
of Constantinople, including the Grand Seignior's Seraglio. One
morning, as I was admiring the beauty and serenity of the sky, I
observed a globular substance in the air, which appeared to be about
the size of a twelve-inch globe, with somewhat suspended from it. I
immediately took up my largest and longest barrel fowling-piece, which
I never travel or make even an excursion without, if I can help it; I
charged with a ball, and fired at the globe, but to no purpose, the
object being at too great a distance. I then put in a double quantity
of powder, and five or six balls: this second attempt succeeded; all
the balls took effect, and tore one side open, and brought it down.
Judge my surprise when a most elegant gilt car, with a man in it, and
part of a sheep which seemed to have been roasted, fell within two
yards of me. When my astonishment had in some degree subsided, I
ordered my people to row close to this strange aërial traveller.

I took him on board my barge (he was a native of France): he was much
indisposed from his sudden fall into the sea, and incapable of
speaking; after some time, however, he recovered, and gave the
following account of himself, viz.: "About seven or eight days since,
I cannot tell which, for I have lost my reckoning, having been most of
the time where the sun never sets, I ascended from the Land's End in
Cornwall, in the island of Great Britain, in the car from which I have
been just taken, suspended from a very large balloon, and took a sheep
with me to try atmospheric experiments upon: unfortunately, the wind
changed within ten minutes after my ascent, and instead of driving
towards Exeter, where I intended to land, I was driven towards the
sea, over which I suppose I have continued ever since, but much too
high to make observations.

"The calls of hunger were so pressing, that the intended experiments
upon heat and respiration gave way to them. I was obliged, on the
third day, to kill the sheep for food; and being at that time
infinitely above the moon, and for upwards of sixteen hours after so
very near the sun that it scorched my eyebrows, I placed the carcase,
taking care to skin it first, in that part of the car where the sun
had sufficient power, or, in other words, where the balloon did not
shade it from the sun, by which method it was well roasted in about
two hours. This has been my food ever since." Here he paused, and
seemed lost in viewing the objects about him. When I told him the
buildings before us were the Grand Seignior's Seraglio at
Constantinople, he seemed exceedingly affected, as he had supposed
himself in a very different situation. "The cause," added he, "of my
long flight, was owing to the failure of a string which was fixed to a
valve in the balloon, intended to let out the inflammable air; and if
it had not been fired at, and rent in the manner before mentioned, I
might, like Mahomet, have been suspended between heaven and earth till

The Grand Seignior, to whom I was introduced by the Imperial, Russian,
and French ambassadors, employed me to negotiate a matter of great
importance at Grand Cairo, and which was of such a nature that it must
ever remain a secret.

I went there in great state by land; where, having completed the
business, I dismissed almost all my attendants, and returned like a
private gentleman; the weather was delightful, and that famous river
the Nile was beautiful beyond all description; in short, I was tempted
to hire a barge to descend by water to Alexandria. On the third day of
my voyage the river began to rise most amazingly (you have all heard,
I presume, of the annual overflowing of the Nile), and on the next day
it spread the whole country for many leagues on each side! On the
fifth, at sunrise, my barge became entangled with what I at first took
for shrubs, but as the light became stronger I found myself surrounded
by almonds, which were perfectly ripe, and in the highest perfection.
Upon plumbing with a line my people found we were at least sixty feet
from the ground, and unable to advance or retreat. At about eight or
nine o'clock, as near as I could judge by the altitude of the sun, the
wind rose suddenly, and canted our barge on one side: here she filled,
and I saw no more of her for some time. Fortunately we all saved
ourselves (six men and two boys) by clinging to the tree, the boughs
of which were equal to our weight, though not to that of the barge: in
this situation we continued six weeks and three days, living upon the
almonds; I need not inform you we had plenty of water. On the forty-
second day of our distress the water fell as rapidly as it had risen,
and on the forty-sixth we were able to venture down upon /terra
firma/. Our barge was the first pleasing object we saw, about two
hundred yards from the spot where she sunk. After drying everything
that was useful by the heat of the sun, and loading ourselves with
necessaries from the stores on board, we set out to recover our lost
ground, and found, by the nearest calculation, we had been carried
over garden-walls, and a variety of enclosures, above one hundred and
fifty miles. In four days, after a very tiresome journey on foot, with
thin shoes, we reached the river, which was now confined to its banks,
related our adventures to a boy, who kindly accommodated all our
wants, and sent us forward in a barge of his own. In six days more we
arrived at Alexandria, where we took shipping for Constantinople. I
was received kindly by the Grand Seignior, and had the honour of
seeing the Seraglio, to which his highness introduced me himself.


/Pays a visit during the siege of Gibraltar to his old friend
General Elliot--Sinks a Spanish man-of-war--Wakes an old woman on
the African coast--Destroys all the enemy's cannon; frightens the
Count d'Artois, and sends him to Paris--Saves the lives of two
English spies with the identical sling that killed Goliath; and
raises the siege./

During the late siege of Gibraltar I went with a provision-fleet,
under Lord Rodney's command, to see my old friend General Elliot, who
has, by his distinguished defence of that place, acquired laurels that
can never fade. After the usual joy which generally attends the
meeting of old friends had subsided, I went to examine the state of
the garrison, and view the operations of the enemy, for which purpose
the General accompanied me. I had brought a most excellent refracting
telescope with me from London, purchased of Dollond, by the help of
which I found the enemy were going to discharge a thirty-six pounder
at the spot where we stood. I told the General what they were about;
he looked through the glass also, and found my conjectures right. I
immediately, by his permission, ordered a forty-eight pounder to be
brought from a neighbouring battery, which I placed with so much
exactness (having long studied the art of gunnery) that I was sure of
my mark.

I continued watching the enemy till I saw the match placed at the
touch-hole of their piece; at that very instant I gave the signal for
our gun to be fired also.

About midway between the two pieces of cannon the balls struck each
other with amazing force, and the effect was astonishing! The enemy's
ball recoiled back with such violence as to kill the man who had
discharged it, by carrying his head fairly off, with sixteen others
which it met with in its progress to the Barbary coast, where its
force, after passing through three masts of vessels that then lay in a
line behind each other in the harbour, was so much spent, that it only
broke its way through the roof of a poor labourer's hut, about two
hundred yards inland, and destroyed a few teeth an old woman had left,
who lay asleep upon her back with her mouth open. The ball lodged in
her throat. Her husband soon after came home, and endeavoured to
extract it; but finding that impracticable, by the assistance of a
rammer he forced it into her stomach. Our ball did excellent service;
for it not only repelled the other in the manner just described, but,
proceeding as I intended it should, it dismounted the very piece of
cannon that had just been employed against us, and forced it into the
hold of the ship, where it fell with so much force as to break its way
through the bottom. The ship immediately filled and sank, with above a
thousand Spanish sailors on board, besides a considerable number of
soldiers. This, to be sure, was a most extraordinary exploit; I will
not, however, take the whole merit to myself; my judgment was the
principal engine, but chance assisted me a little; for I afterwards
found, that the man who charged our forty-eight pounder put in, by
mistake, a double quantity of powder, else we could never have
succeeded so much beyond all expectation, especially in repelling the
enemy's ball.

General Elliot would have given me a commission for this singular
piece of service; but I declined everything, except his thanks, which
I received at a crowded table of officers at supper on the evening of
that very day.

As I am very partial to the English, who are beyond all doubt a brave
people, I determined not to take my leave of the garrison till I had
rendered them another piece of service, and in about three weeks an
opportunity presented itself. I dressed myself in the habit of a
/Popish priest/, and at about one o'clock in the morning stole out of
the garrison, passed the enemy's lines, and arrived in the middle of
their camp, where I entered the tent in which the Prince d'Artois was,
with the commander-in-chief, and several other officers, in deep
council, concerting a plan to storm the garrison next morning. My
disguise was my protection; they suffered me to continue there,
hearing everything that passed, till they went to their several beds.
When I found the whole camp, and even the sentinels, were wrapped up
in the arms of Morpheus, I began my work, which was that of
dismounting all their cannon (above three hundred pieces), from forty-
eight to twenty-four pounders, and throwing them three leagues into
the sea. Having no assistance, I found this the hardest task I ever
undertook, except swimming to the opposite shore with the famous
Turkish piece of ordnance, described by Baron de Tott in his Memoirs,
which I shall hereafter mention. I then piled all the carriages
together in the centre of the camp, which, to prevent the noise of the
wheels being heard, I carried in pairs under my arms; and a noble
appearance they made, as high at least as the rock of Gibraltar. I
then lighted a match by striking a flint stone, situated twenty feet
from the ground (in an old wall built by the Moors when they invaded
Spain), with the breech of an iron eight-and-forty pounder, and so set
fire to the whole pile. I forgot to inform you that I threw all their
ammunition-waggons upon the top.

Before I applied the lighted match I had laid the combustibles at the
bottom so judiciously, that the whole was in a blaze in a moment. To
prevent suspicion I was one of the first to express my surprise. The
whole camp was, as you may imagine, petrified with astonishment: the
general conclusion was, that their sentinels had been bribed, and that
seven or eight regiments of the garrison had been employed in this
horrid destruction of their artillery. Mr. Drinkwater, in his account
of this famous siege, mentions the enemy sustaining a great loss by a
fire which happened in their camp, but never knew the cause; how
should he? as I never divulged it before (though I alone saved
Gibraltar by this night's business), not even to General Elliot. The
Count d'Artois and all his attendants ran away in their fright, and
never stopped on the road till they reached Paris, which they did in
about a fortnight; this dreadful conflagration had such an effect upon
them that they were incapable of taking the least refreshment for
three months after, but, chameleon-like, lived upon the air.

/If any gentleman will say he doubts the truth of this story, I will
fine him a gallon of brandy and make him drink it at one draught./

About two months after I had done the besieged this service, one
morning, as I sat at breakfast with General Elliot, a shell (for I had
not time to destroy their mortars as well as their cannon) entered the
apartment we were sitting in; it lodged upon our table: the General,
as most men would do, quitted the room directly; but I took it up
before it burst, and carried it to the top of the rock, when, looking
over the enemy's camp, on an eminence near the sea-coast I observed a
considerable number of people, but could not, with my naked eye,
discover how they were employed. I had recourse again to my telescope,
when I found that two of our officers, one a general, the other a
colonel, with whom I spent the preceding evening, and who went out
into the enemy's camp about midnight as spies, were taken, and then
were actually going to be executed on a gibbet. I found the distance
too great to throw the shell with my hand, but most fortunately
recollecting that I had the very sling in my pocket which assisted
David in slaying Goliath, I placed the shell in it, and immediately
threw it in the midst of them: it burst as it fell, and destroyed all
present, except the two culprits, who were saved by being suspended so
high, for they were just turned off: however, one of the pieces of the
shell fled with such force against the foot of the gibbet, that it
immediately brought it down. Our two friends no sooner felt /terra
firma/ than they looked about for the cause; and finding their guards,
executioner, and all, had taken it in their heads to die first, they
directly extricated each other from their disgraceful cords, and then
ran down to the sea-shore, seized a Spanish boat with two men in it,
and made them row to one of our ships, which they did with great
safety, and in a few minutes after, when I was relating to General
Elliot how I had acted, they both took us by the hand, and after
mutual congratulations we retired to spend the day with festivity.


/An interesting account of the Baron's ancestors--A quarrel
relative to the spot where Noah built his ark--The history of the
sling, and its properties--A favourite poet introduced upon no
very reputable occasion--queen Elizabeth's abstinence--The Baron's
father crosses from England to Holland upon a marine horse, which
he sells for seven hundred ducats./

You wish (I can see by your countenances) I would inform you how I
became possessed of such a treasure as the sling just mentioned. (Here
facts must be held sacred.) Thus then it was: I am a descendant of the
wife of Uriah, whom we all know David was intimate with; she had
several children by his majesty; they quarrelled once upon a matter of
the first consequence, viz., the spot where Noah's ark was built, and
where it rested after the flood. A separation consequently ensued. She
had often heard him speak of this sling as his most valuable treasure:
this she stole the night they parted; it was missed before she got out
of his dominions, and she was pursued by no less than six of the
king's body-guards: however, by using it herself she hit the first of
them (for one was more active in the pursuit than the rest) where
David did Goliath, and killed him on the spot. His companions were so
alarmed at his fall that they retired, and left Uriah's wife to pursue
her journey. She took with her, I should have informed you before, her
favourite son by this connection, to whom she bequeathed the sling;
and thus it has, without interruption, descended from father to son
till it came into my possession. One of its possessors, my great-
great-great-grandfather, who lived about two hundred and fifty years
ago, was upon a visit to England, and became intimate with a poet who
was a great deer-stealer; I think his name was Shakespeare: he
frequently borrowed this sling, and with it killed so much of Sir
Thomas Lucy's venison, that he narrowly escaped the fate of my two
friends at Gibraltar. Poor Shakespeare was imprisoned, and my ancestor
obtained his freedom in a very singular manner. Queen Elizabeth was
then on the throne, but grown so indolent, that every trifling matter
was a trouble to her; dressing, undressing, eating, drinking, and some
other offices which shall be nameless, made life a burden to her; all
these things he enabled her to do without, or by a deputy! and what do
you think was the only return she could prevail upon him to accept for
such eminent services? setting Shakespeare at liberty! Such was his
affection for that famous writer, that he would have shortened his own
days to add to the number of his friend's.

I do not hear that any of the queen's subjects, particularly the
/beef-eaters/, as they are vulgarly called to this day, however they
might be struck with the novelty at the time, much approved of her
living totally without food. She did not survive the practice herself
above seven years and a half.

My father, who was the immediate possessor of this sling before me,
told me the following anecdote:--

He was walking by the sea-shore at Harwich, with this sling in his
pocket; before his paces had covered a mile he was attacked by a
fierce animal called a seahorse, open-mouthed, who ran at him with
great fury; he hesitated a moment, then took out his sling, retreated
back about a hundred yards, stooped for a couple of pebbles, of which
there were plenty under his feet, and slung them both so dexterously
at the animal, that each stone put out an eye, and lodged in the
cavities which their removal had occasioned. He now got upon his back,
and drove him into the sea; for the moment he lost his sight he lost
also ferocity, and became as tame as possible: the sling was placed as
a bridle in his mouth; he was guided with the greatest facility across
the ocean, and in less than three hours they both arrived on the
opposite shore, which is about thirty leagues. The master of the
/Three Cups/, at Helvoetsluys, in Holland, purchased this marine
horse, to make an exhibition of, for seven hundred ducats, which was
upwards of three hundred pounds, and the next day my father paid his
passage back in the packet to Harwich.

/--My father made several curious observations in this passage, which
I will relate hereafter./


/The frolic; its consequences--Windsor Castle--St. Paul's--College
of Physicians--Undertakers, sextons, &c., almost ruined--Industry
of the apothecaries./


This famous sling makes the possessor equal to any task he is desirous
of performing.

I made a balloon of such extensive dimensions, that an account of the
silk it contained would exceed all credibility; every mercer's shop
and weaver's stock in London, Westminster, and Spitalfields
contributed to it: with this balloon and my sling I played many
tricks, such as taking one house from its station, and placing another
in its stead, without disturbing the inhabitants, who were generally
asleep, or too much employed to observe the peregrinations of their
habitations. When the sentinel at Windsor Castle heard St. Paul's
clock strike thirteen, it was through my dexterity; I brought the
buildings nearly together that night, by placing the castle in St.
George's Fields, and carried it back again before daylight, without
waking any of the inhabitants; notwithstanding these exploits, I
should have kept my balloon, and its properties a secret, if
Montgolfier had not made the art of flying so public.

On the 30th of September, when the College of Physicians chose their
annual officers, and dined sumptuously together, I filled my balloon,
brought it over the dome of their building, clapped the sling round
the golden ball at the top, fastening the other end of it to the
balloon, and immediately ascended with the whole college to an immense
height, where I kept them upwards of three months. You will naturally
inquire what they did for food such a length of time? To this I
answer, Had I kept them suspended twice the time, they would have
experienced no inconvenience on that account, so amply, or rather
extravagantly, had they spread their table for that day's feasting.

Though this was meant as an innocent frolic, it was productive of much
mischief to several respectable characters amongst the clergy,
undertakers, sextons, and grave-diggers: they were, it must be
acknowledged, sufferers; for it is a well-known fact, that during the
three months the college was suspended in the air, and therefore
incapable of attending their patients, no deaths happened, except a
few who fell before the scythe of Father Time, and some melancholy
objects who, perhaps to avoid some trifling inconvenience here, laid
the hands of violence upon themselves, and plunged into misery
infinitely greater than that which they hoped by such a rash step to
avoid, without a moment's consideration.

If the apothecaries had not been very active during the above time,
half the undertakers in all probability would have been bankrupts.



/The Baron sails with Captain Phipps, attacks two large bears, and
has a very narrow escape--Gains the confidence of these animals,
and then destroys thousands of them; loads the ship with their
hams and skins; makes presents of the former, and obtains a
general invitation to all city feasts--A dispute between the
Captain and the Baron, in which, from motives of politeness, the
Captain is suffered to gain his point--The Baron declines the
offer of a throne, and an empress into the bargain./

We all remember Captain Phipps's (now Lord Mulgrave) last voyage of
discovery to the north. I accompanied the captain, not as an officer,
but as a private friend. When we arrived in a high northern latitude I
was viewing the objects around me with the telescope which I
introduced to your notice in my Gibraltar adventures. I thought I saw
two large white bears in violent action upon a body of ice
considerably above the masts, and about half a league distance. I
immediately took my carbine, slung it across my shoulder, and ascended
the ice. When I arrived at the top, the unevenness of the surface made
my approach to those animals troublesome and hazardous beyond
expression: sometimes hideous cavities opposed me, which I was obliged
to spring over; in other parts the surface was as smooth as a mirror,
and I was continually falling: as I approached near enough to reach
them, I found they were only at play. I immediately began to calculate
the value of their skins, for they were each as large as a well-fed
ox: unfortunately, at the very instant I was presenting my carbine my
right foot slipped, I fell upon my back, and the violence of the blow
deprived me totally of my senses for nearly half an hour; however,
when I recovered, judge of my surprise at finding one of those large
animals I have been just describing had turned me upon my face, and
was just laying hold of the waistband of my breeches, which were then
new and made of leather: he was certainly going to carry me feet
foremost, God knows where, when I took this knife (showing a large
clasp knife) out of my side-pocket, made a chop at one of his hind
feet, and cut off three of his toes; he immediately let me drop and
roared most horribly. I took up my carbine and fired at him as he ran
off; he fell directly. The noise of the piece roused several thousand
of these white bears, who were asleep upon the ice within half a mile
of me; they came immediately to the spot. There was no time to be
lost. A most fortunate thought arrived in my pericranium just at that
instant. I took off the skin and head of the dead bear in half the
time that some people would be in skinning a rabbit, and wrapped
myself in it, placing my own head directly under Bruin's; the whole
herd came round me immediately, and my apprehensions threw me into a
most piteous situation to be sure: however, my scheme turned out a
most admirable one for my own safety. They all came smelling, and
evidently took me for a brother Bruin; I wanted nothing but bulk to
make an excellent counterfeit: however, I saw several cubs amongst
them not much larger than myself. After they had all smelt me, and the
body of their deceased companion, whose skin was now become my
protector, we seemed very sociable, and I found I could mimic all
their actions tolerably well; but at growling, roaring, and hugging
they were quite my masters. I began now to think that I might turn the
general confidence which I had created amongst these animals to my

I had heard an old army surgeon say a wound in the spine was instant
death. I now determined to try the experiment, and had again recourse
to my knife, with which I struck the largest in the back of the neck,
near the shoulders, but under great apprehensions, not doubting but
the creature would, if he survived the stab, tear me to pieces.
However, I was remarkably fortunate, for he fell dead at my feet
without making the least noise. I was now resolved to demolish them
every one in the same manner, which I accomplished without the least
difficulty; for although they saw their companions fall, they had no
suspicion of either the cause or the effect. When they all lay dead
before me, I felt myself a second Samson, having slain my thousands.

To make short of the story, I went back to the ship, and borrowed
three parts of the crew to assist me in skinning them, and carrying
the hams on board, which we did in a few hours, and loaded the ship
with them. As to the other parts of the animals, they were thrown into
the sea, though I doubt not but the whole would eat as well as the
legs, were they properly cured.

As soon as we returned I sent some of the hams, in the captain's name,
to the Lords of Admiralty, others to the Lords of the Treasury, some
to the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, a few to each of the
trading companies, and the remainder to my particular friends, from
all of whom I received warm thanks; but from the city I was honoured
with substantial notice, viz., an invitation to dine at Guildhall
annually on Lord Mayor's day.

The bear-skins I sent to the Empress of Russia, to clothe her majesty
and her court in the winter, for which she wrote me a letter of thanks
with her own hand, and sent it by an ambassador extraordinary,
inviting me to share the honours of her crown; but as I never was
ambitious of royal dignity, I declined her majesty's favour in the
politest terms. The same ambassador had orders to wait and bring my
answer to her majesty /personally/, upon which business he was absent
about three months: her majesty's reply convinced me of the strength
of her affections, and the dignity of her mind; her late indisposition
was entirely owing (as she, kind creature! was pleased to express
herself in a late conversation with the Prince Dolgoroucki) to my
cruelty. What the sex see in me I cannot conceive, but the Empress is
not the only female sovereign who has offered me her hand.

Some people have very illiberally reported that Captain Phipps did not
proceed as far as he might have done upon that expedition. Here it
becomes my duty to acquit him; our ship was in a very proper trim till
I loaded it with such an immense quantity of bear-skins and hams,
after which it would have been madness to have attempted to proceed
further, as we were now scarcely able to combat a brisk gale, much
less those mountains of ice which lay in the higher latitudes.

The captain has since often expressed a dissatisfaction that he had no
share in the honours of that day, which he emphatically called /bear-
skin day/. He has also been very desirous of knowing by what art I
destroyed so many thousands, without fatigue or danger to myself;
indeed, he is so ambitious of dividing the glory with me, that we have
actually quarrelled about it, and we are not now upon speaking terms.
He boldly asserts I had no merit in deceiving the bears, because I was
covered with one of their skins; nay, he declares there is not, in his
opinion, in Europe, so complete a bear naturally as himself among the
human species.

He is now a noble peer, and I am too well acquainted with good manners
to dispute so delicate a point with his lordship.


/Our Baron excels Baron Tott beyond all comparison, yet fails in
part of his attempt--Gets into disgrace with the Grand Seignior,
who orders his head to be cut off--Escapes, and gets on board a
vessel, in which he is carried to Venice--Baron Tott's origin,
with some account of that great man's parents--Pope Ganganelli's
amour--His Holiness fond of shell-fish./

Baron de Tott, in his Memoirs, makes as great a parade of a single act
as many travellers whose whole lives have been spent in seeing the
different parts of the globe; for my part, if I had been blown from
Europe to Asia from the mouth of a cannon, I should have boasted less
of it afterwards than he has done of only firing off a Turkish piece
of ordnance. What he says of this wonderful gun, as near as my memory
will serve me, is this:--"The Turks had placed below the castle, and
near the city, on the banks of Simois, a celebrated river, an enormous
piece of ordnance cast in brass, which would carry a marble ball of
eleven hundred pounds weight. I was inclined," says Tott, "to fire it,
but I was willing first to judge of its effect; the crowd about me
trembled at this proposal, as they asserted it would overthrow not
only the castle, but the city also; at length their fears in part
subsided, and I was permitted to discharge it. It required not less
than three hundred and thirty pounds' weight of powder, and the ball
weighed, as before mentioned, eleven hundredweight. When the engineer
brought the priming, the crowds who were about me retreated back as
fast as they could; nay, it was with the utmost difficulty I persuaded
the Pacha, who came on purpose, there was no danger: even the engineer
who was to discharge it by my direction was considerably alarmed. I
took my stand on some stone-work behind the cannon, gave the signal,
and felt a shock like that of earthquake! At the distance of three
hundred fathom the ball burst into three pieces; the fragments crossed
the strait, rebounded on the opposite mountain, and left the surface
of the water all in a foam through the whole breadth of the channel."

This, gentlemen, is, as near as I can recollect, Baron Tott's account
of the largest cannon in the known world. Now, when I was there not
long since, the anecdote of Tott's firing this tremendous piece was
mentioned as a proof of that gentleman's extraordinary courage.

I was determined not to be outdone by a Frenchman, therefore took this
very piece upon my shoulder, and, after balancing it properly, jumped
into the sea with it, and swam to the opposite shore, from whence I
unfortunately attempted to throw it back into its former place. I say
unfortunately, for it slipped a little in my hand just as I was about

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