Surprising adventures, miraculous escapes, and wonderful travels, of the renowned Baron Munchausen
OF THE RENOWNED
Carried on the back of an Eagle over France to Gibraltar, &c. &c.
Entered according to Order.
Of the Renowned
ABOUT the beginning of his present Majesty's reign, I had some business with a distant relation, who then lived on the Isle of Thanet; it was a family dispute, and not likely to be finished soon.-I made it a practice, during my residence there, the weather being fine, to walk out every morning. After a few of these excursions, I observed an object on a great eminence, about three miles distant; I extended my walk to it, and found the ruins of an ancient temple: on the eastern end were the remains of a lofty tower near 40 feet high, over-grown with ivy, the top apparently flat: I surveyed it on every side very minutely, thinking that if I could gain its summit, I should enjoy the most delightful prospect of the circumjacent country.———Animated by this hope, I resolved, if possible, to gain the summit; which I at length effected by means of the ivy, tho' not without great difficulty and danger. The top I found covered with this ever-green, except a large chasm in the middle.-Curiosity prompted me to sound the opening, in order to ascertain its depth, as I entertained a suspicion that it might probably communicate with some unexplored subterranean cavern in the hill; but having no line, I was at a loss how to proceed. After revolving the matter in my thoughts for some time, I resolved to drop a stone down, and listen to the echo; which I had no sooner done, than I heard a rustling below, and suddenly a monstrous eagle put up its head right opposite my face; and rising up with irresistible force, carried me away, seated on its shoulders. —I instantly grasped it round the neck, which was large enough to fill my arms; and its wings, when extended, were ten yards from one extremity to the other. —As it arose with a regular ascent, my seat was perfectly easy, and I enjoyed the prospect below with inexpressible pleasure. —It hovered ever Margate for some time, then directed it course to Dover-cliff, where it alighted and I thought of dismounting, but was prevented by a sudden discharge of musketry from a party of marines that were exercising on the beach. It instantly re-ascended, and flew over over the sea towards Calais; but so very high that the Channel to be no broader than the Thames at London-bridge. In a quarter of an hour I found myself over a thick wood in France, where the eagle descended very rapidly, which caused me to slip down to the back part of its head; but slighting on a large tree, and raising its head, I recovered my seat as before, but saw no possibility of disengaging myself, without the danger of being killed by the fall: so I determined to sit fast. —After resting a few minutes, it took wing and proceeded —In three days I saw the rock of Gibralter very distinctly —The day being clear, notwithstanding my degree of elevation, the earth’s surface appeared just like a map, where land, sea, lakes, rivers, mountains, and the like were perfectly distinguishable; and having some knowledge of , I was at no loss to deter- mine what part of the globe I was in —My eagle, however, proceeded and looking before me with inexpressible pleasure, I observed that he was preparing to alight, and descended on the top of a very high mountain. At this time the moon, far distant in the west, and obscured by dark clouds, but just afforded light sufficient to discover a kind of shrubbery all around — The eagle began to stagger against the shrubs; I endeavoured to keep my seat, but was soon thrown to some distance among the bushes. — In attempting to rise, I put my hand on a large hedge hog which happened to lie among the grass upon its back: It instantly closed round my hand, so that I found it impossible to shake it off. I struck it several times against the ground without effect; but while I was thus employed, I heard a rustling among the shrubbery, and looking up, I saw a huge animal within three yards of me! I could make no defence but held out both my hands, when it rushed on me, and seized that on which the hedge hog was fixed. — My hand being soon relieved. I ran to some distance, where I saw the creature suddenly drop down and expire, with the hedge hog in its throat! — As soon as day appeared, the eagle fled off and I travelled to the town, intending for Rome. — I travelled post, and finding myself in a narrow lane, bade 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 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, on 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 on my head, and the other under my left arm, by the same means brought them to my coach, and proceeded to an inn at the end of our stage. — After we arrived at the inn, my postillion and I refreshed ourselves: he hung his horse on a peg near the kitchen fire, and I sat on the other side. - Suddenly we heard a Tereng! tereng! teng! teng! We looked round, and now found the reason the postillion had not been able to sound his horn; his tunes were frozen up in it, 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 successive variety of tunes, without putting his mouth to the horn, to our great astonishment!
Having at length arrived at Rome, after staying a short while there, I set off from Rome on a journey to Russia, in the midst of winter, 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. — Charity, however, induced me to throw my mantle over an old man, lying almost naked, on a bleak common in Poland. — At length night and darkness overtook me; no village was to be seen: and the country was covered with snow — Tired, I alighted, and fastened my horse to something like a pointed stump of a tree, which appeared above the snow; and lay down on the snow, where I slept so soundly, that I did not open my eyes till full day-light. — Conceive my astonishment, to find myself in the midst of a village, lying in a church yard, — My horse was not 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: the village had been covered with snow over night; a sudden thaw had taken place; I had sunk down gently to the church yard as the snow had melted away; and what in the dark I had taken to be a stump of a tree, appearing above the snow, proved to have been the weather-cock of the steeple! I took one of my pistols, shot the bridle in two, brought down the horse, and proceeded on my journey.
I was at Count Przobosky’s noble country-seat in Lithuania; and being at tea, I remained with the ladies in the drawing-room, while the gentlemen were down in the yard, to see a young horse of blood, which was just arrived from the stud. — We heard a noise! I hastened down stairs, and found the horse so unruly, that nobody durst approach or mount him. — At one leap, I was on his back, took him by surprise, and worked him quite into gentleness and obedience. To show my horsemanship to the ladies, I forced him to leap in at one of the windows of the drawing-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 style which was exceedingly pleasing to the ladies; for he performed them amazingly well and did not break a single cup or saucer! The noble Lord, with his usual politeness, begged I would accept of this young horse, and ride him to conquest and honor, in the campaign against the Turks, which was soon to be opened, under the command of Count Munich.
Some years before my beard announced approaching manhood, I expressed a strong desire of seeing the world, from which I was discouraged by my parents. — A cousin, by my mother’s side, took a liking to me, 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, and we sailed from Amsterdam. — The only circumstance which happened on our voyage worth notice, was the wonderful effects of a storm, which had torn up by the roots a great number of trees of enormous bulk, that had been carried by the wind so 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 perpendicular 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 on its branches, gathering cucumbers, which here grow on trees! The weight of this couple, as the tree descended, overbalanced 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, to the great joy of the inhabitants!
On my return to England, I had occasion to go down to Wapping to see some goods shipped for Hamburgh: after that, I took the Tower Wharf in my way back. I was so much fatigued, that I stepped into one of the cannon to compose me, where I fell fast asleep. This was about noon; it was the fourth of June: at one o’clock, The cannon were discharged in memory of the day; and I was shot over the houses, on the opposite side of the river, into a farmer’s yard, where I fell upon a large hay-stack, without waking, and continued there, in a sound sleep, til hay became so extravagantly dear, (which was about three months after,) that the farmer found it his interest to send his whole stock to market: The stack I was reposing upon, was the largest in the yard, containing above 500 load; they began to cut that first. I waked, with the voices of the people, who had ascended the ladders to begin at the top, and got up, totally ignorant of my situation: In attempting to run away, I fell on the farmer to whom the hay belonged, and broke his neck, yet received no injury myself!
Thus, have I related the most interesting part of my adventures.