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To my Young Readers

When I was younger I seldom read "Forewords" or even
"Afterwords " to the books I hoped to enjoy, or, having read,
had enjoyed. My habit was to think that authors deprived me
of pages that might have been much more interestingly used.
In fact, I considered prefatory pages and introductions a waste
of paper and thieves of my valuable time. Perhaps you feel as
I once did about prosy prefaces and serious forewords. If so,
I fully understand and sympathize, but as I write these lines
I cannot help having the hope that some of you will read
them. If you do I am sure you will put something away into
your memory store that will give you what I lost as a boy, a
more complete and more worth while knowledge of this book
and others that you may read. Yes, "the preface habit" is a
good one and does more for us than we realize; besides, it is a
rather pleasant way to take a peep into the real inside of the
Author's head and heart.

I believe a short story of the book, Munchausen, its author,
and those who contributed to the Baron s Adventures, will in-
terest you ; besides, I have a feeling of responsibility in the
matter, thinking it only right that you should be admitted
into a mystery that has always surrounded the stories gathered
for you in this book.

For many years there was much uncertainty as to the au-



thorship of The Travels of Baron Munchausen, and as to its
object there were many differences of opinion. It is not for
me to awaken discussion long forgotten ; therefore all I shall
do is give you those opinions that are most reliable and from
sources that are within my own reach.

In 1 85 1 a London literary sheet called Notes and Queries
said, " The Travels of Baron Munchausen was written to ridicule
Mr. James Bruce, an Abyssinian explorer and traveler whose
adventures at that time were thought to be fictitious." It is
doubtful, however, if this reason for Munchausen is true, for in
my own library I have a two-volume edition of Munchausen
published by Kearsley in 1792—93, the first volume of which
contains engravings marked as follows, " Published as the Act
directs for G. Kearsley at No. 46, in Fleet Street, London,
1786." This date was four years before Mr. Bruce' s Travels
appeared. I am telling you this not as something of great
importance to the why and wherefore of Munchausen, but
rather as an interesting bit of knowledge you may use when
you come to read the original editions of the book.

As to the authorship of the work there is now no doubt, for
it is known that at least Chapters II, III, IV, V, and VI were
written by Rudolf Erich Raspe, 1 and, as my old edition of
1792-93 says in the Editor's preface, "the rest are the pro-
duction of another pen, written in the Baron's manner."

From this you will see that Raspe was the original fabri-

1 In this edition of the Baron's adventures the original chapters by
Raspe are represented by Chapters II, III, IV, V, and XIX.


cator, who, with five chapters, inspired another and probably
many others to build up two volumes of lies that have come
to be considered the last word in fibbing, and classics of mon-
strous imagination. In the book I give you, the five famous
chapters stand just as they appeared in the early editions save
for such editing as seemed wise for me to make. It will be
interesting for you to compare these chapters with those
"written by another in the Baron's manner."

There have been many editions of Munchausen, and those
in the German have all sorts of added adventures, but those I
have included in this book of yours are made entirely from
the only authentic source, the early English editions.

The Author, Rudolf Erich Raspe, was born in Hanover in
1737. He became a brilliant scholar and student of natural
history and a great judge of antique jewelry. As the years
passed, he grew to be a greater scamp than scholar, and his
fondness for old jewelry led him to steal a collection from his
employer; hence, in 1775 we see him a fugitive from justice,
working his talents in England. In that country he lived by his
brains, of which he had a plenty, and by his wits, which got
him into frequent trouble. After years of honest writing and
questionable uses of his wit, we find that he "salted," or scat-
tered, valuable minerals on the estate of Sir John Sinclair. This
kind and ever hopeful old baronet was successfully tolled along
for a good but dangerous living for some time. The day came,
however, when Raspe was caught in his "salting," but he was
a bird that feared his own salt, and away he flew to Ireland,


where he died at Muckross in 1794. I should like to moral-
ize a little right here with you upon the subject of ill-used
talents and the evil thereof, but as you will do all that is nec-
essary yourselves, why should I philosophize ?

During his life Raspe was never known to be the originator
of Munchausen. Until 1 824 one August Burger, a German and
translator only of Raspe's tales, allowed it to be understood that
he was the author, but in due time it fell to Burger's lot to
die, and his biographer let the cat out of the bag, much to the
annoyance of friends who thought it best to leave well enough
alone. I have no doubt that you will sometime have it said
to you that Munchausen first appeared in German, but do not
let that bother you; just say, "How about that edition of
1792-93 published in London by G. Kearsley?"

As to my part in making this book for you, I claim nothing
save a very sincere desire to arrange a book that you will love
and value and, above all, one that is right for you to use until
you are old enough to read and understand the quaint old
editions. (I wish you might then use one of mine, as I have

I have left for you all the Baron's exact words and manners
with the connection of the tales, only cutting out vulgarities
common to a time when a spade was a spade too often to make
proper reading. Cruelties I have omitted, for these are unnec-
essary to the interest of the stories. When long political dis-
cussions and the Baron's tiresome boasts arose, I ruthlessly
reduced their length, for they add no color or punch to ad-


venture. The second volume of my old edition I have written
down to a few chapters, for I cannot understand it, to say
nothing of getting enjoyment out of it.

In this book I have tried to give you a Munchausen that pre-
serves the style and spirit of the original writing so that one
day you will read the older renderings easily and familiarly
and with real enjoyment and knowledge.

Finally, I sincerely hope that I have given you a book that
will add to your joy and inspire you to a love of those classic
tales that round out your literary taste and judgment.
Always your sincere friend,



Chapter I. The Baron compliments his young Readers — He
begins an account of his travels — An astonishing storm and
its strange effect — He arrives at Ceylon, battles with, and
conquers, two extraordinary opponents — Returns to Hol-
land and is honorably rewarded I

Chapter II. In which the Baron makes a good shot — He loses
his horse, but finds a wolf — Uses a wolf in place of a horse —
The Baron promises his young Readers further wonderful
adventures 1 1

Chapter III. The Baron's nose, a door-post, and a new variety
of fireworks — With one shot marvelously made the Baron
bags many ducks — He leads a blind sow home by the tail — ■
of another; and vanquishes a wild boar 17

Chapter IV. The value and great usefulness of presence of
mind — A favorite hound and its virtues — The Baron is
given a wonderful horse with which he performs remarkable
feats 23

Chapter V. The Baron is made a prisoner of war — He keeps
the Sultan's bees — He loses the bees, also loses a silver
hatchet on the horn of the moon — Brings it back by an in-
genious invention — The Baron falls to earth into a pit made
by himself — Helps himself out of the pit — Extricates him-
self from trouble by the wayside — The wonderful effects of
the frost upon his servant's French horn 33

Chapter VI. The Baron takes a bath in the Mediterranean
Sea — He meets a surprising companion and hurries unex-
pectedly into heat and darkness — The Baron dances a horn-


pipe with great success — He gives his deliverers a shock and

a surprise and returns to shore 41

Chapter VII. The Baron's adventures in Turkey, and upon
the river Nile — He sees a balloon over Constantinople;
shoots at and brings it down; finds an aerial traveler hanging
from it — The Baron goes to Cairo on a secret mission and
returns by way of the Nile — He is thrown into an unex-
pected dilemma and detained six weeks 47

Chapter VIII. The Baron crosses the Thames without bridge
or boat or balloon or even his own will — He rouses from a
long nap — He destroys a monster — The Baron tells of im-
portant adventures — He visits Mount ^Etna and drops in
upon Vulcan and Cyclops — He is rudely dismissed, and falls
through the earth to the South Sea 55

Chapter IX. The Baron takes an unexpected plunge — Ar-
rives on an island of cheese, surrounded by milk — The Baron
tells of extraordinary objects — The trees pay tribute to the
Baron and his party 63

Chapter X. The Baron's ship passes between the teeth of a
fish unknown in this part of the world — They have great
difficulty in escaping from the interior regions of this monster
— They arrive in the Caspian Sea — The Baron starves a
bear — A marvelous waistcoat 71

Chapter XL The Baron pays a visit during the siege of Gibral-
tar — Sinks a Spanish man-of-war — Destroys all the ene-
my's cannon — Saves the lives of two English officers with a
marvelous sling and raises the siege 79

Chapter XII. The Baron tells more of his wonderful sling —
The Baron's father narrates adventures with a sea-horse — A
deadly battle between lobsters and crabs — The Baron's


father sells his marine steed for a large sum — The Baron
makes observations of his own upon bravery 89

Chapter XIII. The Baron tells of adventures on a voyage to
North America which are worthy of his young Readers' at-
tention — The pranks of a monstrous whale — A sea-gull
saves the life of a sailor — The Baron's head is forced amid-
ships — The Baron stops a serious leak in an unusual manner 95

Chapter XIV. The Baron tells of a frolic — Saint Paul's clock
strikes thirteen — Windsor Castle — College of Physicians
— Undertakers, sextons, and apothecaries almost ruined 101

Chapter XV. The Baron sails with Captain Phipps, attacks
two large bears, and has a narrow escape — Gains the confi-
dence of the animals and guides them on board ship — ■ The
Baron makes many gifts and is highly honored — The Baron
acquits Captain Phipps of neglect of duty 107

Chapter XVI. Our Baron excels Baron Tott completely —
Gets into disgrace with the Grand Seignior, who orders the
Baron's head to be removed — The Baron escapes and gets
on board a vessel bound for Venice — He dismisses Tott
from mind and from further memory 113

Chapter XVII. This is a chapter that proves the fact that the
Baron's memory ought to be dear to Englishmen, especially
those who may have the misfortune of hereafter being made
prisoners of war — A voyage eastward — The Baron intro-
duces a friend who never betrayed him — ■ Pins his faith on a
friend's nose and wins a wager — The Baron's friend points
to game in mid-ocean — The friend is fittingly rewarded 119

Chapter XVIII. The Baron visits the moon a second time —
His ship is driven by a whirlwind a thousand leagues above
the sea — • A description of the moon's inhabitants, animals,


customs, and weapons of war — ■ The Baron does not tell how
he made his return journey, but assures us of the veracity of
his narrative 125

Chapter XIX. The Baron tells of Saint Hubert's stag —
Shoots a stag with cherry-stones — Tells of venison steak and
cherry-sauce — Overcomes a bear in a miraculous manner —
Is attacked by a terrible wolf, which he promptly disposes of

— Is assailed by a mad dog — The Baron's best cloak is
seized with madness 133

Chapter XX. The Baron visits a ruined tower — Discovers a
deep chasm and investigates its mysteries — An eagle carries
him off his feet — A marvelous flight over the English Chan-
nel and France to the Rock of Gibraltar — A night flight
overseas to South America 141

Chapter XXI. The Baron continues his extraordinary journey

— Comes to South America — He discovers roast beef fruit
and escapes from a savage beast in a remarkable manner —
The Baron takes aboard ample provisions and continues his
aerial journey 149

Chapter XXII. The Baron insists upon the veracity of his
Memoirs — He forms a design of making discoveries in the
interior parts of Africa — He calls upon his illustrious friend,
Hilaro Frosticos — The Baron prepares for his journey —
Description of his chariot : the beauties and comforts of the
marvelous vehicle; the animals that drew it and the mechan-
ism of its wheels — Brief advice to young adventurers seek-
ing to follow the Baron's glorious career — The Baron con-
voys a squadron to Gibraltar — His chariot is damaged by
Pompey's Pillar — He splits a great rock at the Cape of
Good Hope and thereby names a mountain 159


Chapter XXIII. The Baron leaves his chariot at the Cape of
Good Hope and returns by ship to England — Wrecked on an
island of ice — The Baron and crew tow the island back to
England- — The Privy Council supports another expedition
— Description of the vehicle and the Sphinx — The Baron's
retinue starts upon the journey into the heart of Africa 169

Chapter XXIV. The Baron passes into the heart of Africa,
proceeding from the Cape northwards — His ingenuity de-
feats a host of lions by a curious stratagem — The Baron
travels through an immense desert — His company, chariot,
etc., are covered by a whirlwind of sand — He extricates his
party and arrives in a fertile country of great beauty 175

Adieu 184



Colored frontispiece

The Head of the Lion stuck in the Throat of the
Crocodile 8

He had, of course, eaten his Way into my Beast's
Harness (in color) 16

His Tusks pierced the Tree 20

My Work was to drive the Sultan's Bees to their
Pasture-Grounds 36


With Great Difficulty we cut open One of these Eggs 68

Our Ship, with all Masts standing and with Sails Full
Set, was drawn straight into his Mouth (in color) 74

Squeezed them both so that he cried out lustily 76

He galloped across the Sea's Bottom (in color) 92

I slaughtered the Creatures one by one (in color) 1 10


At last the Birds rose with Great Speed and Vigor
(in color) 154


The Baron compliments his young Readers — He begins
an account of his travels — An astonishing storm and
its strange effect — He arrives at Ceylon; battles with,
and conquers, two extraordinary opponents — Returns
to Holland and is honorably rewarded





AM sure the young Readers for
whom I am especially writing my
many and varied adventures will
look upon these opening words with
favor and belief when I say that I
was of very tender years when one
of my most remarkable experiences
came to me. Being certain of your
attention and sympathy, no matter how unjustly I may
be slandered by those of mature years, I shall proceed
with my true and remarkable narrative.

Some years before my beard foreshadowed coming
manhood, — in fact, when I was neither man nor boy, but
rather a little of both, — I had a strong desire to see the
world. In this very natural and even commendable am-
bition I was discouraged by my parents. A cousin of my
mothers, however, took a liking to me, and, after re-


marking that I was a fine and eager youth, was inclined
to gratify my not unworthy desire for adventure. My
cousin's eloquence had more effect than mine, and my
father agreed to my sailing with him on a voyage to the
Island of Ceylon where my great-uncle had resided as
governor for many years. I was indeed pleased to be so
flattered by my respected parent, who proved thereby
his respect for my desires and ambitions.

We sailed from Amsterdam with all fitting sanction
and approval from the States of Holland. The only
thing worth telling you which happened on our voyage
was the wonderful effect of a storm we encountered.
When lying at anchor near an island where we had taken
in wood and water, the gale struck us. Such was its
terrific force that it tore up by the roots great numbers
of trees of enormous bulk and height. 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. These trees
were hurled at least five miles from the earth. However,
as soon as the storm subsided, they all fell straight down
into the places from which they had been torn, and took
root immediately.

One only, and that the largest tree, fell elsewhere. It


happened, when blown into the air, to have a man and
his wife (a very honest old couple) upon its branches.
This couple had been gathering cucumbers which grew
in great abundance thereon. In this part of the globe,
that useful vegetable grows upon trees. The imposing
weight of this worthy couple overbalanced the tree as it
descended, and brought it down in a horizontal position.
With great force it fell upon the chief man of the island
and killed him on the spot. This person had quitted
his house in the storm, having an idea that another place
might be a safer retreat. As he hastened through his own
vegetable garden, this fortunate accident happened.

The word fortunate requires some explanation here,
for I would not give my young readers an impression
of indifference to the calamities of others. It must be
said that this chief was a man of very avaricious and
oppressive disposition, and, though he had no family to
make miserable, the natives were half starved by his
unjust and infamous impositions. He was commonly
known to exact rentals far beyond the means of his ten-
ants, and then what remained of their scanty savings was
paid out for bread of poor quality, sold by him at a
tenfold profit. Great stores of goods taken from the
wretched natives were spoiling in his warehouses while


his plundered victims were pining in poverty. Though
the destruction of this tyrant was accidental, such acci-
dents may be justly called fortunate. At least, the acci-
dent was so considered by the natives of the island, who
immediately chose the cucumber-gatherers for their
governors, as a mark of gratitude for thus ridding them
of their late tyrant by means so accidental.

After we had repaired the damage caused by the
storm, and taken respectful 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.

Though of no great importance compared with other
of my experiences, the following singular adventure may
prove interesting to young people of lively wits and
active imagination.

After we had resided at Ceylon about a fortnight, I
accompanied a brother of the governor upon a shooting
party. He was a strong, athletic man, and, being used
to that climate, he bore the violent heat of the sun much
better than I. In our excursion he had made consider-
able progress through the thick wood when I was only
at the entrance.


Near the banks of a large body of water which held
my attention, I thought I heard a rustling noise behind
me. On facing about I was almost turned to stone at
the sight of a lion, which was evidently approaching
with the selfish intention of satisfying his appetite upon
my poor carcass, and that without asking my consent.
What was to be done in this horrible dilemma? I had
not even a moment for thinking the matter over. My
gun was only loaded with swan-shot, and I had no
heavier lead about me. However, though I could have
no idea of killing such an animal with this poor ammu-
nition, yet I had some hopes of frightening him by the
report. I therefore let fly without waiting till he was
within reach. The report did but enrage the beast, for
he now quickened his pace and came at me full speed.
I tried to escape, but this only added to my distress, for
the moment I turned about I found a large crocodile with
open jaws ready to receive me. On the right hand was
the body of water before mentioned, and on my left a
deep precipice, at the bottom of which venomous crea-
tures gathered in great numbers. In short, I gave myself
up for lost, for the lion was now upon his hind legs in
the act of seizing me. I stumbled and fell to the ground
with fear, and the ravenous creature sprang over me.


There I lay in a situation which no language can
describe, expecting each terrific moment to feel his teeth
or claws in some part of my person. After waiting in
this prostrate situation for what seemed a very long
time, I heard a loud but strange noise, different from
any sound that had ever attacked my ears ; nor is this at
all to be wondered at, when I tell you whence it pro-
ceeded. Venturing to raise my head, I looked about,
and to my great joy I perceived the lion, in his eager-
ness to dine upon me, had sprung over my prostrate
carcass, clean into the crocodiled jaws, which, as I have
told you, were wide open I The head of the lion stuck
in the throat of the crocodile, and each was now strug-
gling to be rid of the other ! I fortunately remembered
my couteau de chasse (hunting-knife) which was at my
side ; with this I cut ofT the lion's head at one blow !
This was no mean feat, I assure you. Then, with the
butt of my fowling-piece, I assisted the lion's head far-
ther into the throat of the crocodile. As the creature
could neither swallow nor cough up this morsel, he in-
stantly died of suffocation.

When I had thus gained this complete victory over
my two powerful adversaries, my companion arrived in
search of me. After mutual congratulations, we mea-



sured the crocodile, which was just forty feet in length.
As soon as I had told this strange and hazardous ad-
venture to the governor, he sent a wagon and servants
who brought home the two carcasses. The lion's skin
was properly preserved with its hair on, after which it
was made into tobacco pouches and presented by me,
upon my return to Holland, to the Burgomasters. In
return for my generous gifts, I was requested to accept
a thousand ducats.

The skin of the crocodile was stuffed in the usual
manner and makes a capital article in the public mu-
seum at Amsterdam, where the exhibitor relates the
whole story to each visitor, with such additions as he
thinks proper. Some of these twistings of the strict truth
are rather surprising. One of them is that the lion
jumped quite through the crocodile, from jaw to tail
tip, and as the lion's head appeared on its hurried jour-
ney, the Great Baron cut it off taking at least three feet
of the crocodile's tail along with it. And, alas, so little
respect has this fellow for the truth that he sometimes
adds that as soon as the crocodile missed his tail, he turned
upon the Brave Baron, seized the hunting-knife from

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Online LibraryJohn MartinThe Children's munchausen → online text (page 1 of 7)