Rudolf Erich Raspe: Gulliver revived, London 1786 (R3)

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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 Seigniorʼs 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 was 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 aerial 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 Landʼs 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 Seigniorʼs 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, he might, like Mahomet, have been suspended between heaven and earth till doomsday.” The car he generously gave to my bargemaster who was in the steerage; the mutton he threw into the sea; as to the balloon, it was rent to pieces in its rapid fall, in consequence of the damage I had done it.

R3, S. 61-66



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