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

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As soon as the Baron had related the last story he retired, and left the company much diverted and in good spirit. After each man had expressed himself as he thought proper upon the extraordinary entertainment he had given them, one of the company, a near relation, who attended him on the last journey to Turkey, observed, that near Constantinople they have an amazing piece of ordnance, of which Baron Tott in his Memoirs, lately published, take particular notice. What he says of it, 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 itʼs 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 hundred weight. 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 an 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 Tottʼs account of the largest cannon in the known world. Now when Baron Munchausen and I was there not long since, the anecdote of Tottʼs firing this tremendous piece was mentioned as a proof of that gentlemanʼs extraordinary courage.

My friend Munchausen, who was determined not to be out-done 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 he unfortunately attempted to throw it back into itʼs former place: I say unfortunately, for it slipped a little in his hand, just as he was going to discharge it, and in consequence of that, it fell into the middle of the channel, where it now lies, without a prospect of ever recovering it, and, notwithstanding the high favour he was in with the Grand Seignior, as mentioned in the last story, this cruel Turk, as soon as he heard of the loss of his famous piece of ordnance, issued an order to cut off the Barons head. He was immediately informed of it by one of the Sultanas, with whom he was become a great favourite, and she secreted him in her apartment while the officer charged with his execution was, with his assistants, in search of him.

That very night we both made our escape on board a vessel bound to Venice, which was then weighing anchor to proceed on her voyage.

R3, S. 108-113



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