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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Erich Raspe (1736–1794)

The Frozen Tunes

From “Adventures of Baron Münchausen”

PEACE having been concluded with the Turks, and I 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 Münnich, 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 greater inconveniences on the road than those I had experienced on my setting out.

I traveled post, and finding myself in a narrow lane, bade the postilion give a signal with his horn, that other travelers might not meet us in the narrow passage. He blew with all his might. But his endeavors 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 possibility of 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, harnessed them, and went on to the 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 jump over the hedge, he expressed a 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 postilion and I refreshed ourselves. He hung his horn on a peg near the kitchen fire. I sat on the other side.

Suddenly we heard a Tereng-tereng-teng-teng! We looked round, and now found the reason why the postilion 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 good fellow entertained us for some time by a variety of tunes, without putting his mouth to the horn, such as The King of Prussia’s March, Up Hill and Down Dale, and many other favorite airs.

Some travelers are apt to relate more than is perhaps strictly true. If any of the company entertain a doubt of my veracity, I shall only say to such that I pity their want of faith.