Excerpts from A Voyage To The Moon

by Cyrano de Bergerac

also titled: The Comical History of the States and Empires of the World of the Moon

Chapter I: Of how the Voyage was Conceived.

I Had been with some Friends at Clamard, a House near Paris, and magnificently Entertain'd there by Monsieur de Cuigy[1], the Lord of it; when upon our return home, about Nine of the Clock at Night, the air serene, and the Moon in the Full, the Contemplation of that bright Luminary furnished us with such variety of Thoughts as made the way seem shorter than, indeed, it was. Our Eyes being fixed upon that stately Planet, every one spoke with what he thought of it: One would needs have it be a Garret Window of Heaven; another presently affirmed, That it was the Pan whereupon Diana smoothed Apollo's Bands; whilst another was of Opinion, That it might very well be the Sun himself, who putting his Locks up under his Cap at Night, peeped through a hole to observe what was doing in the World during his absence.

"And for my part, Gentlemen,", said I, "that I may put in for a share, and guess with the rest; not to amuse myself with those curious Notions wherewith you tickle and spur on slow-paced Time; I believe, that the Moon is a World like ours, to which this of ours serves likewise for a Moon."

This was received with the general Laughter of the Company. "And perhaps," said I, "(Gentlemen) just so they laugh now in the Moon, at some who maintain, That this Globe, where we are, is a World." But I'd as good have said nothing, as have alledged to them, That a great many Learned Men had been of the same Opinion; for that only made them laugh the faster.

However, this though, which because of its boldness suted my Humor, being confirmed by Contradiction, sunk so deep into my mind, that during the rest of the way I was big with Definitions of the Moon which I could not be delivered of: Insomuch that by striving to verifie this Comical Fancy by Reasons of appearing weight, I had almost perswaded my self already of the truth on't; when a Miracle, Accident, Providence, Fortune, or what, perhaps, some may call Vision, others Fiction, Whimsey, or (if you will) Folly, furnished me with an occasion that engaged me into this Discourse. Being come home, I went up into my Closet, where I found a Book open upon the Table, which I had not put there. It was a piece of Cardanus [2]; and though I had no design to read in it, yet I fell at first sight, as by force, exactly upon a Passage of that Philosopher where he tells us, That Studying one evening by Candle-light, he perceived Two tall old Men enter through the door that was shut, who after many questions that he put to them, made him answer, That they were Inhabitants of the Moon, and thereupon immediately disappeared.

I was so surprised, not only to see a Book get thither of it self; but also because of the nicking of the Time so patly, and of the Page at which it lay upon, that I looked upon that Concatenation of Accidents as a Revelation, discovering to Mortals that the Moon is a World. "How!" said I to my self, having just now talked of such a thing, can a Book, which perhaps is the only Book in the World that treats of that matter so particularly, fly down from the Shelf upon my Table; become capable of Reason, in opening so exactly at the place of so strange an adventure; force my Eyes in a manner to look upon it, and then to suggest to my fancy the Reflexions, and to my Will the Designs which I hatch.

"Without doubt," continued I, "the Two old Men, who appeared to that famous Philosopher, are the very same who have taken down my Book and opened it at that Page, to save themselves the labour of making to me the Harangue which they made to Cardan . But," added I, "I cannot be resolved of this Doubt, unless I mount up thither."

"And why not?" said I instantly to my self. " Prometheus heretofore went up to Heaven, and stole fire from thence. Have not I as much Boldness as he? And why should not I, then, expect as favourable a Success?"

Chapter II: Of how the Author set out, and where he first arrived.

After these sudden starts of Imagination, which may be termed, perhaps, the ravings of a violent Feaver, I began to conceive some hopes of succeeding in so fair a Voyage: Insomuch that to take my measures aright, I shut my self up in a solitary Country-house; where having flattered my fancy with some means, proportioned to my design, at length I set out for Heaven in this manner.

I planted my self in the middle of a great many Glasses full of Dew, tied fast about me[3], upon which the Sun so violently darted his Rays, that the Heat, which attracted them, as it does the thickest Clouds, carried me up so high, that at length I found my self above the middle Region of the Air. But seeing that Attraction hurried me up with so much rapidity that instead of drawing near the Moon, as I intended, she seem'd to me to be more distant than at my first setting out; I broke several of my Vials, until I found my weight exceed the force of the Attraction, and that I began to descend again towards the Earth. I was not mistaken in my opinion, for some time after I fell to the ground again; and to reckon from the hour that I set out at, it must then have been about midnight. Nevertheless I found the Sun to be in the Meridian, and that it was Noon. I leave it to you to judge, in what Amazement I was; the Truth is, I was so strangely surprised, that not knowing what to think of that Miracle, I had the insolence to imagine that in favour of my Boldness God had once more nailed the Sun to the Firmament, to light so generous[4] an Enterprise. That which encreased my Astonishment was, That I knew not the Country where I was; it seemed to me, that having mounted straight up, I should have fallen down again in the same place I parted from.

However, in the Equipage I was in, I directed my course towards a kind of Cottage, where I perceived some smoke; and I was not above a Pistol-shot from it, when I saw my self environed by a great number of People, stark naked: they seemed to be exceedingly surprised at the sight of me; for I was the first (as I think) that had ever seen clad in Bottles. Nay, and to baffle all the Interpretations that they could put upon that Equipage, they perceived that I hardly touched the ground as I walked; for, indeed, they understood not that upon the least agitation I gave my Body the Heat of the beams of the Noon-Sun raised me up with my Dew; and that if I had Vials enough about me, it would possible have carried me up into the Air in their view. I had a mind to have spoken to them; but as if Fear had changed them into Birds, immediately I lost sight of them in an adjoyning Forest. However, I catched hold of one, whose Legs had, without doubt, betrayed his Heart. I asked him, but with a great deal of pain, (for I was quite choked) how far they reckoned from thence to Paris ? How long Men had gone naked in France ? and why they had fled from me in so great Consternation? The Man I spoke to was an old tawny Fellow, who presently fell at my Feet, and with lifted-up Hands joyned behind his Head, opened his Mouth and shut his Eyes: He mumbled a long while between his Teeth, but I could not distinguish an articulate Word; so that I took his Language for the maffling[5] noise of a Dumb-man.

Some time after, I saw a Company of Souldiers marching, with Drums beating; and I perceived Two detached from the rest, to come and take speech of me. When they were come within hearing, I asked them, Where I was? "You are in France ," answered they: "But what Devil hath put you into that Dress? And how comes it that we know you not? Is the Fleet then arrived? Are you going to carry the News of it to the Governor? And why have you divided your Brandy into so many Bottles?" To all this I made answer, That the Devil had not put me into that Dress: That they knew me not; because they could not know all Men: That I knew nothing of the Seine's carrying Ships to Paris : That I had no news for the Marshal de l'Hospital [6], and that I was not loaded with Brandy. "Ho, ho," said they to me, taking me by the Arm, "you are a merry Fellow indeed; come, the Governor will make a shift to know you, no doubt on't."

They led me to their Company, where I learnt that I was in reality in France , but that it was in New-France : So that some time after, I was presented before the Governor, who asked me my Country, my Name and Quality; and after that I had satisfied him in all Points, and told him the pleasant Success of my Voyage, whether he believed it, or only pretended to do so, he had the goodness to order me a Chamber in his Apartment. I was very happy, in meeting with a Man capable of lofty Opinions, and who was not at all surprised when I told him that the Earth must needs have turned during my Elevation; seeing that having begun to mount about Two Leagues from Paris, I was fallen, as it were, by a perpendicular Line in Canada.

Chapter IV: Of how at last he set out again for the Moon, who without his own Will.

Next Day, and the Days following, we had some Discourses to the same purpose: But some time after, since the hurry of Affairs suspended our Philosophy, I fell afresh upon the design of mounting up to the Moon.

So soon as she was up, I walked about musing in the Woods, how I might manage and succeed in my Enterprise; and at length on St. John's [7] Eve, when they were at Council in the Fort, whether they should assist the Wild Natives of the Country against the Iroqueans ; I went all alone to the top of a little Hill at the back of our Habitation, where I put in Practice what you shall hear. I had made a Machine which I fancied might carry me up as high as I pleased, so that nothing seeming to be wanting to it, I place my self within, and from the Top of a Rock threw my self in the Air: But because I had not taken my measures aright, I fell with a sosh in the Valley below.

Bruised as I was, however, I returned to my Chamber without loosing courage, and with Beef-Marrow I anointed my Body, for I was all over mortified from Head to Foot: Then having taken a dram of Cordial Waters to strengthen my Heart, I went back to look for my Machine; but I could not find it, for some Soldiers, that had been sent into the Forest to cut wood for a Bonefire, meeting with it by chance, had carried it with them to the Fort: Where after a great deal of guessing what it might be, when they had discovered the invention of the Spring, some said, that a good many Fire-Works should be fastened to it, because their Force carrying them up on high, and the Machine playing its large Wings, no Body but would take it for a Fiery Dragon. In the mean time I was long in search of it, but found it at length in the Market-place of Kebeck (Quebec), just as they were setting Fire to it. I was so transported with Grief, to find the Work of my Hands in so great Peril, that I ran to the Souldier that was giving Fire to it, caught hold of his Arm, pluckt the Match out of his Hand, and in great rage threw my self into my Machine, that I might undo the Fire-Works that they had stuck about it; but I came too late, for hardly were both my Feet within, when whip, away went I up in a Cloud.

The Horror and Consternation I was in did not so confound the faculties of my Soul, but I have since remembered all that happened to me at that instant. For so soon as the Flame had devoured one tier of Squibs, which were ranked by six and six, by means of a Train that reached every half-dozen, another tier went off, and then another[8], so that the Salt-Peter taking Fire, put off the danger by encreasing it. However, all the combustible matter being spent, there was a period put to the Fire-work; and whilst I thought of nothing less than to knock my Head against the top of some Mountain, I felt, without the least stirring, my elevation continuing; and adieu Machine, for I saw it fall down again towards the Earth.

That extraordinary Adventure puffed up my Heart with so uncommon a Gladness; that, ravished to see my self delivered from certain danger, I had the impudence to philosophize upon I t. Whilst then with Eyes and Thought I cast about to find what might be the cause of it, I perceived my flesh blown up, and still greasy with the Marrow, that I had daubed my self over with for the Bruises of my fall: I knew that the Moon being then in the Wain, and that it being usual for her in that Quarter to suck up the Marrow of Animals, she drank up that wherewith I was anointed, with so much the more force that her Globe was nearer to me, and that no interposition of Clouds weakened her Attraction[9].

When I had, according to the computation I made since, advanced a good deal more than three quarters of the space that divided the Earth from the Moon; all of a sudden I fell with my Heels up and Head down, though I had made no Trip; and indeed, I had not been sensible of it, had not I felt my Head loaded under the weight of my Body: The truth is, I knew very well that I was not falling again towards our World; for though I found my self to be betwixt two Moons, and easily observed, that the nearer I drew to the one, the farther I removed from the other; yet I was certain, that ours was the bigger Globe of the two: Because after one or two days Journey, the remote Refractions of the Sun, confounding the diversity of Bodies and Climates, it appeared to me only a large Plate of Gold: That made me imaging, that I byassed[10] towards the Moon; and I was confirmed in that Opinion, when I began to call to mind, that I did not fall till I was past three quarters of the way. For, said I to my self, that Mass being less than ours, the Sphere of its Activity must be of less Extent also; and by consequence, it was later before I felt the force of its Center.

Chapter V: Of his Arrival there, and of the Beauty of that Country in which he fell.

In fine, after I had been a very long while in falling, as I judged, for the violence of my Precipitation hindered me from observing it more exactly: The last thing I can remember is, that I found myself under a Tree, entangled with three or four pretty large Branches which I had broken off by my fall; and my face besmeared with an Apple, that had dashed against it.

By good luck that place was, as you shall know by and by ******[11]. So that you may very well conclude, that had it not been for that Chance, if I had a thousand lives, they had been all lost. I have many times since reflected upon the vulgar Opinion, That if one precipitate himself from a very high place, his breath is out before he reach the ground; and from my adventure I conclude it to be false, or else that the efficacious Juyce of that Fruit[12], which squirted into my mouth, must needs have recalled my soul, that was not far from my Carcass, which was still hot and in a disposition of exerting the Functions of Life. The truth is, so soon as I was upon the ground my pain was gone, before I could think what it was; and the Hunger, which I felt during my Voyage, was fully satisfied with the sense that I had lost it[13].

When I was got up, I had hardly taken notice of the largest of Four great Rivers, which by their conflux make a Lake; when the Spirit, or invisible Soul, of Plants that breath upon that Country, refreshed my Brain with a delightful smell: And I found that the Stones there were neither hard nor rough; but that they carefully softened themselves when one trode upon them.

[14]I presently lighted upon a Walk with five Avenues, in figure like to a Star; the Trees whereof seemed to reach up to the Skie, a green plot of lofty Boughs: Casting up my Eyes from the root to the top, and then making the same Survey downwards, I was in doubt whether the Earth carried them, or they the Earth, hanging by their Roots: Their high and stately Forehead seemed also to bend, as it were by force, under the weight of the Celestial Globes; and one would say, that their Sighs and outstretched Arms, wherewith they embraced the Firmament, demanded of the Stars the bounty of their purer Influences before they had lost any thing of their Innocence in the contagious Bed of the Elements. The Flowers there on all hands, without the aid of any other Gardiner but Nature, send out so sweet (though wild) a Perfume, that it rouzes and delights the Smell: There the incarnate of a Rose upon the Bush, and the lively Azure of a Violet under the Rushes, captivating the Choice, make each of themselves to be judged the Fairest: There the whole Year is Spring; there no poysonous Plant sprouts forth, but is as soon destroyed; there the Brooks by an agreeable murmuring, relate their Travels to the Pebbles; there Thousands of Quiristers make the Woods resound with their melodius Notes; and the quavering Clubs of these divine Musicians are so universal, that every Leaf of the Forest seems to have borrowed the Tongue and shape of a Nightingale; nay, and the Nymph Eccho is so delightful[15] with their Airs, that to hear her repeat, one would say, She were sollicitous to learn them. On the sides of that Wood are Two Meadows, whose continued Verdure seems an Emerald reaching out of sight. The various Colours, which the Spring bestows upon the numerous little Flowers that grow there, so delightfully confounds and mingles their Shadows, that it is hard to be known, whether these Flowers shaken with a gentle Breeze pursue themselves, or fly rather from the Caresses of the Wanton Zephyrus ; one would likewise take that Meadow for an Ocean, because, as the Sea, it presents no Shoar to the view; insomuch, that mine Eye fearing it might lose it self, having roamed so long, and discovered no Coast, sent my Thoughts, imagining it to be the end of the World, were willing to be perswaded, that such charming places had perhaps forced the Heavens to descend and join the Earth there. In the midst of that vast and pleasant Carpet, a rustick Fountain bubbles up in Silver Purles, crowning its enamelled Banks with Sets of Violets, and multitudes of other little Flowers, that seem to strive which shall first behold it self in that Chrystal Myrroir: It is as yet in the Cradle, being by newly Born, and its Young and smooth Face shews not the least Wrinkle. The large Compasses it fetches, in circling within it self, demonstrate its unwillingness to leave its native Soyl: And as if it had been ashamed to be caressed in presence of its Mother, with a Murmuring it thrust back my hand that would have touched it: The Beasts that came to drink there, more rational than those of our World, seemed surprised to see it day upon the Horizon, whilst the Sun was with the Antipodes ; and durst not bend downwards upon the Brink, for fear of falling into the Firmament.

I must confess to you, That at the sight of so many Fine things, I found my self tickled with these agreeable Twitches, which they say the Embryo feels upon the infusion of its Soul: My old Hair fell off, and gave place for thicker and softer Locks: I perceived my Youth revived, my face grow ruddy, my natural Heat mingle gently again with my radical Moisture: And in a word, I grew younger again by at least Fourteen Years.

Chapter VI: Of a Youth whom he met there, and of their Conversation: what that country was, and the Inhabitants of it.

I had advanced half a League, through a Forest of Jessamines and Myrtles, when I perceived something that stirred, lying in the Shade: It was a Youth, whose Majestick Beauty forced me almost to Adoration. He started up to hinder me, crying, "It is not to me but to God that you owe these Humilities." "You see one," answered I, "stunned with so many Wonders that I know what to admire most; for coming from a World, which without doubt you take for a Moon here, I thought I had arrived in another, which our Worldlings call a Moon also; and behold I am in Paradice at the Feet of a God, who will not be Adored." "Except the quality[16] of a God," replied he, "whose Creature I only am, the rest you say is true: This Land is the Moon, which you see from your Globe, and this place where you are is **********"[17].

"Now at that time Man's Imagination was so strong, as not being as yet corrupted, neither by Debauches, the Crudity of Ailments, nor the alterations of Diseases, that being excited by a violent desire of coming to this Sanctuary, and his Body becoming light through the heat of this Inspiration; he was carried thither in the same manner, as some Philosophers, who having fixed their Imagination upon the contemplation of a certain Object have sprung up in the Air by Ravishments, which you call Extasies. The Woman, who through the infirmity of her Sex was weaker and less hot, could not, without doubt, have the imagination strong enough to make the Intension of her Will prevail over the Ponderousness of her Matter; but because there were very few **** the Sympathy which still united that half to its whole[18], drew her towards him as he mounted up, as the Amber attracts the Straw, [as] the Load-stone turns towards the North from whence it hath been taken, and drew to him that part of himself, as the Sea draws the Rivers which proceed from it. When they arrived in your Earth, they dwelt betwixt Mesopotamia and Arabia [19]: Some People knew them by the name of ****[20], and others under that of Prometheus , whom the Poets feigned to have stolen Fire from Heaven, by reason of his Off-spring, who were endowed with a Soul as perfect as his own: So that to inhabit your World, that Man left this destitute; but the All-wise would not have so blessed an Habitation, to remain without Inhabitants; He suffered a few ages after that **************[21] cloyed with the company of Men, whose Innocence was corrupted, had a desire to forsake them. This person[22], however, thought no retreat secure enough from the Ambition of Men, who already Murdered one another about the distribution of your World; except that blessed Land, which his Grand-Father[23] had so often mentioned unto him, and to which no Body has as yet found out the way: But his Imagination supplied that; for seeing he has observed that *** he filled Two large Vessels which he sealed Hermetically, and fastened them under his Arm-pits: So soon as the Smoak began to rise upwards, and could not pierce through the Mettal, it forced up the Vessels on high, and with them also that Great Man[24]. When he was got as high as the Moon, and had cast his Eyes upon that lovely Garden, a fit of almost supernatural Joy convinced him, that that was the place where his Grand-father has heretofore lived. He quickly untied the Vessels, which he had girt like Wings about his Shoulders, and did it so luckily, that he was scarcely Four Fathom in the Air above the Moon, when he set his Fins a going;[25] yet he was high enough still to have been hurt by the fall, had it not been for the large skirts of his Gown, which being swelled by the Wind, gently upheld him till he set Foot on ground.[26] As for the two Vessels, they mounted up to a certain place, where they have continued: And those are they, which now a-days you call the Balance .

"I must now tell you, the manner how I came hither: I believe you have not forgot my name,[27] seeing it is not long since I told it to you. You shall know then, that I lived on the agreeable Banks of one of the most renowned Rivers of your World, where amongst my Books, I lead a Life pleasant enough not to be lamented, though it slipt away fast enough. In the mean while, the more I encreased in Knowledge, the more I knew my Ignorance. Our Learned Men never put me in mind of the famous Mada ,[28] but the thoughts of his perfect Philosophy made me to Sigh. I was despairing of being able to attain to it, when one day, after a long and profound Studying, I took a piece of Load-stone about two Foot square, which I put into a Furnace; and then after it was well purged, precipitated and dissolved, I drew the calcined Attractive of it, and reduced it into the size of about an ordinary Bowl[29].

"After the Preparations, I got a very light Machine of Iron made, into which I went, and when I was well seated in my place, I threw this Magnetick Bowl as high as I could up into the Air. Now the Iron Machine, which I had purposely made more massive in the middle than at the ends, was presently elevated, and in a just Poise; because the middle received the greatest force of Attraction. So then, as I arrived at the place whither my Load-stone had attracted me, I presently threw up my Bowl in the Air over." [30]

"But," said I, interrupting him, "How came you to heave up your Bowl so streight over your Chariot, that it never happened to be on one side of it?" "That seems to me to be no wonder at all," said he; "for the Load-stone being once thrown up in the Air, drew the Iron streight towards it; and so it was impossible, that ever I should mount side-ways. Nay more, I can tell you, that when I held the Bowl in my hand, I was still mounting upwards; because the Chariot flew always to the Load-stone, which I held over it. But the effort of the Iron to be united to my Bowl, was so violent that it made my Body bend double; so that I durst but once essay that new Experiment. The truth is, it was a very surprizing Spectacle to behold; for the Steel of that flying House, which I had very carefully Polished, reflected on all sides the light of the Sun with so great life and lustre, that I thought my self to be all on fire.[31] In fine, after often Bowling and following of my Cast, I came, as you did, to an Elevation from which I descended towards this World; and because at that instant I held my Bowl very fast between my hands, my Machine, whereof the Seat pressed me hard, that it might approach its Attractive, did not forsake me; all that now I feared was, that I should break my Neck: But to save me from that, ever now and then I tossed up my Bowl; that by its attractive Virtue it might prevent the violent Descent of my Machine, and render my fall more easie, as indeed it happened; for when I saw my self within Two or three hundred fathom of the Earth, I threw out my Bowl on all hands, level with the Chariot, sometimes on this side, and sometimes on that, until I came to a certain Distance; and immediately then, I tossed it up above me; so that my Machine following it, I left it, and let my self fall on the other side, as gently as I could, upon the Sand; insomuch that my fall was no greater than if it had been but my own height. I shall not describe to you the amazement I was in at the sight of the wonders of this place, seeing it was so like the same, wherewith I just now saw you seized. [32] You shall know then, that on the morrow I met with the Tree of Life, by the means of which I have kept my self from growing old; it straightway consumed the Serpent[33] and made him to vanish away in smoke...."

Chapter IX: Of the little Spaniard whom he met there, and of his quaint Wit; of Vacuum, Specific Weights, and sundry other Philosophical Matters.

I was no sooner come, but they carryed me to the Palace, where the Grandees received me with more Moderation, than the People had done as I passed the Streets: But both great and small concluded, That without doubt I was the Female of the Queen's little Animal. My Guide was my Interpreter; and yet he himself understood not the Riddle, and knew not what to make of that little Animal of the Queen's; but we were soon satisfied as to that; for the King having some time considered me, ordered it to be brought, and about half an hour after I saw a company of Apes, wearing Ruffs and Breeches, come in, and amongst them a little Man almost of my own Built, for he went on Two Legs; as soon as he perceived me, he Accosted me with a Criado de vuestra merced .[34] I answered his Greeting much in the same Terms. But alas! no sooner had they seen us talk together, but they believed their Conjecture to be true; and so, indeed, it seemed; for he of all the By-standers, that past the most favourable Judgment upon us, protested that our Conversation was a Chattering we kept for Joy at our meeting again.

That little Man told me, that he was an European , a Native of old Castille :[35] That he had found a means by the help of Birds36 to mount up to the World of the Moon, where then we were: That falling into the Queen's Hands, she had taken him for a Monkey, because Fate would have it so, That in that Country they cloath Apes in a Spanish Dress; and that upon his arrival, being found in that habit, she had made no doubt but he was of the same kind. "It could not otherwise be," replied I, "but having tried all Fashions of Apparel upon them, none were found so Ridiculous, and by consequence more becoming a kind of Animals which are only entertained for Pleasure and Diversion." "That shews you little understand the Dignity of our Nation," answered he, "for whom the Universe breeds Men only to be our Slaves, and Nature produces nothing but objects of Mirth and Laughter." He then intreated me to tell him, how I durst be so bold as to Scale the Moon with the Machine I told him of. I answered, That it was because he had carried away the Birds, which I intended to have made us of. He smiled at this Raillery; and about a quarter of an hour after, the Kind commanded the Keeper of the Monkeys to carry us back. The King's Pleasure was punctually obeyed; at which I was very glad, for the satisfaction I had, of having a Mate to converse with during the solitude of my Brutification....

Chapter XVII: Of the Author's Return to the Earth

At length my Love for my Country took me off of the desire and thoughts I had of staying there; I minded nothing now but to be gone; but I saw so much impossibility in the matter, that it made me quite peevish and melancholick. My Spirit observed it, and having asked me, What was the reason that my Humor was so much altered? I frankly told him the Cause of my Melancholy; but he made me such fair Promises concerning my Return, that I relied wholly upon him. I acquainted the Council with my design; who sent for me, and made me take an Oath, that I should relate in our World, all that I had seen in that. My Pass-ports then were expeded, and my Spirit having made necessary Provisions for so long a Voyage, asked me, What part of my Country I desired to light in? I told him, that since most of the Rich Youths of Paris , once in their life time, made a Journey to Rome ; imagining after that that there remained no more worth the doing or seeing; I prayed him to be so good as to let me imitate them.

"But withal," said I, "in what Machine shall we perform the Voyage, and what Orders do you think the Mathematician, who talked t'other day of joyning this Globe to ours, will give me?" "As to the Mathematician," said he, "let that be no hinderance to you; for he is a Man who promises much, and performs little or nothing. And as to the Machine that's to carry you back, it shall be the same which brought you to Court." "How," said I, "will the Air become as solid as the Earth, to bear your steps? I cannot believe that:" "And it is strange," replied he, "that you should believe, and not believe. Pray why should the Witches of your World, who march in the Air, and conduct whole Armies of Hail, Snow, Rain, and other Meteors, from one Province into another, have more Power than we? Pray have a little better opinion of me, than to think I would impose upon you." "The truth is," replied I, "I have received so many good Offices from you, as well as Socrates , and the rest, for whom you have [had[ so great kindness, that I dare trust my self in your hands, as now I do, resigning my self heartily up to you."

I had no sooner said the word, but he rose like a Whirl-wind, and holding me between his Arms, without the least uneasiness he made me pass that vast space which Astronomers reckon betwixt the Moon and us, in a day and a halfs time; which convinced me that they tell a Lye who say that a Millstone would be Three Hundred Threescore, and I know not how many years more, in falling from Heaven, since I was short a while in dropping down from the Globe of the Moon upon this. At length, about the beginning of the Second day, I perceived I was drawing near our World; since I could already distinguish Europe from Africa , and both from Asia ; when I smelt Brimstone which I saw steaming out of a very high Mountain[37], that incommoded me so much that I fainted away upon it.

I cannot tell what befel me afterwards; but coming to my self again, I found I was amongst Briers on the side of a Hill, amidst some Shepherds, who spoke Italian . I knew not what was become of my Spirit, and I asked the Shepherds if they had not seen him. At that word they made the sign of the Cross, and looked upon me as if I had been a Devil my self: But when I told them that I was a Christian, and that I begg'd the Charity of them, that they would lead me to some place where I might take a little rest; they conducted me to a Village, about a Mile off; where no sooner was I come but all the Dogs of the place, from the least Cur to the biggest Mastiff, flew upon me, and had torn me to pieces, if I had not found a House wherein I saved my self: But that hindered them not to continue their Barking and Bawling, so that the Master of the House began to look upon me with an Evil Eye; and really I think, as people are very apprehensive when Accidents which they look upon to ominous happen, that man could have delivered m up as a Prey to these accursed Beasts, had not I bethought my self that that which madded them so much at me, was the World from whence I came; because being accustomed to bark at the Moon, they smelt I was come from thence, by the scent of my Cloaths, which stuck to me as a Sea-smell hangs about those who have been long on Ship-board, for some time after they come ashore. To Air my self then, I lay three or four hours in the Sun, upon a Terrass-walk; and being afterwards come down, the Dogs, who smelt no more that influence which had made me their Enemy, left barking and peaceably went to their several homes.

Next day, I parted for Rome , where I saw the ruins of the Triumphs of some great men, as well as of Ages: I admired those lovely Relicks; and the Repairs of some of them made by the Modern. At length, having stayed there a fortnight in Company of Monsieur de Cyrano my Cousin, who advanced me Money for my Return, I went to Civita vecchia , and embarked in a Galley that carried me to Marseilles .

During all this Voyage, my mind run upon nothing but the Wonders of the last I made. At that time I began the Memoires of it; and after my return, put them into as good order, as Sickness, which confines me to Bed, would permit. But foreseeing, that it will put an end to all my Studies, and Travels[38]; that I may be as good as my word to the Council of that World; I have begg'd of Monsieur le Bret , my dearest and most constant Friend, that he would publish them with the History of the Republick of the Sun , that of the Spark , and some other Pieces of my Composing, if those who have Stolen them from us restore them to him, as I earnest adjure them to do[39].


1. Monsieur de Cuigy, who is mentioned by Lebret as a friend and admirer of Cyrano, and who was one of the witnesses of his famous battle against the hundred ruffians, possessed an estate at Clamort-sous-Meudon, near Paris. He appears as a character is M. Rostand's play of Cyrano de Bergerac .

2. Jerome Cardan, 1501-1576, natural philosopher, doctor, astrologer, mathematician, and a voluminous author; in short, a sort of Italian Paracelsus, both by his universal learning, and by his intense interest in all domains of possible knowledge, in which he included astrology and necromancy. His most important work is the one referred to her, the De Subtilitate Rerum , 1551.

3. Cf. M. Rostrand's Cyrano de Bergerac , act III, scene xi: "One way was to stand naked in the sunshine, in a harness thickly studded with glass phials, each filled with morning dew. The sun in drawing up the dew, you see, could not have helped drawing me up too!" (Miss Gertrude Hall's translation.)

4. Generous = noble . Cf. Lord Burleigh, Precepts to his Son : "Let her not be poor, how generous soever; for a man can buy nothing in the market with gentility."

5. Stammering, mumbling; a North of England word.

6. Paul Lacroix, the editor of the French edition of Cyrano's works, not understanding this phrase, has ingeniously invented the interpretation of "quarrantine officer" for it. Not only have the words never had this meaning, but they are evidently a proper name. And in fact Francois de l'Hospital, Marechal de France , was Governor of Paris in 1649, the year when the Voyage to the Moon was probably written. Cyrano, thinking he has fallen in France, near Paris, and being asked if he carries news of the fleet to the Governor, naturally answers that he knows nothing of ships going to Paris, and that he carries no news to the Marechal de l'Hospital.

7. The Feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24.

8. Cf. the play of Cyrano de Bergerac , act III, scene xi: "Or else, mechanic as well as artificer, I could have fashioned a giant grasshopper, with steel joints, which, impelled by successive explosions of saltpetre, would have hopped with me to the azure meadows where graze the starry flocks."

9. Cf., in the play, the fifth of Cyrano's means for scaling the sky; "Since Phoebe, the moon-goddess, when she is at wane, is greedy, O beeves! of your marrow,...with that marrow have besmeared myself!"

10. The translator has apparently misread biasais where the French editions have baissais: i.e., I was descending toward the moon.

11. "That place was" unquestionably, the Garden of Eden, which Cyrano heretically locates in the Moon; and the "Tree "through which he has fallen, and an "Apple" of which he has besmeared his face and recalled him to life, is the Tree of Life, that stood "in the midst of the garden."

This is the first of a series of hiatuses, which occur in all the French editions as well as the English, and which are marked by those stars that Cyrano refers to in the play: "But I intend setting all this down in a book, and the golden stars I have brought back caught in my shaggy mantle, when the book is printed, will be seen serving as asterisks."

Lebret speaks of these gaps in his preface, saying he would have tried to fill them but for fear of mixing his style with Cyrano's: "For the melancholy colour of my style will not let me imitate the gayety of his; nor can my Wit follow the fine flights of his Imagination."

It seems altogether improbable, however, that Cyrano himself left the work thus incomplete, as Lebret would imply. And in fact we can supply from a Manuscript recently acquired (1890) by the Bibliotheque Nationale , a long passage not printed by Lebret (see pp. 60 ff). There can be little doubt that the passages were deliberately cut out by some one on account of their heretical character. It even seems probably, from passages at the beginning of the Voyage to the Sun , that when the work was circulated in Manuscript, Cyrano had been the object of persecution on account of them.

The passages lacking were cut out then, but by whom> The usually accepted opinion is that of our English translator, who says the gaps are " occasioned, not by the Negligence of our Witty French Author, but by the accursed Plagiary of some rude Hand, that in his sickness rifted his Trunks and stole his Papers, as he himself complains." M. Brun has suggested, however, and with some plausibility, that Lebret himself was responsible for the omissions; and that he thus continued, after Cyrano's death, his lifelong attempts at reforming and toning down the impolitic, unorthodox notions of his too-independent friend. So Cyrano, was conquered once more in his battle with "les Compromis, les Prejuges, les Lachetes" and finally, "la Sottise":

Je sais bien qu' a la fin vous me mettrez a bas;

N'importe! je me bats, je me bats, je me bats!

We are proud of printing for the first time in any edition of the Voyage to the Moon , at least part of what had been cut out; and of being able to indicate for the first time what must have been the substance of other lost passages, and what is the sense of the fragments preserved.

12. The Apple of the Tree of Life.

13. The translation is not fully adequate here, the French means: "...was fully satisfied, and left me in its place only a slight memory of having lost it."

14. This beautiful Nature-description, the like of which cannot be found in all seventeenth-century French literature outside of Cyrano's works, was apparently his favorite passage, since it is the only one he has used twice. Cf. his Lettre XI , "D'une maison de campagne."

15. In the literal sense, full of delight , delighted.

16. "Quality" = title , as often in the seventeenth century; cf. Shakespeare, Henry V :

"Gentlemen of blood and quality."

17. Probably a long passage has been lost here, in which the "Youth" (the Prophet Elijah, who had "translated" himself hither and become young by eating of the Tree of Life) describes the place where they are as the original Garden of Eden; and tells of the Creation, the Fall and the Banishment of Adam and Eve. At the beginning of the next paragraph he is still speaking, and telling of Adam's transference from the Moon to the Earth.

18. The woman to the man, from whose side she was taken. Probably only a few words have been omitted at the last hiatus.

19. The supposed situation of the Earthly Paradise.

20. Adam and Eve.

21. We may imagine this a short hiatus, to be filled in as follows: "He suffered a few ages after that, that a holy man, whose name was Enoch , cloyed with the company of men...." etc.

22. Enoch. On his translation, which Cyrano here makes Elijah account for, see Genesis, chapter v.

23. Adam. Cyrano probably confused the Enoch who was translated with another Enoch who was the son of Cain and so grandson of Adam. But is more probable that he used the word aieul in its common sense of ancestor ; as indeed "grandfather" was used in old English.

24. Cf. the play: "Since smoke by its nature ascends, I could have blown into an appropriate globe a sufficient quantity to ascend with me".

25. "Qu'il prit conge de ses nageoires," = when he abandoned his floats (or bladders) .

26. Cyrano may here be credited with anticipating the idea of the parachute.

27. Elijah. The passage referred to is lost.

28. Spell the name backward.

29. Ball . Cf. Bowling . Cf. also p. 177.

30. Cf. the "sixth means" in the play: "Or else, I could have placed myself upon an iron plate, have taken a magnet of suitable size, and thrown it in the air! That way is a very good one! The magnet flies upward, the iron instantly after; the magnet no sooner overtaken than you fling it up again.... The rest is clear! You can go upward indefinitely."

31. The "chariot of fire" in which Elijah was taken up into heaven. Cf. 2 Kings, ii, II.

32. The following pages are translated from the text as printed for the first time, from the Manuscript at the Bibliotheque Nationale , in an appendix to M. Brun's thesis on Cyrano de Bergerac, 1893.

33. "The serpent", as soon appears, is original sin , which

"Brought death into the world, and all our woe."

34. "Your excellency's servant."

35. Domingo Gonazales, the hero of Bishop Francis Godwin's The Man in the Moone (see p.4 note), who says of himself: "I must acknowledge my Stature is so little, as I think no Man is living less."

36. The engraving opposite, showing how he was carried up by his birds, is copied from an old edition of The Man in the Moone . The other winged figures about him are supposed to represent demons who attacked him just above " the middle region. "

37. Vesuvius.

38. Fr., "travaux," i.e. old English Travails .

39. The Manuscript of the Bibliotheque Nationale ends differently: " I enquired at the port when a ship would leave for France. And when I was embarked, my mind ran upon nothing but the Wonders of my Voyage. I admired a thousand times the Providence of God who had set apart these naturally Infidel men in a place by themselves where they could not corrupt his Beloved; and had punished them for their pride by abandoning them to their own self-sufficiency. Likewise I doubt not hat he has put off till now the sending of any to preach the Gospel to them, for the very reason that he knew they would receive it ill; and so, hardening their hearts, it would serve but to make them deserve the harsher punishment in the world to come. "

This is very likely the original ending of the work as it was circulated in Manuscript between 1649 and 1655. In any case, the particular thrust and parry used here is a favorite stroke of the "libertins" of the epoch in their duels against "Les Prejuges." "These are not my opinions and arguments," they say; "Heaven forbid!... They only express the ideas of my characters, which of course I abhor." At the same time the arguments have been stated, which was the object in view. Cyrano has several times used this method already, notably at the end of Chapter XVI.

The ending in the text above, that of all the editions, may have been substituted by Cyrano himself during his last illness.


from the A. Lovell Translation, 1687.