The Man in the Moone

Francis Godwin

Preview: Issue 1 of 6

Before I come to relate our extraordinary Voyage of Domingo Gonzales to the World in the Moon, I will make a Halt at St. Hellens, or Hellena, which is now possest by the Honourable East-India Company. It is called the Sea Inn, because the English and other Nations stop there as a Place for Watering and Refreshment in their long Voyages to India. It was formerly seized by the Dutch, but retaken May 6th, 1673, by Captain Munday, with a Squadron of English Ships, and three rich Dutch East India Ships made Prizes in the Harbour; since which the Company have fortified and secured it, against any future Invasion of Dutch, Portuguese, or Spaniards. It was called Santa Helena by the Portuguese, who discovered it on St. Hellen's Day, being April 2.

There is no Island in the World so far distant from the Continent or main Land as this. It is about sixteen Leagues in Compass, in the Ethiopic Sea; in 16 Degrees of South Latitude; about 1500 Miles from the Cape of Good Hope; 360 from Angola in Africa; and 510 from Brasile in America. It lies high out of the Water; and surrounded on the Sea-coasts with steep Rocks, having within many Cliffs, Mountains and Vallies, of which one is named Church-Valley, where behind a small Church they climb up to the Mountains. To the South is Apple-Dale, so called from the abundance of Oranges, Lemons, and Pomegranates enough to furnish five or six Ships. On the West-side of the Church, Ships have good Anchorage close under the Shore, to prevent the Winds which blow fiercely from the adjacent high Mountains.

The Air seems temperate and healthful, so that sick Men brought ashore there, in a short Time recover; yet the Heat in the Vallies is as intolerable as the Cold upon the Mountains; it commonly rains there five or six Times a Day, so that the Barrenness of the Hills is not occasioned for the want of Water, of which it hath two or three good Springs for furnishing Ships with fresh Water; the Ground of its own Accord brings forth wild Pease and Beans, also whole Woods of Orange, Lemon, and Pomegranate Trees, all the Year long, laden both with Blossoms and Fruit, good Figs; abundance of Ebony and Rose-trees, Parsly, Mustard-seed, Purslain, Sorrel, and the like; the Woods and Mountains are full of Goats, large Rams, and wild Swine, but difficult to be taken. When the Portuguese discovered it, they found neither four-footed Beasts nor Fruit-trees, but only fresh Water; they afterward planted Fruit-trees, which so increased since, that all the Vallies stand full of them; Partridges, Pigeons, Moor-hens, and Peacocks breed here numerously, whereof a good Marksman may soon provide a Dinner for his Friends. On the Cliff-Islands, on the South, are thousands of grey and black Mews, or Sea-Pies, and white and coloured Birds, some, with long, others with short Necks, who lay their Eggs on the Rocks, and suffer themselves to be taken with the Hand, gazing at their Surprizers, till they are knocked on the Head with Sticks.

From the Salt-water beating against the Cliffs, a Froth or Scum remains in some Places, which the Heat of the Sun so purifies, that it becomes white and good Salt; some of the Mountains yield. Bole Armoniac, and a fat Earth like Terra Lemnia. The Sea will answer the Pains of a patient Fisherman, who must use an Angle, not a Net, because of the foul Ground and beating of the Waves; the chief are Mackrel, Roach, Carp, but differing in Colour from those among us; Eels as big, as a Man's Arm, and well tasted Crabs, Lobsters, Oysters and Mussels as good as English.

It is in this Island that the Scene of that notable Fancy, called, The Man in the Moon, or a Discourse of a Voyage thither, by Domingo Gonsales is laid, written by a learned Bishop, saith the ingenious Bishop Wilkins, who calls it a pleasant and well contrived Fancy, in his own Book, intituled, A Discourse of the New World, tending to prove that it is possible there may be another habitable World in the Moon; wherein among other curious Arguments he affirms, that this hath been the direct Opinion of divers antient, and some modern Mathematicians, and may probably be deduced from the Tenets of others, neither does it contradict any Principle of Reason nor Faith; and that as their World is our Moon, so our World is theirs.

Now this small Tract having so worthy a Person to vouch for it, and many of our English Historians having published for Truth, what is almost as improbable as this, as Sir John Mandavil in his Travels and others, and this having what they are utterly destitute of, that is, Invention mixed with Judgment; and was judged worthy to be Licensed fifty years ago, and not since reprinted, whereby it would be utterly lost. I have thought fit to republish the Substance thereof, wherein the Author says he does not design to discourse his Readers into a Belief of each particular Circumstance, but expects that his new Discovery of a new World, may find little better Entertainment than Columbus had in his first Discovery of America, though yet that poor Espial betrayed so much Knowledge as hath since increased to vast Improvements, and the then Unknown is now found to be of as large Extent as all the other known World; that there should be Antipodes was once thought as great a Paradox, as now that the Moon should be habitable. But the Knowledge of it may be reserved for this our discovering Age, wherein our Virtuosi can by their Telescopes gaze the Sun into Spots, and descry Mountains in the Moon. But this and much more must be left to the Critics, as well as the following Relation of our little Eye-witness and great Discoverer, which you shall have in his own Spanish Stile, and delivered with that Grandeur and Thirst of Glory, which is generally imputed to that Nation.

It is known to all the Countries of Andaluzia, that I Domingo Gonsales was born of a noble Family in the renowned City of Seville. My Father's Name being Therando Gonsales, near Kinsman on the Mother's Side to Don Pedro Sanches the worthy Count of Almanera, my Mother was the Daughter of the famous Lawyer Otho Perez de Sallaveda, Governor of Barcellona, and Corrigidor of Biscay; I being the youngest of seventeen Children, was put to School, and designed to the Church; but Heaven purposing to use my Service in Matters of far another Nature, inspired me with spending some Time in the Wars; it was at the Time that Don Fernando, the renowned Duke D'Alva, was sent into the Low Countries in 1568; I then following the Current of my Desire, leaving the University of Salamanca, whither my Parents had sent me, without giving Notice to any of my Friends, got through France to Antwerp, where I arrived in a mean Condition. For having sold my Books, Bedding, and other Things, which yielded me about 30 Ducats; and borrowed twenty more of my Father's Friends; I bought a little Nag, wherewith I travelled more thriftily than usually young Gentlemen do, till arriving within a League of Antwerp, some of the cursed Gueses set upon me, and bereaved me of my Horse, Money, and all; so I was forced through Necessity to enter into the Service of Marshal Cossey a French Nobleman, whom I served in an honourable Employ, though mine Enemies, to my Disgrace affirm, I was his Horse-keeper's Boy; but for that Matter, I refer myself to Count Mansfield, and other Persons of Condition, who have often testified to many worthy Men, the very Truth of the Business, which indeed was this, Monsieur Cossey being about this Time sent to the Duke D'Alva, Governor of the Low Countries, he informing the Nobility of my Birth, and my late Misfortune, judging it would be no small Honour to him to have a Spaniard of that Quality about him, furnished me with a Horse, Arms and whatever I wanted, using my Service, after I had learned French, in writing his Letters, because my Hand was very fair. In time of War, if upon Necessity, I sometimes dressed my own Horse, I ought not to be reproached therewith, since I count it the part of a Gentleman to submit to the vilest Office for the Service of his Prince.

The first Expedition I was in, was when the Marshal my Friend met the Prince of Orange making a Road into France, and forced him to fly even to the Walls of Cambray: It was my good Fortune to defeat a Trooper, by killing his Horse with my Pistol, who falling upon his Leg, could not stir, but yielded to my Mercy; I knowing my own Weakness of Body, and seeing him a lusty tall Fellow, thought it the surest Way to dispatch him, which having done, I plundered him of a Chain, Money, and other Things to the Value of 200 Ducats. This Money was no sooner in my Pockets, but I resumed the Remembrance of my Nobility, and taking my Audience of Leave from Monsieur Cossey, I instantly repaired to the Duke D'Alva's Court, where divers of my Kindred seeing my Pocket full of good Crowns, were ready enough to acknowledge me: By their means I was received into Pay, and in Time obtained Favour with the Duke, who would sometimes jest a little more severely at my Personage than I could well bear, for though I must acknowledge my Stature is so little, as I think no Man living is less, yet since it is the Work of Heaven and not my own, he ought not to have upbraided a Gentleman therewith, and those glorious Things that have happened to me may evince, that wonderful Matters may be performed by very unlikely Bodies, if the Mind be good, and Fortune second our Endeavours.

Though the Duke's Jokes a little disgusted me, yet I endeavoured to conceal my Resentment, and accommodating myself to some other of his Humours, I was so far interested in his Favour, that at his going into Spain, whither I attended him, by his Kindness, and other Accidents, wherein by my Industry I was seldom wanting to myself, I was able to carry home 3000 Crowns in my Pocket.

At my Return, my Parents, who were extremely disturbed at my Departure, received me with Joy, which was increased because they found I had brought wherewith to maintain Myself without being chargeable to them, or lessening the Portions of my Brothers and Sisters. But doubting I would spend it as lightly as I got it, they sollicited me to marry the Daughter of John Figueres, a considerable Merchant of Lisbon, to which I complied, and putting my Marriage Money, and good Part of my own into the Hands of my father, I lived like a Gentleman many Years very happily: At length a Quarrel arising between me and Pedro Delgades, a Gentleman and Kinsman of mine; it grew so high, that when no Mediation of Friends could prevail, we two went alone with our Swords into the Field, where it was my Chance to kill him, tho' a stout proper Man; but what I wanted in Strength I Supplied in Courage, and my Agility countervailed for his Stature. This being acted in Carmona, I fled to Lisbon, thinking to conceal myself with some Friends of my Father-in-Law, till the Business might be accommodated; at which Time, a famous Spanish Count coming from the West-Indies, published triumphant Declarations of a great Victory he had obtained against the English near the Isle of Pines, whereas in reality he got nothing at all in that Voyage but Blows, and a considerable Loss. It had been well if Vanity and Lying had been his only Crimes; his Covetousness had like to have been my utter Ruin, though since it hath proved the Occasion of eternizing my Name I verily believe to all Posterity, and to the unspeakable Benefit of all Mortals for ever hereafter, at least if it please Heaven that I return home safe to my Country, and give perfect Instructions how those almost incredible and impossible Acquirements may be imparted to the World. You shall then see Men flying in the Air, from one Place to another, you shall then be able to send Messages many hundred Miles in an Instant, and receive Answers immediately, without the Help of any Creature upon Earth; you shall then presently impart your Mind to your Friend, though in the most remote and obscure Place of a populous City, and a Multitude of other notable Experiments; but what exceeds all, you shall then have the Discovery of a New World, and Abundance of rare and incredible Secrets of Nature, which the Philosophers of former Ages never so much as dreamt of; but I must be cautious in publishing these wonderful Mysteries, till our Statesmen have considered how they may consist with the Policy and good Government of our Country, and whether the Fathers of the Church may not judge the divulging them prejudicial to the Catholic Faith, which (by those Wonders I have seen above any mortal Man before me) I am instructed to advance without Respect to any temporal Advantage whatsoever.

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