The Voyage of Captain Popanilla

Benjamin Disraeli
The Voyage of Captain Popanilla

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Title: The Voyage of Captain Popanilla
Author: Benjamin Disraeli
Release Date: April, 2005 [EBook #7816] [This file was first posted on
May 20, 2003]
Edition: 10

Language: English
Character set encoding: US-ASCII
Edited by K. Kay Shearin

by Benjamin Disraeli

This narrative of an imaginary voyage was first published in 1827.

There is an island in the Indian Ocean, so unfortunate as not yet to have
been visited either by Discovery Ships or Missionary Societies. It is a
place where all those things are constantly found which men most
desire to see, and with the sight of which they are seldom favoured. It
abounds in flowers, and fruit, and sunshine. Lofty mountains, covered
with green and mighty forests, except where the red rocks catch the
fierce beams of the blazing sun, bowery valleys, broad lakes, gigantic
trees, and gushing rivers bursting from rocky gorges, are crowned with
a purple and ever cloudless sky. Summer, in its most unctuous state and
most mellow majesty, is here perpetual. So intense and overpowering,
in the daytime, is the rich union of heat and perfume, that living animal
or creature is never visible; and were you and I to pluck, before sunset,
the huge fruit from yonder teeming tree, we might fancy ourselves for
the moment the future sinners of another Eden. Yet a solitude it is not.
The island is surrounded by a calm and blue lagoon, formed by a ridge
of coral rocks, which break the swell of the ocean, and prevent the
noxious spray from banishing the rich shrubs which grow even to the
water's edge. It is a few minutes before sunset, that the first intimation
of animal existence in this seeming solitude is given, by the appearance

of mermaids; who, floating on the rosy sea, congregate about these
rocks. They sound a loud but melodious chorus from their sea-shells,
and a faint and distant chorus soon answers from the island. The
mermaidens immediately repeat their salutations, and are greeted with a
nearer and a louder answer. As the red and rayless sun drops into the
glowing waters, the choruses simultaneously join; and rushing from the
woods, and down the mountain steeps to the nearest shore, crowds of
human beings, at the same moment, appear and collect.
The inhabitants of this island, in form and face, do not misbecome the
clime and the country. With the vivacity of a Faun, the men combine
the strength of a Hercules and the beauty of an Adonis; and, as their
more interesting companions flash upon his presence, the least classical
of poets might be excused for imagining that, like their blessed
Goddess, the women had magically sprung from the brilliant foam of
that ocean which is gradually subsiding before them.
But sunset in this land is not the signal merely for the evidence of
human existence. At the moment that the Islanders, crowned with
flowers, and waving goblets and garlands, burst from their retreats,
upon each mountain peak a lion starts forward, stretches his proud tail,
and, bellowing to the sun, scours back exulting to his forest; immense
bodies, which before would have been mistaken for the trunks of trees,
now move into life, and serpents, untwining their green and glittering
folds, and slowly bending their crested heads around, seem proudly
conscious of a voluptuous existence; troops of monkeys leap from tree
to tree; panthers start forward, and alarmed, not alarming, instantly
vanish; a herd of milk-white elephants tramples over the back-ground
of the scene; and instead of gloomy owls and noxious beetles, to hail
the long-enduring twilight, from the bell of every opening flower
beautiful birds, radiant with every rainbow tint, rush with a long and
living melody into
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