Chap. xii: HOW SIMPLICISSIMUS JOURNEYED WITH THE SYLPHS TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
Now this desire to visit the Mummelsee increased with me when I learned from my foster-father that he had been there and knew the way thither; but when he heard that I likewise would go, “And what will ye gain,” says he, “by going thither? My son with his old dad will see naught else but the picture of a pond lying in the midst of a great wood, and when he hath paid for his present taste with sore distaste, he will have naught but repentance and weary feet (for a man can hardly come to the place by riding) and the way back instead of the way thither had I not been forced to flee there when Doctor Daniel (by which he meant Duc d’Anguin[i]) marched with his troops down through the country to Philippsburg.” Yet my curiosity would not be turned aside by his dissuasion, but I got me a fellow that should guide me thither; so my father, seeing my fixed intent, said, since the oat-crop was gathered in, on the farm, he would even go with me and show the way. For he loved me so that he would fain not let me out of his sight, and since all the people of the country believed I was his true-born son, he was proud of me; and so behaved to me and to all others as a poor man might well do in respect of a son whom good fortune, without his own help and assistance, had turned into a fine gentleman.
So together we set off over hill and dale and came to the Mummelsee; and that before we had gone six hours, for my dad was as lively as a cricket and as good a traveler as any young man. And there we consumed what meat and drink we had brought with us, for the long journey and the high mountain on which the lake lieth had made us both hungry and thirsty. So having refreshed ourselves I did inspect the lake, and found lying in it certain hewn timbers of the Würtemberg raft: and I by geometry took or estimated the length and breadth of the water (for ‘twas far too wearisome to go round the lake and measure it by paces or feet), and entered the dimensions, by means of the scale reduction, in my tablets. And having done this, the sky being completely clear and the air windless and calm, I must needs try what truth was in the legend that a storm would arise if any should throw a stone into the lake; having already found those stories I had heard, how the lake would suffer no trout to live in it, to be true, by reason of the mineral taste of the waters. So to make trial of this, I walked along the lake to the left, where the water, which elsewhere is as clear as a crystal, doth begin, by reason of the monstrous depth, to show as black as coal, and therefore is so dreadful of appearance that the mere look of it doth terrify. And there I began to cast in stones as great as I could carry; my foster-father or dad not only refusing to help me, but warning and begging me to giver over, as much as in him lay: but I went busily with my work, and such stones as by reason of their size and weight I could not carry, I rolled down till I had cast more than thirty such into the lake. Then began the sky to be covered with black clouds, in which terrible thundering was heard, so that my dad, which stood on the other side of the lake by the outlet, lamenting over my work, cried out to me that I should escape, lest we be caught by the rain and the dreadful storm, or even worse though mishap chance to us. But in despite of all I answered him, “Father, I will stay and await the end even though it rained pitchforks.” “Yea, yea,” answered he, “ye act like all madcap boys, that care not if the world perish.”
But I, while I listened to his scolding, turned not mine eyes away from the depths of the lake, expecting to see certain bladders or bubbles rising up from the bottom, as is wont to happen when stones are thrown into deep water whether still or running. Yet saw I naught of the kind, but was ware of certain creatures floating far down in the depths which in form reminded me of frogs, and flitted about like sparks from a mounting rocket which in the air doth work its full effect: and as they came nearer and nearer to me they seemed to grow larger and more like to human form: at which at first great wonder took hold of me, a great fear and trembling. “Ah,” said I then to myself in my terror and wonder, and yet so loud that my dad, that stood beyond the lake, could her me, though the noise of the thunder was dreadful, “how great are the wondrous works of the Creator! yea, even in the womb of the earth and the depths of the waters!” And scarce had I said these words when one of these sylphs appeared upon the waters and answered me, “Aha, and thou dost acknowledge that before thou hast seen aught thereof: what wouldst say if thou wert for once in the Centrum Terrae and beheldest our dwelling which they curiosity hath disturbed?”
Meanwhile there rose up here and there more of such water-spirits, like diving birds, all looking upon me and bring up again the stones I had cast in, which amazed me much. And the first and chiefest among them, whose raiment shone like pure gold and silver, cast to me a shining stone of bigness of a pigeon’s egg and green and transparent as an emerald, with these words: “Take thou this trinket, that thou mayst have somewhat to report of us and of our lake.” But scarce had I picked it up and pocketed it when it seemed to me the air would choke or drown me, so that I could not stand upright but rolled about like a ball of yarn, and at last fell into the lake. Yet no sooner was I in the water than I recovered, and through the virtue of the stone I had upon me could breathe in water instead of air: yea, I could with small effort float in the lake as well as could the water-spirits, yea, and with them descended into the depths; which reminded me of nothing so much as of a flock of birds that so descend in circles from the upper air to light upon the ground.
But my dad having beheld this marvel in part (namely, so much of it was done above the water), made off from the lake and home again as if his head were on fire. And there he told the whole history; but especially how the water-spirits those stones that I had cast into the lake, in the midst of the thunderstorm, and had laid them where they came from, but in exchange had taken me down with them. So some believed him but most accounted it a fable. Others conceived that I had, like another Empedocles of Agrigentum (which cast himself into Mount Aetna that all might think, since he was nowhere to be found that he was taken up to heaven), drowned myself in the lake, and charged my father to spread such tales about me to gain for me an immortal name: for, said they, it had long been marked by my melancholic humour that I was half-desperate.
Other would fain have believed, had they not known my strength of body, that my adopted father had himself murdered me to be rid of me (being a miserly old man) and so be master alone on my farm: so that at this time naught else but the Mummelsee and me and my departure and my foster-father could be talked or discoursed on either at the spa or in the country-side.
Chaps. xiii. – xvi. contain merely a farrago of nonsense conveyed in conversations with the prince of the Mummelsee, who explains to Simplicissimus the construction of the “earth’s crust” and the nature of sylphs, and in turn is treated by him to an account of earthly affairs, on which he makes the usual commonplace satirical remarks (see the Introduction).
Chap. xvii: HOW SIMPLICISSIMUS RETURNED FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE EARTH, AND OF HIS STRANGE FANCIES, HIS AIR-CASTLES, HIS CALCULATIONS; AND HOW HE RECKONED WITHOUT HIS HOST
Meanwhile the time drew near that I should return home; therefore the king bade me declare my wishes, whereby I understood he was minded to do me a favor. So I said, no greater kindness could be shown me than to cause a real medicinal spring to rise on my farm. “And is that all?” answered the king, “I had thought thou wouldst have taken with thee some of these great emeralds from the American Sea and have asked to bear them with thee back to earth. Now do I see that there is no greed among you Christians.” Therewith he handed to me a stone of strange and glittering colors, and said “Put this in they pouch, and wheresoever thou layest in on the ground, there will it begin to seek the Center of the Earth again, and to pass through the most fitting mineralia, till it comes back to us, and for our part we will send thee a noble mineral spring, that shall work thee such good and profit as thou hast deserved of us by they declaration of the truth.” So thereupon the prince of the Mummelsee took me again under his charge, and passed with me through the road and the lake by which we had come. And this way back I reckoned it at three thousand five hundred German-Swiss miles well measured; but doubtless the cause that the time seemed so long to me was that I had no speech of my escort, save that I learned from them they were from three to five hundred years old and lived all this time without the least disease.
For the rest, I was in fancy so rich with my spring that all my wits and all my thoughts were busied with this, to wit, where I should plant it and how to turn it to profit. And first I had my plans for the fine buildings that I must set up that the bathing-guests might be properly accommodated, and I for my part might gain great hire for lodgings. Then I devised already by what bribes I could persuade the doctors to prefer my new miraculous spa to all the others, yea, even to that of Schwalbach, and so procure for me a crowd of rich patients: in my fantasy I even leveled whole mountains lest they that came and went should find the way wearisome to travel: already I hired sharp-witted drawers, sparing cooks, careful chambermaids, watchful grooms, spruce intendants of the baths and springs, and already I thought of a place where in the midst of the wild mountains by my farm I might plant a fine level pleasure-garden, and there rear all manner of rare plants, that the bathing-guests and their wives that came from foreign parts might walk therein, where the sick might be cheered and the sound might be amused and exercised with all manner of sports and pastimes. Then must the doctors, for a reward, write me a noble treatise on my spring and set down on paper its healing qualities; and this I would have printed with a fine plate wherein my farm should be depicted and a ground plan thereof given; by reading which any absent patient might at once believe and hope himself in health again. Then would I have all my children fetched from Lippstadt, to have them taught all that was needful to know of my new watering-place; for ‘twas my intent to scarify my guests’ purses well though not their backs. With such rich fancies and overweening castles in the air I came again into the upper world, fro this oft-mentioned prince brought me again to land from his Mummelsee with dry clothes; and there I must forthwith cast from me the talisman that he had at first given me when he fetched me away; else had I either been choked in the air or must have plunged my head under the water again, such was the effect of the said stone. Which being done, and he having taken to him again, we commended each other to the protection of the most High, as men that should never meet again; so he with his people dived under and sank into his depths; but I with my stone which the king had given me went thence as full of joy as if I had fetched the golden fleece home from Colchis.
But alas! my joy, of which I vainly hoped for the everlasting continuance, endured not long, for hardly was I gone from the lake of wonders when I began to go astray in that monstrous wood, for I had not marked from what direction my dad had brought me to the lake. Yet I went some way on before I was aware of my mistake, ever making calculations how I could plant that noble spring on y farm, and build round it, and earn for myself a peaceful revenue as proprietor thereof. In this way I unawares strayed further and further from the place whither I desired to come and, worst of all, I found it not out till the sun was sinking and I was helpless. For there I stood in the midst of a wilderness like Simple Simon, without food or arms, of which I might well have need during the night that was coming on. Yet I found comfort in my stone that I had brought with me from the very bowels of the earth. “Patience, patience!” said I to myself: “this will again repay thee for all sufferings undergone. All good things take time, and fine rewards be not won without great toil and labor: else would every fool need but to wipe his beard to get possession at will of eve such a noble spring as thou hast in thy poke.”
And having spoken thus I got with my new resolve new strength, so that I went forward with a bolder gait than heretofore, although night now overtook me. The full moon indeed shone on me brightly, but the tall fir-trees kept the light from me more than the deep sea had done the very day; yet I made my way on, till about midnight I was ware of a fire afar off, to which I straightway walked, and saw from a distance that there were certain woodmen about it, resin-gatherers; and though such folk be not at all times to be trusted yet my necessity compelled me and my own courage urged me on to speak to them. So I came quietly behind them and said, “Good night or good day or good morrow or good even, gentlemen: for tell me what hour it is that I may know how to greet ye.” With that the whole six stood or sat there all a-tremble with fear and knew not what to answer me. For I, being of great stature and just at the time, by reason of mourning for my late wife, being in black raiment; and in especial having a terrible cudgel in mine hand, on which I leaned like a wild man of the woods, my figure seemed to them dreadful. “How,” says I, “will none answer me?” Yet they stayed yet a good while in amazement, till at last one came to himself well enough to ask, “Who be the gentleman?” By that I heard they must be of the Swabian nation; which men esteem as simple-minded yet with little cause: so I said I was a traveling scholar, but newly come from the Venusberg, where I had learned a heap of wondrous arts. “Oho,” quoth the eldest woodman, “Praise God; for now do I believe that I shall live to see pace again, because the wandering scholars are on their travels anew!”
Chap. xviii: HOW SIMPLICISSIMUS WASTED HIS SPRING IN THE WRONG PLACE
In this wise we came to converse with one another, and I found so much courtesy among them that they invited me to sit down and offered me a piece of black bread and thin cow’s milk cheese, both of which I did thankfully accept. At last they became so familiar with me that they hinted I should, as a traveling scholar, tell their fortunes: and I, knowing somewhat of physiognomics of palmistry, began to tell to one after the other such stuff as I deemed would content them, that I might not lose credit with them; for in spite of all I was not at my ease among these wild woodmen. Then would they learn curious arts from me: but I fobbed them off with promises for the next day, and desired they would suffer me to rest a little. And having so played the gipsy for them, I laid myself down a little apart, more to listen and to perceive how they were minded than as having any great desire to sleep (though my appetite thereto was not lacking); and the more I snored the more wakeful they appeared. So they put their heads together and began to dispute one against another who I might be: they held that I could be no soldier because I wore black clothing, nor no townsman-blade, that could so suddenly appear far from all men’s dwellings in the Muckenloch (for so the wood was called) at so unwonted a time. At the last they resolved I must be a journeyman Latinist[ii] that had lost his way, or, as I myself declared, a traveling scholar, because I could so excellently tell fortunes. “Yea,” says another, “yet he knew not all for that reason: ‘tis some wandering soldier, maybe, that hath so disguised himself to spy out our cattle and the secret ways of the wood. Aha! if we knew that we would so put him to sleep that he should forget ever to wake again.” But another quickly took him up, that held the contrary and would have me to be somewhat else. Meanwhile I lay there and pricked up my ears and thought, “If these clodhoppers set upon me, two or three of them will need to bite the dust before they make an end me.” But while they took counsel and I tormented myself with fears, of a sudden I found myself lying in a pool of water. O horrors! now was my Troy lost and al my splendid plans gone to naught, for by the smell I perceived ‘twas mine own mineral spring. With that, for very rage and despite, I fell into such a frenzy that I wellnigh had fallen those six peasants and fought them all. “Ye godless rogues,” says I to them, and therewith sprang up with my terrible cudgel, “by this spring that welleth forth where I have lain ye well may see who I am; it were small wonder if I should so trounce ye all that the devil should fetch ye, because ye have dared to cherish such evil thoughts in your hearts,” and thereto I added looks so threatening and terrible that all were afraid of me. Yet presently I came to myself and perceived what folly I committed. “Nay,” thought I, “ ‘tis better to lose the spring than one’s life, and that thou canst easily forfeit if thou attack these clowns.” So I gave them fair words again, and before they could recollect themselves: “Arise,” said I, “and taste of this noble spring which ye and all other woodmen and resin-gatherers will henceforth be able to enjoy in this wilderness through my help.”
Now this my discourse they understood not, but looked one upon another like live stockfish till they saw me very soberly take the first draught out of my hat. Then one by one they arose from beside their fire, and looked up this miracle and tasted the water; but instead of being grateful to me as they should have been, they began to curse and said they would I had chanced on some other spot with my spring: for if their lord came to know of it, then must the whole district of Dornstett do forced-work to make a road thither, which would bring great hardship upon them. “But,” says I, “on the contrary, ye will all have your profit therefrom: for you can turn your fowls, your eggs, your butter, and you cattle and the rest more easily into money.” “Nay, nay,” said they, “the lord will put in an innkeeper that will take all the profit alone: and we must be his poor fools to keep road and path trim for him, and earn no thanks thereby.”
But at last they disagreed: for two were for keeping the spring and four demanded of me that I should take it away; which, had it been in my power, I had willingly done whether it pleased them the or teased them. So as but must rather take heed lest we came together by the ears, I said that unless they were minded that all the cows in that valley should give red milk as long as the spring slowed they must presently show me the way to Seebach; with which they were content, and to that end sent two of them with me; for one had feared to go with me alone.
So I departed thence, and though the whole land there was barren and bore nothing but pinecones, yet would I with a curse have made yet poorer, for there I had lost all my hopes; yet went I silently enough with my guides till I came to the top of the hill, where I could a little trace my way by the lie of the country. And there I said to them, “Now, my masters, ye can turn your new spring to fine profit if ye go forthwith and tell your lords of its coming up; for that will bring ye a rich reward, seeing that the prince will surely build about it for the glory and gain of the country, and for the promotion of his own interest will have it made known to all the world.” “Yea,” said they, “fools should we be in truth so to bind rods for our own backs; we had rather the devil would take thee and they spring too: thou hast heard enough to know why we desire it not.” “Ah, miscreants!” quoth I, “should I not call ye disloyal rogues that depart so far from the ways of your pious forefathers, which were so true to their prince that he could boast that he might venture to lay his head upon the knees of any of his subjects and there sleep in safety. But ye blackcaps, to escape a trifling task for which ye would reap a rich reward, ye be so dishonest as to refuse to make known this healing spring, which were both to the profit of your worshipful prince and also to the welfare and health of many a sick man. What would it cost ye though each should do a few days’ forced work to that end?” “How,” said they, “we would rather kill thee that thy spring might remain unknown.” “Ye night birds,” says I, “there must be more of ye for that,” and therewith heaved up my cudgel and chased them to all the devils, and thereafter went my way down hill westwards and southwards, and so came after much toil and tumble about sunset to my farm, and found it true indeed what my dad had prophesied to me, namely, that I should get naught from this pilgrimage save weary legs and the way back for the way thither.
Chap. xix. is an uninteresting excursus on certain communities of Anabaptists in Hungary.
Edited by Steve Scheinert (15 February 2002)
 “Sylph” is one of many names given for those fairy tale entities that are more commonly known as fairies. Other groups for which the term fairy applies are brownies, gnomes, elves, nixies, goblins, trolls, pixies, kobolds, sprites, and undines. They are magical creatures, which generally take a very small, human form. Fairies are generally imagined to reside in a mythical fairyland, but also in many everyday natural objects. They have appeared in the mythological stories of Egypt and Greece, and in some Sanskrit poetry, and have reappeared later in works by Shakespeare (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the Queen Mab speech from “Romeo and Juliet”) and in fairy tale stories in Germany and Ireland, and in French, in the Tales of Mother Goose. “Fairy and Fairy Tale,” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000. CD-ROM (Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 1993-1999).
 In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece was the hide of the winged ram Chrysomallus. The god Hermes sent the ram to rescue two of the children of King Athamas and Nephele, Phrixus and Helle were the children. This was done since Athamas now favored a second wife, Ino, and Nephele realized her children were in danger from Ino due to rules of royal succession. Hermes sent the ram to answer Nephele’s prayers for rescue. The ram carried the children away, but Helle fell from his back into the sea, that area was named for her, the Hellespont. Chrysomallus landed Phrixus safely in the kingdom of Colchis, which is then ruled by King Aeëtes, to whom Phrixus gave the Golden Fleece, on the shores of the Black Sea. Aeëtes then puts the Fleece under the guard of a dragon who never sleeps. Afterward, the Greek hero Jason, Phrixus’s cousin, leads a quest to Colchis that regains the Fleece through the help of the daughter of Aeëtes, the sorceress Medea. “Golden Fleece,” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000. CD-ROM (Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 1993-1999).
 A slang term for a simpleton or foolish fellow. “Simple Simon,” Microsoft Bookshelf 98. CD-ROM (Microsoft Corporation, 1987 – 1997).
 Physiognomy is the unscientific art of divining a person’s future and character from his or her facial features. Johann Kaspar Lavater popularized the subject sometime after the time period of the Thirty Years War with his 1775 Essays on Physiognomy. “physiognomy,” Microsoft Bookshelf 98. CD-ROM (Microsoft Corporation, 1987 – 1997). Also: “Lavater, Johann Kaspar,” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000. CD-ROM (Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 1993-1999).
 Palmistry is the art of diving a person’s future from the lines and build of the palm of the hand. It is more commonly known today as palm reading. The Chaldeans, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, and the Hebrews knew the art. It was recognized by the philosophers Plato and Aristotle, among others, and received a rebirth during the 19th Century. “Palmistry,” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000. CD-ROM (Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 1993-1999).