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Symzonia; Voyage of Discovery, by Adam Seaborn (pseud. John Cleves Symmes?), [1820], at

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The Author in great peril, from the vast rise and fall of the tide in the polar sea—Brief account of his observations at Seaborn's Land—He takes formal possession of the country, in the manner usual in such cases, in the name and on behalf of the United States—Leaves a sealing party on one of the islands near the coast, and proceeds to the south, to extend his discoveries.

I had slept some hours, when I was awakened by Mr. Boneto's order, and informed that the land appeared to rise very much. I went immediately on deck, and was astonished to see the land appear more than three times as high as when we came to anchor. I at first attempted to account for it by supposing some change in the atmosphere which caused the land to loom; but was soon undeceived. One of the seamen called out that there was a shoal even with the water close by. The lead was immediately cast to see if the ship was driving, and but two fathoms water were found alongside. In half an hour more we were high and dry. Such was the astonishing

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rise and fall of the tide in this high latitude! The bay, which had twenty fathoms water in the centre at full sea, and ten fathoms a mile from the shore, was almost entirely emptied; a small channel in the middle, not more than half a mile wide, being all that was not left quite hare. There was no immediate inconvenience to be apprehended from this circumstance; but I was aware, that a tide that fell 70 or 80 feet perpendicular, must return in a bore with prodigious violence, and was under more apprehension of the consequences, than at any other period of my voyage. I however concealed my fears from my officers and people, who were much amused with the circumstance, and my apparent vexation at finding my vessel high and dry on a mud bank, near the south pole. My greatest fear was, that the tide might come in in a bore thirty or forty feet high, and, striking the vessel as she lay aground, tumble her over and dash her to pieces, no frame of timber being sufficient to withstand such a shock. Happily, the stream of the ebb tide had left us exactly stern to the flood. I ordered the boats to be hoisted in and secured, and the anchors to be

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taken up, fastened in the dead lights, put every thing below that was moveable, directed the men to provide themselves with strong lashings, and ordered the engineer to raise a head of steam, and have the engine in readiness for instant motion. Thus prepared, I awaited the return of the tide. It came in dun time; and now my officers and men, who had been so merry at my expense, evinced great consternation. The muscles of Slim's face were actually convulsed with terror at the sight of a wall of water, stretching quite across the bay, apparently 30 or 40 feet high, rolling towards us like a tremendous breaker, and with a roaring noise like thunder. To all appearance, it would break over our mast head, and consign us to one common grave. In mercy to the trembling Slim, I desired him to step below and bring me my pea jacket, well knowing he would not come up again until the danger was over. I then ordered the companion-way and the hatches to be secured, directed my people to lash themselves fast, and quietly wait the result. Here, I must confess, I put up a silent prayer to Heaven, after a sailor's fashion, for preservation from the impending danger.

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I have always found the fears and anticipation of danger to exceed the reality. When the bore approached us, the bottom came rather faster than the top, and its face was not quite perpendicular. The vessel was fairly afloat on the foot of the wave, before the main body of it struck her; and taking it square astern, she split and rose over it in the most beautiful manner, without sustaining the slightest injury. By backing with the paddles, we kept clear of the shore, on which the impetus of the wave would have driven us, and soon after anchored again in the middle of the bay in twenty fathoms water.

And here I would recommend to all navigators of the polar seas, to avoid anchoring in less than twenty fathoms, until they have accurately ascertained the rise and fall of the tides, at the full and change of the moon.

When the companion-way was unbarred, Slim came up with my pea jacket, and coolly observed, he was glad there was no damage done, adding, "I was really afraid it might break our paddles." In consequence of this occurrence, I named this bay Take-in harbour.

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We were occupied until noon, in returning things to their places, getting the boats out, and preparing for an excursion on chore. At noon I observed the altitude of the sun, and, after making accurate allowance for the refraction, found Take-in harbour to be in latitude 83° 3´ south. This was much further south than the distance run by log would make us, which I attributed to a strong current setting us rapidly in that direction; but this I soon found to be an error, and that the difference between the latitude by observation and dead reckoning, arose from the oblate form of the globe at the poles, lessening the degrees of latitude.

After dinner, I landed with a strong party, leaving the vessel in charge of Mr. Boneto. I took the horses and mules on shore, with provisions for a week, intending to march to the highest land we could find, to gain at once an extensive view of the coast and country. We landed on the south side of the bay, and shaped our course. for a moderately elevated spot, which appeared to be the highest land, due south about ten miles distant. We found the shore much like that of the Falkland Islands, the only

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difference being that this was much more level, and had greater extent of tussoc. After passing through a border of tussoc about three miles wide, we reached an open prairie country, with grass about four inches high. We were three hours in gaining the elevated spot, from which we were enabled to see the coast for a great distance on our left, and the sea along its border, studded with islands. On the right, we could see nothing but boundless prairie, with here and there a ridge like the one we were upon. To the south, in the horizon, appeared something like a hill, and to that I determined to go. Having taken some refreshments, we took up the line of march. Slim, who was with me, as I did not think it prudent to leave him on board, had been very docile until now: on finding me determined to push into the interior so great a distance, he became evidently uneasy. He dared not express his fears to me, but took care that I should overhear him say to one of the men, "I hope the captain won't waste so much time in exploring this desert, that we shall be obliged to go away without a full cargo of skins, or run the risk of being obliged to

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winter here, so near the pole, where we should certainly all freeze to death, in spite of every thing we could do." As this was a reasonable apprehension in the mind of an ignorant man, I endeavoured to remove his fears by calling his attention to the tussoc grass and other plants, and asked him how they survived the winter, if the cold was so intense as he supposed? and advanced the opinion that wherever plants can sustain the cold of winter, and retain their vitality, man can exist, with the aid of good clothing and artificial heat.

A fatiguing march of 15 miles brought us to the hill, which we found to be the highest part of a ridge of moderate elevation running from the coast in a S. S. W. direction into the interior. We were amply compensated for our trouble in wading through the grass, as this eminence afforded an extensive view of the country in every direction. The S. E. side of this ridge broke off very abruptly, in some places perpendicularly and at its foot was a large and beautiful river, full a mile in width, flowing from the S. S. W. Beyond it was a prairie country, gently waving and rising into sloping hills in the distant horizon. Far

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up the river I could descry with my glass a few trees, towards which I felt a strong inclination to proceed; but being excessively fatigued, thought best to devote a few hours to refreshment. After a comfortable meal, and a sound nap of four hours, I descended the precipice to ascertain whether the river was an arm of the sea, or a fresh water stream. It proved to be pure potable water, and the existence of a continent near the south pole, was thus fully established.

I had not been long on the bank of this river, before I found cause to doubt the prudence of venturing thus far by land into an unknown country, in the appearance of fresh tracks of some huge land animal, which were larger than the bottom of a water bucket. Whether they were those of a white polar bear as big as an elephant, of a mammoth, or of some other enormous nondescript animal, I could not guess. I re-ascended the hill with all practicable expedition, collected my men, and hastened towards the ship as fast as possible.

We reached the ship after six hours constant marching, all completely tired out, our horses and mules being too feeble to

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travel, from long confinement on shipboard.

The discoveries I had already made were so far from satisfying my ambition, that my desire to push on and explore the internal world was more intense than ever. I was now convinced of the correctness of Capt. Symmes's theory, and of the practicability of sailing into the globe at the south pole, and of returning home by way of the north pole, if no land intervened to obstruct the passage. My first thought was to enter the river I had seen, and ascend to its source, which must necessarily be in the internal world; for if the poles were open, there was not room enough for a sufficient body of land to the south of 84 degrees, to maintain so mighty a river. But f abandoned this idea, on reflecting that by confining myself to this river, I should at best enter the internal world but a few hundred miles, while by entering on the open ocean, I should be able to visit every accessible part of it.

My first business was to make such arrangements as would satisfy my crew, and to ascertain the condition of the country in the immediate vicinity.

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therefore landed a sealing party of thirty men, under Mr. Boneto, assisted by Mr. Slim, on one of the islands, and proceeded with the Explorer to the mouth of the great river: We found the access to the river easy and safe; the chain of islands off' the mouth of it broke the swell of the sea. Having ascertained its mouth to be in 83° 47´ south latitude, by observation, I proceeded up with two boats ahead, taking care to move only with the flood tide, and to anchor in deep water.

The banks for the first 30 miles were fringed with tussoc. Above that some trees appeared; and at the distance of 40 miles, the banks were skirted with a strip of dense forest, of moderately sized trees. We proceeded 10 miles further up, when the country appeared to be chiefly covered with large trees, wide apart, with no undergrowth between them, excepting on some low spots near the river, with here and there a spot of open prairie.

Having anchored the Explorer In a safe situation, I landed with a boat's crew at one of the open spaces, to examine the productions of the land, and see if I could discover any indications of inhabitants. I found

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the timber to be mostly different from that which I was acquainted with, excepting a species of fir resembling our spruce. I was much pleased to see wood of this description, and immediately ordered the launch on shore, with the axes and all our disposable force. We were busily engaged for three days in filling the Explorer with wood for fuel, and, after stowing her quite full, piled as much on deck as I thought she would bear, including timber for constructing winter quarters for the sealing party,

All fears of the consequences of wintering in this region were now done away. Where trees could live, I could live. I determined to erect a secure establishment for my sealing party, and pursue my discoveries as far as practicable. While the wood-cutting was going on, I did not venture far from the river—I had not forgotten the big tracks. I was always on shore with the party, to be ready for events, taking the people all on board with me when I wanted a four hours’ nap.

I employed myself in searching for curiosities, collecting geological, mineralogical, and ornithological specimens, sea fowl and land birds being very numerous in this

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country, and in gathering plants to enrich my hortus siccus, for the benefit of the learned when I should return home. My researches were rewarded by the discovery of some enormous bones, possibly of a whale, which being, according to very high authority, no fish, might at some former period have got on shore in this high latitude, after the fashion of the other visitants from the internal world. As they were very large, I called them mammoth bones of course, had them all carefully taken on board, and packed in boxes, as an invaluable acquisition to the scientific world.

On the third day a cry of terror called my attention. I saw the men all running for the boats, and thought it best to follow their example. We had all got into the boats, and shoved off into deep water, before I could ascertain the cause of the alarm, when the appearance of an enormous animal on the ground we had left answered my inquiries. The huge beast walked to the edge of the water at a moderate pace, and stopped to survey us new corners with great composure. I ordered Jack Whiffle, who was an excellent marksman, to give him a shot from a three-pounder,

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mounted in the bow of the launch, and at the same time gave him a volley of musketry. Whether the shot took effect or not, could not be discovered. He returned to the woods without haste or fright, and thus deprived me of the pleasure of securing his skin and skeleton, for the examination of the learned, and the benefit of Scudder's Museum.

There was nothing to be gained by a longer continuance in this river, and I felt no disposition to penetrate into forests, frequented by animals large enough to be called mammoth, a name which appears to be applicable to all big things. At this place, fifty miles from its mouth, the river was full a mile in width, and twenty fathoms deep at low tide. Taking into consideration its unusual magnitude and depth, and the large animal seen upon its bank, I named it Mammoth River.

We arrived at Take-in harbour next day. Mr. Boneto's party had been actively employed, and had already secured seven thousand seal skins. I collected all my officers on board, and acquainted them with such of my plans as I thought it prudent to disclose. The first was to land thirty of

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the crew at a group of islands which formed a snug harbour near the mouth of Mammoth River; to erect on one of the islands sufficient buildings to protect them from the severity of the winter, in case it should become necessary to remain there until another season, and large enough to contain a fair share of all the stores on board, in proportion to their numbers, so that they might fare as well as those who remained in the ship. I told them that I should proceed to the S. E. along the coast, to ascertain where was the best sealing ground to remove to when these Islands should be cleared of seals, and to discover whether the land extended a sufficient distance on the other side of the pole to open a passage for us to sail over the pole, and thus proceed to Canton by steering due north, which would save a great deal of time. This was all according to their notions of things; but I was well aware that when they would suppose we were sailing northward on the other side of the globe, we should in fact be sailing directly into it through the opening. No objections were made to this plan, as it all seemed feasible enough. But I was at a loss as to the officers

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[paragraph continues] I should leave with this party. In exploring the internal regions, I should want all my best officers; and although Slim was an excellent sealer, it would not do to leave him with the command of the party, for I should be sure to find the men all ripe for mutiny on my return. I at last determined to give Mr. Boneto the charge of the establishment, with the boatswain to assist him; to keep Albicore, Slim, and Mackerel in the ship, and give Jack Whiffle the birth of acting boatswain.

We were a week briskly engaged in carrying these arrangements into effect. Extensive buildings were erected of stone and wood, having a centre room, to which no external air could gain access, without passing through the flue of a stove. The store rooms were detached from the dwelling, that the stores might he saved in case of fire. A covered way quite around all the buildings, as well as from one to the other, was constructed, and the whole covered four feet thick on the sides and roof with the bog of the tussoc, timber and stone being placed on it to keep it from being forced off by high winds.

Having thus prepared for the safety and

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comfort of my people, I gave Mr. Boneto written instructions how to proceed in all imaginable cases, but especially cautioned him against going on to the main land, lest he should be destroyed by the mammoth animal.

Aware that there was a possibility that I might miscarry, and never get back to this place, I devoted a day to the performance of a necessary duty to my country, namely, taking possession of the country I had discovered, in the name and on behalf of the people of the United States of America. I first drew up a manifesto, setting forth, that I, Adam Seaborn, mariner, a citizen of the United States of America, did, on the 5th day of November, Anno Domini one thousand eight hundred and seventeen, first see and discover this southern continent, a part of which was between 78° and 84° south latitude, and stretching to the N. W., S. E., and S. W., beyond my knowledge; which land having never before been seen by any civilized people, and having been occupied for the full term of eighteen days by citizens of the said United States, whether it should prove to be in possession of any other people or not, provided they

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were not Christians, was and of right ought to be the sole property of the said people of the United States, by right of discovery and occupancy, according to the usages of Christian nations.

Having completed this important paper, which I composed with great care, knowing that many wars had been waged for a less cause than a right to so valuable a continent, I had it engraved on a plate of sheathing copper, with a spread eagle at the top, and at the bottom a bank, with 100 dollar bills tumbling out of the doors and windows, to denote the amazing quantity and solidity of the wealth of my country. When it was completed by the blacksmith, who was something of a proficient in the fine arts, I went on shore with all the officers and men that could be spared from the ship, taking my music, two pieces of cannon, some wine for my officers, and plenty of grog for the men. We marched up the shore with great pomp, the music playing and colours flying, to a convenient spot, where I buried the copper plate, and rolled upon it as large a stone as the whole ship's company could move, and ordered the blacksmith to engrave upon it, in large deep letters, "Seaborn's Land. A. D. 1817."

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A liberty pole was then erected on the spot, and the standard of the United States displayed upon it; all of which being accomplished, I ordered a salute to be fired of one gun for every State. "How many will that be, sir?" asked Mr. Boneto, adding, that they came so fast be could not keep the run of them. Slim said it was twenty-one. I objected to that number, as being the royal salute of Great-Britain, and settled the matter by telling them to fire away till they were tired of it, and finish off with a few squibs for the half-made States. We completed the ceremony with a plenty of grog, and reiterated huzzas, as usual, and thus established the title of the United States to this newly discovered country, in the most incontestible manner, and strictly according to rule.

Next: Chapter V