Symzonia; Voyage of Discovery, by Adam Seaborn (pseud. John Cleves Symmes?), , at sacred-texts.com
Wonderful faculties of the Symzonians.—Translation of my books into their language.—Proposition of a Wise man to make slaves of the Author and his people.—The Author's remonstrance.—The Wise man disgraced.
The extraordinary strength and vigour of the faculties of this people enabled them to effect, in a short time, what would occupy the most intelligent of the externals for years. I can convey an idea of them only, by calling to the recollection of the reader the talent at computation manifested by Zera Colburn, who, at the age of 10 years, calculated the sum of any given number of figures in the twinkling of an eye, as though he arrived at the result by intuition.
The faculties of the Symzonians all seemed to be nearly perfect. They are obviously as much superior to ours, as Colburn's powers of calculation were greater than those of other untaught boys; which, no doubt, results from their strict conformity to the law of their nature.
With such powers of mind, it need not be matter of surprise that all my books were very soon translated into their language, and numerous copies of them printed, and distributed amongst the most learned and discreet, with instructions to report as to their fitness for general circulation.
This examination and report brought me into serious difficulty. A certain Wise man presented a memorial to the Best Man, in council, in which he attempted to prove, from the books which I had put into his hands, my large size, dingy complexion, carnivorous appetite, and my own account of the sensual habits and propensities of my race, that we were actually the offspring of the wicked who had been expelled from Symzonia for their vices, and that we ought to be subjected to the penalty denounced by their laws in such cases.
On inquiry, I found the penalty alluded to in the Wise man's memorial, was nothing less than the delivering of such persons to the most severe of the Useful class, to be kept at hard work, poorly fed, and debarred from intercourse with the pure—in the hope that, in process or time, their
gross appetites might be scourged out of them.
All the horrors of a rice swamp, with but a peck of corn a week for subsistence, sprang up in my affrighted imagination. I immediately set about an elaborate petition to the Best Man, in which I endeavoured to refute the arguments advanced by the Wise man, and to show that my dingy complexion was owing to my seafaring life on the external world, whereby I was much sunburnt; and that the Wise man had been led into error by mistaking a work of imagination, for real history.
I admitted that there was a race on the external world, inhabitants of some islands far to the north, who, from their vicinity to the place of exile, might be the descendants of the outcasts, but who, in my opinion, were more probably the descendants of the Belzubians, being a restless, turbulent people, much given to depredations upon the rights and property of others, of insatiable ambition, inordinate avarice, and excessive vanity: who made war their chief occupation, maintaining vast fleets and armies; who plundered the feeble, enslaved the unwary, and levied contributions by
force or fraud upon the whole human race:
That these islanders were a distinct people, who were regardless of the rights of others, being governed by cupidity, whereby they had become detestable to all the rest of the externals, and to my nation in particular, to so great a degree, that our Wise men (who have the control in the government, the Good and Useful being held in but little estimation by the wise and the useless in my country) had repeatedly ordained a non-intercourse, in the vain hope of bringing these supposed descendants of the Belzubians to a sense of justice; and that we were at this time only secure from their attacks, by an invention for blowing them into the air, if they ventured to assail our shores; that the book which had misled the Wise man was written by one of this people, and had no reference to my country.
Before I had completed my work to my satisfaction, I received the agreeable intelligence, that the Best Man, supported by all the Good and most of the Useful of his council, had ordered the name of the Wise man who made the proposition,
to be erased from the list of Worthies, as a cruel monster, for seriously proposing the infliction, upon strangers who had voluntarily thrown themselves upon the hospitality of the country, of penalties enacted only to render the consequences of the return of the outcasts too frightful to be encountered by them.
This was the only unpleasant occurrence during my stay. The days flew on with astonishing rapidity, so agreeably were they passed. The Symzonians slept but about three hours in the four-and-twenty, and considered me a very gross and sluggish being because I could not do without six hours sleep. With the exception of this short interval, every moment was occupied in conversation, study, observation, or amusement. Statistics, geography, botany, ærology, geology, mineralogy, zoology, ornithology, ichthiology, conchology, and entomology, in turn demanded and received my attention.