Symzonia; Voyage of Discovery, by Adam Seaborn (pseud. John Cleves Symmes?), , at sacred-texts.com
The Author returns to the Explorer—Holds a council of officers—Determines to return to Seaborn's Land—Takes leave of Surui—Sails from Symzonia—Touches at Token Island—Arrives at Boneto's station.
I returned to my ship, with sensations very different from those which delighted my heart on my passage from it. I felt like a culprit exiled to Botany Bay for his crimes: so strong was the contrast between the peaceful, intelligent, and virtuous people, from amongst whom I was driven, and the turbulent, rude, and corrupt externals, with whom I was doomed to pass the remainder of my days. My chief consolation was derived from that contemptible passion, vanity, a certain evidence that I was a true external. I could not avoid being elated, and indulging some pleasant emotions, when I thought of the great curiosity my arrival from the internal world would excite amongst the externals, the celebrity I should acquire, the prodigious importance which would be ascribed to
my discoveries, and the unbounded encomiums which would be lavished on me for my wonderful capacity of mind, displayed in the contrivance of my voyage, and the incomparable bravery, skill, and perseverance displayed in the execution of it. All this, with the anticipation of the many public dinners which would be eaten in honour of the discoverer, the flattering toasts which would be drank all over the United States, and perhaps in Europe, together with the pleasure I should enjoy in relating my apparently tough stories, helped to keep up my spirits.
We were but ten hours in travelling to the ship; and it being the season of faint light, I could not make any new observations on the country. Surui and his companions were very reserved on the way. The little conversation which took place, turned wholly on the beauty of holiness and purity of life, and the evidences of a blessed hereafter to all who are truly good.
I reached the ship on the 28th of July, 1818, and found my people all very comfortable. Their chief complaint was, that they had nothing fresh but oysters, which, in their opinion, were meagre food for civilized
men, but which Mr. Albicore, to save our salt provisions, had given them very often. They found much fault also, that they were not permitted to go on shore. A profusion of the best of vegetables and fruits, with a full supply of the delicacies of the country, and with but little work to do, made them, as the like circumstances always make sailors, discontented and restless.
Surui having furnished me with a good chart of the internal seas, as far as Token Island, I determined to put to sea immediately, and proceed to that island, where I could employ my people in collecting tortoise-shell, until the sun should attain sufficient south declination to light our way back to Seaborn's Land. I accordingly called a council of officers, and laid before them the state of affairs, as far as I saw fit to disclose them, and the alternatives which were open to our selection.
In the first place, we might be able to find Belzubia, if we went in search of it, and if the people of that country retained their ancient habits, there would be no difficulty in opening a trade with them. On the other hand, if they continued to be a warlike and unjust people, they might
have power and inclination to bale our vessel, and subject us all to slavery.
In the second place, Mr. Boneto's party would undoubtedly have a full cargo of seal skins ready for us against our return to Seaborn's Land, which would give us all money enough to make us comfortable at home; and it must not be forgotten that if we should go in search of Belzubia and be lost, Boneto and all his party must perish, and be lost to their country.
On the whole, I was willing to consider the discoveries I had made sufficient for one voyage, and to leave Belzubia for a subsequent expedition.
Slim's eyes glistened when I described the heaps of pearls I had seen, and he immediately proposed that we should possess ourselves of them by force, having no doubt that, with our fire arms, we should be able to contend with any number of these delicate little beings, and thinking it of no manner of importance how many of them we might destroy, provided we got the pearls. But when I described to him their engines of defence, before which an army would disappear like a nest of caterpillars subjected to the flames of burning
straw, his eyeballs swelled with fright, and he was anxious to put to sea with all practicable haste.
Albicore endeavoured to account for the circumstance of the oysters sent on board having all been opened, and the soft part taken off by the Symzonians, by supposing that they did it to preserve the pearls for their own use; but it appeared to me to have been done because the impure part is not considered by them fit for food.
On the 13th of August, we put to sea. Surui accompanied us until we were quite out of sight of land, with a vessel in company to take him hack. On parting with this excellent Symzonian, I presented him with a handsome gold watch, and a number of instruments and useful articles. He exhorted me to improve the instruction I had received while in his country, and to endeavour to imitate the morals and habits of the internals, as the only course by which I could advance my own happiness, and render myself better, and more capable of promoting the real welfare of my fellow-mortals. He also earnestly entreated me to warn my countrymen not to approach the coasts of Symzonia in expectation of
being allowed any intercourse or traffic, whilst they remained besotted in vice and iniquity, the Best Man in council having decided, out of regard to the purity of the nation, that the engines of defence should be used to prevent such contamination.
We found no difficulty in making our passage to Token Island in twenty-one days, Surui having given me a particular account of the prevailing winds and currents, and the course to take to reach that island with the greatest expedition.
Here it may be well to explain the cause of the astonishing velocity of the Symzonian vessels, which enabled the one we had seen on approaching the coast to avoid us so easily. It appears that the Symzonians, in ancient times, apprehensive that the Belzubians might send armed ships to the coast to capture their vessels and carry away their people, devised a plan for accelerating their motion, by means of a number of tubes which perforated the after part of the vessel under water, through which air was forced with extreme violence by the agency of a curious engine, of which I could not obtain a particular description. This rush of air against the
water forces the vessel forward with amazing rapidity. Every vessel going far from the coast must be furnished with one of these engines, but they are used only on emergencies.
The wreck of the vessel I had seen on Token Island was not of Symzonian construction, and the metal with which it was fastened was unknown in that country. It was the opinion of the Wise men that it must have been of Belzubian origin, for that people sometimes extended their voyages to Token Island to obtain turtles, which they eat.
On the passage to Token Island I had very interesting employment in examining my Symzonian literary treasures, and in extracting and translating some of the most remarkable articles. The volumes which I had been permitted to bring away comprised a full account of all the science and useful knowledge of Symzonia; and in consequence of having this copious fountain to draw from, at pleasure, I had less occasion to depend on my written memoranda of the many curious and interesting facts and circumstances which fell under my observation whilst on shore.
These manuscripts were the only articles that I brought away from Symzonia, except the handful of pearls given to me by the pearl-wash maker, which, being concealed in my breeches pocket, and the fact of my possessing them being known only to the workman, I thought I might venture to smuggle, notwithstanding the Pest Man's confidential reliance on my integrity. This deviation from what was expected of me, will, I trust, be excused by my external friends, when they remember that I have been much addicted to commerce, and consider the force of habit, and the security with which the operation could be performed.
Soon after our arrival at Token Island, the sun was visible for a short interval at noon, nearly over head. The remainder of the twenty-four hours we had a very bright light from the reflection of the sun and moon from the rim of the polar opening. Both those luminaries being now in the equator, their rays fell perpendicularly upon the rim of the opening, and being bent in by refraction, were visible at Token Island at noon. This direct and constant influence of the sun, the reflected
rays being very powerful, rendered it very hot, early as it was in the season. Therefore, as I was eager and impatient to rejoin Mr. Boneto and his party, and to ascertain what success he had had in sealing, as well as to have several months of light, that my whole crew might, if necessary, be employed to complete a lading for the ship, we stayed but twenty days at Token Island. In this time we procured a considerable quantity of tortoise shell, and then proceeded direct for Seaborn's Land.
It was so early in the season that the temperature of the air changed rapidly, as we issued from the internal cavity, and approached the polar region of the external world. On the first of October, we experienced cold disagreeable weather, with slight falls of sleet and snow; but the sun was constantly above the horizon, and we pursued our course without delay. October 2d, we saw World's-end Cape, to the great joy of all on board, and especially of Mr. Slim, who could scarcely express his ecstacies. The following day we anchored in the harbour off Mr. Boneto's station, which, out of compliment to him, I named Boneto's Harbour.
We found the buildings, stores, and a large quantity of seal-skins carefully stacked, all in good condition, but no person on the island. I was immediately denominated a murderer, my men being certain that the whole party had been frozen to death, or that the mammoth animals had crossed on the ice during winter, and destroyed them all, so ready are seamen to put the worst construction on every thing, and to censure their commander. Slim was "nothing loth" to forward this idea, a sight of the great quantity of valuable furs in which he was to share in no degree softening his malignity.
As there were no dead bodies, bones, or boats, to be seen, I was not alarmed for the safety of the men, and had no doubt but they were absent on a sealing excursion. The appearance of the boats under sail soon confirmed my opinion. We were presently joined by Mr. Boneto, who, with his party, had passed the winter very comfortably.
They had taken eighty thousand sealskins during our absence, most of which were preserved in salt, for the winter did not admit of their being cured by drying.
[paragraph continues] We had, therefore, abundant work before us to dry those skins, and to take a sufficient number in addition to complete our lading.
The joy of my officers and people, at this re-union, was without bounds. Sailors, on long voyages, become very much attached to one another, and consider every shipmate as a brother. I devoted three days to recreation, in consideration of the many perils we had encountered, and the great success which had thus far attended my enterprise.