The Author departs from Token Island, in search of an internal continent.--Wind, weather, and other phenomena of the internal seas.--Great alarm of the crew.-Discovery of an inhabited country.
Description of the first view of the coast.--The Author names the discovered country Symzonia.--Enters the harbor.--His first interview with the Symzonians.--Sketch of their appearance.-He commences the study of the Symzonian language.--Wonderful powers of mind displayed by the natives.--Account of an aerial vessel.
The mild oblique rays of the morning sun gilded to our view
"A scene surpassing Fancy's vision."
Gently rolling hills within an easy sloping shore, covered with verdure, chequered with groves of trees and shrubbery, studded with numerous white buildings, and animated with groups of men and cattle, all standing in relief near the foot of a lofty mountain, which in the distance reared its majestic head above the clouds, offered to mariners long confined to a wide waste of water the highest reward for their enterprise and perseverance;--the heartfelt satisfaction, that it was to their courage and skill that their fellow citizens would be indebted for the contemplation of so much loveliness. Here there was nothing wanting to a perfect landscape. Plain, hill, and dell sometimes rising with an easy slope, at others, broken, abrupt, or craggy; with an ocean in front, and a mountain in the rear, it was complete.
At noon, on the 24th of December, we anchored in 14 fathoms water, on a fine sandy bottom. This land, out of gratitude to Capt. Symmes for his sublime theory, I immediately named SYMZONIA. The coast lay about S. S. W. and N. N. E. In the roadstead we were sheltered from all winds except those which blew directly along shore. These were not much to be feared, for we had found the prevailing W. S. W. winds to blow as steady as a trade wind for several days without any gales or stormy weather.
There were a number of buildings on the island, one of which from its magnitude and superior appearance to the others, I judged to be a public edifice of some sort. This structure was two stories high, while all the others were but one. In the front, a large open portico with an extensive platform, appeared to be a place of business, great numbers of people being collected upon it. In front of this building, a jettee into the water afforded convenient landing, and I directed the boat to be placed alongside of it. As I approached, all the people retired, and no sooner had I stepped upon the jettee than those in front of the large building moved into it.
Being determined to open an immediate communication with this people, who from the comforts with which they were surrounded could not be savages, I took off my sword, and gave it to Whiffle, and ordered him to lay off with the boat a half pistol shot from the shore, and not to fire a shot, nor to show his arms, unless he saw me run, or heard me fire a pistol; in which cases he must pull into the most convenient place to take me off, and to defend me.
I then walked slowly up the jettee. When I reached the head of it, I took off my hat and made a low bow towards the building, to show the Internals that I had some sense of politeness. No one appeared. I walked slowly up the sloping lawn, stopped, looked about me, and bowed, but still no one appeared to return my civilities. I walked on, and had arrived within one hundred yards of the portico, when I recollected, that when Captain Ross was impeded in his progress northward by the northern 'icy hoop,' he met with some men on the ice who told him they came from the north, where there was land and an open sea. These men were swarthy, which Capt. Symmes attributes to their being inhabitants of the hot regions within the internal polar circle; in which opinion he was no doubt correct. I had frequently reflected on this circumstance, and had settled the matter in my mind that they were stragglers from the extreme north part of the internal regions; and could not but consider Capt. Ross as a very unfit person for an exploring expedition, or he would not have returned without ascertaining where those men came from, or how a great sea could exist to the northward of the 'icy hoop,' through fear of wintering in a climate where he saw men in existence who had passed all their lives there.
I remembered that these men so seen by Capt. Ross, saluted him by pulling their noses; and surely it is not surprising that men, inhabiting such different positions on this earth as the inside and outside of it, should differ so much as to consider that a compliment in the one place, which is deemed an insult in the other. Indeed it seemed to me a small thing, when I considered how widely the most enlightened of the externals differ in opinion upon the most simple propositions of religion, politics, and political economy.
I was full in the faith that those men of Ross had been internals, and that their mode of salutation was much more likely to be in accordance with the manners of the Symzonians, than the rude fashion of us externals. I therefore pulled my nose very gracefully, without uncovering my head.
This had the desired effect. Several persons from within the building assembled on the platform of the portico. They stared much at me, which convinced me they were people of high fashion; conversed eagerly with one another, and seemed undetermined how to act. More than one hundred men collected, before any one showed any disposition to advance even to the front of the portico; and on the other hand, I dared not advance towards them, lest I should again put them all to flight, being already sensible that it was my dark and hideous appearance that created so much distrust amongst these beautiful natives. I therefore kept my position, occasionally pulling my nose out of politeness.
Full twenty minutes passed in this suspense; when one of the group, a man near five feet high, came to the threshold of the platform, and, raising his hand to his forehead, he brought it down to the point of his nose, and waved it gracefully in salutation, with a slight inclination of the body, but without actually pulling the nose as I had done. At the same time he spoke to me, in a soft, shrill, musical voice. His language was as unintelligible to me as the notes of a singing bird; but his mode of salutation was not. I caught it with the aptness of a monkey, returned his courtesy after his won fashion, and answered him in English, with as soft a whine as I could affect, that my rude voice might not offend his ears.
We spoke to each other in vain: he walked round, and surveyed my person with eager curiosity. I did the like by him, and had abundant cause; for the sootiest African does not differ more from us in darkness of skin and grossness of features, than this man did form me in fairness of complexion and delicacy of form. His arms were bare; his body was covered with a white garment, fitted to his shape, and hanging down to his knees. Upon his head he wore a tuft of feathers, curiously woven with his hair, which afforded shade to his forehead, and was a guard for his head against the rain. There was no appearance of any weapon about either him or any of the others.
Having both satisfied our eyes, I again endeavored to make myself intelligible to him; and, by the aid of signs, succeeded so far as to convince him that I came in peace, and meant no harm to any one. He pointed to the building, which I took as an invitation to go in, and walked towards the portico, with the Internal by my side.
An amusing scene now occurred, while we endeavored to communicate our thoughts and wishes to one another. I shoved up the sleeve of my coat, to show them, by the inside of my arm, (which was always excluded from the sun), that I was a white man. I am considered fair for an American, and my skin was always in my own country thought to be one of the finest and whitest. But when one of the internals placed his arm, always exposed to the weather, by the side of mine, the difference was truly mortifying. I was not a white man, compared with him.