First published in 1741.
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The University of Adelaide Library
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|Niels Klim’s descent to the Planet Nazar,||1|
|A Criminal led by three Watchmen,||23|
|Presentation of Niels Klim at the Court of Potu,||29|
|A Citizen of Potu led in triumph,||41|
|The judgment of a King’s character, pronounced by a Potuan Council,||48|
|A new fashion introduced into Martinia,||99|
Lewis Holberg, the author of the Narrative of Niels Klim, was the most eminent writer among the Danes in the eighteenth century. His works show a surprising versatility of genius, comprising Histories and Treatises on Jurisprudence, together with Satires and Comedies. He was by birth a Norwegian, but was educated at the University at Copenhagen in Denmark. Soon after receiving a theological degree from that Institution, he visited Holland and England, and resided about two years at Oxford. Shortly after his return he published an “Introduction to European History,” and an “Appendix to the Universal History,” in which he gives an account of contemporaneous affairs in the principal governments of the world. His historical labors were interrupted by a royal appointment to a professorship in the University. This office he enjoyed for five years, and then went abroad. In his Autobiography he has given an interesting account of his travels, both at this time and subsequently, and has described men and manners in a way highly entertaining, and generally just. He visited most of the cities of Southern Europe, abiding some time in each. He was well received by men of letters, and made many valuable acquaintance, wherever he went. After remaining one whole winter at Rome, and accomplishing the object of his mission, he returned to Copenhagen. His income was now small, and for two years he was oppressed with great pecuniary difficulties. It was during this period that he published in the Danish language, his “Introduction to the Law of Nature and of Nations.” In this treatise, Holberg aimed rather to apply the principles of Natural Law to the Laws and Constitutions of Norway and Denmark, than elaborately to discuss the principles themselves. The work was coldly received at its first appearance, but, after ten or twelve years began to excite public attention, and passed through several editions.
At length, the professorship of metaphysics becoming vacant, he received the appointment. The emoluments of this office, though small, supplied his necessities, and, not long after, on obtaining a more lucrative station in the University, he was relieved from his embarrassments.
Hitherto, he had devoted himself almost exclusively to Jurisprudence, History and Languages, and had never tried his hand at poetical composition. Indeed, he had ever felt a strange aversion to the study of poetry, and, although he had read the Latin Poets, and composed Latin Poems, it was more for the sake of proficiency in the language, than for pleasure, or, in his own words, “as a sick man swallows bitter draughts, not because they are grateful to the palate, but, because they are recommended by the physicians.”
He now, however, seemed inspired by a new ambition, and set himself to imitate one of Juvenal’s Satires. Encouraged by his unexpected facility, he projected and composed an original poem. Its success, when published, surpassed that of any work previously written in the Danish language. Judicious critics heartily commended it, and some even looked upon it as introducing a new era in the national literature. It was also published in Sweden and Germany, and raised the author’s reputation abroad. He next published five more Satires, prefixing to each a short preface, unfolding the writer’s design. His poetical productions were a source of more honor than gain, and, becoming weary of almost profitless pursuits, he abandoned poetry, and devoted himself to his former studies.
Nevertheless, the solicitations of friends prevailed upon him to turn his attention to Dramatic composition. Here he was equally successful. His comedies were received with great applause, and still hold possession of the stage. Like his Satires, they were intended to expose fashionable vice and folly. They are twenty-five in number. The names of several will give some notion of their general character —The Babbling Barber; Always Busy and Doing Nothing; The Treacherous Step-father; The Political Tinman.
His health being impaired by unintermitted literary labor, he determined to seek relief from the baths of Aix-la-Chapelle. He did not derive from them the benefit he anticipated, but, after spending the winter in Paris, returned home with renewed health and spirits. His next publication, was a Satirical Poem, entitled “Metamorphosis,” in which brutes and trees are transformed into men. This was the last of his poetical efforts.
For several years he had been engaged in preparing ”A General Ecclesiastical History from the origin of Christianity to the Reformation of Luther,” which he now published. This production, the author affirms, was written with perfect impartiality. He sometimes censured the Fathers, praised heretics, when they deserved it, and occasionally even commended the Popes. It was extremely popular, though all were not pleased with its liberal spirit. A Comparative Biography of Asiatic and Indian Heroes, after Plutarch’s style; A short Historical Account of his Native Town; The Narrative of Niels Klim; His Autobiography; and a History of the Jewish Nation, digested from the works of Josephus, Prideaux, and Basnage, close the list of his works.
“The Journey to the World under ground,” or ”Narrative of Niels Klim,” had been written for a long time, but he had refrained from printing it from an unwillingness to provoke enmity. But the importunity of friends, and the generous offer of a bookseller finally prevailed, and he put it into the printer’s hands. The following account of this performance is abridged from his autobiography.
There are many persons of both sexes in my country, who believe in fairies and supernatural beings, and who are ready to swear, that they have been conveyed by spirits to hills and mountain caves. This superstition is ridiculed in Klim, the hero of the tale. He is supposed to be transported to the world under ground, where he meets with some surprising adventures. Many strange creatures inhabit this new world; trees, for instance, are introduced, endowed with speech, and musical instruments discuss questions of philosophy and finance. Amongst the characters, those geniuses, who perceive everything at a glance, but penetrate nothing, are conspicuous. People of quick perception, whom we use to admire, are despised by the Potuans, who look upon them as idle loungers, that, though always moving, make no progress. Prudent men, on the contrary, who measure their own strength, and advance cautiously, are greatly esteemed by that nation, though with us they pass for fools or cowards. The Potuans and Martinians are examples of both these extremes. By the former Klim was considered a blockhead, on account of the quickness of his perceptions; by the latter he was equally despised for the slowness of his apprehension. To Klim, who measures virtues and vices by the ordinary standard, everything is a paradox; but what he at first condemns, he admires and extols after deliberation; so that the object of the whole work is to correct popular errors, and to distinguish the semblance of virtue and vice from the reality. Its subordinate design is to expose the monstrous fictions, which some authors obtrude upon us in their descriptions of remote countries.
“The Narrative of Niels Klim,” though written so many years ago, contains many satirical hits, exceedingly applicable to the present time; thus showing that what appears to one age to be a whim altogether new, may be, in fact, only some old notion newly promulgated. Greater liberties were allowed at that period in literature than would now be permitted. Holberg’s humorous productions are not wholly free from a fault, whose existence the taste of any age may explain, but does not excuse.
After living in competency for many years in Copenhagen, he was, in 1747, created a baron by the king of Denmark. He died in 1754.
Since it has come to our ears that some persons have doubted the truth of this story, and that, consequently, the publisher of the subterranean voyage has gotten, here and there, a bad reputation, we have, to prevent all false accusations, held it advisable to prefix to this new edition certificates from men whose honesty and sincerity are raised above all distrust, and whose evidence will secure the publisher against all opposition. The first two of these witnesses we know to have been contemporary with our hero; the rest flourished at a period immediately subsequent; and all are generally known as people venerable in virtue and honesty, whose cool and sound judgments effectually preclude the blandishments of cajolery, while their noble candor and undeviating uprightness forbid the sanction of their names to whatever is, in its nature, deceitful or fictitious. With the testimony of such respectable persons, we shall bind the tongues of all false, prejudiced and sneering critics, and, before these signatures, oblige them to acknowledge their folly and take back their heedless accusations. The certificate sent to my brother and myself reads thus:
“At the desire of the estimable and much respected young men, Peter Klim and Andreas Klim, we, the undersigned, do certify, that among the books and papers left by the celebrated Niels Klim, we have seen a manuscript, with the title, ‘Subterranean Voyage.’ To the same ‘Voyage’ were added a subterranean Grammar and Dictionary, in two languages, namely, Danish and Quamitic. By comparing the celebrated Abelin’s Latin translation with this old manuscript, we find that the former does not, in the least point, deviate from the hand-text. To its further confirmation we have hereby placed our seals.
Adrian Peterson, mpp.
Jens Thorlaksen, mpp.
Svend Klak, mpp.
Jokum Brander, mpp.
Jens Gad, (for self and brother,) mpp.
Hieronymous Gibs, (Scotch,) mpp.“
We hope by such distinguished and authentic testimony to remove all doubt; but should there be found any stubborn enough to persist in their suspicions, in spite of these certificates, we will anticipate their objections, and endeavor to subdue their incredulity with other weapons.
It is a known fact, that in a section of Norway, called Finnmark, exist people who have advanced so far in the study and practice of natural witchcraft, (a science into which other nations have scarcely looked,) that they can excite and subdue storms; transform themselves to wolves; speak several, and in our world entirely unknown, languages; and travel from the north to the south pole in less time than one hour. One of these Finns, by name Peyvis, came lately to Bergen, and exhibited so many strange proofs of his art and science, that all present deemed him worthy of a doctor’s hat: at the same time a fierce critic came out with a review of the “Subterranean Travels,” which he assumptively tagged to the long list of “old women’s stories;” the honor of the Klims being thus impugned, and his own by implication, Peyvis, through our influence, obtained permission to collect materials and prepare himself for a voyage under ground. He commenced by publishing a card, wherein he exalted his abilities in the following expressions:
What will you? say!
From northern ice to southern land:
From eastern isles to western sand,
Spirits of earth, spirits of air;
Spirits foul and spirits fair,
My power obey!
I break the rainbow’s arched line;
That herald of approaching calm.
Thunder I send by cold moonshine —
Mine is the bane and mine the balm.
My beck upwhirls the hurricane:
The sun and moon and stars in vain
Their wonted course would keep;
Honey from out the rock doth weep
When I command.
My potent wand,
Stretched on the mighty northern wave,
Or seas that farther India lave,
Subdues their mountain billows hoarse,
To inland brooklets’ murmuring course.
What is on earth, what is in sea,
In air and fire, from Peyvis free?
Everybody shuddered from fear at hearing these incredible assumptions. The Finn immediately prepared himself for the voyage, undressed, and, strange sight! suddenly transformed to an eagle, raised himself into the air and soon vanished. After a full month’s absence, our wonderful doctor, early on a morning, re-appeared, entirely exhausted, his forehead streaming with sweat. When sufficiently recovered from his fatigue, he commenced a description of his adventures on his air passage and in the subterranean lands. He told us that on his arrival below, war was raging between the established government and the opposition, in which the party of Klim got the ascendancy, and reinstated the son of our Niels on the throne; our kinsman had for a long time borne the sceptre, under the administration of his mother; but now, old and glorified for many great feats, reigned alone over the whole subterranean world, with the name of Niels the Second.
Now, take shame to yourselves, ye incredulous mortals! and learn hereafter, in important matters, to proceed with more caution. Be ashamed, ye scoffers! and ask pardon for your unfounded accusations, your atrocious sneers. Stand abashed, finally, ye hyper-critics! and know that the learned world shall no longer suffer from your audacious and unreasonable judgments; then silence your stunted progeny at their birth, or if you will, yourselves!
In the year 1664, after graduating at the Academy of Copenhagen, in Theology and Philosophy, I prepared to return to my father-land, and took passage in a ship bound for the city of Bergen, in Norway. I had been furnished with brilliant testimonials from both faculties, and wanted only money; — a fate common to Norwegian students, who generally return home with empty purses from the Temple of the Muses.
We had a good wind, and in three days arrived at my native town, Bergen.
I occupied myself now, in expanding my knowledge of natural philosophy, and for practice, geologically examined the neighboring mountains. On the top of the most interesting of these mountains, (interesting I mean to a student,) was a remarkable cave, which the inhabitants of the town called Florien. From its mouth, a mild and not unpleasant air issues at certain periods, as though the cave inhaled the breeze and gently sighed it forth again.
The learned in Bergen, especially the celebrated Abelin and Edward, had longed to examine it; but these latter, from their great age, being unable to perform so arduous a feat, used every occasion to induce the young and adventurous to attempt the exploration. Instigated, (and it was a foolish, and I might say, a wicked resolution,) instigated, I say, not less by the encouragement of these great men than by my own inclination, I determined to descend into the cave. The longer I thought of the matter, the firmer I became. I prepared every thing needful for the expedition, and on a Thursday, at the morning twilight, departed from the city. I started thus early, because I desired to finish my labors before dark, and make a report the same evening.
How little did I then dream that like another Phaëton, I should be driven headlong through the air and precipitated to another globe, there to ramble for the space of ten years, before I should see my friends and native land again. The expedition took place in the year 1665. Accompanied by four men to carry the necessary implements, and assist in letting me down, I ascended the mountain. Arrived at the top, near the fatal cave, we sat down to breakfast. Now, for the first time, my heart began to faint, as though it foreboded my coming misfortune; but, in a moment, my half extinguished courage blazed again. I fixed a rope around my body, stood on the edge of the cave, and commended my soul to God. Ordering the men to veer the rope steadily, and to hold when I cried out, I took a boat-hook in my right hand, and glided into the abyss. Aided by the pole, I was enabled to keep clear of the jutting points of rock that would have impeded my progress, as well as have wounded me. I was somewhat anxious about the rope, for it rubbed hard against the rocks at the top; and, in fact, I had scarcely descended twenty to thirty feet, when it gave way, and I tumbled with strange quickness down the abyss, armed like Pluto, with a boat-hook, however, in place of a sceptre.
Enveloped by thick darkness, I had been falling about a quarter of an hour, when I observed a faint light, and soon after a clear and bright-shining heaven. I thought, in my agitation, that some counter current of air had blown me back to earth. The sun, moon and stars, appeared so much smaller here than to people on the surface, that I was at a loss with regard to my where-a-bout.
I concluded that I must have died, and that my spirit was now about to be carried to the blessed dwellings. I immediately conceived the folly of this conclusion, however, when I found myself armed with a boat-hook, and dragging behind me a long strip of rope; well knowing that neither of these were needful to land me in Paradise, and that the celestial citizens would scarcely approve of these accessories, with which I appeared, in the manner of the giants of old, likely to attack heaven and eject the gods therefrom.
Finally, a new light glimmered in my brain. I must have got into the subterranean firmament. This conclusion decided the opinion of those, who insist that the earth is hollow, and that within its shell there is another, lesser world, with corresponding suns, planets, stars, &c., to be well-grounded. The result proved that I guessed right.
The rapidity of my descent, continually augmented for a long time, now began to decrease gradually. I was approaching a planet which I had from the first seen directly before me. By degrees it grew larger and larger, when, penetrating the thick atmosphere which surrounded it, I plainly saw seas, mountains and dales on its surface.
As the bold bird, between the billow’s top
And mountain’s summit, sweeps around
The muscle-clothed rock, and with light wing
Sports on the foam, my body hovered.
I found now that I did not hang in the atmosphere, buoyed up by the strong current of which I have spoken, but that the perpendicular line of my descent was changed to a circle. I will not deny that my hair rose up on my head in fear. I knew not but that I might be metamorphosed to a planet or to a satellite; to be turned around in an eternal whirl. Yet my courage returned, as I became somewhat accustomed to the motion. The wind was gentle and refreshing. I was but little hungry or thirsty; but recollecting there was a small cake in my pocket, I took it out and tasted it. The first mouthful, however, was disagreeable, and I threw it from me. The cake not only remained in the air, but to my great astonishment, began to circle about me. I obtained at this time a knowledge of the true law of motion, which is, that all bodies, when well balanced, must move in a circle.
I remained in the orbit in which I was at first thrown three days. As I continually moved about the planet nearest to me, I could easily distinguish between night and day; for I could see the subterranean sun ascend and descend — the night, however, did not bring with it darkness as it does with us. I observed, that on the descent of the sun, the whole heavens became illuminated with a peculiar and very bright light. This, I ascribed to the reflection of the sun from the internal arch of the earth.
But just as I began to fancy myself in the near presence of the immortal gods, about to become myself a new heavenly light and wondered at as a brilliant star — behold! a horrible, winged monster appeared, who seemed to threaten me with instant destruction. When I saw this object in the distance I supposed it to be one of the celestial signs, but when it came near I perceived it to be an enormous eagle, which followed in my wake as if about to pounce upon me. I observed that this creature noticed me particularly, but could not determine whether as a friend or enemy.
Had I reflected, I should not have wondered that a human being, swinging round in the air, with a boat-hook in his hand, and a long rope dragging behind him, like a tail, should attract the attention of even a brute creature.
My uncommon figure gave, as I afterwards understood, occasion for strange reports to the inhabitants on my side of the planet.
The astronomers regarded me as a comet, with a very long tail. The superstitious thought my appearance to be significant of some coming misfortune. Some draughtsmen took my figure, as far as they could descry it, so that when I landed I found paintings of myself, and engravings taken from them, and hawked about.
But to return; the eagle flew towards me and attacked me with his wings very furiously. I defended myself as well as I could with my boat-hook, and even vigorously, considering my unstable situation. At last, when he attempted to grapple with me, I thrust the hook in between his wings so firmly that I could not extricate it.
The wounded monster fell, with a terrible cry, to the globe beneath; and holding the hook, I, well tired of my pendant attitude, was dragged to the planet.
At first my descent was violent, but the increasing thickness of the atmosphere as I approached the planet, made me sink with an easy and soft fall to the earth. Immediately on touching it the eagle died of its wounds.
It was now night; or rather the sun was down, for it was not dark. I could see clearly to read the papers I had in my pocket.
The light, as I have already said, comes from the firmament or internal shell of our earth, half of it being brightened at one time like our moon. The only difference between night and day is that the absence of the sun makes the weather a little colder.
My voyage through the air was now ended. I lay for a long time entirely immovable, awaiting my fate with the approach of day. I now observed that the wants and weaknesses of humanity, which, during my passage had ceased, now returned. I was both sleepy and hungry. Fatigued in mind and body I fell into a deep slumber. I had slept, as far as I could judge, about two hours, when a terrible roar, which had previously disturbed my slumbers, suddenly waked me. I had dreamed some curious dreams; in one, I thought myself to be in Norway, at the church in my native town, listening to the singing of our clerk, whose voice was really unpleasant from its roughness. My first impression therefore, on recovering myself was, that this man was indulging in an extraordinarily ambitious strain. In fact, on opening my eyes, I saw a huge bull within a few feet of me. At the same moment, a vigorous roar from this animal convinced me that I did not listen to church music.
It was now day-break, and the rising sun began to gild the green oaks and fruitful fields, which, spreading abroad in every direction, astonished my recovered sense.
How much greater was my surprise when I saw the trees, of which there were great numbers in my view, move, although not a breeze stirred.
The vicinity of the bull not being pleasing to me, I arose and began to ascend a tree which stood near. As I raised myself by its limbs, it gave a low, yet shrill scream, and I got at the same time a lively slap on my ear, which propelled me headlong to the ground. Here I lay as if struck by lightning, about to give up my spirit, when I heard around me a murmuring noise, such as is heard on the Exchange when the merchants are assembled.
I opened my eyes and saw many trees moving about the field. Imagine my agitation, when one of the trees swept towards me, bent one of its branches, and, lifting me from the ground, carried me off, in spite of my woful cries, followed by an innumerable number of its companions of all kinds and sizes. From their trunks issued certain articulated sounds, which were entirely incomprehensible to me, and of which I retained only the words: Pikel-Emi, on account of their being often repeated. I will here say, these words mean an extraordinary monkey, which creature they took me to be, from my shape and dress. All this, of course, I learned after being some months among them.
In my present condition, I was far from being able to conceive of the nature of sensible, speaking trees. In truth, so confounded was I, that I forgot I could speak myself. As little could I understand the meaning of the slow, solemn procession, and the confused murmurs which resounded in the air.
I fancied they were reproaching or expressing their contempt of me. I was not far from the truth: for the tree into which I had climbed to escape from the bull, was no less than the wife of the sheriff of the neighboring town, to which they were now taking me a prisoner.
The buildings and streets of this town were very handsome and extensive. The houses, from their height, appeared like huge towers. The streets were wide and filled with trees, which swayed about and saluted each other by lowering their branches.
The greater this declination, the more expressive was it of respect and esteem.
As we passed through a very wide street I saw a tall oak approach a distinguished house, when the trees which escorted me, stepped gracefully back, and bent their branches to the ground. I concluded this must be a more than common personage. In fact, it was the sheriff himself, the very dignitary, whose lady it was insisted I had come too near. I was carried to the hall of this officer’s house, and the door was locked upon me. Several trees armed with axes kept guard over me. The axes were held in the branches, which served the same purpose as human hands. I noticed that high up in the branches each wore a head, about the size of my own, covered with leaves and tendrils instead of hair. Below were two roots or legs, very short.
These trees were much smaller than those on our earth, in fact being about the height of a man; some indeed were much shorter; but these I concluded to be children.
While reflecting on the miserable situation in which I found myself, and weeping over the ill-luck of my adventure, my guards stepped up to me and commanded me to follow them. They led me to a splendid building in the middle of the market-place.
At the door of this building stood Justice, cut out in the form of a tree, holding among the branches a pair of scales. I presumed the structure to be the court-house, nor was I deceived. I was carried into a large room, the floor of which was overlaid with glittering marble flags of various colors.
At the upper end a golden chair was raised a little above the floor, like a judge’s seat; in it was seated a sedate palm tree, distinguished from the rest by the gorgeousness of his leaves; a little below him were seated twelve assessors, six on either side. About them stood twenty-four officers holding axes. I was not a little terrified when brought a prisoner before these magnates.
As I entered the hall, all the officers of the court stood up, elevated their branches and then sat down. After this ceremony I was placed at the bar between two trees, the stems of which were covered with sheep-skins. These persons I supposed to be lawyers, and so they were.
Before the trial commenced, the head of the judge was wrapped up in a black blanket. The accuser then made a short speech, which he thrice repeated. The lawyer appointed to defend me, replied in the same manner. A perfect silence then ensued. In half an hour the superior judge rose from the chair, removed the blanket, raised the branches towards Heaven, and spoke with much grace, what I supposed to be my sentence. I was then carried back to my prison.
While I mused on the strange things I had witnessed, a tree came into my cell, with an instrument resembling a lancet in his hand. He stripped one of my arms, and made a puncture in the median vein. When he had taken from me as much blood as he deemed sufficient, he bound up the wound with great dexterity. He then examined my blood with much attention, and departed silently, with an expression of wonder.
This circumstance by no means weakened the opinion which I had for some time entertained, that these people were shallow and foolish. But my judgment proved to be too hasty. When I was better enabled to judge of what passed about me, by acquaintance with the subterranean languages, my contempt was changed to admiration.
I will now explain the ceremonies, which to my ignorance seemed ridiculous.
From my figure it was concluded that I was an inhabitant of the firmament. I was supposed to have attempted to violate the person of a chaste and virtuous lady, and for this crime I had been taken to the court-house for trial.
The rising of the branches towards Heaven, was a common ceremony of religion. The lawyers were clothed in sheep-skin, to remind them of the attributes of their calling — innocence, faithfulness, and sedateness. The repetition of their speeches was on account of the very slow apprehension and cautious decision of the people, by which peculiarities they were distinguished from all the inhabitants of the subterranean world. But what most excited my curiosity was the history of the supreme judge. This was a virgin, a native of the town, and appointed by the King to the office of Kaki, or judge, for her superior virtue and talent. It must be observed that this nation pay no regard to sex in appointments to office, but, after a strict examination, elect those to take charge of affairs who are proved to be the most worthy.
Seminaries are established throughout the country, to teach the aspirants to public honors the duties appertaining to the direction of government. The business of the administrators of these colleges is to search closely into the brains and hearts of the young students, and when satisfied with their virtue and ability, to give to the king a list of those fully prepared to fill the public offices. The administrators are called Karatti.
The young virgin of whom I have spoken, had received, four years before from the Karatti, a certificate for remarkable attainments and virtues, and had been invested with the “blanket.” This blanket was wrapped about her head during my trial; this precaution, however, is taken only in trials such as mine, in which the occasionally broad nature of the testimony might have a painful effect upon the virgin judge, should her face be exposed to the public gaze.
The name of this virgin was Palmka. She had officiated for three years with the greatest honor, and was considered the most learned tree in the city.
She solved with so much discretion the knottiest questions, that her decisions had come to be regarded as oracles.
As Themis’ self, with scales of equal weight,
She judged with candor both the small and great:
The sands of truth she, like the goddess, frees
From falsehood’s glitter and from error’s lees.
The following account was given to me of the blood-letting to which I had been subjected. When any one is proved to be guilty of a crime, he is bled, for the purpose of detecting from the color of the fluid, or blood, how far his guilt was voluntary or otherwise; whether he had sinned through malice or distemper. Should the fluid be found discolored, he is sent to the hospital to be cured; thus this process is rather a correction than a punishment. A member of the council, or any one high in office, would be removed, should it be found necessary to bleed him.
The reason why the surgeon, who performed the operation on me, was astonished, was, on account of the redness of my blood. The inhabitants having a sort of white fluid in their veins, the purity of which is proportional to their innocence and excellence.
I was put at my ease when I observed that the trees generally possessed a large share of humanity. This was displayed in their little attentions to me. Food was brought to me twice a day. It consisted of fruit and several kinds of beans; my drink was a clear, sweet and exceedingly delicious juice.
The sheriff, in whose house I was imprisoned, had immediately given notice to the King that he had by accident got possession of a somewhat sensible animal of an uncommon figure. The description of my person excited the king’s curiosity. Orders were given to the sheriff, that I should be taught the language of the country; on which I should be sent to court. A teacher was appointed for me, whose instruction enabled me in a half year to speak very comprehensibly. After this preparatory course of private study, I was sent to the seminary, where particular care was taken both of my mental and physical education. Indeed, so enthusiastic were they to naturalize me, that they actually fastened branches to my body to make me look as much as possible like themselves.
During the course of my education, my landlord frequently carried me about the town, and pointed out the most remarkable things. Keba is the town next in size and importance to the capital of the kingdom of Potu. The inhabitants are distinguished for their sedateness and moderation; old age is more respected by them than by any other community. They are strangely addicted to the pitting of animals against each other; or, as they call it, “play fight.” I wondered that so moral a people could enjoy these brutal sports. My landlord noticed my surprise, and said, that throughout the kingdom it was the custom to vary their lives with a due mixture of earnest duties and amusing pleasures. Theatrical plays are very much in vogue with them. I was vexed, however, to hear that disputations are reckoned suitable for the stage, while with us they are confined to the universities.
At certain times in the year, disputants are set against each other, as we pit dogs and game cocks. High bets are made in favor of one or the other, and a premium is given to the winner.
Beside these disputants, who are called Masbakki, or boxers, various quadrupeds, wild as well as tame, are trained to fight as on our globe.
In this town a gymnasium is established, in which the liberal arts are taught with much success.
My landlord carried me, on a high festival day, to this academy. On this occasion a Madic, or teacher in philosophy, was elected. The candidate made a very prosy speech on some philosophical question, after which, without farther ceremony, he was entered, by the administrators, on the list of the public teachers.
On our way home from the academy, we met a criminal, led by three watchmen. By sentence of the kaki, he had been bled, and was now on his way to the city hospital. I inquired concerning his crime, and was answered, that he had publicly lectured on the being and qualities of God — a subject entirely forbidden in this country. Disputants on these matters are regarded as insane, and are always sent to the mad-house, where they are doctored, until they recover their sound reason. I exclaimed: Heaven and Earth! how would such laws operate on our globe, where thousands of priests quarrel every day about the divine attributes, the nature of spirits, and other secrets of the same character? Truly, here they would all be sent straight-way to the mad-house. These, among many other singular customs, I observed during my college life. Finally, the time came when, furnished with appropriate testimonies from the teachers, I was ordered to court. Here is my certificate. How angry and confused, was I, when I read it:—
“In accordance with your royal order, we hereby send the animal, which sometime since came down to us from the firmament; which animal calls itself man. We have, with sedulous care and patient industry, taught this singular creature in our school, and after a very severe examination, pronounce it to be very quick in its perceptions and very docile in its manners. Nevertheless, from its obtuse and miserable judgment — which we believe arises from its too hasty inferences — its ridiculous scepticism on unquestionable points, and its no less ridiculous credulity on doubtful ones, we may scarcely number it among sensible beings. However, as it is far quicker on its legs than any of our race, we humbly suggest, that it is very well adapted for the situation of a running-camp-footman. Written at our Seminary at Keba by your Highness’ most humble servants.
Nehek, Joktan, Rapasi, Kilak.“
I returned sorrowfully to my landlord, and begged of him with tears in my eyes, to use his influence to alter the nature of my certificate from the Karatti, and to show them my testimony from the academy of Copenhagen, in which I was represented as a remarkable student. He replied to me, “that this diploma might be well enough in Copenhagen, where probably the shadow was regarded more than the substance: the bark more than the sap; but here, where the kernel was more important than aught else, it was of no use.”
He counselled me to bear my fate with patience, and assured me, in the politest manner, of his friendship. Having nothing more to say, I made ready, without delay, for the journey. There travelled in company with me several small trees, which had been educated with me in the seminary, and were now destined to the capital for preferment.
Our leader was an old Karatti, who rode on an ox, because from his age he could not walk. Our progress was very slow, so that three days were occupied in our passage. We had a quick and comfortable jaunt, if I except the meeting with some wild monkeys, that would spring towards me, and pester me now and then. They evidently supposed me to be one of their race. I could not suppress my anger, however, when I observed that the trees seemed to perceive this mistake of the monkeys, which gave the saplings food for laughter at my expense. I must remark that I was carried to court in the same dress which I wore on my descent to the planet, with the boat-hook in my hand and the rope dragging after me. This was by order of the king, who wished to see me in my own bark.
At last, we entered the large and splendid capital of the kingdom of Potu.
We were first carried to a house, where all students from the country seminaries are received, for the purpose of refreshment. Here we prepared for an interview with the king. In the mean time our Karatti, or leader went before to announce us to the court. On his return, we were all ordered to follow him. On our way to court we met several small trees, with printed stories in their branches. These were literary hawkers. I accidentally fixed my eye upon the title of one of these books. It was: “A true account of an entirely new and wonderful meteor, or flying dragon, which was seen last year in the heavens.” I knew this was myself, and therefore purchased the book, for which three kilak — about two cents — were demanded. On the title page I found an engraving of myself, as I appeared while hovering over the planet, accompanied by boat-hook and rope. We now approached the castle, an extensive series of battlements and buildings, more distinguished for its strength and delicacy of finish than for splendor. It presented to my view a very singular, and, I may say rural, appearance, from the vast number of trees on the walls.
It was now noon, and the dinner hour. The king wishing to see me before he dined, I was brought alone to the dining hall. The king received me very graciously, uniting in a remarkable degree, while addressing me, mildness of tone with dignity of expression.
At my entrance into the hall, I knelt before the throne: the king demanded the meaning of the ceremony. Having told him the reason, he remarked, that such worship was due only to the Divinity. When I had raised myself, he put to me several questions — demanding how I had come down? — the reason of my journey — my name — where I came from, &c., all which questions I answered truly. Finally, he inquired concerning my religion, and was evidently much pleased with our creed. I was ordered to wait till dinner was over. At the table were seated with the King, the Queen, Prince, and Kadok, or great chancellor. At a certain sign, a maiden tree entered, bearing in her eight branches, as many dishes, which was the number daily served at the royal table. Another tree entered with eight bottles, filled with as many different juices. In the dinner conversation, frequent mention was made of myself.
After dinner, the King ordered me to show my testimony. After reading it, he looked at my legs. “The Karatti are perfectly right!” said he; “and their advice shall be followed.” A Kiva, or secretary, was now sent for, to enter me, among others, in the royal register of promotion. This Kiva was a tree of remarkable external appearance; he had eleven branches— a singular number — and was able to write eleven letters at once. With this tree I afterwards became very intimate; he wrote all the letters which I, as footman, carried about the country.
On receiving my appointment, I went to bed. Although I was much fatigued, I could not get any sleep for a long while. However, I fell, at last, into an uneasy slumber, from which I was suddenly roused by an uncommonly large monkey, which, on opening my eyes, I found playing all manner of tricks with me, much to the amusement of several young trees, my companions. The king laughed heartily over the jokes of the monkeys, when they were related to him, but at the same time, ordered me to be clothed in the subterranean manner; that is, ornamented with branches, as I had been at my first arrival below ground. My European clothes were taken from me and hung up in the museum, with the following description attached:
dress of the creatures above ground.
After my fright from the monkey, I got no more sleep. In the morning I rose with the sun, and went to receive my charge for the day. An innumerable number of errands were given me to perform, together with letters and documents directed to all parts of the country.
This life I led four years; during my rambles I studied the character of the inhabitants, and copied, as far as possible, their habits. The people generally are distinguished for the politeness of their manners, and the sensibleness of their notions. The citizens of the town of Maholki, only, are wanting in refinement and judgment; they are thorn trees; very obstinate and crabbed in disposition, and great gossips, withal; let one take you by the button and you cannot get away easily.
Each province is peopled by its own race of trees; in the country each village has one sect; but the large cities contain a mixed population.
I had a good opportunity, as courier-general, to observe the peculiarities of these people, and I shall now describe their polity and religion, their laws and sciences.
The kingdom of Potu is enclosed within very narrow boundaries, and occupies but a small space of the inner globe.
The whole planet Nazar is scarcely six hundred miles in circumference, and may be travelled over its whole extent without guide or interpreter, for there is but one language throughout. As the Europeans on our globe take the first rank among the nations, so are the Potuans distinguished among the nations of Nazar for their virtue and understanding.
The roads are dotted by stone pillars, which, covered with inscriptions, denote every mile; affixed to them are hands pointing the road to every city and village; — splendid cities and prosperous villages! The country is intersected by greater and lesser canals, on which boats propelled by oars, skim with wonderful celerity. The oars are driven by self-moving machines, so quietly that very little motion is given to the water. The planet Nazar has the same motion with the earth, and all the peculiarities of the latter planet: night and day; spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The inhabitants consist of oak, lime, poplar, thorn, and pine trees, from which the months — there being six in each subterranean year — take their names.
The chronology is peculiar, being fixed by remarkable occurrences. Their oldest tradition is, that three thousand years ago, a mighty comet appeared, immediately after which followed a flood, which swept off all the races of trees, animals, &c., with the exception of one or two of each race, who saved themselves upon a high mountain, and from whom descended the present inhabitants. Corn and other grain with the fruits common to Europe, grow here in great profusion. The waters are filled with fish, and upon the banks of the rivers are seated splendid country houses. Their drink is prepared from certain herbs, which bloom at all times of the year.
In Potu is established a very useful law called the “generation law.”
This law varies the liberties and advantages of the people according to the number of children each one possesses. Thus, he who is the father of six children is exempted from all common and extraordinary taxes. Therefore generation is quite as useful and desirable in this country as on the earth it is burthensome and dangerous: below ground never was such a thing imagined as a small-pox-tax.
No one can hold two offices at once. It is thought that each office, however small, requires the sole attention of its occupant, and that none should be employed in that which they do not understand.
I remember to have heard the philosopher Rakbasi speak thus: “Every one should know his own talents, and should impartially judge of his own merits and faults; otherwise the actor must be considered more sensible than natural men; for he chooses, not the best part, but that which he can execute best. Shall we allow the actor to be wiser on the stage than we in life?”
The inhabitants of this kingdom are not divided into classes; those alone being regarded who are noted for virtue and industry. The highest rank, if rank it may be called, is given to those who possess the greatest number of branches, they being enabled to do the most work.
The system of religion in Potu is very simple.
It is forbidden, under pain of banishment to the firmament, to explain the holy books; whoever dares to dispute the being and nature of the Deity, is sent to the mad-house and is bled. It is foolish, they say, to attempt to describe that to which our senses are as blind as the eyes of the owl in sunshine. All agree in worshiping a superior being, whose omnipotence has created and whose providence maintains all things. Each one is permitted to think and worship as he pleases; they only who publicly attack the prevailing religion, are punished as peace-disturbers. The people pray seldom, but with so ardent a devotion, that a looker-on would think them enraptured during the continuance of the prayer.
I told them that it was our custom to pray and sing psalms, while at our domestic duties. This they blamed. “An earthly king,” said they, “would be angry should one who came to petition for something, brush his clothes and comb his hair in the presence of his sovereign.”
They have many curious notions of religion, which they defend very artfully; for example, when I remarked to some of them whose friendship I had gained, that they could not expect to be blessed after death, since they walked in darkness here, they answered: “He, who with severity condemned others, was himself in danger of being condemned.”
I once advised them to pray every day. They did not deny the importance of prayer, but thought true religion consisted in obeying the will of God. “Suppose,” continued they, “that a king has two kinds of subjects: some err every day, violating from ignorance or malice the ruler’s commands; they come each day with petitions and deprecations to the palace, beg pardon for their faults, and depart only to recommit them.
“The others come seldom, and never voluntarily to court, but execute faithfully and diligently every of the king’s commands, and thereby evince the respect and loyalty due to him.
“Will not the king think these deserving of his love, as good subjects and faithful; but, on the contrary, those as evil subjects, burthensome as well for their misdeeds as for their frequent petitions?”
There are five festival days during the year. The first of these, which takes place at the beginning of the oak month, is solemnized with great devotion, in dark places, where not a ray of light is suffered to enter, signifying that the being they worship is inconceivable. The festival is called the “inconceivable-God’s -day.” The whole day, from sunrise to sunset, the people remain immovable, engaged in earnest and heart-felt prayer. In the four other festivals, thanks to God for his blessings form the principal ceremonies.
In the kingdom of Potu the crown is inherited, as with us, by the eldest son of the king, whose power is absolute. The government, however, is rather fatherly than tyrannical. Justice is not meted and bounded by law alone, but is the result of principle, a principle of the widest philosophic comprehension. Thus, monarchy and liberty are closely united, which otherwise would be inimical to each other. The ruler seeks to maintain, as far as possible, an equality among his subjects. Honors are not limited to any class; but the poorer and more ignorant are called upon to receive their opinions from and submit to the decisions of the richer and more intelligent: the young are to respect the aged.
The annals of Potu show that some centuries ago, certain classes were highly favored by the laws to the exclusion of the great body of the people; frequent disturbances had been the result of this favoritism, till a citizen of the town Keba, proposed an alteration in the laws, by which all distinctions of class were abolished, and while the office of king should still remain hereditary, all the other officers of government should be subject to the will of the people, all of whom should be allowed to vote, who could read and write, at least, their names.
According to the custom of the subterraneans in such affairs, this intelligent and patriotic citizen was led to the market-place, with a rope about his neck: his proposition was considered, and after grave deliberation was adopted, as conducive to the general interest.
The mover was then carried in triumph through the city, honored by the grateful shouts of the people.
He, who has the most numerous offspring, is regarded as the most deserving citizen; he is honored above all others, without exception.
Such men are looked upon as heroes, and their memory is sainted by posterity. They only receive the name, which on the earth is awarded to the disturbers and enemies of the race — the name of — great!
It is very easy to conceive of the degree in which Alexander and Julius Cæsar would be prized by this people; both of whom not only had no children themselves, but murdered millions of the offspring of others.
I remember to have read the following inscription on the tomb of a Keban peasant:
“Here lies Jorktan the great, the hero of his time, father of thirty children.”
Among the court officers the Kadori, or grand-chamberlain, is the superior. Next after him comes the Smizian, or treasurer. In my time, the seven-branched widow, Kahagna, filled the latter place. She was a virtuous and industrious woman; although her duties were many and important, she nursed her child herself. I remarked once, that I thought this to be troublesome and unfit for so great a lady. I was replied to in this wise: “For what purpose has nature given breasts to woman? for the ornament of the body alone — or for the nourishment of their children?”
The crown prince was a child of six years; his governor was the wisest tree in the kingdom. I have seen an abstract of moral philosophy and policy, written by him for the use of the prince, the title of which is Mahalda Libal Helit, which in the subterranean language means, The Country’s Rudder. It contains many fundamental and useful precepts, of which I recollect the following:
“1st. Neither praise nor blame should be too hastily credited; judgment should be deferred until accurate knowledge of the matter is obtained.
“2d. When a tree is accused of any crime, and the accusation is supported, then the life of the culprit must be examined, his good and evil actions must be compared, and judgment be given according to the preponderance of either.
“3d. The king must be accurately acquainted with the opinions of his subjects, and must strive to keep union among them.
“4th. Punishment is not less necessary than reward. The former restrains evil; the latter promotes good.
“5th. Sound reason teaches that especial regard should be had to the fitness of candidates to public offices; but, though piety and honesty go to form the greatest merit, yet, as the appearance of these virtues is often imposed on us for the reality, no tree should be severely judged till he gets into office, when he will show himself what he is.
“6th. To make a treasurer of a poor man, or a bankrupt, is to make a hungry wolf purveyor of the kitchen. The case of a rich miser is still stronger; the bankrupt or the penniless may set bounds to their peculation; the miser never has enough.
“7th. When the prevalence of vice renders a reformation necessary, great care and deliberation must be used; to banish at once, and in a mass, old and rooted faults, would be like prescribing laxative and restringent medicines at the same time to an invalid.
“8th. They who boldly promise everything, and take upon themselves many duties, are either fools who know not their own powers or the importance of affairs, or are mean and unjust citizens who regard their own and not their country’s welfare.”
In this kingdom are three academies; one in Potu, one in Keba, and one in Nahami.
The sciences taught in them are history, political economy, mathematics, and jurisprudence. Their theological creed is so short that it can be written on two pages. It contains this doctrine simply, that God, the creator of all things, shall be loved and honored; and that He will, in an other life, reward us for our virtues and punish us for our vices. Theology forms no part of an academical course, as it is forbidden by law to discuss these matters. Neither is medicine numbered among the studies; for, as the trees live moderately, there is no such thing as internal disease.
The students are employed in solving complicated and difficult questions, and he who most elegantly and clearly explains his question, is entitled to a reward. No one studies more than one science, and thus each gets a full knowledge of his peculiar subject.
The teachers themselves are obliged to give, each year, a proof of their learning. The teachers of philosophy are required to solve some problem in morals; the historians, to elaborate some passage in history; the jurists, to elucidate some intricate point of law; these last are the only professors expected to be good orators. I told them that the study of rhetoric was common to all students in our colleges, and that all studies were merged in it. They disapproved of this, saying, that should all mechanics strive to make a masterly shoe, the work of most would be bad, and the shoemakers alone would win the prize.
Besides these academies, there are preparatory gymnasiums, where great pains are taken to discover the bent of the young, that they may be brought up in that science to which they are best fitted. While I was at the seminary of Keba, the bishop had four sons there, preparing for a military course; four others, whose father was a counsellor, were learning mechanical arts, and two maidens were studying navigation. The rank and sex of the scholars are entirely overlooked, in their regard to fitness and propriety.
He who challenges another to fight, loses forever his right to use weapons, and is condemned to live under guardianship, as one who cannot curb his passions or temper his judgment. I observed that the names of parties who go to law, are kept secret from the judge, he not being an inhabitant of the place where the trial is carried on. The object of this singular law is to prevent all partiality and bribery on the part of the judge, by withholding from him all knowledge of the influence or property of the litigants.
Justice is executed without regard to persons. The king, indeed, is not required to appear in court, but after death, his memory is put to the bar of public opinion, and his life is vindicated or condemned through the peoples’ advocates. This trial takes place before the Senate, and judgment is freely pronounced according to the weight of the evidence. A herald proclaims the decision, which is inscribed on the king’s monument. The words used in these trials are: Praiseworthy — good — not bad — moderate — tolerable. Sentence must be pronounced by one of these words.
The Potuans give the following reason for this custom. The living king cannot be brought to justice without causing rebellion. As long as he lives, the people owe to him blind obedience and constant reverence. But when the king is dead, the bond between them is dissolved, and, his memory belonging to them, they are bound to justify it as his virtues and vices principally affected themselves.
The Potuanic annals show that for centuries only one king has received the last degree of judgment — tolerable — or, in their tongue: Rip-fac-si. This was King Mikleta. Although the Potuans are well versed in arms, and defend themselves bravely, when attacked, they never make war on others.
But this king excited by a miserable desire to extend the borders of his empire, entered into an offensive war with his neighbors, and subdued many of them.
The Potuans gained, indeed, in power and wealth, but they suffered more from the loss of friendship and the increase of fear and envy in the conquered. The honorable regard for justice and equity, to which they had hitherto owed their prosperity and supremacy, began from that time to fade. On the death of Mikleta, however, the people recovered from their folly, and showed their regret for it, while at the same time they regained the good will of their neighbors, by putting a blot upon the memory of their ruler.
But, to return to myself. I took but little pleasure in associating with my companions, a set of absurd trees, who constantly ridiculed me for my quick perception.
This quality, I have already said, I was blamed for, very early in my career but by learned trees, with grave and dignified complaisance. These saplings, on the contrary, pestered me with silly nicknames. For example, they took a malicious delight in calling me Skabba, which means an untimely or unripe thing.
I had now performed the toilsome duties of a courier for two years, having been every where with orders and letters. I was tired of this troublesome and unbecoming business. I sent to the king petition after petition, asking for my discharge, and soliciting for a more honorable appointment. But I was repeatedly refused, for his majesty did not think my abilities would warrant promotion. He condescended to refer me to the laws and customs, which allowed those only to be placed in respectable and important offices, who were fitted for them by talent and virtue. It was necessary, he continued, that I should remain where I was, till I could, by my merits, pave my way to distinction. He concluded thus:
Study to know yourself, is wisdom’s rule;
The wise man reasons — blunders, still, the fool.
Strive not with feeble powers great weights to move,
Before your shoulders long experience prove.
I was thus obliged to remain, as patiently as I could, in my old service, amusing myself in thinking how to bring my talents to the light. In my continual journeys about the country, I studied the nature of the people, the quality of the soil; and, in short, became accurately acquainted with every thing worthy of observation. That I might not forget any thing, I used myself to write notes of each journey. These notes I enlarged afterwards, as well as I could, and was thus enabled to deliver to the king a volume of considerable size.
I soon observed that this work was far from being displeasing to his majesty. He read it through with attention, and then recommended it to the senate with much ceremony. It was soon determined that I should be made use of to discover and make known whatever there was of interest throughout the planet. Truly! I expected some other reward for my sleepless nights and laborious days, than still greater burthens, still heavier travail. But I could only in silence sigh with the poet:
“Alas! that Virtue should be praised by all —
Should warm, with its mild beams, all hearts:
Yet mock and freeze its owner.”
However, as I have always had a great desire to see and hear every thing new, and expected, withal, a magnificent reward from the really kind-hearted king on my return, I set about this work with a kind of pleasure.
Although the planet Nazar is but about six hundred miles in circumference, it seems, to the trees, of vast extent, principally on account of their slow movement. No Potuan could go round it in less time than two years, whereas, I, with my long legs, could traverse it easily in two months.
I set out on this journey in the Poplar month.
Most of the things which I shall now relate, are so curious, that the reader may be easily brought to believe them to be written from mere whim, or at least to be poetical contrivance. The physical and moral diversities are so many and so great, on this planet, that a man who has only considered the difference between the antipodal nations of the earth, can form but a faint idea of the same. It must be observed that the nations of Nazar are divided by sounds and seas, and that this globe is a kind of Archipelago.
It would be wearisome to relate all my adventures, and I shall limit my remarks to those people who seemed to me the most remarkable.
The only things which I found in common with all, were figure and language. All were trees. But in customs, gestures, and sense, so great was the diversity, that each province appeared like a new world.
In Quamso, the province next to Potu, the inhabitants are entirely oak trees. They know not of bodily weakness or disease, but arrive in perfect and continued health to a very great age. They seem to be the most fortunate of all creatures; but I found, after some intercourse with them, that this assumption was a great mistake. Although I never saw any of them sad, yet none appeared to be happy. The purest heaven is never impressive, but after a storm; so happiness is not appreciated by these oaks, because it is never interrupted; they bless not health, because they are never sick. They spend their lives in tame and uninterrupted indifference. Possessed of little politeness and goodness of heart, their conversation is cold and cheerless; their manners stiff and haughty. Without passions, they are crimeless; without weakness, they are pitiless.
Those alone to whom pain and sickness bring the remembrance of their mortality, learn in their own sufferings, to sympathise with and compassionate the woes of others.
I was now in a land, where I had a living proof of how much the occurrence of pain and the fear of death tend to produce mutual love and cheerful converse among fellow beings. Here, for the first time, I came to know the folly and sin of grumbling at the Creator, for bringing upon us trouble and suffering, which are really good for us, and which produce the happiest consequences.
The province Lalak, which is sometimes called Maskatta, or the Blessed Land, was the next in the order of my journey. This land is very appropriately named. All things spring forth spontaneously:
Here, between melon vines and moist strawberry,
Flow milky brooks and amber streams of mead;
There, luscious wine, from crystal, spouts more merry,
As Bacchus from his slumber had been freed.
Far down along the mountain’s verdant side,
The limpid juice, with golden lustre, ripples.
In dales, soft undulating, oozing glide
Sweet waters, out of teeming nature’s nipples;
And trees of Paradise their branches reach,
Bending with purple plum and mellow peach.
From all the land nutritious savors rise,
To bless its sons, then mount to scent the skies.
These advantages do not, by any means, make the inhabitants happy. It occurred to me, that laborers in harsher climates are much better off than these people, who necessarily languish in idleness and luxury.
Next to Lalak is Mardak, inhabited by cypresses. Of these are different descents or races, determined by the number or shape of their eyes. Here is a list of the varieties:
Nagiri, who have oblong eyes; to whom all objects appear oblong.
Naquire, whose eyes are square.
Palampi, who have very small eyes.
Jaraku, with two eyes, which are turned in opposite directions.
Mehanki, with three eyes.
Panasuki, with four eyes.
Harramba, whose eyes occupy the whole forehead; and finally,
Skodolki, who have a single eye in the neck.
The most numerous and powerful of these races, are the Nagirians. Kings, senators and priests are always chosen from this class. None are admitted to any office, but those who acknowledge and testify by oath, that a certain table, dedicated to the sun and placed in the temple, is oblong. This table is the holiest object of mardakanic worship. The oath, to be taken by aspirants to honors, is as follows:
“Kaki manaska quihampu miriac jakku, mesimbrii caphani crukkia, manaskar quebriac krusondora.”
“I swear, that the holy table of the sun seems oblong to me, and I promise to remain in this opinion until my last breath.”
When the neophyte, of either class, has sworn this oath, he is taken up among the Nagirians, and is qualified for any office. On the day after my arrival, as I walked in the market-place, I met a party bearing an old man to the whipping post. I asked them the nature of his offence, and was told that he was a heretic, who had publicly declared that the holy table of the sun appeared square to him.
I immediately entered the temple, being curious to know whether or not my eyes were orthodox. The table was certainly square to my view, and I said so to my landlord, on my return. This tree, who had been recently appointed a church-warden, drew a deep sigh on this occasion, and confessed that it also seemed square to him, but that he dared not express such an opinion, openly, from fear of being ejected from office, if not worse.
Trembling in every joint, I quietly left this region, fearful that my back might suffer on account of my heterodox vision.
The duchy of Kimal is considered the mightiest and richest of the states on this planet. There are numberless silver mines within its borders: the sand of its rivers is colored by gold, and its coasts are paved with pearl oysters of the finest water.
The people of this province, nevertheless, are more miserable than those of any other I visited. They are miners, gold-strainers and pearl-divers, condemned to the most infamous slavery, drenched in water, or secluded from air and light, and all for the sake of dear gain. How strange and senseless is the lust for brilliant baubles!
The possessors of wealth are obliged to keep a continual watch over their property, for the land is full of robbers. None can travel without an armed retinue. Thus, this people, on which their neighbors look with longing eyes, should deserve pity rather than excite envy. Fear, mistrust and jealousy rage in all hearts: each regards his neighbor as an enemy. Sorrows and terrors, sleepless nights, pale faces and trembling hands are the fruits of that very wealth, which their neighbors look upon as the greatest good.
My wanderings through Kimal were the most unpleasant and dangerous in all my experience. My course was towards the east. I journeyed among many people, who were generally polite and social, but whose customs were not singular enough to merit particular attention. I had much cause to wonder, when I came among the Quambojas, in whom nature was entirely perverted. The older these people grow, the more lustful they become. Rashness, lasciviousness and roguery increase with years. None are suffered to hold offices after the fortieth year. At this age, the wildness and moral insensibility of boyhood begins; the sports of childhood, only, are tolerated. The tree becomes a minor, and is placed under the guardianship of his younger relations.
I did not think it advisable to remain long in Quamboja, where in a few years, I should be sentenced to become a child again.
I witnessed a perversion of a different kind in Kokleku. In the former province, nature is the agent of this perversion; here the law is the agent. The Koklekuans are juniper trees.
The males alone cook and perform all domestic duties. In time of war, they serve in the army, but always in the ranks. To the females, are entrusted all civil, divine and military offices. The females reason thus: The males are endowed with greater bodily strength, and greater powers of endurance; therefore, it is clear that nature intended them to do all the work. But this will keep them so busy, that they will not have time to think. Moreover, as continual physical labor degrades the mind, if they should presume to think, their thoughts would be puerile, and practically useless. Therefore, it is plain, that to the females belongs the direction of affairs. The lady of the house may be found in the study with books and papers about her, while the master is in the kitchen cooking and washing.
I saw many mournful effects of this inconsistent custom.
In other places, females are to be found, who bring their chastity to market and trade with their charms. Here the young males sell their nights, and for this end congregate in certain dwellings, before which signs are hung out. When these males get to be too troublesome, they are punished as prostitutes are, elsewhere. Females stroll about the streets, beckon to the men, stare at them, whistle and cry psh! to them; chuckle them under the chin and do all manner of tricks, without the least sense of shame. These females boast of their victories, as dandies, with us, plume themselves on their intimacy with ladies, whose only favor may have been a sharp box on the ear. None are here blamed for besieging a young male with love letters and presents. But a young fellow would be looked upon as having outraged all decency, should he stammer out a faint yes, to the first entreaty of a young female.
At the time I was in the country a terrible commotion arose on account of the violation of a senator’s son by a young virgin. She was generally condemned for this high-handed and abominable action. The friends of the youth insisted that she should be prosecuted, and if the crime were proved, sentenced to mend the young fellow’s honor by marrying him, especially as it could be sworn to that he had lived a pure and virtuous life till this libertiness had seduced him.
Blessed Europe! I exclaimed on this occasion; thrice blessed France and England! where the names — weaker sex — frail vessels— are no idle names:— where the wives are so entirely subjected to their husbands that they seem to be rather machines or automatons than creatures endowed with free will and noble aspirations!
The most splendid building in Kokleku is the Queen’s harem, in which three hundred beautiful young fellows are shut up for life. So jealous is the queen, that no female is allowed to approach the walls within one hundred yards. Never beholding any of their race but the queen and a few dried-up and ugly spinsters, the poor creatures vegetate, mindless and joyless.
Having heard, accidentally, that my form had been praised in the presence of the queen, I hastily escaped from this unnatural and execrable land:
— Fear to my feet gave wings.
Continuing my course still to the east, I came to the philosophical-land, as its inhabitants, who are principally engaged in the study of philosophy and the sciences, vain-gloriously call it. I had long and earnestly wished to see this land, which I enthusiastically ascribed to be the seat of the muses.
I hurried on with all possible celerity. But the roads were so full of stones, holes and bogs, that I was delayed, besmirched, and bruised. However, I endured these troubles patiently, anticipating the delights that awaited me, and well knowing that the path to paradise is not over roses. When I had struggled onward for an hour I met a peasant, of whom, after saluting him, I demanded how far distant the borders of Maskattia were? “You should rather ask,” he replied, “how far you must go back; — for you are now in the very middle of it!”
In great astonishment I asked, “How is it, that a land inhabited by pure philosophers, should appear like the abode of wild animals and ignorant barbarians?” “Indeed,” said the peasant, “It would look better if the people could find time to attend to such trifles. At present they must be excused, for they have higher and nobler things in their heads: they are now speculating about the shortest road to the sun. Nobody can blow and swallow at the same time.”
I understood the meaning of the cunning peasant, and left him, after getting the direction to the capital city, Casea. Instead of guards and the usual collection about the gates of a large town, hens and geese strutted about at their ease: in the crevices of the gate hung birds-nests and cobwebs.
In the streets philosophers and swine were mingled together, and both classes being alike filthy, they were only to be distinguished from each other by form.
The philosophers wore a kind of cloak, of the color of which I should not dare to give an opinion, so thick was the dirt upon them. I was run into by one of these wise men, who seemed to be enraptured by some speculation.
“I beg pardon, master of arts!” I exclaimed, “may I ask of you the name of this town?” He stood for some time immovable, with closed eyes; then recovering somewhat from his trance, and rolling his eyes upwards, he muttered: “We are not far from noon!”
This untimely answer, which betrayed a perfect insensibility, convinced me that intelligence resulting from methodical and practical study is preferable to the torpid insanity incident to much learning.
I went on, hoping to meet with some sensible animal, or any body rather than a philosopher. In the market-place — a very extensive square — were a great many statues and pillars, covered with inscriptions.
I approached one of them to get, if possible, the meaning of the characters. While engaged in spelling the words, my back suddenly became warm, and immediately after I felt warm water trickling down my legs. I turned round to discover the fountain of the stream, and, lo! an abstracted philosopher was performing, at ease on my back, the same operation that the dogs do against the study.
This infamous trick excited my wrath, and I gave him a severe blow.
The philosopher regained his wits at this, and seizing me by the hair, dragged me around the market-place. Our struggles soon brought us both to the ground. Then a multitude of philosophers came running towards us, and having dragged me from under my opponent, beat me with their sticks till I became senseless. I was then carried to a large house and thrown into the middle of the hall. I now recovered in a measure from my ill treatment.
On seeing this, the wise man who first insulted me, recommenced to beat me, notwithstanding my prayers for mercy. I now learned that the intensity of no anger can be compared to the philosophical; and that the teachers of virtue and moderation are not called upon to practise the same. The longer my oppressor beat me, the more did his blood boil. At last there came into the hall four sophists, whose cloaks proclaimed them to be of a different class from my late tyrants. They had some compassion for me, and soothed the rage of the others. I was taken to another house, and right glad was I to escape the hands of the bandits, and get among honest people.
I related to my protectors the cause of the calamity. They laughed heartily at the whole matter, and then explained to me that the philosopher, absorbed in deep thought, had mistaken me for a pillar before which it is customary, on certain natural occasions, to stop.
Just when I supposed myself in safety. I nearly gave up the ghost from fear. I was led into a dissecting room, filled with bones and dead bodies, the stench from which was intolerable.
After languishing in this disgusting den for half an hour, the lady of the house brought in my dinner, which she had prepared herself. She was very polite and amiable; but looked at me closely, and sighed continually. I asked the reason of her sorrow. She answered, “that she became sick when she thought of what I was to suffer.”
“You have, indeed,” she said, “come among honest people, for my husband, who lives in this house, is a doctor of medicine, and the others are his colleagues: but your uncommon figure has awakened their curiosity, and they have determined to take your internal structure into close consideration. In fine, they intend to cut you up, in the hope of finding some new phenomena in anatomy.” I was thunder-struck at hearing these tidings. I cried out indignantly:
“How can people be called honest, madam! who entertain strangers only to cut them up?”
“You should stick your fingers in the ground,” she replied, “and smell the land you have got into!” I begged her with tears in my eyes to intercede for me. She answered, “My intercession would be of no service to you: but I will endeavor to save you by other means.” She then took my hand, carefully led me out by a back door, and guided me to the city gate.
Here I would have taken leave of my kind and gentle guide; but while manifesting my gratitude in the most lively expressions, she suddenly interrupted my speech and signified her intention not to leave me till I should be in perfect safety. She would not be persuaded to return. We walked on together. Meanwhile she entertained me with just and sensible remarks on the customs and follies of the people. Afterwards she turned the discourse to more delicate matters. We were at some distance from the city. My soft companion adverted to the danger from which she had saved me, and suddenly demanded of me, in return, a politeness which was morally impossible.
She told me with much feeling and warmth of the unfortunate fate of females in this land:— that the philosophers, entirely absorbed by their speculations, and buried among their books, neglect to an alarming extent, the duties of marriage. “Yes,” she continued, “I can swear to you, that we should be wholly undone if some polite traveller did not occasionally take pity on our miserable condition, and mitigate our torments.”
I pretended not to understand her meaning, and showed the usual common-place and complacent sympathy.
But my coolness was as oil to the flame. I increased my pace. The poor lady, whose heart had hitherto been subjected to the sweet-smiling goddess, now changed to a fury.
I fled from my new danger. Fear and length of legs enabled me to outstrip her. Mingled with her shrieks, opprobrious epithets fell fast; the last I could distinguish were: Kaki Spalaki:— ungrateful hound!
I passed on to other provinces, in which I found but little uncommon and peculiar.
I now thought that I had seen all the wonders of Nazar. But when I came to the land of Cabac, more curious and more incredible things were disclosed to my gaze. Among the Cabacans there is a certain class without heads. These are born without that appendage. They speak through a hole in the middle of the breast. On account of this natural defect, they are generally excluded from offices where brains are thought to be useful. They are notwithstanding a serviceable class: the most of them are to be seen at court; being gentlemen of the bed-chamber, stewards of the household, keepers of the harem, &c.
Beadles, vestry-clerks and such brainless officers are chosen from this class.
Occasionally one of them is taken up into the senate, either by the particular favor of government, or through the influence of friends. This is done, generally, without injury to the country; for it is well known that the business of the country is carried on by a few senators, and that the rest are only useful to fill the seats, and agree and subscribe to the determinations of the leaders.
The inhabitants of the two provinces, Cambara and Spelek, are all lime trees. But their resemblance ends in form. The Cambarans live only about four years. The Spelekians, on the other hand, attain to the wonderful age of four hundred years.
In the former place, the people have their full growth a few weeks after birth, and finish their education before the first year. During the three remaining years they prepare for death. The province appeared to be a true Platonic republic, in which all the virtues reached to their perfection. The inhabitants, on account of their short lives, are, as it were, continually on the wing. They regard this life as a gate through which they hastily pass. Their hearts are fixed on the future rather than on the present. They may be called true philosophers, for they care not for luxury and pleasure, but strive through fear of God, virtuous actions, and clear consciences, to make themselves worthy of eternal happiness. In a word, this land seemed to be the habitation of saints and angels; — the only school of virtue.
I was here brought to think of the unreasonableness of those who grumble at the shortness of life — those quarrellers with providence! Life can be called short when passed in luxury and idleness. The shortest life is long when it is well employed.
In Spelek, on the contrary, all the vices common to erring creatures seem to be congregated. The people have only the present in their minds, for the future has no sensible vanishing point. Sincerity, honesty, chastity and decency have taken flight to give place to falsehood, lasciviousness, and bad manners.
I was happy to get away from this province, although I was obliged to traverse desolate and rocky regions which lay beyond it. These deserts separate Spelek from Spalank, or the “Innocent Land.”
This name is obtained from the meekness and innocence of the inhabitants. These are all stone oaks, and are thought to be the happiest of all sensible beings. They are not subject to any agitation of mind, and are free from all vices.
Free, of compulsion ignorant, did all obey
The simple rules of nature. Justice easy
And virtue unadorned they practised; for unknown
Were punishment and fear. On no holy stone
Were menaces engraved: no holy table
Declared the thunders of the law. None trembled
At the ruler’s frown or nod: but, without guard —
With sharpened steel on shoulder ready poised —
Or castled wall bristling with murder’s tools,
Were all ranks safe. On no battle-field
Was victor crowned or bloody altar
Heaped with his kinsmen’s corpses.
And pleasant tales, in infant innocence they lived
(The innocence that lies in mother’s lap unstained.)
Thus passed they from the fond embrace of peace,
With easy change to Death’s determined grasp.
When I came to this province, I found that the reputation which these people had gained, namely: that they practised virtue from inclination rather than from the authority of law — was well founded.
But as envy and ambition were entirely unknown to them — the inducements to excel, and the will for great things were wanting.
They had no palaces, no courts, no fine buildings. They had no magistrates to administer law; no avarice to carry them to court. In fine, although without vices, they knew nothing of the arts — of splendid virtues — nor of any of the things which refine a people. They appeared to be rather an oak forest than a sensible and thoughtful nation.
I travelled next through the province Kiliak. The natives of this province are born with certain marks on their foreheads, which point out how long they will live. At first I imagined these people to be happy, as death could never overtake them unexpectedly, nor tear them away in the midst of their sins. But as each one knows on what day he shall die, it is usual to postpone repentance till the last hour. They only are really pious who begin to sing their death song.
I saw several move about the streets with drooping heads and miserable looks — the signs upon their foreheads proclaimed their speedy dissolution.
They counted their remaining hours and minutes upon their fingers, and regarded with horror the rapidity of time.
The Creator’s wisdom and goodness to us in this respect became obvious to me in this land. I could no longer doubt that it is better for us to be ignorant of the future.
From Kiliak I sailed over a black sound to the kingdom of Askarak; there new wonders greeted me. While in Cabac, people are to be seen without heads, here, on the contrary, individuals come into the world with seven heads. These are great universal geniuses. In former times, they were worshiped with almost divine veneration, and were made senators, chief magistrates, &c. As they had as many plans and expedients as heads, they executed with zeal and rapidity many different things, and while the government was in their hands, there was nothing left unchanged.
But as they made several sets of ideas effective at once, it happened, very naturally, that these ideas came in contact with each other. At last, they mingled together so intricately, that the seven-headed geniuses could not discriminate in from out. The affairs of government became so disordered that centuries were required to restore them to the simplicity from which these all-knowing magistrates had brought them.
A law had been established, before I went there, by which all seven-headed people were excluded from important offices, and the administration of government was given to simple and ordinary persons, that is, persons with but one head.
The many-headed now occupy the same places as the headless of Cabac.
Beyond Askarak, and separated from it by extensive deserts, lays the Duchy of Bostanki. The Bostankins resemble the Potuans in their external form. Their internal construction is very singular. The heart is placed in the right leg; so that it may be literally said of them, that their hearts are in their breeches.
They are notorious for being the greatest cowards among all the inhabitants of Nazar.
Angry, from faintness and fatigue, I came to a tavern near the city gates. I could not abstain from growling at the landlord because he could not provide what I called for. The poor fellow fell on his knees before me, begged my pardon amid tears and groans, and held his right leg towards me that I might feel how his heart beat.
At this I laughed, and almost forgot to be angry. I wiped the tears from the poor sinner’s eyes, and told him not to be afraid. He rose up, kissed my hand, and went out to prepare my food. Not long after, I heard lamentable cries and howls in the kitchen. I hastened thither, and to my great astonishment, saw the humble and trembling Monsieur poltroon engaged, very valiantly, in beating his wife and servant girls. When he perceived me he took to flight. I turned to the weeping wife and girls and demanded what could have excited such terrible anger in my lamb-like host. They stood for some time, silently, with their eyes fixed on the ground. At length, the wife replied in the following words: “You do not seem, dear stranger! to have much knowledge of human nature. The citizens of this place, who dare not look at an armed enemy, and, at the least noise, creep like mice into holes, hector in the kitchens, and tyrannize over us feeble women.”
Thoroughly disgusted by the mean and cowardly spirit of this people, I hired a boat to go to Mikolak. On landing I missed my outer coat, which I recollected to have put in the boat at starting. After quarrelling a long time with the boatman, who denied all knowledge of it, I went to a magistrate, and related the whole matter to him. I asserted that I had at least a right to demand my own property, if I could not sue at law one with whom I had entrusted my goods.
The boatman still denied the theft, and required that I should be punished for wrongly accusing him. In this doubtful case, the court demanded witnesses. This demand I could not answer, but proposed that my opponent should take oath on his innocence.
At this proposal the judge smiled and said: “In this land, my friend, there is no weight in religious confirmation. The laws are our gods. Proof must, therefore, be given in a formal manner, by witnesses or written documents. Whoever cannot do this not only lose their case, but are subject to punishment for malicious accusation. Prove your case by witnesses, and you will get your own again.” I lost my case, but from regard to the hospitality due to strangers, was not punished.
I had far more reason to pity this people than to regret my own loss. How weak is that society which relies for its safety on bare human laws. It is like a city built on a volcanic mountain! Little firmness has that political structure which rests not on the foundation of religion.
Leaving this atheistic land, I crossed a very high mountain to Bragmat, which lays in a dale at the foot of the mountain. The people of this city are juniper trees. The first that I met rushed towards me, and pressing with the weight of his body, felled me to the ground. When I demanded the reason of this rough salutation, he begged my pardon in the most polite and elegant expressions. A few minutes after, another struck me in the side with a hedge-pole, and likewise excused his carelessness in a pretty speech. I thought they must be blind, and gave to all I passed a very wide berth.
I was afterwards informed that some among them were possessed of a very sharp sight, so that they can behold objects far beyond the view of others, but they could not see what was directly before them. These sharp-sighted people are called Makkati, and are, most of them, adepts in astronomy and transcendental philosophy.
I passed through several other provinces, in which I found nothing worthy to be recorded in this history; and returned to Potu after an absence of two months.
I entered the city of Potu on the tenth day of the Ash month. The first thing I did was to deliver my journal to the king, who ordered it to be printed.
It must be observed that the art of printing, which both the Europeans and Chinese claim to have invented, has been well known in Nazar for ages. The Potuans were so much pleased with my book that they were never tired of reading it. Little trees carried it about the streets and cried: “Court-footman Skabba’s Travels around the Globe.”
Puffed up by my success, I now strove for higher things, and awaited, somewhat impatiently, an appointment to a great and respectable office. My expectations not being answered, I gave in a new petition, in which I eulogized my work and claimed a suitable reward for my uncommon merit.
The mild and beneficent king was moved by my prayers, and promised to keep me in gracious remembrance.
He kept his promise, but not to my liking, for his grace consisted only in making an addition to my stipend.
I had pointed my nose another way, but not daring to press the king with more petitions, I made my complaint to the great chancellor. This very sensible personage listened to me with his usual urbanity, and promised to serve me. At the same time he advised me to abandon my unreasonable desires, and take a more exact view of my weak judgment and general insignificance. “Nature,” he said, “has been a step-mother to you; you want, altogether, the talents which clear the road to important offices. You must creep before you walk; and it is foolish to think of flying without wings.” He acknowledged my merits: “But,” he continued, “it is not such merits as yours that will give you admittance to State affairs. If all merit should give this right, then every painter and sculptor, this for his skill in carving, that for his knowledge of colors, might demand a seat at the council board. Merit ought to be rewarded, but the reward should be adapted to the object, that the State may not suffer.”
This speech struck me, and had the effect to keep me very quiet for some time. But I could not endure the thought of growing grey in my base employment. I determined on the desperate attempt, which I had formerly considered, to improve the constitution, and thus, by a bold stroke, to advance my own and the country’s welfare.
Shortly before my journey I had strictly examined the internal condition of the kingdom, to discover the least failing in its machinery, and the best means to remedy it.
In the province Kokleku I had learnt that the government waggles in which women have a part. For being by nature vain, they strive to extend their power in every conceivable direction, and stop not till they have procured for themselves perfect and unlimited dominion.
I concluded, therefore, to propose the exclusion of the fair sex from all public offices, and trusted to get a sufficiency of voices on my side by placing the case in its best light. It seemed an easy matter, to me, to convince the male sex of the dangers to which they were exposed, if they did not, in time, weaken this female power.
I executed this plan with all the art I was possessed of, supporting it with the most cogent reasons, and sent it to the king.
He, who had given me many proofs of his favor, was astonished at this miserable and impertinent project, as he graciously called it, and said, that it would fall out to my destruction.
But relying partly on my reasonings and partly on the support of the whole male population, I held obstinately to my plan. According to law, I was led to the market-place with a rope about my neck, to await the decision of the Council. When the counsellors had given their votes, the sentence was sent to be subscribed by the king, which being done, it was publicly read by a herald, as follows:
“On mature consideration we adjudge, that the proposal made by Sr: Skabba, first court-footman to his majesty, to exclude the second sex from public offices, cannot be accepted, without affecting the peace and order of the kingdom: since the women, who form the half of our population, would naturally be excited by this innovation, and thereby become hostile and troublesome to the government. Furthermore, we hold it to be unjust to deny, to trees of excellent qualities, admission to offices of which they have hitherto shown themselves to be worthy and especially it is incredible, that nature, which does nothing inconsiderately, should have idly endued them with superior and varied gifts. We believe the welfare of the kingdom requires that a regard should be had to fitness rather than to names, in the disposal of offices. As the land is not seldom in need of capable subjects, we pronounce a statute which should declare an entire half of the inhabitants, merely from birth, unworthy of and useless in affairs, to be deplorable.
“After grave deliberation we declare this to be justice: let the aforesaid Skabba, for his no less despicable than bold proposal, suffer the usual punishment in such cases.”
The good king took my misfortune to heart, but did not seek to change the resolution of the Council. As a matter of form he signed the warrant for my execution. Yet with his characteristic mildness, and in consideration of my having been born and educated in a strange world, where a quick and reckless head is thought to be a blessing, he commuted my punishment to imprisonment till the beginning of the Birch month, when, with other animals, I should be banished to the firmament. When this sentence was published, I was sent to prison.
Twice a year, some very large birds, called Kupakki or post birds, are wont to show themselves on the planet Nazar.
They come and go at certain regular periods, which has given rise to various opinions. Some think, that insects, of which great multitudes appear at the same periods, and which the birds are very fond of eating, entice them down to the planet. This is my own notion. The circumstance, that when these insects disappear, the birds return to the firmament, places the opinion almost beyond all doubt. It is the same instinct, which leads certain species of birds on our earth to migrate at regular periods.
Others believe, that these birds are trained like hawks and other birds of prey, to fetch booty from other lands. This conjecture is grounded upon the great care with which they lay down their burdens, when their flight is finished. This supposition is somewhat strengthened by the fact, that they become tame and gentle just before they begin their flight, suffering themselves to be thrown into nets, under which they lie immovable. Meanwhile they are fed with insects till the regular period arrives. Then a long box, just large enough to hold a tree or man, is fastened to a rope, which is again tied to the legs of the bird. On the banishment day, food is withheld from them, the nets are raised, and the kupakkis wing their way to the firmament.
Two citizens of Potu had been doomed to banishment with myself. One was a metaphysician, who had offended the law by making some sage remarks upon the nature of spirits; the other was a fanatic, who, by starting doubts concerning the holiness of religion and the uniting force of the civil law, was suspected to have designed the overthrow of both. This latter would not regulate himself by the public ordinances, because, he said, all civil obedience was inconsistent with his conscience. Thus three of us, namely, a project-maker, a metaphysician, and a fanatic, were, on the first day of the Birch month, shut up in boxes.
I never knew what became of my fellow-sufferers. As for myself, I was enclosed, with food sufficient for a few days. Shortly after, my kupakki, finding nothing to eat, started off with amazing speed.
It is generally believed, under ground, that the distance between the planet Nazar and the firmament is about four hundred miles. I had no means of determining how long my passage was, but conjectured it to be about twenty-four hours.
I heard nothing, during this time, but the heavy and monotonous flapping of the kupakki’s wings. At last, there sounded in my ears a confounding noise, which announced that we could not be far from land.
I now observed that the bird had really been trained, for he set the box, with so much care on the ground, that I did not feel the slightest jar. The box was immediately opened, and I rose up in the midst of a great multitude of monkeys, who, to my astonishment, conversed together in an intelligent language rather than chattered, and walked to and fro, in measured and dignified paces. They were dressed in cloths of varied colors. A number of them advanced towards me with much politeness, and handed me from the box.
They seemed to be surprised at my figure, particularly when they discovered I had no tail. Their amazement was not at all lessened by the fact, that I resembled them (laying aside the tail) more nearly than did any stranger they had hitherto seen.
At the time of my arrival the water was very high, owing to the nearness of Nazar. This planet has the same effect upon the tides of the firmament, as our moon has upon those of the earth.
I was led to a very large building, ornamented in the richest style. The presence of a guard at the door convinced me that it was the residence of no common monkey. It was, as I afterwards learnt, the residence of the mayor of the monkeys.
A number of teachers were selected to instruct me in their language.
In three months I was enabled to speak with considerable readiness. Then I expected to procure for myself the admiration of all, for my prompt ingenuity and superior memory. But my teachers declared me to be sluggish and dull of apprehension, and in their impatience often threatened to abandon their charge. As, on the planet Nazar, I had been ironically named Skabba, or the untimely, for my quick perceptions, so here I was called Kakidoran, which signifies, idle and stupid. Those only are respected here, who can comprehend and express any thing instantaneously. I amused myself during the course of my studies by walking about the city, in which I met on all sides notable signs of splendor and luxury.
When I had finished my education, that is, when I could speak fluently, I was carried to the capital city Martinia, from which the whole country takes its name. The object of the mayor evidently was, to insinuate himself into the favor of a certain counsellor, by presenting to him a strange and unprecedented animal.
The government of Martinia is aristocratical. The state is administered by a great council, selected from the body of the old nobility.
Before proceeding to the house of the lord, to whom I was to be offered, the mayor led me to a hotel, where we could make ourselves presentable to his excellency. Several servants, called maskatti, or dressers, joined us for this purpose. One took the mayor’s sword to burnish it; another tied different colored bands to his tail. I will here remark, that nothing lays nearer to a monkey’s heart than the adornment of his tail.
When my conductor was polished, dressed and adorned, we departed for the president’s palace, followed by three servants.
On coming to the entrance, the mayor loosed his shoes, that he might not soil the marble floor. After waiting for a long time, with not a little impatience, we were suffered to enter the reception hall. Here the president sat in a golden chair.
As soon as he saw us, the president burst out in a terrific laugh. I concluded either that he was seized by delirium, or that silly and insane laughter was a peculiarity of great people in Martinia. In short, I took his lordship to be a fool.
I afterwards expressed this opinion to the mayor; but he assured me that the president was a monkey of remarkable natural powers; that his mind was so comprehensive, that he not only determined matters of the highest importance at table, with his glass in hand, but even wrote or dictated a new statute between the courses.
His excellency tattled to me half an hour, his tongue wagging, the while, with an agility immeasurably superior to that of our European barbers.
Then turning to my companion, he said, he would take me among his subordinate attendants, since he perceived, from my sluggish disposition, that I must have been born in the land of stupidity, where
Long-eared mortals, in perpetual fogs,
Oft lose their way to mire in horrid bogs:—
and consequently that I was unfit for any office of trust and respectability. “I have, indeed,” urged the mayor, “observed a natural obtuseness in this man; nevertheless, when he is allowed time to think, he judges by no means badly.”
“Of what use is that,” replied the president; “here we need nimble officers, for the immense diversity of our affairs does not give us time to think.”
The president, having spoken thus, very gravely, and carefully examined my body, and directed me to lift a heavy weight from the floor. Seeing that I did this with ease, he remarked: “Nature, although she has stinted you in the faculties of the soul, has compensated, in some measure, by granting to you a degree of bodily strength.”
I now received orders to go out and wait in the court. Soon after the mayor followed, and as he passed, told me that his excellency had determined to include me in his train.
I concluded from his lordship’s undervaluing opinion of me, that my situation could not be very elevated; still, I was curious to know my fate, and therefore asked the mayor if he knew what I was to be entrusted with. The mayor answered: “His excellency, with special grace, has appointed you for his chief porteur,1 with a yearly pay of twenty-five stercolatus.” (A stercolatu is about one dollar of our money.) “Furthermore, he will not require your services for any but himself and her grace, his lady.” This answer was like a thunder-stroke to me; but I was sensible that it was useless to object.
I was carried to a chamber, where a supper of dried fruits was laid; after eating a little, my bed was pointed out to me.
I threw myself upon the bed, but my mind was so agitated, that I could not for a time close my eyes in sleep. The pride and contempt with which the monkeys regarded me, provoked me almost to rage. A more than Spartan patience was needed to listen with indifference to their sneers. At last I slumbered. How long I know not, for in the firmament there is no division of night and day. It is never dark, except at a certain period, when the planet Nazar comes between the firmament and the subterranean sun.
On awakening, I found at my side a mean looking monkey, who asserted that he was my colleague: He had brought with him a false tail, which he fixed upon me, and then tied to it some ribbons of various colors. He told me that in half an hour the president would be ready to set out for the Academy, and that I must prepare myself to begin my duties. The ceremony of promoting a doctor was to take place.
We bore the president to the Academy in a golden sedan, and were suffered to remain in the hall during the performance.
At the entrance of the president, all the doctors and masters of art rose and turned their tails towards him. To a dweller on the earth, such salutations would probably have appeared unseemly and ridiculous, as such a movement with us is expressive of indifference or dislike.
But every land has its own customs. I have seen so many strange ceremonies and varied usages, that I have come to observe, rather than laugh at them.
The act of promotion, on this occasion, was performed with the following ceremonies. The candidate was placed in the middle of the hall. Then three officers, each with a pail of cold water, approached him with measured steps. Each in turn dashed his bucket of water in the candidate’s face. The sufferer is obliged to receive this bath without distorting his countenance, on pain of forfeiting his degree. Odorous oils were then sprinkled over him, and finally a powerful vomit was given to him. When this last dose had produced its usual effect upon the candidate, he was pronounced to be a lawfully graduated doctor.
I turned to a learned doctor, who stood near me, and humbly asked him the meaning of all I had seen.
First expressing his pity for my ignorance, the sneering pedant condescended to inform me, that the ceremony of the water was significant of the preparation for a new course of life and duty; the ointment, of elevation above the mass; and the vomit, of the extermination of prejudice and error.
I fancied, but I did not say so, that my dignified instructor in the mysteries needed a fresh vomit.
The Martinianic religion is not at all practical. There are two hundred and thirty speculations concerning the form and being of God, and three hundred and ninety-six of the nature and qualities of the soul. There are many churches and theological seminaries, but in neither is taught the way to live and die well. The people are all critics, who go to be amused by the art and delicacy of the holy teachers. The more obscure and involved the propositions of their preachers, the more are they praised. The Martinians are indifferent to every thing they can easily understand.
Martinia is the paradise of project-makers. The more inconsistent and useless a scheme, the surer is it of general approbation.
When I once spoke with an enthusiastic monkey, of the earth and its inhabitants, he fell upon the notion, to bore through to the surface, and make a convenient and easy way of communication.
He prepared a long and eloquently worded plan on this subject, which pleased and excited every body.
A company was formed, and named the “Subterranean Boring Company” its originator, Hiho Pop-coq, was made its president. The stock was seized on with avidity, and the project was not abandoned until a multitude of families had been ruined, and the public affairs brought into the greatest disorder; and even then the scheme was dropped, less from its supposed impracticability, than from the length of time required to accomplish it.
The author of it was not only left unpunished, but was overwhelmed with the general applause, for the originality and boldness of his attempt.
The Martinians are used to console themselves on such occasions, by repeating the following couplet:
“The project ended in defeat;
The notion was, however, neat.”
When I had thoroughly studied the character of this people, I determined to take advantage of their weaknesses, and by some outrageous proposal, to gain their respect, and thereby better my condition.
I revealed my intention to a shrewd old monkey, who encouraged me in these words:
Who would succeed in Martinianic land,
Must quit the useful, to propose the grand;
Hazard those deeds, that to the gallows pave,
Thy fortune’s made! Here’s honor for the knave.
After due deliberation, my choice became fixed upon that ornament for the head, called wigs by us.
I had previously noticed that the land contained a multitude of goats; with the hair of these creatures I proposed to manufacture my wigs.
My step-father had been engaged in the trade, and as I had, with the inquisitiveness of youth, observed the process, I could bungle at it.
I made a goat’s -hair wig for myself, and adorned with it, presented myself to the president.
This dignitary was astonished at the new and uncommon decoration. He seized it from my head, and placing it on his own, hastened in a very undignified manner to the mirror.
So enraptured was he at the sight of the pompous protuberance, that he shrieked out: “Divine art, how like a God am I!"— he sent immediately for her Grace to partake in his joy.
She was not less pleased than her lord. She embraced him, kissed him, and assured him that she had never seen him more handsome.
The president addressed himself to me with much less haughtiness than usual. “O Kakidoran!” he exclaimed, “if this discovery of yours pleases the Council as well as it does me, your fortune is made. You may hope for the most honorable reward the State can give.”
I gracefully thanked his Excellency, and immediately wrote a petition, which I requested him to lay before the Council.
His Excellency took the petition together with the wig, and departed. I understood that all the cases which were to come before the Council on this day, had been laid aside, so inquisitive were all to hear and examine my project. The work was accepted, and an appropriate reward was adjudged to me. I was called up to the council-chamber on my entrance, an old monkey stood up, and, after thanking me in the name of the whole republic, proclaimed that my work should be rewarded as its merits deserved. He then demanded, what length of time I should need to fabricate another such head ornament? I replied, that it was reward enough for me, that my curious workmanship had gained the approbation of the great men who composed the Council; for the rest, I bound myself to make another wig in two days, and also to manufacture wigs enough for the whole city in a month, provided I might count upon the assistance of a number of monkeys, accustomed to work. This proposal, however, made the president hot about the ears, and he exclaimed with much eagerness: “It is not fit, my dear Kakidoran, that this ornament should be common to the whole town, for being worn by all without distinction, it will become ordinary and vulgar. The nobility must necessarily be distinguished from the common people.”
All the members of the Council concurred in his opinion, and the city marshal was charged to take heed that none might wear wigs, except the nobility. This order having been promulgated, the citizens thronged about the council-chamber to obtain titles and charters, which some bought with their money and others procured through the influence of their friends; so that in a short time full half the city were made nobles. But when petition after petition poured in from the provinces, that the like favor should be extended to them, the Council, being possessed with a righteous fear of riot and civil war, finally determined to allow every one, without distinction of rank, to wear a wig. I thus had the pleasure to see the whole Martinianic nation wigged before I left that country. And, truly, it can scarcely be imagined what a funny and ridiculous appearance the wigged monkeys presented! The whole nation made so much of my project and its accomplishment, that a new era was established; and from this time the wig-age commenced in the Martinianic annals.
In the meantime, I was loaded with praises and panegyrics, wrapped in a purple cloak, and returned from the court-house in the president’s own sedan, the same porteur, who had formerly been my companion, serving me now as a horse. From that day I dined continually at the table of his Excellency.
With this glittering preamble to my fortunes, I commenced in earnest the work I had promised, and soon finished wigs enough for the whole Council; and after sweating for a month — a patent of nobility was brought to me, couched in the following words:
“In consideration of the most excellent and very useful discovery, through which Kakidoran, born in Europe, has made himself worthy of the gratitude of the whole Martinianic nation, we have resolved to advance him to the rank of nobility, so that he, and all his descendants shall be regarded as true noblemen, and enjoy all the prerogatives and rights, of which the nobility of Martinia are in possession. Furthermore, we have determined to dignify him with a new name; he shall therefore from this day, be no longer called Kakidoran, but Kikidorian. Moreover, since his new dignity requires a richer style of living, we grant him a yearly pension of two hundred patarer. Given in the council-chamber of Martinia, the fourth day of the month Merian, under the great seal of the Council.”
Thus I suddenly became changed from a simple porteur to a respectable nobleman, and lived for a long while in great splendor and honor. When it was known that I was high in the favor of the president, everybody sought my good will and protection. It is the fashion among the poets of Martinia to panegyrize the tails of eminent monkeys, as it is with us to eulogize the beauty of women. Several poets commended the beauty of my tail, although I had none. To say everything on this subject in a few words — their fawning servility towards me was so extreme, that a certain man of high rank and station, did not hesitate, nor did he feel himself shamed, to promise me that his wife should make herself agreeable to me in every possible way, provided that I would recompense him by recommending him to the president.
When I had lived in this land for the space of two years, at first a porteur and latterly a nobleman, an incident, entirely unexpected, occurred, which was nearly fatal to me. I had, up to this period, been in special favor with his Excellency; and her Grace, the president’s lady, had evinced so much kindness to me, that I was regarded the first among all her favorites. She was distinguished for her virtue; but, when in the lapse of time, I perceived one after another ambiguity in her expressions, I began to feel a kind of mistrust, especially when I observed that
Sometimes she’d smile with wanton grace,
Then unto sudden tears give place,
While gazing, silent, on my face
With mild devotion.
Her’s all the art of tenderness,
That pleases while it wounds no less:
Her breasts, half-covered, now confess
Their strange emotion.
Then sighs that can no reason find,
Or used to make my reason blind:—
Her hands upon her breast entwined —
Ah, female charms!
Her face would lose its rosy hue
For lily’s, washed in morning dew;
Aurora’s purple blazed anew,
In love’s alarms.
My suspicions finally became certainties, when a chambermaid brought to me, one day, the following note:
“Dearest Kikidorian —
“The feeling which I owe to my rank and high descent, and the modesty natural to my sex, have until now hindered the sparks of love which have long secretly burned in my bosom, from breaking forth in open flame: but I am weary of the combat, and my heart can no longer resist its bewitching enemy. Have pity for a female, from whom only the utmost degree of burning love could have been able to extort a confession.
I cannot describe how singularly I felt at this entirely unexpected declaration of love: but as I held it far better to expose myself to the revenge of a furious female, than to sin against the order of nature, by a shameful intimacy with a creature that did not belong to my race, I immediately wrote an answer in the following words:
“Gracious Lady —
“The constant favor his Excellency, your husband, has shown to me; the undeserved benefits he has bestowed upon me; the moral impossibility of fulfilling your gracious desires; and many other reasons, that I will not name, move me to submit to the anger of my gracious lady, rather than consent to an action that would stigmatize me as the most ungrateful and the lowest among all two-legged creatures. Besides, what is desired of me, would be more bitter to satisfy than death itself. This action, if I yielded to it, would effect the ruin and dishonor of one of the most respected families in the State, and my willingness would injure, before all others, that person who has desired it. With the most solemn and sincere assurances of gratitude I must here declare, gracious lady, that under no circumstances can I fulfil your wishes in this respect, although to all other commands I promise a blind obedience.
Underneath I wrote the following admonition:
“Think of this heavy sin;
Fly ere it be too late:
Shall vice, the pander, newly in,
Bow virtue to the gate?
Let Cupid not ensnare you —
His cunning wiles beware you,
The sweets of sin soon vanish —
Its pains, ah! who can banish.”
This letter I sent to the lady, and it had the effect that I expected; her love was changed to the bitterest hatred:—
In vain her glowing tongue would vie,
To tell her frightful agony.
Despairing shame her accents clip; —
They freeze upon her snowy lip.
No tears did flow; such pain oft dries
The blessed current of the eyes:
Fell vengeance from her black orbs glanced,
While like a fury, she advanced.
Nevertheless, she restrained her fury, until she recovered the love-letter she had written to me. As soon as she had secured it, she hired some persons to testify by oath, that, in the absence of his Excellency, I had attempted to violate her. This fable was represented with so much art and speciousness, that the president did not doubt its truth, and I was ordered to be put in prison. In this, my despairing condition, I saw no other means of deliverance than to confess the crime, with which I had been charged, and supplicate the president for mercy: which being done, my life was conceded, but I was doomed to perpetual imprisonment. My charter of nobility was immediately taken from me, and I was sent to the galleys as a slave. My destination was to one of the ships belonging to the republic, which then lay ready to sail for Mezendares, or the Land-of-wonders. Thence were brought the wares that Martinia cannot produce. This ship, on board of which my evil fortune had now cast me, was propelled both by sails and oars; at each oar two slaves were chained: consequently I was attached to another unfortunate. I was consoled, however, by the prospect of a voyage, during which I hoped to find new food and nourishment for my insatiable inquisitiveness, although I did not believe all that the seamen told of the curious things I should see. Several interpreters accompanied us; these being made use of by the Mezendaric merchants in the course of their commercial negotiations.
1 A porteur is one who carries his employer in a chair, from place to place.
Before I proceed to the description of this sea-voyage, I must first caution all severe and unmerciful critics not to frown too much at the narration of things, which seem to war against nature, and even surpass the faculties of faith in the most credulous man. I relate incredible but true things, that I have seen with my own eyes. Raw and ignorant ninnies who have never started a foot from their homes, regard every thing as fable, whose equal they have never heard of or seen; or, with which they have not been familiar from childhood. Learned people, on the contrary, especially those who have a deep knowledge of natural history, and whose experience has proved to them how fruitful nature is in changes, will pass a more reasonable sentence upon the uncommon things narrated.
In former days a people were found in Scythia, called Arimasps, who had but one eye, which was placed in the middle of the forehead: another people, under the same climate, had their foot-soles turned out backwards, and in Albany were people born with gray hairs. The ancient Sanromates ate only on every third day and fasted the other two; in Africa were certain families who could bewitch others by their talk; and it is a well known fact, that there were certain persons in Illyria, with two eye-balls to each eye, who killed people by merely looking at them: this, however, they could do, only when they were angry; then their fierce and scintillating stare was fatal to whomever was rash or unfortunate enough to meet it: on the mountains of Hindostan were to be found whole nations with dog’s heads, who barked; and others who had eyes in their backs. Who would believe this and even more, if Pliny, one of the most earnest writers, had not solemnly assured us, that he had neither heard nor read the least hereof, but had seen it all with his own eyes? Yes, who would have imagined that this earth was hollow; that within its circumference were both a sun and moon, if my own experience had not discovered the secret? Who would have thought it possible, that there was a globe, inhabited by walking, sensible trees, if the same experience had not placed it beyond all doubt? Nevertheless, I will not pick a quarrel with any one, on account of his incredulity in this matter, because I must confess, that I myself, before I made this voyage, mistrusted whether these tales might not have arisen from the exaggerated representations of seamen, or that they were the result of that well-known qualification of this class of men, familiarly styled the “spinning a yarn.”
In the beginning of the month Radir, we went on board our ship, weighed anchor, and
The wind in swelling sails embraced the bending masts,
And, like an arrow in the air, with lightning speed,
The keel shrieked through the foaming billows.
The wind was fair for some days, during which we poor rowers had a comfortable time, for the oars were not needed; but on the fourth day it fell calm;
The sails did fall: in haste the seats were fixed;
With plashing stroke, the oars smote heaven in the waters.
For a long time we met with nothing; but as soon as we lost sight of land, strange figures raised themselves from the quaking gulph. They were mermaids, who, when the weather becomes calm and the billows rest themselves, rise to the surface and swim towards any passing ship, to ask for alms. Their language was so similar to the Martinianic, that some of our sailors could speak with them without an interpreter. One of these singular creatures demanded of me a piece of meat; when I gave it to her, she looked at me steadily for a time, and said: you will soon become a hero, and rule over mighty nations! I laughed at this divination, for I considered it empty flattery, although the sailors swore to it, that the mermaids’ prediction seldom failed. At the end of eight days we came in sight of land; which the seamen called Picardania. As we entered the harbor, a magpie came flying towards us, which, they said, was the custom-house inspector-general. When this dignitary had flown thrice around the ship, he returned to the shore and came back with three other magpies: these seated themselves on the prow of the ship. I came very near bursting with laughter, when I saw one of our interpreters approach these magpies, with many compliments, and heard him hold a long conversation with them. They had come for the purpose of examining our freight and detecting any forbidden articles that we might have concealed; when all was found correct, we were suffered to unload. As soon as this was done, a number of magpies flew to the ship, who proved to be merchants. The captain then went ashore, accompanied by myself and two monkeys, namely, our supercargo and an interpreter; after clearing the ship and disposing of the cargo, we returned, and shortly set sail.
In three days we reached Music-land. After casting anchor, we went on shore, preceded by one of the interpreters, who carried a bass-viol in his hand. As we found the whole country about us empty and desolate, discovering no where any trace of living creatures, the captain ordered a trumpet to be sounded, to inform the inhabitants of our arrival. Before the echoes of the blast from the trumpet had subsided, (and they seemed to penetrate farther and reverberate longer than usual from the perfect stillness of this apparently void region,) about thirty musical instruments came hopping towards us. These were bass-viols. On the very long neck of each was placed a little head; the body was also small, and covered by a smooth bark, which, however, did not close entirely around the frame, but was open in front and disposed loosely about them. Over the navel, nature had built a bridge, above which four strings were drawn. The whole machine rested on a single leg, so that their motion was a spring rather than a walk. Their activity was very great, and they jumped with much agility over the fields. In short, we should have taken them for musical instruments, as their general appearance purported, if they had not had each two arms and hands. In the one hand was a bow, the other was used upon the frets. When our interpreter would converse with them, he put his viol in its position, and commenced playing an air. They immediately answered him by touching their strings, and thus alternating with each other, a regular musical conversation was carried on. At first they played only Adagio, with much harmony; then they passed over to discordant tunes; and finally concluded with a very pleasant and lively Presto. As soon as our people heard this, they leaped and sung for joy, saying, that the bargain for the wares was now fixed. Afterwards I learnt that the Adagio, they first played, was merely an opening or preface to the conversation, and consisted only of compliments; that the discordant tones which followed, were bickerings and disputes about prices; and, finally, that the sweet sounding Presto indicated that an agreement had been made. At the conclusion of these negotiations, the wares stipulated for were landed. The most important of these is Kolofonium, with which the inhabitants rub their bows or organs of speech.
Late in the month of Cusan, we set sail from Music-land, and after some days sailing hove in sight of a new land, which, on account of the foul smell that reached our noses at a great distance, our seamen supposed to be Pyglossia.
The inhabitants of this land are not very unlike the human race in their general appearance; the sole difference being, that these people have no mouth: they speak from the face which turns towards the south when the nose points to the north. The first of them who came on board, was a rich merchant. He saluted us after the custom of his nation, by turning his back towards us, and immediately began to bargain with us for our wares. I kept myself considerably remote during the negotiation, as neither the sound nor the smell of his speech pleased me. To my great horror our barber was taken sick at this time, so that I was obliged to summon a Pyglossian perfume. As the barbers here are quite as talkative as among us, this one, while shaving me, filled the cabin with so disagreeable a smell, that, on his departure, we were obliged to smoke with all the incense we had on board.
We sailed hence to Iceland. This land consisted of desolate rocks, covered by eternal snows. The inhabitants who are all of ice, live here and there in the clefts of the rocks on the tops of the mountains, where the sun is never seen, enveloped by almost perpetual darkness and frost. The only light they have comes from the shining rime.
These lands, of which I here have given a view, are all subject to the great emperor of Mezendora proper, and are therefore called by seafaring people the Mezendoric islands. This great and wonderful country, namely, Mezendora, is the goal of all extended voyages. Eight days sail from Iceland brought us to the imperial residence. There we found all that realized, which our poets have fancied of the societies of animals, trees and plants; Mezendora being, so to speak, the common father-land of all sensible animals and plants. In this empire each animal and every tree can obtain citizenship, merely by submitting to the government and laws. One would suppose, that, on account of the mixture of so many different creatures, great confusion would prevail among them: but this is far from the case. On the contrary, this very difference produces the most happy effects; which must be attributed to their wise laws and institutions, decreeing to each subject that office and employment to which his nature and special faculties are best fitted. Thus, the lion, in consideration of his natural magnanimity, is always chosen regent. The elephant, on account of his keen judgment, is called to sit in the State-council. Courtiers are made of chameleons, because they are inconstant and know how to temporize. The army consists of bears, tigers and other valorous animals; in the marine service, on the contrary, are oxen and bulls; seamen being generally hardy and brave people; but severe, inflexible, and not particularly delicate in their living, which corresponds very well with their element. There is a seminary for this class, where calves or sea-cadets are educated for sea-officers. Trees, for their natural discretion and gravity, are usually appointed judges: counsellors are geese; and the lawyers of the courts in ordinary are magpies. Foxes are generally selected as ambassadors, consuls, commercial-agents, and secretaries-of-legation. The ravens are chosen for dealing-masters and executors on the effects of those deceased. The buck-goats are philosophers, and especially grammarians, partly for the sake of their horns, which they use on the slightest occasion, to gore their opponents, and partly in consideration of their reverend beards, which so notably distinguish them from all other creatures. The staid yet energetic horse has the suffrage for the mayoralty and other civil dignitaries. Estate owners and peasants are serpents, moles, rats and mice. The ass, on account of his braying voice, is always the leader of the church-choir. Treasurers, cashiers and inspectors are commonly wolves; their clerks, being hawks. The (roosters) cocks are appointed for watchmen, and the dogs house-porters.
The first who came on board of us, was a lean wolf or inspector, the same as a custom-house-officer in Europe, followed by four hawks, his clerks. These took from our wares what pleased them best, proving to us thereby that they understood their business perfectly, and had all its appropriate tricks at their fingers’ ends. The captain took me ashore with him. As soon as we had set foot on the quay, a cock came towards us, demanded whence we were, the nature of our cargo, and announced us to the inspector-general. This latter received us with much courtesy, and invited us to dine with him. The mistress of the house, whom I had heard to be one of the greatest beauties among the female wolves, was not present at the table: the reason of this was, as we afterwards learned, her husband’s jealousy, who did not deem it advisable to allow such a handsome wife to be seen by strangers. There were, however, several ladies at table; among others, a certain commodore’s wife, a white cow with black spots: next to her sat a black cat, wife to the master of hunt at court, newly arrived from the country. At my side was placed a speckled sow, the lady of a renovation-inspector: that species of officer-ship being generally taken from the hog-race. It must be observed that the inhabitants of the Mezendoric empire, although they are animals in figure, have hands and fingers on the fore feet.
After dinner the speckled sow entered into conversation with our interpreter, during which she told him that she was overhead and ears in love with me. He comforted her in the best manner he could, and promised her his support and aid; then he turned himself towards me and endeavored to persuade me to be easy; but when he observed that his flattering and arguments were vain, he advised me to take to flight, as he knew that this lady would move heaven and earth to satisfy her desires. From this time I remained constantly on board; but the ship itself was not a fortification sufficiently secure from the attacks of this lady, who by messengers and love-letters strove to melt the ice that surrounded my heart. Had I not, in the shipwreck I afterwards suffered, lost my papers, I should now give some specimens of the swine’s poetry. I have forgotten it all, except the following lines, in which she praises her being thus:
O thou! for whom my too fond soul most ardently doth thirst,
For whom my earliest passion, in retirement I have nursed:
Think not my figure homely, though it be endued in bristles —
What beauty hath the leafless tree, through which the cold wind whistles?
How unadorned the noble horse, when of his beauteous mane he’s shorn!
O! who would love a purring cat, all in her furlessness forlorn.
Ah, look around my darling pig! look on all living things,
From the huge unwieldy mammoth to the smallest bird that sings; —
Were these not shagged or feathered all, how loudly should we jeer; —
Who would warmly strive to please e’en man, were man without a beard?
After our truck was finished and a rich freight stowed away, we sailed for home. We had scarcely got into the open sea when it suddenly became calm, but soon after the wind breezed up. Having sailed awhile with a good wind, we saw again some mermaids, who
— dripping wet
Shot forth, and dived between the foaming waves,
and now and then emitted horrible shrieks. The sailors were much terrified at this, for they knew by experience, that these mournful sounds were presages of storm and wreck. They had scarcely taken in the sails, before the whole heavens became veiled in black clouds:
Day sinks in night: all nature shudders.
Then, in an instant, loose from every point
The storm, in frightful gusts and devilish uproar
Breaks; the axis of the globe grates fearful —
And thunders, clap on clap, resound the concave:
The waves, din-maddened, tower to mountains.
Wildly, gone her helm, the half-crushed craft
Tumbles ungovernable. Now despairing shrieks
Mingling with ocean’s roar and crash of heaven,
Rise from the peopled deck: ’tis finished!
Every movable thing on deck floated off, for besides the ever-rolling billows, an immense rain fell in terrific water-spouts, accompanied by thunder and lightning. It seemed as though all the elements had conspired for our destruction. During the rolling of the ship, our masts were carried away, and then all hope of salvation was gone. Now and then a huge billow rolled over us, and carried with it one or two men far beyond the ship. The storm raged more and more; no one cared longer for the vessel: without helm, without masts, without captain and mates, who had been washed overboard, the wreck lay at the pleasure of the waves. Having floated thus for three days, a bauble for the storm, we finally descried a mountainous land in the distance. While rejoicing in the hope of soon reaching this haven, our vessel struck so hard against a blind rock, that she was instantly dashed in pieces. In the confusion and terror of the moment I got hold of a plank, and, careless for the rest, thought only upon saving myself, so that even now I know nothing of the fate of my companions. I was quickly driven forth by the billows; and this was fortunate for me, for otherwise I should have been crushed among the timbers of the ship or torn in pieces by the jagged rocks upon which we had been cast, or escaping this should eventually have perished from hunger and fatigue. I was wafted by the waves within a cape, where the sea was calmer, and where the roaring of the excited ocean sounded less frightfully. When I saw that I was near the shore, I began to scream vigorously, hoping to call the inhabitants to my assistance. I soon heard a sound on the seashore, and saw some of the natives come from a wood near by; they got into a yawl and sailed towards me; this boat being curiously fashioned of ozier and oak-branches twisted together, I concluded that this people must be very wild and uncultivated. I was heartily glad, when I found them to be men, for they were the first human beings I had met during the whole voyage. They are very like the inhabitants of our globe, who live in hot climates; their beards are black and their hair curled; the few among them who have long and light hair, are considered monsters. The land which they inhabit is very rocky: from the curved ridges of the rocks and the connecting tops of the mountains, which cut the air in multiplied sinuosities, every sound reverberates in echo upon echo from the dales below. The people in the yawl approached the plank upon which I floated, drew me from it, carried me to the shore, and gave me to eat and drink. Although the food did not taste very good, yet as I had fasted for three days, it refreshed me very much, and in a short time I regained my former strength.
Meanwhile a large multitude of people collected around me from all parts. They requested me to speak; but as I did not understand their language I could not answer them. They repeated often the word Dank, Dank, and supposing them to be Germans, I addressed them in this language, then in Danish, and finally in Latin; but they signified to me, by shaking their heads, that these languages were unknown to them. I tried at last to declare myself in the subterranean tongues, namely, in Nazaric and Martinianic; but it was in vain.
After having addressed each other, thus incomprehensibly for a long time, I was carried to a small hut, formed of wickers intricately twisted. In this hut were neither chairs nor tables; these people seat themselves on the ground to eat; instead of beds they spread straw on the earthy floor, upon which they throw themselves indiscriminately at night. Their food is milk, cheese, barley-bread and meat, which they rudely broil on the coals; for they do not understand cooking. Thus I lived with them, like a dog, until I learned so much of their language, that I could speak with them and assist them a little in their ignorance. The simplest rules of living that I prepared for them were considered as divine commands. My fame soon spread abroad, and all the villages around sent forth crowds to a teacher, who, they believed, had been sent to them from heaven. I heard even, that some had commenced a new chronology from the date of my arrival. All this pleased me only so much the more, as formerly in Nazar I had been abused for my imprudence and wavering judgment, and in Martinia despised and commiserated for my ignorance. True, indeed, is the old proverb; that among the blind the one-eyed rules. I had now come to a land, where with little understanding, I could raise myself to the highest dignities. There were here the best opportunities to employ my talents, since this fruitful land produced in abundance whatever subserved for pleasure and luxury as well as usefulness and comfort. The inhabitants were not indocile nor were they wanting in conception; but since they had been blessed with no light without themselves, they groped in the thickest darkness. When I told them of my birth, my native land, of the shipwreck I had suffered, and of other occurrences in my voyages, not one would credit me. They thought rather that I was an inhabitant of the sun, and had come down to enlighten them, wherefore they called me Pikil-Su, that is the sun’s ambassador. For their religion, they believed in and acknowledged a God, but cared not at all to prove his existence. They thought it enough for them that their forefathers had believed the same; and this blind submission to time-honored formulæ was their simple and sole theology. Of the moral law, they were ignorant of all commandments save this: Do not unto others that which you would not have others do unto you. They had no laws; the will of the emperor was their only rule. Of chronology they had but a slight conception; their years were determined by the eclipses of the sun by Nazar’s intervention. Were one asked his age, he would answer: that he had attained so many eclipses. Their knowledge of natural science too, was very unsatisfactory and unreasonable; they believed the sun to be a plate of gold, and the planet Nazar, a cheese. Their property consisted in hogs, which, after marking, they drove into the woods: the wealth of each was determined by the number of his swine.
I applied myself, with all the fervor imaginable, to refine and enlighten this rude, yet promising people, so that shortly I came to be regarded among them as a saint; their trust in my wisdom was so great, that they thought nothing impossible with me. Therefore, when overtaken by misfortune, they would hasten to my hut and pray for my assistance. Once I found a peasant on his knees before my door, weeping, and bitterly complaining over the unfruitfulness of his trees, and beseeching me to use my authority, that his trees should bear fruit to him abundantly, as of old.
I had heard that this whole country was governed by a Regent, whose residence, or palace, at that time, was about eight days’ travel from the town where I lived. I say at that time, because the court dwelt, not in substantial, fixed houses, but in tents; and the residence was moved at pleasure from one province to another. The ruler at that period was an old man, named Casba, which signifies, the great emperor. In consideration of its many large provinces, this country was indeed a great empire; but, from the ignorance of the inhabitants, who made little use of their many natural advantages, and also from the absence of that unanimity among the provinces, which would have dignified and strengthened their counsels, and subserved for their mutual protection, they were exposed to the attacks and mockeries of their more vigorous neighbors, and not unfrequently obliged to pay tribute to nations much inferior to themselves.
The report of my name and power was spread in a short time even to the remotest provinces. Nothing could be done without consulting me, as an oracle, and when any undertaking miscarried, its failure was ascribed to my indifference or indignation; wherefore, oblations were frequently made to assuage my anger. Finally the rumor was carried to the ears of the old emperor, that a great man had come into his dominions, in a strange dress, who gave himself out as ambassador of the sun, and had proved himself more than man, by bestowing to the Quamites (thus the inhabitants were called, after the name of the land, Quama,) wise and almost divine rules of life. He therefore sent ambassadors, with orders to invite me to the imperial residence. These were thirty in number, all clothed in tiger-skins, this dress being considered in Quama the greatest of ornaments, since none were permitted to wear it, but those who had distinguished themselves in war against the Tanaquites, a nation of sensible tigers, and the mortal enemies of the Quamites.
I had built, in the town where I dwelt, a walled house, after the European style. At the sight of it, the imperial ambassadors were astonished, and exclaimed that it was a work beyond human powers; they entered it, as a sanctuary, with devout reverence, and there proclaimed to me the emperor’s invitation in the following speech: “Since the great emperor, our most gracious lord, reckons his genealogy through manifold generations, from Spunko, the sun’s son, the primary regent of Quama, nothing could surprise him more agreeably than this embassy; wherefore his majesty joyfully greets the ambassador of the sun, and humbly invites him to the capital city of the empire.” I answered by expressing my most humble thanks for the emperor’s condescension, and immediately repaired, with the ambassadors, to the capital. These lords had been fourteen days on their journey to me, but assisted by my genius, the return occupied only four days.
I had observed, during my residence in this country, that there were vast numbers of horses running wild in the woods, and hence rather burthensome than useful to the inhabitants. I showed to the people how beneficial these animals might be made to them, and taught them how to tame these noble creatures. At my suggestion and by my direction, a number of them were caught and broken in, and thus I was enabled to mount the ambassadors, and materially shorten the period of our journey.
No idea can be formed of the wonder and astonishment with which the Quamites witnessed our entry into the city; some were so frightened that they ran far into the country. The emperor himself dared not, in his fear, come out from his tent, nor would he stir, until one of the ambassadors, dismounting his horse, went in and explained the whole secret to him. Shortly I was, with a great retinue, led into the imperial tent. The old emperor was seated on a carpet surrounded by his courtiers. On my entrance, I acknowledged, in the most polite terms, the exceeding grace his imperial majesty had shown me; thereupon the emperor arose and asked me what the king of the sun, and father of his family proposed to do. Conceiving it politic, and even necessary not to undeceive the Quamites in the opinion they themselves first entertained, I answered: that his majesty, the king of the sun, had sent me down to this land to refine, by good laws and salutary rules of life, the uncultivated manners of the Quamites, and teach them the arts, through which they might not only resist and repel their valiant and energetic neighbors, but even extend the boundaries of their own empire; and added, that I had been ordered to remain with them forever. The emperor listened to this speech with much apparent pleasure, ordered a tent to be immediately raised for me near his own, gave me fifteen servants, and treated me less as a subject than as an intimate friend.
From this time all my exertions were directed to the accomplishment of a radical reform throughout the country. I commenced by improving their mode of warfare, in exercising the young men in riding, fencing and shooting. My constant labor was rewarded so well that, in a short time, I exhibited before the emperor six thousand horsemen.
At this period the Tanaquites were preparing for a new attack upon the Quamites, on account of the refusal of this latter people to pay a yearly tribute which had been several times demanded and as often denied. I went, at the emperor’s desire, with my cavalry and some footmen to meet the invaders. To the infantry I gave javelins and arrows, that they might fight their enemies at a distance; for the Quamites had formerly used only short swords or poignards, and consequently were obliged to meet in close combat their frightful foes, the Tanaquites, who excelling them greatly in personal strength, had great advantage over them. Hearing that the enemy were approaching the boundary, as commander-in-chief, I repaired instantly towards them. On meeting the invaders I caused the footmen to attack them with their javelins; this put them into panic and flight, and determined the fate of the day. The enemy suffered a terrible defeat and the Tanaquitic leader, with twenty other noble tigers, were taken prisoners alive and carried in triumph to Quama. It is not possible to describe the general and tumultuous joy that filled the whole country for this glorious victory; because in former wars the Quamites had generally been obliged to lay down their arms. The emperor commanded the prisoners to be immediately executed, according to old custom; but considering this a horrible custom, I persuaded him to respite them, and put them in prison for further deliberation.
I had observed that this land was very rich in saltpetre, and had collected a considerable quantity for the purpose of making powder. This intention I had kept secret, however, from all except the emperor, whose permission I needed to establish manufactories for rifles and other guns. With the aid of these I hoped in a short time to subdue all the enemies of the empire. When I had finished some hundred rifles and prepared balls suitable for them, I made a trial of my project to the astonishment of all. A certain number of soldiers were selected to learn this military art, and were exercised in the management of the guns. When this body of soldiers had become accustomed to the use of these new engines of war, and could employ them effectively, a review was held, after which the emperor proclaimed me Jakal, that is, generalissimo over the whole army. While all these matters were pending, I had entered into an intimate friendship with the brave leader of the Tanaquites, the imprisoned Tomopoloko, with whom I held frequent and interesting conversations, with the object of learning the constitution, character, and customs of his nation. I could not but observe, to my great astonishment, that they were a witty, moral and enlightened people, and that the sciences were earnestly and effectively cultivated by them. The chief told me, that towards the east were a valorous people, against whose attacks, the Tanaquites were obliged to keep themselves always prepared. The inhabitants of that country, he added, were small, and in reality much inferior in bodily strength to those of Tanaquis; but being of superior acuteness and agility, and excellent bowmen, they had in fact, often forced the Tanaquites to sue for peace.
I soon came to know, that this formidable nation consisted of cats; and that they had distinguished themselves among all the nations under the firmament, for their rational judgment and political acumen. It provoked and pained me not a little, that skilfulness, the sciences, and polite manners, should be universally among the animals of the subterranean world, while only real human beings, namely, the Quamites were sunk to the profoundest depths of uncultivated barbarism. I consoled myself, however, in the hope that, through my endeavors, this shame would soon cease, and the Quamites would recover that dominion, which belonged to them as men over all other animals.
Since their last defeat, the Tanaquites kept very quiet for a long time; but when they found out the nature and condition of our cavalry; when they discovered that those centaurs, who had frightened them so terribly at first, were nothing in reality, but tamed horses with men seated upon them, they took courage and armed new troops against the Quamites, under the command of their king. Their whole army consisted of twenty thousand tigers, all veteran soldiers, heroes of many hard fought fields, except two regiments of new recruits; these hastily collected warriors were, however, more formidable in name and numbers than in service. Already sure of victory, they fell at once upon Quama. I immediately ordered against them twelve thousand infantry, among whom were six hundred musketeers, and four thousand horsemen. As I had not the slightest doubt of a fortunate termination to this expedition, I requested the emperor to take command of it, and thus reap the honor of the victory. By this appearance of modesty, I lost no respect, for the whole army still considered me the true leader. I first directed my cavalry against the enemy, but these were resisted with so much vigor, that the side of victory was for a long time doubtful: at the critical moment, when triumph was vacillating between the two powers, I detached my musketeers from the main body and advanced upon the foe. The Tanaquites were much astonished at the first shots, for they could not conceive whence came the thunder and lightning; but when they saw the mournful effects of our continued volleys, they became terrified; at the first discharge fell about two hundred tigers, among which were two chaplains, who were shot down while encouraging the soldiers to bravery. When I observed the panic among the enemy, I commanded a second discharge, whose results were more fatal than the former; their king himself was shot: then the Tanaquites took to flight; our cavalry followed them, and cut down so many of the flying multitude, that those in the rear could not proceed from the huge piles of slain that covered the way. When the battle was over, we counted the killed of the enemy and found them to be thirteen thousand: our own loss was comparatively very slight. The victorious army marched into the kingdom of Tanaqui and encamped before its capital. The general terror had meanwhile increased so much, that the magistrates submissively met the conquerors and delivered the keys of the city. The capital surrendering, the whole country soon followed its example. The disregard and contempt in which the Quamites had to this time been held, were changed to admiration and fear: the empire, with the addition of the newly conquered kingdom, was extended to twice its former size.
The glory of these actions was with one voice ascribed to my superior knowledge and untiring industry; and the esteem which had been long cherished for me, now passed over to a reverent and divine worship. This period of general peace and exultation, I thought a fitting time to advance the civilization and refinement of the Quamites, and as a practical commencement to this great work I ordered the royal Tanaquitic library to be moved to Quama.
My curiosity to become acquainted with this library had been at first excited by the imprisoned leader Tomopoloko, who told me that among its manuscripts was one, whose author had been up to our globe, in which history of his travels he had described several of its kingdoms, particularly those of Europe. The Tanaquites had seized this manuscript during one of their predatory excursions into a distant land; but as the author had concealed his name, they knew not what countryman he was, nor in what manner he had passed up through the earth. The quaint title of this book was: “Tanian’s 2 Travels Above-ground; being a description of the kingdoms and countries there, especially those of Europe.” From the antiquity of this work together with its great popularity, it had become so ragged, that what I was most anxious to learn, namely, the narration of the author’s journey to our earth and his return, was most unfortunately lost. Here is the contents of this singular manuscript, such as I found it:
“Fragments of Tanian’s Diary, kept on a Voyage above-ground, Translated by his Excellency, M. Tomopoloko, General-in-chief, in the Service of his Tanaquitic majesty.“
“This land (Germany) was called the Roman empire; but it has been an empty title, since the Roman monarchy was demolished several centuries since. The language of this land is not easy to understand, on account of its perverted style; for, what in other languages is placed before, in this comes after, so that the meaning cannot be had before a whole page is read through. The form of government is very inconsistent; some think they have a regent and yet have none; it should be an empire, yet it is divided into several duchies, each of which has its own government, and often engages in a formal war with its neighbor. The whole land is called ‘holy,’ although there is not to be found in it the least trace of piety. The regent, or more correctly the unregent, who bears the name of emperor, is denominated ‘the continual augmenter of his country,’ although he not seldom diminishes it; ‘invincible,’ notwithstanding he is often slain: sometimes by the French, sometimes by the Turks. One has no less reason to wonder at the people’s rights and liberties; but although they have many rights, they are forbidden to use them. Innumerable commentaries have been written upon the German constitution, but notwithstanding this, they have made no advance because
“The capital of this country (France) is called Paris, and is very large, and may in a certain degree be considered the capital of all Europe; for it exercises a peculiar law-giving power over the whole continent. It has, for example, the exclusive right to prescribe the universal mode of dress and living; and no style of dress, however inconvenient or ridiculous, may be controverted after the Parisians have once established it. How or when they obtained this prescriptive right is unknown to me. I observed, however, that this dominion did not extend to other things; for the other nations often make war with the French, and not seldom force them to sue for peace on very hard terms; but subservience in dress and living nevertheless continues. In quickness of judgment, inquisitiveness after news, and fruitfulness of discovery, the French are much like the Martinians.
“From Bologna we went to Rome. This latter city is governed by a priest, who is held to be the mightiest of the kings and rulers of Europe, although his possessions may be travelled through in one day. Beyond all other regents, who only have supremacy over their subjects’ lives and goods, he can govern souls. The Europeans generally believe that this priest has in his possession the keys of heaven. I was very curious to see these keys, but all my endeavors were in vain. His power, not only over his own subjects, but the whole human race, consists principally in that he can absolve those whom God condemns, and condemn those whom God absolves; an immense authority, which the inhabitants of our subterranean world seriously believe is not becoming to any mortal man. But it is an easy matter to induce the Europeans to credit the most unreasonable assertions, and submit to the most high-handed assumptions, notwithstanding they consider themselves alone sensible and enlightened, and, puffed up with their foolish conceits, look contemptuously upon all other nations, whom they call barbarous.
“I will not, by any means, defend our subterranean manners and institutions: my purpose simply is, to examine those of the Europeans, and show how little claim these people have to find fault with other nations.
“It is customary, in some parts of Europe, to powder the hair and clothes with ground and sifted corn; the same which nature has produced for the nourishment of man. This flour is called hair-powder. It is combed out with great care at night, preparatory to a fresh sprinkling in the morning. There is another custom with them, which did not appear less ridiculous to me. They have certain coverings for the head, called hats, made ostensibly, to protect the head from the weather, but which, instead of being used for this very reasonable purpose, are generally worn under the arm, even in the winter. This seemed as foolish to me as would the instance of one’s walking through the city with his cloak or breeches in his hand; thus exposing his body, which these should cover, to the severity of the weather.
“The doctrines of European religion are excellent and consistent with sound reason. In their books of moral law they are commanded to read the Christian precepts often; to search into their true meaning, and are advised to be indulgent with the weak and erring. Nevertheless, should any understand one or another doctrine of these books in any but the established sense, they would be imprisoned, lashed, yes, and even burned for their want of judgment. This seemed to me the same case, as if one should be punished for a blemish in sight, through which he saw that object square which others believed to be round. I was told that some thousand people had been executed by hanging or burning, for their originality of thought.
“In most cities and villages are to be found certain persons standing in high places, who animadvert severely upon the sins of others, which they themselves commit daily: this seemed to me as sensible as the preaching of temperance by a drunkard.
“In the larger towns, it is almost generally the fashion to invite one’s guests, immediately after meals, to imbibe a kind of sup made from burnt beans, which they call coffee. To the places where this is drunk, they are drawn in a great box on four wheels, by two very strong animals; for the higher classes of Europeans hold it to be very indecent to move about on their feet.
“On the first day of the year, the Europeans are attacked by a certain disease, which we subterraneans know nothing of. The symptoms of this malady are a peculiar disturbance of the mind and agitation of the head; its effects are that none can remain, on that day, five minutes in one place. They run furiously from one house to another, with no appreciable reason. This disease continues with many even fourteen days; until at last, they become weary of their eternal gadding, check themselves and regain their former health.
“In France, Italy and Spain, the people lose their reason for some weeks, in the winter season. This delirium is moderated by strewing ashes on the foreheads of the sufferers. In the northern parts of Europe, to which this disease sometimes extends, and where the ashes have no power, nature is left to work the cure.
“It is the custom with most Europeans, to enter into a solemn compact with God, in the presence of witnesses, three or four times a year, which they invariably and immediately break. This compact is called ‘communion,’ and seems to have been established only to show that the Europeans are used to break their promises several times each year. They confess their sins and implore the mercy of God, in certain melodies, accompanied by instrumental music. As the magnitude of their sins increases, their music becomes louder: thus fluters, trumpeters and drummers are favorite helpers to devotion.
“Almost all the nations of Europe are obliged to acknowledge and believe in the doctrines, which are contained in a certain ‘holy book.’ At the south the reading of this book is entirely forbidden; so that the people are forced to credit what they dare not read; in these same regions, it is likewise austerely forbidden to worship God, except in a language incomprehensible to the people; so that, only those prayers are held to be lawful and pleasing to God, which are uttered from memory, without comprehension.
“The learned controversies which occupy the European academies, consist in the discussion of matters, the development of which is productive of no benefit, and in the examination of phenomena, the nature of which is beyond the reach of the human mind. The most serious study of a European scholar, is the consideration of a pair of old boots, the slippers, necklaces and gowns of a race long extinct. Of the sciences, both worldly and divine, none judge for themselves, but subscribe blindly to the opinions of a few. The decisions of these, when once established, they cling to, like oysters to the rocks. They select a few from their number whom they call, ‘wise,’ and credit them implicitly. Now, there would be nothing to object against this, could raw and ignorant people decide in this case; but to decide concerning wisdom requires, methinks, a certain degree of sapience in the judge.
“In the southern countries, certain cakes are carried about, which the priests set up for Gods; the most curious part of this matter is, the bakers themselves, while the dough yet cleaves to their fingers, will swear that these cakes have created heaven and earth.
“The English prefer their liberty to all else, and are not slaves, except to their wives. Today they reject that religion, which yesterday they professed. I ascribe this fickleness to the situation of their country; they are islanders and seamen, and probably become affected by the variable element that surrounds them. They inquire very often after each other’s health, so that one would suppose them to be all doctors; but the question: how do you do? is merely a form of speech; a sound without the slightest signification.
“Towards the north, is a republic, consisting of seven provinces. These are called ‘united,’ notwithstanding there is not to be found the least trace of union among them. The mob boast of their power, and insist upon their right to dispose of state affairs; but no where is the commonalty more excluded from such matters; the whole government being in the hands of some few families.
“The inhabitants of this republic heap up great riches with anxious and unwearied vigilance, which, however, they do not enjoy: their purses are always full, their stomachs always empty. One would almost believe they lived on smoke, which they continually suck through tubes or pipes, made of clay. It must, nevertheless, be confessed, that these people surpass all others in cleanliness; for they wash everything but their hands.
“Every land has its own laws and customs, which are usually opposed to each other. For example; by law, the wife is subject to the husband; by custom, the husband is ruled by the wife.
“In Europe, the superfluous members of society only are respected; these devour not only the fruits of the land but the land itself. The cultivators of the soil, who feed these gorges are degraded for their industry and despised for their usefulness.
“The prevalence of vice and crime in Europe may perhaps be fairly inferred from the great number of gallows and scaffolds to be seen everywhere. Each town has its own executioner. I must, for justice sake, clear England from this stigma; I believe there are no public murderers in that country: the inhabitants hang themselves.
“I have a kind of suspicion that the Europeans are cannibals; for they shut large flocks of healthful and strong persons in certain inclosures, called cloisters, for the purpose of making them fat and smooth. This object seldom fails, as these prisoners, free from all labor and care, have nothing to do but to enjoy themselves in these gardens of pleasure.
“Europeans commonly drink water in the morning to cool their stomachs; this object accomplished, they drink brandy to heat them again.
“In Europe are two principal sects in religion; the Roman catholic and the protestant. The protestants worship but one God; the catholics, several. Each city and village, with these, has its appropriate God or Goddess. All these deities are created by the pope, or superior priest at Rome, who, on his part, is chosen by certain other priests, called cardinals. The mighty power of these creators of the creator of the gods, does not, as it would seem to an indifferent spectator, apparently alarm the people.
“The ancient inhabitants of Italy subdued the whole world, and obeyed their wives; the present, on the contrary, abuse their wives and submit to the whole world.
“The Europeans generally feed upon the same victuals with the subterraneans. The Spaniards alone live on the air.
“Commerce flourishes here and there; many things are offered for sale in Europe, which with us are never objects of trade. Thus in Rome, people sell heaven; in Switzerland, themselves; and in * * * * * * *, the crown, sceptre and throne are offered at public auction.
“In Spain, idleness is the true mark of a well-bred man; and the distinguishing proof of pure nobility is an aptitude to sleep.
“Among European writers, those are in the highest repute, who change the natural order of words, making that which is in itself simple and distinct, intricate and incomprehensible. The class most noted for this abominable perversion of style is that of the ‘poets:’ this singular removal of words is called ‘poetry.’ The capability to puzzle is by no means the only requisite to become a true poet; one must be able to lie most terribly. A certain old poet named Homerus, who possessed both these qualities in an eminent degree, is styled the ‘master,’ and is idolized with a kind of divine worship. He has had many imitators of his distortion of sentences and falsification of truth; but, it is said, none have yet reached his excellence.
“The cultivators of science purchase books in great quantities, not so much, I am told, for the sake of the contents, as for their antiqueness of style or elegance of binding.
“The learned and unlearned are distinguished from each other by different dresses and manners; but especially by different religions: the latter believe mostly in one God; the former worship many divinities, both male and female. Among the principal of these are, Apollo, Minerva, and nine muses; besides many lesser whole and half Gods. The poets particularly implore their aid and ‘hail’ them when they take a notion to rage.
“The learned are divided, according to their different studies into the classes of philosophers, poets, grammarians, natural philosophers, metaphysicians, &c.
“A philosopher is a scientific tradesman, who, for a certain price, sells prescriptions of self-denial, temperance and poverty; he generally preaches the pains of wealth, till he becomes rich himself, when he abandons the world for a comfortable and dignified retreat. The father of the philosophers, Seneca, is said to have collected royal wealth.
“A poet is one who makes a great stir with printed prattle, falsehood and fury. Madness is the characteristic of the true poet. All those who express themselves, with clearness, precision and simplicity are deemed unworthy of the laurel wreath.
“The grammarians are a sort of military body, who disturb the public peace. They are distinguished from all other warriors, by dress and weapons. They wear black instead of colored uniforms, and wield pens rather than swords. They fight with as much obstinacy for letters and words as do the others for liberty and father-land.
“A natural philosopher is one who searches into the bowels of the earth, studies the nature of animals, worms and insects, and, in a word, is familiar with every thing, but himself.
“A metaphysician is a sort of philosopher, partly visionary and partly sceptical, who sees what is concealed from all others. He describes the being and unfolds the nature of souls and spirits, and knows both what is, and what is not. From the acuteness of his sight, the metaphysician cannot discern what lies directly before his feet.
“I have thus briefly considered the condition of the learned republic in Europe. I could relate many other things, but I think I have given the reader a sufficient test, by which he may judge how far the Europeans have a right to hold themselves preëminent for wisdom.
“The people above-ground are exceedingly pious, and extraordinarily zealous in praying. Their prayers, however, do not arise from the impulses and emotions of their hearts; but are subdued to mere matters of form, directed by bells, clocks or sun-dials. Their devotion is entirely mechanical, founded on external signs and old customs rather than in sincere feeling.
“When I came to Italy, I fancied myself master over the whole country; for every one called himself my slave. I took a notion to test the extent of this humble obedience, and commanded my landlord to lend me his wife for a night; he became very angry, however, at this, and ordered me out of his house.
“In the north, there are many people who seek with great pains to obtain titles of offices which they do not hold; and many lose their reason in their eagerness to be on the right side. Furthermore,”
Here I lost my patience. Inflamed to the utmost fury, I threw the book on the ground, and assured Tomopoloko, who was by me, that it was the fiction of an unjust and choleric writer. When my first passion was cooled, I reviewed my sentence, and finally concluded that the author of these travels, although unfair and untrue in many particulars, had nevertheless made some good points and happy reflections.
I will now return to civil affairs. All our neighbors had kept very quiet for a long period, and during this peace I made every effort to constitute the government according to my own notions, and strengthen the army in numbers and efficiency.
Suddenly, we received information that three warlike and formidable nations, namely, the Arctonians, Kispusiananians and Alectorians, had united against the Quamites. The first named were bears gifted with reason and speech. The Kispusiananians were a nation of large cats celebrated for their cunning and ferocity. The Alectorians were cocks, armed with bows and arrows. These arrows with poisoned tips, were cast with wonderful precision, and their least touch was fatal.
These three nations had been irritated by the uncommon progress of the Quamites as well as by the fall of the Tanaquites. The allied powers sent ambassadors to Quama, to demand the liberty of the imprisoned Tanaquitians and the cession of their land, with power to declare war should the same be denied. By my advice, they were immediately dismissed with the following answer: “Since the Tanaquitians, violators of peace and alliance, have deserved the misery which they have brought upon themselves by their own folly and pride, his majesty, the emperor, is determined to defend, to the utmost, the possessions of a land, conquered in a lawful war, in spite of the threats and fearless of the strength of your unnatural alliance.”
In a short time I had an army of forty thousand men ready for the coming war: among these were eight thousand horsemen and two thousand riflemen. The emperor, old as he was, determined to follow this campaign; his eagerness and ambition were so great, that neither his wife’s representations nor mine were effective enough to induce him to abandon this intention.
In this state of affairs, I was made somewhat uneasy from mistrust of the Tanaquitians. I feared that, impatient of their unaccustomed slavery, they would take the first opportunity to throw off their yoke, and go over to the enemy. I did not deceive myself; for immediately after the declaration of war, we heard that full twelve thousand Tanaquitians in complete armor, had marched for the enemy’s encampment. Thus were we occupied at once with four mighty foes.
In the beginning of the month Kilian, we commenced our march. From a spy, we learnt that the united troops had already besieged the fort Sibol in Tanaqui, on the borders of Kispusianania. On our arrival before the place, they abandoned the siege and prepared to meet us. The battle took place in a dale near the fort, and is to this day called the “Sibolic battle.”
The Arctonians, who formed their left wing, made great havoc among our cavalry; and, supported by the rebellious Tanaquites, fell furiously on our right; a moment longer and the fate of the conflict would have been determined. I detached a body of riflemen to engage the attention of the enemy, and allow the cavalry to recover; this movement was very effective; the men handled their guns well, and the enemy hastily abandoned their ground, under a terrific shower of balls. Meanwhile, the Kispusiananians on the other side pressed our infantry very hard; six hundred Quamites were down: some killed, others mortally wounded. The recovered cavalry now rushed upon them impetuously, broke their ranks, and, unresisted, slaughtered them by thousands.
The Alectorians, who formed the reserve, gave us the greatest trouble, for when our soldiers would attack them, they flew into the air, whence they shot on our heads their poisoned arrows. One of these entered the neck of the old emperor, while fighting vigorously in the midst of the field. He fell directly from his horse, was carried to his tent, and shortly after expired. The soldiers having been kept in ignorance of their sovereign’s death, the battle was continued until midnight. I soon found that our balls had but little effect upon our flying enemies; their motions being so rapid that our gunners could take no aim. Some new method must be devised to check them; a lucky expedient occurred to me; I ordered the guns to be loaded with small shot: these scattering, brought them down in great flocks, and soon half of them were destroyed; the rest laid down their weapons and surrendered. The Arctonians and Kispusiananians quickly followed their example, and their fortifications were surrendered to our hands.
When all these things were fortunately brought to an end,
Behold then I called together the first among the people, the eldest,
The heads of all the troops, to Council, in full assembly;
Like the bubbling ocean’s high-roaring billows
They all did stream to me; and silently heard my speech:
“Noble, brave and celebrated warriors. I doubt not, that it is well known to the most of you, that I ofttimes advised his majesty not to hazard his precious life in this desperate strife. But his natural courage and fearless heroism would not suffer him to remain at home, while his brave people exposed themselves abroad. O, that he could have witnessed our glorious victory! Then our entrance into the imperial residence would have been a true triumph, and our joy over so many noble deeds would have been perfect; not as now, mingled with tormenting sorrow! I can no longer conceal from you the mournful event, which has given each one of us, a greater wound than could all the arrows of the enemy. Know then, that our emperor, in the thickest of the battle, was struck by an unfortunate arrow, and soon after expired. Horrible event! What sorrow, what general mourning will the loss of this great king cause over the whole country! Yet, do not lose courage! The great hero has ceased to live in himself; but he is not dead to you! Your emperor lives again in two princes, true images of their great father, and heirs no less to his virtues than to his dignities. You have not changed your emperor, but only your emperor’s name. Since the prince Timuso, as the first born, receives the crown, I am, from this moment, under his sceptre, the leader of the army.
“Hail, Timuso! To him let us swear allegiance! To him, let us swear eternal loyalty! Him, let us all hereafter obey!”
2 This name is taken to be predicated.
When my speech was ended, they all cried out with loud voices: “We will have Pikil-Su, for emperor.” When I heard this, I became terrified, and begged them, with tears in my eyes, not to forget the fidelity and duty they owed to the imperial family. But my words were of no use. They all approached me, and placed the crown upon my head, repeating the above-mentioned exclamation. I was then carried from the tent and proclaimed before the whole army, emperor of Quama, king of Tanaqui, Arctonia and Alectoria, and duke of Kispusianania. Afterwards we made a triumphal entry into the capital, where prince Timuso, himself acknowledged me for emperor. Thus, from a miserable, shipwrecked wretch, I became a great and powerful monarch. I soon married the daughter of the deceased emperor, for the people still loved and honored the old royal family. This princess was named Ralac, and
Bloomed, like the new-blown rose
In mellowed, purple-smile.
when I had reduced to order the affairs of the empire, and firmly established myself on the throne, I thought of new means, by which I might extend my dominions, and render my power fearful to the whole subterranean world. I turned my attention to a navy, and soon had a fleet of twenty ships on the sea.
I soon came to regard myself an under-ground Alexander; and determined to make myself as famous as he had on our globe. I concluded to sail first for Mezendore and thence to Martinia. We set sail at that period of the year, when the planet Nazar is of the middle size, and in a few days came in sight of the Mezendoric coast.
I immediately sent ambassadors to the imperial residence, of whom was demanded in the name of the emperor,
“What their purpose; whence they came
Over the foaming billows of the swelling main.”
The ambassadors answered:
“Neither misleading stars, deluding winds nor storm
Here brought us; with voluntary will we steered.”
and thereupon delivered to the emperor a letter of the following contents:
“We, Niels Klim, ambassador of the sun, emperor in Quama, king of Tanaqui, Arctonia, and Alectoria, and duke of Kispusianania, salute the emperor of Mezendore, Miklopolata. We humbly make known, that it is concluded in the unchangeable councils of heaven, that all the empires and kingdoms of the world must surrender themselves to the power of Quama; and as the will of providence is irrevocable, your kingdom must necessarily submit to fate. We therefore advise you to surrender voluntarily yourself and your dominions, rather than foolishly resist our invincible phalanx, and thereby experience all the bloody horrors of war.
“Given from our fleet, the third day in the month Rimat.”
In a few days our ambassadors returned with a bold and haughty answer. I made a descent upon the coast, placed my army in battle array, and sent spies to examine the condition of the enemy. The spies came back in great haste, and related that an immense army, of sixty thousand in number, consisting of lions, tigers, elephants, bears and birds of prey, was drawing towards us. We were soon apprised of their near approach, by roars, shrieks and terrific cries, commingling a devilish tumult. The combat soon commenced, and truly, ’twas one of the hottest and most contumaceous, in which I ever engaged: at last we put them to flight.
In this engagement fell thirty-three thousand Mezendarians, and about four thousand were made prisoners. We followed our victory, and drew before the capital city; this we besieged both by land and sea. So energetic was our blockade, that the enemy quickly proposed a parley, and sent ambassadors to ask for peace on reasonable conditions. The emperor offered to me his daughter, the handsomest of the lionesses, in marriage, and the half of his empire as a dowry. These conditions, although very honorable, were very displeasing to me, for I considered it both unsafe and illicit to forsake my wife, whom I left behind in pregnancy, and marry a lioness. I therefore sent back the ambassadors without answer.
I now ordered my cannon to be directed against the wall, which, although built of stone, was soon rent. The emperor lost all hope and surrendered himself together with all his lands. After putting a garrison in the capital, I took the emperor on board my own ship, and laid my course for Martinia, the coast of which we reached after a long but fortunate voyage.
We obtained here the same success as elsewhere. When the Martinians submitted, I determined to include their neighbors under the same yoke. As I was preparing to effect this, ambassadors from four adjacent countries arrived, and voluntarily acknowledged allegiance to me. I now possessed so many kingdoms, that I did not deem it worth my trouble to ascertain the names of these; but included them all under the title of the Martinianic “dominion.”
Having made so many and extraordinary warlike excursions, and added to our fleet a number of Martinianic ships, we set sail for our own land, into which we entered with a splendor exceeding the old Roman triumphs. And really my deeds deserved all possible honors; for what heroic action could be greater and more glorious than to change a despised nation, a nation exposed to the insults of its weaker neighbors, to the acknowledged and respected ruler of the whole subterranean world? What could be more honorable to a man, than to reinstate the human race in that dominion, which nature has given to it, over all other animals?
From this time a new period may be reckoned in history; a fifth monarchy can be added to the glorious roll of splendid empires. To the Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman empires, the Subterranean-Quamatic monarchy, which unquestionably exceeds them all in magnificence and power, may not be considered unworthy to be joined. I could not decline, for obvious reasons, the title of Koble, or great, with which the conquered nations saluted me.
I was hailed thereafter, by the following titles: “Niels the Great, Ambassador of the Sun, Emperor in Quama and Mezendore, King of Tanaqui, Alectoria, Arctonia, the Mezendoric and Martinianic dominions, Grand Duke of Kispusianania, Ruler of Martinia, etc. etc.”
—— firmly founded, stood
The mighty empire; the favorite of fortune,
I seemed as firmly fixed; not one, alas!
May be deemed happy ‘till his latest hour.
When I had reached this splendid and powerful height, greater than any man should desire, I became, what men usually become, who are raised from a simple state to great honor in the world. I forgot my former condition, and inclined to vanity. Instead of exerting myself to retain the favor of the people, I proved myself cruel and rigorous to all classes. My subjects, whom I had formerly endeared by friendly and polite conduct, I now regarded and treated as slaves. For this course, I came soon to be despised; the love and reverence of my people were changed to indifference and fear. Their sentiments towards me I soon had reason to understand, when I issued a proclamation to the inhabitants.
The occasion was this: the empress, whom I left in pregnancy during my last expedition, had in my absence been delivered of a son. This prince I wished to have nominated as my successor. I therefore summoned a Diet, and commanded the Quamitian nobles and the great men among the conquered nations, to meet in the capital, at the crowning of the child. None dared to disobey this proclamation, and the coronation passed off with great magnificence; but I observed by the countenances of my subjects, that their joy was dissembled. I became more confirmed in my mistrust, when I learnt that a multitude of libels had been spread about. These libels, by unknown authors, criticised me very severely, and asserted that prince Timuso was insulted in the choice of my son. This enraged me so much that I could not rest until that noble and excellent prince should be removed from my path. I therefore suborned some persons to accuse him of treason; and since rulers seldom want assistants, when they would commit crimes, I was quickly enabled to prove that Timuso had attempted my life. I had him sentenced to death by bribed judges, and then threw him into prison, where he was privately murdered; for I feared to excite a rebellion by a public execution. I had determined to murder the younger prince likewise; but postponed it. His youth procured for him the safety, which neither my justice nor humanity would have granted him. Having once imbued my hands in innocent blood, my cruelty and moroseness knew no bounds. I doomed to death several whole families, whose loyalty I merely suspected. Not a day passed without bloodshed. I defiled my soul with the blood of innocence, virtue and nobleness. All these things hastened a rebellion, excited by the nobles, who had been long disgusted with me.
I will here acknowledge, that I deserved all the misfortunes that afterwards met me. It had certainly been more fit for a Christian king to have taught his ignorant and heathen subjects to know the true God, and to have given them an example in my own person of the sweet charities of the true religion, than to have excelled, even themselves in barbarity, sin and moral turpitude. It would have been an easy matter for me to have reformed the whole subterranean world, for whatever I commanded was fulfilled; whatever I determined was received in perfect good faith; whenever I spoke, my words were as those of a God. But I forgot God and myself; I thought of nothing but empty and vain splendor, and the augmentation of my power; wherefore I perpetrated many cruelties, until the people, unable to bear more, (and they were a patient people,) broke out against me.
While matters stood thus, I determined to lay hands on prince Hidoba. This intention I revealed to my high-chancellor, Kalak, in whom I had great confidence. He promised to be of service to me in all things, and departed to fulfil my order: but at heart, he detested my cowardly fears, and left me only to discover my plot to the prince. Together they repaired to the fort, collected the garrison, and represented, in a touching manner, their danger and my fears. The tears of the unfortunate prince gave weight to his words; all seized their arms, and promised that they would hazard their lives for him. The cunning chancellor took the opportunity to persuade them to swear loyalty to the prince, and sent messages to others, who, he knew, were displeased with me, to take arms against the tyrant.
All armed themselves, whose hearts, through fear and horror,
Did burn towards their country’s tyrant; they met
and united with the garrison, while I awaited the return of the chancellor.
By the advice of Pomopoloko, I fled seasonably to Tanaqui, leaving my own capital before the inhabitants generally were apprised of the immediate cause of the sudden out-break. Arrived in Tanaqui, I quickly collected an army of forty thousand men, and boldly retraced the steps which a few days before I had pursued in fear and trembling. I had little doubt that my powers would be augmented by Quamites, who had been either too remote to suffer from my cruelty, or too indifferent to my infamy, to hesitate in joining a force so overpowering, and a leader whose prospects were so brilliant as mine. But I was deceived in my hopes: instead of auxiliaries a herald from the prince met me. The object of his mission was to declare a formal war, and, for a commencement of hostilities, that my wife and son had been imprisoned. On the footsteps of the herald came the Quamitic forces. A bloody engagement took place, in which our part proved to be inferior. I, left to my fate, fled to a neighboring mountain, crossed its side and descended to a dale behind it. There I remained in concealment for some time, bemoaning, the while, my misery, as I then believed, but which I afterwards more justly named, my folly. I was so agitated, had so thoroughly lost that presence of mind for which I had in former days been distinguished, that I did not remove from my head the crown, which, being ornamented with sunbeams, would have easily betrayed me. While panting like a bayed lion, I heard a nestling on the other side of the mountain, which I supposed was made by men beating the bushes to discover any hiders. I now looked around for a more secure retreat, for I doubted not that my flight had been noticed, and that these pursuers would search on my side of the mountain. Behind me was
—— A thick and matted forest, sunk between hills
All desolate and bare, whose dark and awful silence
I hurried thither, fiercely flinging aside the thorny bushes that clung as fiercely to me, and came at last to the mouth of a cave. Creeping in, I observed that the cave was deep, and as far as the light penetrated, level. I determined to explore its recesses, though I think I should not have been so hardy in my days of fortune.
After treading cautiously a hundred paces, I suddenly lost my footing, and plunged with the quickness of lightning, into a hole that must have had perpendicular sides.
Having shot through this passage, the abode of palpable darkness and night, I suddenly perceived a faint light.
As when through clouds the moon doth gleam
With pallid smile.
As this light increased, my speed decreased, so that without pain or trouble, I was soon brought to a stand between two high mountains. My sensations, during this remarkable passage, were similar to those experienced while tossing among the billows of the ocean. On recovering, I found myself, to my great astonishment, in the same spot from which, years before, I had plunged into the subterranean regions. A moment’s reflection gave me the means to account for the decrease of speed in the latter part of my course. The weight of the atmosphere is much greater on the surface of the globe, than below; consequently I was buoyed up by the increasing resistance of the air towards the surface. Had this not been the case, I should, unquestionably, at least in my own mind, have shot off to the moon.
Still, being obnoxious to cavil, I will defer this hypothesis to the astronomer’s closer examination.
Although perfectly sensible, my limbs were entirely benumbed; and I lay helpless for a long time. Meanwhile I ruminated on my singular course. The events of the past years rose one after another with clearness in my mind; particularly those of my exaltation and fame. Here was I, the late founder of the splendid fifth monarchy, metamorphosed to a poor and hungry bachelor-of-arts; a change so terrible and unprecedented, that it might well have disturbed the strongest brain. I seriously examined my present circumstances — were they real? or did I dream? Alas? the tremors of terror and uncertainty only gave place to the pangs of sorrow and regret.
“Almighty Father!” I exclaimed, and towards heaven
Stretched my trembling hands, “what sin provoked thy vengeance,
That all thy thunders crash upon my head?
Where am I? whence came I? how shall I escape
Truly! should one look over the journals of all times, he will neither in ancient nor modern history find a parallel to so great a fall; with the single exception of that of Nebuchadnezzar, who from the greatest of kings was changed to a dumb beast.
I began to descend the mountain by the path which leads to Sandvig. When about half way down, I observed some boys, whom I beckoned towards me, repeating the words: Jeru pikal salim, which in the Quamitic language signify: show me the way. The lads, however, were apparently frightened at seeing a man in a strange dress, and with a hat on his head glittering with golden rays; for they rushed down the mountain in great haste, arriving at Sandvig an hour before me. The rumor of the strange appearance on the mountain was spread about and caused terror throughout the town; the notion was, that the shoemaker of Jerusalem wandered among the mountains. This impression arose thus: the boys on being questioned by the townsmen, replied that I had told them who I was. I afterwards learnt that my words, Jeru pikal salim, had been interpreted by sound, and that this clew, acted upon by fear and superstition, had been developed into the strangest of fables. This story was unquestioned by this simple people, inasmuch as the adventures of the travelling shoemaker were then newly reported, and it had been asserted that he had been seen a short time before in Hamburg.
When, towards evening, I entered Sandvig, I observed that the inhabitants were collected in large flocks, to gaze at me. As I approached them and spoke, they all took to flight, except one old man: him I addressed, and begged of him to give me lodging at his house. He asked me, “where I was born, whence I came, &c.” I answered him, with a sigh: “When I come to your house, I will relate events that will seem incredible to you, and whose equals you will not find in any history.” The old man then took me by the hand and led me to his house. When there I demanded drink; he gave me a glass of beer. When I recovered my breath, after this draught, I addressed the old man thus: “You see before you a human being, who has been a bolt for the changing winds of fortune; one, who has been pursued by a fatality more controlling and more unhappy than was ever experienced by mortal.”
“Moral and physical revolutions may be effected in a moment, without surprising men; but what has befallen me is beyond the reach of human imagination!”
“It is the traveller’s fate;” my landlord answered; “many strange events and changes might happen on a voyage of sixteen hundred years.”
I did not understand this, and requested him to tell me what he meant by sixteen hundred years. He replied: “If one may believe history, it is now sixteen hundred years since Jerusalem was destroyed, and I doubt not, venerable man, that you were already of age at its destruction. If what is said of you is true, you must have been born in the reign of Tiberius. I know that this matter is rather supposed than proved. The inhabitants of this place, however, believe you to be the shoemaker of Jerusalem, celebrated in history, who, since the time of Christ, has travelled about the world. Nevertheless, the more I look at you, the greater resemblance I find to an old friend of mine, who twelve years since perished on the top of a neighboring mountain.” At these words, I looked carefully at my host. In a moment the fog was cleared from before my eyes. I saw before me my dear friend Abelin, in whose house, at Bergen, I had spent many happy days. I ran to his embrace with outstretched arms. “Then ’tis you, my dear Abelin! I can scarcely believe my eyes. Here you see Klim again, who has just returned from the subterranean world. I am the same, who twelve years since plunged into the mountain cave.” He fell upon my neck and with tearful eyes, demanded where I had been and what had happened to me. I told him all that had occurred. At first he would not credit me; but afterwards he acknowledged that all must have been so, for I could never have invented such strange adventures.
Abelin advised me not to repeat these things to others, and to keep myself secluded in his house. He told the people, who rushed to his house to see the “shoemaker of Jerusalem,” that I had vanished; for he justly concluded this to be the best and most satisfactory answer he could make to an ignorant and superstitious peasantry. I remained in concealment until clothes, more suitable to the surface of the earth, than those I brought from below, were made, when Abelin reported me to be a relative of his, lately a student in Trondhjim, on a visit. He recommended me to the bishop of Bergen, who promised to me the first rectorship that should become vacant. This office was much to my taste, for it seemed to have a likeness to my former state, a school-master being a miniature of royalty. The rod may be likened to the sceptre; the desk to the throne. After waiting for a vacancy in vain, I determined, from necessity, to accept the first office I could get. At this time the sacristan of the church died; his place was offered to me by the bishop and accepted. An amusing promotion to one who had lately reigned over many great kingdoms. Nevertheless, since nothing is so ridiculous as poverty, and since it is foolish to throw away dirty water, before clean is at hand, I think it would have been still more laughable to have refused it. Fulfilling the duties of this office, I now live in philosophic ease.
Shortly after my induction, a marriage with a merchant’s daughter was proposed to me. I could have liked the girl, but as it was probable that the empress of Quama was yet alive, I did not care to make myself obnoxious to the ban of polygamy. M. Abelin, however, into whose bosom I was used to pour my doubts, and all the pressures of my heart, abridged this fear, and advised me to marry; which I did. With this wife I have lived six years in peaceful and affectionate union. During this period she has borne me three fine sons, wholly worthy of their half brother, the prince of Quama.
To my wife, I never told my subterranean adventures; but I can never forget, for a moment, the splendor that once surrounded me. To this day, I often express myself in signs and words, which, however consistent in the mighty ruler and magnificent tyrant, are little adapted to the humble sacristan of Bergen.
Niels Klim lived to the year 1695. His irreprehensible life and amiable disposition endeared him to all. Yet were the priests now and then angry with him for his great sedateness and reservedness, which they called pride and haughtiness. I, who knew the man, wondered much at the modesty, humility and patience with which he, who had been monarch over many nations, executed his mean and vulgar duties. So long as his strength permitted, he would, at a certain time in the year, ascend the mountain and gaze into the cave, out of which he came to the surface. His friends observed that he always returned weeping, and immediately shut himself in his chamber, where he remained alone the rest of the day.
His wife informed me, that she frequently heard him murmur in his dreams, of armies and navies. His library consisted mostly of political works; for this selection he was blamed by several, who thought this description of books unfit for a sacristan.
Of the “subterranean travels,” there is but a single copy, written by his own hand, which is in my possession.
I have often had it in mind to publish them, but several important reasons have hindered me from doing so.
This web edition published by:
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005