Account of the interview, and of his unfortunate efforts to exalt the character of the externals, by describing some of their splendid follies.

We were three days in passing from the ship to the place of
assembly. Surui uniformly ordered a halt, when the light was so faint
as not to permit me to have a distinct view of the country. Wherever
we stopped, we were visited by great numbers of people, many of whom,
to my extreme mortification, looked upon me with evident pity, if not
with disgust. Yet they were very kind, and brought a profusion of the
choicest fruits, vegetables, milk, and honey, and great quantities
of beautiful flowers.–The face of the country became more and more
beautiful as we approached the place of assemblage, which is in
the most perfect part of this delightful region. The most elegant
specimens of ornamental gardening on the external world, give but a
faint idea of the appearance of this whole district.

The principal object that attracted my notice on arriving at the seat
of government, was the Auditory, which towered above all surrounding
objects, and struck me with awe and admiration. I could not conceive
how so stupendous an edifice could have been reared by such a people. I
had indeed observed, that notwithstanding their inferiority in size,
they were much stronger, and more active than the Externals. The
tallest men were about five feet high, but they leaped twenty or
thirty feet at a bound without much apparent exertion, and easily
lifted burthens which three of our men would find it difficult to
move; still the vast fabric before me appeared out of all proportion
to the ability even of mortals as highly gifted as these. It was a
single dome of one arch, supported by a peristyle of huge columns,
and covering at least eight acres of ground. The extreme elevation of
the centre was seven hundred and fifty feet. The whole was formed of
stone, in massy blocks, cemented with a paste of the same material,
so as to appear to be all of one solid piece.

Surui said that when the people determined to erect a temple, in
which they might assemble for devotional exercises and expressions
of gratitude to the Divine Being, they regarded the object as one
towards which the whole nation ought to be allowed to contribute. They
determined to construct a building in which the greatest multitude
ever collected in that district might worship God; and which would
also serve for the deliberations of the Grand Council, that they might
always be considered to be in the presence of the Supreme Ruler, and
discharge their high trust with a due sense of their responsibility
to Him who seeth the heart. They had therefore built this Auditory
by the surplus labour of the nation: each man having devoted so much
of his time to the work as his private affairs would permit, and for
no other reward than that of his own feelings and the good opinion
of his fellow men.

The dome, which appeared so immense and so impracticable, was formed
on a high conical hill, by which the site was originally occupied. In
the sides of this hill shafts were sunk to the intended level of the
foundation, in which the columns were reared. The top of the hill was
then shaped for the reception of the stone of the arch, which was thus
easily constructed upon the solid earth. When the whole was completed,
the earth both within and without the structure was removed, leaving
the edifice as it now appeared upon the plain. Within the columns,
the earth was formed into a concavity, with graduated steps to the
centre, so that an individual in any part of the immense area could
see every person within the circumference of the dome.

In the centre, on a large convex platform, the Best Man has a seat,
fixed upon a pivot, which permits him to turn with ease to every part
of the Auditory. Over this platform an orchestra supported on pillars
accommodates five hundred musicians, whose melody, reverberated by
the vaulted roof, fills this tremendous and unbroken space.

In this edifice all the Worthies assemble once a day, for
religious services, during the preparation month. The exercises
are always commenced with music, to dispose the soul to heavenly
contemplation. After the music, they all kneel and pray in
silence. Speakers designated by the Best Man then ascend the platform
by turns and deliver their sentiments on subjects worthy the attention
of so enlightened and devout an assembly. The whole is closed with
music, that all may depart in harmony of thought and feeling.

Three hours are thus devoted every day for a month, that the hearts and
minds of the members may be improved, and that they may be prepared
to deliberate upon the affairs of state in perfect fellowship and
good will.

When the committee of the Grand Council, or the ordinary council
of the Best Man, meet for the despatch of business, they take their
seats in compact order upon one side of the platform, leaving the area
below for spectators; and as the most important matters are fully
discussed in conversation during the preparation month, and as all
the Worthies have good sense enough to know that their own happiness
will be most certainly promoted by a faithful and pure devotion to
the true interests of their fellow-men, the Best Man is not subjected
to the inconvenience of listening for six hours together to a speech,
calculated only to render a clear subject obscure and doubtful; nor is
he who offers the fruits of his experience, or of his studies, insulted
by the spectacle of an audience writing letters, reading newspapers,
or sealing packets, to mark their contempt for his opinions.

I found a convenient and delightful lodge prepared for my reception. It
was small, but sufficient for comfort. There were no servants attached
to it, nor was there need of any. All necessary food, vegetables,
fruits, milk, honey, &c. were sent daily, and placed where I could
conveniently help myself. I soon learned that these supplies were
voluntary contributions, and that the people took their turns in the
privilege of administering to the wants of the stranger in their land.

Surui was accommodated in a similar manner, close by my dwelling. He
passed a great part of the time with me, acting as linguist, and
continuing to teach me the language of the country, in which I was
still very imperfect.

The day after my arrival, I was honoured with an audience by the Best
Man of this admirable people. I inquired of Surui as to the etiquette
to be observed on going to court–whether I must uncover my head as in
Europe, or my feet after the manner of the Asiatics? whether I must
bow my head to the ground, making a right angle of my body, and walk
backwards on retiring, as in the court of Great Britain, or flounder
in flat on my belly, after the fashion of the Siamese? whether I was
to stand or sit? if to sit, whether on the ground, or cross-legged,
or on my haunches like a monkey?

Surui could not, or would not, understand me, and I concluded he
wished the Best Man to see what the manners of an external would be,
untaught in the customs of the country. I therefore determined to
give them a specimen of the deportment of a republican freeman, and
conduct myself with the easy respectful politeness of a gentleman
and citizen of the world.

On approaching the dwelling of the Best Man, I was charmed to find that
it differed in no respect from the ordinary dwellings of the people,
except that it was of greater extent, owing to his numerous family,
and a superior neatness and regularity was apparent in the grounds,
which were stocked with a variety of the most beautiful and fragrant
flowers and shrubbery. The house was literally in a bower of sweets.

The Best Man put me entirely at my ease in point of etiquette,
by meeting me in the open air, in the garden, and without either
the stiffness of affected pomp, or the austere visage of assumed
sanctity. He received me with that frank, affectionate manner, which
constitutes true politeness, the offspring of benevolence.

By the aid of Surui, we entered immediately into conversation. The
first inquiries of the Best Man were, as to whence I came, and
my motives for leaving my country. By means of a globe, which I
had brought from the ship, and which I now caused to be produced,
I explained to him the situation of my country, and the phenomena
attending the external region, of which, till now, he had no
conception, except from some supposed ravings of a Wise man, who
was thought to be mad. The frightful glare of the sun, and the great
extremes of heat, as his imagination pictured them in such an external
region, were horrible to his apprehension.

My motive I stated to be, a desire to gain a more extended knowledge
of the works of nature; adding, that I had undertaken this perilous
voyage only to ascertain whether the body of this huge globe were an
useless waste of sand and stones, contrary to the economy usually
displayed in the works of Providence, or, according to the sublime
conceptions of one of our Wise men, a series of concentric spheres,
like a nest of boxes, inhabitable within and without, on every side, so
as to accommodate the greatest possible number of intelligent beings.

I was already too well acquainted with the sentiments of this people,
not to know that it would be extremely imprudent to suffer any
expression to escape me which should discover that a desire of wealth,
or of the means of sensual gratification, was among the motives
which actuate the externals; such a disclosure being calculated:
only to excite their aversion, and contempt.

The Best Man indulged me with a long interview; and it was a happy
circumstance that I had with me a globe, charts, maps, books, and
drawings, to illustrate and corroborate my statements; for otherwise
I might have caused him to suspect that I was a most desperate
liar, so strange and absurd did many of my representations appear
to him. Happily, Surui was already able to read English books; and
when I observed an appearance of doubt on the part of the Best Man, I
sought out some passage in a printed work to corroborate my statement,
which Surui translated into the language of the country.

I spoke of the danger I had encountered from ice. This was
incomprehensible to him. He assured me that water never congealed in
the internal world; that the innate warmth of the earth was sufficient
to prevent it, and he could not understand how so great a degree of
cold could exist in the external world, so much more exposed to the
direct influence of the fountain of light and heat. I endeavoured
to account for this by explaining to him the generation of cold by
evaporation and absorption, and promised to send to the ship for
my air pump, to show him ice artificially produced by absorption in
an exhausted receiver. I then proceeded to account for the equable
heat in the internal world, and the extreme cold at the icy hoop,
upon principles which appeared to me to be very obvious.

In the first place, the sun’s direct influence is exerted, on an
equal portion of the globe at all times; which influence is felt,
on the external surface, only where it is directly exerted. In such
places it is felt intensely, but from the free action of the external
atmosphere, so soon as that influence is withdrawn the heat escapes and
flies off rapidly, generating cold in its passage, or by evaporation
as we express it. Those parts of the external world from which the
influence of the sun is withdrawn for the greatest length of time
thus become intensely cold, excepting in the immediate vicinity of
the polar openings, where the issue of warm air, from the internal
cavity, tempers the atmosphere: but at a short distance from the verge
of the opening the very influence of this warm air generates cold,
by parting rapidly with its latent heat and condensing into snow
and hail, which causes the circle of ice between the 70th and 80th
degrees of latitude, called the “icy hoop.” This escape of heat from
the warm air which issues from the internal world, is so great as to
irradiate the atmosphere near the polar openings; and in the extreme
cold of winter, during the absence of the sun, this irradiation is
so vivid as to be visible fifty degrees towards the equator, where
the inhabitants, being fond of simple names, call it Aurora Borealis.

On the other hand, as an equal portion of the globe is at all times
acted upon directly by the sun’s rays, the internal contents of that
globe must be always subject to the same degree of heat, excepting
such variations as may be occasionally produced by the direct rays
of the sun admitted through the polar openings. Of this fact we
had evidence on the external world, where, in the most intense cold
weather, we had but to penetrate a short distance into the earth to
escape its influence. The temperature of mines, dug a short distance
into the earth, was always above the freezing point; and the degree
of heat at a given distance below the general surface of the earth,
was found to be nearly the same in all latitudes, and at all seasons.

Hence what he called the innate warmth of the earth, was nothing
more than the collected heat of the sun absorbed and retained by
the globe from the continued action of that luminary upon an equal
proportion of it, at all times, in the same manner as a glass globe
full of water, when set before a fire, will absorb and diffuse heat
throughout the contents of the vessel equally, although but one side
is exposed to the direct influence of the fire, while that part of
the external surface of the vessel which is not exposed to the fire,
but is subject to the influence of the cold air of the room, will
obtain no other heat than may be communicated by the fluid within.

My printed books were subjects of great interest. The art of printing
was unknown, although that of engraving was practised. I explained
the process of making and using types, and promised the Best Man to
instruct such persons as he might be pleased to direct, in the art,
in return for the hospitality and civilities I had received.

He expressed a desire to be made acquainted with the form of
government, the religion, habits, sentiments and practices of the
people of the external world, particularly as to our acquirements in
useful knowledge: on all which subjects I was extremely disinclined
to converse, being aware that if I spoke the truth I should fill
him with disgust, and if I endeavoured to disguise the truth, and to
reply to his inquiries from my own imagination, I might be detected
in falsehood, and deservedly turned with contempt out of the country.

To his inquiries respecting government, I replied by describing briefly
the principles of the American constitution, taking care to say nothing
about the qualifications for office, nor of the means resorted to to
obtain preferment. He thought the scheme well calculated for a very
virtuous and enlightened people, but liable to many abuses. through
the want of a probationary course of qualification for places of
trust and power.

On the subject of religion, I frankly confessed that every man
was permitted to worship God according to the dictates of his
own conscience, and that our government did not recognize one
form of worship in preference to another. With this he appeared
to be satisfied, but when I inadvertently added, that one of our
wise men, who had filled the chair of “Best Man” of the nation, had
expressed the opinion that it was of no importance whether the people
worshipped one God or twenty, he started with horror, and expressed
the greatest astonishment that an enlightened people should permit
wise men to obtain controlling influence in a country; for, however
useful and valuable they might be found to be within their proper
sphere of action, like all powerful agents they were dangerous to
the happiness of mankind if not restrained by powerful checks and
controlling influences, to prevent their running into impracticable
measures:–wherefore, not more than five wise men were permitted to
sit in his council of one hundred.

On the subject of our habits, I was as brief as he would permit me
to be, and took especial care to speak only of the habits of the most
virtuous, enlightened and truly refined people of our external world;
but in spite of my caution, he extracted much from me which filled
him with disgust and pity. That the most pure of our people should
be afflicted with disease, was evidence to his mind that we were
a contaminated race, descendants of a degenerated people. Having
discovered from my remarks, that we ate the flesh of warm blooded
animals, prepared in many forms with condiments and sauces to give
it a higher relish, and, instead of confining ourselves to the pure
fluid provided by nature to quench our thirst, that we indulged in
fermented and distilled liquors even to inebriation, he was not at a
loss for the cause of disease and misery, and was only surprised that
such things were permitted, or, being permitted, that the race did
not become extinct. Great inequality in the condition of our people,
he inferred as a necessary consequence upon the indulgence in vice;
because, while a virtuous man will perform so much of useful labour,
or business of equal utility to society, as a matter of duty, as shall
amount to his full share of consumption of the common stock of value,
and if his labours be blessed with abundance, will not expend the
surplus above his wants in things useless and pernicious or in the
gratification of his passions, but bestow it upon the meritorious
needy, to support the unfortunate, or in useful public works, the
vicious man is rendered averse to the performance of his duty, and
becomes wasteful of the products of the industry of others, without
regarding the means, whether just or unjust, by which he may possess
himself of them. Therefore, men feeding upon animal food and costly
drinks, and given to the indulgence of inordinate passions, must of
necessity become very unequal in their condition, depraved in their
appetites, and miserable in proportion to their aberrations from the
strictest temperance, virtue, and piety.

Finding that the longer we conversed on the habits, manners,
and sentiments of the externals, the lower they would sink in the
estimation of this truly enlightened man, I endeavoured to turn the
discourse to our acquisitions in useful knowledge, in full confidence
that on this subject I should have a decided advantage, and be able
to raise the people of the external world to a high place in his
consideration. I spoke of the perfection to which we had arrived
in the manufacture of apparel; of muslins wrought so fine as not
to obstruct the sight, and worth per square yard, the value of two
months labour of an able-bodied man; of the shawls of Cashmere, so
exquisitely made, as to be valued at two years labour of an industrious
farmer or mechanic; of laces to ornament the dresses of our wives and
daughters, one pound weight of which would amount to a sum sufficient
to purchase the labour of four men for life; of splendid cut glass,
and ornamental wares, dazzling to the eye of the beholder; of works
of silver and of gold, so beautifully wrought, and so much valued,
as to be objects of adoration to many of our people. The Best Man
could hear me no further on this subject; he pronounced these things
to be useless baubles, the creation of vanity, pernicious in their
influence upon the foolish, who might be so weak as to place their
affections on them, and the production of them a most preposterous
perversion of the faculties bestowed upon us by a beneficent Creator
for useful purposes. What possible use could there be for a garment,
which would neither retain warmth to the body, nor protect it from
external evils, or from the observation of others? And what apology
could be found for wasting the labour of four men for life, which,
properly directed, would supply the wants of twenty human beings, to
provide ornaments for those who, if not arrayed in the white robes
of purity and virtue, must be odious, although bedizened with all
the finery which human ingenuity can devise.

I spoke of our skill in arms, in hopes to excite his admiration; of
the invention of gunpowder; of fleets of ships for the transportation
of armies to invade the countries of our enemies, and contend in naval
fight for the right of navigating the ocean. This was the most unhappy
subject I had yet touched upon. Instead of exciting his admiration,
I found it difficult to convince him that my account was true, for he
could not conceive it possible that beings in outward form so much
like himself, could be so entirely under the influence of base and
diabolical passions, as to make a science of worrying and destroying
each other, like the most detestable reptiles.

I felt a strong desire to draw directly from the fountain head of
knowledge in this country, immediate information on a variety of
subjects relating to the condition, sentiments, and knowledge of this
remarkable people, but did not think it decorous to question so exalted
a character in this my first interview. I therefore limited myself to
a demand to be permitted to moor my vessel in a secure place in the
river, and remain until the return of the next summer’s sun should
render my return to the external world perfectly practicable.

I had but to explain the danger to which we should all be exposed,
of perishing by cold on the passage, if I attempted to make it so
late in the season, to obtain from the benevolent Best Man the desired
permission to winter there; and orders were accordingly given to admit
the Explorer into a river, and moor her in a place assigned for that
purpose, but under an express stipulation that no person should land,
or have any communication with the people, unless officially authorized
by the Best Man’s orders, under the strict inspection of confidential
Efficients. Enough had been already discovered of our sentiments and
habits, to convince the Best Man that a free communication with my
people would endanger the morals and happiness of his.

To save myself the mortification of further conversation on the useful
knowledge of the Externals, I promised to put all my books into the
hands of Surui, to be translated into the language of the country;
and having heard the Best Man’s orders that every attention should be
paid to my wants and those of my people, and that information on all
subjects interesting to me, except the construction of their engine
of defence, should be freely communicated to me, and the records of
the assembly opened to my examination, I took my leave. The Best Man
kindly ordered Surui to bring me often to his house, to converse on
matters relating to the External World, and to the promotion of the
happiness of our fellow beings.