Discovery of an inhabited country

We were soon under weigh again, and steered due north, as well to seek
for a new region of land, as to get into a more temperate climate; it
being obvious that the internal equator must correspond in phenomena to
the external pole, and consequently the more we approached the former,
and receded from the latter, the cooler we should find the weather.

Soon after leaving the island, the weather became exceedingly
unpleasant; the atmosphere was loaded with dense black clouds, and we
were annoyed with torrents of rain, together with very vivid lightning
and heavy thunder. We lay to the greater part of three days, thinking
it imprudent to run into unexplored seas in dark weather. The fourth
day it brightened up a little, when we pushed on to the northward.

After two days of unsettled weather, we were favoured with a fine
westerly wind, blowing steady and pleasant like a trade wind, which
continued during the remainder of this passage. For three days more
we continued steering to the northward, when we found the weather
delightfully pleasant. We had the direct rays of the sun nearly one
fourth part of the time, and its reflected light the remainder. This
last was the most pleasant, being something between sunshine and
bright moonlight, without the glare of the one or the indistinctness
of the other. Satisfied with the climate, I determined to keep in
it, and run before the wind due east, until I discovered land, or
circumnavigated this part of the globe.

I found the latitude this day, carefully computed from the
sun’s altitude, with due allowance for refraction, to be 65° 17′
south internal. We ran on very pleasantly for seven days, but saw
nothing. It was now the 17th December. The sun had nearly attained
its most southern declination, and would soon be receding to the north.

The curious fact, that we could see the sun directly but for a short
part of the day, at this season of the year, in a high southern
latitude, astonished and alarmed my officers and people. It was a
matter of continual debate amongst them on the forecastle, where Slim
and even Albicore sometimes took a part in those grave and learned
disquisitions. In one of their conferences, Slim advanced the opinion,
that, as the sun was now near its extreme southern declination,
and we could see it but a small part of the time, we must be in some
great hole in the earth; and that when the sun returned to the north,
which would soon take place, we should for a certainty be involved
in total darkness, and never be able to find our way out again. This
idea struck the whole ship’s company with horror. Even Albicore was
infected with the panic. Will Mackerel and Jack Whiffle were the only
ones among them who expressed a ready determination to stand by their
commander, wheresoever he might lead them. Numerous propositions were
advanced and rejected by this council on the forecastle; but it was
finally concluded that they would go aft in a body, and insist upon
my immediately returning to Seaborn’s Land, or they would heave me
overboard, without further delay.

I was accordingly called from my cabin to hear this wise determination
of my people. After hearing what they had to say, I asked them
very coolly, how they intended to proceed when they had thrown me
overboard? There was no one of them who could determine the ship’s
place, who had a sufficient knowledge of astronomy and natural
philosophy, to account for the extraordinary phenomena that constantly
occurred, or who had skill enough to ascertain any one point of
the compass. How then were they to find their way home without my
aid? Perceiving that this made a deep impression on their minds,
I proceeded to dispel their fears, by assuring them that I felt no
more disposition to perish in a sea of utter darkness than they did,
but that so far from my having any apprehension of such an event,
it appeared to me that we should find the winter in that region much
more pleasant than at Seaborn’s Land, if we could but discover land
and a harbour, where we could moor in safety; that I had never been
in a climate so perfectly agreeable to my feelings; that the air was
so soft, so elastic, and temperate, it was a luxury to sit still and
inhale the sweet breath of heaven; that so far from being in haste to
get out of so salubrious a climate, I should be glad to pass my days
in it; and, at all events, the sun would be no further north after the
expiration of a month, than at the time of our departure from Boneto’s
station. Finally, I told them that, should I not make any discovery
by the 1st of January, I would then return to Seaborn’s Land, where,
in the quarters erected for Mr. Boneto’s party, we could all winter
very comfortably; but, on the other hand, should they persist in
their mutinous course, I would break my instruments, throw my books
overboard, and leave them to help themselves as they could.




They all knew my determined and inflexible disposition, and that
their best way was not to provoke it. The men went forward without
reply. Albicore was the only one who opened his lips, and that was
only to express his astonishment that he could have permitted himself
to be led away from his duty for a moment, by any circumstance. It
was all owing, he said, to that evil spirit, Slim, whose suggestion
of total and perpetual darkness had frightened him.

We ran on for five days more, when “a sail ho!” rang through the
ship. The stranger vessel was standing obliquely athwart our course,
and we were soon near enough to see her distinctly from the deck. She
had five masts, with narrow sails attached to each. When we were
within three miles of the stranger, she tacked and stood from us to
the southward, wind S. W. Feeling confident that the speed of my vessel
was superior to that of any thing on the face of the globe, inside or
out, I gave chase, in expectation of bringing her to, in a short time.

But here I experienced a mortifying instance of the vanity of
human pretensions, however well they may appear to be founded. The
stranger, although she did not appear to have half as much sail in
proportion to her hull as the Explorer, went within four points of
the wind so rapidly, that in two hours she could not be seen from
the mast head. I was now at a loss how to proceed. The strange sail
was standing about N. W. when first seen, but she might be outward
bound, and in that case, by steering that course we should miss the
desired land; on the other hand, the course we had been steering
might carry us to the northward of our object, and pursuing the
vessel in the direction in which she was last seen might lead to an
equally unfortunate result. Will Mackerel was of opinion, that the
Internals, on seeing so strange a looking vessel as ours, would run
for the nearest land, and that we ought to follow her. I resolved at
last to steer S. E. for two days, and if not successful, to return
to the same place, and steer two days to the N. W. There proved to
be no occasion for so much trouble; for at the moment I had decided
what to do, the lookout at the mast head called out ‘land ho!’

The sun was now just setting, which immediately brought on the darkest
period of the night; and some heavy black clouds occasioned by the
vicinity of the land, threatened stormy weather. We therefore stood
back upon our track, to wait the return of bright light, that I might
approach the inhabited country of the Internal World for the first
time under favour of the brightest smile of heaven.

After a few hours the clouds dispersed, and the reflected light became
sufficiently strong to enable us to see dangers several miles, but
not to admit of a clear distant view. We therefore drew slowly in
with the land, to be ready to run in to the nearest harbour during
the next interval of sunshine. When near the shore, we again hove to
with the ship’s head off shore. With my night glass I could discern
buildings and moving objects on the land, which assured me that the
country was inhabited.

I walked the deck with impatient yet pleasing anxiety. I was about to
reach the goal of all my wishes; to open an intercourse with a new
world and with an unknown people; to unfold to the vain mortals of
the external world new causes for admiration at the infinite diversity
and excellence of the works of an inscrutable Deity; to give to them
fresh motives for adoration, and hopes of continued advancement in
discovering the infinite works of God.

My imagination became fired with enthusiasm, and my heart elated with
pride. I was about to secure to my name a conspicuous and imperishable
place on the tablets of History, and a niche of the first order
in the temple of Fame. I moved like one who trod on air; for whose
achievements had equalled mine? The voyage of Columbus was but an
excursion on a fish pond, and his discoveries, compared with mine,
were but trifles; a summer sea and a strip of land, where common sense
must have convinced any man of ordinary capacity that there must be
land, unless Providence were in that one instance more wasteful of
its works than in all its other doings. His was the discovery of a
continent, mine of a new World!

My mind flew on the wings of thought to my native country; I compared
my doings and my sensations with those of that swarm of sordid beings
who waste their lives in Wall-street, or in the purlieus of the
courts intent on gain, and scrambling for the wrecks of the property
of their unfortunate fellow beings, or hiring out the efforts of
their minds to perform such loathsome work as their employers would
pay them for;–men who feel themselves ennobled by their wealth, or
by their technical knowledge; who think themselves superior to the
useful classes of society; from whom I had often heard the scornful
observation, ‘he is nothing but a shipmaster;’ as if those men who
live and thrive but by the infirmities and vices of society were
ennobled by their profession, and the hardy and adventurous mariner,
whose occupation leads him to every climate and through every sea, to
gather like the bee the useful and the delicious for the comfort and
gratification of the native hive, should be degraded by his calling.