Transcriber's Note Obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a complete list, please see the bottom of this document.
NIELS KLIM'S NARRATIVE.
JOURNEY UNDER THE GROUND;
NARRATIVE OF HIS WONDERFUL DESCENT TO THE SUBTERRANEAN LANDS; TOGETHER WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE SENSIBLE ANIMALS AND TREES INHABITING THE
PLANET NAZAR AND THE FIRMAMENT.
BY LOUIS HOLBERG.
TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH BY
WITH A SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE.
BOSTON: PUBLISHED BY SAXTON, PEIRCE & CO.
NEW YORK: SAXTON & MILES. 1845.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1844, BY SAXTON, PEIRCE AND CO. in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
BUTTS, PRINTER, SCHOOL STREET.
LIST OF PLATES.
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.
PETER KLIM AND ANDREAS KLIM, THE SONS OF THOMAS KLIM, AND GRANDSONS OF KLIM THE GREAT, TO THE KIND READER.
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!
THE AUTHOR'S DESCENT TO THE ABYSS.
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 Phaeton, 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.
THE AUTHOR'S ARRIVAL AT THE PLANET NAZAR.
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.
DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWN KEBA.
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.
THE ROYAL COURT OF POTU.
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 AND ITS INHABITANTS.
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 RELIGION OF THE POTUANS.
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.
THE POTUAN CONSTITUTION.
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 Caesar 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."
THE ACADEMIES OF POTU.
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.
THE JOURNEY AROUND THE PLANET NAZAR.
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. With sports 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.