Discovers Token Island

I proceeded along the coast to the S. S. E. November 21st, 1817, the
sun’s altitude corrected for refraction placed us in a more northern
latitude than we had left, which my officers considered as evidence of
our having passed the pole and made some progress northward, and they
accordingly congratulated me on the occasion. I knew better, and was
perfectly aware that if the poles were open, of which I had no doubt,
we must necessarily change our apparent latitude by observation very
fast; and on turning the edge of the opening have a vertical sun, an
equal division of day and night, and all the phenomena of the equator.
To be prepared for this untried region, I calculated all the changes
of the apparent altitude of the sun in all degrees of declination,
as they must necessarily occur, assuming the form of the earth to
be at the openings as stated by Capt Symmes in his sublime theory;
and formed tables that I might be able at any time to ascertain the
ship’s place without difficulty or delay.
We had thus far found the land to trend S. S. E. and S. Soon after
noon this day we reached a cape, from which the land turned short
round to the W. N. W. and continued in that direction as far as could
be seen from the mast head. This being apparently the most extreme
southern land of the external world, I named it Worldsend Cape. I
felt no disposition to follow the coast to the N. W. although it
might be found to turn again to the south. The most prudent Course
appeared to be to keep sight of the land, that we might certainly find
our way back again to Mr. Boneto’s station. But a round about way to
the internal world was not in accordance with my impatient feelings;
and yet the indulgence of my desire required that I should manage
with great circumspection.
The compass was now of no manner of use; the card turned round and
round on the slightest agitation of the box, and the needle pointed
sometimes one way and sometimes another, changing its position every
five minutes. I had frequently heard Slim muttering is apprehensions,
and even Albicore said to me, ‘I hope we shall not have any bad
weather, or lose sight of the land.’ My best seamen appeared confounded
at the loss of the compass, and a degree of alarm pervaded the whole
ship’s company. I had foreseen the difficulty that might take place
when I proposed to leave the land, and to avoid it had placed Slim
on the larboard watch with Albicore, by which arrangement the charge
of my watch (the starboard) when I was off deck, devolved on Will
Mackerel, assisted by Jack Whiffle. This was mortifying to Slim,
but he was aware that he deserved it.
I kept near Cape Worldsend, taking its bearings in a variety of
positions, for the ostensible purpose of ascertaining its exact
position, until four o’clock, when the larboard watch went below. I
saw that both Albicore and Slim turned in to get some sleep,
and immediately ordered Mackerel to keep the vessel on a course
corresponding to south, and to press with both steam and canvass to the
utmost. The wind was about N. W., fresh and very steady, which served
as a guide, the helmsman being directed to keep the wind four points
on the quarter. We ran at the rate of 16 knots. I gave strict orders
that Albicore and Slim should not be disturbed at the usual hour of
calling the dog watch; and when they came on deck at 10 P. M. there
was no land in sight. The sun to their astonishment was just setting
in the bosom of the ocean: they stared at one another, and looked at
me, but said nothing. They were perfectly bewildered; they knew not
which way was north, south, east or west. Had they now undertaken to
direct the course of the vessel, they would have been more likely to
run from the land than towards it. Mackerel was delighted to see the
sun set once more; it seemed like old times; and the weather had been
for some days so hot that a little night was very desirable.
I told them all to be perfectly at ease, for that I knew what I was
about; that I could calculate every point of the compass as well as if
that instrument performed its office; that we would heave to for the
night, the occurrence of which was no more than I had calculated on;
and finally, to give them confidence in my skill, told them, that if
we did not find the sun directly over head at noon, within two days,
provided no land impeded our progress, I would give up the command
to Albicore, and show him the way back to Seaborn’s Land.
Albicore and Slim both earnestly entreated that I would instruct
them how to calculate the points of the compass, if I possessed that
important knowledge, so that they might be enabled to find their
way back again in case any accident should befal me. I begged to be
excused, choosing to keep the staff in my own hands.
The truth was, having three excellent chronometers, one set to the
time at Washington, one to that of Greenwich, and the other to that
of Rio de Janeiro, and also an excellent watch daily regulated,
which gave me the ship’s diurnal time accurately, I could easily
calculate my longitude, and the point on which the sun ought to
bear every hour in the 24. With these calculations before me, I had
but to look at my watch and the sun to determine my course. Thus in
the longitude of Greenwich, when the chronometer set to Greenwich
time stood at 12 o’clock noon, wherever the sun was, was north;
and when that chronometer stood at midnight, wherever the sun was,
was south–on the external southern hemisphere, south of the degree
of the sun’s declination.
The re-appearance of the stars, and the refreshing coolness of the
night air delighted my people. At daylight we made sail, and set the
paddles in motion. At noon we had the sun nearly overhead, and the
declination being 20° 5´ S. Slim was positive that we were in latitude
28° S. and wondered why the compass would not traverse. The next day
we had a vertical sun, as I had predicted, and the weather as warm as
I had ever known it at sea, with a fine breeze. No one knew which way
we were steering but myself; and Slim’s opinion confidently expressed
that we were near the equator, and must soon make the continent of
Asia, Africa, America, or the Asiatic islands, served to quiet the
apprehensions of the men for their own safety, and at the same time
to awaken their solicitude for the situation of Mr. Boneto’s party,
whom they said I had barbarously left to perish by the frosts of a
polar winter, on Seaborn’s Land.


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The next day we observed the sun to the south of us, and nearly over
head, and the compass began to traverse imperfectly. We had a regular
recurrence of day and night, though the latter was very short, which
I knew was occasioned by the rays of the sun being obstructed by the
rim of the earth, when the external side of the part we were on turned
towards the sun. The nights were not dark, when no clouds intervened
to obstruct the rays of the sun, reflected from the opposite rim,
and from a large luminous body northward, in the internal heavens,
which reflected the sun as our moon does, and which I judged to be
the second concentric sphere, according to Capt. Symmes. This gave
us very pleasant nights, but not quite clear enough to render sailing
through untried seas entirely safe.
We continued running due north, internal, three day, when the
compass became pretty regular; but instead of the N. and S. points
corresponding to the N. and S. points on the external world, as
Capt. Symmes supposed it would do, the needle turned fairly end for
end; the south end pointing directly into the globe towards the north
pole, with some variation from the true north. But of this matter,
I shall say very little, for sundry important reasons, and especially
because I intend to publish my theory of longitude in due season,
and give the courses and bearings, corrected to true north and south,
as understood by the externals.
On the 28th of November, 1817, we discovered land, just at sunset,
and immediately hove to, to keep a good offing until day-light. I
walked the deck all night, and was very impatient for the morning
of that day which was to disclose to me the wonders of the internal
world, and probably to decide the question whether it was or was not
inhabited by rational beings.
Happily, day soon appeared, and we ran in with the land, keeping a
good look-out, and the leads constantly going. On nearing the coast,
we found the shore to be low and sandy. The body of the land, however,
was high, with one towering peak far inland. Near the sea it appeared
to be extremely barren, but some miles back, scattered clumps of
trees, and some appearances of verdure, afforded a more cheering
prospect. We explored the coast of this island, for such it proved
to be, for two days, before we found anchorage, or a safe landing
place. A very heavy surf rolled on shore, and broke high on the shoals,
which were frequent, and in some places three miles off the coast,
so as to make it dangerous to approach. At length we found a safe
road, sheltered by a sand bank above water, about two miles long,
lying parallel with the shore, half a league from it. There was a
fair passage, with 15 fathoms water, and good holding ground. Here we
moored to the great joy of all on board, who, seeing firm land with
living things of some kind moving about upon it, felt satisfied that
they were still in the sublunary world, and complained of nothing
but the excessive heat. It was near night when we came to anchor;
all further research was therefore deferred until the next day.
On the 1st December, I landed for the first time on terra firma of the
internal world, but was greatly disappointed, I must confess, to find
no indications of any other inhabitants than turtles, terrapins of a
monstrous size, some few seals, penguins, and numerous sea fowl. The
great number of turtles was satisfactory evidence to my mind, that
there were no human beings on the island; and, after a short walk on
the burning sand, I returned on board, quite dejected.
The day was passed in fishing, and in collecting turtles and terrapins,
for sea stock. In the evening, Mr. Slim, who was wide awake to his
interest, suggested to me that we might obtain a good quantity of
tortoise shell from this island, as the turtles brought on board were
of the hawksbill kind, the shell of which sells for a high price. I
gave him permission to land the following day, with ten men, and see
what he could do in that way.
The next morning I was quite sick, in consequence of the heat,
and of my disappointment in not finding an inhabited country, after
encountering so many hazards, and exerting so much enterprise and
perseverance. Being thus compelled to remain on board, I permitted
Albicore to land with four men, to ramble along shore, and see if
he could make any discoveries. In the evening Slim reported that
he had not been able to effect much, owing to the excessive heat,
which compelled him, with his party, to take refuge under an awning,
formed with the boats’ sails, for full half the day. Albicore stated
that he had been eight or ten miles along the shore, but had seen
nothing strange.
The following morning, when I had given orders to prepare for getting
under weigh, having determined to remain no longer in a place where
there was great danger of the yellow fever making its appearance
amongst my people, without intercourse with vessels from the West
Indies, Albicore mentioned incidentally as we sat at breakfast, and
as a matter of no sort of moment, that he had seen, during his walk
on the beach, about five miles from where we lay, something which
looked like part of a wreck of some outlandish vessel. The worthy
man, who considered nothing that did not pertain to the strict line
of his duty as deserving a thought, was astonished to see me spring
up from my seat at table, order the boats manned, and make ready for
an immediate expedition. It never occurred to his mind that if there
were ships in those seas, there must also be men to build and sail
them. To me the information he had given was both food and medicine:
it revived my hopes, and fired my curiosity. I felt no desire to
complete my repast. I was restored to health and good spirits, and
was soon marching over the sand, with Albicore for my guide.
After two hours we reached the place which Mr. Albicore had spoken of,
where I found part of the frame of a vessel of some sort, of about one
hundred tons burthen, the form of which satisfied me that it was no
drift from the external world. The stem raked inwards, instead of out,
as we construct them, giving the forward part of the vessel the form
of a double ploughshare; while the broad bulging sides were admirably
adapted to make the vessel sit firm on the water, and prevent her
oversetting. But the most singular part was a piece of planking,
which remained attached to the frame, and which was actually sewed
on with a white elastic wire, resembling in appearance platina, more
than any metal known to us. I extracted some small pieces of this
singular metal, and with it fired the imagination of my people, by
representing to them the enormous wealth we should acquire, could we
obtain a cargo of it to carry to our country, where it would be more
valuable than silver; and that the use to which it was applied was
sufficient evidence of its being abundant where this vessel was built.
I named this island, which was in 81° 20′ internal south latitude,
Token Island, considering its discovery as a token or premonition of
some great things to come.