John C. Symmes (1780-1829)
Hollow Earth Theory
LIGHT GIVES LIGHT, TO LIGHT DISCOVER -- "AD INFINITUM.
ST. LOUIS, (Missouri Territory,)
I declare the earth is hollow and habitable within; containing a number of solid concentrick spheres, one within the other, and that it is open at the poles 12 or 16 degrees; I pledge my life in support of this truth, and am ready to explore the hollow, if the world will support and aid me in the undertaking.
Jno. Cleves Symmes.
Of Ohio, Late Captain of Infantry.
N. B. -- I have ready for the press, a Treatise on the Principles of Matter, wherein I show proofs of the above positions, account for various phenomena, and disclose Doctor Darwin's Golden Secret.
My terms are the patronage of this and the new worlds.
I dedicate to my Wife and her ten Children.
I select Doctor S. L. Mitchill, Sir H. Davy, and Baron Alex. de Humboldt, as my protectors.
I ask one hundred brave companions, well equipped, to start from Siberia in the fall season, with Reindeer and slays, on the ice of the frozen sea: I engage we find a warm and and rich land, stocked with thrifty vegetables and animals if not men, on reaching one degree northward of latitude 82; we will return in the succeeding spring.
Vol. VI. Philadelphia, December, 1818. No. 6.
Captain Adam Seaborn (pseud.)
Nathaniel Ames? (1764-1835)
Symzonia, A Voyage ...
New York: J. Seymour, 1820
A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY.
Captain Adam Seaborn.
Printed by J. Seymour.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T.
The state of the civilized world, and the growing evidences of the perfectibility of the human mind, seemed to indicate the necessity of a more extended sphere of action. Discontent and uneasiness were every where apparent. The faculties of man had begun to dwindle for want of scope, and the happiness of society required new and more copious contributions.
I reasoned with myself as follows: A bountiful Providence provides food for the appetite which it creates; therefore the desire of mankind for a greater world to bustle in, manifested by their dissatisfaction with the one which they possess, is sufficient evidence that the means of gratification are provided. And who can doubt but that this is the time to find the means of satisfying so general a desire? ...
For further extracts from chapters 1-6, see this web-site:
Gently rolling hills within an easy sloping shore, covered with verdure, chequered with groves of trees and shrubbery, studded with numerous white buildings, and animated with groups of men and cattle, all standing in relief near the foot of a lofty mountain, which in the distance reared its majestic head above the clouds, offered to mariners long confined to a wide waste of water the highest reward for their enterprise and perseverance; -- the heartfelt satisfaction, that it was to their courage and skill that their fellow citizens would be indebted for the contemplation of so much loveliness. Here there was nothing wanting to a perfect landscape. Plain, hill, and dell sometimes rising with an easy slope, at others, broken, abrupt, or craggy; with an ocean in front, and a mountain in the rear, it was complete.
At noon, on the 24th of December, we anchored in 14 fathoms water, on a fine sandy bottom. This land, out of gratitude to Capt. Symmes for his sublime theory, I immediately named SYMZONIA. The coast lay about S. S. W. and N. N. E. In the roadstead we were sheltered from all winds except those which blew directly along shore. These were not much to be feared, for we had found the prevailing W. S. W. winds to blow as steady as a trade wind for several days without any gales or stormy weather.
There were a number of buildings on the island, one of which from its magnitude and superior appearance to the others, I judged to be a public edifice of some sort. This structure was two stories high, while all the others were but one. In the front, a large open portico with an extensive platform, appeared to be a place of business, great numbers of people being collected upon it. In front of this building, a jettee into the water afforded convenient landing, and I directed the boat to be placed alongside of it. As I approached, all the people retired, and no sooner had I stepped upon the jettee than those in front of the large building moved into it.
Being determined to open an immediate communication with this people, who from the comforts with which they were surrounded could not be savages, I took off my sword, and gave it to Whiffle, and ordered him to lay off with the boat a half pistol shot from the shore, and not to fire a shot, nor to show his arms, unless he saw me run, or heard me fire a pistol; in which cases he must pull into the most convenient place to take me off, and to defend me.
I then walked slowly up the jettee. When I reached the head of it, I took off my hat and made a low bow towards the building, to show the Internals that I had some sense of politeness. No one appeared. I walked slowly up the sloping lawn, stopped, looked about me, and bowed, but still no one appeared to return my civilities. I walked on, and had arrived within one hundred yards of the portico, when I recollected, that when Captain Ross was impeded in his progress northward by the northern 'icy hoop,' he met with some men on the ice who told him they came from the north, where there was land and an open sea. These men were swarthy, which Capt. Symmes attributes to their being inhabitants of the hot regions within the internal polar circle; in which opinion he was no doubt correct. I had frequently reflected on this circumstance, and had settled the matter in my mind that they were stragglers from the extreme north part of the internal regions; and could not but consider Capt. Ross as a very unfit person for an exploring expedition, or he would not have returned without ascertaining where those men came from, or how a great sea could exist to the northward of the 'icy hoop,' through fear of wintering in a climate where he saw men in existence who had passed all their lives there.
I remembered that these men so seen by Capt. Ross, saluted him by pulling their noses; and surely it is not surprising that men, inhabiting such different positions on this earth as the inside and outside of it, should differ so much as to consider that a compliment in the one place, which is deemed an insult in the other. Indeed it seemed to me a small thing, when I considered how widely the most enlightened of the externals differ in opinion upon the most simple propositions of religion, politics, and political economy.
I was full in the faith that those men of Ross had been internals, and that their mode of salutation was much more likely to be in accordance with the manners of the Symzonians, than the rude fashion of us externals. I therefore pulled my nose very gracefully, without uncovering my head.
This had the desired effect. Several persons from within the building assembled on the platform of the portico. They stared much at me, which convinced me they were people of high fashion; conversed eagerly with one another, and seemed undetermined how to act. More than one hundred men collected, before any one showed any disposition to advance even to the front of the portico; and on the other hand, I dared not advance towards them, lest I should again put them all to flight, being already sensible that it was my dark and hideous appearance that created so much distrust amongst these beautiful natives. I therefore kept my position, occasionally pulling my nose out of politeness.
Full twenty minutes passed in this suspense; when one of the group, a man near five feet high, came to the threshold of the platform, and, raising his hand to his forehead, he brought it down to the point of his nose, and waved it gracefully in salutation, with a slight inclination of the body, but without actually pulling the nose as I had done. At the same time he spoke to me, in a soft, shrill, musical voice. His language was as unintelligible to me as the notes of a singing bird; but his mode of salutation was not. I caught it with the aptness of a monkey, returned his courtesy after his own fashion, and answered him in English, with as soft a whine as I could affect, that my rude voice might not offend his ears.
We spoke to each other in vain: he walked round, and surveyed my person with eager curiosity. I did the like by him, and had abundant cause; for the sootiest African does not differ more from us in darkness of skin and grossness of features, than this man did form me in fairness of complexion and delicacy of form. His arms were bare; his body was covered with a white garment, fitted to his shape, and hanging down to his knees. Upon his head he wore a tuft of feathers, curiously woven with his hair, which afforded shade to his forehead, and was a guard for his head against the rain. There was no appearance of any weapon about either him or any of the others.
Having both satisfied our eyes, I again endeavored to make myself intelligible to him; and, by the aid of signs, succeeded so far as to convince him that I came in peace, and meant no harm to any one. He pointed to the building, which I took as an invitation to go in, and walked towards the portico, with the Internal by my side.
An amusing scene now occurred, while we endeavored to communicate our thoughts and wishes to one another. I shoved up the sleeve of my coat, to show them, by the inside of my arm, (which was always excluded from the sun), that I was a white man. I am considered fair for an American, and my skin was always in my own country thought to be one of the finest and whitest. But when one of the internals placed his arm, always exposed to the weather, by the side of mine, the difference was truly mortifying. I was not a white man, compared with him....
For further extracts from the original text, see this web-site:
or, Journal of Criticism, Science, and the Arts.
Vol. I. Philadelphia, January 6, 1821. No. 1.
Symzonia; a Voyage of Discovery. By captain Adam Seaborn.
New York, printed by J. Seymour, 1820. Duodecimo.
The concentric, or as it would be more proper to call them. the excentric theories of captain John Cleves Symmes, have given rise to the present work, which is modelled after the plan of Gulliver's Travels, Armata, and other books of that description. Captain Seaborn, it seems, was taken by the idea of an opening in the poles, and determined to adventure on a voyage of discovery, in the hope of finding a passagew to the internal world. He caused a steam vessel, of 400 tons, to be constructed, which he named the Explorer, and built her of unusual strength and firmness, adding an improvement of his own on the paddles. Having shipped a crew for a sealing voyage, he set sail on the 1st of August, 1817, visited the Falkland Islands, where he fell in with a colony of Gentoo Penguins; satisfied his mind that they, as well as seals, whales and mackerel wewre merely visitors from the internal world, and proceeded in search of Sandwich land. Difficulties soon arose in consequence of the apprehension of Mr. Slim, the third mate, who had nearly stirred the crew up to sudden mutiny, by suggesting that they might be closed in by ice, and experience the fate of the lost colony in Greenland. The arguments of the captian would probably have been unavailing, had they not fortunately, at the crisis of discontent, discovered land, to which he gave his name, and took possession of on behalf of the United States. Here he left a part of his crew, and continued his voyage in search of The internal world.
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 betetr , 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 captain 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 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 pointd some times one way and sometimes another, changing its position every five minutes. I frequently heard Slim muttering his 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 Mackeral to keep the vessel on a course corresponding to south, and to press with both steam and canvass tyo the utmost. The winds 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. Mackeral 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 command to Albicore, and show him 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 time at Washington, one to that of Greenwich, and the other to that of Rio De Janerio, 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 to determine my course. Thus in the longitude of Greenwich, when the chronometer set to Greenwich time stood at 122 o'clock noon, wherever the sun was, was north; and when that chronomenter stood at midnight, wherever the sun was, was south -- on the external southern hemisphere, south of the degree of the sun's declination.
The reappearance 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 degrees 5 S. Slim was positive that we were at latitude 28 degrees S. and wondered why the compass would not traverse. The next day we had a verical sun, as I had predicted, and the weather was 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 soon must 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 awaken their solicitude for the situation of Mr. Boneto's party, whom they said I had barbarously left to preish by the frosts of a polar winter, on Seaborn's Land.
The next day we observed the sun to be south of us, and nearly overhead, 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 onstructed 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 teh 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 days, when the compass became pretty regular, but instead of 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; 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 course and bearing, 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 oiling until daylight. 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.
The land thus discovered received the name of Token Island. They found it uninhabited, and again set sail. After several days of suspense, land was again discovered, and buildings and inhabitants appeared.
The worthy captain finds every thing Utopian here, the climate pure and wholesome; the country fertile, rich, and picturesque; and the people mold, amiable, sagacious, intelligent, refined, and beautiful. THe following is his account of their form of government.
As we passed on through this enchanting country, Surui, the eldest of my conductors, instructed me in the civil polity, customs, manners, and habits of his people. From him I learned, that in Symzonia all power emanated from the people; that the affairs of the nation were directed by
1. A chief, who was honoured with the title of Best Man, and who held his situation for life, unless impreached of crime; but whose issue were considered ineligible to the same office for one generation after his decease.
2. An ordinary council of one hundred worthies, who assembled twice in each year, and oftener when circumstances made it necessary, to give advice to the Best Man.
3. A grand council of worthies, who assembled once in four years, to admit members to their body, collect the sense of the nation on all public affairs, and aid the Best Man with their judgment in the appointment of Efficients to discharge the executive duties of the state.
The Best Man could only be elected by an unanimous vote of the grand council.
The Worthies are of three orders -- the Good, the Wise, and the Useful.
The second class of worthies, are such as have in like manner been ascertained to have promoted the interests of society by improvements in science, and the advancement of useful knowledge. Such men, if free from vice, although not distinguished by benevolence, or the highest class of virtues, are admitted to the order of worthies by the title of Wise. This class corresponds to that of the philosophers of the external world.
The third, are all such as have manifested superior skill and diligence in their respective callings, with evident and constant good will towards their fellow men; such as have introduced useful inventions and improvements in the arts, set good examples to their neighbours, and are free from vicious propensities, these on being found justly entitled to such characters, are admitted to the order of worthies by the title of Useful.
The executive department is managed by Efficients, who are appointed by the Best Man, assisted by the Grand Council; and, in the interval of their session, if vacancies occur, by the ordinary council of One Hundred.
It is the duty of the worthies to notice the conduct of the people in their respective districts, to aid the feeble and distressed, if any such be found, to encourage the wavering, and reward the meritorious. Whenever any one of them discovers a man of retired but useful life, active but unobtrusive benevolence, extensive usefulness, with that modest shunning of the public exhibition of his doings which is necessary to possess the public in his favour, it becomes the duty of the Worthy to name him to the Grand Council, as a man of modest and exemplary merit; and if his character is, on investigation, found to be agreeable to the representation, he is admitted accordingly.
The author gives a great deal about the country and its inhabitants, which we have no room to extract. He visits the Best Man, disgusts him with an account of the character and habits of the externals, and is ordered to depart.
It was on my return from this visit to the pearl wash maker, that I received notice to wait upon the Best Man. I immediately repaired to his dwelling, with a light heart, in expecxtation of my usual intellectual feast from his conversation, little suspecting that this interview was to be the last. He received me with a mild solemnity of manner, which warned me that the interview was for some purpose of importance. He did not keep me in suspense, but in a kind and benevolent manner informed me that the Wise men to whom the copies of my books had been given, had all mad etheir reports, which, together with the accounts of those who had observed the habits of myself and people, and been in the most favourable situation to ascertain my sentiments, had been submitted to him in council; that he had taken full time to reflect on the subject, before he determined on the painful measure which his duty imposed upon him.
That, from the evidence before him, it appeared that we were of a race who had eitehr fallen from virtue, or were at least very much under the influence of the worst passions of our nature; that a great proportion of the race were governed by an inveterate selfishness, that canker of the soul, which is wholly incompatible with ingenuous and affectionate good-will toward our fellow-beings; that we were given to the practice of injustice, violence, and oppression, even to such a degree as to maintain bodies of armed men, trained to destroy their fellow-creatures; that we were guilty of enslaving our fellow-men for the purpose of procuring the means of gratifying our sensual appetites; that we were inordinately addicted to traffic, and sent out our people to the extreme parts of the external world to procure, by exchange, or fraud, or force, things pernicious to the health and morals of those who receive them, and that this practice was carried so far as to be supported with armed ships, a thing unheard of, except from some very ancient manuscript accounts of the Belzubians, which had been considered by the Good men of Symzonia, for ages, as nothing more than fables.
After stating these and many other charges against the externals, he added, that many of his council seriously apprehended that it was our inordinate thirst for gain, that had induced me and my people to hazard our lives in an unknown region, and that it had not escaped their notice, that my vessel was provided with terrific engines of destruction, no doubt to enforce our will where our purposes required it. Whereupon he, the Best Man, in council, had come to a resolution, that the safety and happiness of his people would be endangered by permitting any further intercourse with so corrupt and depraved a race. He therefore required that I should repair forthwith to my vessel, and there remain until the season of bright light was sufficently advanced to enable me to return to my country in safety; and ordered that all necessary supplies of food, and whatever was wanted to refit my vessel, should be furnished at the expense of the state; but that I should not be permitted to take away any of the products of the country, lst the cupidity of my countrymen should lead them to send an armed force to obtain such things.
They were fully aware, he said, of the articles which were most covted by the externals; for my books had described them, and the purposes to which they were applied; the Efficients would therefore be appointed to examine my vessel, and see that I took away none of those articles. He felt confident that they had additional security for a strict compliance with this prohibitory order, in my integrity, of which he had formed a favourable estimate, notwithstanding the corruption of my nature, and did not apprehend that I would break through his injunctions, after partaking so largely of the hospitality of the country.
I was petrified with confusion and shame, on hearing my race thus described as pestiferous beings, spreading moral disease and contamination by their intercourse, and by thus seeing all my hopes of unbounded wealth at once laid prostrate; and I did not recover from the despondency which overwhlemed me, till I recollected that Mr. Boneto would no doubt have a full cargo of seal skins ready against my return to Seaborn's Land, which would ensure me a handsome fortune.
He makes the best way out of this new world, rejoins his sealing party, sails to China, where he sells his cargo to great profit, and returns to the United States. He is persuaded, in an evil hour, to consign his cargo to Mr. Slippery, a merchant of great 'credit and renown.'
Mr. Slippery, however, fails, after having converted the cargo into cash, and appropriated it to his own purposes; and captain Seaborn having, as he says, heard of the precuniary relief obtained by captain Riley, from the publication of his travels, determines to put forth, for the present, a brief extract from his jouranl, reserving his scientific researches for a future period.
From the extracts we have given, the reader will be able to form some idea of the manner in which this book is composed. It is, upon the whole, dull and uninteresting. A great deal might have been made out of the subject, for there is at least as much to satirize as in the age of Swift. The author is, however, very good natured, and if there is nothing brilliant in his observations, there is nothing to offend.
John C. Symmes II, by John J. Audubon, Cincinnati, 1820.
From the National Intelligencer.
Cincinnatti, Jan. 18th, 1818 [sic - 1819?]Messrs. Gales & Seaton:
Pope advises authors to keep their works many years -- I correct mine as often as I peruse them -- hence cannot instnatly profit by your acceptance of the offer I made of sending my new memoir for publication. My progress in philosophy is voluntary or spontaneous, and not the consequence of immediate volition; so hurry suits not with my studies: my intentions, however, seldom subside until accomplished; hence you may depend on shortly obtaining the memoir alluded to in my last -- and, in the mean time, I add below, some of the particulars to be explained in future numbers.
My family require most of my time and efforts. I shall not, however, neglect to develope my new principles, even though it should cost a portion of the patrimony designed for my children. If the world, or some national governments, do not furnish the means to explore, as I have asked, I can proceed but slowly with my investigations, for my pecuniary concerns have been so much neglected lately, that I shall have to lay aside, for a time, several new memoirs in a progressive state, including one on the source and production of animal free heat. Wishing my writings to be as free as air, I am unwilling to put them to sale: indeed I should prefer that my pupils, like those of Doctor Black, should themselves develope my discoveries. Besides the time expended on my new positions, I have paid out considerable sums for the printing and postage of five hundred circulars, of which I distributed one to each notable foreign government, reigning prince, legislature, city, college, and philosophical societies, throughout the union, and to individual members of our National Legislature, as far as the five hundred copies would go.
I have much to say, but will conclude my address with only a quotation from Nicholson's Encylcopedia under the head "Earth." "The attentive and skilful observer of the works of nature, whether employed in examining the most wretched or the most sublime, will find that judgment, and infinite wisdom and ingenuity, has equally prevailed throughout. Can it be supposed for a moment, that the internal part of the earth we inhabit has received less attention from the Creator, than those objects which are under our immediate and unimpeded inspection."
JNO. CLEVES SYMMES.
Light developes light from age to age.
The data I have as yet obtained, indicate, 1st. That, the axis of the earth is not in the centre of the polar opening, but several degrees towards Spitzbergen or Siberia.
2. That the magnetic needle regards the centre of the polar opening, rather than the axis.
3. That the needle should so turn, on entering the polar opening, as to have the same end S. within that is S. without.
4. That (contrary to my former idea) this sphere northwards towards the polar opening, is rather a protruded sphereoid than a depressed or oblate one.
5. That much of the water, developed to air or vapour eithin our tropics, is condensed to abundant rains by the increasing gravity towards the internal equator, thereby setting free latent heat and light.
6. That the haze or smoky appearance of the Indian Summer, comes from within the sphere, although S. winds often thicken it by heaping it upon itself.
7. That the northwestwardly winds generally come out from some of the poles of the inner spheres, and that the northwestwardly winds come from the concave surface of this sphere, as do the southeast monsoons.
8. That the polar opening is the source whence the matter of our snow storms is derived -- although the snow be chrystalized on, or after its passage over the icy hoop, or circle.
9. That when the sun is 23 degrees south of the equator, the line of the greatest cold north is 23 degrees S. of the polar opening, or ninetieth degree -- and when he is 23 degrees north of the equator, this line of cold is removed 23 short degrees, beyond the ninetieth degree.
10. That the dark complexion of the nations high north is derived from the hot climate beyond.
11. That, when 90 degrees real, refraction will so deceive, as to indicate eight or ten degrees less than 90, owing to the atmosphere extending over the polar opening -- so as to cause the zenith of the atmosphere, at 90 degrees real, to be depressed at a considerable angle towards the south. For example, when a person traveling north, has brought his horizon at right angles with the plane of the polar opening, he will have the zenith of the atmosphere there, nearly or quite in his horizon -- he must, therefore, lose about 20 polar degrees in estimating his progress, if he judge by celestial observation only.
12. That a part of the sphere near the verges, is water quite through, so that it transmits light wihin.
13. That the many large floating trees found as high as 80 degrees north, which is 20 degrees beyond where we find such grow, float out through the polar opening, and wedge in the broken fresh water ice that surrounds it -- which may be called the icy hoop or circle.
14. That the spheres high north are thin, as gravity there is found but little greater than at the equator, although the centrifugal force amounts to almost nothing.
15. THat clouds, haze, or mist, will generally prevent a view of the opposing spheres, or polar verges.
16. That a murky atmosphere of mist or haze hangs over or about the north polar opening, sufficiently dense to project a spherical shadow on the moon when she is eclipsed.
17. That beyond north latitude 75 degrees, when the sun is seen near the northern horizon, he must appear much higher than he really is, owing to the refraction of the atmosphere -- and it is this extent of atmosphere which makes him look (while so situated) dull like the moon.
18. That mackarel, cod, whale, and the musk ox, inhabit for towards the internal equator -- as the first and last breed when absent, and as the fat or flesh of each readily developes (when without the sphere where the centrifugal motion lessens the force of gravity) to a more fluid or volatile rancidity than is common to local fish or animals.
19. That the polar verges yield to the gravity of the moon, so as to effect our weather at her changes, from the air being either sucked in or forcibly protruded by such action.
20. That tornadoes proceed from a convulsed disruption of the first aerial sphere above us, through which is forced down a gush of confined elastic fluid.
21. That the blaze or fire of our volcanoes, is the heat set free from a latent state, when the elastic fluid of the mid-plane of the sphere is forced up to where the greater gravity of the surface condenses its molecules to their original stony base at Vesuvius, and watery base at Hecla.
22. THat along the mid-plane of the solids of each planetary sphere, there is a place widely filled with elastic fluid, and distended with fluid molecules to a limit and rarity, greater in proportion to the greatness of the gravity of their external or exposed surfaces -- and thus they serve to bouy the earth, comets, fireballsm and all planetary bodies, as balloons are bouyed. This principle (to borrow the language of another) has, I think, "the advantage of simplicity, and simplicity the offspring of unerring wisdom, and Almighty power, is in geenral, the companion of truth."
It has been asked, how should I be able to make farther discoveries than others? I answer the question by another, why not -- when I have all the prior ones formed, whereon to found my new ones?
I make a general request or invitation to editors, that they insert this miscellany in their periodical journals, and also my other writings as they may occur. J. C. S. (text taken from a reprint of the National Intelligencer item, printed in the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Republican Compiler of Feb. 2, 1819.
From the National Intelligencer.
Cincinnatti, Feb. 28, 1819.I hoped ere this to have been supported in my new theory of the earth by many pupils, but find that most of those who have written are inclined to oppose me. I would prefer having an advocate to state my views, because in proportion to their extent, I may subject myself to the imputation of extravagance or ostentation, expecially as while I write, I naturally feel elated with my discovery. I am, perhaps, better fitted for thinking than writing -- reared at the plough, I seldom used a pen (except in a common place book) until I changed my ploughshare for a sword, at the age of 22, not wherewith to carve a fortune, (having already an ample farm by the liberality of my revered uncle after whom I was named,) but to merit and obtain distinction, and accumulate knowledge, which I had seldom tasted but in borrowed books. -- With respect to the latter the world is now to judge of my success; and in relation to the former, I at least may say I satisfied myself and fellkow soldiers, if not my country -- not only at Bridgewater on our left, and the sortie of Fort Erie in the van, but throughout my 13 years' service, ending with the war.
I presume few have inquired more devotedly than myself into the reason and origin of all that occured to view, I remember, when at the age of 11, (in Jersey) while reading a large edition of Cook's Voyages, my father (though himself a lover of learning) reproved me for spending so much time from work, and said I was a book worm: about the same age I used to harangue my playmates in the street, and describe how the earth turned; but then, as now, however correct my position, I got few or no advocates. I must not, however, say I get no advocates, for I have several. I particularly boast of two ladies, of bright and well informed minds, on the banks of the Missouri, who are able and earnest advocates, and devoted pupils; to them is sue the credit of being the first to adopt what the world is so tardy in admitting. But, Col. Dixon, who has traded on Lake Winepec, with the Indians, ism I presume, the most impostant pupil I have obtained, for he has long been actually engaged in the N. West Company and fur trade. He declared, in our first interviews, that I was certainly correct, and stated to me many important, otherwise inexplicable, circumstances, occurring high in the north, that were completely solved by my principle: he is regarded by such as have long known him at St. Louis, as a gentleman of a very strong and well informed mind.
In addition to the passive concurrence of several men of thinking minds, among them a venerable member of the American Philosophical Society, in this neighborhood, I have been honored with the offers of several more enterprising spirits to accompany me on the expedition I propose; but as the conditions with regard to my outfit by the world, are not yet complied with, I have not positively accepted of their services. I still hold my life pledged, however, for the general truth of my position, and devoted to the exploration. I calculate on the good offices of G. BR\ritain and France, for they nurse and patronize the sciences with ardor. My wife boasts her descent from the latter, and I trace mine from the former. FRom the Emperor of Russia, so well known as a patron of scientific enterprize, I flatter myself with much support.
I challenge any opposers of my doctrine, to shew as sound reasons why my theory is not correct, as I can shew why it is.
I refer to those who seek for truth to Ree's Cyclopdaeia, and any other books wherein the quadrupeds, fish, and phenomena of high latitudes are treated of; likewise those books that treat of Venus, Mars, and Saturn -- where they will find many tests, that if duly considered, must go to prove my position.
In the Cyclopdaeia, under the heads Fishery, Arctic, Herring, Seal, and all the other migrating fishes, it is shewn that most or all of them retire annually beyond the icy circle during the winter, and return, increased in fat an numbers, in the spring; and, under the head Reindeer, it is stated that this animal passes annually near Hudson's Bay, in columns of 8 or 10,000 from N. to S. in the months of March and April, and return N. in October, as stated under the ehad Hudson's Bay. I propose to follow the route taken by the reindeer, northward in Siberia, where they depart every autumn, from the river Lena, (as Professor Adams, of St. Petersburgh, states,) because it is probable these deer choose the best season and nearest route, to fertile and habitable lands. I propose returning either in the course of thorty or forty days, or when the columns of deer return in the spring. It is presumable that men can live where deer thrive. I dp not think there are no dangers attendant on such a trip, but believe the object will justify risking all probable ones.
In plate 17, vol. 33, part 2, of the Cyclopdaeia, the figure of Mars, with his equator towards us, exhibits his poles, surrounded with single light circles, whose farther sides extend beyond the periphery of his disk. I hence conclude that his poles are open, and that the light reflected by the farther sides of the verges of the openings, is refracted so as to appear extended beyond his disk, by means of its coming to us through the nearest verges. It is a well known fact, that refraction is greatest towards the poles, owing probably to the dense atmosphere there. The apparent continuation of the margin of his true disk through these rings, (if not an imaginary line dotted there,) must be the farther verge of the second second sphere within, rising by refraction, apparently as far out as the periphery of his disk.
I contend that the space within the circumference of the arctic icy circle, if not hollow, or greatly concave could scarce afford space and surface to maintain alive, and in health, all the fish known to come from thence annually, in the spring, even if (without resorting to feeding on each other) their food was inexhaustible, anmd the whole circle water. But floating trees being often found far north of where we say any grow, is an impressive circumstance to shew it cannot be all water; and the fact that these trees are generally such as abound in the tropics, (together with several unknown species) shews that there is a hot climate beyond; and the migration of the reindeer, too, shews that moss or other vegetables abound there, and consequently land. Pinkerton shews that the Dutch, who at different times got detained by the ice, could find but few fish to eat in the season of winter.
I also refer to Doctor Darwin's note on winds, in his Botanic Garden (which I never read until after I asopted my theory,) ehere that great although often extravagant philosopher declared his belief that there was a great secret, yet to be explained, at the poles, and anticipated that the light of the present age would disclose it. The stone spheroid he found hollow and disposed in concentric strata, and the concentric iron nodules he describes, deserve to be considered. He states that the seeds of several tropical plants are often found in the seas high north, in a state so recent as to vegetate.
I recommend the perusal of Mavor's and Pinkerton's voyages: Pennant and Goldsmith on animated nature; and [Heald's] and Mackenzie's travels -- wherein many tests of my position exist. Pinkerton shews that beyond latitude 75 degrees, the north winds are often warm in winter; that in mid-winter there falls for several weeks, almost continued rain. and that vegetables and game are more abundant at 80 degrees, than at 76.
When my chain of reasoning (drawn from the nature of matter) first led me to the conclusion of hollow spheres, and open poles, I merely intended broaching it as a question; but, when I found the planets of the heavens, and the phenomena and natural history of the polar regions, afforded proofs incontestible, I then seclared the fact without reserve; and have been considered by many as a madman for my pains. Were I to feel in any degree disconcerted by the playful, however ill-timed witticisms of others, I should comfort myself in the reflection, that, so soon as I shall succeed in the establishment of my theory, the more it has been decried, the more I shall feel honored in the event: innovations in science or art, most commonly exite opposition.
If additional reasons are required, I have adopted ab ample fund yet in store for the world.
JNO. CLEAVES SYMMES.
(Appended to this Memoir is a Note, which Mr. Symmes writes us need not be published, unless it be convenient to have three diagrams cut to accompany it. It not being convenient, we are obliged to dispense with the publication of the 'Note,' which is illustrative only of Mr S's theory, with reference to a diagram representing the ideal "section of a nest of spheres cut through the poles, as an outline fo the formation of the earth," and to the telescopic appearance of the planet Mars, shewn in the Cyclopdaeia and in Ferguson's Astronomy, as confirmatory of the theory of polar cavity.
Editors Intelligencer.(text taken from the April 7, 1819 issue of the Gettysburg Republican Compiler)
Journal of the Senate
Mr. Ruggles presented the memorial of a number of the citizens of Ohio, residing in Woodsfield, and its vicinity, praying that an exploring party, under the command of Captain John Cleves Symmes, may be despatched to the polar regions, there to make discoveries for the benefit of science, trade, and commerce. The memorial was read; and,
Ordered, That it lie on the table.
Mr. Kelly presented the memorial of the Legislature of the state of Alabama, praying further relief to the purchasers of public lands in that state. The memorial was read; and,
On his motion,
Ordered, That it be referred to the Committee on Public Lands, to consider and report thereon....
The writer of the following work is said to be a resident of the Miami country. After reading Captain Symmes' numbers, and hearing some of his lectures, he wrote the work, it seems, in the first place without the idea of publication, but afterwards corrected and enlarged it, and left it with a friend of Captain Symmes for publication, sometime in the autumn of the year 1824. The net profits were then, as now, to be paid to Captain Symmes towards enabling him to promote and establish his principles: but owing to the absence of the author, and other circumstances, it has remained unpublished till now.
The author has chosen to present the work anonymously; and has obtained the promise of Captain Symmes to forebear criticizing it in manuscript, -- reserving any reworks or corrections, he may wish to make, for future publication. Some errors of the press will doubtless be discovered; as (in the absence of both Compiler and Theorist) there was no proof-reader at hand, sufficiently versed in the New Theory, at all times; to detect them.
To the PublicTHE following little treatise, was written in the autumn of the year eighteen hundred and twenty-four; when from the urgency of my common avocation, and from a desire to remain incognito, the manuscript was placed in the hands of a friend of Captain Symmes for publication. As it was not my intention to seek a publisher or make advances to facilate its progress, I left the country for a considerable length of time, without paying any further attention to the subject. Various difficulties intervening, delayed the publication, until subsequent events, have destroyed my chief inducement; which was, that these speculations, compiled from a cursory examination of facts, should go forth as a harbinger merely, and not "follow in the wake," of public investigation.
Biographical Sketch of Captain SymmesJohn Cleves Symmes, the author of the Theory of Concentric Spheres, was born in New Jersey about 1780, and died at Hamilton, Ohio, 1929.
During the early part of his life he received what was then considered a common English education, which in after-life he improved by having access to tolerably well-selected libraries; and, being endued by nature with an insatiable desire for knowledge of all kinds, he thus had, during the greater part of his life, ample opportunities to indulge it. In the year 1802, Mr. Symmes entered the army of the United States in the office of ensign, from which he afterwards rose to that of captain. He continued in service until after the close of the war with Great Britain. While attached to the army he was universally esteemed a brave soldier and a zealous and faithful officer. He was in the memorable battle of Bridgewater, and was senior captain in the regiment to which he belonged. The company under his immediate command that day discharged seventy rounds of cartridges and repelled three desperate charges of the bayonet.
Afterwards, in the sortie from Fort Erie, Captain Symmes with his command captured the enemy's battery number two, and with his own hand spiked the cannon it contained.
During the period of about three years after the war, and after Captain Symmes had left the army, he was engaged in the difficult and laborious task of furnishing supplies to the troops stationed on the Upper Mississippi. Since that time he has resided at Newport, Kentucky, devoting, almost exclusively, the whole of his time and attention to the investigation and perfection of his favorite Theory of Concentric Spheres. In a short circular, dated St. Louis, 1818, Captain Symmes first promulgated the fundamental principles of this theory to the world.
Captain Symmes published two other numbers at St. Louis in the year 1818. His two next numbers, marked four and five, treated, the one of the original formation of the Alleghany Mountains, and the other claiming the discovery of open poles. His sixth number dates at Cincinnati, in January, 1819. His seventh number, entitled Arctic Memoir, is dated at Cincinnati in February, 1819. And another number, entitled Light between the Spheres, dated at Cincinnati in August, 1819, was published in the National Intelligencer. Afterwards, numerous pieces from the pen of Captain Symmes appeared in different newspapers.
Independent of his written publications, he has delivered a number of lectures on the theory, first at Cincinnati in 1820, and afterwards at various other places.
In 1822, Captain Symmes petitioned Congress, setting forth in the first place, his belief of the existence of a habitable and accessible concave to this globe; his desire to embark on a voyage of discovery to one or other of the polar regions; his belief in the great profit and honor his country would derive from such a discovery; and prayed that Congress would equip and fit out for the expedition two vessels of two hundred and fifty or three hundred tons' burden. This petition was presented by Richard M. Johnson, on the 7th March, 1822, when, after a few remarks, it was laid on the table. In December, 1823, he forwarded similar petitions to both houses of Congress, which met with a similar fate.
That Captain Symmes was a high-minded, honorable man is attested by all who knew him. He has devised a theory whereby to account for various singular and interesting phenomena, and most satisfactorily to explain a great variety of acknowledged facts.
John C. Symmes and Hollow Earth Claims
Part One: Early Items
From H. Howe's 1851 Historical Collections of Ohio
Art. XI. -- Symmes's Theory of Concentric Spheres;
demonstrating that the Earth is hollow, habitable within
and widely open about the Poles. By a Citizen of the United States. Cincinnati, Ohio: 1826. 12mo. pp. 168.
The earth is nearly eight thousand miles in diameter, and the deepest excavations that have been made in it by human art, do not extend to half a mile below its surface. We are, therefore, utterly ignorant of the nature and composition of the interior of this immense mass, and must, perhaps, for ever remain so. The subject is of too much interest, however, not to have excited the particular attention of philosophers, and, in the absence of facts, many of them have not hesitated to resort to speculation and conjecture.
Dr. Burnet, the earliest cosmogonist whose system is worthy of norice, supposed that the earth was originally a fluid, chaotic mass, composed of various substances differing in form and density. In the course of time, the heaviest portions subsided, and formed about the centre a dense and solid nucleus. The waters took their station around this body; on their surface floated an ocean of oil and unctuous matters; and the whole was surrounded by the air and other ethereal fluids. This atmosphere was at first full of impurities, being charged with particles of the earth with which it had been previously blended. By degrees, however, it purified itself, by depositing these particles upon the stratum of oil; and there was formed a thick and solid crust of mould, which was the firts habitable part of the globe. After many centuries, this crust, having been gradually dried by the heat of the sun, cracked and split asunder, so as to fall into the abyss of waters beneath it; and this great event was the universal deluge. Our present earth is composed of the remains of the first; our continents and islands being portions of the primordial crust, from which the waters have retired.
Dr. Woodward, who immediately followed Burnet in this career of speculation, supposed that the bodies which compose the earth, were all dissolved or suspended in teh waters of the general deluge; and that on the gradual retiring of the waters, these substances subsided, successively, in the order of their specific gravities; so that the earth is now formed of distinct strata, arranged in concentric layers, "like the coats of an onion."
Whiston supposed the original earth to be a comet, having, liek other comets, a very eccentric orbit; and, therefore, subject to such extremes of heat and cold, as to be uninhabitable. At the period of the creation described by Moses, the earth was placed in its present orbit, which is nearly circular, and was in consequence subjected to a great variety of important changes. The heavier parts of the chaotic atmosphere, by which the comet was surrounded, fell gradually upon the nucleus, and formed a great liquid abyss, on which the crust of the earth was finally deposited, and now floats. This crust, and the subterraneous fluid, are each fifty or one hundred miles in thickness; and within them lies the solid nucleus or original comet, which contains another rarer fluid, and a central loadstone. Thus, says this philospher: --
"The interior or entire constitution of the earth, is correspondent to that of an egg; where the central solid is answerable to the yolk, which by its fiery colour, great bulk, and innermost situation, exactly represents the same: where the great abyss is analogous to the white, whose density, viscosity, moderate fluidity, and middle portion, excellently express the like qulaities of the other: where the upper orb, or habitable earth, corresponds to the shell, whose lightness, solidity, little inequalities of surface, and uppermost situation, admirably agree to the same."
The deluge was caused by the near approach of a comet, which, by its strong attraction, caused the waters of the great deep to break through the crust, which enclosed them, and which also furnished a vast mass of vapours from its own atmosphere.
It will be observed, that all these theories agree in supposing the earth to be composed of successive shells, placed one within the other. The great astronomer, Hally, also adopted the hypothesis of a sphere revolving within the earth, in order to account for the variation of the magnetic needle, and in this opinion he was followed by Euler; so that the theory of "concentric spheres," has been one of the oldest and most prevalent in geology.
The theory of the celebrated Buffon is very generally known. He supposed that the earth was struck off from the sun by a comet, and was, therefore, at first, no more than an irregular mass of melted and inflamed matter. This mass, by the mutual attraction of its parts, assumed a globular figure, which its rotary motion, caused by the obliquity of the first impulse, changed into a spheroid. The interior of the globe is, according to this theory, a vitrified mass, which the author maintains to be homogeneous, and not, as is generally thought, dispoded in layers following the order of density.
These are the most remarkable theories that have been presented, on the subject of the structure of the earth. It is proper to remark, that they were the productions of men of genius and learning; that they were maintained by arguments full of plausibility, and, even now, difficult of refutation; and that they attracted great attention, and made many proselytes. Yet, such is the just destiny reserved fore all extravagent and romantic speculations, that, at the present day, they have not a single advocate or believer, and are mentioned only to be condemned.
But these philosophic fancies have all been far outdone by the theory of our countryman captain Symmes, who, for the last nine or ten years, has been using every exertion to convince the world of its past errors, and to inculcate his own new and true theory. The newspapers have teemed with essays; circulars have been addressed to all the learned societies of Europe and America; addresses and petitions have been presented to our national and state legislatures; certificates of conviction and "ashesion" have been procured from men in high literary and political stations; the master and his disciples have traversed the whole country, from south to north, and from west to east, so that all men, in all places, might be enlightened in the truth; and, finally, the whole subject has been reduced to a regular body of doctrine, in the work now under review, written by "one of the believers in the theory."
Let us hear, from the author himself, a statement of this famous theory. It is presented as follows, in his second chapter:--
"According to Symmes's Theory, the earth, as well as all the celestial orbicular bodies existing in the universe, visible and invisible, which partake in any degree of a planetary nature, from the greatest to the smallest, from the sun, down to the most minute blazing meteor or falling star, are all consituted in a greater or less degree, of a collection of spheres, more or less solid, concentric with each other, and more or less open at their poles; each sphere being separated from its adjoining compeers by space replete with aerial fluids; an dthat every portion of infinite space, except what is occupied by sheres, is filled with an aerial elastic fluid, more subtile than common atmospheric air; and constituted of innumerable small concentric spheres, (open at the poles?) too minute to be visible to the organ of sight assisted by the most perfect microscope, and so elastic that they continually press on each other," &c.
The author here indulges himself in a dream respecting these infintesimal spherules, but after some time, returns to the more substantial part of the theory.
"According to captain Symmes, the planet which has been designated the Earth, is composed of at least five hollow concentric spheres, with spaces between each, an atmosphere surrounding each; and habitable as well upon the concave as the convex surface. Each of these spheres are widely open at their poles. The north polar opening of the sphere we inhabit, is believed to be about four thousand miles in diameter, and the southern above six thousand. The planes of these polar openings are inclined to the plane of the ecliptic at an angle of about twenty degrees; so that the real axis of the earth, being perpendicular to the plane of the equator, will form an angle of twelve degrees with a line passing through the sphere at right angles with the plane of the polar openings; consequently the verge of the polar openings must approach several nearer to the equator on one side than on the other. The highest north point, or where the distance is greatest from the equator to the verge of the opening in the northern hemisphere, will be found either in the northern sea, near the coast of Lapland, or on a meridian passing through Spitzbergen, in about latitude sixty-eight degrees, or somewhat more eastwardly in Lapland; and the verge would become apparent, to the navigator proceeding north, in about latitude ninety degrees.
The lowermost point, or the place where the distance is least from the equator to the verge of the polar opening, will be found in the Pacific ocean, about latitude fifty degrees, near the north-west coast of America, on or near a meridian running through the mouth of Cook's river, being in about one hundred and sixty degrees west longitude, the real verge being in about latitude fifty degrees and becoming apparent to a person traveling northward at right angles with the magnetic equator, at the distance of about twelve hundred miles further. The verge varies progressively from the lowest to the highest point, crossing the north-west coast of America between latitude fifty-two and fifty-four, thence across the continent of North America, passing through Hudson's Bay and Greenland, near Cape Farewell; thence by mount Hecla to the highest point; thence tending gradually more to the south, across the northern parts of Asia, at or near the volcanoes of Kamtschatka, along the extinguished volcanoes of the Fox Islands, to the lowermost point again, near the north-west coast.
In the southern hemisphere, the highest point, or place where the distance is greatest from the equator to the verge of the polar opening, will be found in the southern Pacific ocean, in about latitude forty-six degrees south, and perhaps about longitude one hundred and thirty degrees west; and the lowermost point, or place where the distance is least from the equator to the verge of the opening, will be found on a meridian south or south-east of the island of Madagascar, in about latitude thirty-four degrees south, and longitude about fifty degrees east; thence passing near the cape of Good Hope, across the Atlantic ocean, and southern part of the continent of America, through a chain of active volcanoes, to the highest point; thence bearing regularly toward the lowest point, passing between the two islands of New-Zealand, or across the most southerly one, and the norternmost part of Van Dieman's land, to the lowest point, which is south or southeast of Madagascar; the apparent verge being several hundred miles beyond the real verge. Consequently, according to this formation of the sphere, the degrees of latitude, on different meridians, will varry according to their distance from the polar openings; and the magnetic equator; which encircles the sphere, parallel to the plane of the polar openings, would cut the real equator at an angle of twelve degrees. A person standing on the highest part of the apparent verge would appear under the pole star, or nearly so, and at the nintieth degree of latitude. The meridians all converge to the highest point of the verge, or the ninetieth degree; consequently in tracing a meridian of longitude, you would pursue a direction at right angles to the equator, until you arrived in the neighbourhood of the real verge if the polar opening, when the meridians would change their direction and turn along between the real and apparent verges towards the highest point, until they all terminated at the ninetieth degree of latitude; this being the direction a person would have to travel in order to have his back to the sun always at twelve o'clock, the time of his greatest altitude. Although the particular location of the places where the verges of the polar openings are believed to exist, may not have been ascertained with absolute certainty, yet they are believed to be nearly correct; their localities having been ascertained from appearances that exist in those regions; such as a belt or zone surrounding the globe where trees and otehr vegetation (except moss) do not grow; the tides of the ocean flowing in different directions, and appearing to meet; the existence of volcanoes; the "ground swells" in the sea being more frequent; the Aurora Borealis appearing to the southward; and various other phenomena existing in and about the same regions, mark the relative position of the real verges.
The heat and cold of the different climates are governed by their distance from the verge of the polar opening, and do not depend on their nearness or remoteness from the equator. The natural climates are parallel to the planes of the oplar openings, and cut the parallels of latitude at an angle of twelve degrees. When the sun is on the tropic of Capricorn, the circle of greatest cold would be about twenty-three and a hald degrees south of the apparent verge, and when the sun is on the tropic of Cancer, this circle would probably be just under the umbrage of the real verge: hence it follows, if this doctrine be correct, that the climate oif forty degrees north latitude on the plains of Missouri, in the western part of the continent of America, will be as cold in winter, as the latitude of fifty or fifty-two degrees in Europe; and observation has fully confirmed such to be a fact.
The magnetic principle which gives polarity to the needle, is believed to be regulated by the polar openings, and that the nedle always points directly to the opening, and of course parallel to a line drawn perpendicular to the plane of the opening. And when the apparent verge shall be passed, the needle will seem to turn nearly round, so as to point in an opposite direction; having the contrary end north on the interior of the sphere, that was north on the exterior, the same end being north on the interior which was south on the exterior. Hence when navigators arrive in the neighbourhood of the apparent verge, the variation of the needle is more or less reversed. The magnetic needle, on arriving at the verge, would appear to cease to pursue the same direction, but would in reality continue to maintain it, and lead directly into the polar opening.
Each of the spheres composing the earth, as well as those constituting the other planets throughout the universe, is believed to be habitable both on the inner and the outer surface; and lighted and warmd according to those general laws which communicate light and heat to every other part of the universe. The light may not, indeed, be so bright, nor the heat so intense, as is indicated in high northern latitudes (about where the verge is suppose dto commence) by the paleness of the sun, and darkness of the sky; facts, which various navigators, who have visited those regions, confirm; yet they are no doubt sufficently lighted and warmed to promote the propagation and support of animal and vegetable life.
The disciples of Symmes believe that each sphere has a cavity, or mid-plane space, near the centre of the matter composing it, filled with a very light, subtile, elastic substance, partaking somewhat, perhaps, of the nature of hydrogen gas; which aerial fluid is composed of molecules greatly rarified in comparison with the gravity of the extended or exposed surfaces of the sphere. This mid-plane space tends to give the sphere a degree of lightness and bouyancy. Besides this large mid-plane space, perhaps numerous other interstices exist in the sphere nearer the surface, and of more limited extent. The gas excaping from these spaces is, no doubt, the cause of earthquakes; and supply the numerous volcanoes. This gas, becoming rarified amd escaping, must occasion most of those great revolutions and phenomena in nature, which we know to have occured in the geology of the earth. This aerial fluid, with which the mid-plane spaces are filled, may possibly be adapted to the support of animal life; and the interior surfaces of the spheres formed by them, may abound with animals, with organs only adapted to the medium which they are destine dto inhabit."
Such is the general outline, given by our author, of the strange theory of Symmes. The arguments which he adduces in support of it are very numerous, and they have been thought, by many persons, to be plausible, if not convincing. We shall now present some of the most prominent of these arguments, and accompany them by sucj remarks as they must naturally suggest, without particular research, to any one tolerably conversant with the subjects to which they refer. Indeed, it would be trifling with the patience of our readers, to enter at large into the discussion of thsi matter; and we have, ourselves, neither the inclination nor the lesiure to do so.
The reasons in support of the theory, which are drawn from the mechanical properties of matter, are given in the third chapter; and, as might be supposed, our theorist places his great dependence on the centrifugal force arising from the earth's rotation about its axis.
"Were the matter of this globe thrown into a confused, disorganized state, and then put into a quick rotary motion, such as it is known to have, it would throw off from the centre towards the surface, first the heaviest, and next the lighter substances, which is the very order in which they are found to be arranged in the composition of the earth.
This principle, for it is simply the principle of projectile force, will account for mountains, hills, valleys, plains; and for nearly all the inequalities on the face of the erath. These circumstances depend on the density of substances composing the earth. Substances of the greatest specific gravity are susceptible of the greatest projectile force; and hence we find that mountains are composed of heavy masses of rock, mineral substances, and heavy earths; hills, or the next highest eminences, of earth of the next specific gravity; and plains, or level lands, of lighter substances."
Nothing can be more completely at variance both with reason and with facts, than the principle which is here asserted. The centrifugal force to which a body is subjected, is proportional, not to its absolute velocity, as our author always seems to suppose, but to the deflection fromn the tangent, produced by the rotation, in a given time, as in a second. The firce of gravity is proportional to the space through which a body will fall in a second. Both of these can be readily ascertained; and it has been found, that, at the equator, where the centrifugal force is the greatest, and that of gravity the least, the former is but one 289th part of the latter. Every one, indeed, can see, by the almost irresistable power with which heavy masses are bound to the earth, that the force of gravity far transcends the centrifugal force, and that it is therefore absurd to suppose that this last could have raised the Alps and the Andes, or have produced the many other wonderful effects ascribed to it in the new theory.
The author gives no distinct notion of the manner in which the concentric spheres are formed, and is indeed evidently embarrassed when he comes to this subject. He states that he "has long had strong doubts whether the laws of gravity are well understood, or whether the rules on which calculations respecting the form of the earth could eb made, are exactly known." In these difficulties, he sagely determines "to take the broad principles of nature for his guide," and then, with perfect gravity, presents us with such reasonings as the following: "The earth must be composed of concentric spheres, because the water on the side of a cutler's grindstone arranges itself into "something resembling concentric circles, one within another, and the surface of the earth (he apprehends) revolves with much greater velocity than any grindstone." -- Again, the appearance presented when steel filings are sifted upon a card placed over a magnet, (satisfactorily explained in all books of natural philosophy,) is supposed "to illustrate that a disposition to concentric spheres does exist in nature." Again, the earth must be hollow, because Capt. Symmes supposes that the meteoric stones are so, since they burst like a bomb-shell, and some fo the fragments have curved surfaces.
The author, asopting the maxim of
Thus ends the chapter. Let us now ourselves briefly inquire into the light which we may derive from the sciences, as to the structure of our earth. In the first place, then, we remark, that the fact of the earth's having a globular form, is string evidence that it must once have been composed of fluid, or, at least, of plastic materials. Now, on this supposition, to determine the form that would be assumed by the earth, in consequence of the mutual actions of gravity and the centrifugal force upon its several parts, becomes a problem of mechanics, which has been completely solved by many mathematicians. The Cartesians, who believed that the gravitating force urged all particles directly to the center of the globe, found, by an easy calculation, that, supposing the earth of uniform density, its form must be an oblate spheroid, having the equatorial and polar diameters in the ration of 578 to 577; an ellipticity which is much too small. The problem to be solved by the Newtonian philosophers, was much more difficult. As the attractive force resides in all particles, it will be itself modified by the form of the earth, and thus the very result of which we are in search, enters as an element in the calculation. This difficulty has been overcome; and the figure of the earth has been determined, not only on the hypothesis of its being homogenous, but on the probable supposition of an increase in the density of the strata as we descend below the surface. In every case, the earth must be a solid spheroid. If homogeneous, the ratio of the diameters will be 230 to 229; if increasing in density downwards, the ellipticity will not be so great.
These conclusions, it must be observed, are to a certain extent hypothetical. It is evident that the matter at the surface of the earth is not homogeneous, and we are wholly ignorant of the nature of that which constitutes the interior portions. We have means, however, for conducting our inquiries, which are free from this objection. Of these the most important is the measurement of different degrees of meridian, an operation which has been executed with great accuracy, at different points, from the equator, to nearly sixty-seven degrees of north latitude. These measures show some irregularity in the form of the earth, but agree, on the whole, remarkably well with the above hypothesis. They show that the earth is an oblate spheroid, having the compression equal to .0032. This ellipticity is less than that which would correspond to a homogeneous earth, and shows that, far from being hollow, the density increases towards the centre.
These rigid measures have not been extended to captain Symmes's verge; for it is worthy of note, that he has placed his highest point about one degree beyond the most northern measurement, which was made in Lapland by the Swedish academicians. WE shall return to this subject.
Another mode of estimating the figure of the earth, is by the force of gravity at different points of its surface, which may be determined by the length of the pendulum vibrating seconds. Very accurate experiments have been made on this subject, in various places, from the Falkland Islands, in latitude 51 degrees 31 seconds 43 minutes south, to Spitzbergen, in latitude 79 degrees 49 minutes 58 seconds north. The results have been lately compared to a mean ellipticity of .0033, being very nearly the same as that deduced from the measurements of the meridian, and wholly inconsistent with the notion that the earth is hollow, or that it has an oblique and distorted figure... we may, therefore, consider it demonstrated, that the density of the earth increases toward the centre, so that it cannot be hollow.
But Capt. Symmes not only believes the earth to be hollow, but that it is inhabited on the inner surface. If it be so, the inhabitants must be placed in a most unstable position. Let us first suppose that there are but one of these soperical shells, and that it is symmetrical and complete. It is well known that a body placed within such a sphere will be equally attracted in all directions; and if it adhere to the surface, it can be only in consequence of the centrifugal force due to the earth;s rotation, Now we have seen that the maximum of this force is but the 289th part of gravity. Within the shell, it must be still less... so that here, a man of one hundred and fifty pounds' weight, would adhere to the surface with a force of but eight ounces... and it would be one of the advantages of these inner men, that they might fly through the air, with great ease, by the aid of a lady's fan.
Capt. Symmes imagines that the sea extends quite through the outer sphere, in many places, and that seals, whales, and herrings are in the custom of passing through. But this notion is contradicted by the known laws of nature. If we suppose a column of water forming such a communication, the gravitation of its particles would indeed diminish, as they approached nearer to the inner surface; for the sperical shell, which is exterior to any particle, does not contribute to its weight. A portion of the water, near the base, might therefore, if alone, be supported by the centrifugal force. But it must be observed, that this portion is not independent, but is urged downward by the pressure of the incumbant mass, so that the whole must sink into the abyss below...
From the earth, our theorist passes into the heavens, and thinks he can find there striking evidences of his system. Let us follow him for a few moments.
The phenomenon upon which he places the greatest dependence, is the ring, or rather the rings, of Saturn.
"The appearance of Saturn, I conceive, establishes the fact, that the principle of concentric spheres, or hollow planets, does exist, at least in one instance, in the solar system. And if the fact be established that it exists in one case, is it not fair, nay, is it not almost a certain and necessary consequences, that the same laws of matter which formed one planet into concentric spheres, must form all the others on a plan more or less the same? If we draw any conclusion, or form any opinion at all respecting the formation of the planets, whose inner parts we cannot see; or, if we form any opinion in relation to our own planet in particular, whose poles have never been explored, would not reasoning from analogy bring us to the cinslusion, that all bodies of matter are formed similar to that of Saturn, unless we have positive proof to the contrary?"
Now, nothing surely can less resemble concentric spheres than these rings. They are plates of matter, so thin, that when theire edges are turned toward us, they are completely invisible... In fact, the ring revolves like a satellite, and its periodical time has been to be exactly the same as that which the laws of Kepler would require for a satellite places at the same mean distance from the planet. Thus the ring of Saturn, instead of leading us to the adoption of any new laws of nature, serves to illustrate and confirm those which were already established, and by which we have shown the impossibility of Symmes's theory....
The appearances of the sun and moon puzzle our system-maker, as well they may. He makes, indeed, a kind of apology for them, but it is far from being satidfactory. We see the whole of the sun's disc brightly illuminated, and it has not the most distant appearance of polar openings. The moon, too, is our immediate neighbour, and every appearance on its surface can be accurately distinguished. The liberation in latitude latitude enables us, moreover, to see both its poles in succession. Direct observations can, therefor, be made, and they all unite in showing that the moon has no polar openings.
But the ungrateful moon affords still further evidences against the theory of these visionaries. In the lunar eclipses, the shadow of the earth is thrown upon the moon's surface, and thus a profile of the earth is exhibited. It is always sensibly circular. But if there were sections of four to six thousand miles in diameter cut off from the poles, this could not fail, in certain positions of the sun, to be plainly and palpably shown...
We come now to consider the arguments which are drawn from the evidence of voyagers and travellers in the arctic regions. This evidence, it would indeed seem, must be decisive of the question, if any question still remain; for seas and lands, far within the imaginary verges, have been repeatedly traversed, in all directions, and no signs of a polar opening have been perceived. Captain Symmes endeavours to evade this difficulty, by his winding meridians; and it is certainly true, that, if the earth have the distorted figure which he imagines, most of the meridians will no longer lie in a plane...
The open sea, which is reported to be found about the poles, has been adduced as a string evidence in favour of the new theory. As to the north pole, we may now, perhaps, consider this as dountful, as it is certainly not confirmed by the resulkts of the late voyages. Still it is very possible, that, in summer, the currents may carry the ice into lower latitudes, so as to leave the polar regions comparatively free...
The migration of the animals of the arctic regions to the north in winter, and their return to the south in summer, is strongly asserted, and it is of course imagined that they retreat into the inner earth for comfortable quarters. To this argument we reply, that it is not supported by facts. The deer, musk ox, and other quadrupeds, mentioned by our author, are not properly migratory animals, and their occasional changes of situation are irregular, and seem to be governed only by the search for food.... With regard to the other animals mentioned, we believe the author to be equally mistaken in his facts, particularly as to the migratory fish, whose winter retreat is probably in the deep sea, where the temperature is uniform and moderate.
BUt, according to our author, the Esquimaux themselves also go north in winter, to enjoy the comforts of the pole. In proof of this, the only direct evidence that id adduced, is a conversation that took place with the first natives met by captain Ross, in his voyage to Baffin's Bay... From this conversation our author infers, that "these people must live in a country not composed of ice, for it seems they deem such an one uninhabitable..." Now it happens that this mysterious country was but a short distance from the place where the interview occurred; that it was, soon after, visited by captain Ross; and that he examined and describes "the nature of the country, its produce, inhabitants, lanuage, mode of living, manners, customs, and religion." It is situate between the latitudes seventy-six degrees and seventy-seven degrees forty minutes north, and the longitudes sixty degrees and seventy degrees west....
The immense distance at which objects are said to be seen occasionally in the polar regions, is another facts brought by our author in support of his theory... Now the optical fact alluded to, was one of a series of phenomena due to the extraordinary refraction which is called looming, and which is witnessed in all latitudes....
The last argument that we shall mention, (for it is time to bring this discussion to a close,) is contained in the following paragraph:
"Those appearances observed in the southern hemisphere, which are termed Magellanic clouds, by navigators, have not, so far as I know, been accounted for... their colour is like that of far distant mountains, on which the sun is shining.... They are stationary, appearing perpetually fixed at a certain height, and in a given situation, as viewed from any given place. The stars and the heavens, in their diurnal revolutions, sweep by them... These clouds are only seen in the night, when the atmosphere is clear, at which time the sun is shining on the islands in question."
Strange as it may seem, the statements which are here made respecting the Mage;;anic clouds, are wholly unfounded. These meteors are in fact nebulae, composed of clusters of telescopic stars, like the milky way; have their fixed place in the heaveans, like the other constellations; and revolve regularly about the pole in twenty-four hours. All this is so notorious, that it is astonishing how the whole Symmes school could have remaind ignorant of it. Even a common celestial globe would have shown them these constellations, near the south pole, under the names of Nebulea major, and Nebula minor....
Our author next gives a chapter, on what the Symmesites call mid-plane spaces, and explains, by their aid, earthquakes and volcanoes, and sundry other phenomena. Our readers will readily excuse us from entering into a discussion of these matters.
One of the favourite projects of the adherents of Symmes's theory, is the establishment of an expedition to explore the inner earth. Our author devotes a chapter to this subject; and the master of the sect is now travelling, from place to place, and, like a second Peter the Hermit, zealously preaching up a crusade to this Holy Land. We are gravely told, that, to judge by the size of the seals, and bears, (and Esquimaux,) which come from the interior of the globe, it must be better suitd for animal life than the portion which has fallen to our lot, so that by emigrating to this land of promise, we may probably be relieved from many of the evils to which mankind are subjected here above. If our old-fashioned philosophy be correct, however, we fear that this desireable change can never be effected, and that we must be content to finish the journey of life, in the less comfortable condition of outside passengers,
The work is concluded by a biographical notice of the founder os the new theory. That posterity may not, as in the case of Homer and other great men, dispute about his birth-place, it is announced that this distinguished honour belongs to our sister state of New-Jersey. It appears that he fought barvely during the late war; and we are certainly not disposed to deny, that a very unsound philosopher, may be a gallant soldier and an estimable man. -- (excerpts from American Quarterly Review Vol. I, No. 1, Mar. 1827: pp. 235-253)
John C. Symmes and Hollow Earth Claims
Part Two: Later Items
Polar Symmes' Hole -- Oct. 1882 Harper's Monthly
CAPTAIN JOHN CLEVE SYMMES.
During the first quarter of the present century the interest in Polar explorations was scarcely less absorbing than it has been for the last twenty years.... In all the past the discovery of unknown lands and peoples has had a strange fascination for a class of men of marked intelligence and courage. The broad expanse of blue sea, untrodden paths in the wilderness, desert wastes of land and snow with all their perils and privations, have charms for these men that we of quiet ways and common ambitions can not understand. Some of these explorers have been dreamers and enthusiasts, searching for fountains of eternal youth and mines of gold and precious stones, or had aspirations for kingly power; others were led on by the noble ambition of building up the kingdom of Christ by converting heathen nations from their idolatry. They have always been ready to aid the great commercial and scientific leaders in working out their hopes and plans, or proving the baselessness of their hasty theories....
Many of these theories of the earth's surface have been fanciful and grotesque, and their authors coveted in vain the opportunity of proving their faith. One of these more marked than any other of modern times in these respects was first announced in print from the city from which we now write. The face of the author was familiar to many still living, and his body sleeps quietly in the old burying-ground at Hamilton, Ohio. We refer to Captain John Cleve [sic, Cleves?] Symmes and his curious theory of "Concentric Spheres," and an opening at the poles by which men could pass into the interior of the earth. Dying, he believed that time would prove his fancies true, and place his name beside or above Newton's. This dreamer and his startling or curious theories will be the subject of this paper. In the Spring of 1818 the good people of St. Louis were interested and amused in turn by the following, circular... [transcript follows]...
Captain Symmes was well known among the best and most intelligent citizens of St. Louis, and was highly esteemed even by those who had no faith in his theories. He had his family residence for a number of years at Bellefontaine, the old United States military post some sixteen miles above the city, on the banks of the Mississippi River, which post was superseded years ago by the present well-known Jefferson Barracks.... The "Captain" was born in New Jersey in 1780, and having received a good English education, entered the United States army, in his twenty-second year, as ensign. By regular and well-earned promotion he reached the grade of captain in 1812. During the war that was then pending he served faithfully and with distinction, retiring from the army in 1816. The greater portion of his military life was spent in the South-West.
On returning to civil life he engaged in furnishing supplies to the Government troops stationed on the Upper Mississippi... At the time when his first circular was published he was in the strength of his manhood, and is described as of middle stature and fairly proportioned; face somewhat small and oval, and attractive blue eyes that gave indication of a mind absorbed in speculation.... His voice was not good, nor did he succeed as a speaker, although frequently speaking in his later years before mixed audiences. Men of ability were readily attached to him, and he was greatly beloved by all who knew him well.
The late Col. M'Bride, of Hamilton, Ohio, who was his devoted friend and disciple, and published a small volume in 1826 in exposition and defense of his theory, describes it as follows:
"According to Symmes's Theory, the earth, as well as all the celestial orbicular bodies existing in the universe, visible and invisible, which partake in any degree of a planetary nature, from the greatest to the smallest, from the sun down to the most minute blazing meteor or falling star, are all constituted, in a greater or less degree, of a collection of spheres, more or less solid, concentric with each other, and more or less open at their poles * * *
We have culled these passages which give a general idea of the theory, which had been wrought out by Captain Symmes during a course of many years, until, when the circular was issued, it had mastered his whole life, and was to give cast to all his remaining days. Many of his arguments were too abstruse for the satisfaction of the general reader.... He did not doubt that he had penetrated the secret of the plan on which all the heavenly bodies had been constructed. But there were also terrestrial appearances and facts upon which he relied as valuable confirming evidences. The migration of animal life in the Arctic regions, to which all polar navigators had called attention, tended to sustain his theory. Shoals of fish came from the north, darkening the waters by their presence, in the Spring season; great droves of reindeer came down from the same region in March or April, and returned northward in October; the same periods and direction of movement marked the innumerable fowls of the arctic seas. We now account for these movements of animal life by our theories of an open sea; but he was satisfied that they came from quiet waters, serene skies, and luxuriant vegetation within the hollow earth....
Copies of circular No. I were addressed to every institution of learning in the United States, and to nearly all of our distinguished men then living.... Jest and levity met it on every side; but what annoyed its author more was, that men were not willing to join him in argument, so ridiculous seemed his theory. I well remember when a boy, in Cincinnati, that "Symmes's Hole" was the synonym of absurdity. But undaunted by such a reception from the public, the first circular was followed by others and newspaper articles, in which he stoutly maintained the correctness of his views, sustaining himself with the reflection that many others who had given the world new ideas had been treated with corresponding neglect and contempt.
In 1819 he removed from St. Louis and made his residence at Newport, Kentucky, and in the following year, finding that he made slow progress in the use of his pen, he determined to enter the field as a lecturer. At Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Zanesville in Ohio, and at Lexington and Frankfort in Kentucky, large and intelligent audiences were assembled who gave him a respectful attention. The attraction of the lecture was the novelty of the theme, and then the honesty and earnestness of the lecturer commanded attention and respect. But few were won to his side or had the courage to confess that they sympathized with him. Especially he failed to convince men of wealth, from whom he hoped to obtain the means to fit out an expedition to the polar regions. As a last resort he determined to solicit aid from the National Government and the States. So in the year 1822 he addressed a petition to the Congress of the United States setting forth his views at length, and his belief that the nation would derive great honor, and possibly profit, by the verification of his theory. Congress was therefore urged to fit out an expedition consisting of two vessels of two hundred and fifty or three hundred tons burden, with supplies and men, for a voyage of discovery. It was his desire to command and be responsible for the success of the undertaking. This petition was presented to the Senate by Colonel R. M. Johnson, of Kentucky. A motion to refer it to the Committee on Foreign Relations was lost, and, without much delay, it was laid on the table. In the following year he tried again to gain the attention of Congress, but utterly failed. He now turned to the Legislature of Ohio, asking them to approve of his enterprise and recommend Congress to furnish him with the means to prosecute a voyage of discovery in the North. His petition was read, and then its further consideration was indefinitely postponed....
About this time the Russian Government, which had taken great interest in polar discoveries, was fitting out an expedition, at great expense, under the direction of Count Romanoff, a distinguished patron of science. Captain Symmes applied, through our minister at the Court of St. Petersburg, for permission to accompany the expedition. The application was cheerfully granted, but he was unable to procure a proper outfit, and had to abandon the project.
Still hoping for success, in the Fall of 1825, accompanied by a young lawyer of Ohio who was a convert to his views, he set out to make a tour eastward, intending to lecture at all the considerable towns on the route. His health was beginning to fail, and he was forced for a time to return home. But in the following year he was again in the field, and lectured at Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, passing into Canada. But his labors, and the excitement, and discouragements of his plans -- for every where he was ridiculed or looked upon as a lunatic -- preyed upon his health, and he reluctantly sought rest among his friends in his native place. As soon as he was sufficiently restored he turned homeward, broken down in spirit. He had moved his family to a farm near Hamilton, Ohio, and his great desire was to enjoy the sympathy and consolation of those who loved him. He was so feeble when he reached Cincinnati that he was removed with great difficulty to his home, but with tender care. On the 29th of May, wearied and worn out by the ten years of anxiety, disappointment, and toil which he had borne with wonderful patience, he fell asleep in death.
His oldest son, who still lives near Louisville, Kentucky, erected a monument over his remains, which is still to be seen...
Captain Symmes deserves a tender remembrance, and his friends never failed to cherish his memory, and regret that his last years were so full of cheerless mortification. Had the opportunity been afforded him to penetrate the polar latitudes, his faith and courage would have made him one of the boldest adventurers, and he would scarcely have failed to return with useful information and the broader and more truthful views that are now held by intelligent men. No man of his day had studied the subject more thoroughly, and his plans for penetrating the icy North were those that later explorers have adopted with advantage. But his theory has so many of the elements that are woven into childish Munchausen stories, that few men could consider it with any degree of seriousness... -- (excerpts from The Ladies' Repository Vol. 8, No. 2, Aug 1871: pp.133-136)
THE SYMMES THEORY OF THE EARTH.
Dissatisfied with the Newtonian theory of the earth, he promulgated his own, by sundry articles in the press, and by lectures before the faculties and students of colleges in different parts of the country.... During the winter of 1826-27 he lectured before the faculty and students of Union College, and by none was he heard with more profound attention than by the learned and venerable Drs. Nott and Wayland. The writer was a member of the Senior Class of 1827, and in common with other members of his class took copious notes.
From these notes he has prepared the present article, claiming only to present the theory of Captain Symmes as propounded in his lectures at Union, adding, indeed, some new facts from recent explorations, and drawing from them some inferences in accordance with the theory.
According to this, the earth is globular, hollow, and open at the poles. The diameter of the northern opening is about two thousand miles, or four thousand miles from outside to outside. The south opening is somewhat larger.... The shell of the earth is about one thousand miles thick, and the edges of this shell at the openings are called verges...
The line which marks the location of the apex of the northern verge begins at a point in Lapland... through Hudson's Bay and over the continent to the Pacific... crossing the south part of Kamtchatka, continuing northwest through Siberia, entering Europe across the Ural Mountains... to the point of starting.
Captain Symmes collated with great labor many isolated facts from his own researches, and from the accounts of Ross, Howe, Parry, McKenzie, and others who had by sea and land explored the polar regions, while similar proofs have been drawn from later explorations, since the promulgation of the theory in 1829....
There is a remarkable difference of climate under different meridians upon the same parallel of latitude. It is known that the climate of the eastern coast of North America is much colder than that of Western Europe in the same latitude. The notion that this diversity is produced by the proximity of the ocean or of ranges of mountains is unsatisfactory...The Gulf Stream does not satisfactorily account for this diversity of climate between America and Europe....
The characteristics of the isothermal belts of both hemispheres throw some light upon this theory. The region of the verges must be the coldest parts of the earth's surface, because, being more convex, they diverge instead of converging the sun's rays. The temperature, therefore, of any given part of the earth's surface depends as well upon its proximity to the verge as to the equator....
Thus, while this theory does not explain all the phenomena of climatic differences as indicated by the isothermal belts, it affords a general rule for explaining why the climate of Europe is milder than that of North America....
The theory of ocean currents will not explain these climatic differences upon the earth's surface.... [but] Further discoveries may throw more light upon this mysterious subject, and explain these ocean currents in connection with the interior currents of the earth, across the verges in both directions, and thus demonstrate the truth of Captain Symmes's theory....
Captain Parry and others speak of the brilliant twilight of the North, as being sufficient to enable them to read ordinary printed matter distinctly. This curious fact is wholly inexplicable upon the Newtonian theory, but is easy of explanation upon this. This twilight coming from the north may be caused by the sun's rays thrown into the interior through the southern opening, which by two refractions, one at each opening, and two or three reflections from the inner concave surface, would pass out at the north over the verge, and produce there this strong twilight.
Captain Parry states that, when sailing northward in high latitude, the North Star rises over the bow of the ship to the zenith and then declines towards the stern.... The ship going north along the deflected meridians upon and over the verge causes these apparent changes in the North Star.
Further confirmation of the Symmes theory is drawn from the variations and dip of the magnetic needle... midway between the verges lies the magnetic equator cutting the equator of the earth at an angle of twelve degreess.... These are curious facts and are entitled to consideration. If they do not fully explain the variation of the magnetic needle, they present some views which may help to clear up these mysteries of nature.
The dip of the needle is another phenomenon not fully understood..... The true magnetic poles are not at the points where the "line of no variation" terminates, -- at the north and south, -- but are equidistant from this line and immediately under the highest points of the verges north and south, and "the line of no variation" lies midway between these magnetic poles. The needle, while it does not vary, along the line, to the right or left, yet, as it goes northward or southward from the magnetic equator, it is attracted towards the true magnetic poles lying under the highest part of the verges; and so the dip is increased till it reaches the apex of the verge, where it is the greatest....
The aurora borealis affords a most interesting illustration... rarefaction and condensation produces the aurora along the verges, where the greatest condensation takes place. In proof of this view, Captain Parry and other explorers and navigators state that, when in high latitudes upon and beyond the verge, the aurora is almost always seen in a southerly or southwesterly direction.
Navigators in the South Atlantic, while sailing down the coast of South America, observe, low in the horizon, to the east and southeast, several bright, luminous bodies, like clouds in the sky, which become more and more elevated as the vessel goes south, until, in the vicinity of the Straits of Magellan, these clouds appear nearly in the zenith.... Captain Symmes holds that these bright clouds are produced by the light of the sun reflected from New Zealand and Van Diemen's Land, and perhaps the south part of New Holland, which lie upon the opposite side of the earth, and which, in the vicinity of Cape Horn, are nearly in the zenith....the light thrown from these islands would present them as bright, luminous bodies, always seen in the same direction, like moons, reflecting the light of the sun. They do not rise and set, as do the sun and moon; and this fact gives plausibility to the explanation.
Facts attested by good authority prove the existence of a warmer climate beyond the verge....Hearn establishes this fact.... The statements of Hearn, so far as relates to climate, are corroborated by other travellers. They concur in stating that, in high latitude, the inhabitants speak of the south as colder than the north in the winter, and that they migrate north in the winter season to a milder climate.
One navigator, Captain Ross, when in high latitude beyond the verge, speaks of the Arctic Sea as being calm and clear of ice, while south of him was a wide belt of ice. He describes the currents of air coming from the north as being so warm as to dissolve the snow and ice around him and far to the south. Captain Parry makes frequent mention of these warm currents of air coming from the north and north-east, -- that is, from the. interior of the earth....
Immense shoals of herrings in good condition, according to Buffon, come down from the polar seas, and are never known to return... Admit the Symmes theory, and the conjecture would not be unreasonable, that they make the annual circuit of the earth, over the exterior and interior surfaces and through both openings at the poles. If, on the present hypothesis of the earth, we allow land enough for the sustenance of the numerous herds of animals which annually migrate to the polar regions, there would hardly remain water sufficient for the immense shoals of fishes which abound there....
Driftwood is found in great quantities upon the northern coasts of Iceland, Norway, Spitzbergen, and the arctic borders of Siberia, having every appearance of a tropical production. Trees of large dimensions and of different kinds are found, some in a good state of preservation. Vegetables of singular character, and flowers of peculiar fragrance and color, unknown to botanists, are sometimes found in this drift. These could not be the production of the cold arctic regions, nor is it probable they were drifted thither by the Gulf Stream or by submarine currents... one of the results of late German exploration in the arctic regions is the discovery of beds of mineral coal... Greenland must have been once covered with a rich vegetation; or, as Captain Symmes might have urged, these deposits were drifted from the interior of the earth....
All these facts being admitted, -- and most of them are fully established by incontestable proofs, -- the conclusion is legitimate, that, far to the north of the frozen regions of the verge, there exists a milder climate and an open sea, whose existence has never been fully explained, and is inconsistent with the Newtonian theory of the earth.
Little is known of the southern verge, but many of the facts in support of the northern verge are applicable to this also. The unequal distribution of land upon the globe is remarkable, three fourths of it being in the northern hemisphere. This unequal distribution might seem to [jeopardize] the equilibrium of our planet; but it may be counterpoised by a corresponding inequality of land in the interior; or the general depth of the ocean in the southern hemisphere may be less, and so compensate this unequal distribution of land surface upon the earth....
Captain Symmes maintained that the other planets, like the earth, were each composed of concentric spheres; but I have not space sufficient to refer to the telescopic appearances which are noticed by him in support of his theory. The most common objection to his theory is, that, if it were true, the sun could not possibly light and warm the interior of the world. This is easily answered. The rays of light come parallel from the sun to the earth, and, if he were no larger than the earth, they would fall at least twelve degrees upon the concave interior surface, as they passed over the lower part of the verge both north and south. But the earth in her annual revolution, owing to the inclination of the poles to the plane of her orbit, alternately permits the incident rays to fall much more than twelve degrees upon the interior surface. This inclination is 23 degrees 30 minutes, which, added to 12 degrees, the angularity of the verges, gives 35 degrees 30 minutes of the concave surface upon which the direct incident rays of the sun fall. But these rays, passing over the dense, cold air of the verges, are refracted many degrees, probably at least ten or fifteen degrees, so that by one refraction and one or two reflections the rays of light would be thrown out over the verge opposite to that through which they entered; and because those rays would converge upon the concave surface instead of diverging, they would produce abundant light and heat throughout the whole interior. As compared with moonlight, the sun's rays, reflected from one interior surface to the other, would be as much more intense as the square of the diameter of the inner world is less than the square of the distance of the moon from the earth. According to this law, assuming the diameter of the interior to average 4,000 miles, and the moon's distance 240,000 miles, the light of the interior would be equal to 3,600 moons as large as our sun, and this too without considering the greater intensity of the interior light upon a concave surface over that of the moonlight reflected from and falling upon convex surfaces. These views, which are in accordance with the known laws of light, show that this popular objection has not the slightest force. On the contrary, the strong probability would be, that, on account of intense light and heat, the interior would be uninhabitable, except around the vicinity of the verges both north and south....
The extent of the visible horizon, to the inhabitants of the interior, would be largest immediately around the verges, and it would contract as the observer receded from the verges towards the equatorial regions of the interior surface....
There are many other facts and arguments which were from time to time urged by Captain Symmes in support of his theory. The writer has lately seen a small anonymous book written in 1824 "by a citizen of the United States," and published in Cincinnati, which has great interest. It enlarges the arguments drawn from the telescopic appearances of the planets, the laws of gravitation, and the doctrine of mid-plane spaces between the concentric spheres of the planets. It is stated in this work that Captain Symmes maintained that there were openings through the crust of the earth from the interior to the exterior surface through which the water flowed, and facts are given in support of this idea. It is one of great interest, however, as connected with the phenomena of subterranean rivers, submarine currents, earthquakes and volcanoes, artesian wells, springs on high mountains, etc.
In this little book it is also stated that Captain Symmes held that our earth had at least five concentric spheres. Such might have been his views as early as 1823 and 1824, at and prior to the time when this work was published, but such were not the views expressed in his lectures at Union College in 1827. Doubtless his views were modified more or less between 1827 and 1829, when he died....
Time, the great revealer of secrets, will soon determine whether this startling theory is true, in whole or in part, and whether its author was a visionary enthusiast, or a profound philosopher whose name will be honored among men, like that of Franklin or Newton, as a benefactor of his race, and an honor to the country which gave him birth. -- (excerpts from Atlantic Monthly, v. 31, #186, Apr. 1873: pp. 471-481)
SYMMES AND HIS THEORY.
[Americus said] "...if my father's plan was adopted, the riddle of an open polar sea could soon be solved, the pole reached, and Symmes's new world found. My father's plan, as suggested in his petitions to Congress in 1823-4, was to spend a year up North at about 80 degrees north latitude, and there keep an eye to the wild animals that inhabit that region every summer -- coming from the north every spring and returning north every fall -- and in the fall of the second year follow them in their journey northward ... Whither those animals go, man can certainly follow... and if man can follow them, that is, go north with them in the fall, and return with them in the spring, it will only take two or three years at the most to determine if the pole can be reached, or the new world found to which these animals go...."
John Cleves Symmes, the author of the theory of concentric spheres, was the son of Timothy Symmes, of New Jersey... Symmes when about forty-six years of age is described as follows: "He is of middle stature, and tolerably proportioned, with scarcely anything in his exterior to characterize the secret operations of his mind, except an abstraction which from attentive inspection is found seated on a slightly contracted brow, and the glances of a bright blue eye that often seem fixed on something beyond immediate surrounding objects...." During the early part of his life he received what was then considered a common English education, which he improved in after-life by having access to tolerably well selected libraries. In 1802, at the age of about twenty-two years, he entered the army of the United States... After retiring from service, until his death, Captain Symmes had his residence at Newport, Kentucky. He first published his views in 1818, in St. Louis, Missouri. His theory was at first received with universal ridicule; the French Academy declared it unworthy of serious consideration, and a petition to Congress presented by Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, was disregarded. Symmes was held to be little better than a lunatic.... The latter part of Symmes's life was spent wholly in developing his theory, lecturing, writing, and traveling. He died in May, 1829....
The two most important features of John Cleves Symmes's theory are that all orbicular bodies in the universe partaking of a planetary nature are composed in a greater or less degree of spheres concentric, one within the other, and to some extent open at their poles; and that gravity is due to the pressure of an impalpable element composed of minute concentric spheres, existent throughout all space, elastic, and changing its molecules by any change of matter whatever throughout space. To this substance Captain Symmes attributes gravity, making it a pushing instead of a pulling force, as it is now generally held to be. But this latter theory of gravitation he holds not to be essential to his theory of concentric circles, which circles would be formed upon the old theory of gravitation.
Captain Symmes published notes or explanations of his theory, which he called memoirs. Memoir No. II. says:
"With dividers describe a circle on a plane of matter of loose texture, and in the centre add a very small circle; then draw a line through the centre. It is evident (as matter gravitates matter in proportion to quantity and distance) that either half of the inner circle, being almost equally surrounded by matter, must be very little gravitated centrewise; so being suspended, only a rotary motion is needed to throw it compactly toward the outer circle. This being admitted, it follows that half-way from the outer to the inner side of this circle of matter so thrown out, a like rarity, suspension, or balance of gravity should prevail, and hence a disposition to concentric circles; therefore it follows that successive similar subdivisions should exist, gradually lessening in force or quantity. By applying this principle to the earth, I found the necessity of hollow, concentric spheres. A decision of school-men on these lines shall be followed by additional positions, further explaining my new principles of hollow spheres, open at the poles, declared in a circular letter of the 10th of April, 1818.
This is the basis of Symmes's theory. This theory he maintained with great earnestness, courage, and disinterestedness during a large part of his life, and were he living now, be would in all likelihood be doughtily contending for it still, accommodating his theory to the Nares expedition -- which went where he declared irrefutable optical proof could be had of the polar openings -- and all other discoveries whatsoever.
Among other arguments that he brought to his support were the migrations of animals to and from the arctic regions, atmospheric refraction, and the variation of the compass observed in high northern latitudes....
Symmes believed that there were beneath our feet miles and miles of wondrous unclaimed domain; reindeer roamed its colder borders, fish swam in its seas, animals and trees and flowers of curious and unknown shape made its life a primal gladness; splendid visions of untold wonders, misty dreams of splendors unnamable, floated through his nightly and daily thoughts, and greater than all burned within him the ceaseless desire to become the discoverer of this unknown land. And the only thing needful was for the government to traverse the "icy circle," pierce the polar opening, and sail in and take possession - perchance to find man, to meet a mighty race of people, to come face to face with some stupendous revelation of nature, to explore some splendid barbarism, or disclose a civilization as yet undreamed.
And this theory he expounded in pamphlets, memorials, newspapers... To help himself he occasionally lectured about pure water and such things, but his heart was in the poles, and he concerned himself chiefly with his theory. Issuing circulars to the world, and lecturing, arguing, struggling with disease, poverty, and giving people, he travelled from one place to another.... And so to the end he went on striving for his theory spending as much of his property as he dared take away from his family, always sincere, earnest, using all manner of arguments from the Bible, prophecies, and such like, all manner of means of informing the public of the theory, but impressing one always with his honesty and purity of motive. No charlatan idea of notoriety inspired his efforts; he may not have been over logical or scientific; he may not have always spelled perfectly, or have been a very fluent lecturer; but he had always the utmost fixity of faith. Not a very brilliant hero this round-headed hero of ours, with his bright blue eye looking away off into space, his contracted brow, his nasal voice, and hesitating manner. Dusty, human, faulty enough, but still a self-denying, steadfast man -- man with a purpose. (excerpts from Harper's Monthly v. 65, Oct. 1882: pp. 740-744)
Ladies and Gentlemen: I presume a few of you know that there lived in Kentucky as far back as 1819 a philosopher, John Cleves Symmes, who devoted the last 80 [sic - 30?] years of his life to working out a true theory of the earth's formation. He contended that the earth was dying, he charged me to watch the polar explorations for proofs of his theory. I was a yoing man when my father died, aged 59, a poor man. He had owned 4,000 acres of land, but had borrowed money at high rates of interest and kept at his desk writing with children playing around him. The estate only paid 82 cents on the dollar. I thought that a theory which left a man so poor was not very valuable, and I had little time or money to bother with it. Twenty years ago a man called at my house to get me to subscribe to Dr. Kane's "explorations." My father's charge flashed across my mind; I was now tolerably well off. I subscribed for the book, and began to inform myself about my father's theory before Dr. Kane's book arrived. My father lived the last three years of his life lecturing and traveling in the East. He wore himself out, took sick in New-York, and aftr paying his landlord all he could for board was put in jail for debt, where he remaiend two days, till his friends took him out. He then went over to New-Jersey, where he originally came from; there he remained 10 months before we at home were able to get money to bring him back. We were living on the 640 acres of land at that time, and I brought him home from Cincinnati on a matress in a wagon, he was so feeble. That was in February, and he died in May. His book, which was published in 1826, and which we gladly sold for $1, Robert Clarke & Co., of Cincinnati, now sell for $12, and they can't supply the demand for the original issue. I read that book carefully. It says the earth's shell is 100,000 [sic - 1,000?] miles thick, and that the edges 4,000 miles in converging. Perry, Kane, McClintock, Hall, Nordenskjold, and all, as I shall show you, confirm this. The summit of this verge is the coldest place in creation. The only way they tell when they pass it is the difference in the expension of the horizon; that is, the difference in how far you cna see. Before Capt. Hall passed it, he could only see a few miles; after he reached it he could see 70 miles. At the eighty-third degree my father says there is the open sea, free from ice. Sir Isaac Newton says it is a vast solitude of ice. I shall show which is correct. When Dr. Kane went on his second trip, after quitting the vessel the dog sleds went 40 miles a day; men gave out, and the doctor went no further, but William Morton, who had been there before, got permission to go on with the sleds. After four days he reached the aweful icy ridge running east and west, caused by the current from the north and the current from the south, just as the Symmes theory first claimed. Look in Kane's book, and you will see where they used the sled for a ladder to go over that icy ridge. After four days' more travel the snow began to soften, ice crusts to get thin, and in a short time the current was warmer. They had to help the dogs pull the sled, as their feet cut through the thin ice crust. At last they reachd the open Polar Sea, filled with fish, seals, shrimps, &c. There were fowls of every kind. Morton gathered 1,200 eggs in one day. I fairly shouted when I read this. A big sea and no ice, right where Newton said all was solid ice. The grass was ankle-high. Henry Clay says he brought home the biggst tree he could find in his trunk. Did you ever note how anxious all these explorers are to go back? Parry made three trips, Ross three, Kane two, and Kennedy two. I came to the Public Library and got from Mr. Toune the reports. Parry promised Parliament on his second trip to reach the North Pole. He went in a Lapland sled, which has a boat bottom and goes through water, till the north star was behind him. At 81 degrees the ice was four feet thick, at 82 degrees it was three feet thick, at 82 3/4 degrees the ice would not bear the boat; the sun melted the tar on the boat and flies swarmed around them. Symmes said it would take steam to reach the North Pole, and it will. Ross, who went very near, said: "I stand on the bank of an open sea." Smith, who went to find Franklin, said he found the north end of Iceland covered with trees; he brought back one tree with the mark of an axe-cut back to London, also vegetables and flowers that he found in the drift. When Capt. Hall, of Cincinnati, was getting ready to go I went to see him. He hooted at my father's theory, and yet he found that warm country. He took Capt. Buddington and Capt. Tyson along to advise. They drank his whiskey, and he started to put them off at a polar station; they begged on their knees, and he relented. Hall surveyed his track and sent back reports of every part. They named the open sea Polaris Bay, after their ship, and the straits they called Robeson's, after the Secretary of the Navy. After passing eighty two degrees sixteen minutes Bunnington saw the North star behind them, and would go no further. All could see the cloud in front, which proclaimed the absence of ice. Hall was poisoned, and they returned. Mayers, the scientific man of that expedition, with his instruments calculated the distance to that warm locality and made it 83 degrees. There was Symmes theory proved by actual measurement. Hall left June 29, lost four months on the route, and yet reached that warm region Aug. 29, less than 60 days. The doctor who went away with Hall brought back flies, butterflies, squirrels, &c. In Sweden Nordenskjold heard of all this, and followed Hall's track. He sailed clear around the North-western passage just as Symmes said could be done. From Dundee, Scotland, Mr. Seabaum [sic - Seebohm?] went along Hall's route; he found the sea and sailing into it found a race of Roman-nozed, Hebrew-speaking people. They are the lost tribes of Israel. They have gold mines, iron mines, and mica mines there. Mr. Seabaum read his report at the Art Society of England. Capt. Wiggins was present and he confirmed it, saying the half had not been told. They have enormous wheat crops; there is where China gets her food. Humphrey Marshall, a Kentuckian, wants me to get up an expedition by subscription, as Kane did, and find this rich country. I have seen men from London who say this account of Seabaum's is no hoax." -- (text from the Louisville Courier-Journal, Nov. 27, 1883)
Proposing an Expedition to the North Pole.Washington, Dec. 24. -- Capt. George E. Tyson, of Polaris fame, has received a letter from A. Symmes, dated at Symmeszonia, Ky., December 7, on the subject of going north in command of an expedition next June or May, to be gotten up by subscription for the purpose of finding the country that Nordenskjold, Wiggins and Capt. Tuttle found after passing the magnetic pole at eighty degrees of north latitude (as laid down in the Symmes theory of the writer's father, and running south after getting into the open polar sea until they found a country and a people never before heard of, and reported to the Art Society of London by Captains Wiggins and Seabaum.
Captain Tuttle also reported having found the same country and people, and describes the people as being very large, with black hair and whiskers, roman noses, and speaking Hebrew. The writer says: "I find no difficulty in finding people willing to subscribe money enough to buy a steamer like the Polaris and go ins search of the the people and country that Wiggins, Seabaum and Tuttle found, where they said they rode on horseback through the new country and saw hemp, flax, wheat, hides, wool, ivory, iron ore, and were told of ten or twelve gold mines that yield from five to seven tons each yearly. Capt. Hall said that if there were a people up there they must be giants, as the atmosphere was so life giving; and now they are found and reported to be seven or eight feet high and well proportioned. -- (text from the Chester, PA Chester Times, Dec. 24, 1883 -- see also the Atlanta Constitution of Dec. 26, 1883.)
IT IS A HOLLOW WORLD.
If we were to judge of the internal surface of the sphere by its animal production -- admitting that those animals heretofore enumerated are propagated there -- we should conclude that the internal region of the earth is as much more favorable to the support of animal life as the reindeer is larger than our deer, and the white bear larger than our bear, and, consequently, we must conclude that there are more salubrious climates and better countries within than any we have yet discovered without.
Immense shoals of herrings, in good condition, according to Buffon, come down from the polar seas, and are never known to return.
Were the earth a compact and solid spheroid, according the old theory, and were the seas frozen nearly to the bottom at the poles, as we would be led to conclude, where could all those fish that come down to us every spring breed? Or, if they even all returned in the autumn, and all the north were a sea that did not freeze even to the poles, it would require a great stretch of credulity to imagine where they could obtain food for the winter; or even if their source of food were inexhaustible, could the region of the pole afford space sufficient for their health, so as to migrate south in the spring?
A Question of Capacity.If the earth be not hollow (or at least greatly concave about the poles) where could all those fish find room in winter? But on Symmes' plan, admitting the globe to be a hollow sphere, and the inner, or concave part, as habitable as without (at least as habitable for fish), the whole matter is at once explained.
Whales and various fish delight in cold regions. According to Symmes' theory there is a zone at a short distance beyond the real verge of the sphere (which constitutes the coldest part, or as he has thought proper to term it, "the icy circles") commencing at the highest point, in about latitude 68 degrees, in the Northern Sea, near Norway, thence gradually decling to about latitude 50 degrees in the Pacific Ocean, which is the lowest point, and thence regularly round again to the highest point. A certain distance beyond this and short of the apparent verge this zone or icy circle exists, which is believed to be the coldest region of earth. After passing this we would advance into the interior of the globe and into a milder clime. In the interior region, it is contended, those immense shoals of fish are propagated and grow which annually come out and afford such an abudant supply; nor does it appear that the interior parts of the sphere are altogether forsaken by the fish in summer, for shoals of fat mackerel and herring come down from the north in autumn as well as in the spring.
The seal, another animal found in cold regions, is also said to migrate north twice each year, going once beyond the icy circle to produce their young and again to complete their growth, always returning remarkably fat -- an evidence that they find something more than snow and ice to feed on in the country to which they migrate.
Basis of Symmes' Theory.According to Symmes' theory each sphere has an intermediate cavity or mid-plane space of considerable extent situated between the convex and concave surfaces of the sphere, filled with a very light and elastic fluid, rarified in proportion to the gravity or condensing power of the exposed surfaces of the respective spheres, and also various other less cavities or spaces between the larger and principal one and the outer and inner surfaces of the spheres, each filled with a similar fluid or gas, most probably partaking much of the nature of hydrogen. This fluid to lighter than that in which the sphere floats, and has a tendency to poise it in universal space.
The spheres. in many parts of the unfathomable ocean are believed to be water quite through from the concave or convex surfaces to the great mid-plane space, and probably the earthly or solid matter of the sphere may in many places extend quite through from one surface to the other, tending, like ribs or braces, to support the sphere in its proper form. Such a formation of spheres to be supported by various facts and phenomena.
Recent explorers have found more and more evidence of an open polar sea and of a surprising increase in vegetation and animal life in the higher arctic regions, and the Symmes theorists hold that these facts go to prove the truth of the Symmes theory and shake our faith in Newton's idea of the north being a vast solitude of eternal ice. All these discoveries were made while running south after passing the 80 degrees latitude.
New Country at the Pole.Baron Nordenskold, of Sweden, who made two visits to the extreme North tells us "that it is impossible to find continents of ice south of 80 degrees of north latitude." That is, after passing the 80 degrees, or magnetic pole, his compass indicated south, the direction we familiarly term north. An English explorer, Captain Wiggins, after passing the 80 degrees, found the country seen by Nordenskold. He made the acquaintance of the inhabitants whom he discovered spoke Hebrew. An account of his trip was published in the London Times, February 5, 1881. A Mr. Seebohm, who accompanied the expedition, took a ride on horseback with several others through this new country, and after his return to London he read a description of what he had seen before the Society of Arts. The country was rich in iron ore. A piece picked up at haphazard was so highly magnetic as to lift a large needle. There were copper mines and ten or twelve gold mines that yielded from five to seven tons a year.
Another explorer who visited this new country of Symmzonia is Captain Tuttle, an old United States whaling master. He gives a similar account of the people and says they speak Hebrew. He found them well contented and intelligent. He discovered during his 28 years' experience in the North that everyfourth winter was mild, and during one of these seasons he discovered this new country, which he says can only be reached with a steam vessel, as the current in Robeson's channel runs south at the rate of four to six miles per hour.
That is in substance the proposition and the arguments of those who have followed Captain Symmes in the belief that the earth is hollow and inhabited, and that in the interior are beautiful and fertile lands and an enjoyable climate. (excerpts from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of Feb. 9, 1896 -- see also on-line transcript from the Feb. 6, 1896 issue of the Pittsburg Dispatch)
Symmes and His Theory.If Nansen has really discovered land at the north pole it will smash the wild theory advanced by the late John Cleves Symmes.
According to Symmes the earth is hollow and formed of concentric spheres. The openings or entrances to the "inner world" are at the poles, and are like an immense crater, 2000 miles in diameter, with a sloping rim, so that a vessel might sail into the bowels of the earth before those on it were aware of it.
Symmes called attention to the northward migration of the artic reindeer, musx ox and polar bear at the approach of winter and claimed that their movements proved that the heat of the earth's interior furnished a milder climate.
He also said that his theory was supported by the climatic differences on the earth's surface, the vast open polar sea, the changes in the apparent extent of the horizon in high latitudes, the variation and dip of the magnetic needle and other natural phenomena. The vessel sailing north which finds its needle suddenly reversed has crossed the verge, according to Symmes, and is really sailing south without knowing it. Captain Wiggins testified to it in 1880, and gave an account of his discovery of a land with mild climate whose inhabitants spoke Hebrew.
Captain Symmes was generally regarded as a crank, so far as his theory was concerned, but his followers erected a fine monumnet to his memory, and of late years many persons, inclusing some sea captains, have adopted his belief.
It will be a relief to the public to be assured that our globe is a solid affair, instead of being shapd like an apple with the core scooped out. We want land at the pole and plenty of it -- enough to give the Monroe doctrine a foothold. -- The Atlanta Constitution Feb. 18, 1896
The Theory of Concentric Spheres! We all remember the shaft in the park at Hamilton bearing the globe open through the poles, commemorating Captain John Cleves Symmes and his theory-keeping in memory a man who believed that the world is hollow and habitable within, and that there are great holes at the poles through which one may get down on to the inner side!
Captain John Cleves Symmes, he of the theory of Eccentric [sic] Spheres was a nephew of that other of the same name who was the original proprietor of all the land hereabouts....
In the war of 1812 Symmes commanded a company with bravery, skill and gallantry, especially at the battle of Lundy's Lane for which he was honorably mentioned. At the close of the war he continued in the army until about 1816 when he resigned to take up life at the frontier village, at the mouth of the Missouri known as St. Louis... And it was while at the trading post in the wilderness that he first evolved, or at least, first announced the hypothesis of which I write. How long he had entertained these views, what length of time he had devoted to the study of the subject, what books inspired it or how or why the mind of the frontier soldier and trader was turned to the subject, I am at a loss to discover. He announced his idea in no diffident nor uncertain terms... [transcript of Symmes' "Circular" follows]
... His statement of the extent of the polar opening, his proposed point and season of departure, his promise to find good lands and life one degree north of 82 degrees, all agree with the detail of his system as published later and show that he did not make his announcement first and then manufacture his argument to support it. He followed his circular with several newspaper articles elaborating his theory. Soon afterward and during the same year he moved to Newport, Ky., and continued to devote himself to the preaching of his doctrine. In 1824 he moved to Hamilton. He found not a few believers as time went on among whom the foremost, he who became Symmes patron and his collaborator, was James McBride, of Hamilton.
James McBride was no ordinary man. He was highly respected and held many positions of trust in his community.... James McBride became a convert to the doctrine of Symmes and used his able pen in arranging and elaborating Symmes somewhat disorderly argument. The result was a little treatise on the subject from the press of Morgan, Lodge and Fisher, Cincinnati, 1826: Symmes Theory of Concentric Spheres, demonstrating that the earth is hollow, habitable within and widely open about the poles -- by A Citizen of the United States....
The author undertakes to set forth the theory without asserting its truth, disclaiming scientific ability to pass upon it, inviting criticism, but requesting any who assert its fallacy to furnish some other rational and satisfactory explanation of the facts advanced....
The fundamental thought or idea seems to have been that unformed matter in rotation tends to form itself into concentric spheres.... assuming matter to have been at one time whirling masses of unformed substance it must have assumed the form of hollow spheres open at the poles. That not only would there be hollow spheres open about the poles but the same principle would tend to create hollow spheres within hollow spheres.
This theory Symmes applies not only to our earth but to the entire universe. Space is filled with microscopically invisible hollow spheres of aether -- which by their elasticity hold the planets of the universe in place....
Symmes points to the fact that nature is an economist of matter. That she uses hollow materials where they serve her purpose as well as solid. Is not the stalk of the grain, the quill of the pinion, the bone of the animal, even each hair of the head, hollow?
To those who see something of the sacrilegious in thus undermining God's footstool, the author says: "I can not discover anything derogatory from His infinite power, wisdom, or divine economy, in the formation of a hollow world and concentric spheres any more than that of solid ones. I should rather be of the opinion that a construction of all the orbs in creation on a plan corresponding with Symmes' theory, would display the highest possible degree of perfection, wisdom and goodness, the most perfect system of creative economy -- and, (as Dr. Mitchell expresses it), a great saving of stuff."
The Dr. Mitchell referred to is probably the same whom Symmes selected as a patron, along with Davy and Von Humboldt; the New York scientist and miscellaneous writer of the first quarter of the last century, and editor of the New York Repository...
It is interesting to know that Symmes is not the only one who has believed this planet a series of concentric spheres. Edmund Halley, the celebrated English astronomer of the early eighteenth century, averred the probability of an inner sphere. Leonhardt Euler, the great mathematician of Basle, who died in 1783, accepted Halley's theory and went further in asserting that the inner sphere might be luminous and thus light and warm the inner surface of the outer crust, and he further inferred that the interior might be inhabited. Whether the works of these writers came to Symmes' knowledge before he announced his theory from the frontier town is not known. That they were known to James McBride appears in his book... But neither Halley nor Euler had conceived the polar openings. The credit for that conception is due Symmes alone.
Now applying his theory to our own planet Symmes argued it to be a series of five spheres of which our crust is the outermost. The opening at the north pole is four thousand milesacross, that at the south pole is six thousand. The outer crust of the earth is about a thousand miles thick giving a wide rim or verge some 1500 miles around. The rim or verge being so wide, and its curvature being gradual, would not be apparent to the voyager, who might pass from the outer side of the earth over the rim and down upon the inner side a great distance before becoming aware of the fact at all.
The rim is also marked by a zone of ice and snow, by that impossible Arctic belt beyond which men imagine all to be a frozen waste. Here is the zone where no vegetation but moss exists. Here is also to be noted a belt of volcanoes encircling the globe, including those of Alaska and Iceland.
When a high northern latitude is reached the Aurora Borealis appears to the southward as many explorers have testified. The voyager is then upon or within the verge. The compass then forsakes the star and varies so that at times the needle turns nearly round, for the verge is the region of magnetic attraction. Each of the various spheres is inhabited both upon its inner and its outer side; warmed, lighted and watered....
Symmes then brings forward some curious facts in regard to the migration of animals - for which he refers to and cites the published narratives of travelers and Arctic explorers. These all go to prove that there is a land beyond the frozen Arctic belt, whither some beasts, fowls and fish go at the approach of winter and whence they return in the spring sleek and fat....
One of the most ingenious arguments of the work is that founded upon the Magellanic clouds. They are two in number -- or perhaps one is so divided that three may fairly be counted. They are apparent only at night and from the South Atlantic, or the region of the Straits of Magellan, whence their name. These are, of course, now known to be merely two cloud like patches of nebulous stars in the pole of the Milky Way.... These are, he says, the reflections in the sky of New Zealand, New Holland and Van Dieman's land seen across the rim...
How can the variation of the needle be explained by Symmes' theory? -- By it assuming the polar verge to be the region of attraction it is obvious that when the verge is reached the needle will swing. And so Parry, the explorer, found it to point at one place within 14 degrees of south.
The question most asked of Symmes by his hearers was, no doubt, how the interior of the earth was to be provided with light and heat. His answer to that is most ingenious. The opening at the north pole is four thousand one hundred and fifty miles in width at an angle of 12 degrees to the perpendicular to the earth's axis. Therefore the sun's rays would fall within as far as 18 degrees on the inner surface of the high side. But when the sun is at the northern tropic its rays would slant 23 degrees more, or a total of 41 1/2 degrees within. So that there would only be 26 degrees between that and the equator, which would not receive direct light... But direct light is unnecessary for the interior would be illuminated by a soft, brilliant light by reflection from the concave side and the inner sphere. The interior light would... be too bright for comfort and that blue glasses would be an excellent article of commerce to take to the inner side upon the first voyage...
Symmes was true to the consecration of his life to the theory announced in his first paper. He wrote, traveled, lectured, petitioned the legislature and congress for aid to demonstrate his ideas, and suffered poverty in its behalf. During his residence in Newport he devoted himself entirely to its study, and in 1820 made a lecture tour. He spoke in Cincinnati, Lexington, Frankfort, Hamilton, Zanesville and probably elsewhere...
In January, 1823, there was presented to congress by Representative J. T. Johnson, of Kentucky, a petition wherein the subscribing citizens respectfully showed that the national honor and public interest might be promoted by the equipping of an exploring expedition for the purpose of penetrating the Polar region, beyond the limits already known, with a view not only of making new discoveries in geography, natural history and geology, but of opening new sources of trade and commerce.... Mr. Johnson moved to refer the memorial to the committee on foreign relations, while Mr. Farelly, of Pennsylvania, moved to lay on the table... and there the matter ended.
Other petitions from various parts of the country to the same end were presented at the same session. In February one was offered by sundry inhabitants of Charleston, South Carolina, showing that there were Symmesites there, although I do not find that Symmes ever lectured in the South. Another memorial came from Greenville, Ohio, and still another was presented by a Mr. Brown from Huntington, Pa., and later Mr. Ross, of Ohio, offered three more. All however were consigned to lie upon that repository of the unburied dead, the table. Benjamin Ruggles, senator fromĘ Ohio, also presented a petition to the upper branch of Congress at the same session with the same disheartening result....
[in 1825] Symmes, according to McBride, made application to the Russian government to accompany a polar expedition about to start under Count Romanzoff. He received the permission, but for want of money was compelled to stay at home at last. During the college year 1826-27 he delivered a series of lectures at Union College to the faculty and students. Deep interest was taken in the subject by some, at least, of the students. One of these students was a gentleman named Clark, who, in 1873, in an article published in the Atlantic Monthly of April of that year, was able to reconstruct and set forth Symmes' theory in considerable detail...
During the year after that spent at Union College Symmes, in company with one J. N. Reynolds, a graduate of Ohio University, started on a lecture tour. Symmes went on to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Maine and into Canada, but Reynolds left him early in the journey. Concerning this Reynolds, Howe... states that Jeremiah N. Reynolds traveled and lectured with Symmes... and that Reynolds... made money, with which, and the backing of Messrs. Rush and Southard of John Quincy Adams' Cabinet, fitted out a national ship, to sail to the south pole to test the theory. But the government support was withdrawn by Andrew Jackson when he came into office. That then a Dr. Watson of New York took the matter up and furnished money. A vessel, the "Annawan," N. B. Palmer captain, sailed from New York October, 1829, for the southern polar opening -- that they reached land at high south latitude (82 degrees)... How much of truth and how much of pure fiction there is in this romance of Reynold's voyage is difficult to determine.
That a J. N. Reynolds and a Watson went on an exploring expedition in a vessel called the Annawan in 1829 is undoubtedly true. But whether that was the same Jeremiah N. Reynolds who lectured with Symmes is most doubtful... Captain N. B. Palmer certainly made some unrecorded voyages to the south polar zone and... some scientists went on the expedition among whom were Messrs. John N. Reynolds and Watson.... John and not Jeremiah. He wrote a book describing the journey round the world published in New York in 1835- and none of Howe's startling facts appear in it.... Whatever may have been the purpose of this exploration certainly no other was ever made to find Symmes Cavity. After his lecture tour in the east and Canada, Symmes health broke down and he went to his old home in New Jersey to die in May, 1829... (excerpts from Ohio History Vol. XVIII, No. 1. - Jan. 1909, pp. 28-42)
STORY OF JOHN SYMMES
In these days of polar exploration a few words about Symmes's hypothesis, which some ninty-one years ago, attracted attention among the uninstructed, may not be amiss. John Flake, in his essay on "Cranks and their Crotchets," discusses it fully.
"In 1818 one Capt. John Cleves Symmes, a retired officer whose knowledge of things in general, and especially of astronomy, physics, or geology, was not extensive, astonished the world by the following proclamation: 'To all the world I declare the earth is hollow and habitable within; containing a number of solid concentric spheres, one within the other, and that it is open at the poles twelve or sixteen degrees. I pledge my life in support of this truth, and am ready to explore the hollow if the world will support and aid me in the undertaking. My terms are the patronage of this and the new worlds. * * * I select Doctor S. L. Mitchill, Sir H. Davy, and Baron Alexander von Humboldt as my protectors. I ask one hundred brave companions, well equipped, to start from Siberia in the fall season, with reindeer and sleighs, on the ice of the frozen sea. I engage we find a warm and and rich land, stocked with vegetables and animals, if not men, on reaching one degree northward of latitude 82 degrees.'"
It is hardly necessary to say that even in 1818 this sort of thing attracted no serious attention. All of Symmes's efforts to induce scientific societies to give the matter thought and induce Congress to provide funds were futile.
This illustrious man died in 1820. On his grave is placed a hollow globe, open at the poles. His son later, in 1878, published a pamphlet on the theory, in which all sorts of ridiculous assertions were made as to how the hole was lighted by the moon, and how it was possible for the interior to contain the lost tribes of Israel. VERUTAN.
New York, Sept. 15, 1909.
-- text from the New York Times Sept. 18, 1909
A PRELIMINARY BIBLIOGRAPHY
"No. 1. Circular." The first of Symmes' several press releases (various newspapers, spring, 1818) dated: April 10, 1818 "Geometry -- Memoir 2." The second of Symmes' several press releases (various newspapers, summer, 1818) dated: June 17, 1818 "Captain Symmes to Dr. Mitchell" Exchange of correspondence between Symmes and Mitchill Philadelphia, The Port Folio, Dec., 1818 Article on Symmes Cincinnati Advertiser, May 4, 1819 "J. C. Symmes on the Weather" Symmes says inner world and polar conditions affect weather Cincinnati Gazette, July 8, 1819 Article on Symmes and engraving by John J. Audubon Cincinnati: The Western Museum, Aug. 1820 Adam Seaborn (pseud.) Symzonia: A Voyage of Discovery. (New York: Printed by J. Seymour, 1820, 248 p.) "Symzonia; a Voyage of Discovery" (book review and excerpts) Philadelphia: The Literary Gazette; Jan. 6, 1821 "Symmesonian" A series of satirical articles based upon the presumption that Symmes' inner earth inhabitants can communicate with the inhabitants of the outer world (in Ohio, etc.) Cincinnati: Cincinnati Literary Gazette (first article in series: Mar. 20, 1824 Thomas J. Matthews A lecture on Symmes' theory of concentric spheres, read at the Western Museum. (Cincinnati, A. N. Deming, Printer, 1824. 14 p.) James McBride (1789-1859) [working under Symmes' direction] Symmes's theory of concentric spheres; demonstrating that the earth is hollow, habitable within, and widely open about the poles. -- By a citizen of the United States. (Cincinnati, Morgan, Lodge and Fisher, 1826. 168 p.) Alexander Mitchell A treatise on natural philosophy, in vindication of Symmes's theory of the earth being a hollow sphere. (Eaton, Ohio: Printed by S. Tizzard, 1826. 24 p.) "Symmes' Theory." (Lengthy, 2-part letter from Jeremiah N. Reynolds) New York Mirror May 20 & 27, 1826 "Symmes's Theory." (Review of McBride's 1826 book) American Quarterly Review, (Philadelphia: v. 1, Mar. 1827: pp. 235-253) Jeremiah N. Reynolds, Remarks on a review of Symmes' theory, which appeared in the American Quarterly Review, by a 'citizen of the United States.' (Washington, Printed by Gales & Seaton, 1827. 75 p.) "Symmes Ghost" Article on Lost Tribes of Israel living in inner world Gardiner Intelligencer summer 1831 "Worldly Matters" First known reference to Symmes' theory in a Mormon publication Independence, MO -- Evening and Morning Star July, 1832 Mrs. L. J. Pierson Poem -- "To The Northern Light" (mentions Symmes) Southern Literary Messenger Volume 7, Issue 4 (Apr. 1841 pp. 309-310) McBride, James, 1788-1859. "Captain John Cleves Symmes" (written in 1840s? 28 p.) Offprint from: Pioneer Biography: Sketches of the lives of some of the early settlers of Butler County, Ohio vol. 2 (Cincinnati: R. Clarke & Co., 1871) M. L. Sherman & Wm. F. Lyon The Hollow Globe; or, The world's agitator and reconciler. A treatise on the physical conformation of the earth. Presented through the organism of M. L. Sherman, M.D., and written by Prof. Wm. F. Lyon. (Chicago, Religio-Philosophical Pub. House, 1871. 447 p.) [2nd ed. 1875, on-line text -- doesn't mention Symmes] Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton The Coming Race (Boston, Aldine book publishing co., 1871) [fiction: highly-evolved race inhabits utopia deep in the earth] Fry, B. St. J., D. D. "Captain John Cleve Symmes" The Ladies' Repository V. 8, # 2, Aug 1871, pp.133-136 "... discourse on the gathering of Israel..." Mormon believes Ten Lost Tribes may inhabit earth's interior Plano, IL Saints' Herald Aug. 15, 1872 P. Clark "The Symmes theory of the earth." Atlantic Monthly V. 31, #186, Apr. 1873, pp. 471-481 "Reported Discovery of an Open Polar Sea." Capt. Joseph Wiggins polar exploration - not about Symmes The Washington Post Dec 24, 1877 "Prof. Symmes on the Open Polar Sea." Americus Symmes promotes his 1878 hollow earth booklet Louisville Courier-Journal June, 1878 "Grand Voyage..." -- "The Regions of the North." Captain Tuttle reports on open polar sea Deseret News July 3, 1878 "A Hollow Earth." Americus Symmes says Hebrew-speakers inhabit hollow earth Louisville Courier-Journal Jan. 1881? The Report of Captain Joseph Wiggins -- who puportedly met Hebrew speakers near the North Pole [in Siberia?] The Times London, February 5, 1881 "Leaders of the Half Century" A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County Ohio (Cincinnati: Western Biographical Pub. Co., 1882, pp. 169-77) "Symmes's Theory" Symmes' son says inner world inhabited by Hebrew speaking race Louisville Courier-Journal Nov. 27, 1883 "Proposing an Expedition to the North Pole" Symmes' son says inner world inhabited by Hebrew speaking race (various newspapers) press release dated: Dec. 24, 1883 Americus Symmes (ed) The Symmes Theory of Concentric Spheres, demonstrating that the earth is hollow, habitable within, and widely open about the poles. Compiled by Americus Symmes from the writings of his father, Capt. John Cleves Symmes. (Louisville, Ky., Printed by Bradley & Gilbert, 1878, 69 p.) [2nd ed. 1885] E. F. Madden "Symmes and his theory." Harper's Monthly V. 65, Oct. 1882, pp. 740-744 Frederick Culmer The inner world. A new theory setting forth that the earth is a hollow sphere containing an internal habitable and inhabited region. (Salt Lake City: self-published, 1886 42 p.) "It's a Hollow World." Captain Joseph Wiggins, Henry Seebohm & Capt. [Francis?] Tuttle tell of their meetings with Hebrew speakers near the North Pole Brooklyn Daily Eagle Feb. 9, 1896 "Symmes and His Theory" In 1880 Capt. Wiggins testified to Hebrew speaking natives of the inner world Atlanta Constitution Feb 18, 1896 De Witt C. Chipman Beyond the Verge Boston: James Earle Pub., 1896 [trite and poorly compiled collection of myths and traditions, incorporating Symmes theory, and attempting show that the Lost Tribes of Israel inhabit the inner world -- a novelization] "Is The Earth Hollow?" Mormons believe Ten Lost Tribes may inhabit earth's interior PLano, IL Saints' Herald Sept. 5, 1906 "Symmes' Theory" by John Weld Peck H. Howe states that Jeremiah N. Reynolds got up the 1829 Annawan Expedition to test Symmes'theory near the South Pole Ohio History Jan. 1909 "Story of John Symmes" His son asserted Lost Tribes of Israel lived in hollow earth New York Times Sept. 18, 1909 "Doctor Cook and the North Pole" Reorganized Mormons question tradition of polar Israelites Lamoni, IA Saints' Herald Dec. 2, 1909
Brick Bradford Sunday comics page (copyright 1935, King Features Syndicate)
Prof. Zadock Harm's earth-boring vessel breaks through to the inner world.
John Cleves Symmes II
John. C. Symmes II
SYMMES, John Cleves, soldier and author, was born in Sussex county, N. J., Nov. 5, 1780. After receiving a common school education he enlisted in the U. S. Army at twenty-two years of age; attained the rank of captain, and continued in the service until the close of the war of 1812. On several occasions he displayed great personal bravery, notably at the battle of Niagara and the sortie from Fort Erie. He settled at Newport, Ky. In 1818 he broached the novel theory of concentric spheres, and devoted the remainder of his life to its promulgation, by writing books, pamphlets, memorials, letters, and by traveling, lecturing, and even petitioning Congress. As a man he was greatly respected, particularly in his home; but his theory met with universal ridicule. He held that all planetary bodies, including the earth, are composed of concentric spheres, open at their poles. In one of his numerous memoirs he thus illustrates his conception: "With dividers describe a plane of matter of loose texture, and in the centre add a very small circle; then draw a line through the centre. It is evident (as matter gravitates matter in proportion to quantity and distance) that either half of the inner circle, being almost equally surrounded by matter, must be very little gravitated centrewise; so being suspended, only a rotary motion is needed to throw it compactly toward the outer circle. This being admitted, it follows that half way from the outer to the inner side of this circle of matter thus thrown out, a like rarity, suspension or balance of gravity should prevail, and hence a disposition to concentric circles; therefore, it follows that successive similar subdivisions should exist, gradually loosening in force or quantity. By applying this principle to the earth, I find the necessity of hollow concentric spheres." He saw further arguments for his theory in the "migrations of animals to and from the Arctic regions," "atmospheric refraction," and the "variations of the compass" observed in high northern latitudes. He believed the interior of the earth to be inhabitable, and he petitioned Comgress, in 1822 and 1823, to fit out an expedition to test his theory. He was even permitted to lecture before Union College, and in 1826 he published his "Theory of Concentric Spheres," from which the above quotation is taken. He had a son, Americus V. Symmes, who tried to revive the subject. Mr Symmes died at Hamilton, O., May 29, 1829... [he was the nephew of John Cleves Symmes (1742-1814), famous pioneer and jurist].
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography XI, (1901).
JOHN CLEVES SYMMES.John Cleves Symmes, the junior [sic, II?], commonly known as captain, to distinguish him from his uncle, Judge John Cleves Symmes, the leading patentee of the Miami lands, was born in Sussex County, New Jersey, on the 5th of November, 1780. He was the son of Timothy Symmes... and... Mary Harker.... He received a good elementary education, and early developed a great taste for reading. This was indulged as far as possible, and he also carefully studied mathematics and the natural sciences.
On attaining the age of twenty-two, or on the 2d of April, 1802, he entered the American army as ensign, the lowest rank of commissioned officer. On the 1st of May, 1804, he was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant; on July 29, 1807, to that of first lieutenant; and on the 20th of January, 1812, he received a commission as captain. He continued to serve in that capacity during the war, and until the disbanding of the army in 1816.
Soon after he entered the army he was ordered to the South-west, and was stationed successively at Fort Coupee, Louisiana; Fort Adams, fifty miles below Natchez, on the Mississippi, and at New Orleans....
At the time of the commencement of the war with Great Britain, in 1812, the first regiment of United States infantry, of which he was senior captain, was stationed at the mouth of the Missouri River, in the Territory of Missouri. Here they remained until 1814, when they were ordered to join the army of General Brown, on the northern frontier. After a long and fatiguing journey by land and water, they reached Canada on the 25th of July, the very day on which the battle of Bridgewater, or Lundy's Lane, was fought....
General Brown took command at Fort Erie, which was closely invested by the British, who were actively employed in surrounding it with batteries. On the 17th of September he resolved to make a sortie, which was accomplished with spirit and success; the British were completely surprised, and, after a severe conflict of two hours, the three batteries, the whole line of intrenchments, and their block-houses were in the possession of the Americans. In this action Captain Symmes and his command captured one of the batteries. He led his men over the intrenchments, and spiked the first cannon with his own hand.
In 1816 Captain Symmes retired from the army, and took up his residence at St. Louis, where he engaged in furnishing supplies for the troops stationed on the Upper Mississippi, and in trading with the Fox Indians, for which he had a special license from Governor Clark, of Missouri Territory.
On Christmas day, 1808, Mr. Symmes married Mrs. Mary Anne Lockwood, widow of Captain Benjamin Lockwood, at Fort Adams. She had at that time a family of five daughters and one son. They were brought up and educated by Captain Symmes as his own family...
Captain Symmes's trading experience did not result in a pecuniary benefit to him; so, in 1819, he removed from St. Louis, and settled at Newport, Kentucky, where he resided till 1824, when he removed to his farm, a section of land presented to him by his uncle and namesake, which had been previously improved, near Hamilton, Ohio.
While at St. Louis Captain Symmes promulgated his eccentric "Theory of Concentric Spheres, Polar Voids, and Open Poles." To these investigations relative to the figure of the earth he had devoted many years, and had wrought himself up to a firm and conscientious belief that he had made the great discovery of the age, viz.: "That the earth as well as all the celestial orbicular bodies existing in the inverse, visible and invisible, which partake in any degree of a planetary nature, from the greatest to the smallest, from the sun down to the most minute blazing meteor or falling star, are all constituted, in a greater or less degree, of a collection of spheres, more or less solid, concentric with each other, and more or less open at the poles; each sphere being separated from its adjoining compeers by space replete with aerial fluids; that every portion of infinite space, except what is occupied by spheres, is filled with an aerial elastic fluid, more subtile than common atmospheric air, and constituted of innumerable small concentric spheres, too minute to be visible to the organ of sight assisted by the most perfect microscope and so elastic that they continually press on each other and change their relative situations as often as any piece of matter in space may change its position, thus causing a universal pressure, which is weakened by the intervention of other bodied in proportion to the subtended angle of distance and dimension, necessarily causing the body to move toward the points of decreased pressure." (Symmes's Theory of Concentric Spheres, p. 25)
In order to make his discoveries and purposes known, he issued the following circular, which, like a lady's letter, is most important for its postscript: [1818 circular transcript follows]
...Captain Symmes addressed a copy of this circular to every learned institution and to every considerable town and village, as well as to numerous distinguished individuals, throughout the United States, and sent copies to several of the learned societies of Europe.
Its reception by the public can easily be imagined; it was overwhelmed with ridicule as the production of a distempered imagination, or the result of partial insanity. It was for many years a fruitful source of jest with the newspapers.
The Academy of Science, of Paris, before which the circular was laid by Count Volney, decided that it was not worthy of consideration. The scientific papers of Europe generally treated it as a hoax, rather than believe that any sane man could issue such a circular or uphold such a theory.
Circulars and newspaper articles soon followed circular No. 1, and were kept up for years, despite of the ridicule which was poured on the unfortunate author from all sides. In 1820 Captain Symmes commenced lecturing on his theory; first at Cincinnati, then at other large towns in the West. The novelty of the subject attracted large audiences; but he failed to make converts who possessed wealth or influence enough to secure the means to test by exploration the truth of his theory. The Western Courier of November 27, 1822, indulges in a dream of what would happen two hundred and twenty-eight years from that time:
"Cincinnati, December 7, 2150. -- The marble monument at Newport, which, in 1838, was erected by our ancestors to the memory of that great philanthropist and philosopher, John Cleves Symmes, fell to the ground on the 5th; its base having been undermined and destroyed by the late unprecedented flood of Licking River.
In May, 1824, Mr. Symmes explained his theory at Hamilton, to a large audience with such convincing effect that, after the lecture, they "Resolved, That we esteem Symmes' Theory of the Earth deserving of serious examination, and worthy of the attention of the American people."
So much did the theory attract popular attention in the West, that the "Polar Expedition" was thought a fit object for a benefit at the Cincinnati Theater, which was given on March 29, 1824. Mr. Collins then recited an address, written for the occasion by Moses Brooks, in which, after recounting the great discoveries to be made, he wound up with --
By whom th' unfading laurel may be won?
Yes! History's pen may yet inscribe the name
Of Symmes, to grace her future scroll of fame."
In 1822 he petitioned the Congress of the United States, setting forth his belief of the existence of a habitable and accessible concave to this globe, his desire to embark on a voyage of discovery to one or other of the polar regions, his belief in the great profit and honor his country would derive from such discovery, and praying that Congress would equip and fit out for the expedition two vessels of two hundred and fifty or three hundred tons burden, and grant such other aid as government might deem necessary to promote the object. This petition was presented in the Senate by Colonel Richard M. Johnson, a member from Kentucky, on the seventh day of March, 1822, when, after a few remarks, it was laid on the table.
In December, 1823, he forwarded a similar petition to both houses of Congress, which met a similar fate.
In January, 1824, he petitioned the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, praying that body to pass a resolution approbatory of his theory, and to recommend him to Congress for an outfit suitable to the enterprise. This memorial was presented by Micajah T. Williams, and, on motion, the further consideration thereof was indefinitely postponed.
In 1825 he applied through the American minister at the court of St. Petersburg for permission to accompany the polar expedition then fitting out by the Russian Government, which was readily granted by the chancellor, Count Romanzoff; but the want of means to procure a proper outfit hindered him from accepting the offer.
In one of the copies of the book which was issued to defend his theory, Captain Symmes left notes on the margin, which give as good an account of his theory as we have seen:
I hoped, ere this, to have been supported in my new theory of the earth by many pupils, but find that most of those who have written are inclined to oppose me. I would prefer having an advocate to state my views, because, in proportion to their extent, I may subject myself to the imputation of extravagance or ostentation, especially as, while I write, I naturally feel elated with my discovery. I am, perhaps, better fitted for thinking than writing. Reared at the plow, I seldom used a pen, except in a commonplace book, until I changed my plowshare for a sword, at the age of twenty-two, not wherewith to earn a fortune (having already an ample farm by the liberality of my revered uncle, after whom I am named), but to merit and obtain distinction, and accumulate knowledge, which I had seldom tasted but in borrowed books. With respect to the latter, the world is now to judge of my success; and in relation to the former, I at least may say I satisfied myself and fellow-soldiers, if not my country, not only at Bridgewater on our left and the sortie at Fort Erie in the van, but throughout my thirteen years' service, ending the war. I presume few have inquired more devotedly than myself into the reason and origin of all that occurred to view. I remember when at the age of eleven, in Jersey, while reading a large edition of 'Cook's Voyages,' my father, though himself a lover of learning, reproved me for spending so much of my time from work, and said I was a book-worm. About the same age I used to harangue my playmates in the street, and describe how the earth turned round; but then as now, however correct my positions, I got few or no advocates. I must not, however, say I get no advocates; for I have several. I particularly boast of two ladies of bright and well-informed minds, on the banks of the Missouri, who are able and earnest advocates and devoted pupils. To them is due the credit of being the first to adopt what the world is so tardy in admitting. But Colonel Dixon, who has traded on Lake Winnepeg with the Indians, is, I presume, the most important pupil I have obtained; for he has long been actively engaged in the North-west Company for fur-trade. He declared, in our first interviews, that I was certainly correct, and stated to me many important, otherwise inexplicable circumstances occurring high in the north, that were completely solved by my principle. He is regarded by such as have long known him at St. Louis as a gentleman of a very strong and well informed mind. In addition to the passive concurrence of several men of thinking minds, among them a venerable member of the American Philosophical Society, in this neighborhood, I have been honored with the offers of several more enterprising spirits to accompany me on the expedition I propose; but as the conditions with regard to my outfit by the world are not yet compiled with, I have not positively accepted of their services. I still hold my life pledged, however, for the general truth of my position and devotion to the exploration. I calculate on the good offices of Grate Britain and France; for they nurse and patronize the sciences with ardor. My wife boasts her descent from the latter, and I, through five ancestors since the first landing at Plymouth, trace mine from the former. From the emperor of Russia, so well known as a patron of scientific enterprise, I flatter myself with much support. I challenge any opposers of my doctrine to show as sound reasons why my theory is not correct as I can show it is.
Among his converts was a young lawyer, Mr. J. N. Reynolds, a graduate of Ohio University. With him Captain Symmes entered into an agreement for a lecturing tour through the Eastern States. They set out in September 1825, accompanied by Anthony W. Lockwood, a stepson of Captain Symmes, and lectured in various towns in Ohio. In about a month Captain Symmes was forced to return home in consequence of ill-health. In January, 1826, he rejoined them at Pittsburg, and they proceeded eastward. Some difficulty soon occurred, however; Reynolds became dissatisfied, and left them. Symmes, undaunted by this desertion, or the constant ridicule with which he was met, continued his tour to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, as far as Maine, and even into Canada, lecturing at the various towns through which he passed.
His health was by this time greatly impaired by his constant labors and excitement, and he was reluctantly obliged to give up lecturing. He retired for a time to his native place in New Jersey, where he remained the guest of an old friend of his father, until his health was sufficiently restored to enable him to travel homeward. When he reached Cincinnati, in February, 1829, he was so feeble that he had to be conveyed on a bed placed in a spring-wagon, to his home near Hamilton. He continued gradually to sink, until released by death on the 29th of May, 1829.
His remains were committed to the grave the next day, in the old burying-ground at Hamilton, with military honors. They were covered with a monument, erected by his son, Americus Symmes, a solid structure of freestone, surmounted with a hollow globe, open at the poles, bearing the following inscriptions:
On the west side -- "Captain John C. Symmes, a native of New Jersey, died in May, 1829, aged forty-nine years and six months."
On the north side -- "Captain John Cleves Symmes was a philosopher, and the originator of 'Symmes' Theory of Concentric Spheres and Polar Voids.' He contended that the earth is hollow and habitable within."
On the south side -- "Captain John Cleves Symmes entered the army of the United States, as an ensign, in the year 1802. He afterward arose to the rank of captain, and performed daring feats of bravery in the battles of Lundy's Lane and sortie from Fort Erie." ...
Captain Symmes was a man of great simplicity and earnestness of character -- a high-minded, honorable, honest, and exemplary man in every walk of life, and was beloved, trusted, and respected by all who knew him.
So fixed in his mind was the belief of the truth of his theory that for ten years, although laboring under great pecuniary embarrassments and buffeted by the ridicule and sarcasm of an opposing world, he persevered in his endeavors to interest others in it, so as to enable him to test its truth by a polar expedition; but without success.
It should now be remembered to his credit that many of the facts and fancies (as the then appeared) which he brought forward in proof of his theory of open polar voids have since been fully corroborated by the observations of Drs. Kane and Hayes and Captain Hall, but applied by them to the more plausible theory of open polar seas.
Captain Symmes's widow survived him, and made her home most of the time with her oldest son, Americus, though she spent much of her time visiting other members of the family. She died August 5, 1864, at Mattoon, Illinois, while on a visit to her son, Dr. Wm. H. H. Symmes, who was at that time residing there.
They had five children: Louisiana, Americus, William Henry Harrison, Elizabeth, and John Cleves.
Americus Symmes is a strong believer in his father's theory, and has spent much time in elucidating it. A few years ago he published a book giving the additional facts which had been discovered since the death of his father. ---- excerpts from: LEADERS OF THE HALF CENTURY -- A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County Ohio, (Cincinnati : Western Biographical Pub. Co., 1882, pp. 169-77)
In the year 1896 a very strange novel was published -- it was in no way a work of substantial literature, but its subject matter is worth some careful consideration. The book was De Witt C. Chipman's Beyond the Verge, and the fictional thesis that Mr. Chipman proposed therein, was that the "Lost Tribes of Israel" are not lost at all, but are safe and secure inside the hollow earth. If this notion sounds more than a bit laughable in the first years of the 21st century, it was only slightly less a crackpot notion during the last years of the 19th century. At that time, the one slender hope that the author (and perhaps a few of his more gullable readers) could cling to, was that future polar explorations would demonstrate that there was no physical North Pole -- that in its place, where the pole was shown on the maps, a huge opening led to the vast, habitable interior of a hollow earth.
Within a very few years after Mr. Chipman published his novel, the North Pole was reached by intrepid explorers and newspapers the world around announced the long anticipated fact -- that the top of the world was an ice-pack covered Arctic Ocean and not an enormous crater leading into an inner realm. Since that time the "Hollow Earth societies" have been about as much a rarity among intelligent beings as have the "Flat Earth societies." And, to button up the oddball theories once and for all, the establishment of the State of Israel, following World War II, demonstrated that the descendants of Jacob were perfectly capable of "restoring" their own Hebrew-speaking nation, without any need for a miraculous, sudden appearance of long hidden Israelites from beyond the polar "verge."
Hollow Earth Israelites -- R. I. P. ?
The reader may excused for wondering why these comments continue on, now that De Witt C. Chipman's 1896 story of Israelite Tribes migrating into the bowels of the frozen Arctic has been shown to be an utter absurdity. But, as is often the case in matters of human religious experience, demonstrations of patent absurdity may accomplish very little in the way of altering cherished ancestral beliefs. Thus, the students of human foibles can fast-forward this discussion to the approximate present day, and notice the fact that Mormon elders from Utah are yet advertising northern polar quests in search of those pesky, missing tribes of Israel.
These modern explorers from Utah are Mormons Rodney M. Cluff and Steve Curry. Elder Curry reportedly has chartered a Russian icebreaker and plans to fill it with faithful Latter Day Saints, ready to do their part in searching out the northern "Symmes' Hole" and thereby locating their lost Israelite brethren within the hollow planet. Evidently there are nought Mormon "true believers" in the John Cleve Symmes' hollow earth theory (and in the missing Israelites notion) to make such an expedition feasible
THis does not necessarily mean that the top Latter Day Saint leaders are inner world advoactes. Not all reporting of the hollow Earth theory in Utah has been so positive as the notions held by Elders Cluff and Curry. The "Gentile" Park Record for Aug. 17, 1895 called Symmes' writings a "queer theory" and typified his hollow Earth notions in these words: "some of his ideas must have originated with the king of Bedlam." Since none of the Saints wrote in to the paper to defend Symmes, the general population must not have been all that interested in the subject.
Note 1: The modern reader can only wonder whether the essays published during the first part of 1831 in the Maine Gardiner Intelligencer influenced the thinking of Joseph Smith, jr., regarding the latter day location of the Lost Tribes of Israel, their anticipated "return in a ... miraculous manner," from a residence beyond "the Polar ice," and their destined "possession of the land" at Zion and Jerusalem. The notion that the earth's interior, beyond the icy polar openings, was inhabited by a Hebrew-speaking people, was not a new idea in 1831 -- it is, rather, one element of the story told in the 1820 book Symzonia. See Elder Frederick Culmer, Sr's 1886 book, The Inner World for a Mormon exposition on Symmes' hollow earth, its interior being inhabited by the Ten Tribes, the account of Esdras, Book of Mormon teachings, etc., etc.
Note 2: The location of the missing Israelite tribes had been a matter of concern for faithful Mormons ever since the publication of the first LDS scriptures in 1830. On Oct. 24, 1831, Joseph Smith, jr.'s teachings on the subject were allegedly reported by one of his former disciples, Elder Ezra Booth: "The condition of the ten tribes of Israel since their captivity... has never been satisfactorily ascertained. But these [Mormon] visionaries have discovered their place of residence to be contiguous to the north pole; separated from the rest of the world by impassable mountains of ice and snow. In this sequestered residence, they enjoy the society of Elijah the Prophet, and John the Revelator, and perhaps the three immortalized Nephites..." Booth's allegations were largely substantiated a few days later, when the top Mormon leader issued a communication from God [?] at Hiram, Ohio, on Nov. 3, 1831. The official Mormon counterpart to Booth's reporting was first published to the world as a "revelation" in the Church's Evening and Morning Star of May 1833.
Frederick Culmer, the son of George Frederick and Mary Minter Culmer, was born in Devon County, England, in 1822. A few months prior to his 30th birthday, Frederick and his wife, Mary Dungate Kennett Culmer, converted to Mormonism and were baptized into the LDS Church by Elder J. Tibley, at Faversham, Kent, England.
Frederick's father was a captain in the British Navy and the old salt no doubt encouraged his son to seek a career on the high seas. The boy left home at an early age and spent the first half of his life as a sailor, crossing the Atlantic twenty times, visiting San Francisco Bay on one occasion, and traveling the routes around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn.
Before 1857 Frederick was ordained an Elder in the LDS Church. In 1867 he brought his family to America and settled in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. There he took additional wives and lived the happy life of a polygamous retired seaman. One of his sons, George Frederick, became a prominent glass merchant in Utah; another, Henry L. A., became a noted landscape painter and the publisher of the Salt Lake Daily Times.
Frederick Culmer, Sr. is known to have written at least two booklets having to do with the Mormon faith. The first of these was published in England, in about 1852, and bears a lengthy title: Fred. Culmer: Does bear his humble testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only Church on earth which Israel's God acknowledges; and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet... Culmer's second Mormon pamphlet was The Inner World, which he published at Salt Lake City in 1886.
Culmer's "Inner World"
Elder Culmer's strange views, concerning an inhabited hollow Earth, appear to have sprung from the convergence of information from three separate sources: 1. His own idea regarding the natural occurrence of hollow spheres; 2. John C. Symmes' pronouncements on the Earth's internal structure, as summarized and reviewed in an 1885 issue of Parry's Literary Journal; and, 3. Elder George Reynolds' 1883 book, Are We of Israel?
Culmer evidently did not have direct access to Symmes' writings promoting the notion of concentric hollow spheres occurring on a planetary scale. The Mormon writer bypassed the explanations provided by Symmes and other "inner world" theorists, and offered his own pseudo-scientific ideas about naturally occurring "attractive" and "repulsive" forces or "powers." In doing so, the Mormon theorist mixed up various facts and fancies explaining gravity, centrifugal force, planetary orbits, molecular bonding, etc. Had Culmer survived a few years into the twentieth century he might have gained a better knowledge of how subatomic forces operate and how they compare and contrast with gravity on a cosmic scale; but, having little or no such scientific intelligence at his command, the writer's theories bear little resemblance to modern facts and accepted models in physics.
The Mormons and the "Ten Tribes"
Elder Culmer's theoretical marriage of "Symmes' Holes" with Latter Day Saint teachings regarding the fate of the "lost Ten Tribes of Israel" is not so haphazard an affair as might be supposed by the modern reader.
In his 1962 book, Lost Tribes & Sunken Continents, Professor Robert Wauchope pays considerable attention to the lost lands and lost races of popular mythology and pseudo-science. Professor Wauchope delights in lumping Theosophists, Rosicrucians and Mormons together, as religious proponents of some rather bizarre ideas regarding pre-history, lost peoples and predicted futures. Although Wauchope does not write specifically about the hollow earth theory, he does do a good job in explaining how the fate of the "Ten Tribes" of ancient Israel are important to certain Mormon religious tenets.
While some early nineteenth century writers promoted the idea that the American Indians were the descendants of Israel's "lost ten tribes" (and thus heirs to several important biblical prophecies and promises), the founders of Mormonism explained that these same Indians are merely the offspring of a small, wandering fragment of three Israelite tribes (Mannaseh, Judah, and Ephraim). The vast accumulation of "lost Israel" was not to be found in the Americas, nor in the Near East, for that matter -- they had long ago removed to a distant and ill-defined land, somewhere in "the North."
The haziness of this religious fiction allowed the first Mormons to simultaneously believe that they were primarily the secret descendants of pre-eminent patriarch "Ephraim," that the American Indians were mostly the progeny of the "younger brother" of that patriarch, "Mannaseh," and, waiting in the far-flung wings of the world, the remainder of "scattered Israel" were yet somewhere in "the North."
As Elder George Reynolds outlined in 1883, the early Mormon teachings on this subject allowed for a portion of "Ephraim" and some other "Israelites" to be unknowingly scattered through Northern Europe, while the major body of the "Ten Tribes" were providentially hidden in the far North, behind walls of ice and snow. This imaginative scenario called for a temperate or balmy land to exist in the region of the North Pole, and exactly such a fictional paradise is supplied in the teachings of John C. Symmes, promulgated nearly a decade prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon and other saintly "revelations" concerning the fate of the "lost Israelites." When Frederick Culmer wrote his 1886 pamphlet, he likely merely re-inserted Symmes' notions into an earlier Latter Day Saint world view, from which those same notions had faded into a forgotten obscurity. That is, this is the likely truth, if the modern reader acknowledges that the first Mormons were familiar with "Symmes' Holes" and his inhabited land, beyond the icy poles.
The Mormons and "Symmes' Holes"
The first documented occurance of "Symmes' Holes" in Mormon thought or journalism may be found in the June, 1832 issue of the Independence, Missouri, Evening and the Morning Star, where "the theory of Capt. Symmes" is mentioned, in the context of a excerpt from the Poughkeepsie Telegraph. The fact that the Mormon editor took no pains to explain to his readers just what that "theory" was, indicates that the subject matter was common knowledge in 1832.
The imaginary "Symmes' Holes" at the north and south poles popped up in news reports and in works of fiction and pretensions to science, all through the 19th and 20th centuries. Symmes' claims drew the special attention of America's reading public beginning in the 1820s. His belief in polar openings to a habitable planetary interior gained the writer both widespread publicity and mockery. One of his equally imaginative readers was the writer Edgar Allan Poe, who incorporated a polar "Symmes' hole" into his 1835 tale, Hans Pfaal. Another imaginative reader may have been the first Mormon leader, Joseph Smith, Jr., who, in 1831, taught that the ten lost tribes of ancient Israel had "their place of residence... contiguous to the north pole; separated from the rest of the world by impassable mountains of ice and snow." There is no reason to doubt that some of the earliest Mormons had heard of Symmes' strange notions well before their church was founded in 1830, and that Symmes' claims, of there being habitable land at or near the north pole, were well compatible with Joseph Smith's claims for the location of the missing Israelite tribes.
All through the 19th century, Mormons were keenly interested in Arctic explorations, hoping that they would discover the hidden, balmy land of the lost Israelites, somewhere near the North Pole. When, in 1906, a book on an inhabitable inner world was published by William Reed, the Mormon editor of the Reorganized LDS Saints' Herald offered these illuminating comments:
While Mr. Reed's theory is only a theory as yet, it is one that is entirely within the range of possibilities... we have as much ground for believing that the earth is hollow, as Mr. Reed claims, as we have for believing that it is solid at the poles... The demonstration of this theory will certainly be of interest to all Latter Day Saints, because if found to be true it greatly extends the possibilities of the fulfillment of scripture. For instance, the prophecies in reference to the lost tribes of Israel. Some have already begun to doubt the possibility of their fulfillment... They have argued that the explorers have reached such extreme northern latitudes, and found no habitable land, no place where a nation could exist, and have narrowed down the unexplored area to such small proportions, according to the usually accepted theory, that it is not possible that within the Arctic Circle can be found the home of the lost tribes... what do the prophecies say? ... the Book of Mormon... says: "...the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel: and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews." ...The words of the lost tribes have not come to our knowledge yet. Where are they, and the people who have written them? Not in any known land. They have been led away, we are told. Is it not possible that they inhabit the interior of the earth? If birds and animals may migrate to the interior, as Mr. Reed holds... is it not possible that a human race could also exist there? ...[quoting the RLDS] Doctrine and Covenants 108:6: "And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord, and their prophets shall hear his voice and shall no longer stay themselves, and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep..." The tribes of Israel are to come from a north country, a land of ice...whether the earth be hollow or not; whether the lost tribes be inside the earth or on the outside, we need not doubt that all the Lord has spoken will be fulfilled.
The 1906 Mormon editorial renewed a longstanding Mormon preoccupation with promoting hollow world pseudo-science in the pages of the Saints Herald. As late as Dec. 1909 the editors were still holding out the hope of there being no physical north pole "where the lines of parallel slip off the rounded top of the world," and thus preserving "the traditional teaching" by the Latter Day Saint leaders of "the occupancy of the north land by the so-called lost tribes of Israel." If no pole could be located, then it obviously must be hidden by awesome supernatural powers (or perhaps replaced entirely by one of the polar openings to the hollow world contemplated by LDS Elder Frederick Culmer.
The location of the missing Israelite tribes had been a matter of concern for faithful Mormons ever since the publication of the first LDS scriptures in 1830. On Oct. 24, 1831, Joseph Smith, jr.'s teachings on the subject were allegedly reported by one of his former disciples, Elder Ezra Booth: "The condition of the ten tribes of Israel since their captivity... has never been satisfactorily ascertained. But these [Mormon] visionaries have discovered their place of residence to be contiguous to the north pole; separated from the rest of the world by impassable mountains of ice and snow. In this sequestered residence, they enjoy the society of Elijah the Prophet, and John the Revelator, and perhaps the three immortalized Nephites..." Booth's allegations were largely substantiated a few days later, when the top Mormon leader issued a communication from God [?] at Hiram, Ohio, on Nov. 3, 1831. The official Mormon counterpart to Booth's reporting was first published to the world as a "revelation" in the Church's Evening and Morning Star of May 1833.
Top Latter Day Saint leaders seem to have long entertained the idea that lost Israelites occupied some part of the Earth's interior. In the Aug. 15, 1872 issue of the Saints' Herald, the old-time Mormon leader, Elder Isaac Sheen is quoted as saying "I believe the earth to be a hollow sphere... years before this, and now, the general outlines of the fact of the Lost Tribes being in the north country have been testified of; both in the Bible, Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants; by ancient and by modern prophets..."
Although Elder Sheen was here speaking for himself, it must be remembered that his learned (?) opinions carried great weight in the early Reorganized LDS Church. Sheen makes it sound as though the Bible and the Book of Mormon both place the location of the "lost tribes" of Israel at or near the North Pole. However, his exegesis of these texts was conducted with the understanding that the RLDS Doctrine and Covenants offered critical insights, necessary for a good understanding of the earlier scriptures. It might be said that Sheen was viewing the Bible and the Book of Mormon through the magnifying lens of the D&C. Thus, any references found in the earlier works to a seeming northward movement of those tribes in ancient times, he took to mean a mutual agreement in scriptures that the tribes were then living somewhere beyond the Arctic ice and snows. Although Sheen is not here quoted as saying the missing tribes had entered the Inner World through an opening at the North Pole, his address implies as much, and he must have derived his conclusions either directly or indirectly from the earlier writings of Captain John C. Symmes.
The editors of the Saints' Herald felt it necessary to offer further space to an exposition upon some of these same subjects in the issue of Sept. 15, 1872. The writer (Elder S. F. Walker) made these pertinent remarks:
"Among the facts... are some that have a real bearing on the fate of the ten tribes of Israel. They, according to Esdras, went north by a long journey into a country where never man dwelt. There was no land so likely to have been unknown and uninhabited as the extreme north... About fifty years ago a gentleman of Cincinnati, named Syms, identified himself with a theory that became famous as Syms' hole. It was that the earth was "not a globe," but a series of concentric spheres, and that at the north pole was an opening into the nether spheres.
There are brethren in the church who favor this theory, supporting it by the passage in the Book of Mormon, that says a part of Israel was sent to the nethermost parts of the earth.
Mr. Syms supported the theory by certain facts... Syms' credit is that he first collected the facts that it has taken the world so long to harmonize...
So much is fact. Soon another fact will be transferred from the realm of faith to that of demonstration; that God's covenant people, driven out of his sight for their sins, hidden from the sight of men -- "lost tribes" -- haunting the centuries by the mystery of their fate, but reserved by God for the fulfilling of his repeated oath to the fathers; have somewhere in that undiscovered bourne, beyond the ice-world -- a home...
The Herald of Feb. 15, 1881 reprinted a letter written by the son of the infamous hollow-earth advocate, Captain John C. Symmes. In his letter the son makes a brief reference to reports then in circulation, that the planet was hollow and that a Hebrew-speaking people lived within its subterranean depths. Perhaps it was Elder Isaac Sheen's familiarity with such reports that led him to postulate, in 1872, that the Hebrew-speaking "lost tribes" might be hidden away within the vacuous earth. Captain Symmes lived not too far from Cincinnati in his later years and his geographic innovations were frequently mentioned in that city's press during the first half of the 19th century. The first issues of the Saints' Herald were also published at Cincinnati, which was for many years the home of Isaac Sheen. Elder Sheen would have naturally heard something of Symmes' theories, just by being in the news business in that city. However, the Elder's advocacy for "traces" of the "lost tribes" being discoverable near "the North Pole, or open sea... either on the outer or inner surface of the earth," probably reflects Mormon beliefs dating back to the teachings of Joseph Smith, jr., first published during the Kirtland period of LDS history. Whether or not Smith himself had heard of Symmes' theories at that early date remains unknown, but some of his first followers were, no doubt, familiar with the well publicized hollow-earth idea, especially as it was publicized in the 1820 novel, Symzonia, in which the inhabitants of the hollow Earth are pictured as a Hebrew-speaking people.
It is easily demonstrated that the top leaders of the RLDS Church seriously entertained the idea that lost Israelites occupied some part of the Earth's interior. While this ignorant conceit eventually faded after 1909 among educated Reorganized Mormons, it was kept alive in Utah by such LDS promoters as Elder Frederick Culmer (in his 1886 pamphlet)
The fate of the "lost tribes" of Israel and the location of the temperate "North land," beyond the ice and snows of the North Polar region are topics rarely discussed within Mormondom today, but in 1886 a faithful LDS writer like Elder Culmer could quote John C. Symmes and George Reynolds practically in the same breath. The modern reader can only wonder if Joseph Smith, Jr. and his early associates did not also rely upon Captain Symmes' "Inner World" as the secret habitation for their "lost Israelites."
SIBERIA. Appletons' Journal: a Monthly Miscellany of Popular Literature (1876-1878). New York: Jun 1880. p. 535 (5 pages)
Narrative of the Second Arctic Expedition Made by Charles F. Hall. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1879.
Seebohm, Henry Siberia in Asia: A visit to the valley of the Yenesay in East Siberia London, John Murray, 1882
The Life And Voyages Of Joseph Wiggins, Modern Discoverer Of The Kara Sea Route To Siberia London: John Murray, 1907
The Thames Expeditions, 1876 - 1878
Never one to waste time, Wiggins started corresponding with Sidorov and the suggestion arose of a concession from the Russian government to permit a company to trade to the Ob' and Yenisey Rivers. This presented a problem, since many of the influential Siberian merchants did not want competition from a much cheaper sea route. Wiggins pointed out that the commercial world at large would not regard the route as a practical proposition until a cargo had actually been transported through it. To present the proposal in the corridors of power, he arranged to visit St. Petersburg. Despite promises, nothing came of his visit. Prospects appeared bleak until Charles Gardiner, "an enthusiastic yachtsman, and one who rightly esteemed the Captain's pluck" (Johnson, 1907:83), decided to invest in the project. Wiggins bought the Thames, a screw steamer of 120 tons, with the aim of undertaking the work previously planned for the Whim expedition and also of surveying the Gulf of the Ob' and entering the Yenisey. Moreover, he was to return to England with a cargo of graphite which the Thames would take on board at the mouth of the Yenisey River. The Thames left Vard'Symbol not transcribed'o on 26 July 1876 and sighted Novaya Zemlya on 31 July. She was delayed by ice off the Yamal Peninsula, but Wiggins took the opportunity of surveying Baydaratskaya Gulf. On 3 September, she reached Belyy Island but was unable to enter the Ob' because of adverse winds. Wiggins accordingly headed for the Yenisey, and the Thames entered that river, the first ocean vessel to do so. He reached Kureyka, almost on the Arctic Circle, on 18 October. This was, of course, much too late to contemplate a return to England in the same year, and so Wiggins secured the ship for wintering. Throughout his career, Wiggins seems to have had bad luck in meeting persons who had set out to meet him. One instance of this occurred on the Thames voyage. A Captain Shvanenberg was to transport the graphite down the Yenisey in a schooner, but the two ships missed each other in the islands of the estuary. Shvanenberg deposited his cargo at a suitable spot, and then proceeded upriver searching for Wiggins. The two made contact and Wiggins decided to go with Shvanenberg to Yeniseysk and St. Petersburg to publicize the opportunities offered by the route. After an 800 - mile sledge journey, Wiggins reached Yeniseysk and was impressed with its size and appearance. He was welcomed in the town by the local people and by those who appreciated what he had achieved. Previously, the mouth of the river had been considered too shallow for an ocean - going vessel to enter. In early 1877 Wiggins arrived in St. Petersburg where he delivered several addresses to learned and commercial societies. He seems to have been well received, even though this was hardly a good time to attract investment in view of the tension developing in the Balkans, which resulted in the Russo - Turkish war of 1877 - 78. By this time, Wiggins's personal resources were exhausted, and he traveled back to England at the expense of Gardiner. Wiggins spent the winter at home and left for Russia again on 1 March 1878, accompanied by the well - known naturalist H. Seebohm, who wished to pursue ornithological work in eastern Siberia. Traveling by way of St. Petersburg and by Moscow, Wiggins reached the Thames towards the end of April. The vessel was frozen to the bed of the river and suffered damage during breakup. Eventually she was freed and started on her voyage downstream on 30 June. However, and most unfortunately from Wiggins's point of view, she ran aground on 3 July. After a prolonged struggle to refloat her, Wiggins concluded that she must be abandoned. This was, of course, disastrous with regard to the public relations aspect of the voyage. The crew refused to risk the journey home in a small schooner that Seebohm had purchased and so Wiggins returned to Yeniseysk with them. Here he had the problem of settling the affairs of the Thames, which included selling her at a knockdown price, largely for the value of her boilers. After this chastening experience, Wiggins returned to England by the overland route.
In his 1962 book, Lost Tribes & Sunken Continents, Professor Robert Wauchope gives some attention to the lost lands and lost races of the Theosophists, saying that Heindel's "announced intention was to reconcile the apparently conflicting mystic cosmologies of the famous Theosophist, Mme. H. P. Blavatsky, and of another revered occultist, A. P. Sinnett..."
Although some Theosophists and Rosicrucians have advocated the hollow-Earth notion as a reality, it would be an overstatement to attribute that pseudo-science to Blavatsky or her earliest followers. The lady did pay some journalistic compliments to William F. Lyon and M. L. Sherman's The Hollow Globe, in 1884, but Blavatsky did not openly incorporate that 1871 book's ideas into her Theosophical teachings. This publication, along with other similar works dating back to 1820s, presented the claim that there were great openings into the inner world, located at the Earth's poles. Since Blavatsky located her prehistoric "Imperishable Sacred Land" at the north pole, she might have easily disposed of the problematical lost land by relegating it to a Theosophical inner world. Later occult scientists essentially did just that..... Blavatsky also popularized in her writings the story of Shambhala, a mythical "Sacred Land," lost to the view of the outside world, behind the forbidding mountains of Central Asia. Shambhala is not quite the Greeks' Hyperborea -- nor is it located anywhere near the north pole -- but writers following in Blavatsky's wake managed to cross-pollenate concepts from the two lost land mythologies, giving their readers such literary hybrids as James Hilton's Lost Horizon. If the lost Eden was not exactly hidden within the Arctic ice, it was at least in a temperate vale stashed away among inaccessible and frigid mountains.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Throughout his Lost Tribes &Sunken Continents, Professor Wauchope delights in lumping Theosophists, Rosicrucians and Mormons together, as religious proponents of some rather bizarre ideas regarding pre-history, lost peoples and predicted futures. The writer, however, never quite makes his case, in regard to the teachings of the Latter Day Saints....
The imagined Symmes' holes" at the north and south poles continued to pop up in works of fiction and pretensions to science, all through the 19th and 20th centuries. Symmes' claims drew the special attention of America's reading public beginning during the 1820s. His belief in polar openings to a habitable planetary interior gained the writer both widespread publicity and mockery. One of his equally imaginative readers was the writer Edgar Allan Poe, who incorporated a polar "Symmes' hole" into his 1835 tale, Hans Pfaal. Another imaginative reader may have been the first Mormon leader, Joseph Smith, Jr., who, in 1831, taught that the ten lost tribes of ancient Israel had "their place of residence... contiguous to the north pole; separated from the rest of the world by impassable mountains of ice and snow." There is no reason to doubt that some of the earliest Mormons had heard of Symmes' strange notions well before their church was founded in 1830, and that Symmes' claims of there being habitable land at or near the north pole were well compatible with Joseph Smith's claims for the location of the missing Israelite tribes.
All through the 19th century, Mormons were keenly interested in Arctic explorations, hoping that they would discover the hidden, balmy land of the lost Israelites, somewhere near the north pole. When, in 1906, a book on an inhabitable inner world was published by William Reed, the Mormon editor of the Saints' Herald offered these illuminating comments:
While Mr. Reed's theory is only a theory as yet, it is one that is entirely within the range of possibilities... we have as much ground for believing that the earth is hollow, as Mr. Reed claims, as we have for believing that it is solid at the poles... The demonstration of this theory will certainly be of interest to all Latter Day Saints, because if found to be true it greatly extends the possibilities of the fulfillment of scripture. For instance, the prophecies in reference to the lost tribes of Israel. Some have already begun to doubt the possibility of their fulfillment... They have argued that the explorers have reached such extreme northern latitudes, and found no habitable land, no place where a nation could exist, and have narrowed down the unexplored area to such small proportions, according to the usually accepted theory, that it is not possible that within the Arctic Circle can be found the home of the lost tribes...
... what do the prophecies say? ... the Book of Mormon... says: "...the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel: and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews." ...The words of the lost tribes have not come to our knowledge yet. Where are they, and the people who have written them? Not in any known land. They have been led away, we are told. Is it not possible that they inhabit the interior of the earth? If birds and animals may migrate to the interior, as Mr. Reed holds... is it not possible that a human race could also exist there?
...[quoting the RLDS] Doctrine and Covenants 108:6: "And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord, and their prophets shall hear his voice and shall no longer stay themselves, and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep..." The tribes of Israel are to come from a north country, a land of ice...whether the earth be hollow or not; whether the lost tribes be inside the earth or on the outside, we need not doubt that all the Lord has spoken will be fulfilled.
The 1906 Mormon editorial renewed a
longstanding Mormon preoccupation with promoting hollow world pseudo-science
in the pages of the Saints Herald. As late as Dec. 1909 the editors
were still holding out the hope of there being no physical north pole "where
the lines of parallel slip off the rounded top of the world," and thus
preserving "the traditional teaching" by the Latter Day Saint leaders