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قراءة كتاب A Voyage to the Moon With Some Account of the Manners and Customs, Science and Philosophy, of the People of Morosofia, and Other Lunarians

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‏اللغة: English
A Voyage to the Moon
With Some Account of the Manners and Customs, Science and Philosophy, of the People of Morosofia, and Other Lunarians

A Voyage to the Moon With Some Account of the Manners and Customs, Science and Philosophy, of the People of Morosofia, and Other Lunarians

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 7

man of the earth and his counterpart in the moon, in all their principles of action and modes of thinking.

These Glonglims, as they are called, after they have been thus imbued with intellect, are held in peculiar respect by the vulgar, and are thought to be in every way superior to those whose understandings are entire. The laws by which two objects, so far apart, operate on each other, have been, as yet, but imperfectly developed, and the wilder their freaks, the more they are the objects of wonder and admiration. "The science of lunarology," he observed, "is yet in its infancy. But in the three voyages I have made to the moon, I have acquired so many new facts, and imparted so many to the learned men of that planet, that it is, without doubt, the subject of their active speculations at this time, and will, probably, assume a regular form long before the new science of phrenology of which you tell me, and which it must, in time, supersede. Now and then, though very rarely, the man of the earth regains the intellect he has lost; in which case his lunar counterpart returns to his former state of imbecility. Both parties are entirely unconscious of the change—one, of what he has lost, and the other of what he has gained."

The Brahmin then added: "Though our party are the only voyagers of which authentic history affords any testimony, yet it is probable, from obscure hints in some of our most ancient writings in the Sanscrit, that the voyage has been made in remote periods of antiquity; and the Lunarians have a similar tradition. While, in the revolutions which have so changed the affairs of mankind on our globe, (and probably in its satellite,) the art has been lost, faint traces of its existence may be perceived in the opinions of the vulgar, and in many of their ordinary forms of expression. Thus it is generally believed throughout all Asia, that the moon has an influence on the brain; and when a man is of insane mind, we call him a lunatic. One of the curses of the common people is, 'May the moon eat up your brains;' and in China they say of a man who has done any act of egregious folly, 'He was gathering wool in the moon.'"

I was struck with these remarks, and told the Hermit that the language of Europe afforded the same indirect evidence of the fact he mentioned: that my own language especially, abounded with expressions which could be explained on no other hypothesis;—for, besides the terms "lunacy," "lunatic," and the supposed influence of the moon on the brain, when we see symptoms of a disordered intellect, we say the mind wanders, which evidently alludes to a part of it rambling to a distant region, as is the moon. We say too, a man is "out of his head," that is, his mind being in another man's head, must of course be out of his own. To "know no more than the man in the moon," is a proverbial expression for ignorance, and is without meaning, unless it be considered to refer to the Glonglims. We say that an insane man is "distracted;" by which we mean that his mind is drawn two different ways. So also, we call a lunatic a man beside himself, which most distinctly expresses the two distinct bodies his mind now animates. There are, moreover, many other analogous expressions, as "moonstruck," "deranged," "extravagant," and some others, which, altogether, form a mass of concurring testimony that it is impossible to resist.

"Be that as it may," said he, "whether the voyage has been made in former times or not, is of little importance: it is sufficient for us to know that it has been effected in our time, and can be effected again. I am anxious to repeat the voyage, for the purpose of ascertaining some facts, about which I have been lately speculating; and I wish, besides, to afford you ocular demonstration of the wonders I have disclosed; for, in spite of your good opinion of my veracity, I have sometimes perceived symptoms of incredulity about you, and I do not wonder at it."

The love of the marvellous, and the wish for a change, which had long slumbered in my bosom, were now suddenly awakened, and I eagerly caught at his proposal.

"When can we set out, father?" said I.

"Not so fast," replied he; "we have a great deal of preparation to make. Our apparatus requires the best workmanship, and we cannot here command either first-rate articles or materials, without incurring the risk of suspicion and interruption. While most of the simple villagers are kindly disposed towards me, there are a few who regard me with distrust and malevolence, and would readily avail themselves of an opportunity to bring me under the censure of the priesthood and the government. Besides, the governor of Mergui would probably be glad to lay hold of any plausible evidence against you, as affording him the best chance of avoiding any future reckoning either with you or his superiors. We must therefore be very secret in our plans. I know an ingenious artificer in copper and other metals, whose only child I was instrumental in curing of scrofula, and in whose fidelity, as well as good will, I can safely rely. But we must give him time. He can construct our machine at home, and we must take our departure from that place in the night."


The Brahmin and Atterley prepare for their voyage—Description of their machine—Incidents of the voyage—The appearance of the earth; Africa; Greece—The Brahmin's speculations on the different races of men—National character.

Having thus formed our plan of operations, we the next day proceeded to put them in execution. The coppersmith agreed to undertake the work we wanted done, for a moderate compensation; but we did not think it prudent to inform him of our object, which he supposed was to make some philosophical experiment. It was forthwith arranged that he should occasionally visit the Hermit, to receive instructions, as if for the purpose of asking medical advice. During this interval my mind was absorbed with our project; and when in company, I was so thoughtful and abstracted, that it has since seemed strange to me that Sing Fou's suspicions that I was planning my escape were not more excited. At length, by dint of great exertion, in about three months every thing was in readiness, and we determined on the following night to set out on our perilous expedition.

The machine in which we proposed to embark, was a copper vessel, that would have been an exact cube of six feet, if the corners and edges had not been rounded off. It had an opening large enough to receive our bodies, which was closed by double sliding pannels, with quilted cloth between them. When these were properly adjusted, the machine was perfectly air-tight, and strong enough, by means of iron bars running alternately inside and out, to resist the pressure of the atmosphere, when the machine should be exhausted of its air, as we took the precaution to prove by the aid of an air-pump. On the top of the copper chest and on the outside, we had as much of the lunar metal (which I shall henceforth call lunarium) as we found, by calculation and experiment, would overcome the weight of the machine, as well as its contents, and take us to the moon on the third day. As the air which the machine contained, would not be sufficient for our respiration more than about six hours, and the chief part of the space we were to pass through was a mere void, we provided ourselves with a sufficient supply, by condensing it in a small globular vessel, made partly of iron and partly of lunarium, to take off its weight. On my return, I gave Mr. Jacob Perkins, who is now in England, a hint of this plan of condensation, and it has there obtained him great celebrity. This fact I should not have thought it worth while to mention, had he not taken the sole merit of the invention to himself; at least I cannot hear that in his numerous public notices he