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Title: Symmes's Theory of Concentric Spheres - Demonstrating that the Earth is hollow, habitable within, - and widely open about the poles
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_By a Citizen of the United States._

  "There are more things in Heaven and EARTH, Horatio,
  Than are dreamt of in your philosophy!"                SHAKSPEARE.

 "If this man be erroneous, who appears to be so sanguine and
 persevering in his opinions, what withholds us but our sloth, our
 self-will, and distrust in the right cause, that we do not give him
 gentle meetings and a gentle dismission; that we debate not and
 examine the matter thoroughly, with liberal and frequent audience; if
 not for his sake, yet for our own; seeing that no man who hath tasted
 learning, but will confess the many ways of profiting by those, who,
 not content with stale receipts, are able to manage and set forth new
 positions to the world. And were they but as the dust and cinders of
 our feet, so long as in that notion, they may yet serve to polish
 and brighten the armory of truth; even for that respect they are not
 utterly to be cast away."                               MILTON.



BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the fourth day of April, in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty six and in the fiftieth year
of the American independence, MESSRS. MORGAN, LODGE AND FISHER, of said
District, hath deposited in this office, the title of a book, the right
whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words and figures following,
to wit:

"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. 'There are more things in Heaven and
Earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy' Shakespeare, 'If
this man be erroneous who appears to be so sanguine and persevering
in his opinions, what withholds us but our sloth, our self-will, and
distrust in the right cause, that we do not give him gentle meetings
and a gentle dismission; that we debate not and examine the matter
thoroughly, with liberal and frequent audience: if not for his sake,
yet for our own; seeing that no man who has tasted learning but will
confess the many ways of profiting by those, who, not content with
stale receipts, are able to manage and set forth new positions to the
world. And were they but as the dust and cinders of our feet, so long
as in that notion, they may yet serve to polish and brighten the armory
of truth: even for that respect, they are not utterly to be cast away.'

In conformity to the act of Congress of the United States, entitled "An
act for the encouragement of learning by securing the copies of Maps,
Charts and Books to the proprietors of such copies during the times
therein mentioned;" and also of the act entitled "An act supplementary
to an act entitled an act for the encouragement of learning by securing
the copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the authors and proprietors
of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending
the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching
historical and other prints."



The writer of the following work is said to be a resident of the Miami
country. After reading Captain Symmes's 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 nett 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 forbear criticising it in
manuscript,――reserving any remarks 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.


 _Cincinnati, April, 1826._

To the Public.

The 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
facilitate 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


_March, 1826._


The author of the following pages does not write because he is a
learned man; he is conscious of the reverse; and that his merits
give him no claim to that appellation; neither does he make this
attempt because he is well acquainted with either the new, or the old
theories of the earth; but, from having observed that the Theory of
Concentric Spheres has been before the world for six or seven years,
without attracting the attention of the scientific, except in a very
few instances;――few besides the author himself having come forward to
advocate its correctness. The newspaper scribblers, who have noticed
the theory at all, have almost uniformly appeared to consider it as
a fit subject on which to indulge their wit, the sallies of which,
clothed in all the humour and satire their fancies could suggest, have
in some degree had a tendency to throw around it an air of levity very
unfavourable to serious investigation. But to deal in sarcasm is not
always reasoning; and the truth is not to be ascertained by indulging
in ridicule.

Considerations of this nature, first induced the author to devote a
short time to the task of investigating a subject, to which he had paid
but little attention, and to give the several papers, published by
Captain Symmes, a cursory examination; in the course of which, he noted
such of Symmes's principles and proofs as attracted his attention, as
they occurred; and has since presumed to arrange them in such order as
his own fancy suggested; supposing that, as they had struck forcibly
on his mind, they might perhaps attract the attention of some other
person, whose habits of thinking may be similar to his own. He has
in a few instances inserted, in addition to those which he has seen
advanced by Captain Symmes, such reasons and proofs in support of
the theory as occurred to him at the time. However, he has no claim
to originality; as he has made a liberal use of the publications of
Captain Symmes, as well as the remarks made on them by others, which
came in his way.

The reader will not look for a complete analysis of the theory in this
short treatise; it is not intended as such by the author, his object
being merely to attract the attention of the learned, who are in the
habit of indulging in more abstruse researches into the operation
and effect of natural causes; and should it be found to merit the
attention of such, it is hoped their enquiries may be so directed as to
accelerate the march of scientific improvement, enlarge the field of
philosophic speculation, and open to the world new objects of ambition
and enterprise.

Should he therefore be fortunate enough to make any observations, or
indulge in any reflections, in the course of the following chapters,
that may merit the attention of the reader, he hopes they may in some
degree atone for the many defects which will doubtless be discovered;
with a sincere wish, that gentlemen of literature and science, who have
made deeper researches than he pretends to, will have the goodness to
correct them.

The author does not write for Fame: as anonymous compilers (and it is
the author's wish to be considered in no other light) can never expect
their true names to be inscribed on her records: neither do pecuniary
considerations influence him, as he expects to reap no profit from the

Should it attract public curiosity to such a degree, as to induce the
sale of more copies than will be sufficient to meet the expense of
printing, it is the author's desire, and he does hereby direct, and
fully authorize the publishers, to pay over the nett profits to Captain
Symmes, for the purpose of enabling him further to prosecute his
studies; and to aid him in the accomplishment of his designs.

Whether Captain Symmes has hit upon an important truth in the economy
of nature, as respects the organization of matter, it is not for
the author to determine; to the more scientific we must look for a
solution of the problem; to them it is submitted. The following pages
are presented with no other intention, than as a hint to elicit the
attention of others, who are qualified to investigate, and improve the
subject. Should they, on examination, consider the matter worthy of
their investigation, it will doubtless receive the attention which its
importance so greatly demands. If it be erroneous, it is hoped they
will detect, and expose its fallacy to the world; giving at the same
time rational and satisfactory explanations of the many facts, and
appearances which Captain Symmes adduces as proofs of his positions.

 _August, A. D. 1824._



To you I would apologize for the liberties I have taken with your
Theory, and your publications in relation to it, which have made
their appearance in the newspapers of the day. When I commenced this
compilation, in support of your doctrine of Concentric Spheres, I
had no view to its publication. I had collected all the papers on
the subject, upon which I could lay my hands, with the intention of
investigating the Theory for my own satisfaction: but the scattered
and irregular order in which I found them, and in which they must
necessarily appear in detached Newspaper essays, published at different
and distant times, induced me to attempt a methodical arrangement, for
the purpose of facilitating my own enquiries. When I had completed
this, the same reasons, added to the consideration, that you have not
only invited, but solicited the investigation of your theory, declaring
it "as free as air," to every person, to make such use of it as he may
think proper, influenced me to conclude on publishing the result of
my investigations. Having come to this determination, I have added a
Preface, an Introductory chapter, and a few things in conclusion, to
make it look more like a Book.

As I have not seen all your publications in the newspapers, if I have
not fully understood, or if I have misrepresented your theory in any
particular, I assure you it has been done unintentionally――it has
arisen entirely from my want of adequate information; and I hope you
will, in the spirit of candour and good nature, pardon and correct any
errors into which I may have fallen. Had an opportunity offered, and
could I have done it with propriety, I should certainly have submitted
the manuscript to your revision, previous to its publication. However,
as this sketch is only intended to elicit further investigation, and
can only live until a formal and systematic treatise shall appear from
your pen, I hope you will permit it to pass as the Pioneer to a more
complete demonstration of your Theory of Concentric Spheres.


  _One of the believers in that Theory_,――





Containing an introductory glance at some of the different Theories
and Opinions which have been embraced respecting the formation of the
Earth, and the reception which those Theories met with from the world
when first promulgated.


Symmes's Theory; comprehending his description of the form of the
earth, and of the other orbs in the Universe; his principles of
gravity, and the points wherein he differs from the old or generally
received theories.


Symmes's Theory supported by arguments drawn from the principles
inherent in matter, and the consequences resulting from motion; tending
to show that, from necessity, matter must form itself into concentric
circles or spheres, such as Symmes describes the earth to be composed


Arguments in support of Symmes's Theory, drawn from Celestial


The Theory of Concentric Spheres, supported by arguments drawn from
Terrestrial facts; such as the migration of animals to and from the
arctic regions, and from refraction, and the variation of the compass,
observed in high northern latitudes.


Facts tending to illustrate and prove the existence of a _mid-plane
space_, situated between the concave and convex surfaces of the sphere.


Several objections, made to the Theory of Concentric Spheres,
answered, particularly the one that it contravenes religious opinions;
demonstrating that the earth, and the other orbs of the universe, are
formed on the best possible plan for the maintenance and support of
organic life.


General observations on the Theory of Concentric Spheres, with a few
suggestions to the Congress of the United States, to authorize and fit
out an Expedition for the discovery of the Interior Regions; or, at
least, to explore the northern parts of the continent of America.


A few brief suggestions, relative to the description, tonnage, and
number of vessels, necessary to be equipped for a voyage of discovery
to the interior regions of the earth; the number of men necessary to be
employed on board, articles necessary for the outfit, and the probable
expense attending the same; also, as to the route most proper to be
pursued to accomplish the object of the expedition.


A short Biographical sketch of Captain Symmes; with some observations
on the treatment which he has met with in the advancement of his



 _Containing an introductory glance at some of the different Theories
 and Opinions which have been advanced respecting the formation of the
 Earth, and the reception which those Theories met with from the world
 when first promulgated._

It often happens, that those who have been early taught to believe a
certain set of principles and doctrines as true, whether in philosophy,
religion, or politics, adhere to them with the utmost pertinacity
during the remainder of their lives. Any new theory, or principle, is
resisted with peculiar energy; and, however inconsistent or untrue
their favorite systems may be, they are disposed to make principles and
facts bend to them; and would sooner call in question the general and
immutable laws of nature, than the correctness of their own opinions.
Perhaps this pertinacious adherence to prevalent and received opinions
has retarded the progress of philosophic improvement more than the want
of bold, original, and enquiring genius.

In former times those who cultivated science, or rather those who were
called learned, generally based their philosophy on the doctrines of
Aristotle; which, as they had been taught to reverence them from their
infancy, had become almost interwoven with their constitutions. Hence,
though time has unfolded to us their errors, during several centuries,
suspicion never hinted their fallibility. The doctrine of the
revolutions of the earth, and other planets; of gravitation, magnetism,
and other properties now known to belong to matter; have each in their
turn met with a strong opposition from the most learned men living at
the time of their discovery. But, notwithstanding this opposition,
in all ages, a few bold, enquiring minds have had the firmness to
dissent from the established doctrines of the schoolmen, and to lay
the foundation of new systems, the correctness of which subsequent
improvements in science have more or less demonstrated to the world.

Although nearly six thousand years have elapsed since man has been
placed upon the earth, he yet knows but little of its formation.
Notwithstanding all our enterprise, all our boasted acquirements, and
discoveries, its true form yet remains uncertain; and although admitted
that it is not quite eight thousand miles in diameter, we still have
never explored its extent. A space of nearly forty degrees of latitude
remains as little known to us, as if it were a part of the surface
of Saturn, or an orb revolving round a star of the eighth magnitude.
We know nothing of the inhabitants of those regions, or what kind of
animate beings exist in them.

It was a prevailing opinion among the ancients, the correctness of
which they for ages never called in question, that the temperate zones
of our globe were alone habitable.――The torrid zone they imagined was
composed of nothing but sandy deserts, scorched up by the vertical and
insupportable beams of a burning sun. The frigid zones, they believed
were begirt with eternal snows, and "thick ribbed ice," which rendered
them inaccessible to man, and incapable of supporting animal or
vegetable life. Hence none ventured to approach them.

Subsequent discoveries have, however, taught us the errors of the
ancients. We now know that the torrid zone teems with organic
life; and possesses, in many parts, a population more dense than
the temperate, and is equally well adapted to its support: nay, we
even find the temperature of that region to be such that it contains
mountains capped with perpetual snows, which the beams of a July sun do
not dissolve. It has also been ascertained that the frigid zones are
partially inhabited: but it seems that a certain timid dread, perhaps
in part attributable to the prejudices imbibed from our ancestors, has
prevented our exploring the extent of those regions. However, as far
as civilized man has yet ventured to penetrate towards the poles, we
find that plants grow, flowers bloom, and human beings make a permanent
residence; nay, even the untutored savages who reside there tell us
that other human beings reside yet further to the north; and animals
are known to migrate in that direction. Reasoning then from analogy,
and from what we know, we have no ground to conclude that such a vast
extent of surface has been created by an all-wise Providence for no
other purpose, than to be eternally clothed with mountains of ice. Such
a conclusion comports not with the general economy _we do know_ to
exist throughout his works.

We are constrained to acknowledge, notwithstanding our improvements
in science, that, comparatively, we know but little of the economy of
nature. Within a few years past, almost an entire revolution has taken
place in the world respecting the philosophy of light and heat――a
change which affects the theory both of their nature, and of their
causes:――They are now believed to be two distinct things, and that the
sun communicates neither, but merely gives activity, in some manner not
yet known, to the principles, or matter, of light and heat with which
our elements abound. If this be the case, as I believe is now admitted
by the learned world, we cannot undertake to say, that the intensity or
the absence of either, is necessarily dependant alone on the altitude
of the sun, under any particular latitude; or on our nearness to, or
remoteness from, the centre of the system:――For aught we know, both
may be connected with arrangements that require but few of the sun's
rays to make them answer the purposes of organic life. For aught we can
tell, the planet Georgium Sidus, which rolls eighteen hundred millions
of miles distant from the orb of day, may, nevertheless, be favoured
with as brilliant light, and as genial warmth as our little globe;
and for aught we know the interior of this planet, in the concavity of
the spheres, under the equator, may enjoy the same light and heat that
fructify and bless the equatorial climes on the convex surface.

During a period of several thousand years the ancients were of
opinion that the earth was a perfect plane, at rest, and supported
below by an unknown something; that it was bounded on all sides by an
impassable barrier, and covered with the blue canopy of heaven, in
which the sun, moon, and stars performed their diurnal revolutions
for the sole use and service of a few frail mortals. They believed
that the sun, every morning rose out of the Eastern sea; and in the
evening plunged into the Western ocean; that the stars were lighted
up in the evening by some kind deity, and extinguished before the
appearance of the sun. For ages none doubted the correctness of such
a theory. At length, however, from an attentive examination of the
regular appearances and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, some of
the Babylonians adopted the opinion that the earth was spherical;
revolving at regular periods round the sun, as the centre of the
universe. In this they were followed by Pythagoras and others. But
those efforts of genius, for the most part, met no other reward than
the execrations of the exasperated multitude. Such innovations were
deemed an impious crime against the gods, and could only be atoned for
by the sacrifice of their lives. In those times the people of every
nation, like the untutored Indian of our North Western wilderness at
this day, considered their own country to be situated in the centre of
the world, and they, the most favoured people. Even in later times,
when the system of the Babylonians, and that of Pythagoras, were
revived by Copernicus; and, when new discoveries respecting the form
and revolutions of the earth, and other parts of the universe, were
made by Galileo, not more than two hundred years since, we find an
ignorant and bigoted world alarmed at such opinions. We find Galileo,
that incomparable philosopher, cited before the court of Inquisition,
accused of heresy, and thrown into prison. The charge of heresy against
him was supported by alleging that he maintained the two following
positions, viz.

 1. "That the sun is the centre of the world, and immoveable by a local
 motion;" and

 2. "That the earth is not the centre of the world, nor immoveable, but
 that it moves with a diurnal motion."

These positions he was not permitted to maintain or defend, but was
ordered to renounce them; and was prohibited from vindicating them
either in conversation or writing. However strange and impious these
doctrines appeared at that time, subsequent ages have confirmed their

When Columbus advanced the theory of a western continent, he was
ridiculed, persecuted, and contemned, by nearly all the literati of
Europe. It was an idea which had never before entered their minds. But,
notwithstanding all their opposition and ridicule, the correctness
of his "visionary theory," as they were pleased to call it, was
demonstrated by the actual discovery of this vast continent, which is
now sustaining millions of the very happiest of the human race.

Many of the important discoveries of the immortal Newton, at the
time they were first promulgated to the world, were denounced as the
splendid visions of a madman; but, subsequent ages have done him

Much as we may feel ourselves elated on account of the new lights which
have since been shed upon us, by the further progress and developement
of science; yet, when I reflect on the unkind treatment which Captain
Symmes and his new theory have received in our own day, I cannot help
fearing that we are still, in some degree, under the influence of the
same feelings and prejudices which brought the earlier philosophers to
the torture, and the prison. This theory differs much less from the
one now commonly received, than the doctrines of those philosophers
differed from the prejudices of the multitude, in an age when every one
believed the earth to be as flat as a table; and, consequently, it is
but a small innovation in comparison to what the theory of Pythagoras
and Copernicus must have appeared to be in their day; yet Captain
Symmes has been constantly, and almost every where, represented as a
visionary and dangerous innovator, and his alleged discovery ridiculed
as the silly dream of a deranged imagination.

But let us not turn our backs and give a deaf ear to him, or to
the discoveries of any other man, merely because they are new, and
in contravention of our previously received impressions. True it
is, novelty is frequently dangerous and hurtful: but on the other
hand, it is often necessary and useful. Without it we should still
remain destitute of many of the greatest advantages we enjoy. Without
the advancement of new principles, and speculative ideas, neither
ourselves, nor any other people, could ever have emerged from a state
of savage barbarity. Without it, what purpose could our reason serve,
which, under proper regulations, and by a gradual progress, is capable
of contributing so largely to the general good of society?

Were it my opinion that Symmes's Theory is one of the wildest and most
ridiculous that ever entered into the brain of man, I would not refuse
to hear him; nor by malevolent or satirical disapprobation, attempt to
discourage him, before I had examined and reflected upon it. By the
examination of many speculative subjects, abounding with falsehood,
we are frequently enabled to treasure up some truths. Some of the
first and most important discoveries in chemistry, owe their origin
to the midnight vigils of the alchymists, who vainly sought for the
philosopher's stone: and many valuable combinations in the science of
mechanics have been discovered by those who wasted years in as vain a
pursuit, after a perpetual motion.

I believe there are but few theories, which do not contain much that
is profitable. The man who has the ingenuity to advance new ones, will
be likely, in the course of reasoning necessary to support them, to
say something that is useful to be known. In his very reveries and
wanderings, he will often point out land-marks, which may be useful
to the future _traveller_. Whether then is it better to crouch under
the tyranny of prejudice, or employ our thoughts and reasoning powers
in the search of truth, though at the risk of deceiving ourselves, as
our predecessors have done? Had it not been for a prudent boldness
in advancing and defending new doctrines, the human mind must have
remained to this day, the sport of all the chimeras of the ancients.

The exact shape and formation of the earth are admitted not to be well
understood. The laws of gravity, and the admeasurements which have been
made in different places on the same meridian, have demonstrated to us,
that the greatest mathematicians have mistaken its real figure. Various
theories have at different times been published and refuted, and others
substituted in their stead. Yet still a shade of darkness and mystery
appears to hang over the subject; for many principles, attractions,
and apparent variations from the established laws believed to exist
in the economy of nature, have been discovered, particularly in the
polar regions, which remain unexplained and unaccounted for. Let us,
therefore, examine and investigate any theory which proposes to explain
them. Let us not be so tenacious of our own opinions, and hereditary
prejudices, as to stop at the very point where every thing invites us
to proceed. Let us rather push our researches after knowledge to the
utmost, and exercise our reason, and every means in our power that may
tend to the advancement of science and knowledge. In the pursuit, let
us not be retarded by the cry of prejudice, or the sarcastic whispers
of the narrow minded, and selfish.

Let us, therefore give Captain Symmes a "gentle meeting," and a candid
hearing, in the following short chapters; ascertain what his theory is,
and on what principles he supports it; and then adopt or reject it, as
our reason may dictate.


 _Symmes's Theory; comprehending his description of the form of the
 earth, and of the other orbs in the Universe; his principles of
 gravity, and the points wherein he differs from the old or generally
 received theories._

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; 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 the
position of any piece of matter in space may change its position: thus
causing a universal pressure, which is weakened by the intervention
of other bodies in proportion to the subtended angle of distance and
dimension; necessarily causing the body to move towards the points of
decreased pressure.

It is a sound principle of philosophy, that the particles of the
common air of our atmosphere are of a repellant quality, and mutually
repulse each other. The whole system of pneumatics goes to prove that
air presses equally in all directions. Not a single experiment in this
branch of natural science can be performed that does not depend on
such a property. This being the case, if the boundless extent of the
universe, beyond the limits of our atmosphere, be an entire vacuum,
why should the atmosphere be retained in its present circumscribed
form, and not expand, by virtue of its repellant quality, far beyond
its known height? To prevent this, Symmes believes universal space to
be filled with an elastic fluid, inconceivably rare, and uniformly
distributed throughout; differing from common air, and from the
elastic fluids (which also are known to be repellant) existing in our
atmosphere. This tendency is what Symmes believes should be understood
by the term gravity; the laws of action governing which he holds to be
true, as defined by Newton: and he moreover holds that the application
of the laws of gravity, as laid down by Newton, leads a reasoning mind
to the belief of concentric spheres, with open poles, as all planetary
bodies are in his opinion formed.

In regard to the _effects_ of gravity, he pretends not to differ from
the generally received opinion of the age; but the _application_ of
them, as to the inner parts of insulated bodies, has enabled him to
_improve_ in a knowledge of the formation of planets; and finally led
him to form a correct idea of what _constitutes_ gravity.

The author of the new theory entertains a belief that the principles
of planetary orbicular forms, developed by him, extend as well to the
molecules of the most subtile fluids, as to the innumerable stars or
suns of the universe, and all their planetary trains: he contends that
though he may not have discovered any new principles in physics, yet
that he has made interesting advances in a knowledge of the application
of what was heretofore known.

According to him, 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.[1] 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 degrees 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, on a
meridian passing through Spitsbergen, 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 northern 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 travelling 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, and along the extinguished volcanoes of the Fox
Islands, to the lowermost point again, near the northwest 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
northernmost part of Van Dieman's land, to the lowest point, which is
south or south-east of Madagascar; the apparent verge being several
hundred miles beyond the real verge.[2] Consequently, according to
this formation of the sphere, the degrees of latitude, on different
meridians, will vary according to their distance from the polar
openings; and the magnetical 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 to be under the polar star, or
nearly so, and at the ninetieth 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 of 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 travel in order to have his back to the sun
always at 12 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
other 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 to or remoteness from the equator. The natural
climates are parallel to the planes of the polar 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 half 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 of 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 the

The magnetic principle which gives polarity to the needle, is believed
to be regulated by the polar openings, and that the needle 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 becomes extreme; and when the verge is passed,
the variation is more or less reversed. The meridians run from the
highest northern to the highest southern point on the verges; hence,
in tracing a meridian, or sailing due north, we would pursue that line
which would conduct us directly from the sun at his greatest altitude;
and when we come to the verge, the meridian would vary, and wind along
the vicinity of the edge of the real verge, until it brought us to the
highest point of the apparent verge. 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.

According to this formation of the sphere, a traveller or navigator
might proceed true north any where west of the highest point of the
verge, say on the continent of America, until he come to the verge. The
meridian on which he was travelling would then wind along the verge to
the right, until he arrived at the ninetieth degree; and by proceeding
south, in the same direction, he would arrive at the coast of Siberia,
without going far into the concavity of the sphere, and without knowing
that he had been within the verge. Should such a journey be effected,
it would appear to confirm the old theory of the form of the earth,
and put the subject at rest; although pursuing the needle might have
directed the traveller into the interior, and enabled him to discover
those fine countries which Captain Symmes alleges to exist there.

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 outer surface; and lighted and warmed according
to those general laws which communicate light and heat to every 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 supposed to 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 sufficiently lighted and warmed
to promote the propagation and support of animal and vegetable life.

The different spheres constituting our planet, and the other orbs
in creation, most probably do not revolve on axes, parallel to each
other, nor perform their revolutions in the same periods of time; as is
indicated by the spots on the belts of Jupiter, which move faster on
one belt than another.

The atmosphere surrounding the sphere is probably more dense on the
interior than the exterior surface, the increased pressure of which
must increase the force of gravity; as the power of gravity must
increase in proportion as we approach nearer the poles.――Clouds formed
in the atmosphere of the convexity of the sphere, probably float in
through the polar openings, and visit the interior, in the form of rain
and snow. And the long continuation of winds, or regular monsoons,
which occur in some parts of the earth, may be supplied by winds
sucked into one polar opening and discharged through the other, thus
performing the circuit of the sphere; without which supposition, it
would be difficult to account for the long continued winds which, at
certain seasons, are known to blow constantly for several months, more
or less obliquely to and from the poles.

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 buoyancy. Besides
this large _mid-plane space_, perhaps numerous other interstices exist
in the sphere nearer the surface, and of more limited extent. The gas
escaping from these spaces is, no doubt, the cause of earthquakes; and
supply the numerous volcanoes. This gas becoming rarified and escaping,
must occasion most of those great revolutions and phenomena in nature,
which we know to have occurred 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 destined to inhabit.

In many parts of the unfathomable ocean there may be communications
or passages from the surface of the sphere on the outer side to the
surface of the inner, at least all except the great _mid-plane space_,
through which liquid apertures, light and heat may be communicated,
perhaps, to the interior surface of the sphere.


[1] National Intelligencer of June 10th, 1824.

[2] A tolerably correct representation of the sphere might be made by
taking a hollow terrestrial globe, such as are used in colleges, and
insert a saw at north latitude sixty-eight degrees in Lapland, sawing
obliquely through, so as to come out at latitude fifty degrees in
the Pacific ocean. The aperture thus produced, will show the general
dimensions and slope of the north polar opening. And in the southern
hemisphere, commencing with the saw at south latitude thirty four
degrees, in longitude between fifty and fifty-five degrees east, in
the Indian ocean, and sawing obliquely through, in the same manner, so
as to come out at south latitude forty-six degrees, and longitude one
hundred and thirty degrees west, in the South Pacific ocean, you will
represent the appearance of the south polar opening; and the whole will
exhibit a general representation of the sphere, according to the new


 _Symmes's Theory supported by arguments drawn from the principles
 inherent in matter, and the consequences resulting from motion;
 tending to show that, from necessity, matter must form itself into
 concentric circles or spheres, such as Symmes describes the earth to
 be composed of._

It is a principle laid down by Sir Isaac Newton, the correctness of
which is generally admitted, that "matter attracts matter in proportion
to its quantity and the squares of its distances inversely." Captain
Symmes contends that gravity consists in a certain expansive quality
in the molecules which constitute the aerial fluid called æther,
which fills universal space, and creates a pushing, instead of a
pulling power. However, let either be correct, I conceive it cannot
materially affect the principles necessary to constitute concentric
spheres: either principle, I apprehend, would lead us nearly to the
same results. When matter was in chaos, or in a form not solid,
promiscuously disseminated through universal space, suppose it then
should at once receive the impression of those universal laws by which
it is governed, and see what would be the consequence.

According to Sir Isaac Newton's principles of gravity, the particle
of matter that happened to be the largest would attract the smaller
in its neighbourhood, which would increase the power of attraction in
proportion to the increase of matter, until all in the universe would
be collected into one vast body in the centre of space, and there
remain motionless and at rest forever. This, however, we find not to be
the case; for innumerable bodies of matter, differing in magnitude, are
known to exist throughout the universe, arranged at suitable distances
from each other, and performing certain revolutions in obedience to
certain fixed laws impressed on them.

Now suppose all the matter in our globe to be an extended liquid mass,
the particles so disengaged from each other, as to take their positions
according to the _established_ laws of matter, and then see what would
be the consequences resulting from motion and gravity. Taking the
laws of Newton for our guide, the particles of matter in the centre
would be operated on by the power of gravity equally on all sides and
consequently be stationary. Suppose then a line struck through this
globe of matter, so as to make a globe of half the diameter of the
whole in the centre, it is plain that the inner globe would not contain
more than one eighth part as much matter as the surrounding one; hence
it would be attracted towards the surface more than to the centre, were
it not for the attraction of the matter on the opposite side exerting
an influence upon it――but this being removed to so much greater
distance, would not be more than an equipoise to the other.

The diameter of our globe, according to the best observation, is
believed to be about 7970 English miles, and its circumference 25,038:
consequently, if it were solid, it would contain 265,078,559,622 cubic
miles of matter; while a globe of only half the diameter, would
contain only 33,134,819,952.[3]

Suppose our globe divided into parts of one square mile on the surface,
bounded by straight lines converging to a point at the centre, as the
subjoined figure represents:


and then suppose there were no other particles of matter in the
universe but A and B, A containing 1,328 cubic miles of matter, and B
only 166, A would attract B so as to make their centre of attraction at
O, which point would become at once the common centre: but admitting
the whole matter of the globe to exist, A would still exert its
influence on B, but both would be operated upon by T and S and the
surrounding matter, all perhaps, tending to one common centre. However,
I imagine that the tending to the centre would not be so great as is
contended for by the generally received theory, which alleges that
matter at the centre of the earth is four times as hard as hammered
iron. The Newtonian philosophy appears to contemplate a globe at rest,
and not in such rapid motion as we know the earth and other planetary
bodies to be in, communicating to them a centrifugal force, which tends
to throw matter from the centre. The rotary motion of each planet is no
doubt regulated by the quantity of matter it contains: so that at its
surface centrifugal and centripetal forces are equally balanced――the
rotary motion being adequate to communicate a force to counter-balance
the force of gravity.

Newton ascertained by his investigations of the properties and
principles of matter, the earth to be a globe flattened at the poles:
and the French philosophers afterwards confirmed this fact by measuring
a degree in different latitudes. This difference between the equatorial
and polar diameters of the earth, and of the other planets which are
also known to be of that shape, is ascribed by those philosophers who
attempt to account for such a formation, to the projectile force of the
globe at the equator occasioned by its rotary motion. This is admitting
that the matter of our globe was once in so soft a state as to take its
form from motion; for were the earth a compact solid body, and four
times as hard as hammered iron at the centre, (as the Newtonian system
alleges) this rotary motion round an imaginary axis could never give
to the globe the form of an oblate spheroid, as is ascertained to be
the fact; because a hard solid body moving in empty space, could not be
supposed to yield into that shape by any law of action as yet unfolded
by science.

But 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, vallies, plains; and for nearly all
the inequalities on the face of the earth. 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. Had the earth originally been
composed of one uniform substance, sand, for example, of equal fineness
and weight, the whole surface of the globe would have presented one
uniform level or unbroken plain. But, presuming that it was originally
composed of, at least, earths of different densities, the heaviest
masses would be first thrown out and raise their heads above the
surface of the ocean: thus islands would be formed; and clusters of
islands would form continents, rearing their lofty heads into the air;
and, if the substances of which they were originally composed, were not
as hard as the rocks which we now find on them, the sun and changing
temperature of the climates, might convert certain kinds of earth into
masses of stone, increasing in specific gravity by petrifaction, and
other causes, until the towering peaks of the Alps and Andes assumed
their present solid form. One continent having thus emerged, another
would naturally be produced simultaneously on the opposite side of the
sphere, as an equipoise to the first, to keep equal the earth's motion;
until all the heavy substances should be thrown out and united in a
compact sphere.

To an observer of the earth the crust every where appears to indicate
the emergence of land from water: almost the whole surface of the
solid crust is alluvial, and by reasoning and reflecting, we are led
to the conclusion, that the solid parts of our globe are nothing more
than a crust, and formed into concentric spheres, in accordance with
the principles of projectile force. I would ask, what proofs have we,
that the sphere we inhabit is solid beyond the degree of thickness
necessary to preserve it from injury by its rapid motion round the sun,
by its diurnal motion round its own axis, and by its motion round its
common centre of gravity with the moon? It has been ascertained with
mathematical certainty, that the large planet Jupiter, is more than
1300 times the bulk of the earth, and Saturn independent of his double
ring, is about 1000 times the size. If we apply to those prodigious
bodies, the reasoning of Newton relative to plastic forms moving
variously, there is no just grounds for concluding that they are solid
substances to their centres. If they were, their vast weight and remote
position would require much more attraction than probably even the sun
could furnish, to keep them within their orbits.

The acknowledged and received laws of gravity, together with the
measurements made on the same meridian, in different latitudes, have
demonstrated to us that the greatest mathematicians have been mistaken
as to the real figure of the earth. It is for schoolmen to make exact
calculations, respecting the force of gravity, and centrifugal and
centripetal forces; it is for them to determine with mathematical
certainty where matter, left to its own laws, would settle; for such
undertakings, I acknowledge my incompetency. But I have long had strong
doubts, whether the laws of gravity are well understood; or whether the
rules on which these calculations could be accurately made, are exactly
known. However, I take the broad principles of nature, as presented to
my view, for my guide; and draw my conclusions from what I have seen or
what is well known to exist.

Observe the boy hurling a stone from a sling; he whirls it round his
head for a minute to acquire a certain degree of centrifugal force,
and although it is not whirled with half the velocity the earth
revolves on its axis, yet as soon as it is released from confinement,
notwithstanding the whole power of the earth is operating on it with
all the force of gravity, the centrifugal force which the stone
acquired by the whirling is sufficient to carry it off, at a tangent to
the circle described by the sling, for a very considerable distance,
before the gravity of the earth and atmospheric obstruction can force
it to the ground.

If you will take the trouble to examine a mechanic grinding cutlery
on a large stone that is smooth on the sides and has a quick motion,
you may observe that if a certain portion of water be poured on the
perpendicular side whilst the stone is turning, it does not settle or
form itself into a body round the crank or axis; nor does the gravity
of the earth draw it from the surface, but forms itself on the side
of the stone into something resembling concentric circles, one within
another. The surface of the earth, I apprehend, revolves with much
greater velocity than any grindstone; and the substances composing the
spheres are much firmer than water.

Most of us, I presume, have seen persons for amusement, in displaying
feats of dexterity, place a full glass of wine or water on a hoop, and
whirl it round their heads without spilling one drop. The centrifugal
force it acquires by the revolutions overcomes the power of gravity,
although nothing appears to support it but the common atmosphere.

Another experiment, producing a similar effect, might be made with
a cup filled with fine sand. On the surface of the sand, describe a
circle nearly in the centre; it will then be apparent, on observing
the cup, that the sand within the circle, provided the particles
attract one another as the planets do, is as much attracted towards one
verge of the cup as the other; owing to its being equally surrounded
by matter or sand, and therefore it can be but very little, if any,
gravitated centrewise. Hence, being in a degree suspended, only a
small horizontal rotary motion is required to whirl it towards the
rim or sides of the cup into a circular form; and hence it follows,
that those particles of sand lying equidistant from the inner side
of the circle of sand thus formed, and the outer side would be in
like manner balanced, or supported, by being equally gravitated in
both directions. A disposition would thus be produced to form into
concentric circles, and it would therefore follow, that successive
similar dispositions to subdivision should occur, gradually lessening
in force and quantity. This principle applied to the earth or other
planets, would cause them to be formed into concentric spheres; and
would throw the matter from the axis, as well at the poles, as at the
centre, and thereby constitute open poles.

Another simple experiment might also be made, to illustrate that a
disposition to concentric spheres does exist in nature. On a piece
of paper sift a small quantity of very fine magnetic particles, such
as steel or iron filings, under which hold a loadstone; and you will
observe that the attractive power of the magnet will cause the filings
on the paper to arrange themselves into various concentric circles,
nearly regular and equidistant from each other. From what cause should
this take place, rather than that the filings should be accumulated
into one mass?

Various have been the conjectures relative to the cause and origin of
the meteoric stones, or fire balls, which have been known to fall to
the earth, in all ages, and in various parts of the world. Some have
imagined them to be precipitated from a comet or some of the planets;
others that they come from the moon; and Captain Symmes's opinion,
I believe, is that they are formed isolated in space by spontaneous
accumulations, as by attracting molecules of matter at first in a
fluid state, which afterwards solidifies by heat or motion. But come
from whence they may, they are said to be constituted of a substance
unknown to our geologists; and in several instances the fragments have
been ascertained to consist of pieces, some of which have concave and
some convex surfaces, affording a certain proof that previous to their
descent, they had been constituted of hollow spheres.

Professor Silliman, of Yale college, has preserved some of the
fragments of one of these fire balls; and in his valuable journal,
has given the public an able description of the facts which occurred,
when they fell. This fire ball fell in the state of Connecticut, in
the year 1807, producing three distinct reports, like a cannon, making
three convulsive leaps or throes in its course, which were simultaneous
no doubt with the explosions, becoming less luminous after each, and
being quite extinguished at the third. Three showers of stones fell
to the earth in a line with its course; the second shower fell five
miles distant from the first, and the last three or four miles from the
second. Some of the fragments were found to be concave, others convex,
and especially on those sides of the fragments which were glazed with
sooty crusted surface, as if vitrified.

These phenomena are precisely such as would occur, supposing the fire
ball to have been a small satellite, or erratic planet, at first fluid,
which had become so condensed by the increased action of terrestrial
gravity, occasioned by its sudden approach, as to cause its fluid parts
to chrystalize and form into, at least, three concentric spheres; and
the latent heat and light set free by such rapid condensation as to
produce the meteoric flame; which in this case was almost equal in
light to that of the sun at mid-day. As soon as the spheres became
sufficiently solidified to prevent the heated aerial fluid, contained
in the mid-plane cavities of the spheres, from passing out with
freedom, when expanded by the heat; or let the atmospheric air pass
in, in case a condensation within afforded a vacuum; the solid crusts
of the spheres would be disruptured successively one after the other;
lose their regular rotation, and fall in fragments to the earth. The
fall of this body is not a solitary instance of the kind: others have
fallen in many parts of the earth, attended with phenomena more or less
the same.

On the 16th of January, 1818, in Florida, near Mobile bay, a fire ball
bursted with a considerable report. Immediately before the explosion,
it was observed to project a cone of fire from each pole horizontally
and at right angles with its course. Its bursting like a bomb-shell,
indicated that it must have been hollow; and the two cones of light
which appeared, beside its train, showed that it was open at the poles.

Turn your attention to the general economy of nature throughout
her works, and you will perceive in various and almost innumerable
substances that she forms hollow cylinders or spheres in the room of
solid ones. Enquire of the botanist, and he will tell you that the
plants which spring up spontaneously, agreeable to the established
laws of nature, are hollow cylinders. If a hollow globe would answer
the ends of supporting organic life as well as a solid one――why not
be hollow, as well as a stalk of wheat? or by what laws is the stalk
of wheat governed, that it should _always_ grow hollow? What law in
nature causes the quills and feathers of a bird to be hollow cylinders?
Why are they not solid? I presume it is for this plain reason, that
nature, throughout all her works, has wisely assigned to every thing
just matter enough for strength and usefulness; and has in no case
overburthened it with unnecessary and cumbrous weight.

Enquire of the anatomist, and he will tell you that the large bones
of all animals are hollow, and particularly that the bones of birds
are more than ordinarily so: even the minutest hairs of our heads are

Go to the mineralist, and he will inform you that the stone called
Ærolites, and many other mineral bodies, are composed of hollow
concentric circles; and, that strata of different kinds abound in
various mineral substances. Even the earth itself is composed,
as geologists tell us, of various strata, composed of different
substances, and varying from one degree of density to another. If
every part of our globe be regulated according to the received laws of
gravity, and the relative density of matter, why do we find almost all
over the world, light alluvial soil in the vallies and plains; and on
the tops of the highest mountains, the more heavy granite, and some of
the heaviest substances that nature knows? We can hardly indulge the
thought that all this is the work of volcanic eruptions or some dread
throe of nature.

However, if we direct our attention alone to those general laws which
are known, and which are believed to govern matter, I apprehend it
would be very difficult to account for the creation of worlds, and
the admirable arrangement which subsists throughout the universe. To
account for every thing, either according to the old or new theory,
would be attempting too much. It would be placing the Deity in some
corner of the universe an idle spectator, whilst matter governed by its
own laws, was forming itself into worlds and systems; the bare thought
of which is irreverent. Is the existence of matter owing to some other
first cause, or did matter create itself, and impress upon itself the
laws which govern it? Such an idea is absurd. We might as well imagine
that matter created God, as itself. By attempting to trace every effect
to some natural cause, is attempting to do more than we shall ever be
able to accomplish. Such a course of reasoning must lead us to the
conclusion that there is no God, or first cause; or, at least, to what
would be nearly the same thing, that there is no need of one.

But in reasoning upon this subject, I take it for granted, that there
is a God, and that he is the first cause of all things, the creator of
all the orbs in the universe, be they either solid globes or concentric
spheres; and I hope such is the reader's belief. And I cannot discover
in this any thing derogatory from His infinite power, wisdom, or divine
economy, in the formation of a hollow world and concentric spheres, any
more than in that of solid ones. I should rather be of opinion, that
a construction of all the orbs in creation, on a plan corresponding
with Symmes's theory, would display the highest possible degree of
perfection, wisdom, and goodness――the most perfect system of creative
economy――and, (as Dr. Mitchill expresses it) _a great saving of stuff_.


[3] The solidity of the earth is easily calculated by the measure of a
meridional degree; but the result will be different according to the
measurement assumed, as the length of a degree differs in different
latitudes. "Notwithstanding all the admeasurements that have hitherto
been made, it has never been demonstrated, in a satisfactory manner,
that the earth is strictly a spheroid; indeed, from observations made
in different parts of the earth, it appears that its figure is by no
means that of a regular spheroid, nor that of any other known regular
mathematical figure; and the only certain conclusions that can be drawn
from the works of the several gentlemen employed to measure the earth
is, that the earth is something more flat at the poles than at the
equator." [Keith on globes p. 56. New-York, 1811.]

According to Mott's translation of Newton's Principia, book 3, page
243, the equatorial diameter of the earth is 7964 English miles, and
the polar diameter 7929, for as 230:229::7964:7929 miles, the polar

Cassini, who adopted Picard's measure of a degree, makes the diameter
of the earth 7967 statute miles; others have estimated it at 7917,
and some at 7910 miles. But the estimate which is now esteemed most
correct, I believe, is, that the equatorial diameter is 7977 English
miles, and the polar diameter 7940. From this we may ascertain the
solid contents of the earth. The axis of the earth then assumed to be
7940 and 7977 miles respectively, the area of the generating eclipse is
(7940 × 7977 × 0,7854=) 49745178,252: and its area multiplied by two
thirds of the longer axis, gives the solidity equal to (49745178,252 ×
2/3 × 7977=) 264544857944,136 cubic miles.


 _Arguments in support of Symmes's Theory, drawn from celestial

That a disposition to hollow cylinders does exist in nature, I
think, must be admitted; and that a similar principle exists in the
planetary system, at least in some degree, appears to me as certain.
Every person has seen or heard of Saturn and his rings. At certain
periods of time the appearance of this planet, viewed through a good
telescope, represents him to be surrounded with two luminous rings or
bodies of matter, concentric with each other, and with the body of the
planet. These rings no where adhere to the body of the planet, but are
distinct and separate, some considerable distance from him, and from
each other, leaving a portion of vacant space between the planet and
the rings, through which we see the fixed stars beyond.[4] It is a
fact, I believe, admitted by all, and of which we have positive ocular
demonstration, that these rings are constituted of some kind of matter,
if not solid, at least to all appearance as much so as the body of the
planet. Their thickness must be very inconsiderable, for when the edge
is turned to the eye it is no longer visible, except to the powerful
reflecting telescope of Dr. Herschel.――Thus the rings undergo phases
according to the position of the planet in his orbit, which prove them
to be opaque, like other bodies in the planetary system, and like them
shining by reflection. I am not informed what is the precise velocity
of the rotary motion of the rings; probably their varying aspect, or
some other cause has prevented a correct observation from being made.
However, the planet itself revolves on its axis, with an astonishing
velocity; and no doubt the rings also, though perhaps with different
degrees of velocity.

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 consequence, 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 conclusion, that all
bodies of matter are formed similar to that of Saturn, unless we have
positive proof to the contrary? But it is not in Saturn alone that we
find proof of the principles contended for by Captain Symmes. Most, if
not all of the other planets, belonging to our system, whose relative
situation afford us an opportunity of observation, appear to exhibit
strong proofs that the same principles prevail throughout.

The planet Mars, exhibits concentric circles round one or the other
of his poles, according as either is more or less in opposition to
us. These circles appear alternately light and dark, exactly as they
should, supposing the planet to be constituted of concentric spheres,
(such as Symmes believes of the earth) the light being reflected from
their verges on which it falls; and in which case the vacant space
between the spheres would necessarily appear dark.

Sometimes he appears to us with a single ring at each pole. At such
times his axis is at right angles, or nearly so, with a line drawn
from the earth to his centre. This, I conceive, can be accounted for
by the great refraction, occasioned by the increased density of his
atmosphere around the poles, which appears to throw out the further
sides of the verges so as to make them appear like rings, in the
form they present themselves to our view. That such is the natural
appearance may be evidenced by taking a small wooden sphere with open
poles, and immerse it in a circular glass vessel filled with water;
when viewed horizontally through the side of the glass, with the plane
of the openings at a right angle with the visual ray, the refraction
occasioned by the water, answering to the dense atmosphere of Mars,
will apparently throw out the polar openings, and present you with a
view, similar to the appearance of Mars, when his axis is at right
angles to us.

Our next neighbour, Venus, between us and the sun, (though her being
between us and the sun prevents us from having so favourable an
opportunity of examining her poles, as those of Mars, who is our next
neighbour on the side opposite the sun) presents appearances at
certain times, which seem to lead to the conclusion, that she also is
constituted of concentric spheres. At times, when this planet is nearly
a crescent, we are able to discover a deficient space near the tip
of one of her horns. Admitting Venus to be constituted of concentric
spheres with open poles; and supposing one of the vacant spaces,
between two of her spheres about the polar openings, to traverse her
horn or cusp, at the place where the dark space occurs,――it would
present to us exactly such an appearance as does actually occur.

At other times, one of the horns or cusps of Venus is seen to wind
inward as it were into the body of the planets, extending about fifteen
degrees further than the other horn. This is an appearance which would
also be presented, if Venus is formed according to Symmes's theory.
And again, supposing one of her horns to terminate around the verge of
a polar opening, in such way as to follow the curve of the verge for
some distance, (which is of course more curved than the periphery of
the planet) and the same appearances, I think, would occur. The axis of
the planet not being at right angles with the polar openings, in its
revolutions one side of the verge would be thrown much nearer to us
than the other; and the different spheres revolving on their axes with
different velocities would at different times exhibit to our view the
verge of a different sphere.[5]

The axis of the planet Jupiter is always at right angles with a line
drawn to the earth, consequently his poles are never presented to us;
but his belts, which we can and do see, seem to speak loudly in favour
of a plurality of spheres. The most common appearance of Jupiter is,
that he is surrounded by four belts; two bright and two dark, alternate
to each other. But they are variable, presenting different appearances;
at some times seven or eight belts are discoverable, at other times
they appear interrupted in their length, and to increase and diminish
alternately, running into each other, and again to separate into a
number of belts of a smaller size. If Jupiter be a solid globe, I
would enquire, how is it possible to account for those various changes
in his belts, or even for their existence at all? Astronomers, I
understand, have heretofore considered the phenomena of Jupiter's belts
as altogether unaccountable. If he be a simple plain globe, those belts
could not exist; or if they did, they must forever remain uniform,
and not change their size and shape, or relative positions in respect
to each other; neither could the spots on one belt rotate faster than
those on another. But if we adopt the doctrine of concentric spheres,
and that this planet is composed of a number of them, we can account
at once for all the various appearances in a rational manner. The
belts would be produced by the shadow cast on the space between the
polar opening of one sphere and the adjoining one; that is, a portion
of the sunshine, would be reflected from the verges of the spheres
on which it fell; and another portion would appear to be swallowed
by the intervening space. And if refraction bends the rays of vision
between and under his spheres, as it bends a portion of the rays of the
sun, so as to produce the apparent belts of comparative shade, then a
very complete solution of those appearances, heretofore considered
wonderful, would be afforded. The variation which has been observed in
their number, shape, and dimensions, can in no way be better accounted
for, than by concluding the planet to be constituted of a number of
concentric spheres, of different breadths, revolving on different
axes, and with different velocities, so as sometimes to present to our
view the verge of one sphere, and sometimes that of another: and the
rays of the sun falling on the parts of the verges presented to us,
would occasion the diversified appearances which we discover. If some
sections of both crusts of the spheres be formed of water alone, and
become occasionally transparent, it will afford an additional reason
for the varying phenomena attendant on these appearances, which may
also be increased by alternate regions of water, ice, dry land, and

Modern astronomers have long noticed the spots frequently visible on
the sun. They are described as having the appearance of vast holes,
or fractures, in his outer surface or crust, through which an inner
appears to be seen. This, also, seems to favour the doctrine of
different spheres. Notwithstanding the sun revolves very slowly on his
axis, it is probable that his poles are open to a greater or less
extent; but we can never see into them, owing perhaps to the earth,
never being very far from the plane of the sun's equator, his being
such a vast deal larger than the earth, and the atmosphere surrounding
him so extremely luminous.

Very little doubt exists in my mind, that the poles of the sun and
of Jupiter would appear somewhat like those of Mars or the rings of
Saturn, were it not that the two former never present their axes, in
any perceptible degree, towards us; neither does our satellite, the
moon, ever present either of her poles to us: hence, though this may
be in some degree open, (notwithstanding her slow rotation) owing to
her axis always being nearly at right angles with a line drawn to the
earth, we are not able to see whether they are open or not,――more
especially as her atmosphere is so light and rare as not to produce
much refraction. The vast round deep caverns observable on the surface
of the moon, appear as if they might once have been polar openings; if
so, she must frequently have changed her axis.

The spots of light which have at different periods been discovered by
astronomers, on the surface of the moon, near her poles, when she was
on the face of the sun, in an eclipse of that luminary, are perhaps
best accounted for by supposing the sun to shine in, either at one
of her polar openings or through a cavity on her further side, and
appearing to us through one of her annular cavities, on this side, and
near her poles: Or the sun being much larger than the moon, and the
axis of the moon a little varied from right angles with the earth, (or
perhaps the low side of the sphere being next to the earth,) the sun
would shine through an annular cavity or open pole, so as to appear to
us as a spot of light on the moon's disk.

The foregoing enumerated astronomical phenomena are some of the facts
tending to confirm and elucidate Symmes's theory. They all have been
long known to exist; yet I have never heard them accounted for to
the satisfaction of my mind. Indeed, I believe some of them never
was attempted to be accounted for in any manner whatever. I would,
therefore, request the reader, who may deign to give the subject
a serious thought, to reflect, that if all the celestial orbs are
entire round globes, as the old theory considers them to be, on
what principles, or in what manner, could they present the various
appearances which I have enumerated? Why should the horns of Venus
assume different shapes? What would make the appearance of belts on
Jupiter? Or rings and concentric circles at the poles of Mars? And,
finally, in what position could a round solid globe be placed, to
exhibit the rings of Saturn, revolving with different velocities, as
it respects each other, and spaces appearing between them and the body
of the planet, through which stars, millions of miles beyond, can be
distinctly seen? These are phenomena I should like to hear explained.
On the principle of concentric spheres, they can all be accounted
for in a most satisfactory manner. They appear perfectly plain and
intelligible. What was thought to be involved in inexplicable mystery,
and mid-night darkness now perfectly accords with the established laws
of nature, and can be understood by the most ordinary capacity.


[4] Physical World, p. 42.――Adam's Philosophy, vol. 4, p. 206;
Philadelphia, 1807.

[5] "Dr. Herschel has observed a faint illumination in the unlighted
part of the planet Venus, which he ascribes to some phosphoric quality
of its atmosphere." Editor's note to Adams' Philosophy, vol. 4, p. 204,
Philadelphia, 1807.

_Quere_――Might not such an appearance be accounted for as rationally,
by supposing the rays of the sun to shine or be reflected, through
one of her polar openings, and fall on the verge of the sphere at the
opposite polar opening?


 _The Theory of Concentric Spheres, supported by arguments drawn from
 Terrestrial facts; such as the migration of animals to and from the
 arctic regions, and from refraction, and the variation of the compass,
 observed in high northern latitudes._

I would now advert to a few of the known terrestrial facts, which have
a tendency to support the theory advanced by Captain Symmes; such as
the migration of animals, including beasts, birds, and fishes, in the
arctic regions; and from refraction, and the variation of the compass
observed in high northern latitudes.

It is a fact well attested by whalers and fishers in the northern
seas; and one that almost every author who adverts to the northern
fisheries confirms, that innumerable and almost incredible numbers of
whales, mackerel, herring, and other migratory fish, annually come
down in the spring season of the year, from the artic seas towards
the equator. Some authors describe the shoals of herring alone, to
be equal in surface to the island of Great Britain. Besides these,
innumerable shoals of other fish also come down. These fish when they
first come from the north in the spring, are in their best plight and
fattest condition: but as the season advances, and they move on to the
southward, they become poor; so much so, that by the time they get on
the coast of France, or Spain, as fishermen say, they are scarce worth

The history of the migratory fish affords strong grounds to conclude,
that the shoals which come from the north, are like swarms of bees from
the mother hive, never to return; particularly the herring and other
small fish. They are not known to return in shoals: and it is doubted
by some writers on the subject whether any of them ever return north
again, or whether they are not entirely consumed by men, and by other

Whalers and other fishermen who go to the north, generally prosecute
their business in the seas between latitudes sixty and seventy degrees,
where whales are most abundant. Pinkerton, in his voyages, states, that
the Dutch, who at different periods got detained in the ice, and were
compelled to winter in high northern latitudes, could find but few
fish to subsist on during the winter: which proves that the migrating
fish do not winter amongst, or on this side of the ice.――All these
facts relative to fish, appear to be well authenticated. Now, were the
earth a compact and solid spheroid, according to 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? 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's 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's Theory, 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 circle,") commencing at the highest point,
in about latitude sixty-eight degrees, in the northern sea, near
Norway, thence gradually declining to about latitude fifty 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 the 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 us such
an abundant 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.

Numerous other facts of importance, relative to the migration
of quadrupeds, are well authenticated by travellers and others:
particularly that of the rein-deer. In Rees's Cyclopedia, under the
head, "Hudson's Bay," it is stated, that the rein-deer are seen in
the spring season of the year, about the month of March or April,
coming down from the north, in droves of eight or ten thousand, and
that they are known to return northward in the month of October, when
the snow becomes deep. Hudson's Bay is situated between sixty and
sixty-five degrees north latitude. We are informed by professor Adams
of St. Petersburgh, that on the northern coast of Asia, every autumn
the rein-deer start north-eastwardly from the river Lena, and return
again in the spring, in good condition: the mouth of the river Lena
is in about latitude seventy degrees north. This appears to me rather
a mystery according to the old theory of the earth, for why should
those deer when the cold commences, seek a colder climate, and a more
sterile country? The inhospitable coast of Liberia and Hudson's Bay, in
the gloom of a dark winter, I should suppose, would be cold enough,
without their seeking to spend the winter among nothing but eternal
mountains of ice at the pole; where nature must be robed in snows and
crowned with storms.

Hearne, who travelled very high north and northwest on the continent
of America, details various facts in his journal, which strongly
corroborate Symmes's position. Some of the facts he attempts to explain
agreeably to his own ideas, and others he considers inexplicable.
Among a great collection of facts, he states, that large droves of
_musk-oxen_ abound within the arctic circle, few of which ever come
so far south as the Hudsons-Bay factories. He mentions seeing in the
course of one day, several herds of those animals, of seventy or eighty
in a herd, in about latitude sixty-eight degrees. He states that the
polar white bears are very rarely found by any of the Indians in
winter; and that their winter retreats appear to be unknown;[6] that
they are sometimes seen retiring towards the sea on the ice in autumn;
and appear again in great numbers in the latter end of March, bringing
their young with them.

Hearne also states, that the white or arctic foxes are, some years,
remarkably plentiful; and always come from the north; that their
numbers almost exceed credibility; that it is well known none of them
ever migrate again to the northward; and that naturalists are at a
loss to know where they originate.[7] He also mentions that all kinds
of game, as well as fish, in those high latitudes, are at some seasons
excessively plentiful, and at others extremely scarce.

These facts strongly corroborate the doctrine of a hollow sphere:
otherwise, why should the rein-deer, and other animals, migrate north
instead of south; as our Buffalo on the plains of Missouri do, when
pressed with snow and cold weather? Instinct generally leads animals
to fruitful and productive, rather than unproductive, regions; why
then proceed north on the approach of winter, unless in expectation
of finding a warmer climate, or, at least, a more mild and plentiful
country, beyond the icy circle? Independent of the immense droves of
rein-deer, great numbers of musk-oxen, white bears, and white foxes,
spend their winters towards the north; which tends to establish the
fact, that a considerable extent of land must exist in that quarter
of the earth. This, however, would infringe on the space necessary to
accommodate the vast quantities of fish which appear to be propagated
in that region, if the old system were true.

If we were to judge of the internal surface of the sphere, by
its animal productions,――admitting that those animals heretofore
enumerated, are propagated there,――we should conclude that the internal
region of the earth is as much more favourable to the support of animal
life, as the rein-deer 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.

Hearne also informs us that swans, geese, brants, ducks, and other
wild water-fowl, are so numerous about Hudson's Bay, in the spring and
summer, that the company every season salt up vast quantities of them,
sometimes sixty or seventy hogs-heads.[8] He enumerates ten different
species of geese, several of which, (particularly the snow geese, the
blue geese, brent geese, and horned wavey,) lay their eggs and raise
their young in some country unknown, even to the Indians;[9] as their
eggs and young are never seen by them, neither have the most accurate
observers been able to discover where they make their winter residence;
as it is well known that they do not migrate to the southward; but
few of them ever pass to the south, and some of the species are said
never to have been seen south of latitude fifty-nine degrees.[10] Most
of those fowls molt or shed their feathers in a peculiar manner, in
summer, and become nearly naked. Hence it would seem that they must
breed in winter while absent, for it is impossible that they could lay
and sit whilst molting; whereas, the migratory geese and ducks of this
country are not known to shed their feathers, in any great degree; and
are well known to raise their young in the summer, whilst in the north.
It may, therefore, be inferred, that many of those water-fowls, which
Hearne describes, raise their young beyond the icy circle and within
the sphere. As many of the ten species of geese he saw there, are
unknown further south, it establishes the fact, that they do not come
to the south to winter.

In the papers of the Honourable D. Barrington, and Colonel Beaufoy, on
the possibility of approaching the north pole, read before the Royal
Society of London, there is an extensive collection of instances cited,
where navigators have reached high northern latitudes; from which it
appears to be well authenticated, that navigators have in numerous
instances reached the latitude of eighty-two, eighty-three, and
eighty-four degrees:[11] and some are said to have sailed as far north
as eighty-eight and eighty-nine degrees.[12] It is almost uniformly
stated, that in those high latitudes, the sea is clear of ice, or
nearly so, and the weather moderate.[13] To cite the various instances
in which navigators have sailed far north, would be too tedious:[14]
the whole book principally consists of a series of facts, which have
a strong bearing on the subject, and to which I would refer the reader
who feels disposed to investigate. The whole appears to strengthen the
opinion, that there is a barrier, or circle of ice, about where the
whalers go to fish; but, when that is passed, we come to an open sea,
and a more temperate region.

The sea is stated to be open, and always clear of ice, even in the
middle of winter, on the northern part of Spitzbergen, which is
situated in latitude eighty degrees north; and the further north the
more clear it is of ice.[15] But, at the same season, on the southern
parts of Spitzbergen, the sea is bound up with solid and compact ice.

If the doctrine be true, that the earth is a solid spheroid, the cold
must increase regularly as we approach the pole, and, consequently,
vegetation invariably diminish: this, however, is ascertained not
to be the fact. Nova-Zembla, which is situated in north latitude
seventy-six degrees, produces no timber, nor even a blade of grass,[16]
consequently, all the quadrupeds which frequent it, are foxes and
bears; both carniverous animals. On the coast of Greenland, about
latitude sixty-five and seventy degrees, neither timber nor grass
grows;[17] while on the northern parts of Spitzbergen, they have
rein-deer, which are often exceedingly fat; and Mr. Grey mentions
three or four species of plants which grow and flower there, during the

On any meridian passing through England, it is ascertained to be
more temperate at the latitude of eighty degrees north, than at
seventy-three degrees:[19] and both Pinkerton and Barrington inform
us, that beyond the latitude of seventy-five degrees, the north winds
are frequently warm in winter;[20] that in the middle of winter for
several weeks, there falls almost continued rain; and that vegetables
and animals are more abundant at the latitude of eighty degrees than at
seventy-six degrees.

It has long been observed that the climates vary very considerably
on the same parallels of latitude. New York, which is situated in
latitude 40 degrees, is known to be considerably colder in the winter
than London, which is situated in latitude fifty-five degrees; and the
parallel of latitude forty degrees on the plains of Missouri is much
colder than the city of New-York. The climate at St. Peters, on the
Mississippi, which is in latitude forty-six degrees, is said to be
considerably colder than Quebec.[21] This difference of climate has, by
some, been attempted to be accounted for, on the principle that land
is colder than water, and that the cold is occasioned by the large
portion of land in the continent of America: however, I submit to the
consideration of the reader, whether so great a difference could arise
from a cause of this nature.

In the northern sea, between Spitzbergen and the continent of America,
there is a strong current, which always comes from the north, and
sets southwardly.[22] It has been stated by some, that, in the spring
season of the year, the water of this current is warmer and fresher
than the surrounding water of the sea. Various other currents have,
at different times, been observed, in different parts of the sea,
setting from the north. Floating southwardly on these currents, have
been seen large masses of ice, from fresh water rivers, with wolves
and bears occasionally on them. New fallen trees have also been seen
floating from the north; and various kinds of timber, some of which
the species have hitherto been unknown, are frequently found lodged
on the northern part of the coast of Norway, having drifted from some
region still farther north. Trees have also been found floating in the
ocean at latitude eighty degrees; when no timber is known to grow north
of latitude seventy degrees. Also, seeds unknown to our botanists,
and those of tropical plants have been found drifted on the coast of
Norway, and parts adjacent, many of which were in so fresh a state
as to vegetate and grow;[23] when it is well known that no plant of
their species comes to perfection in any known climate far without the
tropics. And, what makes the matter particularly extraordinary, is,
that these things appear to be drifted by currents coming from the
north; when, according to the old theory, we must believe the sea to
be always frozen at the poles, which would render it difficult, if not
impossible, to account for the existence of the currents at all.

In the United States of America, and in Europe, the Aurora Borealis
is always seen to the north: But many of those travellers and
navigators, who penetrated to high northern latitudes, observed the
Aurora Borealis in the south, and never in the north. The region in
which it is believed to exist, is supposed to be about the place where
the verge commences, and about fifty or sixty miles above the plane
of the earth's surface; and that the travellers who discovered these
appearances south of them, were at that time beyond the verge.

The Indians discovered by Captain Ross, on the coast of Baffin's bay,
in the summer of 1818, in latitude seventy-five degrees fifty-five
minutes north, when interrogated from whence they came, pointed to
the north, where, according to their account, there were "plenty of
people;"[24] that it was a warmer country; and that there was much
water there. And when Captain Ross informed them that he came from the
contrary direction, pointing to the south, they replied, "that could
not be, because there was nothing but ice in that direction:"[25]
Consequently these people must live in a country not composed of ice;
for it appears they deem such an one uninhabitable. Hence we must
infer, if the relation given by Captain Ross be correct, that, north of
where they then were, the climate becomes more mild, and is habitable;
a change, the cause of which is not easily accounted for on the old
philosophic principles.

In high northern latitudes, owing to refraction, or some other peculiar
circumstance, which hitherto has not, to my knowledge, been attempted
to be accounted for, the extent of vision appears to be greatly
increased; so that objects, much further than the ordinary distance,
are distinctly seen; frequently appearing elevated above the sea, or
their real situation; and their image sometimes pictured in the sky.
The real objects, themselves, are sometimes seen with the naked eye one
hundred and forty or one hundred and fifty miles,[26] and sometimes
at the astonishing distance of two hundred miles. These facts are
well attested by Captain Ross and other navigators. How this can be
accounted for, on the formation maintained by the old theory, I cannot
conjecture. I believe it is admitted that the deck of a vessel at sea,
any where between the equator and latitude fifty or sixty degrees,
cannot be discovered, even by the best telescope, at a greater distance
than twelve or fifteen miles.[27] Nay, were there no end to vision, and
could the eye penetrate two hundred miles through our atmosphere with
sufficient clearness, it would require an observer to be elevated about
five miles, before he could discover an object on the surface of the
earth two hundred miles distant. But, on the edge of the verge of the
polar opening, if the atmosphere were clear, and the power of vision
strong enough, an observer might discover objects situated on the verge
at any point all round the sphere; as they would be on an exact plane
with the observer. And on the contrary, travelling across the verge
from the convexity to the concavity of the sphere, a very few miles
make objects disappear.

All northern navigators and travellers agree, that high north the
sun becomes less bright, and the sky darker, than in more southern
latitudes. Is not this owing to the rays of the sun being refracted
round the verge of the polar opening? Another circumstance, observed
by navigators, who have visited high latitudes is, that the latitude
and longitude, as found by celestial observation, frequently differ
very materially, sometimes as much as one half, from that given by
the log-line.[28] It has also been observed that the mercury in the
barometer is less fluctuating in northern regions, than it is further

Those appearances observed in the southern hemisphere, which are termed
Magellanic clouds, by navigators, have not, so far as I know, been
accounted for. They are three in number, of an irregular shape, and
observed by night in the South Atlantic, and the south-east parts of
the Pacific oceans, (reversed from New-Holland and New-Zealand,) but
never visible in the eastern parts of the Indian ocean: their colour
is like that of far distant mountains, on which the sun is shining. In
the one sea they appear due south, and in the other to the left. They
are stationary, appearing perpetually fixed at a certain height, and
in a particular situation, as viewed from any given place. The stars
and the heavens, in their diurnal revolutions, sweep by them, and they
remain the same. To the navigator, who proceeds to the east or west,
they appear to be more or less to the right or left of the meridian,
in proportion as he changes his longitude; and as he sails south, they
increase in height, until they reach the zenith, and finally become
north, when seen by an observer south of the straits of Magellan, which
is in latitude fifty-two degrees south. Captain Symmes accounts for
the appearance of these clouds by the great refractive power of the
atmosphere about the polar openings; causing the opposite side of the
verge to appear pictured in the sky, as navigators inform us objects do
sometimes appear, in the arctic regions; and in the manner Scoresby's
ship appeared in the sky, with every particular about her so accurately
represented, as to be at once identified by the observers, though the
vessel, at that time, was at such a distance as to render it rather
incredible how she could be seen at all. As proof of this position,
Captain Symmes alleges, that the relative position, shape, and
proportions of these clouds, agree in their general outlines with the
southern part of New-Zealand, the southeast part of New-Holland, and
the whole of Van-Dieman's land, which are situated on, and near to the
verge of the sphere, opposite to where the clouds are visible. 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. Hence it is
alleged, that from these facts, their relative appearance is deducible.
As we are never sensible that the rays of light are refracted by the
medium through which they pass before they reach our visual organs; we
frequently imagine objects to be situated where they really are not;
and such is believed to be the case as respects Van-Dieman's and the
circumjacent land, as before described.

Franklin, in his journey far north, on the continent of America,
discovered a cloud, which appeared to remain always in the same
position, and which the Indians informed him was permanent. Not having
the book at hand, I cannot now advert particularly to what he says on
the subject: but, from memory only, recollect that he states something
to that effect. If such an appearance exist there, may it not be
accounted for in the same manner as the Magellanic clouds?

Navigators, who have sailed far north, admit the variation of the
needle to be excessive. Captain Ross found it in Baffin's Bay, to be
as much as one hundred and ten degrees; and Parry, during his voyage
in 1822, found it so changed, that the needle pointed within about
fourteen degrees of south. All, I believe, concur, that this is a
phenomenon which universally occurs in high northern latitudes; but
it has hitherto remained unexplained. I believe, according to the old
theory, the needle is imagined to be attracted by something at or near
the pole: were this supposition correct, the needle would uniformly
maintain its polarity on proceeding north, on any given meridian,
until you arrived at the very pole itself. The possibility of a moving
magnetic cause is difficult, if not impossible, to be reconciled
with a solid globe; yet that the magnetic needle does vary on the
same meridian, and to a most extraordinary degree, in high northern
latitudes, is confirmed beyond all doubt. Why not then urge the
variableness of the magnetic cause against the possibility of a solid

According to the doctrine of hollow spheres, this whole mystery, of
the variation of the compass, can be satisfactorily explained. The
magnetic needle, it is believed, regards the centre of the polar
opening, and not the pole or axis of the earth. It will be recollected,
that the axis of the earth, being at an angle of twelve or fifteen
degrees from the plane of the polar openings, causes one part of the
verge to extend farther north than the other, the highest part of which
is nearly on a meridian running through Spitzbergen, in about latitude
sixty-eight degrees, and the lowermost side in about the fiftieth
degree. Now in proceeding north on the first meridian, running near
Spitzbergen, there ought to be no variation of the needle until you
arrive at the apparent verge, when the needle would cease to traverse;
and by proceeding onwards, would turn and point south. Should you
proceed north, on a meridian west of this, when you approached the
apparent verge, the needle would seem to turn west, but in reality,
it would be the meridian turning to the right along the verge to
its highest or most northerly point; the needle keeping at a right
angle with the verge. And, in like manner, pursuing a course north,
on a meridian east of Spitzbergen, on your approach to the apparent
verge, the needle would still direct its course at a right angle
into the polar opening, (governed, most probably, by some principle
of electricity, or other property contained in matter, and kept in
one position, subject to the shape of the earth, which may not even
yet be exactly known,) the meridian would here wind to the left, and
conduct you to the highest point of the apparent verge, north of
Spitzbergen. Hence the variation of the needle would be east in Asia,
and west in America, which I am told is the fact. From an examination
of the variation of the compass, as ascertained in different degrees
of latitude and longitude, it increases as you proceed north, and
west; which would be exactly the case in accordance with the theory of
concentric spheres.[29]

Admitting the earth to be a solid globe, and the cause of magnetism
to be some attractive power at the pole, how could the needle vary
differently on the same meridian, in different latitudes, at the
same period of time, or vary at the same place, at different periods
of time? But, admit the doctrine contended for, by the advocates
of concentric spheres, and it can be satisfactorily explained. The
observations of modern astronomers, have ascertained, that the poles,
or axis of the earth, are not always directed to the same fixed star;
and, of consequence, that the axis does not always remain parallel to
itself. This variation is discovered to be about fifty-one minutes
annually; which would make a degree in about seventy-one years: hence
the needle always pointing to the polar opening, would vary in about
that proportion, at the same place, in the same period of time.[30]


[6] Hearne's Journal, pp. 357, 368.

[7] Hearne's Journal, pp. 364, 365.

[8] Hearne's Journal, p. 442.

[9] Hearne's Journal, p. 442, 443, 444, 445, 446.

[10] Ibid, p. 445.

[11] Barrington and Beaufoy, pp. 21, 51.

[12] Ibid, pp. 25, 61.

[13] Ibid, pp 25, 32, 37, 61.

[14] _From the National Intelligencer of Sept. 30, 1824._

"POLAR SEAS.――The fact that there are open seas round both the earth's
poles, has received strong corroboration within the last few months.
We have now a letter on our table from a naval officer at Drontheim,
who notices the fact that Captain Sabine had good weather, and
reached eighty degrees and thirty-one minutes north latitude, without
obstruction from the ice; so that the expedition might easily have
proceeded farther had its object so required. We have also had the
pleasure to meet recently with a British officer who, with two vessels
under his command, last season penetrated to seventy-four degrees
twenty-five minutes south latitude, in the antarctic circle, which is
about three degrees beyond Cook's utmost limit. There he found the sea
perfectly clear of ice, and might have prosecuted his voyage towards
the pole, if other considerations had permitted. There was no field ice
in sight towards the south; and the water was inhabited by many finned
and hump-backed whales; the longitude was between the south Shetland
Islands, lately discovered, and Sandwich land: this proves the former
to be an Archipelago (as was supposed) and not a continent. The voyage
is remarkable as being the utmost south upon record; and we hope to
be favoured with other particulars of it. At present we have only to
add, that the variation of the needle was extraordinary, and the more
important as they could not readily be explained by the philosophical
principles at present maintained on the subject."

  _Literary Gazette._

[15] Barrington and Beaufoy, p. 74.

[16] Purchas, vol. 1, p. 479.

[17] Hearne's Journal, p. 7.

[18] Barrington and Beaufoy, p. 36.――Dr. Birch's history of the Royal
Society, vol. et seq.

[19] Bar. p. 101.

[20] Barrington and Beaufoy, pp. 25, 124.

[21] At the mouth of St. Peter's river, in winter, it is as much colder
than at Sacket's Harbour, as Sacket's Harbour is colder than Mobile,
although St. Peter's is west and Mobile south of Sacket's Harbour, at
nearly equal distances.

[22] Barrington and Beaufoy, p. 74.――Ross' Voyage, vol. 1, p. 52,
London, 1819.

[23] Darwin's Botanic Garden.

[24] Ross' Voyage, v. 1, p. 175.

[25] Ross' Voyage, v. 1, p. 110.

[26] Ross' Voyages, v. 1, pp. 71, 135, 199, 206.

[27] Mackenzie states, "that sometimes the land _looms_, so that there
may be a great deception in the distances."――Mackenzie's Voyage, p. 11,
New-York, 1802.

[28] Ross' Voyage, v. 2, p. 4, London, 1819.

[29] Ross' Voyage, v. 2, p. 119.

[30] Physical World, p. 72.


 _Facts tending to illustrate and prove the existence of a_
 mid-plane-space, _situated between the concave and convex surfaces of
 the sphere._

According to Symmes's 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 or 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 is 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, is believed to be water quite through
from the concave or convex surfaces to the great mid-plane-space, and
probably the earthy 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 appears to be supported by various facts and phenomena;
amongst the most prominent of which are Volcanoes and Earthquakes. Many
volcanic mountains burst out and burn for ages, discharging from the
bowels of the earth immense quantities of lava, pumice, and various
substances of various kinds. Some of these mountains have been burning
for thousands of years, at least as far back as the records of history
have been made known to us.

Had the earth, at its formation, been a solid globe, four times as hard
as hammered iron at the centre, and gradually lessening in density
towards the surface, we must admit that it would still be solid matter.
Governing ourselves by these principles, how can we imagine that such
immense caverns, filled with combustible matter, as would be necessary
to supply those volcanoes from time immemorial, could have existed?
However, that they do exist is certain, which I think is in no way
more easily accounted for, than on the plan of a _mid-plane-space_,
or of spaces, filled with a certain hydrogenous gas, which being much
lighter than atmospheric air, if there should be any small aperture or
crevice extending from the surface to the space beneath, the gravity of
the outer part of the sphere pressing on it would occasion a portion
of this gas to escape through the aperture; and as it comes in contact
with the oxygen of the atmosphere would take fire and occasion those
tremendous explosions which we know do sometimes take place and cause
those mountains to burn for years, until the cavity which supplied the
volcanic matter, becomes exhausted; or until some shock or convulsion
consequent on the burning, may have loosened rocks or earth of the
denser part of the sphere, which falling into the aperture, choke it
up. Hence the gas ceasing to escape, the volcano would cease to burn,
until some shock or accident should again open the aperture.

The elastic fluid, with which the _mid-plane_ cavities are filled,
being forced out into the common atmosphere, the greater degree of
gravity would condense and set free its latent heat or caloric, and be
resolved into its original base, somewhat as coal-gas, out of the tube
of a gas-light apparatus, yields up its latent heat by condensation.
Hence steam burns when mixed with coal-gas.

If the earth be a solid globe, I am at a loss to account for the
principles on which earthquakes occur. Long before I heard of Symmes's
theory, or perhaps before it had an existence in the mind of man,
when reading accounts of earthquakes, it appeared to me altogether
unaccountable, that such violent concussions could take place in one
part of the world, and not be felt throughout the globe. It appears
altogether inconsistent, that one part of a solid piece of matter,
would be shaken so violently, without affecting the whole mass. We are
informed by authentic history, that whole islands, and vast sections
of country, have been sunk by earthquakes, and never more heard of. On
the other hand, islands which are now inhabited, and productive, have
been raised, apparently, from the bottom of the unfathomable ocean.
How such things occur, I am unable to divine. If the globe be solid,
on what principle could a large portion of its surface, which is said
to be lighter than the parts beneath, sink into a dense medium? How
could a heavy mass, lying a thousand fathoms deep at the bottom of the
ocean, rise, and be suddenly elevated above the surface of the water,
when all below is so compact, and governed by an opposite and immutable
tendency? It appears to be a solecism in nature.

The writer had once an opportunity of witnessing some of the effects
of earthquakes. It was his fortune to be on the Mississippi river
in the year 1812, at the time when that country was so violently
convulsed with an earthquake. He saw and heard innumerable explosions,
as though a large quantity of air had been confined in the bowels of
the earth, and, seeking vent, rushed out with a tremendous sound;
forcing up considerable quantities of sand through the apertures, in
many instances mixed with black muddy water, and a substance resembling
stone coal, or carbonated wood, which emitted a strong bituminous
odour, when exposed to fire.

At one place the river was stopped in its course a short time: the
water rose to a considerable height above its common level; and, on
the west side of the channel of the river, there was a counter-current
for a few minutes of an astonishing velocity. So great was its force,
that for some distance the cotton wood and willows on the margin of the
river, were either prostrated or bent up the stream; and their branches
looked as if they had been dragged a long way on the ground. The waters
of the river soon subsided, and flowed in their natural direction.

So tremendous were those explosions, that when happening under large
trees, the tenacity of their texture yielded at once to their force;
and the largest in the forest were split and fractured from root
to top. During these convulsions, the ground on which the town of
New-Madrid is situated, together with the country for several miles
round, sunk about five feet below its former elevation; in which
situation it has remained. Eight years afterwards the writer was again
on the same spot. The desolate aspect, which the country presented at
the time he witnessed those scenes, was measurably obliterated: but the
banks of the river were still in their sunken situation.

How could all those violent convulsions take place at this point, and
not be felt at New-Orleans, along the sea coast of the United States,
and other places? Whence came this water and air, which issued from
those apertures in the earth? And why did the river for a few minutes
flow in a contrary direction, and then resume its natural course? If
the earth be a compact and solid globe, I can account for none of
these things; but admitting the formation of the sphere to be such as
I contend for, they are all resolved into the most simple principles;
and what would otherwise be impenetrable mystery, is made as plain
as noon-day. If the sphere be formed as I allege, those concussions
were doubtless occasioned by the gas or fluid in the _mid-plane_ or
some intermediate space, near the surface, which, by being suddenly
rarified, would make it expand, and cause the upper part of the sphere
to be suddenly elevated in the neighbourhood of the Little Prairie;
and hence the waters of the river, pursuing the laws of gravity, would
flow in a contrary direction. This sudden expansion, and elevation of
the surface, would cause apertures, through which the rare gas would
escape, and the surface would then settle down again, not only to its
former level, but, as a considerable portion of this gas had escaped,
the remaining part would occupy less space; hence the surface of the
country, around New-Madrid, would be below its former situation.[31]

The fluid, or gas, which fills the mid-plane and intermediate cavities,
is most probably the same, or partaking of the same nature, (though
perhaps in a purer state,) with that which oozes out of fissures
in the earth, at the bottom of deep mines, called by chemists,
_hydro-carbonate_; which being highly inflammable, takes fire from the
lamps used by workmen, and explodes with such violence as to destroy
both men and horses employed in the mine. This is a frequent occurrence
in the deep coal mines of England; and great numbers annually have lost
their lives in this way, before the introduction of Sir Humphrey Davy's
lamp. I am also informed, from good authority, that the miners, in some
of the deep coal mines in England, once felt, or heard an earthquake,
which happened in Italy, whilst those on the surface of the ground had
no knowledge of it. This would be the case, if the intermediate cavity,
which caused the earthquake, extended in that direction, and near the
bottom of the mine; as it is presumed the rare gas with which those
spaces are filled, is better adapted to the conveyance of sound, or
vibratory motion, than the more solid parts of the sphere, or even the
atmosphere around us.

On the supposition that the globe is solid, and the matter composing
it at rest, as respects itself, on what principle can boiling and hot
springs be accounted for; some of which issue out several thousands
of miles distant from where any volcano or subterranean fire is known
to exist; particularly as to those on the waters of Red river, in the
state of Louisiana, which are sufficiently hot to cook meat in a few

Phenomena which occur in various lakes in Europe, may be adverted to in
support of this theory. The waters of lake Zirchnitzer, in the Dutchy
of Carniola, in Germany, flow off, and leave the basin empty; and again
fill it, in an extraordinary and impetuous manner; bringing up with
its waters fish and even sometimes wild water fowl.[32] In the same
country, there is a subterranean lake, in the Grotto Podspetschio, of
considerable extent; the whole of this vast body of water, at certain
times, will disappear in a few minutes, and leave the basin dry; and
after a few weeks, it again suddenly returns, with a frightful noise.
The lake of Geneva, and some others in Switzerland, at certain times
rise and fall several feet without any cause, which has as yet been
satisfactorily explained; and some writers inform us, that those lakes,
particularly Geneva, send forth, at times, a grumbling noise. In the
Saian mountains, near the source of the Yenisei, is a lake, called
Boulamy-Koul, which, at the approach of winter, emits strange sounds,
somewhat similar to those which precede the eruption of a volcano, and
which are compared by the neighbouring inhabitants to howling. The
inhabitants on the borders of Baikal, also state, that they have often
heard dreadful and terrific howlings proceed from that lake.[33] The
lake, Agnano, in Italy, sometimes, especially when the waters are
high, appears to boil at its borders. This ebullition is supposed to be
occasioned by some gaseous fluids, discharged into the bottom, which
traverse the waters of the lake.[34] These various phenomena, which
cannot be easily accounted for, might be best explained perhaps, on the
principles of _mid-plane-spaces_. In various parts of the north, thick
strata of ice are found, under a thick soil; and on ice-bergs, floating
in the ocean, have been discovered masses of earth, of granite, and of
other rocks.[35]

On the shores of Greenland the ebb tide flows towards the coast,
apparently as though it passes under the land, and the flood tide
recedes from the shore; and in those regions the sea is almost
universally found deeper as you approach the shore.[36] When the
whales become scarce, experience has taught the whalers to seek for
them near the shore, as if at certain seasons they retired to it,
and then disappeared. Captain Symmes imagines that the sea extends
quite through the spheres, about Greenland, and that the whales
suddenly migrate either to the _mid-plane-space_, or to the seas
on the opposite side; which he alleges to be the case with several
other species of fish, as well as seals; all of which, he supposes,
breed in the _mid-plane-space_. The reasons that induce him to adopt
this conclusion are various; such as, that fish have been thrown up
by the eruption of a volcano in South America[37]――herring appearing
in such immense numbers at certain seasons of the year――the whales
seeming to pass under Greenland――two seals having been once caught in
Lake Ontario, which is said to be unfathomable, although this lake
is many degrees south of where the seals have ever before been known
to come――and the various species of fish in our northern lakes which
appear and disappear at certain periods. That the exterior seas in
some places communicate with the interior seas, is rendered probable
by various other circumces; such as currents running continually into
the Mediterranean, and no visible outlet to the water thus continually
flowing in. It is scarcely probable that evaporation could carry off
all the water supplied by the straits of Gibraltar――the white sea being
more salt at the head than at the foot――the tides being higher in the
Baltic than the Mediterranean――white foxes having been forced up by
the waters of the sea (as Symmes undertakes to prove) in the northern
regions――the peculiarities of the tremendous whirlpool on the coast
of Norway, called the Maalstroom, which sucks in, and discharges the
waters of the sea with great violence――and those observable in the Bay
of Biscay, which are said to be unfathomable.


[31] EARTHQUAKES.――M. Biot, after detailing the phenomena of the
earthquake, on the 22d of February, 1822, concludes an interesting
paper with these observations:――

In the infancy of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, it was imagined
that earthquakes might be easily explained; in proportion as these
sciences have become more correct and more profound, this confidence
has decreased. But by a propensity, for which the character of the
human mind sufficiently accounts, all the new physical agents which
have been successively discovered, such as electricity, magnetism,
the inflammation of gases, the decomposition and recomposition of
water, have been maintained in theories as the causes of the great
phenomena of nature. Now all these conjectures seem to be insufficient
to explain convulsions so extensive, produced at the same time over
such large portions of the earth, as those which take place during
earthquakes. The most probable opinion, the only one which seems to
us to reconcile, in a certain degree, the energy, the extent of these
phenomena, and often their frightful correspondence in the most distant
countries of the globe, would be to suppose, conformably to many other
physical indications, that the solid surface on which we live is but of
inconsiderable thickness in comparison with the semi-diameter of the
terrestrial globe; is in some measure only a recent shell, covering
a liquid nucleus, perhaps still in a state of ignition, in which
great chemical or physical phenomena operating at intervals cause
those agitations which are transmitted to us. The countries where the
superficial crust is less thick or less strong, or more recently or
more imperfectly consolidated, would agreeably to this hypothesis, be
those the most liable to be convulsed and broken by the violence of
these internal explosions. Now if we compare together the experiments
on the length of the pendulum, which have been made for some years past
with great accuracy, from the north of Scotland to the south of Spain,
we readily perceive that the intensity of gravitation decreases on this
space, as we go from the Pole towards the Equator, more rapidly than
it ought to do upon an ellipsoid, the concentric and similar strata of
which should have equal densities at equal depths; and the deviation
is especially sensible about the middle of France, where too there has
been observed a striking irregularity in the length of the degrees of
the earth. This local decrease of gravity in these countries should
seem to indicate, with some probability, that the strata near the
surface must be less dense there than elsewhere, and perhaps have in
their interior immense cavities. This would account for the existence
of the numerous volcanos of which these strata show the traces, and
explain why they are even now, at intervals, the focus of subterraneous

[32] Cook's Geography, v. 2, p. 250――Also Rees' Cyclopedia, article

[33] Rees' Cyclopedia, article Lake Geneva.

[34] Rees' Cyclopedia, article Lake.

[35] Ross' Voyage, v. 1, p. 225.

[36] Ibid, v. 1, p. 144.

[37] Humboldt.


 _Several objections, made to the Theory of Concentric Spheres,
 answered, particularly the one that it contravenes religious opinions;
 demonstrating that the earth, and the other orbs of the universe, are
 formed on the best possible plan for the maintenance and support of
 organic life._

Some of the most prominent objections which I have heard advanced
against the theory of concentric spheres are the following:

1st. That if the earth be not a solid globe, but a hollow concentric
sphere, the quantity of matter being diminished, the attraction of
gravitation must be lessened so much that all moveable bodies resting
on the earth would be thrown off by centrifugal force, in the line of a
tangent from the surface of the sphere.

2d. That according to the established laws of gravity, a hollow sphere
could not exist in nature: that matter would be gravitated to the
centre, and particularly about the polar openings, so as to make it

3d. That if the orbs were hollow spheres, the mutual influence of the
planets on each other would be so far destroyed, that they would cease
to revolve in regular orbits.

4th. That the interior of the sphere can never receive the light and
heat of the sun; is involved in perpetual darkness, and more suited to
the infliction of punishment on perverse and rebellious spirits, than
for the residence of beings, fitted and designed for the pursuit and
enjoyment of happiness.

5th. And finally, the adherents of the new theory have been charged
with atheism, deism, and such like epithets, as though they intended to
overturn the works of God, and thwart the laws of nature.

1st. As to the first objection, I would enquire, has it yet been
ascertained with mathematical certainty, in what exact proportion one
particle of matter attracts another? And may there not be some law of
nature with which we are not yet well acquainted? All the experiments,
hitherto made on the attractive power of gravity, were made on the
principle, and under the belief, that the earth is a solid globe;
and consequently the deductions were drawn accordingly. Suppose the
attraction of gravitation, inherent in matter, to be so much increased,
that a hollow sphere would possess the same attractive power, as if
it were a solid globe, would not all the results and consequences be
exactly the same? This being the case,――and I know no reason why we
should conclude differently,――the whole force of the objection appears
to fall to the ground. According to Newton's principle of gravity,
the matter of the sphere would attract all particles of matter placed
on the surface, as well upon the concave as convex, in nearly equal
proportions; and the centrifugal force, which, on the outer side of
the sphere, tends to throw bodies off, on the concave side, would have
an opposite effect. Hence, a person standing, or trees growing, on the
interior surface, would be in no more danger of being precipitated to
the next sphere, between them and the centre, than those on the outer
part of the sphere, when they should be _turned_ (what is familiarly
called) _down_.

The experiments made on the density of the globe, by observations with
the plum-line, at the foot of a mountain, are very ingenious; but
they must be subject to great uncertainty. The true deviation of the
plum-line, the exact quantity of matter in the mountain, or, indeed,
the quantity of matter between the plummet and the centre of gravity,
are points difficult, if not impossible, to be ascertained with
mathematical precision.

If the attraction of the sun is just sufficient to keep the earth in
its orbit, what can give the tendency to retain Jupiter and Saturn in
theirs, each of which, if solid, contains such a vast quantity more
than the earth, and removed to so great a distance from the sun, that
his influence upon either must be greatly lessened by both?

2d. As to the objections that a hollow sphere of the dimension of the
earth cannot exist in nature, I can discover no sound reason to warrant
such a conclusion. Many hollow cylinders and spherical figures, we know
do exist on the surface of the earth; and notwithstanding their own
gravity, which the different parts exert on each other, as well as the
gravity of the earth, they retain their shape and position; and had the
matter in the earth originally been thrown by a centrifugal force into
the form of a hollow sphere, or had the first creating power originally
given it that shape,――I can discover no good reason for a change;
neither should I entertain any apprehensions of the particles of matter
coalescing at the centre.

3d. The force of this objection I cannot appreciate; for if all the
planetary orbs in the universe are composed of hollow concentric
spheres, they must exert the same relative influence on each other,
which they would if they were solid orbs, as they would each contain
the same proportion of matter as respects each other. Hence no good
reason appears why a system of hollow concentric spheres might not do
just as well, and perform their revolutions with the same regularity,
as a system of solid ones.

4th. This great and alarming objection comes next:――that we are about
placing a world in eternal darkness, cut off from all the comforts
and pleasures of refined life, for the enjoyment of which we are so
eminently qualified. Let us examine the force of this objection; and
if we cannot show that the interior is, at least in some degree,
illuminated, we must then conclude that it is a very dreary abode, and
unfitted for the residence of beings so fond of light as we _profess to

According to the new theory, the northern polar opening is about four
thousand one hundred and fifty miles in diameter, and the axis of the
earth is at an angle of about twelve degrees with the axis of the plane
of the polar opening; consequently, as the sphere revolves on its axis,
one side of the verge of the polar opening will extend considerably
further north than the other. The verge of the north polar opening on
the low side, is laid down at about fifty degrees of latitude, and the
verge of the high side at about sixty-eight degrees.

Now, supposing the sun to be exactly of the same diameter as the earth,
and placed directly over the equator, when the low side of the verge
was turned towards the sun, the direct rays from his northern limb,
independent of refraction, would pass the edge of the lower part of the
verge, and fall on the inner part of the sphere, on the concave part of
the high side opposite, as far as eighteen degrees, or upwards. When
the sun would be on the tropic of Cancer, in June, he must then throw
the rays from his centre twenty-three and a half degrees further within
the sphere, or within twenty-six and a half degrees of the equator;
but the diameter of the sun being so much greater than the earth, the
rays from his northern limb, would fall about thirty-three minutes
further within the sphere, and leave not quite twenty-six degrees
between that and the equator to be excluded from his direct rays.
This relates to the northern polar opening; as to that of the south,
which is believed to be much larger, we will make a few remarks.
The lower side of the south polar opening, is laid in about latitude
thirty-four degrees, and the higher side, in about latitude forty-six
degrees. Were the sun of the same diameter with the earth, as above
premised, and placed on the equator, his direct rays would be thrown
into the south polar opening when the low side was towards him, about
twelve degrees, or to within thirty-four degrees of the equator, and
when on the tropic of Capricorn, in December, twenty-three and a half
degrees further, that is, the inner part of the southern hemisphere
of the sphere, on the high side, would be lighted thirty-five and a
half degrees within the verge; and the direct rays of the sun would
shine within ten and a half degrees of the inner centre of the sphere
or equator. These observations, you will observe, are made in the most
unfavourable point of view. It is well known, that the diameter of the
sun, is vastly greater than that of the earth; consequently, his rays
would pass into the polar opening so much further, in proportion as
the angle of his diameter, and that of the earth, differ, which would
be about thirty-three minutes further, bringing his direct rays in the
south, within less than ten degrees of the equator; and this would be
the case as the sphere revolved on its axis, once in every twenty-four
hours. When the sphere turned, with its high side towards the sun, it
would be night, or twilight, and when the low side was next the sun, it
would be day; at all events, the direct rays of the sun would fall on a
space of about thirty-six and a half degrees in breadth; the reflection
from which would light the whole of the remaining portion of the inner
part of the sphere, to a greater degree, than any moon-light with which
we are acquainted. But there is another circumstance which tends to
throw the rays of the sun much further into the concave than we have
yet got them; that is, the refractive power of the atmosphere. It is
a well known fact that the rays of light are very much refracted when
passing out of a rare into a denser medium; and about the poles of the
earth it is believed, (and this belief is confirmed by navigators) that
refraction increases very considerably, owing to the great density of
the atmosphere. We have good reason then to believe that refraction
throws the rays of the sun several degrees further within the sphere.
But let us take the known refraction of the horizontal ray, at or near
the equator (say one half of a degree) it would throw the rays of light
so much further into the concave, and not leave quite thirty-seven
degrees in the centre of the sphere deprived of the sun's rays. The
motion of the earth causes the apparent motion of the sun to be about
fifteen degrees in an hour, as the diurnal revolution of the earth
causes the sun to move apparently through three hundred and sixty
degrees in twenty-four hours. Now it is a well known fact to all that
the sun gives us light sufficient to be called day-light, for about
an hour after he descends below the horizon; consequently he must
afford us light when he is fifteen degrees obscured from our view.
Accordingly, the sun, though he might not be visible, would illuminate
the concave part of the sphere fifteen degrees further than his direct
rays fall, which reduces the space in the interior of the sphere to the
breadth of not quite seven degrees which would still remain unlighted.

But this is making calculations on the most unfavorable premises
possible. Considering the form of the earth, and the power of
refraction, I have no doubt but the direct rays of the sun would fall
on every part of the inner sphere. However, I have proceeded on such
premises as, I conclude, the most sceptical must admit. Light, we
know, is reflected from solid bodies on which it falls, and also from
the atmosphere: the rays of the sun, then, which would pass the lower
part of the verge and fall on the opposite concave surface, would be
reflected back in all directions, and most probably light the whole
of the interior of the sphere sufficient for the ordinary purposes of
life. By way of further illustration, suppose a perpendicular wall
were raised on a plain, one mile high, does any person believe that
there would be no light on the side of the wall opposite to the sun;
although his rays would have to form an angle of one hundred and forty,
or one hundred and fifty degrees, to reach the earth on that side of
the wall? No axiom is more evident than that the rays of light are
communicated to other places than those on which the rays of the sun
fall directly; for example, we all know that a close room, however
large, with a north window, will be sufficiently lighted by refraction
and reflection from the atmosphere, provided there is no obstruction
opposite the window, although the rays of the sun would have to form an
angle of one hundred and fifty degrees to enter it, and why might not
the whole interior of the sphere be lighted in the same manner, even
supposing the rays of the sun should never enter directly. The north
polar opening being about four thousand one hundred and fifty miles in
diameter, and the southern six thousand three hundred and fifty, with
the whole force of the direct rays of the sun falling on and passing
through the atmosphere at either polar opening, it would not require
refraction, or reflection, to make an angle of ninety degrees to light
the whole of the interior concave; and certainly the polar openings are
sufficiently large for the purpose, when we compare a common window
with the dimensions of an ordinary sized room.

It is believed, by the adherents of the new theory, that the
atmosphere, within the concave, and about the polar openings, is much
denser than our atmosphere; which appears inevitably to be the case,
as the centrifugal force on the convex has the tendency to throw the
atmosphere _from_ the surface, and on the concave to force it from
the centre of motion, and nearer _to_ the surface. This admitted, the
rays of the sun passing out of a rare medium into a denser, would be
refracted much further into the sphere; and the sun-shine on the
surface of one sphere would be reflected obliquely, according to the
angle of incidence, to the next sphere, and in this manner might be
extended even beyond the centre of the concave. It is also believed,
that near the verges of the polar openings, and perhaps in many other
parts of the unfathomable ocean, the spheres are water quite through,
(at least all except the _mid-plane-spaces_, or cavities) which being
the case, light would probably be transmitted between the spheres.

The apparent elevation of celestial bodies above their true altitude,
is greatest when the body is on the horizon, which is ascertained to
be a little more than half a degree; hence, in our climate, the sun
appears three minutes sooner, and sets three minutes later than is
really the case, which increases the length of our day six minutes, by
refraction. This gradually increases in proceeding from the equator
to the frigid zones; and at the poles, were the earth entire, the
day should become thirty-six hours longer, by refraction alone, than
it would otherwise be.[38] It was doubtless owing to some peculiar
refractive power in the northern regions, that caused the Dutch, who
wintered on Nova-Zembla, (which is in latitude between seventy and
seventy-eight degrees,) on the approach of summer, to see the sun
about two weeks sooner than he should have appeared in that latitude,
according to astronomical calculation.[39] This tends to show that
there is more refraction in the northern regions than is observable in
the south.[40]

From an attentive examination of these considerations, I am induced to
conclude, that the interior of the sphere may be as well lighted as the
exterior; or at all events, if not favoured with so great a degree of
light at all times, it has a more regular and constant supply. But,
admitting every thing on this subject that the opponents of the theory
can suggest, I still discover no substantial reason why the earth
may not be a hollow sphere. I can see no substantial reason why the
inhabitants of that portion of the earth, (if any exist there) should
be furnished with as great a degree of light, and as intense a heat,
as we have upon the convex part of the sphere. Must it of necessity
follow, that it cannot be inhabited, or if inhabited, that the beings
who people its surface, are less happy than we? Certainly not. Is
it not well known to us, that every grade and species of animals,
under every variety of circumstance, whether inhabiting the air, the
earth, or the water, are fitted by an all-wise Providence to their
several conditions, and mediums, in which they reside? As well might
we conclude, that the immense planet Jupiter, situated so far from
the sun as he is, can be nothing but a dark, cold, and barren waste,
unfitted for the residence of intelligent beings. It is ascertained
by calculation, that the light and heat which Jupiter receives from
the sun, is only the one twenty-seventh part of what the earth
receives.[41] The light and heat which Saturn receives from the sun
is estimated at only the one hundredth part of that of the earth;[42]
and the planet Georgium Sidus, revolving such an immense distance
further from the sun, than either of them, must enjoy still less light
and heat; according to which, we would conclude, (if we adopt the
belief, that the degree of light and heat, to which we are accustomed,
is necessary for the support of life,) that those vast planets are
not fitted by the God of nature for the residence of intelligent
beings; however, I am inclined to believe that both light and heat are
communicated to them, in some way not well known to us, sufficient for
the purpose. The true principles of light and heat, and the manner in
which they are generated and transmitted, are not perhaps yet well
understood and defined.[43]

5th. Others, when the new theory is mentioned, cry Atheist, Deist,
blasphemy! as if its advocates proposed to make a new world, and
support it without the intervention of Divine Providence: such
opponents scarcely deserve an answer. It is believed by all, that
the earth, the sun, the moon and stars, are the work of an Almighty
power. Whether solid globes or hollow spheres, they equally owe
their existence to the great first cause, that spoke matter into
existence, that arranged it in whatever form and order infinite
wisdom dictated; and that still supports and governs the whole by
universal and unvarying laws. But it is as well known, that the
Almighty Disposer, interposes no miracles for the accomplishment of his
designs, but makes use of means that are uniform in their application,
to effect the intended purpose; hence Geologists, Philosophers, and
Astronomers, attempt to account for the existence of all matter, and
for the formation of planets, according to what is believed to be the
established laws of matter. In so doing, we do not disparage the wisdom
of the Creator, nor controvert the truth of that divine record, which
Providence, in his goodness, has given us for our rule of life. True it
is, the sacred scriptures give us very little information relative to
the structure and formation of the earth and the other planets. They
were not intended to teach mankind Geology, Geography, or Astronomy;
yet where assertions are clearly and distinctly made respecting
these things, we have reason to believe them literally correct: as
for instance, when the Psalmist informs us, that God hung the earth
upon nothing; that He balanced it in empty space, we are to look for
corresponding facts; though it was at variance with the opinion of
the world at that time, modern astronomy now teaches that such is the
fact. In like manner, when we meet with assertions, such as that "the
fountains of the great deep were broken up," (והארץ היתה תהו ובהו,
chapter 1, verse 2,[44]) we must acknowledge their correctness; and I
think it will be admitted, that they are at least as much in favour of
this new theory as the old.

The skilful and attentive observer of nature, whether examining the
most minute or the most sublime, will discover that infinite wisdom,
judgment, and ingenuity, equally prevail throughout. The principal
aims of the great author of all things, appear to have been animation,
diversity, and usefulness; the air we breathe, the water we drink, the
vegetables on which we feed; indeed every leaf and plant of the forest
and field――all teem with animal life. Why then should we believe, or
even presume to think, that the Almighty Fiat, which spoke matter
into existence, for the support and maintenance of living creatures,
innumerable, and endless in the variety of their organization, their
colours, their passions, and their pursuits――why, I say, should we
then presume, that the omnifick word would create even the smallest
particle of any of the immense, the innumerable orbs in the universe,
of inert or useless matter, devoid of activity and design? This earth,
when compared with the magnitude and number of other planets we know,
is but as a point; yet we can hardly conceive, small as she appears
by comparison, that she was only designed to have animate life on
her surface, and all the rest to remain useless! Such an idea seems
unworthy of the Divine Being, whose essence is all perfection. Can
we for a moment suppose, that the interior parts of the earth, have
received less attention from the Creator, than the objects which are
under our immediate inspection? On the contrary, may it not be more
rationally inferred, that, for the object of more widely disseminating
animation, spheres are formed within spheres, concentric with each
other, each revolving on its own axis, and thus multiplying the
habitable superfices?

Great and sublime as our conceptions of the Deity must be, when we
contemplate the earth and its inhabitants――if we turn our attention
to the solar system, our world dwindles into a little insignificant
ball. Yet if we cast our eyes still beyond, and contemplate the eighty
millions of fixed stars, which a good telescope brings to our view,
each the centre of a mighty system of revolving worlds; and then
reflect that all this is only one little dark corner of creation, we
are lost in the magnitude of the contemplation. But when we come to
consider each of these fixed stars, with their planets, and they with
their satellites, all consisting of concentric spheres, revolving
within each other, in due order, and adapted to the support and
comforts of life, for countless millions of beings; we are struck with
ten-fold astonishment and admiration, and bow with reverential awe,
before Him who sits at the head of the universe, and governs the whole
by unvarying laws. It would seem to me, that in contemplating this new
order of creation, the imagination must break through and soar beyond
its old boundaries. It would seem that on embracing this doctrine, the
spirit must expand with increased devotion, and be entirely absorbed in
the infinite wisdom and power of Him, who was competent to devise, and
able to execute, such a beautiful arrangement of matter.


[38] Physical World, p. 105.

[39] Barrington and Beaufoy, p. 106, and Purchas, v. 3, pp. 499, 500.

[40] The late George Adams, in his Philosophy, treating of refraction,
states, that "at the horizon, in this climate, (England) it is found
to be about thirty-three minutes. In climates near the equator, where
the air is pure, the refraction is less; and in the colder climates,
nearer the pole, it increases exceedingly, and is a happy provision
for lengthening the appearance of the light at those regions so remote
from the sun. Gassendees relates, that some Hollanders, who wintered in
Nova-Zembla, in latitude seventy-five degrees, were agreeably surprised
with a sight of the sun seventeen days before they expected him in the
horizon. This difference was owing to the refraction of the atmosphere
in that latitude."――Adams' Philosophy, v. 4, p. 112, Philadelphia, 1807.

[41] Keith on Globes, p. 144.――

[42] Ibid, p. 149.

[43] Sir Isaac Newton, in his Principia, under prop. 16, book 3, lays
down the following proposition, viz: that "_the heat of the sun is as
the density of his rays, that is reciprocally as the squares of the
distances from the sun_." From this principle, it has been assumed
by some of our modern astronomers, that but few of the planets can
be inhabited, as if the effect of light and heat are reciprocally
proportionate to the squares of the distances from the centre of their
propagation; and if you divide the square of the earth's distance from
the sun, the quotient will show, that the light and heat, which Mercury
receives, are about seven times greater, making it more than twice as
hot as boiling water. The light and heat communicated to Saturn, being
only the one hundredth part of that of the earth, the difference is
more than seven times as great as that between our summer heat and
red hot iron, if the light and heat of the sun are only in proportion
to the density of his rays. Such extremes of heat and cold, we would
naturally conclude must totally preclude all material being, if in the
least degree resembling those we are acquainted with; nor could any of
the vegetable world, known to us, germinate in either extreme; nay,
even the matter of our globe would scarcely withstand it, our oceans
would be dissipated in vapour, on Mercury, and frozen to the bottom
on Saturn. Considerations like these must induce us to conclude, that
light and heat cannot be communicated exactly on the plan laid down
by Newton, viz: that the heat of the sun is simply as the density of
his rays: for though the sun's rays may be the _sine qua non_, without
which no light or heat would be communicated, yet the _quantum_ of heat
may depend on the density and co-operation of the medium through which
it passes, or upon some other circumstance not known to us, and perhaps
impossible for us to know.

[44] I am indebted to an excellent Hebrew scholar for the following:

NOTE. The words תהו ובהו _Theoo_ and _Beoo_, (Genesis, chapter 1,
verse 2,) which has been rendered by the translators of our bible,
"Without form and void," might perhaps, with equal propriety, have been
translated "without form and hollow."

1. _Theoo_, the root, agreeably to the Hebrew grammar, is found as a
noun תה or תהה _The_ or _Thee_, and, is rendered _confusion_, loose,
unconnected, without form, order, or the like; and so well understood.

2. _Be-oo_, the root, is, according to the same rule, found in
בה――_Be_, (_Bethhey_) _hollow_; it occurs not only in this form but――

1. As a noun בהו Beoo――Hollow, empty, having nothing in it but air,
filled only _vacuo aere_, with empty air, as Lucan calls it, Lib. 5,
line 94.

2. As a noun fem: in reg: בת‏‎, בת עין Bet, Bethoin, the apparent
hollow, or pupil of the eye, &c. Comp. בבת Bebath, under, בב Beb.

3. As a noun fem: תבה _Thebe_ in Reg: תבת Thebeth, an ark, a hollow
vessel, under 2d head of בב Beb. occurs not as a verb in kab, but

1. As a _participial_ noun, or participle in Nipth נבוב Neboob, hollow,
made hollow, &c.

2. It is applied spiritually, hollow, empty, vain.

3. To the sight, or pupil of the eye; that part of the eye which
appears hollow, and admits the light. See Parkhurst's Hebrew Lexicon.

Had the learned translators of our bible possessed a knowledge of the
theory of concentric spheres, it is probable they would have given
the English reader the most correct meaning of the words, תהו ובהו
"_without form and hollow_," or "_shapeless and hollow_."


 _General observations on the Theory of Concentric Spheres, with a few
 suggestions to the Congress of the United States, to authorize and fit
 out an Expedition for the discovery of the Interior Regions; or, at
 least, to explore the northern parts of the continent of America._

Of the many various and conflicting theories which have been advanced,
relative to the form, structure, and motion of the earth, the theory of
Concentric Spheres deserves to rank as one of the most important: for,
should it hereafter be found correct, the advantages resulting to the
civilized and learned world, must cause it to stand pre-eminent among
the improvements in philosophy. The habitable superfices of our sphere
would not only be nearly doubled; but the different spheres of which
our earth is probably constituted, might increase the habitable surface

That such may be the construction of the earth, every law of
matter with which I am acquainted, seems to admit, at least of the
possibility; the different appearances of the other planets render it
probable; and the various concurring terrestrial facts existing in the
arctic regions, to my mind, render such a conclusion almost certain.
And further, that matter and space are never uselessly wasted, is an
axiom, not only of sound philosophy, but of natural religion, and of
common sense.

Many of the theories which have been advanced respecting the earth, are
vague and uncertain, and will remain so forever; being predicated on
deductions drawn from certain premises that can never be established
with certainty; consequently they must rest wholly on the strength of
the arguments drawn from the premises, as they are not susceptible of
being demonstrated by experiment. Not so with the theory of concentric
spheres. Its correctness admits of ocular demonstration. The interior
of the sphere is declared accessible, and the whole extent capable
of being accurately explored; thereby establishing the theory, or
disproving and putting it at rest forever.

The celebrated Dr. Halley, in the year 1692, in his attempt to account
for the change of the variation of the magnetic needle, advanced a
novel hypothesis, as respects the internal structure of the earth. He
supposes that there is an interior globe, separated from the external
sphere by a fluid medium; or that there may be several internal
spheres, separated from each other by atmospheres, and that the
concave arches may in several places shine with a substance similar
to that which invests the body of the sun, producing light and heat
for the accommodation of those internal regions which he alleges may
possibly be inhabited by animate beings.[45]

However, he suggests no idea of Polar Openings, nor of any
communication from the outer surface to those interior regions;
consequently their existence must have remained forever a matter of
mere conjecture.

We find that Dr. Halley, in the wisdom of his philosophy, believed
those internal regions to be lighted, though situated many thousand
fathoms beneath the surface, and without any aperture to communicate
light from without. Why not, then, believe that the interior of the
spheres, according to Symmes's theory, may be lighted, when he lays
down such vast openings at either pole for that purpose?

Euler was also an advocate for the theory of Dr. Halley. He believed,
with him, that the earth is hollow, with a ball, or nucleus, included
in the centre; he, however, differed from Halley as to the nature of
the nucleus. Halley believed it to be constituted of the same materials
of the exterior crust of the earth. Euler believed it to be a luminous
body formed of materials similar to the sun, and adapted to the purpose
of illuminating and warming the interior surface of the crust, which
he supposed might be inhabited equally with the exterior surface. He
fancied that this luminous ball had no rotary motion, and that the
outer shell revolved around it. However, neither he nor Dr. Halley
left any opening by which the internal regions could be explored; their
existence was therefore left to rest on vague hypothesis.[46]

These different theories, however extravagant they may appear to us,
were believed and supported by those men, whom we must acknowledge
were among the most learned of the age in which they lived; and among
the mathematicians in Europe they have yet some warm supporters. Why
not then give Symmes's theory of open poles, and _concentric spheres_,
a serious investigation, the correctness of which is so much more
probable, and the demonstration of its truth or falsehood so much more
practicable? At all events a _voyage to the polar regions_, with an
eye to the accomplishment of Symmes's purpose, might be productive
of incalculable advantages to the cause of science in general. With
respect to astronomy and geography, it would afford many new lights,
and perhaps discover and establish many new principles, not thought of
at this day.

"_Knowledge is power_," and so far as an individual acquires a
knowledge of literature and science, above his contemporaries, so far
does he possess a power and influence over those among whom he resides.
So does a nation, when she becomes characterized for the acquisition of
knowledge in the sciences and the arts. Those nations which have made
great and important advances in the improvement of science, or in new
discoveries, have acquired a pre-eminence of character and standing,
among other nations of the world.

The United States of America, having assumed a respectable station
among the nations, is fast advancing in wealth and power. Her
territories are stretched over a vast extent of country; and her
population is increasing with a rapidity unprecedented. We are already
looked up to, by other nations, as a people of very considerable
importance; and as having made a successful experiment in politics and
government, which politicians had before considered impracticable.
Ought we not then, as a nation, (paying some attention to the progress
of science and knowledge,) to hold out inducements for the progressive
improvements, and useful discoveries of our own citizens?

While the English, the Russians, and the French, are making great
exertions for the purpose of discovery, and the advancement of science;
will America remain idle and inactive? Will she adopt the unwise policy
that individual enterprise ought to be let alone? Other nations act
differently; and they have long been directing their researches towards
the acquisition of a more perfect knowledge of our globe: and such
exertions have always been considered as the most glorious actions
on record in the annals of their history. By so doing, they have not
only been amply rewarded themselves, but have benefited the world at
large, by the acquisition of important information respecting the
before unknown parts of it, and by the improvement of science. Will
America then sit by inactive and contented, while she is surrounded
with plenty, and enjoying a situation most enviable in the career
of nations? Let us rather encourage than shackle the genius and
enterprising spirit of our own citizens; and not act like an avaricious
miser, who directs all his thoughts to the calculation of dollars and
cents. Had this "let alone policy," been pursued by the nations that
have sent out ships of discovery, what would have been the situation of
the world at the present day? Bounds would have been set to the great
field of philosophy, and the arts and sciences must have flourished
only within a circumscribed sphere. In vain might the revolving planets
have forced upon the minds of mankind their beautiful order, motions
and attractions;――the extensive continent of America, must yet have
remained a gloomy wilderness; and the wild flowers have bloomed upon
her fertile plains, only to be crushed by the foot of the unlettered

If we take a retrospective view of the world, for some centuries back,
we shall find the knowledge of the most scientific nations, bounded
by a circumference of two or three thousand miles. At length a few
enterprising individuals, aided by their governments, made extensive
discoveries:――A Columbus discovered the vast continent of America;
and subsequent navigators discovered the extensive countries of
New-Holland, New-Zealand, and numerous islands in the Pacific ocean and
South sea. All of these now disclose to us, that what was formerly
believed to constitute the whole habitable world, is but a spot, one
little corner, in the parts known at this day. Even yet, a vast portion
of our globe remains unexplored. Why then should we contribute nothing
towards the attainment of the grand pursuit of nations? We, who are
destined, I hope, one day to stand as the first nation under the
sun――Why should we fold our arms and sit inactive, while that little
spot Great Britain, is making such efforts to explore those regions?

It would not be an unwise policy, for the American government to
foster and encourage such noble workings of genius. It can in no way
be inconsistent with the present policy of our government, that an
expedition should be fitted out to explore the polar regions; but, on
the contrary, it would bespeak a spirit of liberality, and a desire to
promote scientific enterprize. It is neither against the constitution
nor laws of our country; we are now at peace with the world; taxes
are comparatively trifling; the situation of our country at present
affords a most favourable opportunity for the accomplishment of the
undertaking. It is one of such importance too, as will justify the
use of money and men; while the honour of the discovery of a New World
would be its reward.

I apprehend that we only lack confidence in our own abilities,
to perfect and explain many things not dreamed of by the ancient
philosophers. We are inclined rather to undervalue our own efforts;
and, like our former opinions on manufacturing subjects, think we
can never appear to advantage, unless dressed in a coat of foreign
manufacture. It appears to savour of the doctrine, that no new opinion
or proposition can merit attention, or be adopted, unless it come from
a European source. Had the proposition of concentric spheres, or a
hollow globe, been made by an English or French philosopher, instead of
a native of the United States, I very much question, whether so large a
share of ridicule would have been attached to its author and adherents.

It may be replied, that the idea of a world within a world, is absurd.
But, who can assert with confidence, that this idea is, in reality,
nothing more than the imagination of a feverish brain? How is it shown
that such a form does not exist? Are there not as strong reasons for
believing that the earth is constituted of concentric spheres, as the
court of Spain, or any man in Europe, had to believe that there was an
undiscovered continent? Has not Captain Symmes theoretically proven
his assertions of concentric spheres and open poles, and embodied a
catalogue of facts, numerous and plausible, in support of his opinions?
And who has confuted his assertions? I _dare_ to say, that none can be
found, who _can_ fully disprove them, and account for the facts which
he adduces as the proofs of his theory. Is there not the same reason
to believe, that the earth is hollow, as there is to place implicit
confidence in the opinion, that the planets are inhabited? And yet the
one has been ridiculed as the wild speculations of a madman, while the
other receives credit among the most enlightened.

If it can be shown that Symmes's Theory is probable, or has the least
plausibility attached to it,――nay, that it is even possible,――why not
afford him the means of testing its correctness? The bare possibility
of such a discovery, ought to be a sufficient stimulus to call forth
the patronage of any government. And should the theory prove correct,
and the adventure succeed, would it not immortalize our nation? The
fame of Symmes, and his native country, would only expire with time!
But, even should the expedition fail in the main object, there would
still be neither loss nor disgrace. If the interior world have no
existence but in Captain Symmes's imagination, would it be a matter
worthy of no consideration to explore the northern parts of our own
hemisphere? In the attempt, we might discover something of great
importance――in chasing a phantom, we might hit on a reality――in
searching for the "unknowable," discover what has hitherto been
unknown; some new islands; some undiscovered sea; some north-west by
west passage, or inlet; some new phenomenon of nature; some hitherto
unknown inhabitants of the polar regions; nay, even the pole itself.
And would it be a matter of no consequence, that a citizen of our
own country should first stand on the axis, and plant the stars and
stripes of our own country beneath the polar star? And should this
be effected, will not the glory and honour our nation would acquire
thereby, be worth the expenditure? No one, I hope, will say that it
would not be worth it all, ten times told. But in case _this_ should
fail, would it be a matter of no consequence, to explore the northern
parts of our own continent, and fill up the blank on the map of the
northern hemisphere? This, in my humble opinion, is far from being
impracticable. A steam vessel might run from the mouth of the Oregon
river, and proceed along the north-west coast of America through
Behring's Straits, round to the Atlantic; or, if impeded by ice, a
party might pursue their journey on foot, with sledges, on the ice,
and along the coast quite round to Hudson's Bay. The accomplishment
of this, I deem no chimera. The writer of this, for one, (and he has
no doubt Captain Symmes, and a sufficient number of others) would
volunteer to accomplish the enterprise. And should such an expedition
be authorized and fitted out by the government, rest assured, if they
did not penetrate the interior of our sphere, or plant the American
standard beneath the _great Northern Bear_, they would at least furnish
a correct map of the coast of America, from the mouth of Oregon round
to fort Churchill;――or make the snows of the north their winding sheets.

Within a few years, several expeditions have been fitted out for the
purpose of discovery, by different nations in Europe, and particularly
by the English. Ross, and Parry have visited the arctic regions; and
Parry now is out on his third voyage, as though there were some hidden
mystery there, which the English government is anxious to develope.
It is not likely that they would have fitted-out, and dispatched
four successive expeditions, merely to view Ice-bergs and Esquimaux
Indians. As for the discovery of a north-west passage to the East
Indies, it cannot be their sole object, as the continent of America
has been explored by land to seventy-two degrees of north latitude;
and, according to the old theory, beyond that latitude the seas are so
incumbered with ice as to render their navigation extremely difficult,
if not impracticable; from which, I am induced to believe, that they
have discovered something in those regions which indicates a state of
things different from that heretofore believed to exist.

Under the protection of the Russian government, Kotzebue, and Baron
Wrangle, have been engaged in similar enterprizes, and although these
different attempts have afforded considerable light on the subject,
yet they are rather calculated to awaken than satisfy curiosity. Many
of the facts, however, which are urged as proof of the theory of
concentric spheres, have been confirmed or corroborated by the personal
observations of those skilful navigators. But so long as they lack
confidence in the theory, it can scarcely be expected they will make
the discovery; the winding meridians which they will pursue, when
intending to proceed straight forward, will keep them bewildered among
the ice, along the circle of the verge, or finally bring them out
towards the exterior surface of the sphere, no wiser than when they set

As yet, we are more indebted to other nations, than our own, for a
knowledge of the continent of America. A knowledge of the north-west
coast is interesting to the civilized world at large; but to none more
so, than the United States; and I humbly think, that the honor and
interest of this confederated Republic, are more deeply involved in
this subject of making discoveries in the northern seas, than any other
nation's can be.

Should a voyage of discovery be undertaken by our government, it is
hoped that the northern coast of the continent of America will, at
least, be examined. The undertaking would not only redound to the fame
of our country, and to that of the individual entrusted with the
enterprise, but must be productive of immense advantage to our commerce
and national prosperity; and carry our "star spangled banner" among a
people with whom the civilized world, as yet, have had no intercourse.

The prosecution of such an enterprise would be attended with no very
considerable demands on the treasury; the employment of one or two of
our ships of war, now in commission, for the object, would cause little
additional expense. But, even admitting that a few thousands, or even
hundreds of thousands, would be necessary; of what importance is it,
when weighed against the magnitude of the object to be accomplished?
Could our public vessels be better employed, than in surveying our
north-west coast, and in discovery? Our naval officers would rejoice
on seeing opened to their view a new path to fame, independent of the
acquisition to their nautical experience. Many of our brave and skilful
navigators would be proud of an appointment in such an enterprise; many
naturalists and men of science, would cheerfully, at their own expense,
if necessary, accompany such an expedition. And although we may not
expect such an enterprise to be accomplished to the full extent of
Captain Symmes's anticipations, and those who believe in his doctrines;
yet, as Americans, we cannot but wish that the theory, which has been
first advanced by a fellow-citizen, should be countenanced by our own
government, and tested by the citizens of our own country.


[45] The application which the Dr. makes of this structure of the
earth is this: that the concave sides of the spheres are made up of
magnetic matter; that they revolve about their diurnal axes in about
twenty-four hours; that the outer sphere moves either a little faster
or a little slower than the internal ball; that the magnetic pole, both
of the external shell and included globe, are distant from the poles of
rotation; and that the variation arises from a change of the relative
distances of the external and internal poles in consequence of the
difference of their revolutions. [See life of Dr. Halley.]

In Rees' Cyclopedia, under the article 'ring,' is the following
sentence; by which it appears that Kepler first suggested the earth
to be composed of concentric crusts. "Kepler, in his Epitom. Astron.
Copern. (as after him Dr. Halley, in his enquiry into the causes of the
variation of the needle, Phil. Trans. No. 195.) supposes our earth may
be composed of several _crusts_ or _shells_, one within another, and
concentric to each other. If this be the case, it is possible the ring
of Saturn may be the fragment or remaining ruin of his former exterior
shell, the rest of which is broken or fallen down upon the body of the

[46] Maclaurin, in his fourteenth chapter of the second volume on
Fluxions, investigates the theory of Dr. Halley at considerable length;
and in conclusion, appears to consider the existence of a hollow globe
as very possible.


 _A few brief suggestions, relative to the description, tonnage, and
 number of vessels, necessary to be equipped for a voyage of discovery
 to the interior regions of the earth; the number of men necessary
 to be employed on board, articles necessary for the outfit, and the
 probable expense attending the same; also, as to the route most proper
 to be pursued to accomplish the object of the expedition._

Captain Symmes, in his first circular, published at St. Louis, on
the 10th day of April, 1818, asks an outfit of one hundred brave
companions, well equipped, to set out from Siberia in autumn, with
rein-deer and sleighs, to pass over the ice of the frozen sea. On being
furnished with an outfit of this description, he engages to explore the
concave regions, and discover a warm, or at least a temperate country,
of fertile soil, well stocked with animals and vegetables, if not men,
on reaching about sixty-nine miles beyond latitude eighty-two degrees.
The route, intended to be pursued by Captain Symmes, appears to be that
of the rein-deer, and the time of setting out, the same season of the
year, in which (according to Professor Adams) the rein-deer migrate
from that coast north. In this route it would be necessary to cross
the verge, or region of most intense cold, with the greatest possible
expedition, so as to reach an inner temperate climate, in the shortest
time. The concave regions could be partially explored during the
winter; and the party return in the spring, and at the same time of the
rein-deer, to the mouth of the river Lena.

The Russians have been making considerable exertions to explore the
northern regions. Baron Wrangle made an attempt of this kind, in
the year 1821. And a second attempt was made in the year 1822, by
travelling with sledges, drawn by dogs.[47] But, probably owing to the
party not having faith in the winding meridians about the verge of the
polar opening, or being unacquainted with their direction according
to the theory of concentric spheres, they were bewildered, and kept
travelling in the neighbourhood of the verge, the region of greatest
cold, instead of proceeding in a direct course towards the pole, until
they were finally obliged to return without accomplishing the object of
the expedition.

At the present time (August, 1824) an expedition is fitting out in
Russia at great expense, under the auspices of that distinguished
patron of science, Count Romanzoff, for the purpose of making
discoveries in the northern regions, with the intention of exploring
over land, or on the ice, as far as it may be found practicable.
The celebrated Admiral Kruzenstern, is to exercise a general
superintendance over the expedition, while the immediate command is to
be conferred on some distinguished Russian officer.

The continent of North America, would, in my opinion, be a more
suitable place, for an exploring party to set out from, than the
coast of Siberia. A company of men, well armed, could travel over
land, and draw their provisions and baggage on hand sledges, on the
snow or ice, as Hearne did during his journey, with light canoes for
the purpose of crossing rivers and lakes, should such be found to
obstruct their progress. In this manner, the party would soon cross
the verge, or "barren grounds," as Hearne calls it, and arrive in that
country of abundant game, of which the Indians informed him. Hearne,
according to his journal, reached nearly the seventy-second degree
of north latitude, and his general course is laid down as being
north-westwardly, from Fort Churchill to the mouth of Copper-Mine
river, which he says disembogues itself into the Northern sea, flowing
in a northerly direction. Me-lo-no-bee, the Indian chief, who served as
Hearne's guide from Hudson's Bay, pointed out the mouth of Copper-Mine
river, as being in a north-eastwardly direction from Fort Churchill,
and flowing in an eastwardly course. Subsequent discoveries have, I
believe, determined Me-lo-no-bee to be correct in this particular,
as that river has been ascertained to empty into the waters of the
Atlantic north of Repulse Bay, several hundred miles distant from
where Hearne lays it down on his map. It is so laid down in the map
accompanying Ross' voyage of discovery. How Hearne could be so much
mistaken in the course he travelled, as to lay it down at nearly a
right angle from its true course, is rather unaccountable: he must have
been deceived by the winding meridians of the verge, which turned him
to the right; when to have passed directly into the concave, he ought,
on arriving at a certain point, to have proceeded west of north, then
west, and finally south-west, which would probably have conducted
him to that country, which the Indian represented as being far to
the west, or south-west, and so warm that there was never any frost.
In this direction, an exploring party ought most probably to travel,
first north until they come to the verge; where (if they are on the
continent of America) the meridians begin to wind to the right, then
gradually, as they advanced, incline to the west, then true west, then
south of west, and finally, when entirely beyond the apparent verge,
to the south-west, if not due south. In crossing the verge, the cold
would no doubt be considerable: but cold in those regions, as measured
by the thermometer, appears to us much greater than the feelings of
those exposed to that temperature indicate. Hence it was, no doubt,
that Parry's crew could hunt in winter, when the medium was below zero.
And the Russians set out on their expedition over the ice in 1821, when
the cold was thirty-two degrees Reaumur; and this too accounts for
Hearne's sleeping in the snow, without fire, by only digging a hole,
and lying therein, with his sledge turned up to windward. It does not
appear that he complained of excessive cold; though he travelled nearly
all winter. He had also several Indian women in company. The regions
through which he passed, as well as that in which Ross and Parry
were, are alleged to be the coldest of the earth; and that those men
experienced as great a degree of cold as would be in passing the verge
into the concave regions.

But I am of opinion that the most practicable, the most expeditious,
and the best mode of exploring the interior regions would be by sea,
and by way of the south polar opening, crossing the verge at the low
side, in the Indian ocean, where it is presumed the sea is always open,
and nearly free from ice. But, as we are residents of the northern
hemisphere, the nearness of the north polar opening to us, and the
more immediate advantages which would result to us from an intercourse
with the countries within the concave to the north, would seem to
point out that as the most proper direction to be pursued; though the
difficulties to be encountered in passing the verge of the north polar
opening, would doubtless be much greater than those of the south, the
cold much severer, and the ice more compact and difficult to pass.
However, notwithstanding all these difficulties, the object, I think,
might be safely accomplished by sailing, either east of Spitzbergen,
or between Spitzbergen and Greenland; where, writers, in whom
confidence may be placed, inform us, that the sea is open all winter.
The greatest difficulty to be apprehended, would be the accumulation of
drifting ice in the summer season; but in the winter, that difficulty,
perhaps, would not be presented as in the fall or commencement of
winter, the ice would attach itself to one shore or the other, and
become permanent.

The Russians who wintered on Spitzbergen, say that the sea was open
during the whole winter, quite across the north end of the island.
Several sailors who were once left on an island near Spitsbergen, lived
there several years; though destitute of almost every necessary of
life, they were not only able to support the cold of the winters, but
even to supply themselves with provisions, and light, in those dreary
regions. They finally returned in health and safety to their native
country and friends. This island is probably as cold as any spot that
is known to our sphere.

A vessel, almost at any time in summer, could sail to, and remain at
Spitzbergen, (having the necessary conveniences on board to make the
crew comfortable) for two or three years. They could lie all winter
at the north part of the island, and after being there long enough to
become acquainted with the nature and changes in the sea to the north
of them, they could take some favorable opportunity, and reach the
pole, (if the earth be a globe) or the interior concave regions. The
distance from the north of Spitzbergen to the pole is only six hundred
geographical miles.

Another favorable direction for making the discovery is, by Bhering's
straits on the north-west coast of America: And an additional advantage
which is presented by this direction, is, that if the vessels should be
obstructed by, or frozen in the ice, the party could proceed by land
on the shore of America, (which is supposed to communicate with the
concave regions,) a party remaining with the vessels till the others

In case an expedition of discovery should be fitted out for the purpose
of making the attempt, by either route, the safety of the party would
require that two vessels should be equipped with rather more than an
ordinary number of men, and with a double number of boats at least;
some so light and portable as to be easily carried by men over ice, or
necks of land, should it become necessary.

Vessels propelled by steam would be preferable to any other, as they
could more easily avoid the floating ice in passing the verge; as, also
ascend rapid rivers in the interior, should such be discovered, and it
be found necessary to ascend them. The vessels should be equipped with
masts, sails, and every part of rigging necessary for sailing; with a
ballast of coal, which should not be used, or any other fuel for steam
purposes, until they come within the neighbourhood of the ice, through
which, by pursuing a proper course, it is believed, they would in a
few days pass, and arrive at a more temperate climate, and a country
where they would be abundantly supplied with both wood and provisions.
Perhaps it would be advisable to take on board a small boat, with a
proportionate steam-engine, for the purpose of running up shallow
rivers, or along coasts, to make more minute observations.

But the most important matter of all to be observed, and that on which
the success of the expedition must depend, would be a proper observance
of the principles of the theory, and a due attention to the winding
meridians, and curvatures of the parallels of latitude, when the verge
shall be crossed; and which will require the party to be continually
varying their course as they proceed forward in accordance with the
place at which the attempt shall be made.

The expense of an expedition of this kind, would not be very great; at
least not considerable when compared with the magnitude of the object
to be accomplished, though I have not made, nor do I consider myself
adequate to make minute estimates on the subject. But I should conclude
that a sum of one or two hundred thousand dollars would be amply
sufficient to defray all expenses attending such an expedition. Should
an attempt be made by way of the south polar opening, with vessels
fitted out as for a whaling voyage, the expense would probably not
be the one fifth part of that sum. And were an expedition undertaken
over land, from some post high north on the continent of America, the
expense must be still less.


[47] _From a London paper, under the head of_

"RUSSIAN DISCOVERIES.――In the year 1820, a journey of discovery, by
land, was ordered by the government, to explore the extreme north
and north-east of Asia.――Lieutenants Wrangle and Anjou, of the navy,
were chosen for this expedition. After having made the necessary
preparations, they departed from Neukolyma, in the north-eastern
part of Siberia, on the 19th of Feb. 1821, in sledges drawn by dogs,
when the cold was thirty-two degrees Reaumur, in order to ascertain
the position of Schehaladshoi-Noss, which captain Burney conjectured
might be an isthmus, joining Asia with the continent of America. The
travellers succeeded in determining the whole coast astronomically,
going themselves entirely round the coast, and proceeding a day's
journey farther to the west; thus convincing themselves that Asia and
America are not united there by an isthmus. On the 13th of March, the
expedition returned to Neukolyma. On the 22d of March, Mr. Wrangle
undertook another journey, likewise on sledges drawn by dogs, with ten
companions, in the direction to the North Pole, in order to look for
the great continent which is supposed to exist there. The principal
obstacle they met with, was thin ice, which being broken to pieces
by continued storms, was piled up in mountains, and rendered farther
progress impossible. At a bear hunt, which the company undertook, they
observed a sudden bursting of the ice, accompanied with a dreadful
noise resembling thunder. On their journey back, which the travellers
were obliged to make without accomplishing their object, they surveyed
the bear islands, and after an absence of thirty-eight days, arrived
safely at Neukolyma on the 28th April, where they are to remain for the
year 1822, and then to continue their researches."


 _A short Biographical sketch of Captain Symmes; with some observations
 on the treatment which he has met with in the advancement of his

John Cleves Symmes, the author of the Theory of Concentric Spheres, is
the son of Timothy Symmes, of the state of New-Jersey, whose father's
name was also Timothy, and who was the son of the Rev. Thomas Symmes,
of Bradford, who graduated at Harvard college, in 1698. Mr. Elliot,
publisher of the New-England Biographical Dictionary, at Boston, in the
year 1809, makes honourable mention of his name. Timothy Symmes, the
grandfather of the subject of this sketch, had but two sons; the one,
John Cleves Symmes, well known as the father and founder of the first
settlements in the Miami country; and the other, Timothy, the father of
our Theorist, and from whom the present family of Symmes, in the Miami
country, are descended.

Captain Symmes is now about forty-six years of age. He is of middle
stature, and tolerably proportioned; with scarcely any thing 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 seems fixed on something beyond immediate surrounding objects.
His head is round, and his face rather small and oval. His voice is
somewhat nasal, and he speaks hesitatingly and with apparent labour.
His manners are plain, and remarkable for native simplicity. He is a
native of the state of New-Jersey. 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, and at the age of about twenty-two years, 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 late 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: yet, owing to the want of correct
information, or from some other cause, the honour and the reward of
this achievement, were alike bestowed upon others. And, it is a fact
not less to be regretted, that the official report of the battle of
Bridgewater, has represented the regiment, to which Captain Symmes
was attached, as almost the only one that retreated at Lunday's lane;
when, in truth, it was nearly the only one which uniformly maintained
the positions it was _ordered_ to maintain, throughout the action.
Captain Symmes, has since, however, substantiated the correctness of
its conduct, by obtaining the necessary acknowledgments; some of the
particulars of which were communicated to the Historical Society of
New-York, and published, in the newspapers of the day. The truth
of this statement, has also been confirmed to me, by a respectable
Officer, who was in the action, and witnessed the occurrence.

During the period of about three years, immediately after the close of
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. How he succeeded in this business I
am not informed; but, I conclude from his present circumstances, that
he could not have realized any very considerable pecuniary advantage
from the enterprise. 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 favourite Theory
of Concentric Spheres.

In a short circular, dated at St. Louis, in 1818, Captain Symmes
first promulgated the fundamental principles of his theory to the
world. He addressed a copy to every learned institution, and to every
considerable town and village, as well as distinguished individuals, of
which he could gain any intelligence, throughout the United States, and
to several learned societies in Europe.

The reception this circular met with, was that of ridicule; it being
looked upon as the production of a distempered imagination, or the
ravings of partial insanity. Indeed, it became a fruitful source
of jest and levity, to publishers of the public prints of the day
generally, all over the Union. The Academy of Sciences in Paris, before
which it was laid by Count Volney, decided that it was unworthy of
their consideration; and the editor of the London Morning Chronicle,
could not be induced to credit the statements of respectable men, who
declared that Symmes was not a madman. But in this, his fate is not
peculiar. The experience of the world has taught us, that the authors
of new doctrines, have mostly shared a similar lot. An excellent
contemporary writer has remarked, that, "the fate of many projectors
have been so melancholy, that it requires, at this day, the daring
spirit, and the enthusiasm which are naturally allied to genius, in
any man to announce himself as the inventor of any thing new and
extraordinary. The patience and perseverance of a Galileo, and the
adventurous spirit of a Fulton, are necessary to him who would benefit
his species by the results of original plans and forms, or that of
new combinations of old and tried ones. Hence we cannot but respect
and admire the man, who, regardless of the hard fate of so many who
have trod before him, in the thorny path of improvement, still has the
fortitude and philosophy of mind to spend years in toil and study――to
labour by day with persevering industry――and trim the midnight lamp
with the vigilance ascribed to the ancient vestals, in bringing to
perfection an idea, from which he hopes to reap fame and benefit to
himself, and to reflect credit, at the same time, on the genius of his

Captain Symmes published two other numbers at St. Louis, in the year
1818; the one went to prove, by geometrical principles, that matter
must necessarily form itself into concentric spheres, and the other
treated of geological principles. His two next numbers, marked four
and five, (the one treating of the original formation of the Allegheny
mountains, and the other claiming the discovery of open poles,) I have
never had an opportunity of seeing. His sixth number appeared, dated
at Cincinnati, in January, 1819, which contains a number of items and
principles that he proposes treating of in subsequent numbers. 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. From that time to the present, numerous pieces
from the pen of Captain Symmes have appeared in different newspapers;
but the most prominent and grand doctrines, on which his theory is
based, are contained in the papers above enumerated. Independent of
his written publications, he has delivered a number of lectures on the
theory,――first at Cincinnati, in 1820, and afterwards at Lexington and
Frankfort, in Kentucky, and at Hamilton and Zanesville, in the state
of Ohio. Several of these lectures I had the pleasure of hearing; and
the respectable number of auditors, and the profound stillness that
reigned, evinced in the strongest manner the interest felt by all
present in the subject. In addition to the various facts and phenomena,
to which he adverts in support of his positions, he delineates in his
lectures, upon a wooden sphere, constructed on the principles of his
theory, the cause of the winding meridians, the icy hoop or verge, and
the course which ought to be pursued to reach the interior regions,
with the confidence of mathematical certainty.

Captain Symmes's want of a classical education, and philosophic
attainments, perhaps, unfits him for the office of a lecturer. But,
his arguments being presented in confused array, and clothed in
homely phraseology, can furnish no objection to the soundness of his
doctrines. The imperfection of his style, and the inelegance of his
manner, may be deplored; but, certainly, constitute no proof of the
inadequacy of his reasoning, or the absurdity of his deductions.
There is scarcely a single individual, with whom I have conversed,
who does not confess that, if the facts which he adduces, and the
arguments he uses, were handled by an able orator, they would produce
a powerful effect. In short, those who attend to his lectures, without
regarding his peculiarities of style and manner; who reflect alone on
their substantial parts, without regarding the want of eloquence in
the lecturer; who presume to think for themselves, and are able to
comprehend the naked facts, and unadorned arguments, which he advances,
will not fail to discover in them many particulars well worthy of their
consideration; and many arguments calculated to stagger their faith in
pre-conceived opinions.

In the year 1822, Captain Symmes petitioned the Congress of the United
States, 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 honour his country would derive
from such discovery;――and prayed that Congress would equip and fit out
for the expedition, two vessels of two hundred and fifty, or three
hundred, tons burthen; and grant such other aid as government might
deem necessary to promote the object. This petition was presented in
the Senate by Col. Richard M. Johnston, a member from Kentucky, on the
7th day of March, 1822; when, (a motion to refer it to the committee of
Foreign Relations having failed,) after a few remarks it was laid on
the table.――_Ayes_, 25.

In December, 1823, he forwarded similar petitions to both houses of
Congress, which met with 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

That Captain Symmes is a highminded, honorable man, is attested by all
who know him. He has devised a theory whereby to account for various
singular and interesting phenomena; and more satisfactorily to explain
a great variety of acknowledged facts.

He argues from the effect to the cause, in many of his positions, with
great perspicuity. And the circumstance that few of the learned have
yet attempted to show that his principles are founded in absurdity,
should at least entitle him to the respect, and his theory to the
attention, of every candid man. Notwithstanding he has been buffeted by
the ridicule and sarcasm of an opposing world for seven years, under
great pecuniary embarrassments; he still labours with unshaken faith,
and unbroken perseverance; with a willingness at any time to test the
truth of his speculations amid the icy mountains of the polar seas.

Already has he passed the meridian of life; and should he be called
from time, without establishing his theory by actual discovery; the
science he has embodied, and the facts he has collected and arranged
in support of it, together with his undeviating and indefatigable
industry, in the face of

  "The world's dread laugh, which scarce
  The firm philosopher can scorn,"

will bear a testimonial to his talents and worth, that the best of
his species will ever delight to acknowledge. And though he may not
have accounted for every particular, or brought forward every argument
that might possibly be advanced in support of his positions; he has,
nevertheless, collected a greater number of peculiarly interesting
facts, and embodied a stronger phalanx of proof, than could well have
been expected on a subject so new, and in the hands of the original

If, hereafter, it should be ascertained that Symmes's Theory of the
Earth is true, impartial posterity will not withhold the honour and
fame due to the name of the discoverer.

It is hoped, however, that the present age will not so far forfeit to
posterity the high character it now sustains in scientific discovery,
as to remain deaf to his solicitations; but, that the citizens of
our own country in particular, if not the whole world, will unite in
testing the truth of his principles; and in doing justice to the merits
of this extraordinary man.



[48] Journal of the House of Representatives of Ohio; session of 1823,
'24――p. 224.

       *       *       *       *       *


Punctuation has been standardized.

Some alternate spellings have been retained.

Pg. iv: "faciliate" changed to "facilitate" (to facilitate its

Pg. 39: "obedidience" changed to "obedience" (in obedience to certain
fixed laws).

Pg. 41, 44, 70, 79: "spheriod" changed to "spheroid" (is strictly a
spheroid) (that of a regular spheroid) (the form of an oblate spheroid)
(a compact and solid spheroid) (the earth is a solid spheroid).

Pg. 57, 130: "occular" changed to "ocular" (positive ocular
demonstration) (admits of ocular demonstration).

Pg. 62: "sometimes" changed to "some times" (at some times seven or
eight belts).

Pg. 73: "appea" changed to "appear" (and appear again in great
numbers). Missing word "of" inserted (in the latter end of March).

Pg. 76: (footnote) "Herne's" changed to "Hearne's" (Hearne's Journal).

Pg. 83: (footnote) "Ross's" changed to "Ross'" (Ross' Voyage).

Pg. 99: "Praire" changed to "Prairie" (in the neighbourhood of the
Little Prairie).

Pg. 107: "maintainance" changed to "maintenance" (the maintenance and
support of organic life).

Pg. 109: "plumet" changed to "plummet" (between the plummet and the
centre of gravity).

Pg. 123: "Geogrophy" changed to "Geography" (to teach mankind Geology,
Geography, or Astronomy).

Pg. 134: "cotemporaries" changed to "contemporaries" (above his

Pg. 151: "apparant" changed to "apparent" (beyond the apparent verge).

Pg. 159: "catridges" changed to "cartridges" (discharged seventy rounds
of cartridges).

Pg. 161: "Gallileo" changed to "Galileo" (patience and perseverance
of a Galileo). "cotemporary" changed to "contemporary" (contemporary
writer has remarked).

Pg. 166: "buffetted" changed to "buffeted" (has been buffeted by the

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