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................ .. L R H E 4i.,d A:
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Twenty Thousand Leagues
Under the Sea
dathor of "Tour of the World in Eighty Days," Etc.
M. A. DONOHUE & CO.
The mysterious and inexplicable Phenomena of 1866.-A mon.
ster of the Sea,-Testimony to its Existence.-Facts and In-
cidents.-Accident to the Scotia.-Public Opinion excited.-
Thousands of Ships annually lost.-Ocean Travel becoming
more and more dangerous.-The Sea must be rid of the for-
midable Cetacean .
My Arrival in New York.-" Mysteries of the Great Submarine
Grounds."-Am consulted on the Phenomena in Question.-.
Philosophical Disquisition.-A gigantic Narwhal, or Unicorn
of the Sea.-Public Opinion pronounced.-The United States
Frigate Abraham Lincoln to solve the Mystery.-Preparations
to sail.-My Invitation .9
My Resolution.-Professor Aronnax accepts the offer of the
American Government.-Conseil.-What's in a Name?-" As
you please, Sir."-The Archiotherium, Hyracotherium, Oreo-
dons, Cheropotamus, and live Babiroussa!-A glorious Life
but a dangerous one.-Brooklyn Quay.-Getting off.-Cheers
from five hundred thousand Throats.--Down the Bay.-Eight
bells.-Fire Island Lights.-On the dark Atlantic 15
Commander Farragut.-An enthusiastic Crew.-Two Thousand
Dollars Reward.-Ned Land, the Prince of Harpooners.-His
Opinion.-What Whales can do and what they can't.-
Science vs. Superstition.-A little figuring, and what comes of
Ned Land at Work.-Doubling Cape Horn.-Hunting the Sea-
Serpent."-Anxious Hours.-Three Months on the North
Pacific.-Great nervous Excitement.-Reaction.-Shall the
Search be abandoned?-Three decisive Days.-Last Chance to
pocket the Prize.-The Monster appears 25
Beating Hearts.-An illuminated Sea.-The Narwhal approach-
es.-We execute a retrogade Movement.-A Night of terrible
Suspense.-Exciting Pursuit of a mysterious and formidable
Enemy.-Ned Land makes another "Strike."-A Waste of
Ammunition.-Fearful Shock.-I fall into the Sea 1
Not alone.-Faithful Conseil.-A night-long Struggle with
Death.-Ned and the "Monster."-Development extraordi-
nary.-The Mystery unravelled.-A novel Specimen of naval
Architecture.-We take Passage 39
Our new Quarters.-Darkness and Light.-The Submarine Boat
and its Commander.-Unsatisfactory Interview.-Clothed and
and fed.-" MOBILIS IN MOBILI, N."-Startling Sensations.-
Speculations regarding our Situation.-Dreadful Nightmares
followed by a deep Sleep 46
I awake refreshed.-And inspect my Surroundings.-The Prison
a Prison still.-Ventilation.-A fearful Silence and protracted
Fast.-Ned Land assaults the Steward.-" Parez ous u r an-
ais?" ........... 5
More about the Man of the Seas.-Glimpse of a terrible Past.-
Hints of the Future.-Prospective Visit to the Land of Mar-
vels.-A Submarine Dining-room and Bill of Fare.-Fillet of
Turtle and Dolphin's Livers.-Free Life under the Sea.-
Captain Nemo's Library.-Magnificent Drawing-room and
Museum of the Nautilus.-My own Apartment 5
The Captain's Room.-A powerful Agent.-The Soul of the
Nautilus.-All by Elec-ticity. -Fifty miles an Hour 70
The Captain explains the Mechanism of his Craft.-Atmospheric
Pressure and Compression.-Ingenious Devices.-The "Per-
fection of Vessels."-Secret of its mysterious Construction.-
A desert Island in the Ocean.-Fabulous Wealth of Captain
Geological and Geographical.-Arrangements for our first Sub-
marine Voyage.-Ocean Currents.-The Black River.-Ned
and Conseil.-Dissolving Views.-Grand electrical Illumi-
nation.-A Window opens into the unexplored Abyss.-An
immense Aquarium 81
A Day in the Museum.-Compensations.-Inexplicable Absence
of the Captain.-Sunrise on the Sea.-" Nautron respoo lorni
virch."-A Note of Invitation.-The Rouquarol and Ruhm-
korff Apparatus.-A destructive Arm 87
A Walk on the Bottom of the Sea.-Realm of the Naiads.-A
Reality Stranger than Fiction.--Forests of the Island of Crespo 94
Fauna apd Flora.--Zoophytes and Hydrophytes.-Curious
Anomaly.-The Arbor of Alarie.-We fall asleep.-Awakened
by an un expected Apparition.-A monstrous Sea-spider.-
Seventy-ive Fathoms below the Level of the Sea.-Game.-
Reflections.-Hairbreadth Escape.-Return to the Nautilus 100
Fiahing extraordinary.-The Life of the Ocean.-Mysteries of
thf: Submarine World.-Four Thousand Leagues under the
Pacific.---aandwich Islands.-Marquessas.-Wreck of the
4. new Continent.-Study of the madreporal System.-How
Islands are made.-Tahiti the Queen of the Pacific.-Vani-
koro.-The Story of La Perouse.-" A coral Tomb makes a
quiet Grave" 114
A "Happy New Year."-A dangerous Passage through the
Coral Sea.-Torres Straits.-Tlie Nautilus aground.- Acci-
-dent or Incident?"-Once niore on terrafirma.-Ned Land
jubilant.-Grilled Vcnsion or Loin of Tiger,-which? 122
The Island of Gilboa.-A Feast of Cocoa-nuts.-Cannibals.-
Bread-fruit Pie.-A Raid upon the Cabbage-palms.-Return
to the Nautilus.-Second Visit to the Island.-A World of
chattering Parrots and grave Cockatoos.-Birds of Paradise.-
A magnificent Specimen.-" Intemperance."--The Kangaroo.
-Dinner Party on Shore.-A Surprise.. 129
Ned Land and his Provisions.-Comical Tableau.-" To the
Boat!"-A hundred Savages in Pursuit.-A Night in the
Tropics.-Excitement on Shore.-A Swarm of Natives.-
Opening the Hatches.-Captain Nemo's Thunderbolt.-Re-
lease of the Nautilus 187
In Motion.-Taking Observations.-Strange Agitation of Cap-
tain Nemo.-An imperious Command.-Imprisonment.-Only
Ship's Fare.-Total Darkness.-Becoming stupefied.-Com-
plete Insensibility 148
Wide awake and freel-An impenetrable Mystery.-Consulted
professionally.-Death comes to the Nautilus.-A submarine
Excursion.-Themarvelous coral Kingdom.-Transformations
and magical Effects.-Burial Scene under the Sea 155
The Indian Ocean.-Birds and Fishes.-A Shoal of Argonauts.
-Crossing the Equator.-Forbidding Spectacle.-A Sea of
Milk. .. .168
The Island of Ceylon.-A novel Proposal from Captain Nemo.
-Visit to the Banks of Manaar.-A Tear of the Sea."-
Shark-Hunting.-Pearls,-what they are and how secured.-
Counting the Cost 178
A Visit to the Fisheries.-Oyster extraordinary.-A Pearl of ten
Millions.-The Indian Diver. -Terror-stricken.--A fearful
Combat.-The Rescue.-Munificent Charity from the Man of
the Waters.-" Revenge."-Conclusions 178
The Laccadive Archipelago.- 'Domes and Minarets of the
Country of Oman.-Only a Vision.-" The Gate of Tears."-
The Waters of the Red Sea.-An indescribable Spectacle.-
The Home of the Sponges.-M. Lesseps and the Suez Ca-
nal.-Captain Nemo's Discovery.-The Arabian Tunnel." 188
Terrific Encounter with a gigantic Dugong.-A Glimpse of Sinai.
-The Silence of Night.-The floating Light of Suez.-Under
the Isthmus.-Captain Nemo at the Helm.-The Torrent of
the Tunnel.-In the Mediterranean 199
Ned desires a Change.-Planning for the Future.-Captain
Nemo's Correspondent.-A Chest of Gold.-The Grecian
Archipelago.-Submarine Eruptions.-In a Sulphur Bath,-
choking,-broiled I 206
The Mediterranean in forty-eight Hours.-Gibraltar.-Ruins of
the Temple of Hercules.-Floating on the Atlantic 217
Arrangements for Escape from the Nautilus.-Conflicting Emo-
tions.-A Chapter in the History of Spain.-Secrets of Vigo
Bay.-An inexhaustible Fishery of Gold and Silver.-Source
of Captain Nemo's Wealth.-A Heart beating for suffering
Humanity.-Aid for the Cretans 223
A curious Excursion to a vanished Continent.-The Submarine
Depths in the Darkness of Night,-Rain-shower under the
Waves.-A Copse of petrified Trees.-Giant Lobsters and
Titanic Crabs.-A Mountain of Fire.-The Atlantis of Plato.
-Ruins a thousand Generations old.-Moonlight through the
In the Heart of an extinct Volcano.-Submarine Coal-mines.-
Captain Nemo's Laboratory.-A Dragon-tree Beehive.-Ned
Land risks his Life for Game 241
The Sargasso Sea.-A Lake in the open Atlantic.-Dreams of
Liberty.-Melancholy Tones of the Captain's Organ.-We are
pursued by a Whaler.-Three Leagues under Water.-Below
the Limits of submarine Existence.-An Ocean Photograph.
-" Primitive Rocks which have never looked upon the Light
of Heaven" 250
A Troop of Whales.-Pursued by Cachalots.-The Nautilus
enters the Field.-Inhuman Massacre.-A Sea of Blood.-
Ned Land's Indignation 255
Journeying South.-"Ice Blink."-Crossing the Polar Circle.-
Gorgeous Scenery among the Fields of Ice.-Captain Nemo's
audacious Project.-To the Antarctic Pole.-Five hundred
Leagues under the Icebergs.--In the open Polar Sea 264
The Antarctic Continent.-Maury's Hypothesis.-Evidences of
volcanic Origin.-Life in the Air. -An Introduction to the
interesting Seal Family.-A City of Morses.-Scenes and
Sensations.--The Vernel Equinox preceding the Polar Night.
-Altitude of the Sun.-AT THE SOUTH POLEI-Captain
Nemo unfurls the Black Banner and takes Possession 278
Return to the Depths.-A Shock.-Overturning of a Mountain
of Ice.-" Things God never intended Man to see."-A fear-
ful Situation.-Blocked fast 284
An impenetrable Wall of Ice.-Two Ways of dying.-A living
Tomb.-Walls closing.in.-One Danger more.-Want of Air.
-Working with a Will.-Dizziness.-Suffocation.-Oppor-
tune Deliverance. 291
Thankfulness.-The Northern Sun.-Terra del Fuego.-From
Cape Horn to the Equator.-Conseil encounters an Electric
Fish.-A Herd of Sea-Cows.-Novel Expedient.-Turtle-
fishing on'the Shores,of the Amazon.-Return to the high
CO.'J 2 i. 2 .
The "Devil Fish."-Terrible Encounter.-Crushed to Death in
Arms of a Monster.-Ned Land saved by the Captain.-
"Only Revenge." 809
The Gulf Stream.-Phosphorescent Waters.-Longings for
Liberty.-Nostalgia.-" Whoever enters the Nautilus never
quits it."-However, Ned resolves to be free.-Terrific Tem-
pest off the Long Island Shore 318
A Visit to the Atlantic Cable.-Scene of the Accident in 1868.
-Toward the British Isles.-Land's Enci.-The "Avenger" 326
Mysterious Existence of Captain Nemo unveiled.-Retaliation.
-Ned Land stricken down with an Iron Hand.-The black
Flag unfurled.-Unwilling Witnesses of a dreadful Drama.-
The Archangel of Hatred in Tears! 338
Rapid Flight of the Nautilus to Northern Seas.-In Sight of
Land.-Plans for Escape perfected.-Last Words of Captain
Nemo.-The Maelstrom! the Maelstrom!-Into the Midst of
the Whirlpool.-I lose all Consciousness 341
A. Marvelous Escape, and End of the VOYAGE UNDER THE
SAB .. ..348
TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
A SHIFTING REEF.
THE year 1866 was signalized by a remarkable e incident, a
mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless
no one has yet forgotten. Not to mention rumors which
agitated the maritime population, and excited the public
mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men
were particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors,
captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America,
naval officers of all countries, and the governments of
several States on the two continents, were deeply inter-
ested in the matter.
For some time past, vessels had been met by "an enor-
mous thing," a long object, spindle-shaped, occasionally
phosphorescent, and infinitely larger and more rapid in its
movements than a whale.
The facts relating to this apparition (entered in various
log-books) agreed in most respects as to the shape of the
object or creature in question, the untiring rapidity of its
movements, its surprising power of locomotion, and the
peculiar life with which it seemed endowed. If it was a
cetacean, it surpassed in size all those hitherto classified in
4 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
science. Taking into consideration the mean of obser.
nations made at divers times-rejecting the timid esti-
mate of those who assigned to this object a length of two
hundred feet, equally with the exaggerated opinions which
set it down as a mile in width and three in length-we
might fairly conclude that this mysterious being surpassed
greatly all dimensions admitted by the ichthyologists of
the day, if it existed at all. And that it did exist was av
undeniable fact; and, with that tendency which disposes
the human mind in favor of the marvellous, we can under-
stand the excitement produced in the entire world by thit
supernatural apparition. As to classing it in the list of
fables, the idea was out of the question.
On the 20th of July, 1866, the steamer Governor Higgin,
son, of the Calcutta and Burnach Steam Navigation Corn
pany, had met this moving mass five miles off the east
coast of Australia. Captain Baker thought at first that
he was in the presence of an unknown sand-bank; he even
prepared to determine its exact position, when two col
umns of water, projected by the inexplicable object, shot
with a hissing noise a hundred and fifty feet up into the
air. Now, unless the sand-bank had been submitted to
the intermittent eruption of a geyser, the Governor Hig
ginson had to do neither more nor less than with an
aquatic mammal, unknown till then, which threw up
from its blow-holes columns of water mixed with air and
Similar facts were observed on the 23d of July in the
same year, in the Pacific Ocean, by the Columbus, of the
West India and Pacific Steam Navigation Company. But
this extraordinary cetaceous creature could transport itself
from one place to another with surprising velocity; as, in
an interval of three days, the Governor Higginson and the
Columbus had observed it at two different points of the
chart, separated by a distance of more than seven hundred
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
-iifteen days later, two thousand miles farther off, the
Helvetia, of the Compagnie-Nationale, and the Shannon, of
the Royal Mail Steamship Company, sailing to wind-
ward in that portion of the Atlantic lying between the
United States and Europe, respectively signalled the mon-
ster to each other in 42 15' N. lat. and 600 35' W. long.
In these simultaneous observations, they thought them-
selves justified in estimating the minimum length of the
mammal at more than three hundred and fifty feet, as the
Shannon and Helvetia were of smaller dimensions than it,
though they measured three hundred feet over all.
Now, the largest whales, those which frequent those
parts of the sea round the Aleutian, Kulammak, and Um-
gullich Islands, have never exceeded the length of sixty
yards, if they attain that.
These reports arriving one after the other, with fresh ob-
servations made on board'the transatlantic ship Pereira, a
collision which occurred between the Etna of the Inman
line and the monster, a proces verbal directed by the officers
of the French frigate Normandie, a very accurate survey
made by the staff of Commodore Fitz-James on board the
Lqrd Clyde, greatly influenced public opinion. Light-
thinking people jested upon the- phenomenon, but grave
practical countries, such as England, America, and qer-
many, treated the matter more seriously.
In every place of great resort the monster was the fash-
ion. They sang of it in the caf6s, ridiculed it in the
papers, and represented it on the stage. All kinds of
stories were circulated regarding it. There appeared in
the papers caricatures of every gigantic and imaginary
creature, from the white whale, the terrible Moby Dick"
of hyperborean regions, to the immense kraken whose ten-
tacles could entangle a ship of five hundred tons, and
hurry it into the abyss of the ocean. The legends of
ancient times were even resuscitated, and the opinions of
Aristotle and Pliny revived, who admitted the existence of
6 20,000 LEAG ES .UNDER THE SEAS.
these monsters, as well as the Norwegian tales of Bishop
Pontoppidan, the accounts of Paul Heggede, and, last of
all, the reports of Mr. Harrington (whose good faith no
one could suspect), who affirmed that, being on board the
'Castillan, in 1857, he had seen this enormous serpent,
which had never until that time frequented any other seas
but those of the ancient Constitutionel."
Then burst forth the interminable controversy between
the credulous and the incredulous in the societies of sa-
vants and scientific journals. The question of the mon-
ster" inflamed all minds. Editors of scientific journals,
quarrelling with believers in the supernatural, spilled seas
of ink during this memorable campaign, some even draw-
ing blood; for, from the sea-serpent, they came to direct
For six months war was waged with various fortune in
the leading articles of the Geographical Institution of Bra-
zil, the Royal Academy of Science of Berlin, the British
Association, the Smithsonian Institution of Washington,
in the discussions of the "Indian Archipelago," of the
Cosmos of the Abb6 Moigno, in the Mittheilungen of Pe-
termann, in the scientific chronicles of the great journals
of France and other countries. The cheaper journals re-
plied keenly and with inexhaustible zest. These satirical
writers parodied a remark of Linnaeus, quoted by the ad-
versaries of the monster, maintaining "that nature did
not make fools," and adjured their contemporaries not to
give the lie to nature, by admitting the existence of kra-
kens, sea-serpents, "Moby Dicks," and other lucubrations
of delirious sailors. At length an article in a well known
satirical journal by a favorite contributor, the chief of -the
staff, settled the monster, like Hippolytus, giving it the
death-blow amidst a universal burst of laughter. Wit had
During the first months of the year 1867, the question
seemed buried never to revive, when new facts were
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
brought before the public. It was then no longer a scien-
tific problem to be solved, but a real danger seriously to be
avoided. The question took quite another shape. The
monster became a small island, a rock, a reef, but a reef of
indefinite and shifting proportions.
On the 5th of March, 1867, the Moravian, of the Mon-
treal Ocean Company, finding herself during the night in
270 30' lat. and 72 15' long., struck on her starboard
quarter a rock, marked in no chart for that part of the
sea. Under the combined efforts of the wind and its four
hundred horse-power, it was going at the rate of thirteen
knots. Had it not been for the superior strength of the
hull of the Moravian, she would have been broken by the
shock, and gone down with the 237 passengers she was
bringing home from Canada.
The accident happened about five o'clock in the morn-
ing, as the day was breaking. The officers of the quarter-
deck hurried to the- after-part of the vessel. They exam-
ined the sea with the most scrupulous attention. They
saw nothing but a strong eddy about three cables' length
distant, as if the surface had been violently agitated. The
bearings of the place were taken exactly, and the Moravian
continued its route without apparent damage. Had it
struck on a submerged rock, or on an enormous wreck?
They could not tell; but on examination of the ship's bot-
tom when undergoing repairs, it was found that part of her
keel was broken.
This fact, so grave in itself, might perhaps have been
forgotten like many others, if, three weeks after, it had
not been re-enacted under similar circumstances. But,
thanks to the nationality of the victim of the shock,
thanks to the reputation of the company to which the
vessel belonged, the circumstance became extensively cir-
The 13th of April, 1867, the sea being beautiful, the
breeze favorable, the Scotia, of the Cunard Company's line,
8 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
found herself in 150 12' long. and 450 37' lat. She was
going at the speed of thirteen knots and a half.
At seventeen minutes past four in the afternoon, whilst
the passengers were assembled at lunch in the great saloon,
a slight shock was felt on the hull of the Scotia, on hei
quarter, a little aft of the port paddle.
The Scotia had not struck, but she had been struck, and
seemingly by something rather sharp and penetrating than
blunt. The shock had been so slight that no one had been
alaamed, had it not been for the shouts of the carpenter's
watch, who rushed on to the bridge, exclaiming, We are
sinking! we are sinking!" At first the passengers were
much frightened, but Captain Anderson hastened to reas-
sure them. The danger could not be imminent. The
Scotia, divided into seven compartments by strong parti..
tions, could brave with impunity any leak. Captain An-
derson went down immediately into the hold. He found
that the sea was pouring into the fifth compartment; and
the rapidity of the influx proved that the force of the water
was considerable. Fortunately this compartment did not
hold the boilers, or the fires would have been immediately
extinguished. Captain Anderson ordered the engines to be
stopped at once, and one of the men went down to ascertain
the extent of the injury. Some minutes afterwards they
discovered the existence of a large hole, of two yards in di-
ameter, in the ship's bottom. Such a leak could not be
stopped; and the Scotia, her paddles half submerged, was
obliged to continue her course. She was then three hun-
dred miles from Cape Clear, and after three days' delay,
which caused great uneasiness in Liverpool, she entered the
basin of the company.
The engineers visited the Scotia, which was put in dry-
dlock. They could scarcely believe it possible: at two
yards and a half below water-mark was a regular rent, in
the form of an isosceles triangle. The broken place in the
iron plates was so perfectly defined, that it could not have
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
oeen more neatly done by a punch. It was clear, then,
that the instrument producing the perforation was not of
a common stamp; and after having been driven with pro-
digious strength, and piercing an iron plate 1 inches
thick, had withdrawn itself by a retrograde motion, truly
Such was the last fact, which resulted in exciting once
more the torrent of public opinion. From this moment all
unlucky casualties which could not be otherwise accounted
for were put down to the monster.
Upon this imaginary creature rested the responsibility of
all these shipwrecks, which unfortunately were considera-
ble; for of three thousand ships whose loss was annually
reported at Lloyds', the number of sailing and steam ships
supposed to be totally lost, from the absence of all news,
amounted to not less than two hundred.
Now, it was the monster" who, justly or unjustly, was
accused of their disappearance, and, thanks to it, commu-
nication between the different continents became more and
more dangerous. The public demanded peremptorily that
the seas should at any price be relieved from this formida-
PRO AND CON
AT the period when these events took place, I had just
returned from a scientific research in the disagreeable
Territory of Nebraska, in the United States. In virtue of
my office as Assistant Professor in the Museum of Natural
History in Paris, the French government had attached me
to that expedition. After six months in Nebraska, I ar-
rived in Now York towards the end of March, laden with
10 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
a precious collection. My departure for France was fixed
for the first days in May. Meanwhile, I was occupying
myself in classifying my mineralogical, botanical, and
zoological riches, when the accident happened to the
I was perfectly up in the subject which was the question
of the day. How could I be otherwise? I had read and
reread all the American and European papers without
being any nearer a conclusion. This mystery puzzled me.
Under the impossibility of forming an opinion, I jumped
from one extreme to the other. That there really was
something could not be doubted, and the incredulous were
invited to put their finger on the wound of the Scotia.
On my arrival at New York, the question was at its
height. The hypothesis of the floating island, and the un-
approachable sand-bank, supported by minds little com-
petent to form a judgment, was abandoned. And,'indeed,
unless this shoal had a machine in its stomach, how could
it change its position with such astonishing rapidity?
From the same cause, the idea of a floating hull of an
enormous wreck was given up.
There remained then only two possible solutions of the
question, which created two distinct parties: on one side,
those who were for a monster of colossal strength; on the
other, those who were for a submarine vessel of enormous
But this last hypothesis, plausible as it was, could not
stand against inquiries made in both worlds. That a
private gentleman should have such a machine at his com-
mand was not likely. Where, when, and how was it built?
and how could its construction have been kept secret?
Certainly a government might possess such a destructive
machine. And in these disastrous times, when the in-
genuity of man has multiplied the power of weapons of
war, it was possible that, without the knowledge of others,
a state might try to work such a formidable engine. After
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
the chassepots came the torpedoes, after the torpedoes the
submarine rams, then-the reaction. At least, I hope so.
But the hypothesis of a war-machine fell before the dec-
laration of governments. As public interest was in
question, and transatlantic communications suffered, their
veracity could not be doubted. But, how admit that the
construction of this submarine boat had escaped the public
eye ? For a private gentleman to keep the secret under
such circumstances would be very difficult, and for a State
whose every act is persistently watched by powerful rivals,
After inquiries made in England, France, Russia,
Prussia, Spain, Italy, and America, even in Turkey, the
hypothesis of a submarine monitor was definitely rejected.
Upon my arrival in New York several persons did me
the honor of consulting me on the phenomenon in ques-'
tion. I had published in France a work in quarto, in two
volumes, entitled, "Mysteries of the Great Submarine.
Grounds." This book, highly approved of in the learned
world, gained for me a special reputation in this rather
obscure branch of Natural History. My advice was asked.
As long as I could deny the reality of the fact, I confined
myself to a decided negative. But soon finding myself
driven into a corner, I was obliged to explain myself cate-
gorically. And even the Honorable Pierre Aronnax,
Professor in the Museum of Paris," was called upon by the
New York Herald to express a definite opinion of some
sort. I did something. I spoke for want of power to hold
my tongue. I discussed the question in all its forms, polit-
ically and scientifically; and I give here an extract from a
carefully studied article which I published in the number
of the 30th of April. It ran as follows:
"After examining one by one the different hypotheses,
rejecting all other suggestions, it becomes necessary to
admit the existence of a marine animal of enormous
12 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
"The great depths of the ocean are entirely unknown
to us. Soundings cannot reach them. What passes in
those remote depths-what beings live, or can live, twelve
or fifteen miles beneath the surface of the waters-what is
the organization of these animals-we can scarcely con-
jecture. However, the solution of the problem submitted
to me may modify the form of the dilemma. Either we
do know all the varieties of beings which people our planet,
or we do not. If we do not know them all, if Nature has
still secrets in ichthyology for us, nothing is more con-
formable to reason than to admit the existence of fishes, or
cetaceans of other kinds, or even of new species, of an or-
ganization formed to inhabit the strata inaccessible to
soundings, and which an accident of some sort, either fan-
tastical or capricious, has brought at long intervals to the
upper level of the ocean.
If, on the contrary, we do know all living kinds, we
must necessarily seek for the animal in question amongst
those marine beings already classed; and, in that case, I
should be disposed to admit the existence of a gigantic
"The common narwhal, or unicorn of the sea, often at-
tains a length of sixty feet. Increase its size fivefold or
tenfold, give it strength proportionate to its size, lengthen
its destructive weapons, and you obtain the animal re-
quired. It will have the proportions determined by the
officers of the Shannon, the instrument required by the
perforation of the Scotia, and the power necessary to pierce
the hull of the steamer.
"Indeed the narwhal is armed with a sort of ivory sword,
a halberd, according to the expression of certain natural-
ists. The principal tusk has the hardness of steel. Some
of these tusks have been found buried in the bodies of
whales, which the unicorn always attacks with success.
Others have been drawn out, not without trouble, from
the bottoms of ships, which they had pierced through and
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA8.
through, as a gimlet pierces a barrel. The Museum of the
Faculty of Medicine-of Paris possesses one of these defen.
sive weapons, two yards and a quarter in length, and fifteen
inches in diameter at the base.
"Very well! suppose this weapon to be six times stronger,
and the animal ten times more powerful; launch it at the
rate of twenty miles an hour, and you obtain a shock
capable of producing the catastrophe required. Until fur-
ther information, therefore, I shall maintain it to be a sea-
unicorn of colossal dimensions, armed, not with a halberd,
but with a real spur,. as the armored frigates, or the
'rams' of war, whose massiveness and motive power it
would possess at the same time. Thus may this inexplicable
phenomenon be explained, unless there be something over
and above all that one has ever conjectured, seen, perceived,
or experienced; which is just within the bounds of possi-
These last words were cowardly on my part; but, up to
a certain point, I wished to shelter my dignity as Professor,
and not give too much cause for laughter to the Americans,
who laugh well when they do laugh. I reserved for my.
self a way of escape. In effect, however, I admitted the
existence of the "monster." My article was warmly dis.
cussed, which procured it a high reputation. It rallied round
it a certain number of partisans. The solution it proposed
gave, at least, full liberty to the imagination, The human.
mind delights in grand conceptions of supernatural beings.
And the sea is precisely their best vehicle, the only medium
through which these giants (against which terrestrial ani-
mals, such as elephants or rhinoceroses, arc as nothing)
can be produced or developed.
The industrial and commercial papers treated the ques-
tion chiefly from this point of view. The Shipping and
Mercantile Gazette, the Lloyds' List, the Packet-Boat, and
the Maritime and Colonial Review, all papers devoted to
insurance companies which threatened to raise their rates
14 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
of premium, were unanimous on this point. Public
opinion had been pronounced. The United States were
the first in the field; and in New York they made prepara-
tions for an expedition destined to pursue this narwhal.
A frigate of great speed, the Abraham Lincoln, was put in
commission as soon as possible. The arsenals were opened
to Commander Farragut, who hastened the arming of his
frigate; but, as it always happens, the moment it was de-
cided to pursue the monster, the monster did not appear.
For two months no one heard it spoken of. No ship met
with it. It seemed as if this unicorn knew of the plots
weaving around it. It had been so much talked of, even
through the Atlantic cable, that jesters pretended that this
slender fly had stopped a telegram on its passage, and was
making the most of it.
So when the frigate had been armed for a long campaign,
and provided with formidable fishing apparatus, no one
could tell what course to pursue. Impatience grew apace,
when, on the 2d of June, they learned that a steamer of
the line of San Francisco, from California to Shanghai,
had seen the animal three weeks before in the North Pa-
cific Ocean. The excitement caused by this news was ex-
treme. The ship was revictualled and well stocked with
Three hours before the Abraham Lincoln left Brooklyn
pier, I received a letter worded as follows:
"To M. ARONNAX, Professor in the Museum of ParIs,
FIFTH AVENUE HOTEL, NEW YOREI
"SIR,-If you will consent to join the Abraham Lincoln in this
expedition, the government of the United States will with pleasure
see France represented in the enterprise. Commander Farragut has
a cabin at your disposal Very cordially yours,
"J. B. HOBsoN,
"Secretary of Marine."
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
I FORM MY RESOLUTION.
THREE seconds before the arrival of J. B. Hobson's let-
ter, I no more thought of pursuing the unicorn than of
attempting the passage of the North Sea. Three seconds
after reading the letter of the Honorable Secretary of Ma-
rine, I felt that my true vocation, the sole end of my life,
was to chase this disturbing monster, and purge it from the
But I had just returned from a fatiguing journey, weary,
and longing for repose. I aspired to nothing more than
again seeing my country, my friends, my little lodging by
the Jardin des Plantes, my dear and precious collections.
But nothing could keep me back! I forgot all-fatigue,
friends, and collections-and accepted without hesitation
the offer of the American government.
"Besides," thought I, all roads lead back to Europe;
and the unicorn may be amiable enough to hurry me
towards the coast of France. This worthy animal may
allow itself to be caught in the seas of Europe (for my par-
ticular benefit), and I will not bring back less than half a
yard of his ivory halbred to the Museum of Natural His-
tory." But in the mean while I must seek this narwhal
in the North Pacific Ocean, which, to return to France,
was taking the road to the antipodes.
Conseil," I called in an impatient voice.
Conseil was my servant, a true, devoted Flemish boy,
who had accompanied me in all my travels. I liked him,
and he returned the liking well. He was phlegmatic by
nature, regular from principle, zealous from habit, evincing
little disturbance at the different surprises of life, very
16 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
quick with his hands, and apt at any service required of
him; and, despite his name, never giving advice-even
when asked for it.
Conseil had followed me for the last ten years wherever
science led. Never once did he complain of the length or
fatigue of a journey, never make an objection to pack his
portmanteau for whatever country it might be, or however
far away, whether China or Congo. Besides all this, he
had good health, which defied all sickness, and solid mus-
cles, but no nerves; good morals are understood. This
boy was thirty years old, and his age to that of his master
as fifteen to twenty. May I be excused for saying that I
was forty years old?
But Conseil had one fault, he was ceremonious to a de-
gree, and would never speak to me but in the third person,
which was sometimes provoking.
"Conseil," said I again, beginning with feverish hands
to make preparations for my departure.
Certainly I was sure of this devoted boy. As a rule, I
never asked him if it were convenient for him or not to fol-
low me in my travels; but this time the expedition in ques-
tion might be prolonged, and the enterprise might be haz-
ardous in pursuit of an animal capable of sinking a frigate
as easily as a nutshell. Here there was matter for reflec-
tion even to the most impassive man in the world. What
would Conseil say?
"Conseil," I called a third time
"Did you call, sir?" said he, entering.
"Yes, my boy; make preparations for me and yourself
too. We leave in two hours."
"As you please, sir," replied Conseil, quietly.
Not an instant to lose; lock in my trunk all travelling
utensils, coats, shirts, and stockings-without counting--
as many as you can, and make haste."
And your collections, sir?" observed Conseil.
20,000 LEAG ES UNDER THE SEAS.
We, will think of them by and by."
"What! the archiotherium, the hyracotherium, the
oreodons, the cheropotamus, and the other skins?"
"They will keep them at the hotel."
And your live Babiroussa, sir?"
"They will feed it during our absence; besides, I will
give orders to forward our menagerie to France."
"We are not returning to Paris, then?" said Conseil.
"Oh! certainly," I answered evasively, "by making a
"Will the curve please you, sir?"
"Oh! it will be nothing; not quite so direct a road, that
is all. Wp take our passage in the Abraham Lincoln."
"As you think proper, sir,"' coolly replied Conseil.
"You see, my friend, it has to do with the monster--
the famous narwhal. We are going to purge it from the
seas. The author of a work in quarto, in two volumes, on
the 'Mysteries of the Great Submarine Groun'ds' cannot
forbear embarking with Commander Farragut. A glorious
mission, but a dangerous one! We cannot tell where we
may go; these animals can be very capricious. But we will
go whether or no; we have got a captain who is pretty wide
I opened a credit account for Babiroussa, and, Conseil
following, I jumped into a cab. Our luggage was trans-
ported to the deck of the frigate immediately. I hastened
on board and asked for Commander Farragut. One of the
sailors conducted me to the poop, where I found myself in
the presence of a good-looking officer, who held out his
hand to me.
"Monsieur Pierre Aronnax?" said he.
"Himself," replied I; "Commander Farragut?"
"You are welcome, Professor; your cabin is ready for
I bowed, and desired to be conducted to the cabin des-
tined for me.
18 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
The Abraham Lincoln had been well chosen and equipped
for her new destination. She was a frigate of great speed,
fitted with high-pressure engines which admitted a pressure
of seven atmospheres. Under this the Abraham Lincoln
attained the mean speed of nearly eighteen knots and a
third an hour-a considerable speed, but, nevertheless,
insufficient to grapple with this gigantic cetacean.
The interior arrangements of the frigate corresponded t4
its nautical qualities. I was well satisfied with my cabin,
which was in the after-part, opening upon the gun-room.
"We shall be well off here," said I to Conseil.
As well, by your honor's leave, as a hermit-crab in the
shell of a whelk," said Conseil.
I left Conseil to stow our trunks conveniently away, and
remounted the poop in order to survey the preparations foi
At that moment Commander Farragut was ordering the
last moorings to be cast loose which held the Abraham
Lincoln to the pier of Brooklyn. So in a quarter of an
hour, perhaps less, the frigate would have sailed without
me. I should have missed this extraordinary, supernatural,
and incredible expedition, the recital of which may well
meet with some skepticism.
But Commander Farragut would not lose a day nor an
hour in scouring the seas in which the animal had been
sighted. He sent for the engineer.
"Is the steam full on?" asked he.
"Yes, sir," replied the engineer.
Go ahead," cried Commander Farragut.
The quay of Brooklyn, and all that part of New York
bordering on the East River, was crowded with spectators.
Three cheers burst successively from five hundred thousand
throats; thousands of handkerchiefs were waved above the
heads of the compact mass, saluting the Abraham Lincoln,
until she reached the waters of the Hudson, at the point of
that elongated peninsula which forms the town of New
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
York. Then the frigate, following the coast of New Jersey
along the right bank of the. beautiful river, covered with
villas, passed between the forts, which saluted her with
their heaviest guns. The Abraham Lincoln answered by
hoisting the American colors three times, whose thirty-nine
stars shone resplendent from the mizzen-peak; then modi-
fying its speed to take the narrow channel marked by buoys
placed in the inner bay formed by Sandy Hook Point, it
coasted the long sandy beach, where some thousands of
spectators gave it one final cheer. The escort of boats and
tenders still followed the frigate, and did not leave her
until they came abreast of the light-ship, whose two lights
marked the entrance of New York Channel.
Six bells struck, the pilot got into his boat, and rejoined
the little schooner which was waiting under our lee, the
fires were made up, the screw beat the waves more rapidly,
the frigate skirted the low yellow coast of Long Island; and
at eight bells, after having lost sight in the northwest of
the lights of Fire Island, she ran at full steam on to the
dark waters of the Atlantic.
CAPTAIN FARRAGUT was a.good seaman, worthy of the
frigate he commanded. His vessel and he were one. He
was the soul of it. On the question of the cetacean there
was no doubt in his mind, and he would not allow the ex-
istence of the animal to be disputed on board. He believed
in it as certain good women believe in the leviathan-by
faith, not by reason. The monster did exist, and he had
sworn to rid the seas of it. He was a kind of Knight of
Rhodes, a second Dieudonn6 de Gozon, going to meet the
$2 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SkAs.
serpent which desolated the island. Either Captain Farra.
gut would kill the narwhal, or the narwhal would kill the
captain. There was no third course.
The officers on board shared the opinion of their chief.
They were ever chatting, discussing, and calculating the
various chances of a meeting, watching 'narrowly the vast
surface of the ocean. More than one took up his quarters
voluntarily in the cross-trees, who would have cursed such
a berth under any other circumstances. As long as the sun
described its daily course, the rigging was crowded with
sailors, whose feet were burnt to such an extent by the heat
of the deck as to render it unbearable; still the Abraham
Lincoln had not yet breasted the suspected waters of the
Pacific. As to the ship's company, they desired nothing
better than to meet the unicorn, to harpoon it, hoist it on
board, and despatch it. They watched the sea with eager
Besides, Captain Farragut had spoken of a certain sum of
two thousand dollars, set apart for whoever should first
sight the monster, were he cabin-boy, common seaman, or
I leave you to judge how eyes were used on board the
For my own part, I was not behind the others, and left
to no one my share of daily observations. The frigate
might have been called the Argus, for a hundred reasons.
Only one amongst us, Conseil, seemed to protest by his in-
difference against the question which so interested us all,
and seemed to be out of keeping with the general enthusiasm
I have said that Captain Farragut had carefully provided
his ship with every apparatus for catching the gigantic ceta-
cean. No whaler had ever been better armed. We pos-
sessed every known engine, from the harpoon thrown by
the hand to the barbed arrows of the blunderbuss, and the
explosive balls of the duck-gun. On the forecastle lay the
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
perfection of a breech-loading gun, very thick at the breech,
and very narrow in the bore, the model of which had been
in the Exhibition of 1867. This precious weapon of Ameri-
can origin could throw with ease a conical projectile of nine
pounds to a mean distance of ten miles.
Thus the Abraham Lincoln wanted for no means of de-
struction; and, what was better still, she had on board Ned
Land, the prince of harpooners.
Ned Land was a Canadian, with an uncommon quickness
of hand, and who knew no equal in his dangerous occupa-
tion. Skill, coolness, audacity, and cunning he possessed
in a superior degree, and it must be a cunning whale or a
singularly "cute" cachalot to escape the stroke of his har-
Ned Land was about. orty years of age; he was a tall man
(more than six feet high), strongly built, grave and taciturn,
occasionally violent, and very passionate when contradicted.
His person attracted attention, but above all the boldness
of his look, which gave a singular expression to his face.
Who calls himself Canadian calls himself French; and
little communicative as Ned Land was, ] must admit that
he took a certain liking for me. My nationality drew him
to me, no doubt. It was an opportunity for him to talk,
and for me to hear, that old language of Rabelais, which is
still in use in some Canadian provinces. The harpooner's
family was originally from Quebec, and was already a tribe
of hardy fishermen when this town belonged to France.
Little by little, Ned Land acquired a taste for chatting,
and I loved to hear the recital of his adventures in
the polar seas. He related his fishing, and his combats,
with natural poetry of expression; his recital took the form
of an epic poem, and I seemed to be listening to a Canadian
Homer singing the liad of the regions of the North.
I am portraying this hardy companion as I really knew
him. We are old friends now, united in that unchangeable
friendship which is born and cemented amidst extreme dan-
32 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
gers. Ah, brave Ned! I ask no more than to live a hun-
dred years longer, that I may have more time to dwell the
longer on your memory.
Now, what was Ned Land's opinion upon the question of
the marine monster? I must admit that he did not believe
in the unicorn, and was the only one on board who'did not
share that universal conviction. He even avoided the sub-
ject, which I one day thought it my duty to press upon
him. One magnificent evening, the 25th June-that is to
say, three weeks after our departure-the frigate was
abreast of Cape Blanc, thirty miles to leeward of the coast
of Patagonia. We had crossed the tropic of Capricorn, and
the Straits of Magellan opened less than seven hundred
miles to the south. Before eight days were over the Abra-
ham Lincoln would be ploughing the waters of the Pacific.
Seated on the poop, Ned Land and I were chatting of one
thing and another as we looked at this mysterious sea,
whose great depths had up to this time been inaccessible to
the eye of man. I naturally led up the conversation to the
giant unicorn, and examined the various chances of success
or failure of the expedition. But seeing that Ned Land let
me speak without saying too much himself, I pressed him
"Well, Ned," said I, "is it possible that you are not
convinced of the existence of this cetacean that we are fol-
lowing? Have you any particular reason for being so in-
The harpooner looked at me fixedly for some moments
before answering, struck his broad forehead with his hand
(a habit of his), as if to collect himself, and said at last,
"Perhaps I have, Mr. Aronnax."
But, Ned, you, a whaler by profession, familiarized
with all the great marine mammalia-you, whose imagina-
tion might easily accept the hypothesis of enormous ceta-
ceans-you ought to be the last to doubt under such cir-
20,00 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
"That is just what deceives you, Professor," replied
Ned. "That the vulgar should believe in extraordinary
comets traversing space, and in the existence of antedilu-
vian monsters in the heart of the globe, may well be; but
neither astronomers nor geologists believe in such chimeras.
As a whaler, I have followed many a cetacean, harpooned
a great number, and killed several; but, however strong
or well-armed they may have been, neither their tails nor
their weapons would have been able even to scratch the
iron plates of a steamer."
"But, Ned, they tell of ships which the teeth of the nar-
whal have pierced through and through."
Wooden ships-that is possible," replied the Canadian;
"but I have never seen it done; and, until further proof,
I deny that whales, cetaceans, or sea-unicorns could ever
produce the effect you describe."
Well, Ned, I repeat it with a conviction resting on the
logic of facts. I believe in the existence of a mammal
powerfully organized, belonging to the branch of verte-
brata, like the whales, the cachalots, or the dolphins, and
furnished with a horn of defence of great penetrating
"Hum!" said the harpooner, shaking his head with the
air of a man who would not be convinced,
"Notice one thing, my worthy Canadian," I resumed.
"If such an animal is in existence, if it inhabits the depths
of the ocean, if it frequents the strata lying miles below the
surface of the water, it must necessarily possess an organ-
ization the strength of which would defy all comparison."
"And why this powerful organization?" demanded Ned.
"Because it requires incalculable strength to keep one's
self in these strata and resist their pressure. Listen to me.
Let us admit that the pressure of the atmosphere is repre-
sented by the weight of a column of water thirty-two feet
high. In reality the column of water would be shorter, as
we are speaking of sea-water, the density of which is greater
24 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
than that of fresh water. Very well, when you dive, Ned,
as many times thirty-two feet of water as there are above
you, so many times does your body bear a pressure equal to
that of the E.tmosphere, that is to say 15 lbs. for each square
inch of its surface. It follows, then, that at 320 feet this
pressure = that of 10 atmospheres, of 100 atmospheres at
3200 feet, and of 1000 atmospheres at 32,000 feet, that is,
about 6 miles; which is equivalent to saying that, if you
could attain this depth in the ocean, each square I of an
inch of the surface of your body would bear a pressure of
5600 lbs. Ah! my brave Ned, do you know how many
square inches you carry on the surface of your body?"
"I have no idea, Mr. Aronnax."
About 6500; and, as in reality the atmospheric press-
ure is about 15 lbs. to the square inch, your 6500 square
inches bear at this moment a pressure of 97,500 lbs."
"Without my perceiving it?"
"Without your perceiving it. And if you are not
crushed by such a pressure, it is because the air penetrates
the interior of your body with equal pressure. Hence per-
fect equilibrium between the interior and exterior pressure,
which thus neutralize each other, and which allows you to
bear it without inconvenience. But in the water it is
"Yes, I understand," replied Ned, becoming more atten-
tive; "because the water surrounds me, but does not pene-
Precisely, Ned; so that at 32 feet beneath the surface
of the sea you would undergo a pressure of 97,500 lbs.; at
320 feet, ten times that pressure; at 3200 feet, a hundred
times that pressure; lastly, at 32,000 feet, a thousand times
that pressure would be 97,500,000 lbs.-that is to say,
that you would be flattened as if you had been drawn from
the plates of an hydraulic machine!"
"The devil!" exclaimed Ned.
"Very well, my worthy harpooner, if some vertebrate,
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
several hundred yards long, and large in proportion, can
maintain itself in such depths,-of those whose surface is
represented by millions of square inches, that is by tens of
millions of pounds, we must estimate the pressure they
undergo. Consider, then, what must be the resistance of
their bony structure, and the strength of their organization
to withstand such pressure!"
"Why!" exclaimed Ned Land, "they must be made ot
iron plates eight inches thick, like the armored frigates."
As you say, Ned. And think what destruction such a
mass would cause, if hurled with the speed of an express
train against the hull of a vessel."
Yes-certainly-perhaps," replied the Canadian, shaken
by these figures, but not yet willing to give in.
"Well, have I convinced you?"
"You have convinced me of one thing, sir, which is, that
if such animals do exist at the bottom of the seas, they must
necessarily be as strong as you say."
"But if they do not exist, mine obstinate harpooner,
how explain the accident to the Scotia ?"
AT A VENTURE.
THE voyage of the Abralham Lincoln was for a long time
marked by no special incident. But one circumstance hap-
pened which showed the wonderful dexterity of Ned Land,
and proved what confidence we might placein him.
The 30th of June, the frigate spoke some American
whalers, from whom we learned that they knew nothing
about-the narwhal. But one of them, the captain of the
Monroe, knowing that Ned Land had shipped on board the
Abraham Lincoln, begged for his help in chasing a whale
26 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
they had in sight. Commander Farragut, desirous of see-
ing Ned Land at work, gave him permission to go on board,
the Monroe. And fate served our Canadian so well that,
instead of one whale, he harpooned two with a double blow,
striking one straight to the heart and catching the other
after some minutes' pursuit.
Decidedly, if the monster ever had to do with Ned Land's
harpoon, I would not bet in its favor.
The frigate skirted the southeast coast of America with
great rapidity. The 3d of July we were at the opening of
the Straits of Magellan, level with Cape Vierges. But
Commander Farragut would not take a tortuous passage,
but doubled Cape Horn.
The ship's crew agreed with him. And certainly it was
possible that they might meet the narwhal in this narrow
pass. Many of the sailors affirmed that the monster could
not pass there, "that he was too big for that!"
The 6th of July, about three o'clock in the afternoon,
the Abraham Lincoln, at fifteen miles to the south, doubled
the solitary island, this last rock at the extremity of the
American continent to which some Dutch sailors gave the
name of their native town, Cape Horn. The course was
taken towards the northwest, and the next day the screw of
the frigate was at last beating the waters of the Pacific.
Keep your eyes open!" called out the sailors.
And they were opened widely. Both eyes and glasses, a
little dazzled, it is true, by the prospect of two thousand
dollars, had not an instant's repose. Day and night they
watched the surface of the ocean, and even nyctalopes,
whose faculty of seeing in the darkness multiplies their
chances a hundred-fold, v would have had enough to do to
gain the prize.
I myself, for whom money had no charms, was not the
least attentive on board. Giving but few minutes to my
meals, but a few hours to sleep, indifferent to either rain
or sunshine, I did not leave the poop of the vessel. Now
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.
leaning on the netting of the forecastle, now on the taffrail,
I devoured with eagerness the soft foam which whitened
the sea as far as the eye could reach; and how often have I
shared the emotion of the majority of the crew when some
capricious whale raised its black back above the waves!
The poop of the vessel was crowded in a moment. The
cabins poured forth a torrent of sailors and officers, each
with heaving breast and troubled eye watching the course
of the cetacean. I looked, and looked, till I was nearly
blind, whilst Conseil, always phlegmatic, kept repeating in
a calm voice:
"If, sir, you would not squint so much, you would see
But vain excitement! the Abraham Lincoln checked its
speed and made for the animal signalled, a simple whale, or
common cachalot, which soon disappeared amidst a storm
But the weather was good. The voyage was being ac-
complished under the most favorable auspices. It was then
the bad season in Australia, the July of that zone corre-
sponding to our January in Europe; but the sea was beauti-
ful and easily scanned round a vast circumference.
The 20th July, the tropic of Capricorn was cut by 1050
of longitude, and the 27th of the same month we crossed
the equator on the 110th meridian. This passed, the frig-
ate took a more decided westerly direction, and scoured
the central waters of the Pacific. Commander Farragut
thought, and with reason, that it was better to remain in
deep water, and keep clear of continents or islands, which
the beast itself seemed to shun (perhaps because there was
not enough water for him suggested the greater part of
the crew). The frigate passed at some distance from the
Marquesas and the Sandwich Islands, crossed the tropic of
Cancer, and made for the China Seas. We were on the the-
atre of the last diversions of the monster; and to say truth,
we no longer lived on board. Hearts palpitated, fearfully
~8 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
preparing themselves for future incurable aneurism. The
entire ship's crew were undergoing a nervous excitement, of
which I can give no idea; they could not eat, they could
not sleep: twenty times a day, a misconception or an opti-
cal illusion of some sailor seated on the taffrail would cause
dreadful perspirations, and these emotions, twenty times
repeated, kept us in a state of excitement so violent that a
reaction was unavoidable.
And truly, reaction soon showed itself. For three
months, during which a day seemed an age, the Abra-
ham Lincoln furrowed all the waters of the Northern Pa
cific, running at whales, making sharp deviations from her
course, veering suddenly from one tack to another, stop-
ping suddenly, putting on steam, and backing ever and
anon at the risk of deranging her machinery; and not one
point of the Japanese or American coast was left unex.
The warmest partisans of the enterprise now became its
most ardent detractors. Reaction mounted from the crew
to the captain himself, and certainly, had it not been for
resolute determination on the part of Captain Farragut, the
frigate would have headed due southward. This useless
search could not last much longer. The Abraham Lincoln
had nothing to reproach herself with, she had done her
best to succeed. Never had an American ship's crew shown
more zeal or patience; its failure could not be placed to
their charge-there remained nothing but to return.
This was represented to the commander. The sailors
could not hide their discontent, and the service suffered.
I will not say there was a mutiny on board, but after a
reasonable period of obstinacy, Captain Farragut (as Co-
lumbus did) asked for three days' patience. If in
three days the monster did not appear, the man at the helm
should give three turns of the wheel, and the Abraham
Lincoln would make for the European seas.
This promise was made on the 2d of November. It had
20,000 LEAGUE ES JNDER THE SEAS.
the effect of rallying the ship's crew. The ocean was
watched with renewed attention. Each one wished for a
last glance in which to sum up his remembrance. Glasses
were used with feverish activity. It was a grand defiance
given to the giant narwhal, and he could scarcely fail to
answer the summons and appear."
Two days passed, the steam was at half-pressure; a
thousand schemes were tried to attract the attention and
stimulate the apathy of the animal in case it should be
met in those parts. Large quantities of bacon were trailed
in the wake of the ship, to the great satisfaction (I must
say) of the sharks. Small craft radiated in all directions
round the Abraham Lincoln as she lay to, and did not leave
a spot of the sea unexplored. But the night of the 4th of
November arrived without the unveiling of this submarine
The next day, the 5th of November, at twelve, the de.
lay would (morally speaking) expire; after that time, Com-
mander Farragug, faithful to his promise, was to turn the
course to the southeast and abandon forever the northern
regions of the Pacific.
The frigate was then in 310 15' north latitude and 1360
42' east longitude. The coast of Japan still remained less
than two hundred miles to leeward. Night was approach-
ing. They had just struck eight bells; large clouds veiled
the face of the moon, then in its first quarter. The sea
undulated peaceably under the stern of the vessel.
At that moment I was leaning forward on the starboard
netting. Conseil, standing near me, was looking straight
before him. The crew, perched in the ratlines, examined
the horizon, which contracted and darkened by degrees.
Officers with their night-glasses scoured the growing dark-
ness; sometimes the ocean sparkled under the rays of the
moon, which darted between two clouds, then all trace of
light was lost in the darkness.
In looking at Conseil, I could see he was undergoing a
30 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
little of the general influence. At least I thought so. Per-
haps for the first time his nerves vibrated to a sentiment of
"Come, Conseil," said I, "this is the last chance of
pocketing the two thousand dollars."
May I be permitted to say, sir," replied Conseil,
"that I never reckoned on getting the prize; and had the
government of the Union offered a hundred thousand dol-
lars, it would have been none the poorer."
"You are right, Conseil. It is a foolish affair after
all, and one upon which we entered too lightly. What
time lost, what useless emotions! We should have been
back in France six months ago."
"In your little room, sir," replied Conseil, "and in
your museum, sir; and I should have already classed all
your fossils, sir. And the Babiroussa would have been in-
stalled in its cage in the Jardin des Plantes, and 'have
drawn all the curious people of the capital !"
"As you say, Conseil. I fancy we shall run a fair
chance of being laughed at for our pains."
"That's tolerably certain," replied Conseil, quietly; "I
think they will make fun of you, sir. And, must I say
Go on, my good friend."
"Well, sir, you will only get your deserts."
When one has the honor of being a savant as you are,
sir, one should not expose one's self to-"
Conseil had not time to finish his compliment. In the
midst of general silence a voice had just been heard. It
was the voice of Ned Land shouting:
"Look out there! the very thing we are looking for-
on our weather beam!"
20,00 LEAGUES UNDER 2'lE SEAS.
AT FULL STEAM.
AT this cry the whole ship's crew hurried towards the
harpooner-commander, officers, masters, sailors, cabin-
boys; even the engineers left their engines, and the
stokers their furnaces.
The order to stop her had been given, and the frigate
now simply went on by her own momentum. The dark-
ness was then profound; and however good the Canadian's
eyes were, I asked myself how he had managed to see, and
what he had been able to see. My heart beat as if it would
break. But Ned Land was not mistaken, and we all per-
ceived the object he pointed to. At two cables' lengths
from the Abraham Lincoln, on the starboard quarter, the
sea seemed to be illuminated all over. It was not a mere
phosphoric phenomenon. The monster emerged some
fathoms from the water, and then threw out that very in-
tense but inexplicable light mentioned in the report of
several captains. The magnificent irradiation must have
been produced by an agent of great shining power Ihe
luminous part traced on the sea an immense oval, much
elongated, the centre of which condensed a burning heat,
whose overpowering brilliancy died out by successive gra-
"It is only an agglomeration of phosphoric particles,"
cried one of the officers.
"No, sir, certainly not," I replied. "Never did pho-
lades or salps produce such a powerful light. That bright-
ness is of an essentially electrical nature. Besides, see, seel
it moves; it is moving forwards, backwards, it is darting
82 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
A general cry arose from the frigate.
"Silence!" said the captain; "up with the helm, reverse
The steam was shut off, and the Abraham Lincoln, beat-
ing to port, described a semicircle.
"Right the helm, go ahead," cried the captain.
These orders were executed, and the frigate moved
rapidly from the burning light.
I was mistaken. She tried to sheer off, but the super.
natural animal approached with a velocity double her own.
We gasped for breath. Stupefaction more than fear
made us dumb and motionless. The animal gained on us,
sporting with the waves. It made the round of the frigate,
which was then making fourteen knots, and enveloped it
with its electric rings like luminous dust. Then it moved
away two or three miles, leaving a phosphorescent track,
like those volumes of steam that the express trains leave
behind. All at once from the dark line of the horizon,
whither it retired to gain its momentum, the monster
rushed suddenly towards the Abraham Lincoln with alarm-
ing rapidity, stopped suddenly about twenty feet from the
hull, and died out-not diving under the water, for its
brilliancy did not abate, but suddenly, and as if the source of
this brilliant emanation was exhausted. Then it reappeared
on the other side of the vessel, as if it had turned and
slid under the hull. Any moment a collision might have
occurred which would have been fatal to us. However, I
was astonished at the manoeuvres of the frigate. She fled
and did not attack.
On the captain's face, generally so impassive, was an ex-
pression of unaccountable astonishment.
"Mr. Aronnax," he said, "I do not know with what
formidable being I have to deal, and I will not imprudently
risk my frigate in the midst of this darkness. Besides,
how attack this unknown thing, how defend one's self from
it? Wait for daylight, and the scene will change;"
20.000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
-' You have no further doubt, captain, of the nature of
"No, sir; it is evidently a gigantic narwhal, and an elec-
Perhaps," added I, one can only approach it with a
gymnotus or a torpedo."
Undoubtedly," replied the captain, if it possess such
dreadful power, it is the most terrible animal that ever was
created. That is why, sir, I must be on my guard."
The crew were on their feet all night. No one thought
of sleep. The Abraham Lincoln, not being able to strug-
gle with such velocity, had moderated its pace, and sailed
at half speed. For its part, the narwhal, imitating the
frigate, let the waves rock at it will, and seemed decided not
to leave the scene of the struggle. Towards midnight,
however, it disappeared, or, to use a more appropriate term,
it "died out" like a large glow-worm. Had it fled? One
could only fear, not hope it. But at seven minutes to one
o'clock in the morning a deafening whistle was heard, like
that produced by a body of water rushing with great vio-
The captain, Ned Land, and I were then on the poop,
eagerly peering through the profound darkness.
"Ned Land," asked the commander, "you have often
heard the roaring of whales?"
Often, sir; but never such whales the sight of which
brought me in two thousand dollars. If I can only ap-
proach within four harpoon lengths of it!"
"But to approach it," said the commander, "I ought to
put a whaler at your disposal?"
That will be trifling with the lives of my men."
"And mine too," simply said the harpooner.
Towards two o'clock in the morning, the burning light
reappeared, not less intense, about five miles to windward
of the Abraham Lincoln. Notwithstanding the distance,
34 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
and the noise of the wind and sea, one heard distinctly the
loud strokes of the animal's tail, and even its panting
breath. It seemed that, at the moment that the enormous
narwhal had come to take breath at the surface of the
water, the air was ingulfed in its lungs, like the steam in
the vast cylinders of a machine of two thousand horse-
"Hum!" thought I, "a whale with the strength of a
cavalry regiment would be a pretty whale!"
We were on the qui vive till daylight, and prepared for
the combat. The fishing implements were laid along the
hammock nettings. The second lieutenant loaded the
blunderbusses, which could throw harpoons to the distance
of a mile, and long 'duck-guns, with explosive bullets,
which inflicted mortal wounds even to the most terrible
animals. Ned Land contented himself with sharpening
his harpoon-a terrible weapon in his hands.
At six o'clock, day began to break; and with the first
glimmer of light, the electric light of the narwhal disap-
peared. At seven o'clock the day was sufficiently advanced,
but a very thick sea-fog obscured our view, and the best
spy-glasses could not pierce it. That caused disappoint-
ment and anger.
I climbed the mizzen-mast. Some officers were already
perched on the mast-heads. At eight o'clock the fog lay
heavily on the waves, and its thick scrolls rose little by lit-
tle. The horizon grew wider and clearer at the same time.
Suddenly, just as on the day before, Ned Land's voice was
"The thing itself on the port quarter!" cried the har-
Every eye was turned towards the point indicated. There,
a mile and a half from the frigate, a long blackish body
emerged a yard above the waves. Its tail, violently agi-
tated, produced a considerable eddy. Never did a caudal
appendage beat the sea with such violence. An immense
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
track, of a dazzling whiteness, marked the passage of the
animal, and described a long curve.
The frigate approached the cetacean. I examined it
The reports of the Shannon and of the Helvetia had
rather exaggerated its size, and I estimated its length at
only two hundred and fifty feet. As to its dimensions, I
could only conjecture them to be admirably proportioned.
While I watched this phenomenon, two jets of steam and
water were ejected from its vents, and rose to the height
of 120 feet; thus I ascertained its way of breathing. I con-
cluded definitely that it belonged to the vertebrate branch,
The crew waited impatiently for their chief's orders.
The latter, after having observed the animal attentively,
called the engineer. The engineer ran to him.
"Sir," said the commander, "you have steam up?"
"Yes, sir," answered the engineer.
"Well, make up your fires and put on all steam."
Three hurrahs greeted this order. The time for the
struggle had arrived. Some moments after, the two fun-
nels of the frigate vomited torrents of black smoke, and
the bridge quaked under the trembling of the boilers.
The Abraham Lincoln, propelled by her powerful screw,
went straight at the animal. The latter allowed it to come
within half a cable's length; then, as if disdaining to dive,
it took a little turn, and stopped a short distance off.
This pursuit lasted nearly three quarters of an hour,
without the frigate gaining two yards on the cetacean. It
was quite evident that at that rate we should never come
up with it.
"Well, Mr. Land," asked the captain, "do you advise
me to put the boats out to sea?"
"No, sir," replied Ned Land; "because we shall not
take that beast easily."
What shall we do, then?"
36 0,000o LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Put on more steam if you can, sir. With your leave,
I mean to post myself under the bowsprit, and if we get
within harpooning distance, I shall throw my harpoon."
"Go, Ned," said the captain. "Engineer, put on more
Ned Land went to his post. The fires were increased,
the screw revolved forty-three times a minute, and the
steam poured out of the valves. We heaved the log, and
calculated that the Abraham Lincoln was going at the rate
of 181 miles an hour.
But the accursed animal swam too at the rate of 181
For a whole hour, the frigate kept up this pace, without
gaining six feet. It was humiliating for one of the swiftest
sailers in the American navy. A stubborn anger seized
the crew; the sailors abused the monster, who, as before,
disdained to answer them; the captain no longer con-
tented himself with twisting his beard-he gnawed it.
The engineer was again called.
"You have turned full steam on?"
Yes, sir," replied the engineer.
The speed of the Abraham Lincoln increased. Its masts
trembled down to their stepping-holes, and the clouds of
smoke could hardly find way out of the narrow funnels.
They heaved the log a second time.
Well?" asked the captain of the man at the wheel.
"Nineteen miles and three tenths, sir."
Clap on more steam."
The engineer obeyed. The manometer showed ten de-
grees. But the cetacean grew warm itself, no doubt; for,
without straining itself, it made 19-f miles.
What a pursuit! No, I cannot describe the emotion that
vibrated through me. Ned Land kept his post, harpoon in
hand. Several times the animal let us gain upon it. "We
shall catch it! we shall catch it!" cried the Canadian. But
just as he was going to strike, the cetacean stole away with
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
a rapidity that could not be estimated at less than thirty
miles an hour, and even during our maximum of speed it
bullied the frigate, going round and round it. A cry of
fury broke from every one!
At noon we were no further advanced than at eight
,'clock in the morning.
The captain then decided to take more direct means.
"Ah!" said he, "that animal goes quicker than the
Jbraham Lincoln. Very well! we will see whether it will
escape these conical bullets. Send your men to the forecas-
The forecastle gun was immediately loaded and slewed
round. But the shot passed some feet above the cetacean,
which was half a mile off.
"Another more to the right," cried the commander,
"and five dollars to who-eer will hit that infernal
An old gunner with a gray beard-that I can see now-
with steady eye and grave face, went up to the gun and
took a long aim. A loud report was heard, with which
were mingled the cheers of the crew.
The bullet did its work; it hit the animal, but not fatal-
ly, and, sliding off the rounded surface, was lost in two
miles' depth of sea.
The chase began again, and the captain, leaning towards
"I will pursue that beast till my frigate bursts up."
"Yes," answered I; "and you will be quite right to do
I wished the beast would exhaust itself, and not be insen-
sible to fatigue, like a steam-engine! But it was of no
use. Hours passed, without its showing any signs of ex-
However, it must be said in praise of the Abraham IAw-
coln, that she struggled on indefatigably. I cannot reckov
the distance she made under three hundred miles during
38 20,000 LEAGUES '?UNDER THE SEAS.
this unlucky day, November the 6th. But night came on,
and overshadowed the rough ocean.
Now I thought our expedition was at an end, and that
we should never again see the extraordinary animal. I
was mistaken. At ten minutes to eleven in the evening,
the electric light reappeared three miles to windward of
the frigate, as pure, as intense as during the preceding
The narwhal seemed motionless; perhaps, tired with its
day's work, it slept, letting itself float with the undulation
of the waves. Now was a chance of which the captain re-
solved to take advantage.
He gave his orders. The Abraham Lincoln kept up
half-steam, and advanced cautiously so as not to awake
its adversary. It is no rare thing to meet in the middle
of the ocean whales so sound asleep that they can be suc-
cessfully attacked, and Ned Land had harpooned more
than one during its sleep. The Canadian went to take
his place again under the bowsprit.
The frigate approached noiselessly, stopped at two ca-
bles' length from the animal, and following its track. No
one breathed; a deep silence reigned on the bridge. We
were not a hundred feet from the burning focus, the light
of which increased and dazzled our eyes.
At this moment, leaning on the forecastle bulwark, I
saw below me Ned Land grappling thA martingale in one
hand, brandishing his terrible harpoon in the other,
scarcely twenty feet from the motionless animal. Sudden-
ly his arm straightened, and the harpoon was thrown; I
heard the sonorous stroke of the weapon, which seemed to
have struck a hard body. The electric light went out sud-
denly, and two enormous waterspouts broke over the
bridge of the frigate, rushing like a torrent from stem to
stern, overthrowing men, and breaking the lashing of the
spars. A fearful shock followed, and, thrown over the rail
without having time to stop myself, I fell into the sea.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER TH. SI EAB.
AN UNKNOWN SPECIES OF WHALE.
THIS unexpected fall so stunned me that I have no clear
recollection of my sensations at the time. I was at first
drawn down to a depth of about twenty feet. I am a good
swimmer (though without pretending to rival Byron or
Edgar Poe, who were masters of the art), and in that
plunge I did not lose my presence of mind. Two vigorous
strokes brought me to the surface of the water. My first
care was to look for the frigate. Had the crew seen me
disappear? Had the Abraham Lincoln veered round?
Would the captain put out a boat? Might I hope to be
The darkness was intense. I caught, a glimpse of a
black mass disappearing in the east, its teacon-lights dying
out in the distance. It was the frigate. I was lost.
"Help, help!" I shouted, swimming towards the Abra-
ham Lincoln in desperation.
My clothes encumbered me; they seemed glued to ny
body, and paralyzed my movements.
I was sinking! I was suffocating!
This was my last cry. My mouth filled with water; I
struggled against being drawn down the abyss. Suddenly
my clothes were seized by a strong hand, apd I felt myself
quickly drawn up to the surface of the sea; and I heard,
yes, I heard these words pronounced in my ear:
"If master would be so good as to lean on my shoulder,
master would swim with much greater ease."
I seized with one hand my faithful Conseil's arm.
"Is it you?" said I, "you?"
40 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Myself," answered Conseil; and waiting master's or-
That shock threw you as well as me into the sea?"
"No, but being in my master's service, I followed him."
The worthy fellow thought that was but natural.
"And the frigate?" I asked.
"The frigate?" replied Conseil, turning on his back.
" I think that master had better not count too much on
"You think so?"
"I say that, at the time I threw myself into the sea, I
heard the men at the wheel say, 'The screw and the rudder
"Yes, broken by the monster's teeth. It is the only in-
jury the Abraham Lincoln has sustained. But it is a bad
lookout for us-she no longer answers her helm."
"Then we are .st!"
"Perhaps so," calmly answered Conseil. "However,
we have still several hours before us, and one can do a good
deal in some houls."
Conseil's imperturbable coolness set me up again. I
swam more vigorously; but, cramped by my clothes, which
tuck to me like a leaden weight, I felt great difficulty in
bearing up. Conseil saw this.
Will master let me make a slit?" said he; and slipping
an open knife under my clothes, he ripped them up from
top to bottom very rapidly. Then he cleverly slipped them
off me, while I swam for both of us.
Then I did the same for Conseil, and we continued to
swim near to each other.
Nevertheless, our situation was no less terrible. Per-
haps our disappearance had not been noticed; and if it had
been, the frigate could not tack, being without its helm.
Conseil argued on this supposition, and laid his plans ac-
cordingly. This phlegmatic boy was perfectly self-pos-
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
sessed. We then decided that, as our only chance of
safety was beingpicked up by the Abraham Lincoln's boats,
we ought to manage so as to wait for them as long as pos-
sible. I resolved then to husband our strength, so that
both should not be exhausted at the same time; and this
is how we managed: while one of us lay on our back, quite
still, with arms crossed, and legs stretched out, the other
would swim and push the other on in front. This towing
business did not last more than ten minutes each; and re-
lieving each other thus, we could swim on for some hours,
perhaps till daybreak. Poor chance! but hope is so firmly
rooted in the heart of man! Moreover, there were two of
us. Indeed I declare (though it may seem improbable)
if I sought to destroy all hope, if I wished to despair, I
The collision of the frigate with the cetacean had oc-
curred about eleven o'clock the evening before. I reckoned
then we should have eight hours to swim before sunrise-
an operation quite practicable if we relieved each other.
The sea, very calm, was in our favor. Sometimes I tried
to pierce the intense darkness that was only dispelled by
the phosphorescence caused by our movements. I watched
the luminous waves that broke over my hand, whose mir-
ror-like surface was spotted with silvery rings. One might
have said that we were in a bath of quicksilver.
Near one o'clock in the morning I was seized with dread-
ful fatigue. My limbs stiffened under the strain of violent
cramp. Conseil was obliged to keep me up, and our pres-]
ervation devolved on him alone. I heard the poor boy4
pant; his breathing became short and hurried. I found
that he could not keep up much longer.
"Leave me! leave me!" I said to him.
"Leave my master? never!" replied he. "I would
Just then the moon appeared through the fringes of a
thick cloud that the wind was driving to the east. The
42 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
surface of the sea glittered with its rays. This kindly light
reanimated us. My head got better again. I looked at all
the points of the horizon. I saw the frigate! She was five
miles from us, and looked like a dark mass, hardly dis-
cernible. But no boats!
I would have cried out. But what good would it have
been at such a distance! My swollen lips could utter no
sounds. Conseil could articulate some words, and I heard
him repeat at intervals, "Help! help!"
Our movements were suspended for an instant; we lis-
tened. It might be only a singing in the ear, but it seemed
to me as if a cry answered the cry from Conseil.
"Did you hear?" I murmured.
And Conseil gave one more despairing call.
This time there was no mistake! A human voice re-
sponded to ours! Was it the voice of another unfortunate
creature, abandoned in the middle of the ocean, some other
victim of the shock sustained by the vessel? Or rather was
it a boat from the frigate, that was hailing us in the dark-
Conseil made a last effort, and leaning on my shoulder,
,while I struck out in a despairing effort, he raised himself
half out of the water, then fell back exhausted.
"What did you see?"
"I saw-" murmured he, "I saw-but do not talk-re-
serve all your strength!"
What had he seen? Then, I know not why, the thought
of the monster came into my head for the first time! But
that voice? The time is past for Jonahs to take refuge in
whales' bellies! However, Conseil was towing me again.
He raised his head sometimes, looked before us, and uttered
a cry of recognition, which was responded to by a voice
that came nearer and nearer. I scarcely heard it. My
strength was exhausted; my fingers stiffened; my hand af-
forded me support no longer; my mouth, convulsively open-
20,u.v LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
ing, filled with salt water. Cold crept over me. I raised
my head for the last time, then I sank.
At this moment a hard body struck me. I clung to it:
then I felt that I was being drawn up, that I was brought
to the surface of the water, that my chest collapsed: I
It is certain that I soon came to, thanks to the vigorous
rubbings that I received. I half opened my eyes.
"Conseil!" I murmured.
"Does master call me?" asked Conseil.
Just then, by the waning light of the moon, which was
sinking down to the horizon, I saw a face which was not
Conseil's, and which I immediately recognized.
"Ned!" I cried.
"The same, sir, who is seeking his prize!" replied the
Were you thrown into the sea by the shock of the frig-
"Yes, Professor; but, more fortunate than you, I was
able to find a footing almost directly upon a floating island."
Or, more correctly speaking, on our gigantic narwhal."
"Explain yourself, Ned!"
Only I soon found out why my harpoon had not en-
tered its skin and was blunted."
"Why, Ned, why?"
Because, Professor, that beast is made of sheet-iron."
The Canadian's last words produced a sudden revolution
in my brain. I wriggled myself quickly to the top of the
being, or object, half out of the water, which served us for
a reftige. I kicked it. It was evidently a hard, impene-
trable body, and not the soft substance that forms the
bodies of the great marine mammalia. But this hard body
might be a bony carapace, like that of the antediluvian ani-
mals; and I should be fi,, to class this monster among am-
phibious reptiles, such as tortoises or alligators.
44 z0,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Well, no! the blackish back that supported me was
smooth, polished, without scales. The blow produced a
metallic sound; and incredible though it maybe, it seemed,
I might say, as if it was made of riveted plates.
There was no doubt about it! this monster, this natural
phenomenon that had puzzled the learned world, and over-
thrown and misled the imagination of seamen of both hem
ispheres, was, it must be owned, a still more astonishing
phenomenon, inasmuch as it was a simply human construc-
We had no time to lose, however. We were lying upon
:he back of a sort of submarine boat, which appeared (as
far as I could judge) like a huge fish of steel. Ned Land's
mind was made up on this point. Conseil and I could only
agree with him.
Just then a bubbling began at the back 'of this strange
Thing (which was evidently propelled by a screw, and it be-
gan to move. We had only just time to seize hold of the
ipper part, which rose about seven feet out of the water,
&nd happily its speed was not great,
"As long as it sails horizontally," muttered Ned Land,
"I do not mind; but if it takes a fancy to dive, I would
not give two straws for my life."
The Canadian might have said still less. It became really
necessary to communicate with the beings, whatever they
were, shut up inside the machine. I searched all over the
Outside for an aperture, a panel, or a man-hole, to use a tech-
nical expression; but the lines of the iron rivets, solidly
driven into the joints of the iron plates, were clear and
uniform. Besides, the moon disappeared then, and left us
in total darkness.
At last this long night passed. My indistinct remem-
brance prevents my describing all the impressions it made.
I can only recall one circumstance. During some lulls of
the wind and sea, I fancied I heard several times vague
sounds, a sort of fugitive harmony produced by distant
20,000 LEAG UES UNDER THE SEAS.
words of command. What was then the mystery of this
submarine craft of which the whole world vainly sought an
explanation? What kind of beings existed in this strange
boat? What mechanical agent caused its prodigious speed?
Daybreak appeared. The morning mists surrounded us,
but they soon cleared off. I was about to examine the hull,
which formed on deck a kind of horizontal platform, when
I felt it gradually sinking.
Oh, confound it!" cried Ned Land, kicking the resound-
ing plate; "open, you inhospitable rascals!"
Happily the sinking movement ceased. Suddenly a
noise, like iron works violently pushed aside, came from
the interior of the boat. One iron plate was moved, a
man appeared, uttered an odd cry, and disappeared imme-
Some moments after, eight strong men with masked
faces appeared noiselessly, and drew us down into their for-
MOBILIS IN MOBcLI.
THIS forcible abduction, so roughly carried out, was ae-
complished with the rapidity of lightning. I shivered all
over. Whom had we to deal with? No doubt some new
sort of pirates, who explored the sea in their own.way.
Hardly had the narrow panel closed upon me, when I was
enveloped in darkness. My eyes, dazzled with the outer
light, could distinguish nothing. I felt my naked feet
cling to the rings of an iron ladder. Ned Land and Con-
seil, firmly seized, followed me. At the bottom of the lad-
der, a door opened, and shut after us immediately with a
46 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
We were alone. Where, I could not say, hardly imagine,
All-was black, and such a dense black that, after some
minutes, my eyes had not been able to discern even the
Meanwhile, Ned Land, furious at these proceedings, gave
free vent to his indignation.
Confound it!" cried he, "here are people who come up
to the Scotch for hospitality. They only just miss being
cannibals. I should not be surprised at it, but I declare
that they shall not eat me without my protesting."
Calm yourself, friend Ned, calm yourself," replied
Conseil, quietly. "Do not cry out before you are hurt.
We are not quite done for yet."
Not quite," sharply replied the Canadian, but pretty
near, at all events. Things look black. Happily my bowie-
knife I have still, and I can always see well enough to use
it. The first of these pirates who lays a hand on me-"
Do not excite yourself, Ned," I said to the harpooner,
"and do not compromise us by useless violence. Who
knows that they will not listen to us? Let us rather try to
find out where we are."
I groped about. In five steps I came'to an iron wall,
made of plates bolted together. Then turning back I struck
against a wooden table, near which were ranged several
stools. The boards of this prison were concealed under a
thick mat of phormium, which deadened the noise of the
feet. The bare walls revealed no trace of window or door.
Conseil, going round the reverse way, met me, and we went
back to the middle of the cabin, which measured about
twenty feet by ten. As to its height, Ned Land, in spite
of his own great height, could not measure it.
Half an hour had already passed without our situation
being bettered, when the dense darkness suddenly gave way
to extreme light. Our prison was suddenly lighted, that is
to say, it became filled with a luminous matter, so strong
that I could not bear it at first. In its whiteness and in-
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
tensity I recognized that electric light which played round
the submarine boat like a magnificent phenomenon of
phosphoresence. After shutting my eyes involuntarily, I
opened them and saw that this luminous agent came from
a half-globe, unpolished, placed in the roof of the cabin.
"At last one can see,:' cried Ned Land, who, knife in
hand,, stood on the defensive.
Yes," said I; "but we. are still in the dark about our-
Let master have patience," said the imperturbable Con-
The sudden lighting of the cabin enabled me to examine
it minutely. It only contained a table and five stools. The
invisible door might be hermetically sealed. No noise was
heard. All seemed dead in the interior of this boat. Did
it move, did it float on the surface of the ocean, or did it
dive into its depths? I could not guess.
A noise of bolts was now heard, the door opened, and two
One was short, very muscular, broad-shouldered, with
robust limbs, strong head, an abundance of black hair, thick
mustache, a quick penetrating look, and the vivacity which
characterizes the population of Southern France.
The second stranger merits a more detailed description.
A disciple of Gratiolet or Engel would have read his face
like an open book. I made out his prevailing qualities di-
rectly: self-confidence-because his head was well set on
his shoulders, and his black eyes looked around with cold
assurance; calmness-for his skin, rather pale, showed his
coolness of blood; energy-evinced by the rapid contrac-
tion of his lofty brows; and courage-because his deep
breathing denoted great power of lungs.
Whether this person was thirty-five or fifty years of age,
I could not say. He was tall, had a large forehead, straight
nose, a clearly cut mouth, beautiful teeth, with fine taper
hands, indicative of a highly nervous temperament. This
48 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
man was certainly the most admirable specimen I had ever
met. One particular feature was his eyes, rather far from
each other, and which could take in nearly a quarter of the
horizon at once.
This faculty (I verified it later) gave him a range of
vision far superior to Ned Land's. When this stranger
fixed upon an object, his eyebrows met, his large eyelids
closed around so as to contract the range of his vision, and
he looked as if he magnified the objects lessened by
distance, as if he pierced those sheets of water so opaque
to our eyes, and as if he read the very depths of the
The two strangers, with caps made from the fur of the
sea otter and shod with sea boots of seals' skin, were dressed
in clothes of a particular texture, which allowed free move-
ment of the limbs. The taller of the two, evidently the
chief on board, examined us with great attention, without
saying a word: then turning to his companion, talked with
him in an unknown tongue. It was a sonorous, harmoni-
ous, and flexible dialect, the vowels seeming to admit of
very varied accentuation.
The other replied by a shake of the head, and added two
or three perfectly incomprehensible words. Then he seemed
to question me by a look.
I replied in good French that I did not know his lan
guage; but he seemed not to understand me, and my situa-
tion became more embarrassing.
"If master were to tell our story," said Conseil, "per-
haps these gentlemen may understand some words."
I began to tell our adventures, articulating each syllable
clearly, and without omitting one single detail. I an-
nounced our names and rank, introducing in person Profes-
sor Aronnax, his servant Conseil, and master Ned Land,
The man with the soft calm eyes listened to me quietly,
even politely, and with extreme attention; but nothing in
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
his countenance indicated that he had understood my story.
When I finished he said not a word.
There remained one resource, to speak English. Perhaps
they would know this almost universal language. I knew
it, as well as the German language-well enough to read it
fluently, but not to speak it correctly. But, anyhow, we
must make ourselves understood.
"Go on in your turn," I said to the harpooner; "speak
your best Anglo-Saxon, and try to do better than I."
Ned did not beg off, and recommended our story.
To his great disgust, the harpooner did not seem to have
made himself more intelligible than I had. Our visitors did
not stir. They evidently understood neither the language
of Arago nor of Faraday.
Very much embarrassed, after having vainly exhausted
our philological resources,.I knew not what part to take,
when Conseil said:
"If master will permit me, I will relate it in German."
But in spite of the elegant turns and good accent of the
narrator, the German language had no success. At last,
nonplussed, I tried to remember my first lessons, and to
narrate our adventures in Latin, but with no better success.
This last attempt being of no avail, the two strangers ex-
changed some words in their unknown language, and retired.
The door shut.
"It is an infamous shame," cried Ned Land, who broke
out for the twentieth time; "we speak to those rogues in
French, English, German, and Latin, and not one of them
has the politeness to answer!"
Calm yourself," I said to the impetuous Ned, "anger
will do no good."
"But do you see, Professor," replied our irascible com-
panion, "that we shall absolutely die of hunger in this iron
"Bah," said Conseil philosophically; "we can hold out
some time yet."
60 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
My friends," I said, "we must not despair. We have
been worse off than this. Do me the favor to wait a little
before forming an opinion upon the commander and crew
of this boat."
"My opinion is formed," replied Ned Land sharply.
"They are rascals."
"Good! and from what country?"
"From the land of rogues!"
My brave Ned, that country is not clearly indicated on
the map of the world; but I admit that the nationality of
the two strangers is hard to determine. Neither English,
French, nor German, that is quite certain. However, I
am inclined to think that the commander and his com-
panion were born in low latitudes. There is southern
blood in them. But I cannot decide by their appearance
whether they are Spaniards, Turks, Arabians, or Indians.
As to their language, it is quite incomprehensible."
"There is the disadvantage of not knowing all languages,"
said Conseil, "or the disadvantage of not having one uni-
As he said these words, the door opened. A steward,
entered. He brought us clothes, coats and trousers, made
of a stuff I did not know. I hastened to dress myself, and
my companions followed my example. During that time,
the steward-dumb, perhaps deaf-had arranged the table,
and laid three plates.
This is something like," said Conseil.
"Bah," said the rancorous harpooner, "what do you sup-
pose they eat here? Tortoise liver, filleted shark, and
beefsteaks from sea-dogs."
"We shall see," said Conseil.
The dishes, of bell metal, were placed on the table, and
we took our places. Undoubtedly we had to do with civil-
ized people, and had it not been for the electric light
which flooded us, I could have fancied I was in the dining-
room of the Adelphi Hotel at Liverpool, or at the Grand
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Hotel in Paris. I must say, however, that there was
neither bread nor wine. The water was fresh and clear,
but it was water, and did not suit Ned Land's taste.
Amongst the dishes which were brought to us, I recognized
several fish delicately dressed; but of some, although ex-
cellent, I could give no opinion, neither could I tell to
/what kingdom they belonged, whether animal or vegetable.
As to the dinner service, it was elegant, and in perfect
taste. Each utensil, spoon, fork, knife, plate, had a letter
engraved on it, with a motto above it, of which this is an
MOBILIS IN MOBILE.
The letter N was no doubt the initial of the name of the
enigmatical person, who commanded at the bottom of the
Ned and Conseil did not reflect much. They devoured
the food, and I did likewise. I was, besides, assured as to
our fate; and it seemed evident that our hosts would not
let us die of want.
However, everything has an end, everything passes away,
even the hunger of people who have not eaten for fifteen
hours. Our appetites satisfied, we felt overcome with
"Faith! I shall sleep well," said Conseil.
So shall I," replied Ned Land.
My two companions stretched themselves on the cabin
carpet, and were soon sound asleep. For my own part,
too many thoughts crowded my brain, too many insoluble
questions pressed upon me, too many fancies kept my eyes
half open. Where were we? What strange power carried
us on? I felt-or rather fancied I felt-the machine sink.
ing down to the lowest beds of the sea. Dreadful night.
mares beset me; I saw in these mysterious asylums a world.
52 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
of unknown animals, amongst which this submarine boat
seemed to be of the same kind, living, moving, and for-
midable as they. Then my brain grew calmer, my imagi-
nation wandered into vague unconsciousness, and I soon
fell into a deep sleep.
NED LAND'S TEMPERS.
How long we slept I do not know; but our sleep mum
have lasted long, for it rested us completely from oui
fatigues. I woke first. My companions had not moved,
and were still stretched in their corner.
Hardly roused from my somewhat hard couch, I felt iy
brain freed, my mind clear. I then began an attentive ex-
amination of our cell. Nothing was changed inside. The
prison was still a prison; the prisoners, prisoners. How.
ever, the steward, during our sleep, had cleared the table.
I breathed with difficulty. The heavy air seemed to op.
press my lungs. Although the cell was large, we had
evidently consumed a great part of the oxygen that it con-
tained. Indeed, each man consumes, in one hour, the
oxygen contained in more than 176 pints of air, and this
air, charged (as then) with a nearly equal quantity of car-
bonic acid, becomes unbreathable.
It became necessary to renew the atmosphere of out
prison, and no doubt the whole in the submarine boat,
That gave rise to a question in my mind. How would
the commander of this floating dwelling-place proceed ?
Would he obtain air by chemical means, in getting by heat
the oxygen contained in chlorate of potass, and in absorb-
ing carbonic acid by caustic potash? Or, a more con-
20,000 LEAGUES UIDER THE SEA8.
venient, economical, and consequently more probable
alternative, would he be satisfied to rise and take breath at
the surface of the water, like a cetacean, and so renew for
twenty-four hours .he atmospheric provision?
In fact, I was already obliged to increase my respirations
to eke out of this cell the little oxygen it contained, when
suddenly I was refreshed by a current of pure air, and per-
fumed with saline emanations. It was an invigorating sea
breeze, charged with iodine. I opened my mouth wide,
and my lungs saturated themselves with fresh particles.
At the same time I felt the boat rolling. The iron-plated
'monster had evidently just risen to the surface of the ocean
to breathe, after the fashion of whales. I found out from
that the mode of ventilating the boat.
When I had inhaled this air freely, I sought the conduit.
pipe, which conveyed to us the beneficial whiff, and I was
not long in finding it. Above the door was a ventilator,
through which volumes of fresh air renewed the impover.
ished atmosphere of the cell.
I was making my observations, when Ned and Conseil
awoke almost at the same time, under the influence of this
reviving air. They rubbed their eyes, stretched them.
selves, and were on their feet in an instant.
"Did master sleep well ?" asked Conseil, with his usual
"Very well, my brave boy. And you, Mr. Land?"
Soundly, Professor. But I don't know if I am right
or not; there seems to be a sea-breeze!"
A seaman could not be mistaken, and I told the Canadian
all that had passed during his sleep.
"Good!" said he; "that accounts for those' roarings we
heard when the supposed narwhal sighted the Abraham
Quite so, Master Land; it was taking breath."
"Only, Mr. Aronnax, I 'have no idea what o'clock it is,
unless it is dinner-time."
54 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
"Dinner-time! my good fellow? Say rather breakfast.
time, for we certainly have begun another day."
"So," said Conseil, we have slept twenty-four hours?"
"That is my opinion."
"I will not contradict you," replied Ned Land. "But
dinner or breakfast, the steward will be welcome, whichever
"Master Land, we must conform to the rules on board,
and I suppose our appetites are in advance of the dinner-
That is just like you, friend Conseil," said Ned, im-
patiently. "You are never out of temper, always calm;
you would return thanks before grace, and die of hunger
rather than complain!"
Time was getting on, and we were fearfully hungry; and
this time the steward did not appear. It was rather too
long to leave us, if they really had good intentions towards
us. Ned Land, tormented by the cravings of hunger, got
still more angry; and notwithstanding his promise, I
dreaded an explosion when he found himself with one of
For two hours more, Ned Land's temper increased; he
cried, he shouted, but in vain. The walls were deaf.
There was no sound to be heard in the boat: all was still
as death. It did not move, for I should have felt the
trembling motion of the hull under the influence of the
screw. Plunged in the depths of the waters, it belonged
no longer to earth:-this silence was dreadful..
I felt terrified, Conseil was calm, Ned Land roared.
Just then a noise was heard outside. Steps sounded on
the metal flags. The locks were turned, the door opened,
and the steward appeared.
Before I could rush forward to stop him, the Canadian
had thrown him down, and held him by the throat The
steward was choking under the grip of his powerful hand.
Conseil was already trying to unclasp the harpooner's
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA8.
hand from his half suffocated victim, and I was going to
fly to the rescue, when suddenly I was nailed to the spot
by hearing these words in French:
"Be quiet, Master Land; and you, Professor, will you
be so good as to listen to me?"
THE MAn1 OF THE SEAS.
IT was the commander of the vessel who thus spoke.
At these words, Ned Land rose suddenly. The steward,
nearly strangled, tottered out on a sign from his master;
but such was the power of the commander on board, that
not a gesture betrayed the resentment which this man must
have felt towards the Canadian. Conseil interested in
spite of himself, I stupefied, awaited in silence the result
of this scene.
The commander, leaning against a corner of the table
with his arms folded, scanned us with profound attention.
Did he hesitate to speak? Did he regret the words which
he had just spoken in French? One might almost think so.
After some moments of silence, which not one of us
dreamed of breaking, "Gentlemen," said he, in a calm
and penetrating voice, I speak French, English, German,
and Latin equally well. I could, therefore, have an-
swered you at our first interview, but I wished to know
you first, then to reflect. The story told by each one, en-
tirely agreeing in the main points, convinced me of your
identity. I know now that chance has brought before me
M. Pierre Aronnax, Professor of Natural History at the
Museum of Paris, intrusted with a scientific mission
abroad: Conseil, his servant; and Ned Land, of Canadian
66 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
origin, harpooner on board the frigate Abraham Lincoln
of the navy of the United States of America."
I bowed assent. It was not -a question that the com-
mander put to me. Therefore there was no answer to be
made. This man expressed himself with perfect ease,
without any accent. His sentences were well turned, his
words clear, and his fluency of speech' remarkable. Yet,
I did not recognize in him a fellow-countryman.
He continued the conversation in these terms:
"You have doubtless thought, sir, that I have delayed
long in paying you this second visit. The reason is that,
your identity recognized, I wished to weigh maturely what
part to act towards you. I have hesitated much. Most
annoying circumstances have brought you into the pres-
ence of a man who has broken all the ties of humanity.
You have come to trouble my existence.
"Unintentionally!" said I.
"Unintentionally?" replied the stranger, raising his
voice a little; "was it unintentionally that the Abraham
Lincoln pursued me all over the seas? Was it uninten-
tionally that you took passage in this frigate? Was it un-
intentionally that your cannon-balls rebounded off the
plating of my vessel? Was it unintentionally that Mr.
Ned Land struck me with his harpoon?"
I detected a restrained irritation in these words. But to
these recriminations I had a very natural answer to make,
and I made it.
"Sir," said I, "no doubt you are ignorant of the dis-
cussions which have taken place concerning you in Amer-
ica and Europe. You do not know that divers accidents,
caused by collisions with your submarine machine, have
excited public feeling in the two continents. I omit the
hypotheses without number by which it was sought to ex-
plain the inexplicable phenomenon of which you alone
possess the secret. But you must understand that, in pur-
suing you over the high seas of the Pacific. the Abraham
120,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Lincoln believed itself to be chasing some powerful sea-
monster, of which it was necessary to rid the ocean at any
A half-smile curled the lips of the commander: then, in
a calmer tone:
M. Aronnax," he replied, "dare you affirm that your
frigate would not as soon have pursued and cannonaded a
submarine boat as a monster?"
This question embarrassed me, for certainly Captain
Farragut might not have hesitated. He might have
thought it his duty to destroy a contrivance of this kind,
as he would a gigantic narwhal.
You understand then, sir," continued the stranger,
" that I have the right to treat you as enemies?"
I answered nothing, purposely. For what good would
it be to discuss such a proposition, when force could de-
stroy the best arguments?
"I have hesitated for some time," continued the com-
mander; "nothing obliged me to show you hospitality.
If I chose to separate myself from you, I should have no
interest in seeing you again; I could place you upon the
deck of this vessel which has served you as a refuge, I
could sink beneath the waters, and forget that you had ever
existed, Would not that be my right?"
It might be the right of a savage," I answered, but
not that of a civilized man."
Professor," replied the commander quickly, I am not
what you call a civilized man! I have done with society
entirely, for reasons which I alone have the right of appre-
ciating. I do not therefore obey its laws, and I desire you
never to allude to them before me again!"
This was said plainly. A flash of anger and disdain
kindled in the eyes of the Unknown, and I had a glimpse
of a terrible past in the life of this man. Not only had he
put himself beyond the pale of human laws, but he had
made himself independent of them, free in the strictest ac-
58 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
ceptation of the word, qui;. beyond their reach! Who then
would dare to pursue him at the bottom of the sea, when,
on its surface, he defied all attempts made against him?
What vessel could resist the shock of his submarine mon-
itor? What cuirass, however thick, could withstand the
blows of his spur? No man could demand from him an
account of his actions; God, if he believed in one-his con-
science, if he had one-were the sole judges to whom he
These reflections crossed my mind rapidly, whilst the
stranger personage was silent, absorbed, and as if wrapped
up in himself. I regarded him with fear mingled with in-
terest, as, doubtless, (Edipus regarded the Sphinx.
After rather a long silence, the commander resumed the
"I have hesitated," said he, "but I have thought that
my interest might be reconciled with that pity to which
every human being has a right. You will remain on board
my vessel, since fate has cast you there. You will be free;
and in exchange for this liberty, I shall only impose one
condition. Your word of honor to submit to it will suffice.'
Speak, sir," I answered. "I suppose this condition
is one which a man of honor may accept?"
"Yes, sir; it is this. It is possible that certain events,
unforeseen, may oblige me to consign you to your cabins for
some hours or some days, as the case may be. As I desire
never to use. violence, I expect from you, more than all
the others, a passive obedience. In thus acting, I take all
the responsibility: I acquit you entirely, for I make it an
impossibility for you to see what ought not to be seen.
Do you accept this condition?"
Then things took place on board which, to say the least,
were singular, and which ought not to be seen by people
who were not placed beyond the pale of social laws.
Amongst the surprises which the future was preparing for
me, this might not be the least.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
"We accept," I answered; '"only I will ask your per-
mission, sir, to address one question to you-one only."
"You said that we should be free on board."
"I ask you, then, what you mean by this liberty?"
"Just the liberty to go, to come, to see, to observe even
all that passes here-save under rare circumstances-the
liberty, in short, which we enjoy ourselves, my companions
It was evident that we did not understand one another.
"Pardon me, sir," I resumed, "but this liberty is only
what every prisoner has of pacing his prison. It cannot
"It must suffice you, however."
"What! we must renounce forever seeing our country,
our friends, our relations again?"
"Yes, sir. But to renounce that unendurable worldly
yoke which men believe to be liberty is not perhaps so pain-
ful as you think."
"Well," exclaimed Ned Land, "never will I give my
word of honor not to try to escape."
I did not ask you for your word of honor, Master Land,"
answered the commander, coldly.
"Sir," I replied, beginning to get angry in spite of my-
self, "you abuse your situation towards us; it is cruelty."
"No, sir, it is clemency. You are my prisoners of war.
I keep you, when I could, by a word, plunge you into the
depths of the ocean. You attacked me. You came to
surprise a secret which no man in the world must penetrate
-the secret of my whole existence. And you think that I
am going to send you back to that world which must know
me no more? Never! In retaining you, it is not you whom
I guard-it is myself."
These words indicated a resolution taken on the part of
the commander, against which no arguments would prevail
g0 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
"So, sir," I rejoined, "you give us simply the choice
between life and death?"
"My friends," said I, "to a question thus put, there is
nothing to answer. But no word of honor binds us to the
master of this vessel."
"None, sir," answered the Unknown.
Then, in a gentler tone, he continued:
"Now, permit me to finish what I have to say to you.
I know you, M. Aronnax. You and your companions will
not, perhaps, have so much to complain of in the chance
which has bound you to my fate. You will find amongst
the books which are my favorite study the work which you
have published on 'the depths of the sea.' 1 have often
read it. You have carried your work as far as terrestrial
science permitted you. But you do not know all-you
have not seen all. Let me tell you then, Professor, that
you will not regret the time passed on board my vessel.
You are going to visit the land of marvels."
These words of the commander had a great effect upon
me. I cannot deny it. My weak point was touched; and
I forgot, for a moment, that the contemplation of these
sublime subjects was not worth the loss of liberty. Besides,
I trusted to the future to decide this grave question. So I
contented myself with saying:
"By what name ought I to address you?"
"Sir," replied the commander, "I am nothing to you
but Captain Nemo; and you and your companions are noth-
ing to me but the passengers of the Nautilus."
Captain Nemo called. A steward appeared. The cap-
tain gave him his orders in that strange language which I
did not understand. Then, turning towards the Canadian
A repast awaits you in your cabin," said he. Be so
good as to follow this man."
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
"And now, M. Aronnax, our breakfast is ready. Permit
me to lead the way."
"I am at your service, Captain."
I followed Captain Nemo; and as soon as I had passed
through the door, I found myself in a kind of passage
lighted by electricity, similar to the waist of a ship. After
we had proceeded a dozen yards, a second door opened
I then entered a dining-room, decorated and furnished
in severe taste. High oaken sideboards, inlaid with ebony,
stood at the two extremities of the room, and upon their
shelves glittered china, porcelain and glass of inestimable
value. The plate on the table sparkled in the rays which
the luminous ceiling shed around, while the light was tem-
pered and softened by exquisite paintings.
In the centre of the room was a table richly laid out.
Captain Nemo indicated the place I was to occupy.
The breakfast consisted of a certain number of dishes,
the contents of which were furnished by the sea alone;
and I was ignorant of the nature and mode of preparation
of some of them. I acknowledged that they were good,
but they had a peculiar flavor, which I easily became ac-
customed to. These different aliments appeared to me to
be rich in phosphorus, and i thought they must have a
Captain Nemo looked at me. I asked him no questions,
but he guessed my thoughts, and answered of his own ac-
cord the questions which I was burning to address to him.
"The greater part of these dishes are unknown to you,"
he said to me. "However, you may partake of them with-
out fear. They are wholesome and nourishing. For a
long time I have renounced the food of the earth, and I am
never ill now. My crew, who are healthy, are fed on the
"So," said I, "all these eatables are the produce of the
62 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
"Yes, Professor, the sea supplies all my wants. Some-
times I cast my nets in tow, and I draw them in ready to
break. Sometimes I hunt in the midst of this element,
which appears to be inaccessible to man, and quarry the
game which dwells in my submarine forests. My flocks,
like those of Neptune's old shepherds, graze fearlessly in
the immense prairies of the ocean. I have a vast property
there, which I cultivate myself, and which is always sown
by the hand of the Creator of all things."
"I can understand perfectly, sir, that your nets furnish
excellent fish for your table; I can understand also that
you hunt aquatic game in your submarine forests; but I
cannot understand at all how a particle of meat, no matter
how small, can figure in your bill of fare."
"This, which you believe to be meat, Professor, is noth-
ing else than fillet of turtle. Here are also some dolphins'
livers, which you take to be ragout of pork. My cook is a
clever fellow, who excels in dressing these various products
of the ocean. Taste all these dishes. Here is a preserve of
holothuria, which a Malay would declare to be unrivalled
in the world; here is a cream, of which the milk has been
furnished by the cetacea, and the sugar by the great fucus
of the North Sea; and lastly, permit me to offer you some
preserve of anemones, which is equal to that of the most
I tasted, more from curiosity than as a connoisseur,whilst
Captain Nemo enchanted me with his extraordinary stories.
"You like the sea, Captain?"
"Yes; I love it! The sea is everything. It covers seven
tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and
healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never
lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is
only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful ex-
istence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the
'Living Infinite,' as one of your poets has said. In fact,
Professor, Nature manifests herself in it by her three king
20,000 LEAGUES UtNDER THE SEAS.
doms, mineral, vegetable, and animal. The sea is the vast
reservoir of Nature. The globe began with sea, so to
speak; ani who knows if it will not end with it? In it is
supreme tranquillity. The sea does not belong to despots.
Upon its surface men can still exercise unjust laws, fight,
tear one another to pieces, and be carried away with ter-
restrial horrors. But at thirty feet below its level, their
reign ceases, their influence is quenched, and their power
disappears. Ah! sir, live-live in the bosom of the waters!
There only is independence! There I recognize no masters!
There I am free!"
Captain Nemo suddenly became silent in the midst of
this enthusiasm, by which he was quite carried away. For
a few moments he paced up and down, much agitated.
Then he became more calm, regained his accustomed.cold-
ness of expression, and turning towards me:
Now, Professor," said he, "if you wish to go over the
Nautilus, I am at your service."
Captain Nemo rose. I followed him. A double door,
contrived at the back of the dining-room, opened, and I
entered a room equal in dimensions to that which I had
It was a library. High pieces of furniture, of black vio-
let ebony inlaid with brass, supported upon their wide
shelves a great number of books uniformly bound. They
followed the shape of the room, terminating at the lower
part in huge divans, covered with brown leather, which
were curved, to afford the greatest comfort. Light mova-
ble desks, made to slide in and out at will, allowed one to
rest one's book while reading. In the centre stood an im-
mense table, covered with pamphlets, amongst which were
some newspapers, already of old date. The electric light
flooded everything; it was shed from four unpolished
globes half sunk in the volutes of the ceiling. I looked
with real admiration at this room, so ingeniously fitted up,
and I could scarcely believe my eyes.
(i 20,000 LEAGUES UVDERI THE SEAB,
Captain Nemo," said I to my host, who had just thrown
himself on one of the divans, "this is a library which
would do honor to more than one of the continental palaces,
and I am absolutely astounded when I consider that it can
follow you to the bottom of the seas."
"Where could one find greater solitude or silence, Pro-
fessor?" replied Captain Nemo. Did your study in the
Museum afford you such perfect quiet?"
No, sir; and I must confess that it is a very poor one
after yours. You must have six or seven thousand volumes
"Twelve thousand, M. Aronnax. These are the only
ties which bind me to the earth. But I had done with the
world on the day when my Nautilus plunged for the first
time beneath the waters. That day I bought my last vol-
umes, my last pamphlets, my last papers, and from that
time I wish to think that men no longer think or write.
These books, Professor, are at your service besides, and you
can make use of them freely."
I thanked Captain Nemo, and went up to the shelves
of the library. Works on science, morals, and literature
abounded in every language; but I did not see one single
work on political economy; that subject appeared to be
strictly proscribed. Strange to say, all these books were ir-
regularly arranged, in whatever language they were written;
and this medley proved that the captain of the Nautilus
must have read indiscriminately the books which he took
up by chance.
"Sir," said I to the captain, "I thank you for having
placed this library at my disposaL It contains treasures of
science, and I shall profit by them."
This room is not only a library," said Captain Nemo,
"it is also a smoking-room."
A smoking-room!" I cried. Then one may smoke on
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Then, sir, I am forced to believe that you have kept up
a communication with Havana."
"Not any," answered the captain. "Accept this cigar,
M. Aronnax; and though it does not come from Havana,
you will be pleased with it, if you are a connoisseur."
I took the cigar which was offered me; its shape recalled
the London ones, but it seemed to be made of leaves of
gold. I lighted it at a little brazier, which was supported
upon an elegant bronze stem, and drew the first whiffs with
the delight of a lover of smoking who has not smoked for
It is excellent," said I, "but it is not tobacco."
No!" answered the captain, this tobacco comes neither
from Havannah nor from the East. It is a kind of sea-
weed, rich in nicotine, with which the sea provides me, but
At that moment Captain Nemo opened a door which stood
opposite to that by which I had entered the library, and I
passed into an immense drawing-room splendidly lighted.
It was a vast four-sided room, thirty feet long, eighteen
wide, and fifteen high. A luminous ceiling, decorated
with light arabesques, shed a soft clear light over all the
marvels accumulated in this museum. For it was in fact a
museum, in which an intelligent and prodigal hand had
gathered all the treasures of nature and art, with the artis-
tic confusion which distinguishes a painter's studio. Thirty
first-rate pictures, uniformly framed, separated by bright
drapery, ornamented the walls, which were hung with tap-
estry of severe design. I saw works of great value, the
greater part of which I had admired in the special collec-
tions of Europe, and in the exhibitions of paintings. The
several schools of the old masters were represented by a
Madonna of Raphael, a Virgin of Leonardo da Vinci, a
nymph of Correggio, a woman of Titian, an Adoration of
Veronese, an Assumption of Murillo, a portrait of Hol-
bAhu. a monk of Velasquez, a martyr of Ribeira, a fair of
66 20,000 LEAGUE ES UNDER THE SEAS.
Rubens, two Flemish landscapes of Teniers, three little
"genre" pictures of G6rard Dow, Metsu, and Paul Potter,
two specimens of G6ricault and Prudhon, and some sea.
pieces of Backhuysen and Vernet. Amongst the works of
modern painters were pictures with the signatures of Dela-
croix, Ingres, Decamp, Troyon, Meissonier, Daubigny, etc.;
and some admirable statues in marble and bronze, after the
finest antique models, stood upon pedestals in the corners
of this magnificent museum. Amazement, as the captain
of the Nautilus had predicted, had already begun to take
possession of me.
"Professor," said this strange man, you must excuse
the unceremonious way in which I receive you, and the
disorder of this room."
"Sir," I answered, "without seeking to know who you
are, I recognize in you an artist."
An amateur, nothing more, sir. Formerly I loved to
collect these beautiful works created by the hand of man.
I sought them greedily and ferreted them out indefatigably,
and I have been able to bring together some objects of great
value. These are my last souvenirs of that world which is
dead to me. In my eyes, your modern artists are already
old: they have two or three thousand years of existence; I
confound them in my own mind. Masters have no age."
"And these musicians?" said I, pointing out some works
of Weber, Rossini, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Meyerbeer,
Harold, Wagner, Auber, Gounod, and a number of others
scattered over a large model piano organ which occupied
one 'of the panels of the drawing-room.
These musicians," replied Captain Nemo, "are the con
temporaries of Orpheus; for in the memory of the dead all
chronological differences are effaced; and I am dead, Pro
fessor; as much dead as those of your friends who are sleep-
ing six feet under the earth!"
Captain Nemo was silent, and seemed lost in a profound
revery. I contemplated him with deep interest, analyzing
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
i. silence the strange expression of his countenance. Lean-
ing on his elbow against an angle of a costly mosaic table,
he no longer saw me-he had forgotten my presence.
I did not disturb this every, and continued my observa-
tion of the curiosities which enriched this drawing-room.
Under elegant glass cases, fixed by copper rivets, were
classed and labelled the most precious productions of the
sea which had ever been presented to the eye of a naturalist.
My delight as a professor may be conceived.
The division containing the zoophytes presented the most
curiousaspecimens of the two groups of p'olypi and echino-
dermes. In the first group, the tubipores, were gorgones
arranged like a fan, soft sponges of Syria, ises of the Moluc-
cas, pennatules, an admirable virgularia of the Norwegian
seas, variegated umbellulairm, aleyonarie, a whole series of
madrepores, which my master Milne-Edwards has so cleverly
classified, amongst which I remarked some wonderful flabel-
linoe, oculinae of the island of Bourbon, the "Neptune's
car" of the Antilles, superb varieties of corals-in short,
every species of those curious polypi of which entire islands
are formed, which will one day become continents. Of the
echinodermes, remarkable for their coating of spines, asteri,
sea-stars, pantacrince, comatules, ast6rophons, echini, holo-
thuri, etc., represented individually a complete collection of
A somewhat nervous conchyliologist would certainly have
fainted before other more numerous cases, in which were
classified the specimens of mollusks. It was a collection of
inestimable value, which time fails me to describe minutely.
Amongst these specimens, I will quote from memory only
the elegant royal hammer-fish of the Indian Ocean, whose
regular white spots stood out brightly on a red and brown
ground, an imperial spondyle, bright, colored, bristling with
spines, a rare specimen in the European museums (I esti-
mated its value at not less than 1000); a common hammer-
fish of the seas of New Holland, which is only procureA
68 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
with difficulty; exotic buccardia of Senegal; fragile white
bivalve shells, which a breath might shatter like a soap-
bubble; several varieties of the aspirgillum of Java, a kind
of calcareous tube, edged with leafy folds, and much de-
bated by amateurs; a whole series of trochi, some a green-
ish-yellow, found in the American seas, others a reddish-
brown, natives of Australian waters; others from the Gulf
of Mexico, remarkable for their imbricated shell; stellar
found in the Southern Seas; and last, the rarest of all, the
magnificent spur of New Zealand; and every description of
delicate and fragile shells to which science has given appro-
Apart, in separate compartments, were spread out chap-
lets of pearls of the greatest beauty, which reflected the
electric light in little sparks of fire; 'pink pearls, torn from
the pinna-marina of the Red Sea; green pearls of the
haliotyde iris; yellow, blue, and black pearls, the curious
productions of the divers mollusks of every ocean, and
certain mussels of the watercourses of the North; lastly,
several specimens of inestimable value which had been
gathered from the rarest pintadines. Some of these pearls
were larger than a pigeon's egg, and were worth as much,
and more than that which the traveller Tavernier sold to
the Shah of Persia for three millions, and surpassed the
one in the possession of the Imaum of Muscat, which I had
believed to be unrivalled in the world.
Therefore, to estimate the value of this collection was
simply impossible. Captain Nemo must have expended
millions in the acquirement of these various specimens, and
I was thinking what source he could have drawn from, toi
have been able thus to gratify his fancy for collecting,
when I was interrupted by these words:
"You are examining my shells, Professor? Unques-
tionably they must be interesting to a naturalist; but for
me they have a far greater charm, for T have collected
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
them all with my own hand, and there is not a sea on the
face of the globe which has escaped my researches."
"I can understand, Captain, the delight of wandering
about in the midst of such riches. You are one of those
who have collected their treasures themselves. No museum
in Europe possesses such a collection of the produce of the
ocean. But if I exhaust all my admiration upon it, I shall
have none left for the vessel which carries it. I do not
wish to pry into your secrets; but I must confess that this
Nautilus, with the motive power which is confined in it,
the contrivances which enable it to be worked, the power-
ful agent which propels it, all excite my curiosity to the
highest pitch. I see suspended on the walls of this room
instruments of whose use I am ignorant."
"You will find these same instruments in my own room,
Professor, where I shall have much pleasure in explaining
their use to you. But first come and inspect the cabin
which is set apart for your own use. You musr. see how
you will be accommodated on board the Nautilus."
I followed Captain Nemo, who, by one of the doors open-
ing from each panel of the drawing-room, regained the
waist. He conducted me towards the bow, and there I
found, not a cabin, but an elegant room, with a bed, dress-
ing-table, and several other pieces of furniture.
I could only thank my ho.t.
"Your room adjoins mine," said he, opening a door,
"and mine opens into the drawing-room that we have just
I entered the captain's room: it had a severe, almost a
monkish, aspect. A small iron bedstead, a table, some
articles for the toilet; the whole lighted by a skylight,
No comforts, the strictest necessaries only.
Captain Nemo pointed to a seat.
"Be so good as to sit down," he said. I seated myself,
and he began thus:
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
ALL BY ELECTRICITY.
"SIR," said Captain Nemo, showing me the instruments
hanging on the walls of his room, "here are the contri-
vances required for the navigation of the Nautilus. Here,
as in the drawing-room, I have them always under my eyes,
and they indicate my position and exact direction in the
middle of the ocean. Some are known to you, such as the
thermometer, which gives the internal temperature of the
Nautilus; the barometer, which indicates the weight of
the air and foretells the changes of the weather; the hy-
grometer, which marks the dryness of the atmosphere; the
storm-glass, the contents of which, by decomposing, an-
nounce the approach of tempests; the compass, which
guides my course; the sextant, which shows the latitude
by the altitude of the sun; chronometers, by which I cal-
culate the longitude; and glasses for day and night, which
I use to examine the points of the horizon, when the Nau-
tilus rises to the surface of the waves."
"These are the usual nautical instruments," I replied,
"and I know the use of them. But these others, no
doubt, answer to the particular requirements of the Nau-
tilus. This dial with the movable needle is a manometer,
is it not?"
"It is actually a manometer. But by communication
with the water, whose external pressure it indicates, it
gives our depth at the same time."
"And these other instruments, the use of which I can-
"Here, Professor, I ought to give you some explana-
tions. Will you be kind enough to listen to me?"
20.000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Ae was silent for a few moments, then he said
There is a powerful agent, obedient, rapid, easy, which
conforms to every use, and reigns supreme on board my
vessel. Everything is done by means of it. It lights it,
warms it, and is the soul of my mechanical apparatus.
This agent is electricity."
"Electricity?" I cried in surprise.
"Nevertheless, Captain, you possess an extreme rapidity
of movement, which does not agree well with the power of
electricity. Until now its dynamic force has remained
under restraint, and has only been able to produce a small
amount of power."
"Professor," said Captain Nemo, "my electricity is not
everybody's. You know what sea-water is composed of.
In a thousand grammes are found 96- per cent of water,
and about 21 per cent of chloride of sodium; then, in a
smaller quantity, chlorides of magnesium and of potassium,
bromide of magnesium, sulphate of magnesia, sulphate and
carbonate of lime. You see, then, that chloride of sodium
forms a large part of it. So it is this sodium that I ex-
tract from sea-water, and of which I compose my ingredi-
ents. I owe all to the ocean; it produces electricity, and
electricity gives heat, light, motion, and, in a word, life to
But not the air you breathe?"
""Oh, I could manufacture the air necessary for my con-
sumption, but it is useless, because I go up to the surface
of the water when I please. However, if electricity does
not furnish me with air to breathe, it works at least the
powerful pumps that are stored in spacious reservoirs, and
which enable me to prolong at need, and as long as I will,
my stay in the depths of the sea. It gives a uniform and
unintermittent light, which the sun does not. Now look
at this clock; it is electrical, and goes with a regularity
that defies the best chronometers. I have divided it into
72 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
twenty-four hours, like the Italian clocks, because for ms
there is neither night nor day, sun nor moon, but only that
factitious light that I take with me to the bottom of the
sea. Look! just now, it is ten o'clock in the morning."
"Another application of electricity. This dial hanging
in front of us indicates the speed of the Nautiluts. An
electric thread puts it in communication with the screw,
and the needle indicates the real speed. Look! now wa
are spinning along with a uniform speed of fifteen miles
"It is marvellous! and I see, Captain, you were right
to make use of this agent that takes the place of wind,
water, and steam."
"We have not finished, M. Aronnax," said Captain
Nemo, rising; if you will follow me, we will examine the
stern of the Nautilus."
Really, I knew already the anterior part of this sub-
marine boat, of which this is the exact division, starting
from the ship's head: the dining-room, five yards long,
separated from the library by a water-tight partition; the
library, five yards long; the large drawing-room, ten yards
long, separated from the captain's room by a second water-
tight partition; the said room, five yards in length; mine,
two and a half yards; and lastly, a reservoir of air, seven
and a half yards, that extended to the bows. Total length
thirty-five yards, or one hundred and five feet. The par-
titions had doors that were shut hermetically by means of
india-rubber instruments, and they insured the safety of
the Nautilus in case of a leak.
I followed Captain-Nemo through the waist, and arrived
at the centre of the boat. There was a sort of well that
opened between two partitions. An iron ladder, fastened
with an iron hook to the partition, led to the upper end.
I asked the captain what the ladder was used for.
"It leads to the small boat," he said.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
What! have you a boat?" I exclaimed in surprise.
"Of course, an excellent vessel, light and insubmersible,
that serves either as a fishing or as a pleasure boat."
"But then, when you wish to embark, you are obliged
to come to the surface of the water?"
Not at all. This boat is attached to the upper part of
the hull of the Nautilus, and occupies a cavity made for it.
It is decked, quite water-tight, and held together by solid
bolts. This ladder leads to a man-hole made in the hull
of the Nautilus, that corresponds with a similar hole made
in the side of the boat. By this double opening I get into
the small vessel. They shut the one belonging to the
Nautilus, I shut the other by means of screw pressure. I
undo the bolts, and the little boat goes up to the surface of
the sea with prodigious rapidity. I then open the panel of
the bridge, carefully shut till then; I mast it, hoist my
sail, take my oars, and I'm off."
"But how do you get back on board?"
"I do not come back, M. Aronnax; the Nautilus comes
"By your orders?"
"By my orders. An electric thread connects us. I
telegraph to it, and that is enough."
Really," I said, astonished at these marvels, "nothing
can be more simple."
After having passed by the cage of the staircase that led
to the platform, I saw a cabin six feet long, in which Con-
seil and Ned Land, enchanted with their repast, were de-
vouring it with avidity. Then a door opened into a kitchen
nine feet long, situated between the large sfore-rooms.
There electricity, better than gas itself, did all the cook-
ing. The streams under the furnaces gave out to the
sponges of platina a heat which was regularly kept up and
distributed. They also heated a distilling apparatus,
which, by evaporation, furnished excellent drinkable
74 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER .THE SEAS.
water. Near this kitchen was a bath-room comfortably
furnished, with hot and cold water taps.
Next to the kitchen was the berth-room of the vessel,
sixteen feet long. But the door was shut, and I could not
see the management of it, which might have given me an
idea of the number of men employed on board the Nau-
At the bottom was a fourth partition, that separated
this office from the engine-room. A door opened, and I
found myself in the compartment where Captain Nemo-
certainly an engineer of a very high order-had arranged
his locomotive machinery. This engine-room, clearly
lighted, did not measure less than sixty-five feet in length.
It was divided into two parts; the first contained the ma-
terials for producing electricity, and the second the
machinery that connected it with the screw. I examined
it with great interest, in order to understand the inachin-
ery of the Nautilus.
"You see," said' the captain, "I use Bunsen's con-
trivances, not Ruhmkorff's. Those would not have been
powerful enough. Bunsen's are fewer in number, but
strong and large, which experience proves to be the best.
The electricity produced passes forward, where it works,
by electro-magnets of great size, on a system of levers and
cog-wheels that transmit the movement to the'axle of the
screw. This one, the diameter of which is nineteen feet,
and the thread twenty-three feet, performs about a hun-
dred and twenty revolutions in a second."
"And you get then?"
A speed of fifty miles an hour."
I have seen the Nautilus manoeuvre before the Abra-
ham Lincoln, and I have my own ideas as to its speed,
But this is not enough. We must see where we go. We
must be able to direct it to the right, to the left, above,
below. How do you get to the great depths, where you
find an increasing resistance, which is rated by hundreds
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
of atmospheres? How do you return to the surface of the
ocean? And how do you maintain yourselves in the req-
uisite medium? Am I asking too much?"
Not at all, Professor," replied the captain, with some
hesitation; "since you may never leave this submarine
boat. Come into the saloon, it is our usual study, and
there you will learn all you want to know about the Nau.
A MOMENT after we were seated on a divan in the saloon
smoking. The captain showed me a sketch that gave the
plan, section, and elevation of the N.autilus. Then he
began his description in these words:
"Here, M. Aronnax, are the several dimensions of the
boat you are in. It is an elongated cylinder with conical
ends. It is very like a cigar in shape, a shape already
adopted in London in several constructions of the same
sort. The length of this cylinder, from stem to stern, is
exactly 232 feet, and its maximum breadth is twenty-six
feet. It is not built quite like your long-voyage steamers,
but its lines are sufficiently long, and its curves prolonged
enough, to allow the water to slide off easily, and oppose
no obstacle to its passage. These two dimensions enable
you to obtain by a simple calculation the surface and cubic
contents of the Nautilus. Its area measures 6032 feet;
and its contents about 1500 cubic yards; that is to say,
when completely immersed it displaces 50,000 feet of water,
or weighs 1500 tons.
'When I made the plans for this submarine vessel, I
meant that nine tenths should be submerged; consequently,
76 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
it ought only to displace nine tenths of its bulk, that is to
say, only to weigh that number of tons. I ought not,
therefore, to have exceeded that weight, constructing it on
the aforesaid dimensions.
"The Nautilus is composed of two hulls, one inside, the
other outside, joined by T-shaped irons, which render it
very strong. Indeed, owing to this cellular arrangement
it resists like a block, as if it were solid. Its sides cannot
yield; it coheres spontaneously, and not by the closeness of
its rivets; and the homogeneity of its construction, due to
the perfect union of the materials, enables it to defy the
"These two hulls are composed of steel plates, whose
density is from .7 to .8 that of water. The first is not less
than two inches and a half thick, and weighs 394 tons.
The second envelope, the keel, twenty inches high and ten
thick, weighs alone sixty-two tons. The engine, the ballast,
the several accessories and apparatus appendages, the par-
titions and bulkheads, weigh 961.62 tons. Do you follow
"Then, when the Nautilus is afloat under these circum-
stances, one tenth is out of the water. Now, if I have
made reservoirs of a size equal to this tenth, or capable of
holding 150 tons, and if I fill them with water, the boat,
weighing then 1507 tons, will be completely immersed.
That would happen, Professor. These reservoirs are in the
lower parts of the Nautilus. I turn on taps and they fill,
and the vessel sinks that had just been level with the sur-
"Well, Captain, but now we come to the real difficulty.
I can understand your rising to the surface; but diving be-
low the surface, does not your submarine contrivance en-
counter a pressure, and consequently undergo an upward
thrust of one atmosphere for every thirty feet of water,
just about fifteen pounds per square inch?"
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
'Just so, sir."
Then unless you quite fill the Nautilus, I do not see
how you can draw it down to those depths."
"Professor, you must not confound statics with dy-
namics, or you will be exposed to grave errors. There is
very little labor spent in attaining the lower regions of the
ocean, for all bodies have a tendency to sink. When I
wanted to find out the necessary increase of weight required
to sink the Nautilus, I had only to calculate the reduction
of volume that sea-water acquires according to the depth."
That is evident."
"Now, if water is not absolutely incompressible, it is at
least capable of very slight compression. Indeed, after the
most recent calculations this reduction is only .000436 of
an atmosphere for each thirty feet of depth. If we want
to sink 3000 feet, I should keep account of the reduction
of bulk under a pressure equal to that of a column of water
of a thousand feet. The calculation is easily verified.
Now, I have supplementary reservoirs capable of holding a
hundred tons. Therefore I can sink to a considerable
depth. When I wish to rise to the level of the sea, I only
let off the water, and empty all the reservoirs if I want the
Nautilus to emerge from the tenth part of her total ca-
I had nothing to object to these reasoning.
"I admit your calculations, Captain," I replied; "I
should be wrong to dispute them since daily experience
confirms them; but I foresee a real difficulty in the way."
"When you are about 1000 feet deep, the walls of the
Nautilus bear a pressure of 100 atmospheres. If, then,
just now you were to empty the supplementary reservoirs,
to lighten the vessel, and to go up to the surface, the
pumps must overcome the pressure of 100 atmospheres,
which is 1500 lbs. per square inch. From that a power-"
"That electricity alone can give," said the captain,
78 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
hastily. "I repeat, sir, that the dynamic power of ml
engines is almost infinite. The pumps of the Nautilus
have an enormous power, as you must have observed when
their jets of water burst like a torrent upon the Abraham
Lincoln. Besides, I use subsidiary reservoirs only to attain
a mean depth of 750 to 1000 fathoms, and that with a view
of managing my machines. Also, when I have a mind to
visit the depths of the ocean five or six miles below the
surface, I make use of slower but not less infallible means."
"What are they, Captain?"
"That involves my telling you how the Nautilus is
"I am impatient to learn."
"To steer this boat to starboard or port, to turn, in a
word, following a horizontal plan, I use an ordinary rudder
fixed on the back of the stern-post, and with one wheel and
some tackle to steer by. But I can also make the Nautilus
rise and sink, and sink and rise, by a vertical movement by
means of two inclined planes fastened to its sides, opposite
the centre of flotation, planes that move in every direction,
and that are worked by powerful levers from the interior.
If the planes are kept parallel with the boat, it moves hor-
izontally. If slanted, the Nautilus, according to this in-
clination, and under the influence of the screw, either sinks
diagonally or rises diagonally as it suits me. And even if
I wish to rise more quickly to the surface, I ship the screw,
and the pressure of the water causes the Nautilus to rise
vertically like a balloon filled with hydrogen."
"Bravo, Captain! But how can the steersman follow
the route in the middle of the waters?"
"The steersman is placed in a glazed box, that is raised
above the hull of the Nautilus, and furnished with lenses."
"Are these lenses capable of resisting such pressure?"
"Perfectly. Glass, which breaks at a blow, is, never-
theless, capable of offering considerable resistance. During
iome experiments of fishing by electric light in 1864 in the
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Northern Seas, we saw plates less than a third of an inch
thick resist a pressure of sixteen atmospheres. Now, the
glass that I use is not less than thirty times thicker."
Granted. But, after all, in order to see, the light must
exceed the darkness, and in the midst of the darkness in
the water, how can you see?"
"Behind the steersman's cage is placed a powerful elec-
tric reflector, the rays from which light up the sea for hall
a mile in front."
"Ah! bravo, bravo, Captain! Now I can account for
this phosphorescence in the supposed narwhal that puzzled
us so. I now ask you if the boarding of the Nautilus and
of the Scotia, that has made such a noise, has been the
result of a chance rencontre?"
"Quite accidental, sir. I was sailing only one fathom
below the surface of the water when the shock came. It
had no bad result."
"None, sir. But now, about your rencontre with the
"Professor, I am sorry for one of the best vessels in the
American navy; but they attacked me, and I was bound to.
defend myself. I contented myself, however, with putting
Ahe frigate hours de combat: she will not have any difficulty
in getting repaired at the next port."
"Ah, Commander! your Nautilus is certainly a mar
"Yes, Professor; and I love it as if it were part of my-
self. If danger threatens one of your vessels on the ocean,
the first impression is the feeling of an abyss above and
below. On the Nautilus men's hearts never fail them. No
defects to be afraid of, for the double shell is as firm as
iron; no rigging to attend to; no sails for the wind to carry
.away; no boilers to burst; no fire to fear, for the vessel is
made of iron, not of wood; no coal to run short, for elec-
tricity is the only mechanical agent; no collision to fear,
fr \t alone swims in deep water; no tempest to brave, for
80 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
when it dives below the water, it reaches absolute tranquil-
lity. There, sir! that is the perfection of vessels! And if
it is true that the engineer has more confidence in the ves-
sel than the builder, and the builder than the captain him-
self, you understand the trust I repose in my Nautilus;
for I am at once captain, builder, and engineer."
"But how could you construct this wonderful Nautilus
in secret ?"
Each separate portion, M. Aronnax, was brought from
different parts of the globe. The keel was forged at
Creusot, the shaft of the screw at Penn & Co.'s, London,
the iron plates of the hull at Laird's of Liverpool, the screw
itself at Scott's at Glasgow. The reservoirs were made by
Cail & Co. at Paris, the engine by Krupp in Prussia, its
beak in Motala's workshop in Sweden, its mathematical
instruments by Hart Brothers, of New York, etc.; and
each of these people had my orders under different names."
"But these parts had to be put together and arranged?"
"Professor, I had set up my workshops upon a desert
island in the ocean. There my workmen, that is to say,
the brave men that I instructed and educated, and myself
have put together our Nautilus. Then, when the work
was finished, fire destroyed all trace of our proceedings on
this island, that I could have jumped over if I had liked."
"Then the cost of this vessel is great?"
M. Aronnax, an iron vessel costs 45 per ton. Now
the Nautilus weighed 1500. It came therefore to 67,500.
and 80,000 more for fitting it up, and about 200,000
with the works of art and the collections it contains."
"One last question, Captain Nemc."
"Ask it, Professor."
"You are rich?"
"Immensely rich, sir; and I could, without missing it,
pay the national debt of France."
I stared at the singular person who spoke thus. Was he
playing upon my credulity? The future would decide that.
80.000 LEAGUES UNDER THE BEASB
THE BLACK '7ER.
THE portion of the terrestrial globe which is covered by
water is estimated at upwards of eighty millions of acres.
This fluid mass comprises two billions two hundred and
fifty millions of cubic miles, forming a spherical body of a
diameter of sixty leagues, the weight of which would be
three quintillions of tons. To comprehend the meaning
of these figures, it is necessary to observe that a quintillion
is to a billion as a billion is to unity; in other words, there
are as many billions in a quintillion as there are units in a
billion. This mass of fluid is equal to about the quantity
of water which would be discharged by all the rivers of the
earth in forty thousand years.
During the geological epochs, the igneous period suc-
ceeded to the aqueous. The ocean originally prevailed
everywhere. Then by degrees, in the silurian period, the
tops of the mountains began to appear, the islands emerged,
then disappeared in partial deluges, reappeared, became
settled, formed continents, till at length the earth became
geographically arranged, as we see in the present day.
The solid had wrested from the liquid thirty-seven million
six hundred and fifty-seven square miles, equal to twelve
billions nine hundred and sixty millions of acres. ,
The shape of continents allows us to divide the waters
into five great portions: the Arctic or Frozen Ocean, the
Antarctic or Frozen Ocean, the Indian, the Atlantic. and
the Pacific Oceans.
The Pacific Ocean extends from north to south between
the two polar circles, and from east to west between Asia
and America, over an extent of 145 degrees of longitude.
82 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER TEE SEAS.
It is the quietest of seas; its currents are broad and slow,
it has medium tides and abundant rain. Such was the
ocean that my fate destined me first to travel over under
these strange conditions.
"Sir," said Captain Nemo, we will, if you please, take
our bearings and fix the starting-point of this voyage. It
is a quarter to twelve: I will go up again to the surface."
The captain pressed an electric clock three times. The
pumps began to drive the water from the tanks; the needle
of the manometer marked- by a different pressure the ascent
of the Nautilus, then it stopped.
"We have arrived," said the captain.
I went to the central staircase which opened on to the
platform, clambered up the iron steps, and found myselI
on the upper part of the Nautilus.
The platform was only three feet out of water. The
front and back of the Nautilus was of that spindle-shape
which caused it justly to be compared to a cigar. I noticed
that its iron plates, slightly overlaying each other, resem
bled the shell which clothes the bodies of our large terres.
trial reptiles. It explained to me how natural it was, in
spite of all glasses, that this boat should have been taken
for a marine animal.
Towards the middle of the platform the long-boat, hall
buried in the hull of the vessel, formed a slight excrescence.
Fore and aft rose two cages of medium height with inclined
sides, and partly closed by thick lenticular glasses; one des-;
tined for che steersman who directed the Nautilus, the
other containing a brilliant lantern to give light on the
The sea was beautiful, the sky pure. Scarcely could the
long vehicle feel the broad undulations of the ocean. A
light breeze from the east rippled the surface of the waters.
The horizon, free from fog, made observation easy. Noth-
ing was in sight. Not a quicksand, not an island. A
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
Captain Nemo, by the help of his sextant, took the alti-
tude of the sun, which ought also to give the latitude. He
waited for some moments till its disk touched the horizon.
Whilst taking observations not a muscle moved, the instru-
ment could not have been more motionless in a hand of
"Twelve o'clock, sir," said he. "When you like-"
I cast a last look upon the sea, slightly yellowed by the
Japanese coast, and descended to the saloon.
"And now, sir, I leave you to your studies," added the
captain; "our course is E.N.E., our depth is twenty-six
fathoms. Here are maps on a large scale by which you
may follow it. The saloon is at your disposal, and with
your permission I will retire." Captain Nemo bowed, and
I remained alone, lost in thoughts all bearing on the com-
mander of the Nautilus.
. For a whole hour was I deep in these reflections, seeking
to pierce this mystery so interesting to me. Then my eyes
fell upon the vast planisphere spread upon the table, and I
placed my finger on the very spot where the given latitude
and longitude crossed.
The sea has its large rivers like the continents. They
are special currents known by their temperature and their
color. The most remarkable of these is known by the name
of the Gulf Stream. Science has decided on the globe the
direction of five principal currents: one in the North At-
lantic, a second in the South, a third in the North Pacific,
a fourth in the South, and a fifth in the Southern Indian
Ocean. It is even probable that a sixth current existed at
one time or another in the Northern Indian Ocean, when
the Caspian and Aral Seas formed but one vast sheet of
At this point indicated on the planisphere one of these
currents was rolling, the Kuro-Scivo of the Japanese, the
Black River, which, leaving the Gulf of Bengal where it
is warmed by the perpendicular rays of a tropical sun,
84 20.000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAE.
crosses the Straits of Malacca along the coast of Asia, turns
into the North Pacific to the Aleutian Islands, carrying
with it trunks of camphor-trees and other indigenous pro-
ductions, and edging the waves of the ocean with the pure
indigo of its warm water. It was this current that the
Nautilus was to follow. I followed it with my eye; saw it
lose itself in the vastness of the Pacific, and felt myself
drawn with it, when Ned Land and Conseil appeared at the
door of the saloon.
My two brave companions remained petrified at the sight
of the wonders spread before them.
"Where are we, where are we?" exclaimed the Canadian.
"In the museum at Quebec?"
"My friends," I answered, making a sign for them to
enter, "you are not in Canada, but on board the Nautilus,
fifty yards below the level of the sea."
"But, M. Aronnax," said Ned Land, "can you tell me
how many men there are on board? Ten, twenty, fifty, a
"I cannot answer you, Mr. Land; it is better to abandon
for a time all idea of seizing the Nautilus or escaping from
it. This ship is a masterpiece of modern industry, and I
should be sorry not to have seen it. Many people would
accept the situation forced upon us, if only to move amongst
such wonders. So be quiet and let us try and see what
passes around us."
See!" exclaimed the harpooner, "but we can see noth-
ing in this iron prison! We are walking-we are sailing-
Ned Land had scarcely pronounced these words when all
was suddenly darkness. The luminous ceiling was gone,
and so rapidly that my eyes received a painful impression.
We remained mute, not stirring, and not knowing what
surprise awaited us, whether agreeable or disagreeable. A
sliding noise was heard: one would have said that paols
were working at the sides of the Nautilus.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.
It is the end of the end!" said Ned Land.
Suddenly light broke at each side of the,saloon, through
two oblong openings. The liquid mass appeared vividly
lit up by the electric gleam. Two crystal plates separated
us from the- sea. At first I trembled at the thought that
this frail partition might break, but strong bands of cop
per bound them,giving an almost infinite power of resistance.
The sea was distinctly visible for a mile all round the
Nautilus. What a spectacle! What pen can describe it?
Who could paint the effects of the light through those
transparent sheets of water, and the softness of the succes-
sive gradations from the lower to the superior strata of the
We know the transparency of the sea, and that its clear-
ness is far beyond' that of rock water. The mineral and
organic substances which it holds in suspension heighten
its transparency. In certain parts of the ocean at the An-
tilles, under seventy-five fathoms of water, can be seen with
surprising clearness a bed of sand. The penetrating power
of the solar rays does not seem to cease for a depth of one
hundred and fifty fathoms. But in this middle fluid trav-
elled over by the Nautilus the electric brightness was pro-
duced even in the bosom of the waves. It was no longer
luminous water, but liquid light.
On each side a window opened into this unexplored
abyss. The obscurity of the saloon showed to advantage
the brightness outside, and we looked out as if this pure
crystal had been the glass of an immense aquarium.
"You wished to see, friend Ned; well, you see now."
Curious! curious!" muttered the Canadian, who, for-
getting his ill-temper, seemed to submit to some irresistible
attraction; "and one would come farther than this to ad-
mire such a sight!"
"Ah!" thought I to myself, "I understand the life of
this man; he has made a world apart for himself, in which
he treasures all his greatest wonders."
86 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
For two whole hours an aquatic army escorted the Nau-
tilus. During their games, their bounds, while rivalling
each other in beauty, brightness, and velocity, I distin-
guished the green labre; the banded mullet, marked by a
double line of black; the round-tailed goby, of a white color,
with violet spots on the back; the Japanese scombrus, a
beautiful mackerel of these seas, with a blue body and sil-
very head; the brilliant azurors, whose name alone defies
description; some banded spares, with variegated fins of'
blue and yellow; some aclostones, the woodcocks of the
seas, some specimens of which attain a yard in length;
Japanese salamanders, spider lampreys, serpents six feet
long, with eyes small and lively, and a huge mouth brist-
ling with teeth; with many other species.
Our imagination was kept at its height, interjections
followed' quickly on each other. Ned named the fish, and
Conseil classed them. I was in ecstasies with the vivacity
of their movements and the beauty of their forms. Never
had it been given to me to surprise these animals, alive and
at liberty, in their natural element. I will not mention all
the varieties which passed before my dazzled eyes, all the
collection of the seas of China and Japan. These fish,
more numerous than the birds of the air, came, attracted,
no doubt, by the brilliant focus of the electric light.
Suddenly there was daylight in the saloon, the iron panels
closed again, and the enchanting vision disappeared. But
for a long time I dreamt on till my eyes fell on the instru-
ments hanging on the partition. The compass still showed
the course to be E.N.E., the manometer indicated a pres-
sure of five atmospheres, equivalent to a depth of twenty-
five fathoms, and the electric log gave a speed of fifteen
miles an hour. I expected Captain Nemo, but he did not
appear. The clock marked the hour of five.
Ned Land and Conseil returned to their cabin, and I re-
tired to my chamber. My dinner was ready. It was com-
posed of turtle-soup made of the most delicate hawksbills,
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
or a surmullet served with puff paste (the liver of which, pre-
pared by itself, was most delicious), and fillets of the em-
peror-holocanthus, the savor of which seemed to me su-
perior even to salmon.
I passed the evening reading, writing, and thinking.
Then sleep overpowered me, and I stretched myself on my
couch ofjzostera, and slept]profoundly, whilst the Nau-
tilus was gliding rapidly through the current of the Black
A NOTE OF INVITATION.
THE next day was the 9th of November. I awoke after
a long sleep of twelve hours. Conseil came, according to
custom, to know "how I had passed the night," and to offer
his services. He had left his friend the Canadian sleeping
like a man who had never done anything else all his life.
I let the worthy fellow chatter as he pleased, without car-
ing to answer him. I was preoccupied by the absence of
the captain during our sitting of the day before, and hoping
to see him to-day.
As soon as I was dressed I went into the saloon. It was
I plunged into the study of the conchological treasures
hidden behind the glasses. I revelled also in great herbals
filled with the rarest marine plants, which, although dried
up, retained their lovely colors. Amongst these precious
hydrophytes I remarked some vorticells, pavonarie, deli-
cate ceramics with scarlet tints, some fan-shaped agari, and
some natabuli like flat mushrooms, which at one time used
to De classed as zoophytes; in short, a perfect series of
88 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
The whole day passed without my being honored by a
visit from Captain Nemo. The panels of the saloon did
not open. Perhaps they did not wish us to tire of these
The course of the Nautilus was E.N.E., her speed twelve
knots, the depth below the surface between twenty-five and
The next day, 10th of November, the same desertion,
the same solitude. I did not see one of the ship's crew:
Ned and Conseil spent the greater part of the day with me.
They were astonished at the inexplicable absence of the
captain. Was this singular man ill? had he altered his in-
tentions with regard to us?
After all, as Conseil said, we enjoyed perfect liberty, we
were delicately and abundantly fed. Our host kept to his
terms of the treaty. We could not complain, and, indeed,
the singularity of our fate reserved such wonderful com-
pensation for us, that we had no right to accuse it as yet.
That day I commenced the journal of these adventures
which has enabled me to relate them with more scrupulous
exactitude and minute detail.. I wrote it on paper made
from the zostera marina.
11th November, early in the morning. The fresh air
spreading over the interior of the Nautilus told me that
we had come to the surface of the ocean to renew our
supply of oxygen. I directed my steps to the central stair-
case, and mounted the platform.
It was six o clock, the weather was cloudy, the sea gray
but calm. Scarcely a billow. Captain Nemo, whom I
hoped to meet, would he be there? I saw no one but the
steersman imprisoned in his glass cage. Seated upon the
projection formed by the hull of the pinnace, I inhaled the
salt breeze with delight.
By degrees the fog disappeared under the action of the sun's
rays, the radiant orb rose from behind the eastern horizon.
The sea flamed under its glance like a train of gunpowder,
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
The clouds scattered in the heights were colored with lively
tints of beautiful shades, and numerous "mare's tails,"
which betokened wind for that day. But what was -vind
to this Nautilus, which tempests could not frighten
I was admiring this joyous rising of the sun, so gay, and
so life-giving, when I heard steps approaching the platform.
I was prepared to salute Captain Nemo, but it was his
second (whom I had already seen on the captain's first
visit) who appeared. He advanced on the platform, not
seeming to see me. With his powerful glass to his eye,
he scanned every point of the horizon with great attention.
This examination over, he approached the panel and pro-
nounced a sentence in exactly these terms. I have remem-
bered it, for every morning it was repeated under exactly
the same conditions. It was thus worded:
"Nautron respoc lorni virch."
What it mean I could not say.
These words pronounced, the second descended. I
thought that the Nautilus was about to return to its sub-
marine navigation. I regained the panel and returned to
Five days sped thus, without any change in our situa-
tion. Every morning I mounted the platform. The same
phrase was pronounced by the same individual. But Cap-
tain Nemo did not appear.
I had made up my mind that I should never see him
again, when, on the 16th November, on returning to my
room with Ned and Conseii, I found upon my table a note
addressed to me. I opened it impatiently. It was written
in a bold, clear hand, the characters rather pointed, recall-
ing the German type. The note was worded as follows?
"To PROFEBBOR A-ONNAx, on board hiL Nautilus.
"16th of November, 1867.
Captain Nemo invites Professor Aronnax to a hunting
party,which wil -'ake place to-morrow morning i.. the forest
90 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS.
of the island of Crespo. He hopes that nothing will pre-
vent the Professor from being present, and he will with
pleasure see him joined by his companions.
CAPTAIN NEMO, Commander of the Nautilus."
"A hunt!" exclaimed Ned.
And in the forests of the island of Crespo!" added Cow,
Oh, then the gentleman is going on terra firma" re-
plied Ned Land.
That seems to me to be clearly indicated," said I, read,
ing the letter once more.
"Well, we must accept," said the Canadian. "But
once more on dry ground, we shall know what to do.
Indeed, I shall not be sorry to eat a piece of fresh venison."
Without seeking to reconcile what was contradictory be-
tween Captain Nemo's manifest aversion to islands and
continents, and his invitation to hunt in a forest, I con'
tented myself with replying-
Let us first see where the island of Crespo is."
I consulted the planisphere, and in 320 40' north lat.,
and 157 50' west long., I found a small island, recognized
in 1801 by Captain Crespo, and marked in the ancient
Spanish maps as Rocca de la Plata, the meaning of which
is "The Silver Rock." We'were then about eighteen hun-
dred miles from our starting-point, and the course of the
Nautilus, a little changed, was bringing it back towards
I showed this little rock lost in the midst of the North
Pacific to my companions.
"If Captain Nemo does sometimes go on dry ground,"
said I, he at least chooses desert islands."
Ned Land shrugged his shoulders without speaking, and
Conseil and he left me.
After supper, which was served by the steward, mute
and impassible, I went to bed, not without some anxiety,
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