by Francis Bacon
[Around 1624, Francis Bacon wrote a fictional account of a group of Englishmen who, while
attempting to sail from Peru to China, happened onto “Bensalem,” a previously unknown island
kingdom in the Pacific. Never finished, the story appeared in print as
shortly after Bacon’s death. Reproduced below are the last few pages of the book, in which one
of the Englishmen is given an audience with a fellow of “Salomon’s House,” the research
institution that was the most remarkable feature of Bensalem.]
We came at our day and hour, and I was chosen by my fellows for the private access. We found
him in a fair chamber, richly hanged, and carpeted under foot without any degrees to the state.
He was set upon a low Throne richly adorned, and a rich cloth of state over his head, of blue
satin embroidered. He was alone, save that he had two pages of honour, on either hand one,
finely attired in white. His under garments were the like that we saw him wear in the chariot; but
instead of his gown, he had on him a mantle with a cape, of the same fine black, fastened about
him. When we came in, as we were taught, we bowed low at our first entrance; and when we
were come near his chair, he stood up, holding forth his hand ungloved, and in posture of
blessing; and we every one of us stooped down, and kissed the hem of his tippet. That done, the
rest departed, and I remained. Then he warned the pages forth of the room, and caused me to sit
down beside him, and spake to me thus in the Spanish tongue.
“God bless thee, my son; I will give thee the greatest jewel I have. For I will impart unto thee,
for the love of God and men, a relation of the true state of Salomon’s House. Son, to make you
know the true state of Salomon’s House, I will keep this order. First, I will set forth unto you the
end of our foundation. Secondly, the preparations and instruments we have for our works.
Thirdly, the several employments and functions whereto our fellows are assigned. And fourthly,
the ordinances and rites which we observe.
“The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the
enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible.
“The Preparations and Instruments are these. We have large and deep caves of several depths:
the deepest are sunk six hundred fathom: and some of them are digged and made under great
hills and mountains: so that if you reckon together the depth of the hill and the depth of the cave,
they are (some of them) above three miles deep. For we find, that the depth of a hill, and the
depth of a cave from the flat, is the same thing; both remote alike, from the sun and heaven’s
beams, and from the open air. These caves we call the Lower Region; and we use them for all
coagulations, indurations, refrigerations, and conservations of bodies. We use them likewise for
the imitation of natural mines; and the producing also of new artificial metals, by compositions
and materials which we use, and lay there for many years. We use them also sometimes, (which