New Atlantis
Sir Francis Bacon

YOU SHALL understand that about three thousand years ago, or somewhat more, the Navigation of the world (specially for remote voyages) was greater than at this day…. Whether it was, that the example of the Ark, that saved the remnant of men from the Universal Deluge, gave men confidence to adventure upon the waters, or what it was; but such is the Truth. The Phoenicians, and specially the Tyrians, had great fleets. So had the Carthaginians their colony, which is yet further West. Towards the east the shipping of Egypt, and of Palestine was likewise great. China also, and the great Atlantis, (that you call America) which have now but junks, and canoes, abounded then in tall ships.

At the same time, and an Age after, or more, the inhabitants of the great Atlantis did flourish…..Yet so much is true, that the said country of Atlantis, as well that of Peru then called Coya, and that of Mexico then called Tyrambel, were mighty and proud kingdoms, in arms, shipping, and riches so mighty as at one time (or at least within the space of 10 years) they both made two great expeditions, they of Tyrambel through the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea, and they of Coya through the South Sea…..But whether it were the ancient Athenians, that had the glory of the Repulse, and resistance of these forces, I can say nothing. But certain it is, there never came back, either ship, or man, from that voyage.

But the Divine revenge overtook not long after those proud enterprises. For within less than the space of one hundred years, the Great Atlantis was utterly lost and destroyed not by a great earthquakes as your man saith (for that whole tract is little subject to earthquakes); but by a particular Deluge or Inundation. Those countries having, at that day, far greater rivers, and far higher mountains, to pour down waters, than any part of the Old World. But it is true, that the same inundation was not deep; not past forty feet in most places from the ground. So that although it destroyed man and beast generally, yet some few wild inhabitants of the wood escaped. For as for men, although they had buildings in many places, higher than the depth of the water, yet that inundation, though it were shallow, had a long continuance: whereby they of the Vale, that were not drowned, perished for want of food, and other things necessary.

So as marvel you not at the thin population of America, nor at the rudeness and ignorance of the people…..and having in their mountain regions been used to clothe themselves with the skins of tigers, bears and great hairy goats, when after they came down into the valley, they found the intolerable heats which are there, and knowing no means of lighter apparel they were forced to begin the custom of going naked, which continueth to this day. Only they take great delight in the feathers of birds. So you see, by this main accident of Time, we lost our trafick with the Americas, with whom we had most commerce."

Extracted from "New Atlantis" by Sir Francis Bacon, published posthumously in 1627

Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban (22 January 15619 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, and essayist. He is also known as a catalyst of the scientific revolution. Bacon was knighted in 1603, created Baron Verulam in 1618, and created Viscount St Alban in 1621; without heirs, both peerages became extinct upon his death.