In this essay I will prove that Bensalem has the ability to control all information coming in and out of the island, as well as the ability to tweak the truth by creating illusions. To add on, Bensalem also formed one of the illusions of which created a miracle of how the island became Christian. The Father of Salomon’s House tells the narrator many secrets that are only kept within Salomon’s House. Out of all the secrets kept hidden the one that stood out to me was that the Fathers know how to make demonstrations of all lights and radiations.
The Father also reveals that they can produce all demonstrations of shadows and procure means of seeing objects afar off as in the heaven and remote places. These abilities can explain the miracle of the great pillar of light that rose from the sea up towards heaven portraying a cross of light. One of the things that make The New Atlantis so suspicious is Bensalem’s Laws of Secrecy. These Laws of Secrecy are basically the reason why this island has yet to be found. These laws refer to Bensalem’s travellers and the rare admission of strangers to their island.
Information about the island is not permitted to go out but only enter the island so that the house of Salomon is educated about the world, yet the world knows nothing about the island. In the book the narrator hints that if you are accepted into the island there will be no way out. He says you are able to leave freely but there’s a chance you won’t make it out there. To me it seems that the Salomon House is keeping control of this island one way or another. If being bound to the island does not convince you the Salomon House is controlling Bensalem, wait ‘till you hear how they became Christian.
So the story goes, “About twenty years after the ascension of our Saviour it came to pass, that there was seen by the people of Renfusa (a city upon the eastern coast of our island, within sight, the night was cloudy and calm), as it might be some mile in the sea, a great pillar of light; not sharp, but in form of a column, or cylinder, rising from the sea, a great way up toward heaven; and on the top of it was seen a large cross of light, more bright and resplendent than the body of the pillar…the people of the city gathered apace together… put themselves into a number of small boats to go nearer to this marvelous sight.
But when the boats were come within about sixty yards of the pillar, they found themselves all bound, and… It so fell out that there was in one of the boats one of the wise men of the Society of Salomon’s House who… fell down upon his face; and then raised himself upon his knees, and lifting up his hands to heaven, made his prayers…When he had made his prayer, he presently found the boat he was in movable and unbound… but ere he came near it, the pillar and cross of light broke up (p. 47). ” There was nothing left but a small ark or chest of cedar, dry and not wet at all.
The ark contained a book in it which changed the views of the people, and made them convert to Christianity. First I would like to point out that the wise men of the Society of Salomon’s House are rarely ever seen and it just so came about that one of them were out on this miraculous night. Also, the only boat that was unbound was his and once he reached the pillar of light it disappeared. I find this to be very strange. To add on, all that was left was an ark which was dry even though it was in the water, how bizarre is that? Who’s to say he didn’t already have the ark in his boat?
Many questions come about when this story is being told and raises suspicion. A little deeper into the story, more towards the end you begin to find out how many of the illusions and miracles were possible. There were many miracles, like how Bensalem fought off enemies without having to do much work. They are so advanced that no one can match them. The enemies more or less arrived to Bensalem and were sent home without a fight. The Father of Bensalem said “I can say nothing but certain it is there never came back either ship or man from that voyage.
For the King of this island, by name Altabin, a wise man and a great warrior, knowing well both his own strength and that of his enemies, handled the matter so as he cut off their land forces from their ships, and entoiled both their navy and their camp with a greater power than theirs, both by sea and land; and compelled them to render themselves without striking a stroke, and after they were at his mercy, contenting himself only with their oath, that they should no more bear arms against him, dismissed them all in safety” (p. 4). A whole army turned away just like that? Another one of the so called miracles that happened was when the narrator, also known as the captain of the ship explained the miracle of finding Bensalem just in time before everyone starved on the ship. As if it were a blessing, or maybe the Father of Bensalem was already expecting them (p. 37). The Father explains that he has inventions of a series of glasses that can see small and minute bodies distinctly from afar (p. 78).
Maybe the Father sighted them with a machine, and manipulated the winds or weather to blow them in the direction of the island. After all, they are very advanced in technology. At the end of the book the Father of Bensalem reveals the laws of secrecy. These laws of secrecy reveal how the miracle of Christianity came about to this island and how the ship with the Spaniards could have been spotted. These laws explain how no one is aware of this island, yet the island is aware of everyone else.
The Father of Salomon’s House tells the narrator “We have also perspective houses, where we make demonstrations of all lights and radiations and of all colors; and out of things uncolored and transparent we can represent unto you all several colors… We procure means of seeing objects afar off, as in the heaven and remote places; and represent things near as afar off, and things afar off as near; making feigned distances (p. 77).
These examples should favor in my argument how the Father of Bensalem was able to create false miracles by using elaborate illusions, being able to bend light using certain tricks and creating the impossible. I chose this topic because the Father of Bensalem talks about how the Island became Christian and for this to happen he used many special effects such as light to play with the peoples senses, and advanced technology the world hasn’t invented yet.