Book of the Damned Chapter V
I SHALL attempt not much of correlation of dates. A mathematic-minded
positivist, with his delusion that in an intermediate state twice two are
four, whereas, if we accept Continuity, we can not accept that these are
anywhere two things to start with, would search our data for
periodicities. It is so obvious to me that the mathematic, or the regular,
is the attribute of the Universal, that I have not much inclination to
look for it in the local. Still, in this solar system, "as a whole," there
is considerable approximation to regularity; or the mathematic is so
nearly localized that eclipses, for instance, can, with rather high
approximation, be foretold, though I have notes that would deflate a
little the astronomers' vainglory in this respect--or would if that were
possible. An astronomer is poorly paid, uncheered by crowds, considerably
isolated: he lives upon his own inflations: deflate a bear and it couldn't
hibernate. This solar system is like every other phenomenon that can be
regarded "as a whole"--or the affairs of a ward are interfered with by the
affairs of the city of which it is a part; city by county; county by
state; state by nation; nation by other nations; all nations by climatic
conditions; climatic conditions by solar circumstances; sun by general
planetary circumstances; solar system "as a whole" by other solar
systems--so the hopelessness of finding the phenomena of entirety in the
ward of a city. But positivists are those who try to find the unrelated in
the ward of a city. In our acceptance this is the spirit of cosmic
religion. Objectively the state is not realizable in the ward of a city.
But, if a positivist could bring himself to absolute belief that he had
found it, that would be a subjective realization of that which is
unrealizable objectively. Of course we do not draw a positive line between
the objective and subjective--or that all phenomena called things or
persons are subjective within one all-inclusive nexus, and that thoughts
within those that are commonly called "persons" are sub-subjective. It is
rather as if Intermediateness strove for Regularity in this solar system
and failed: then generated the mentality of astronomers, and, in that
secondary expression, strove for conviction that failure had been success.
I have tabulated all the data of this book, and a great deal
besides--card system--and several proximities, thus emphasized, have been
revelations to me: nevertheless, it is only the method of theologians and
scientists--worst of all, of statisticians.
For instance, by the statistic method, I could "prove" that a black
rain had fallen "regularly" every seven months, somewhere upon this earth.
To do this, I'd have to include red rains and yellow rains, but,
conventionally, I'd pick out the black particles in red substances and in
yellow substances, and disregard the rest. Then, too, if here and there, a
black rain should be a week early or a month late--that would be
"acceleration" or "retardation." This is supposed to be legitimate in
working out the periodicities of comets. If black rains, or red or yellow
rains with black particles in them, should not appear at all near some
dates--we have not read Darwin in vain--"the records are not complete." As
to other, interfering black rains, they'd be either gray or brown, or for
them we'd find other periodicities.
Still, I have had to notice the year 1819, for instance. I shall not
note them all in this book, but I have records of 31 extraordinary events
in 1883. Someone should write a book upon the phenomena of this one
year--that is, if books should be written. 1849 is notable for
extraordinary falls, so far apart that a local explanation seems
inadequate--not only the black rain of Ireland, May, 1849,; but a red rain
in Sicily and a red rain in Wales. Also, it is said (Timb's Year Book,
1850-241) that, upon April 18 or 20, 1849, shepherds near Mt. Ararat,
found a substance that was not indigenous, upon areas measuring 5 to 10
miles in circumference. Presumably it had fallen there.
We have already gone into the subject of Science and its attempted
positiveness, and its resistances in that it must have relations of
service. It is very easy to see that most of the theoretic science of the
19th century was only a relation of reaction against theologic dogma, and
has no more to do with Truth than has a wave that bounds back from a
shore. Or, if a shop girl, or you or I, should pull out a piece of chewing
gum about a yard long, that would be quite as scientific a performance as
was the stretching of this earth's age several hundred million of years.
All "things" are not things, but only relations, or expressions of
relations: but all relations are striving to be unrelated, or have
surrendered to, and subordinated to, higher attempts. So there is a
positivist aspect to this reaction that is itself only a relation, and
that is the attempt to assimilate all phenomena under the materialist
explanation, or to formulate a final, all-inclusive system, upon the
materialist basis. If this attempt could be realized, that would be the
attaining of realness; but this attempt can be made only by disregarding
psychic phenomena, for instance--or, if science shall eventually give in
to the psychic, it would be no more legitimate to explain the immaterial
in terms of the material, than to explain the material in terms of the
immaterial. Our own acceptance is that material and immaterial are of a
oneness, merging, for instance, in a thought that is continuous with a
physical action: that oneness cannot be explained, because the process of
explaining is the interpreting of something in terms of something else.
All explanation is assimilation of something in terms of something else
that has been taken as a basis: but, in Continuity, there is nothing that
is any more basic than anything else--unless we think that delusion built
upon delusion is less real than its pseudo-foundation.
In 1829 (Timb's Year Book, 1848-235) in Persia, fell a
substance that the people said they had never seen before. As to what it
was, they had not a notion, but they saw that the sheep ate it. They
ground it into flour and made bread, said to have been passable enough,
That was a chance that science did not neglect. Manna was placed upon a
reasonable basis, or was assimilated and reconciled with the system that
had ousted the older--and less nearly real--system. It was said that,
likely enough, manna had fallen in ancient times--because it was still
falling--but that there was no tutelary influence behind it--that it was a
lichen from the steppes of Asia Minor--"up from one place in a whirlwind
and down in another place." In the American Almanac, 1833-71, it
is said that this substance--"unknown to the inhabitants of the
region"--was "immediately recognized" by scientists who examined it: and
that "the chemical analysis also identified it as a lichen."
This was back in the days when Chemical Analysis was a god. Since then
his devotees have been shocked and disillusioned. Just how a chemical
analysis could so botanize, I don't know--but it was Chemical Analysis who
spoke, and spoke dogmatically. It seems to me that the ignorance of
inhabitants, contrasting with the local knowledge of foreign scientists,
is overdone: if there's anything good to eat, within any distance
conveniently covered by a whirlwind--inhabitants know it. I have data of
other falls, in Persia and Asiatic Turkey, of edible substances. They are
all dogmatically [53/54] said to be "manna"; and "manna" is dogmatically
said to be a species of lichens from the steppes of Asia Minor. The
position I take is that this explanation was evolved in ignorance of the
fall of vegetable substances, or edible substances, in other parts of the
world: that it is the familiar attempt to explain the general in terms of
the local; that, if we shall have data of falls of vegetable substance,
in, say, Canada, or India, they were not of lichens from the steppes of
Asia Minor; that, though all falls in Asiatic Turkey and Persia are
sweepingly and conveniently called showers of "manna," they have not been
even all of the same substance. In one instance the particles are said to
have been "seeds." Though, in Comptes Rendus, the substance in
1841 and 1846, is said to have been gelatinous, in the Bull. Sci. Nat.
de Neuchatel, it is said to have been of something, in lumps the size
of a filbert, that had been ground into flour; that of this flour had been
made bread, very attractive-looking, but flavorless.
The great difficulty is to explain segregation in these showers --
But deep-sea fishes and occasional falls down to them, of edible
substances; bags of grain, barrels of sugar; things that had not been
whirled up from one part of the ocean-bottom, in storms or submarine
disturbances, and dropped somewhere else --
I suppose one thinks--but grain in bags never has fallen --
Object of Amherst--its covering like "milled cloth" --
Or barrels of corn lost from a vessel would not sink--but a host of
them clashing together, after a wreck--they burst open; the corn sinks, or
does when saturated; the barrel staves float longer --
If there be not an overhead traffic in commodities similar to our own
commodities carried over this earth's oceans--I'm not the deep-sea fish I
think I am.
I have no data other than the mere suggestion of the Amherst object of
bags or barrels, but my notion is that bags and barrels from a wreck on
one of this earth's oceans, would, by the time they reached the bottom, no
longer be recognizable as bags or barrels; that, if we can have data of
the fall of fibrous material that may have been cloth or paper or wood, we
shall be satisfactory and grotesque enough.
Proc. Roy. Irish Acad., 1-379:
"In the year 1686, some workmen, who had been fetching water from a
pond, seven German miles from Memel, on returning to their work, after
dinner (during which there had been a snow storm) found the flat ground
around the pond covered with a coal-black, leafy mass; and a person who
lived near said he had seen it fall like flakes with the snow."
Some of these flake-like formations were as large as a table-top.
"The mass was damp and smelt disagreeably, like rotten seaweed, but,
when dried, the smell went off.
"It tore fibrously like paper."
"Up from one place, and down in another."
But what went up, from one place, in a whirlwind? Of course, our
Intermediatist acceptance is that had this been the strangest substance
conceivable, from the strangest other world that could be thought of;
somewhere upon this earth there must be a substance similar to it, or from
which it would, at least subjectively, or according to description, not be
easily distinguishable. Or that everything in New York City is only
another degree or aspect of something, or combination of things, in a
village of Central Africa. The novel is a challenge to vulgarization:
write something that looks new to you; some one will point out that the
thrice-accursed Greeks said it long ago. Existence is Appetite: the gnaw
of being; the one attempt of all things to assimilate all other things, if
they have not surrendered and submitted to some higher attempt. It was
cosmic that these scientists, who had surrendered to and submitted to the
Scientific System, should, consistently with the principles of the system,
attempt to assimilate the substance that fell at Memel with some known
terrestrial product. At the meeting of the Royal Irish Academy it was
brought out that there is a substance, of rather rare occurrence, that has
been known to form in thin sheets upon marsh land.
It looks like greenish felt.
The substance of Memel:
Damp, coal-black, leafy mass.
But, if broken up, the marsh-substance is flake-like, and it tears
An elephant can be identified as a sunflower--both have long stems. A
camel is indistinguishable from a peanut--if only their humps be
Trouble with this book is that we'll end up a lot of intellectual
rouÚs: we'll be incapable of being astonished with anything. We knew, to
start with, that science and imbecility are continuous; nevertheless so
many expressions of the merging-point are at first startling. We did think
that Prof. Hitchcock's performance in identifying the Amherst phenomenon
as a fungus was rather notable as scientific vaudeville, if we acquit him
of the charge of seriousness--or that, in a place where fungi are so
common that, before a given evening two of them sprang up, only he, a
stranger in this very fungiferous place, knew a fungus when he saw
something like a fungus--if we disregard its quick liquefaction, for
instance. It was only a monologue, however: now we have an all-star cast:
and they're not only Irish; they're royal Irish.
The royal Irishmen excluded "coal-blackness" and included fibrousness:
so then that this substance was "marsh-paper," which "had been raised into
the air by storms of wind, and had again fallen."
It was said that, according to M. Ehrenburg, "the meteor-paper was
found to consist partly of vegetable matter, chiefly of conifervŠ."
Meeting of the royal Irishmen: chairs, tables, Irishmen:
Some flakes of marsh-paper were exhibited.
Their composition was chiefly of conifervŠ.
This was a double inclusion: or it's the method of agreement that
logicians make so much of. So no logician would be satisfied with
identifying a peanut as a camel, because both have humps: he demands
accessory agreement--that both can live a long time without water, for
Now, it's not so very unreasonable, at least to the free and easy
vaudeville standards that, throughout this book, we are considering, to
think that a green substance could be snatched up from one place in a
whirlwind, and fall as a black substance somewhere else: but the royal
Irishmen excluded something else, and it is a datum that was accessible to
them as it is to me:
That, according to Chladni, this was no little, local deposition that
was seen to occur by some indefinite person living near a pond somewhere.
It was a tremendous fall from a vast sky-area.
Likely enough all the marsh paper in the world could not have supplied
At the same time, this substance was falling "in great quantities," in
Norway and Pomerania. Or see Kirkwood, Meteoric Astronomy, p. 66:
"Substance like charred paper fell in Norway and other parts of
northern Europe, Jan. 31, 1686."
Or a whirlwind, with a distribution as wide as that, would not
acceptably, I should say, have so specialized in the rare substance called
"marsh paper." There'd have been falls of fence rails, roofs of houses,
parts of trees. Nothing is said of the occurrence of a tornado in northern
Europe, in January, 1686. There is record only of this one substance
having fallen in various places.
Time went on, but the conventional determination to exclude data of all
falls to this earth, except of substances of this earth, and of ordinary
meteoric matter, strengthened.
Annals of Philosophy, 16-68:
The substance that fell in January, 1686, is described as "a mass of
black leaves, having the appearance of burnt paper, but harder, and
cohering, and brittle."
"Marsh paper" is not mentioned, and there is nothing said of the "conifervŠ,"
which seemed so convincing to the royal Irishmen. Vegetable composition is
disregarded, quite as it might be by some one who might find it convenient
to identify a crook-necked squash as a big fish hook.
Meteorites are usually covered with a black crust, more or less
scale-like. The substance of 1686 is black and scale-like. If so be
convenience, leaf-likeness is scale-likeness. In this attempt to
assimilate with the conventional, we are told that the substance is a
mineral mass: that it is like the black scales that cover meteorites.
The scientist who made this "identification" was von Grotthus. He had
appealed to the god Chemical Analysis. Or the power and glory of
mankind--with which we're not always so impressed--but the gods must tell
us what we want them to tell us. We see again that, though nothing has
identity of its own, anything can be "identified" as anything. Or there's
nothing that's not reasonable, if one snoopeth not into its exclusions.
But here the conflict did not end. Berzelius examined the substance. He
could not find nickel in it. At that time, the presence of nickel was the
"positive" test of meteoritic matter. Whereupon, with a suppositious
"positive" standard of judgment against him, von Grotthus revoked his
"identification." (Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist., 1-3-185).
This equalization of eminences permits us to project with our own
expression, which, otherwise, would be subdued into invisibility:
That it's too bad that no one ever looked to
see--hieroglyphics?--something written upon these sheets of paper?
If we have no very great variety of substances that have fallen to this
earth; if, upon this earth's surface there is infinite variety of
substances detachable by whirlwinds, two falls of such a rare substance as
marsh paper would be remarkable.
A writer in the Edinburgh Review, 87-194, says that at the
time of writing, he had before him a portion of a sheet of 200 square
feet, of a substance that had fallen at Carolath, Silesia, in
1839--exactly similar to cotton-felt, of which clothing might have been
made. The god Microscopic Examination had spoken. The substance consisted
chiefly of conifervŠ.
Jour. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, 1847-pt. 1-193:
That March 16, 1846--about the time of a fall of edible substance in
Asia Minor--an olive-gray powder fell at Shanghai. Under the microscope,
it was seen to be an aggregation of hairs of two kinds, black ones and
rather thick white ones. They were supposed to be mineral fibres, but,
when burned, they gave out "the common ammonical smell and smoke of burnt
hair or feathers." The writer described the phenomenon as "a cloud of 3800
square miles of fibers, alkali, and sand." In a postscript, he says that
other investigators, with more powerful microscopes, gave opinion that the
fibres were not hairs; that the substance consisted chiefly of conifervŠ.
Or the pathos of it, perhaps; or the dull and uninspired, but
courageous persistence of the scientific: everything seemingly found out
is doomed to be subverted--by more powerful microscopes and telescopes; by
more refined, precise, searching means and methods--the new pronouncements
irrepressibly bobbing up; their reception always as Truth at last; always
the illusion of the final; very little of the Intermediatist spirit --
That the new that has displaced the old will itself some day be
displaced; that it, too, will be recognized as myth-stuff --
But that if phantoms climb, spooks of ladders are good enough for them.
Annual Register, 1821-681:
That, according to a report by M. LainÚ, French Consul at Pernambuco,
early in October, 1821, there was a shower of a substance resembling silk.
The quantity was tremendous as might be a whole cargo, lost somewhere
between Jupiter and Mars, having drifted around perhaps for centuries, the
original fabrics slowly disintegrating. In Annales de Chimie,
2-15-427, it is said that samples of this substance were sent to France by
M. LainÚ, and that they proved to have some resemblances to silky
filaments which, at certain times of the year, are carried by the wind
In the Annals of Philosophy, n.s., 12-93, there is mention of
a fibrous substance like blue silk that fell near Naumberg, March 23,
1665. According to Chladni (Annales de Chimie, 2-31-264), the
quantity was great. He places a question mark before the date.
One of the advantages of Intermediatism is that, in the oneness of
quasiness, there can be no mixed metaphors. Whatever is acceptable of
anything, is, in some degree or aspect, acceptable of everything. So it is
quite proper to speak, for instance, of something that is as firm as a
rock and that sails in a majestic march. The Irish are good monists: they
have of course been laughed at for their keener perceptions. So it's a
book we're writing, or it's a procession, or it's a museum, with a Chamber
of Horrors rather over-emphasized. A rather horrible correlation occurs in
the Scientific American, 1859-178. What interests us is that a
correspondent saw a silky substance fall from the sky--there was an aurora
borealis at the time--he attributes the substance to the aurora.
Since the time of Darwin, the classic explanation has been that all
silky substances that fall from the sky are spider webs. In 1832, aboard
the Beagle, at the mouth of La Plata River, 60 miles from land,
Darwin saw an enormous number of spiders, of the kind usually known as
"gossamer" spiders, little aeronauts that cast out filaments by which the
wind carries them.
It's difficult to express that silky substances that have fallen to
this earth were not spider webs. My own acceptance is that spider webs are
the merger; that there have been falls of an externally derived silky
substance, and also of the webs, or strands, rather, of aeronautic spiders
indigenous to this earth; that in some instances it is impossible to
distinguish one from the other. Of course, our expression upon silky
substances will merge away into expressions upon other seeming textile
substances, and I don't know how much better off we'll be --
Except that, if fabricable materials have fallen from the sky --
Simply to establish acceptance of that may be doing well enough in this
book of first and tentative explorations.
In All the Year Round, 8-254, is described a fall that took
place in England, Sept. 21, 1741, in the towns of Bradly, Selbourne, and
Alresford, and in a triangular space included by these three towns. The
substance is described as "cobwebs"--but it fell in flake-formation, or in
"flakes or rags about one inch broad and five or six long." Also these
flakes were of a relatively heavy substance-- "they fell with some
velocity." The quantity was great--the shortest side of the triangular
space is eight miles long. In the Wernerian Nat. Hist. Soc. Trans.,
5-386, it is said that there were two falls--that they were some hours
apart--a datum that is becoming familiar to us--a datum that can not be
taken into the fold, unless we find it repeated over and over and over
again. It is said that the second fall lasted from nine o'clock in the
morning until night.
Now the hypnosis of the classic--that what we call intelligence is only
an expression of inequilibrium; that when mental adjustments are made,
intelligence ceases--or, of course, that intelligence is the confession of
ignorance. If you have intelligence upon any subject, that is something
you're still learning--if we agree that that which is learned is always
mechanically done--in quasi-terms, of course, because nothing is ever
It was decided that this substance was spiders' web. That was
adjustment. But it's not adjustment to me; so I'm afraid I shall have some
intelligence in this matter. If I ever arrive at adjustment upon this
subject, then, upon this subject, I shall be able to have no thoughts,
except routine-thoughts. I haven't yet quite decided absolutely
everything, so I am able to point out:
That this substance was of quantity so enormous that it attracted wide
attention when it came down --
That it would have been equally noteworthy when it went up --
That there is no record of anyone, in England or elsewhere, having seen
tons of "spider webs" going up, September, 1741.
Further confession of intelligence upon my part:
That, if it be contested, then, that the place of origin may have been
far away, but still terrestrial --
Then it's that other familiar matter of incredible "marksmanship"
again--hitting a small, triangular space for hours--interval of
hours--then from nine in the morning until
night: same triangular space.
These are the disregards of the classic explanation. There is no
mention of spiders having been seen to fall, but a good inclusion is that,
though this substance fell in good-sized flakes of considerable weight, it
was viscous. In this respect it was like cobwebs: dogs nosing it in the
grass, were blindfolded with it. This circumstance does strongly suggest
Unless we can accept that, in regions aloft, there are vast viscous or
gelatinous areas, and that things passing through become daubed. Or
perhaps we clear up the confusion in the descriptions of the substance
that fell in 1841 and 1846, in Asia Minor, described in one publication as
gelatinous, and in another as a cereal--that it was a cereal that had
passed through a gelatinous region. That the paper-like substance at Memel
may have had such an experience may be indicated in that Ehrenberg found
in it gelatinous matter, which he called "nostoc." (Annals and Mag. of
Nat. Hist., 1-3-185.)
Scientific American, 45-337:
Fall of a substance described as "cobwebs," latter part of October,
1881, in Milwaukee, Wis., and other towns: other towns mentioned are Green
Bay, Vesburge, Fort Howard, Sheboygan, and Ozaukee. The aeronautic spiders
are known as "gossamer" spiders, because of the extreme lightness of the
filaments that they cast out to the wind. Of the substance that fell in
Wisconsin, it is said:
"In all instances the webs were strong in texture and very white."
The Editor says:
"Curiously enough, there is no mention, in any of the reports that we
have seen, of the presence of spiders."
So our attempt to divorce a possible external product from its
terrestrial merger: then our joy of the prospector who thinks he's found
The Monthly Weather Review, 26-566, quotes the Montgomery
That, upon Nov. 21, 1898, numerous batches of spider-web-like substance
fell in Montgomery, in strands and in occasional masses several inches
long and several inches broad. According to the writer, it was not
spiders' web, but something like asbestos; also that it was
The Editor of the Review says that he see no reason for
doubting that these masses were cobwebs.
La Nature, 1883-342:
A correspondent writes that he sends a sample of a substance said to
have fallen at Montussan (Gironde), Oct. 16, 1883. According to a witness,
quoted by the correspondent, a thick cloud, accompanied by rain and a
violent wind, had appeared. This cloud was composed of a woolly substance
in lumps the size of a fist, which fell to the ground. The Editor (Tissandier)
says of this substance that it was white, but was something that had been
burned. It was fibrous. M. Tissandier astonishes us by saying that he can
not identify this substance. We thought that anything could be
"identified" as anything. He can only say that the cloud in question must
have been an extraordinary conglomeration.
Annual Register, 1832-447:
That, March, 1832, there fell, in the fields of Kourianof, Russia, a
combustible yellowish substance, covering, at least two inches thick, an
area of 600 or 700 square feet. It was resinous and yellowish: so one
inclines to the conventional explanation that it was pollen from pine
trees--but, when torn, it had the tenacity of cotton. When placed in
water, it had the consistency of resin. "This resin had the color of
amber, was elastic, like India rubber, and smelled like prepared oil mixed
So in general our notion of cargoes--and our notion of cargoes of food
In Philosophical Transactions, 19-224, is an extract from a
letter by Mr. Robert Vans, of Kilkenny, Ireland, dated Nov. 15, 1695: that
there had been "of late," in the counties of Limerick and Tipperary,
showers of a sort of matter like butter or grease...having "a very
There follows an extract from a letter by the Bishop of Cloyne, upon "a
very odd phenomenon," which was observed in Munster and Leinster: that for
a good part of the spring of 1695 there fell a substance which the country
people called "butter"--"soft, clammy, and of a dark yellow"--that cattle
fed "indifferently" in fields where this substance lay.
"It fell in lumps as big as the end of one's finger." It had a "strong
ill scent." His Grace calls it a "stinking dew."
In Mr. Vans' letter, it is said that the "butter" was supposed to have
medicinal properties, and "was gathered in pots and other vessels by some
of the inhabitants of this place."
In all the following volumes of Philosophical Transactions
there is no speculation upon this extraordinary subject. Ostracism. The
fate of this datum is a good instance of damnation, not by denial, and not
by explaining away, but by simple disregard. The fall is listed by Chladni,
and is mentioned in other catalogs, but, from the absence of all inquiry,
and of all but formal mention, we see that it has been under
excommunication as much as was ever anything by the preceding system. The
datum has been buried alive. It is as irreconcilable with the modern
system of dogmas as ever were geologic strata and vermiform appendix with
the preceding system --
If, intermittently, or "for a good part of the spring," this substance
fell in two Irish provinces, and nowhere else, we have, stronger than
before, a sense of a stationary region overhead, or a region that receives
products like this earth's products, but from external sources, a region
in which this earth's gravitational and meteorological forces are
relatively inert--if for many weeks a good part of this substance did
hover before finally falling. We suppose that, in 1685, Mr. Vans and the
Bishop of Cloyne could describe what they saw as well as could witnesses
in 1885: nevertheless, it is going far back; we shall have to have many
modern instances before we can accept.
As to other falls, or another fall, it is said in the American
Journal of Science, 1-28-361, that, April 11, 1832--about a month
after the fall of the substance of Kourianof--fell a substance that was
wine-yellow, transparent, soft, and smelling like rancid oil. M. Herman, a
chemist who examined it, named it "sky oil." For analysis and chemic
reactions, see the Journal. The Edinburgh New Philosophical
Journal, 13-368, mentions an "unctuous" substance that fell near
Rotterdam, in 1832. In Comptes Rendus, 13-215, there is an
account of an oily, reddish matter that fell at Genoa, February, 1841.
Whatever it may have been --
Altogether, most of our difficulties are problems that we should leave
to later developers of super-geography, I think. A discoverer of America
should leave Long Island to someone else. If there be, plying back and
forth from Jupiter and Mars and Venus, super-constructions that are
sometimes wrecked, we think of fuel as well as cargoes. Of course the most
convincing data would be of coal falling from the sky: nevertheless, one
does suspect that oil-burning engines were discovered ages ago in more
advanced worlds--but, as I say, we should leave something to our
disciples--so we'll not especially wonder whether these butter-like, or
oily substances were food or fuel. So we merely note that in the
Scientific American, 24-323, is an account of hail that fell, in the
middle of April, 1871, in Mississippi, in which was a substance described
Something that tasted like orange water, in hailstones, about the first
of June, 1842, near Nimes, France; identified as nitric acid (Jour. de
Hail and ashes, in Ireland, 1755 (Sci. Amer., 5-168).
That, at Elizabeth, N.J., June 9, 1874, fell hail in which was a
[63/64] substance, said, by Prof. Leeds, of Stevens Institute, to be
carbonate of soda (Sci. Amer., 30-262).
We are getting a little away from the lines of our composition, but it
will be an important point later that so many extraordinary falls have
occurred with hail. Or--if they were of substances that had had origin
upon some other part of this earth's surface--had the hail, too, that
origin? Our acceptance here will depend upon the number of instances.
Reasonably enough, some of the things that fall to this earth should
coincide with falls of hail.
As to vegetable substances in quantities so great as to suggest lost
cargoes, we have a note in the Intellectual Observer, 3-468: that
upon the first of May, 1863, a rain fell at Perpignan, "bringing down with
it a red substance, which proved, on examination, to be a red meal mixed
with fine sand." At various points along the Mediterranean, this substance
There is, in Philosophical Transactions, 16-281, an account of
a seeming cereal, said to have fallen in Wiltshire, in 1686--said that
some of the "wheat" fell enclosed in hailstones--but the writer in
Transactions, says that he had examined the grains, and that they
were nothing but seeds of ivy berries dislodged from holes and chinks
where birds had hidden them. If birds still hide ivy seeds, and if winds
still blow, I don't see why the phenomenon has not repeated in more than
two hundred years since.
Or the red matter in rain, at Siena, Italy, May, 1830; said, by Arago,
to have been vegetable matter, (Arago, Oeuvres, 12-468).
Somebody should collect data of falls at Siena alone.
In the Monthly Weather Review, 29-465, a correspondent writes
that, upon Feb. 16, 1901, at Pawpaw, Michigan, upon a day that was so calm
that his windmill did not run, fell a brown dust that looked like
vegetable matter. The Editor of the Review concludes that this
was no widespread fall from a tornado, because it had been reported from
Rancidness--putridity--decomposition--a note that has been struck many
times. In a positive sense, of course, nothing means anything, or every
meaning is continuous with all other meanings: of that all evidences of
guilt, for instance, are just as good evidences of innocence--but this
condition seems to mean--things lying around among the stars a long time.
Horrible disaster in the time of Julius Caesar; remains from it not
reaching this earth till the time of the Bishop of Cloyne: we leave to
later research the discussion of bacterial action and decomposition, and
whether bacteria could survive in what we call space, of which we know
Chemical News, 35-182:
Dr. A.T. Machattie, F.C.S., writes that, at London, Ontario, Feb. 24,
1868, in a violent storm, fell, with snow, a dark-colored substance,
estimated at 500 tons, over a belt 50 miles by 10 miles. It was examined
under a microscope, by Dr. Machattie, who found it to consist mainly of
vegetable matter "far advanced in decomposition." The substance was
examined by Dr. James Adams, of Glascow, who gave his opinion that it was
the remains of cereals. Dr. Machattie points out that for months before
this fall the ground of Canada had been frozen, so that in this case a
more than ordinary remote origin has to be thought of. Dr. Machattie
thinks of origin to the south. "However, this," he says, "is mere
Amer. Jour. Sci., 1841-40:
That, March 24, 1840--during a thunderstorm--at Rajkit, India, occurred
a fall of grain. It was reported by Col. Sykes, of the British
The natives were greatly excited--because it was grain of a kind
unknown to them.
Usually comes forward a scientist who knows more of the things that
natives know best than the natives know--but it so happens that the usual
thing was not done definitely in this instance:
"The grain was shown to some botanists, who did not immediately
recognize it, but thought to be either a spartium or a vicia."