Book of the Damned Chapter XVII
THE vast dark thing that looked like a poised crow of unholy
dimensions. Assuming that I shall ever have any readers, let him, or both
of them, if I shall ever have such popularity as that, note how dim that
bold black datum is at the distance of only two chapters.
Was it a thing or the shadow of a thing?
Acceptance either way calls not for mere revision but revolution in the
science of astronomy. But the dimness of the datum of only two chapters
ago. The carved stone disk of Tarbes, and the rain that fell every
afternoon for twenty--if I haven't forgotten, myself, whether it was
twenty-three or twenty-five days!--upon one small area. We are all
Thomsons, with brains that have smooth and slippery, though corrugated,
surfaces--or that all intellection is associative--or that we remember
that which correlates with a dominant--and a few chapters go by, and
there's scarcely an impression that hasn't slid off our smooth and
slippery brains, of Leverrier and the "planet Vulcan." There are two ways
by which irreconcilables can be remembered--if they can be correlated in a
system more nearly real than the system that rejects them--and by
repetition and repetition and repetition.
Vast black thing like a crow poised over the moon.
The datum is so important to us, because it enforces, in another field,
our acceptance that dark bodies of planetary size traverse this solar
That the things have been seen:
Also that their shadows have been seen.
Vast black thing poised like a crow over the moon. So far it is a
single instance. By single instance, we mean the negligible.
In Popular Science, 34-158, Serviss tells of a shadow that
Schroeter saw, in 1788, in the lunar Alps. First he saw a light. But then,
when this region was illuminated, he saw a round shadow where the light
Our own expression:
That he saw a luminous object near the moon: that that part of the moon
became illuminated, and the object was lost to view; but that then its
shadow underneath was seen.
Serviss explains, of course. Otherwise he'd not be Prof. Serviss. It's
a little contest in relative approximations to realness. Prof. Serviss
thinks that what Schroeter saw was the "round" shadow of a mountain--in
the region that had become lighted. He assumes that Schroeter never looked
again to see whether the shadow could be attributed to a mountain. That's
the crux: conceivably a mountain could cast a round shadow--and that means
detached--shadow, in the lighted part of the moon. Prof. Serviss could, of
course, explain why he disregards the light in the first place--maybe it
had always been there "in the first place." If he couldn't explain, he'd
still be an amateur.
We have another datum. I think it is more extraordinary than--
Vast thing, black and poised, like a crow, over the moon.
Mr. H.C. Russell, who was usually as orthodox as anybody, I suppose--at
least, he wrote "F.R.A.S." after his name--tells in the Observatory,
2-374, one of the wickedest, or most preposterous, stories that we have so
That he and another astronomer, G.D. Hirst, were in the Blue Mountains,
near Sydney, N.S.W., and Mr. Hirst was looking at the moon--
He saw on the moon what Russell calls "one of those remarkable facts,
which being seen should be recorded, although no explanation can at
present be offered."
That may be so. It is very rarely done. Our own expression upon
evolution by successive dominants and their correlates is against it. On
the other hand, we express that every era records a few observations out
of harmony with it, but adumbratory or preparatory to the spirit of eras
still to come. It's very rarely done. Lashed by the phantom-scourge of a
now passing era, the world of astronomers is in a state of terrorism,
though of a highly attenuated, modernized, devitalized kind. Let an
astronomer see something that is not of the conventional, celestial
sights, or something that it is "improper" to see--his very dignity is in
danger. Some one of the corraled and scourged may stick a smile into his
back. He'll be thought of unkindly.
With a hardihood that is unusual in his world of ethereal
sensitivenesses, Russell says, of Hirst's observation:
"He found that a large part of it covered with a dark shade, quite as
dark as the shadow of the earth during an eclipse of the moon."
But the climax of hardihood or impropriety or wickedness,
preposterousness or enlightenment:
"One could hardly resist the conviction that it was a shadow, yet it
could not be the shadow of any known body."
Richard Proctor was a man of some liberality. After a while we shall
have a letter, which once upon a time we'd have called delirious--don't
know that we could read such a thing now, for the first time, without
incredulous laughter--which Mr. Proctor permitted to be published in
Knowledge. But a dark, unknown world that could cast a shadow upon a
large part of the moon, perhaps extending far beyond the limb of the moon;
a shadow as deep as the shadow of the earth--
Too much for Mr. Proctor's politeness.
I haven't read what he said, but it seems to have been a little coarse.
Russell says that Proctor "freely used" his name in the Echo, of
March 14, 1879, ridiculing the observation which had been made by Russell
as well as Hirst. If it hadn't been Proctor, it would have been some one
else--but one notes that the attack came out in a newspaper. There is no
discussion of the remarkable subject, no mention in any other astronomic
journal. The disregard was almost complete--but we do note that the
columns of the Observatory were open to Russell to answer
In the answer, I note considerable intermediateness. Far back in 1879,
it would have been a beautiful positivism, if Russell had said--
"There was a shadow on the moon. Absolutely it was cast by an unknown
According to our religion, if he had then given all his time to the
maintaining of this one stand, of course breaking all friendships, all
ties with his fellow astronomers, his apotheosis would have occurred,
greatly assisted by means well known to quasi-existence when its
compromises and evasions, and phenomena that are partly this and partly
that, are flouted by the definite and uncompromising. It would be
impossible in a real existence, but Mr. Russell, of quasi-existence, says
that he did resist the conviction; that he had said that one could "hardly
resist"; and most of his resentment is against Mr. Proctor's thinking that
he had not resisted. It seems too bad--if apotheosis be desirable.
The point in Intermediatism here is:
Not that to adapt to the conditions of quasi-existence is to have what
is called success in quasi-existence, but is to lose one's soul--
But is to lose "one's" chance of attaining soul, self, or entity.
One indignation quoted from Proctor interests us:
"What happens on the moon may at any time happen to this earth."
That is just the teaching of this department of Advanced Astronomy:
That Russell and Hirst saw the sun eclipsed relatively to the moon by a
vast dark body;
That many times have eclipses occurred relatively to this earth, by
vast, dark bodies;
That there have been many eclipses that have not been recognized as
eclipses by scientific kindergartens.
There is a merger, of course. We'll take a look at it first--that,
after all, it may have been a shadow that Hirst and Russell saw, but the
only significance is that the sun was eclipsed relatively to the moon by a
cosmic haze of some kind, or a swarm of meteors close together, or a
gaseous discharge left behind by a comet. My own acceptance is that
vagueness of shadow is a function of vagueness of intervention; that a
shadow as dense as the shadow of this earth is cast by a body denser than
hazes and swarms. The information seems definite enough in this
respect--"quite as dark as the shadow of the earth during an eclipse of
Though we may not always be as patient toward them as we should be, it
is our acceptance that the astronomic primitives have done a great deal of
good work: for instance, in the allaying of fears upon this earth.
Sometimes it may seem as if all science were to us very much like what a
red flag is to bulls and anti-socialists. It's not that: it's more like
what unsquare meals are to bulls and anti-socialists--not the scientific,
but the insufficient. Our acceptance is that Evil is the negative state,
by which we mean the state of maladjustment, discord, ugliness,
disorganization, inconsistency, injustice, and so on--as determined in
Intermediateness, not by real standards, but only by higher approximations
to adjustment, harmony, beauty, organization, consistency, justice and so
on. Evil is outlived virtue, or incipient virtue that has not yet
established itself, or any other phenomenon that is not seeming
adjustment, harmony, consistency with a dominant. The astronomers have
functioned bravely in the past. They've been good for business: the big
interests think kindly, if at all, of them. It's bad for trade to have an
intense darkness come upon an unaware community and frighten people out of
their purchasing values. But if an obscuration be foretold, and if it then
occur--may seem a little uncanny--only a shadow--and no one who was about
the buy a pair of shoes runs home panic-stricken and saves the money.
Upon general principles we accept that astronomers have
quasi-systematized data of eclipses--or have included some and disregarded
They have done well.
They have functioned.
But now they're negatives, or they're out of harmony--
If we are in harmony with a new dominant, or the spirit of a new era,
in which Exclusionism must be overthrown; if we have data of many
obscurations that have occurred, not only upon the moon, but upon our own
earth, as convincing of vast intervening bodies, usually invisible, as is
any regularized, predicted eclipse.
One looks up at the sky.
It seems incredible that, say, at the distance of the moon, there could
be, but be invisible, a solid body, say, the size of the moon.
One looks up at the moon, at a time when only a crescent of it is
visible. The tendency is to build up the rest of it in one's mind; but the
unillumined part looks as vacant as the rest of the sky, and it's of the
same blueness as the rest of the sky. There's a vast area of solid
substance before one's eyes. It's indistinguishable from the sky.
In some of our little lessons upon the beauties of modesty and
humility, we have picked out basic arrogances--tail of a peacock, horns of
a stag, dollars of a capitalist--eclipses of astronomers. Though I have no
desire for the job, I'd engage to list hundreds of instances in which the
report upon an expected eclipse has been "sky overcast" or "weather
unfavorable." In our Super-Hibernia, the unfavorable has been construed as
the favorable. Some time ago, when we were lost, because we had not
recognized our own dominant, when we were still of the unchosen and likely
to be more malicious than we now are--because we have noted a steady
tolerance creeping into our attitude--if astronomers are not to blame, but
are only correlates to a dominant--we advertised a predicted eclipse that
did not occur at all. Now, without any special feeling, except that of
recognition of the fate of all attempted absolutism, we give the instance,
noting that, though such an evil thing to orthodoxy, it was orthodoxy that
recorded the non-event.
Monthly Notices of the R. A. S., 8-132:
"Remarkable appearances during the total eclipse of the moon on March
In an extract from a letter from Mr. Forster, of Bruges, it is said
that, according to the writer's observations at the time of the predicted
total eclipse, the moon shone with about three times the intensity of the
mean illumination of an eclipsed lunar disk: that the British Consul, at
Ghent, who did not know of the predicted eclipse, had written enquiring as
to the "blood-red" color of the moon.
This is not very satisfactory to what used to be our malices. But there
follows another letter, from another astronomer, Walkey, who had made
observations at Clyst St. Lawrence: that, instead of an eclipse, the moon
became--as is printed in italics--"most beautifully illuminated"..."rather
tinged with a deep red"..."the moon being as perfect with light as if
there had been no eclipse whatever."
I note that Chambers, in his work upon eclipses, gives Forster's letter
in full--and not a mention of Walkey's letter.
There is no attempt in Monthly Notices to explain upon the
notion of greater distance of the moon, and the earth's shadow falling
short, which would make as much trouble for astronomers, if that were not
foreseen, as no eclipse at all. Also there is no refuge in saying that
virtually never, even in total eclipses, is the moon totally dark--"as
perfect with light as if there had been no eclipse whatever." It is said
that at the time there had been an aurora borealis, which might have
caused the luminosity, without a datum that such an effect, by an aurora,
had ever been observed upon the moon.
But single instances--so an observation by Scott, in the Antarctic. The
force of this datum lies in my own acceptance, based upon especially
looking up this point, that an eclipse nine-tenths of totality has great
effect, even though the sky be clouded.
Scott (Voyage of the Discovery, vol. II, p. 215):
"There may have been an eclipse of the sun, Sept. 21, 1903, as the
almanac said, but we should, none of us, have liked to swear to the fact."
This eclipse had been set down at nine-tenths of totality. The sky was
overcast at the time.
So it is not only that many eclipses unrecognized by astronomers as
eclipses have occurred, but that intermediatism, or impositivism, breaks
into their own seemingly regularized eclipses.
Our data of unregularized eclipses, as profound as those that are
conventionally--or officially?--recognized, that have occurred relatively
to this earth:
In Notes and Queries, there are several allusions to intense
darknesses that have occurred upon this earth, quite as eclipses occur,
but that are not referable to any known eclipsing body. My own acceptance
is that, if in the nineteenth century any one had uttered such a thought
as that, he'd have felt the blight of a Dominant; that Materialistic
Science was a jealous god, excluding, as works of the devil, all
utterances against the seemingly uniform, regular, periodic; that to defy
him would have brought on--withering by ridicule--shrinking away by
publishers--contempt of friends and family--justifiable grounds for
divorce--that one who would so defy would feel what unbelievers in relics
of saints felt in an earlier age; what befell virgins who forgot to keep
the fires burning, in a still earlier age--but that, if he'd almost
absolutely hold out, just the same--new fixed star reported in Monthly
Notices. Altogether, the point in Positivism here is that by
Dominants and their correlates, quasi-existence strives for the positive
state, aggregating, around a nucleus, or dominant, systematized members of
a religion, a science, a society--but that "individuals" who do not
surrender and submerge may of themselves highly approximate to
positiveness--the fixed, the real, the absolute.
In Notes and Queries, 2-4-139, there is an account of a
darkness in Holland, in the midst of a bright day, so intense and
terrifying that many panic-stricken persons lost their lives stumbling
into the canals.
Gentleman's Magazine, 33-414:
A darkness that came upon London, August 19, 1763, "greater than at the
great eclipse of 1748."
However, our preference is not to go back so far back for data. For a
list of historic "dark days," see Humboldt, Cosmos, 1-120.
Monthly Weather Review, March, 1886-79:
That, according to the La Crosse Daily Republican, of March
20, 1886, darkness suddenly settled upon the city of Oshkosh, Wis., at 3
p. m., March 19. In five minutes the darkness equaled that of midnight.
I think that some of us are likely to overdo our own superiority and
the absurd fears of the Middle Ages--
People in the streets rushing in all directions--horses running
away--women and children running into cellars--little modern touch after
all: gas meters instead of images and relics of saints.
This darkness, which lasted from eight to ten minutes, occurred in a
day that had been "light but cloudy." It passed from west to east, and
brightness followed: then came reports from towns to the west of Oshkosh:
that the same phenomenon had already occurred there. A "wave of total
darkness" had passed from west to east.
Other instances are recorded in the Monthly Weather Review,
but, as to all of them, we have a sense of being pretty well-eclipsed,
ourselves, by the conventional explanation that the obscuring body was
only a very dense mass of clouds. But some of the instances are
interesting--intense darkness at Memphis, Tennessee, for about fifteen
minutes, at 10 a. m., Dec. 2, 1904--"We are told that in some quarters a
panic prevailed, and that some were shouting and praying and imagining
that the end of the world had come." (M. W. R., 32-522.) At
Louisville, Ky., March 7, 1911, at about 8 a. m.: duration about half an
hour; had been raining moderately, and then hail had fallen. "The intense
blackness and generally ominous appearance of the storm spread terror
throughout the city." (M. W. R., 39-345.)
However, this merger between possible eclipses by unknown dark bodies
and commonplace terrestrial phenomena is formidable.
As to darknesses that have fallen upon vast areas, conventionality
is--smoke from forest fires. In the U. S. Forest Service Bulletin,
No. 117, F. G. Plummer gives a list of eighteen darknesses that have
occurred in the United States and Canada. He is one of the primitives, but
I should say that his dogmatism is shaken by vibrations from the new
Dominant. His difficulty, which he acknowledges, but which he would have
disregarded had he written a decade or so earlier, is the profundity of
some of these obscurations. He says that mere smokiness can not account
for such "awe-inspiring dark days." So he conceives of eddies in the air,
concentrating the smoke from forest fires. Then, in the inconsistency or
discord of all quasi-intellection that is striving for consistency or
harmony, he tells of the vastness of some of these darknesses. Of course
Mr. Plummer did not really think upon this subject, but one does feel that
he might have approximated higher to real thinking than by speaking of
concentration and then listing data of enormous area, or the opposite of
circumstances of concentration--because, of his nineteen instances, nine
are set down as covering all New England. In quasi-existence, everything
generates or is part of its own opposite. Every attempt at peace prepares
the way for war; all attempts at justice result in injustice in some other
respect: so Mr. Plummer's attempt to bring order into his data, with the
explanation of darkness caused by smoke from forest fires, results in such
confusion that he ends up by saying that these daytime darknesses have
occurred "often with little or no turbidity of the air near the earth's
surface"--or with no evidence at all of smoke--except that there is almost
always a forest fire somewhere.
However, of the eighteen instances, the only one that I'd bother to
contest is the profound darkness in Canada and northern parts of the
United States, November 19, 1819--which we have already considered.
Lights in the sky;
Fall of a black substance;
Shocks like those of an earthquake.
In this instance, the only available forest fire was one to the south
of the Ohio River. For all I know, soot from a very great fire south of
the Ohio might fall in Montreal, Canada, and conceivably, by some freak of
reflection, light from it might be seen in Montreal, but the earthquake is
not assimilable with a forest fire. On the other hand, it will soon be our
expression that profound darkness, fall of matter from the sky, lights in
the sky, and earthquakes are phenomena of the near approach of other
worlds to this world. It is such comprehensiveness, as contrasted with
inclusion of a few factors and disregard for the rest, that we call higher
approximation to realness--or universalness.
A darkness, of April 15, 1904, at Wimbledon, England (Symons' Met.
Mag., 39-69). It came from a smokeless region: no rain, no thunder;
lasted 10 minutes; too dark to go "even out in the open."
As to darknesses in Great Britain, one thinks of fogs--but in
Nature, 25-289, there are some observations by Major J. Herschel,
upon an obscuration in London, Jan. 22, 1882, at 10:30 a. m., so great
that he could hear persons upon the opposite side of the street, but could
not see them--"It was obvious that there was no fog to speak of."
Annual Register, 1857-132:
An account by Charles A. Murray, British Envoy to Persia, of a darkness
of May 20, 1857, that came upon Baghdad--"a darkness more intense than
ordinary midnight, when neither stars nor moon are visible...." After a
short time the black darkness was succeeded by a red, lurid gloom, such as
I never saw in any part of the world.
"Panic seized the whole city."
"A dense volume of red sand fell."
This matter of sand falling seems to suggest conventional explanation
enough, or that a simoon, heavily charged with terrestrial sand, had
obscured the sun, but Mr. Murray, who says that he had had experience with
simoons, gives his opinion that "it can not have been a simoon."
It is our comprehensiveness now, or this matter of concomitants of
darknesses that we are going to capitalize. It is all very complicated and
tremendous, and our own treatment can be but impressionistic, but a few
rudiments of Advanced Seismology we shall take up--or the four principal
phenomena of another world's close approach to this world.
If a large substantial mass, or super-construction, should enter this
earth's atmosphere, it is our acceptance that it would
sometimes--depending upon velocity--appear luminous or look like a cloud,
or like a cloud with a luminous nucleus. Later we shall have an expression
upon luminosity--different from the luminosity of incandescence--that
comes upon objects falling from the sky, or entering this earth's
atmosphere. Now our expression is that worlds have often come close to
this earth, and that smaller objects--size of a haystack or size of
several dozen skyscrapers lumped, have often hurtled through this earth's
atmosphere, and have been mistaken for clouds, because they were enveloped
Or that around something coming from the intense cold of
inter-planetary space--that is of some regions: our own suspicion is that
other regions are tropical--the moisture of this earth's atmosphere would
condense into a cloud-like appearance around it. In Nature,
20-121, there is an account by Mr. S.W. Clifton, Collector of Customs at
Freemantle, Western Australia, sent to the Melbourne Observatory--a clear
day--appearance of a small black cloud, moving not very swiftly--bursting
into a ball of fire, of the apparent size of the moon--
Or that something with the velocity of an ordinary meteorite could not
collect vapor around it, but that slower-moving objects--speed of a
railway train, say--may.
The clouds of tornadoes have so often been described as if they were
solid objects that I now accept that sometimes they are: that some
so-called tornadoes are objects hurtling through this earth's atmosphere,
not only generating disturbances by their suctions, but crushing, with
their bulk, all things in their way, rising and falling and finally
disappearing, demonstrating that gravitation is not the power the
primitives think it is, if an object moving at relatively low velocity be
not pulled to this earth, or being so momentarily affected, bounds away.
In Finley's Reports on the Character of 600 Tornadoes very
suggestive bits of description occur:
"Cloud bounded along the earth like a ball"--
Or that it was no meteorological phenomenon, but something very much
like a huge solid ball that was bounding along, crushing and carrying with
it everything within its field--
"Cloud bounded along, coming to the earth every eight hundred or one
Here's an interesting bit that I got somewhere else. I offer it as a
datum in super-biology, which, however, is a branch of advanced science
that I'll not take up, restricting to things indefinitely called
"The tornado came wriggling, jumping, whirling like a great green
snake, darting out a score of glistening fangs."
Though it's interesting, I think that's sensational, myself. It may be
that vast green snakes sometimes rush past this earth, taking a swift bite
wherever they can, but, as I say, that's a super-biologic phenomenon.
Finley gives dozens of instances of tornado clouds that seem to me more
like solid things swathed in clouds, than clouds. He notes that, in the
tornado at Americus, Georgia, July 18, 1881, "a strange sulphurous vapor
was emitted from the cloud." In many instances, objects, or meteoritic
stones, that have come from this earth's externality, have had a
sulphurous odor. Why a wind effect should be sulphurous is not clear. That
a vast object from external regions should be sulphurous is in line with
many data. This phenomenon is described in the Monthly Weather Review,
July, 1881, as "a strange sulphurous vapor...burning and sickening all who
approached close enough to breathe it."
The conventional explanation of tornadoes as wind-effects--which we do
not deny in some instances--is so strong in the United States that it is
better to look elsewhere for an account of an object that has hurtled
through this earth's atmosphere, rising and falling and defying earth's
That, according to a correspondent to the Birmingham Morning News,
the people living near King's Sutton, Banbury, saw, about one o'clock,
Dec. 7, 1872, something like a haycock hurtling through the air. Like a
meteor it was accompanied by fire and dense smoke and made a noise like
that of a railway train. "It was sometimes high in the air, and sometimes
near the ground." The effect was tornado-like: trees and walls were
knocked down. It's a late day now to try to verify this story, but a list
is given of persons whose property was injured. We are told that this
thing then disappeared "all at once."
These are the smaller objects, which may be derailed railway trains or
big green snakes, for all I know--but our expression upon approach to this
earth by vast dark bodies--
That likely they'd be made luminous: would envelop in clouds, perhaps,
or would have their own clouds--
But that they'd quake, and that they'd affect this earth with quakes--
And that then would occur a fall of matter from such a world, or rise
of matter from this earth to a nearby world, or both fall and rise, or
exchange of matter--process known to Advanced Seismology as celestio-metathesis--
Except that--if matter from some other world--and it would be like some
one to get it into his head that we absolutely deny gravitation, just
because we can not accept orthodox dogmas--except that, if matter from
another world, filling the sky of this earth, generally as to a
hemisphere, or locally, should be attracted to this earth, it would seem
thinkable that the whole thing should drop here, and not merely its
Objects upon a ship's bottom. From time to time they drop to the bottom
of the ocean. The ship does not.
Or, like our acceptance upon dripping from aerial ice-fields, we think
of only a part of a nearby world succumbing, except in being caught in
suspension, to this earth's gravitation, and surface-materials falling
from that part--
Explain or express or accept, and what does it matter? Our attitude is:
Here are the data.
See for yourself.
What does it matter what my notions may be?
Here are the data.
But think for yourself, or think for myself, all mixed up we must be. A
long time must go by before we can know Florida from Long Island. So we've
had data of fishes that have fallen from our now established and
respectabilized Super-Sargasso-Sea--which we've almost forgotten, it's now
so respectable--but we shall have data of fishes that have fallen during
earthquakes. These we accept were dragged down from ponds or other worlds
that have been quaked, when only a few miles away, by this earth, some
other world also quaking this earth.
In a way, or in its principle, our subject is orthodox enough. Only
grant proximity of other worlds--which, however, will not be a matter of
granting, but will be a matter of data--and one conventionally conceives
of their surfaces quaked--even of a whole lake full of fishes being quaked
and dragged down from one of them. The lake full of fishes may cause a
little pain to some minds, but the fall of sand and stones is pleasantly
enough thought of. More scientific persons, or more faithful hypnotics
than we, have taken up this subject, unpainfully, relatively to the moon.
For instance, Perrey has gone over 15,000 records of earthquakes, and he
has correlated many with proximities of the moon, or has attributed many
to the pull of the moon when nearest this earth. Also there is a paper
upon this subject in the Proc. Roy. Soc. of Cornwall, 1845. Or,
theoretically, when at its closest to this earth, the moon quakes the face
of this earth, and is itself quaked--but does not itself fall to this
earth. As to showers of matter that may have come from the moon at such
times--one can go over old records and find what one pleases.
That is what we now shall do.
Our expressions are for acceptance only.
We take them from four classes of phenomena that have preceded or
Unusual clouds, darkness profound, luminous appearances in the sky, and
falls of substances and objects whether commonly called meteoritic or not.
Not one of these occurrences fits in with principles of primitive, or
primary, seismology, and every one of them is a datum of a quaked body
passing close to this earth or suspended over it. To the primitives there
is not a reason in the world why a convulsion of this earth's surface
should be accompanied by unusual sights in the sky, by darkness, or by the
fall of substances or objects from the sky. As to phenomena like these, or
storms, preceding earthquakes, the irreconcilability is still greater.
It was before 1860 that Perrey made his great compilation. We take most
of our data from lists compiled long ago. Only the safe and unpainful have
been published in recent years--at least in ambitious, voluminous form.
The restraining hand of the "System"--as we call it, whether it has any
real existence or not--is tight upon the sciences of to-day. The
uncanniest aspect of our quasi-existence that I know of is that everything
that seems to have one identity has also as high a seeming of everything
else. In this oneness of allness, or continuity, the protecting hand
strangles; the parental stifles; love is inseparable from phenomena of
hate. There is only Continuity--that is in quasi-existence. Nature,
at least in its correspondents' columns, still evades this protective
strangulation, and the Monthly Weather Review is still a rich
field of unfaithful observation: but, in looking over other
long-established periodicals, I have noted their glimmers of
quasi-individuality fade gradually, after about 1860, and the surrender of
their attempted identities to a higher attempted organization. Some of
them, expressing Intermediateness-wide endeavor to localize the universal,
or to localize self, soul, identity, entity--or positiveness or
realness--held out until as far as 1880; traces findable up to 1890--and
then, expressing the universal process--except that here and there in the
world's history there may have been successful approximations to
positiveness by "individuals"--who only then became individuals and
attained to selves or souls of their own--surrendered, submitted, became
parts of a higher organization's attempt to individualize or systematize
into a complete thing, or to localize the universal or the attributes of
the universal. After the death of Richard Proctor, whose occasional
illiberalities I'd not like to emphasize too much, all succeeding volumes
of Knowledge have yielded scarcely an unconventionality. Note the
great number of times that the American Journal of Science and
the Report of the British Association are quoted: note
that, after, say, 1885, they're scarcely mentioned in these inspired but
illicit pages--as by hypnosis and inertia, we keep on saying.
Throttle and disregard.
But the coercion could not be positive, and many of the excommunicated
continued to creep in; or, even to this day, some of the strangled are
Some of our data have been hard to find. We could tell stories of great
labor and fruitless quests that would, though perhaps imperceptibly, stir
the sympathy of a Mr. Symons. But, in this matter of concurrence of
earthquakes with aerial phenomena, which are as unassociable with
earthquakes, if internally caused, as falls of sand on convulsed small
boys full of sour apples, the abundance of so-called evidence is so great
that we can only sketchily go over the data beginning with Robert Mallet's
Catalogue (Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1852), omitting some extraordinary
instances, because they occurred before the eighteenth century:
Earthquake "preceded" by a violent tempest, England, Jan. 8,
1704--"preceded" by a brilliant meteor, Switzerland, Nov. 4,
1704--"luminous cloud, moving at high velocity, disappearing behind the
horizon," Florence, Dec. 9, 1731--"thick mists in the air, through which a
dim light was seen: several weeks before the shock, globes of fire had
been seen in the air," Swabia, May 28, 1732--rain of earth, Carpentras,
France, Oct. 18, 1737--a black cloud, London, March 19, 1750--violent
storm and a strange star of octagonal shape, Slavenge, Norway, April 15,
1752--balls of fire from a streak in the sky, Augermannland,
1752--numerous meteorites, Lisbon, Oct. 15, 1755--"terrible tempests" over
and over--"falls of hail" and "brilliant meteors," instance after
instance--"an immense globe," Switzerland, Nov. 2, 1761--oblong,
sulphurous cloud, Germany, April, 1767--extraordinary mass of vapor,
Bologna, April, 1780--heavens obscured by a dark mist, Grenada, Aug. 7,
1804--"strange howling noises in the air, and large spots obscuring the
sun," Palermo, Italy, April 16, 1817--"luminous meteor moving in the same
direction as that taken by the shock," Naples, Nov. 22, 1821--fire ball
appearing in the sky: apparent size of the moon, Thuringerwald, Nov. 29,
And, unless you've been polarized by the New Dominant, which is calling
for recognition of multiplicities of external things, as a Dominant,
dawning new over Europe in 1492, called for recognition of terrestrial
externality to Europe--unless you have this contact with the new, you have
no affinity for these data--beans that drop from a magnet--irreconcilables
that glide from the mind of a Thomson--
Or my own acceptance that we do not really think at all; that we
correlate around super-magnets that I call Dominants--a Spiritual Dominant
in one age, and responsively to it up springs monasteries, and the stake
and the cross are its symbols: a Materialist Dominant, and up spring
laboratories, and microscopes and telescopes and crucibles are its ikons--that
we're nothing but iron filings relatively to a succession of magnets that
displace preceding magnets.
With no soul of your own, and with no soul of my own--except that some
day some of us may no longer be Intermediatisms, but may hold out against
the cosmos that once upon a time thousands of fishes were cast from one
pail of water--we have psycho-valency for these data, if we're obedient
slaves to the New Dominant, and repulsion to them, if we're mere
correlates to the Old Dominant. I'm a soulless and selfless correlate to
the New Dominant, myself: I see what I have to see. The only inducement I
can hold out, in my attempt to rake up disciples, is that some day the New
will be fashionable: the new correlates will sneer at the old correlates.
After all, there is some inducement to that--and I'm not altogether sure
it's desirable to end up as a fixed star.
As a correlate to the New Dominant, I am very much impressed with some
of these data--the luminous object that moved in the same direction as an
earthquake--it seems very acceptable that a quake followed this thing as
it passed near this earth's surface. The streak that was seen in the
sky--or only a streak that was visible of another world--and objects, or
meteorites, that were shaken down from it. The quake at Carpentras,
France: and that, above Carpentras, was a smaller world, more violently
quaked, so that earth was shaken down from it.
But I like best the super-wolves that were seen to cross the sun,
during the earthquake at Palermo.
Or the loves of the worlds. The call they feel for one another. They
try to move closer and howl when they get there.
The howls of the planets.
I have discovered a new unintelligibility.
In the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal--have to go away
back to 1841--days of less efficient strangulation--Sir David Milne lists
phenomena of quakes in Great Britain. I pick out a few that indicate to me
that other worlds were near this earth's surface:
Violent storm before a shock of 1703--ball of fire "preceding," 1750--a
large ball of fire seen upon day following a quake, 1755--"uncommon
phenomenon in the air: a large luminous body, bent like a crescent, which
stretched itself over the heavens," 1816--vast ball of fire, 1750--black
rains and black snows, 1755--numerous instances of upward projection--or
upward attraction?--during quakes--"preceded by a cloud, very black and
lowering," 1795--fall of black powder, preceding a quake, by six hours,
Some of these instances seem to me to be very striking--a smaller
world: it is greatly racked by the attraction of this earth--black
substance is torn down from it--not until six hours later, after an
approach still closer, does this earth suffer perturbation. As to the
extraordinary spectacle of a thing, world, super-construction, that was
seen in the sky, in 1816, I have not yet been able to find out more. I
think that here our acceptance is relatively sound: that this occurrence
was tremendously of more importance than such occurrence as, say, transits
of Venus, upon which hundreds of papers have been written--that not
another mention have I found, though I have not looked so especially as I
shall look for more data--that all but undetailed record of this
occurrence was suppressed.
Altogether we have considerable agreement here between data of vast
masses that do not fall to this earth, but from which substances fall, and
data of fields of ice from which ice may not fall, but from which water
may drip. I'm beginning to modify: that, at a distance from this earth,
gravitation has more effect than we have supposed, though less effect than
the dogmatists suppose and "prove." I'm coming out stronger for the
acceptance of a Neutral Zone--that this earth, like other magnets, has a
neutral zone, in which is the Super-Sargasso Sea, and in which other
worlds may be buoyed up, though projecting parts may be subject to this
But my preference:
Here are the data.
I now have one of the most interesting of the new correlates. I think I
should have brought it in before, but, whether out of place here, because
not accompanied by earthquake, or not, we'll have it. I offer it as an
instance of an eclipse, by a vast, dark body, that has been seen and
reported by an astronomer. The astronomer is M. Lias: the phenomenon was
seen by him, at Pernambuco, April 11, 1860.
Comptes Rendus, 50-1197:
It was about noon--sky cloudless--suddenly the light of the sun was
diminished. The darkness increased, and, to illustrate its intensity, we
are told the planet Venus shone brilliant. But Venus was of low visibility
at this time. The observation that burns incense to the New Dominant is:
That around the sun appeared a corona.
There are many other instances that indicate proximity of other world's
during earthquakes. I note a few--quake and an object in the sky, called
"a large, luminous meteor" (Quar. Jour. Roy. Inst., 5-132);
luminous body in the sky, earthquake, and fall of sand, Italy, Feb. 12 and
13, 1870 (La Science Pour Tous, 15-159); many reports upon
luminous object in the sky and earthquake, Connecticut, Feb. 27, 1883 (Monthly
Weather Review, Feb., 1883); luminous object, or meteor, in the sky,
fall of stones from the sky, and earthquake, Italy, Jan. 20, 1891 (L'Astronomie,
1891-154); earthquake and prodigious number of luminous bodies, or globes,
in the air, Boulogne, France, June 7, 1779 (Sestier, "La Foudre," 1-169);
earthquake at Manila, 1863, and "curious luminous appearance" in the sky (Ponton,
"Earthquakes," p. 124).
The most notable appearance of fishes during an earthquake is that of
Riobamba. Humboldt sketched one of them, and it's an uncanny-looking
thing. Thousands of them appeared upon the ground during this tremendous
earthquake. Humboldt says that they were cast up from subterranean
sources. I think not myself, and have data for thinking not, but there'd
be such a row arguing back and forth that it's simpler to consider a
clearer instance of the fall of living fishes from the sky, during an
earthquake. I can't quite accept, myself, whether a large lake, and all
the fishes in it, was torn down from some other world, or a lake in the
Super-Sargasso Sea, distracted between two pulling worlds, was dragged
down to this earth--
Here are the data:
La Science Pour Tous, 6-191:
Feb. 16, 1861. An earthquake at Singapore. Then came an extraordinary
downpour of rain--or as much water as any good-sized lake would consist
of. For three days this rain or this fall of water came down in torrents.
In pools on the ground, formed by this deluge, great numbers of fishes
were found. The writer says that he had, himself, seen nothing but water
fall from the sky. Whether I'm emphasizing what a deluge it was or not, he
says that so terrific had been the downpour that he had not been able to
see three steps away from him. The natives said that the fishes had fallen
from the sky. Three days later the pools dried up and many dead fishes
were found, but, in the first place--though that's an expression for which
we have an instinctive dislike--the fishes had been active and uninjured.
Then follows material for another of our little studies in the phenomena
of disregard. A psycho-tropism here is mechanically to take pen in hand
and mechanically write that fishes found on the ground after a heavy
rainfall came from overflowing streams. The writer of this account says
that some of the fishes had been found in his courtyard, which was
surrounded by high walls--paying no attention to this, a correspondent (La
Science Pour Tous, 6-317) explains that in the heavy rain a body of
water had probably overflowed, carrying fishes with it. We are told by the
first writer that these fishes of Singapore were of a species that was
very abundant near Singapore. So I think, myself, that a whole lakeful of
them had been shaken down from the Super-Sargasso Sea, under the
circumstances we have thought of. However, if appearance of strange fishes
after an earthquake be more pleasing in the sight, or to the nostrils, of
the New Dominant, we faithfully and piously supply that incense--An
account of the occurrence at Singapore was read by M. de Castelnau, before
the French Academy. M. de Castelnau recalled that, upon a former occasion,
he had submitted to the Academy the circumstance that fishes of a new
species had appeared at the Cape of Good Hope, after an earthquake.
It seems proper, and it will give luster to the new orthodoxy, now to
have an instance in which, not merely quake and fall of rocks, or
meteorites, or quake and either eclipse or luminous appearances in the sky
have occurred, but in which are combined all the phenomena, one or more of
which, when accompanying earthquake, indicate, in our acceptance, the
proximity of another world. This time a longer duration is indicated than
in other instances.
In the Canadian Institute Proceedings, 2-7-198, there is an
account, by the Deputy Commissioner at Dhurmsalla, India, of the
extraordinary Dhurmsalla meteorite--coated with ice. But the combination
of events related by him is still more extraordinary:
That within a few months of the fall of this meteorite there had been a
fall of live fishes at Benares, a shower of red substance at Furruckabad,
a dark spot observed on the disk of the sun, an earthquake, "an unnatural
yellow darkness of some duration," and a luminous appearance in the sky
that looked like an aurora borealis--
But there's more to this climax:
We are introduced to a new order of phenomena:
The Deputy Commissioner writes that, in the evening, after the fall of
the Dhurmsalla meteorite, or mass of stone covered with ice, he saw
lights. Some of them were not very high. They appeared and went out and
reappeared. I have read many accounts of the Dhurmsalla meteorite--July
14, 1860--but never in any other of them a mention of this new
correlate--something as out of place in the nineteenth century, though
adumbrations to it were permitted. This writer says that the lights moved
like fire balloons, but:
"I am not sure that they were neither fire balloons, lanterns, nor
bonfires, or any other thing of that sort, but bona fide lights in the
It's a subject for which we shall have to have a separate
expression--trespassers upon territory to which something else has a legal
right--perhaps someone lost a rock, and he and his friends came down
looking for it, in the evening--or secret agents, or emissaries, who had
an appointment with certain esoteric ones near Dhurmsalla--things or
beings coming down to explore, and unable to stay down long--
In a way, another strange occurrence during an earthquake is suggested.
The ancient Chinese tradition--the marks like hoof marks in the ground. We
have thought--with a low degree of acceptance--of another world that may
be in secret communication with certain esoteric ones of this earth's
inhabitants--and of messages in symbols like hoof marks that are sent to
some receptor, or special hill, upon this earth--and of messages that at
This other world comes close to this world--there are quakes--but
advantage of proximity is taken to send a message--the message, designed
for a receptor, in India, perhaps, or in Central Europe, miscarries all
the way to England--marks like the marks of the Chinese tradition are
found upon a beach, in Cornwall, after an earthquake--
Phil. Tran., 50-500:
After the earthquake of July 15, 1757, upon the sands of Penzance,
Cornwall, in an area of more than 100 square yards, were found marks like
hoof prints, except that they were not crescentic. We feel a similarity,
but note an arbitrary disregard of our own, this time. It seems to us that
marks described as "little cones surrounded by basins of equal diameter"
would be like hoof prints, if hoofs printed complete circles. Other
disregards are that there were black specks on the tops of cones, as if
something, perhaps gaseous, had issued from them; that from one of these
formations came a gush of water as thick as a man's wrist. Of course the
opening of springs is common in earthquakes--but we suspect, myself, that
the Negative Absolute is compelling us to put in this datum and its
There's another matter in which the Negative Absolute seems to work
against us. Though to super-chemistry, we have introduced the principle of
celestio-metathesis, we have no good data of exchange of substances during
proximities. The data are all of falls and not of upward translations. Of
course upward impulses are common during earthquakes, but I haven't a
datum upon a tree or a fish or a brick or a man that ever did go up and
stay up and that never did come down again. Our classic of the horse and
barn occurred in what was called a whirlwind.
It is said that, in an earthquake in Calabria, paving stones shot up
far in the air.
The writer doesn't specifically say that they came down again, but
something seems to tell me they did.
The corpses of Riobamba.
Humboldt reported that, in the quake of Riobamba, "bodies were torn
upward from graves"; that "the vertical motion was so strong that bodies
were tossed several hundred feet in the air."
I explain that, if in the center of greatest violence of an earthquake,
anything has ever gone up, and has kept on going up, the thoughts of the
nearest observers were very likely upon other subjects.
The quay of Lisbon.
We are told that it went down.
A vast throng of persons ran to the quay for refuge. The city of Lisbon
was in profound darkness. The quay and all the people on it disappeared.
If it and they went down--not a single corpse, not a shred of clothing,
not a plank of the quay, nor so much as a splinter of it ever floated to