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 has 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 8 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 millions of years.
All "things" are not things, but only relations, or expressions of relations: but all relations are striving to be the 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, though insipid.
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—from one place in a whirlwind and down in another place. "In the American Almanac, 1833-71, it is said that this substance—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 said to be "manna"; and "manna" is dogmatically said to be a species of lichens from the steppes of Asia Minor. The position that 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 that fell 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 snowstorm) 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: someone 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 that 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 fibrously.
An elephant can be identified as a sunflower—both have long stems. A camel is indistinguishable from a peanut—if only their humps be considered.
Trouble with this book is that we'll end up a lot of intellectual roues: 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 were 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. Ehrenberg, "the meteor-paper was found to consist partly of vegetable matter, chiefly of conifervae."
Meeting of the royal Irishmen: chairs, tables, Irishmen:
Some flakes of marsh-paper were exhibited.
Their composition was chiefly of conifervae.
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 instance.
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 as 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 it.
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 "conifervae," which seemed so convincing to the royal Irishmen. Vegetable composition is disregarded, quite as it might be by someone who might find it convenient to identify a crook-necked squash as a big fishhook.
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 supposititious "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 conifervae.
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 fibers, but, when burned, they gave out "the common ammoniacal 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 fibers were not hairs; that the substance consisted chiefly of conifervae.
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. Laine, French Consul at Pernambuco, early in October, 1821, there was a shower of a substance resembling silk. The quantity was as 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. Laine, and that they proved to have some resemblances to silky filaments which, at certain times of the year, are carried by the wind near Paris.
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 the 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, Selborne, 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 inches 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 cannot 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 finally learned.
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 small 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 on grass, were blindfolded with it. This circumstance does strongly suggest cobwebs—
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 of 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 something:
The Monthly Weather Review, 26-566, quotes the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser:
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 phosphorescent.
The Editor of the Review says that he sees 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 cannot identify this substance. We thought that anything could be "identified" as anything. He can say only 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 with wax."
So in general our notion of cargoes—and our notion of cargoes of food supplies:
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 stinking smell."
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 catalogues, 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 Amer. Jour. Sci., 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 as turpentine.
Something that tasted like orange water, in hailstones, about the first of June, 1842, near Nimes, France; identified as nitric acid (Jour. de Pharmacie, 1845-273).
Hail and ashes, in Ireland, 1755 (Sci. Amer., 5-168).
That, at Elizabeth, N.J., June 9, 1874, fell hail in which was a 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 fell.
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 nowhere else.
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: or 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 nothing—
Chemical News, 35-183:
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 Glasgow, 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 ordinarily remote origin has to be thought of. Dr. Machattie thinks of origin to the south. "However," he says, "this is mere conjecture."
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 Association.
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 it to be either a spartium or a vicia."
Lead, silver, diamonds, glass.
They sound like the accursed, but they're not: they're now of the chosen—that is, when they occur in metallic or stony masses that Science has recognized as meteorites. We find that resistance is to substances not so mixed in or incorporated.
Of accursed data, it seems to me that punk is pretty damnable. In the Report of the British Association, 1878-376, there is mention of a light chocolate-brown substance that has fallen with meteorites. No particulars given; not another mention anywhere else that I can find. In this English publication, the word "punk" is not used; the substance is called "amadou." I suppose, if the datum has anywhere been admitted to French publications, the word "amadou" has been avoided, and "punk" used.
Or oneness of allness: scientific works and social registers: a Goldstein who can't get in as Goldstein, gets in as Jackson.
The fall of sulphur from the sky has been especially repulsive to the modern orthodoxy—largely because of its associations with the superstitions or principles of the preceding orthodoxy—stories of devils: sulphurous exhalations. Several writers have said that they have had this feeling. So the scientific reactionists, who have rabidly fought the preceding, because it was the preceding: and the scientific prudes, who, in sheer exclusionism, have held lean hands over pale eyes, denying falls of sulphur. I have many notes upon the sulphurous odor of meteorites, and many notes upon phosphorescence of things that come from externality. Some day I shall look over old stories of demons that have appeared sulphurously upon this earth, with the idea of expressing that we have often had undesirable visitors from other worlds; or that an indication of external derivation is sulphurousness. I expect some day to rationalize demonology, but just at present we are scarcely far enough advanced to go so far back.
For a circumstantial account of a mass of burning sulphur, about the size of a man's fist, that fell at Pultusk, Poland, Jan. 30, 1868, upon a road, where it was stamped out by a crowd of villagers, see Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1874-272.
The power of the exclusionists lies in that in their stand are combined both modern and archaic systematists. Falls of sandstone and limestone are repulsive to both theologians and scientists. Sandstone and limestone suggest other worlds upon which occur processes like geological processes; but limestone, as a fossiliferous substance, is of course especially of the unchosen.
In Science, March 9, 1888, we read of a block of limestone, said to have fallen near Middleburg, Florida. It was exhibited at the Sub-tropical Exposition, at Jacksonville. The writer, in Science, denies that it fell from the sky. His reasoning is:
There is no limestone in the sky;
Therefore this limestone did not fall from the sky.
Better reasoning I cannot conceive of—because we see that a final major premise—universal—true—would include all things: that, then, would leave nothing to reason about—so then that all reasoning must be based upon "something" not universal, or only a phantom intermediate to the two finalities of nothingness and allness, or negativeness and positiveness.
La Nature, 1890-2-127:
Fall, at Pel-et-Der (L'Aube), France, June 6, 1890, of limestone pebbles. Identified with limestone at Chateau-Landon—or up and down in a whirlwind. But they fell with hail—which, in June, could not very well be identified with ice from Chateau-Landon. Coincidence, perhaps.
Upon page 70, Science Gossip, 1887, the Editor says, of a stone that was reported to have fallen at Little Lever, England, that a sample had been sent to him. It was sandstone. Therefore it had not fallen, but had been on the ground in the first place. But, upon page 140, Science Gossip, 1887, is an account of "a large, smooth, water-worn, gritty sandstone pebble" that had been found in the wood of a full-grown beech tree. Looks to me as if it had fallen red-hot, and had penetrated the tree with high velocity. But I have never heard of anything falling red-hot from a whirlwind—
The wood around this sandstone pebble was black, as if charred.
Dr. Farrington, for instance, in his books, does not even mention sandstone. However, the British Association, though reluctant, is less exclusive: Report of 1860, p. 197: substance about the size of a duck's egg, that fell at Raphoe, Ireland, June 9, 1860—date questioned. It is not definitely said that this substance was sandstone, but that it "resembled" friable sandstone.
Falls of salt have occurred often. They have been avoided by scientific writers, because of the dictum that only water and not substances held in solution, can be raised by evaporation. However, falls of salty water have received attention from Dalton and others, and have been attributed to whirlwinds from the sea. This is so reasonably contested—quasi-reasonably—as to places not far from the sea—
But the fall of salt that occurred high in the mountains of Switzerland—
We could have predicted that that datum could be found somewhere. Let anything be explained in local terms of the coast of England—but also has it occurred high in the mountains of Switzerland.
Large crystals of salt fell—in a hailstorm—Aug. 20, 1870, in Switzerland. The orthodox explanation is a crime: whoever made it, should have had his finger-prints taken. We are told (An. Rec. Sci., 1872) that these objects of salt "came over the Mediterranean from some part of Africa."
Or the hypnosis of the conventional—provided it be glib. One reads such an assertion, and provided it be suave and brief and conventional, one seldom questions—or thinks "very strange" and then forgets. One has an impression from geography lessons: Mediterranean not more than three inches wide, on the map; Switzerland only a few more inches away. These sizable masses of salt are described in the Amer. Jour. Sci., 3-3-239, as "essentially imperfect cubic crystals of common salt." As to occurrence with hail—that can in one, or ten, or twenty, instances be called a coincidence.
Another datum: extraordinary year 1883:
London Times, Dec. 25, 1883:
Translation from a Turkish newspaper; a substance that fell at Scutari, Dec. 2, 1883; described as an unknown substance, in particles—or flakes?—like snow. "It was found to be saltish to the taste, and to dissolve readily in water."
"Black, capillary matter" that fell, Nov. 16, 1857, at Charleston, S.C. (Amer. Jour. Sci., 2-31-459).
Fall of small, friable, vesicular masses, from size of a pea to size of a walnut, at Lobau, Jan. 18, 1835 (Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1860-85).
Objects that fell at Peshawur, India, June, 1893, during a storm: substance that looked like crystallized niter, and that tasted like sugar (Nature, July 13, 1893).
I suppose sometimes deep-sea fishes have their noses bumped by cinders. If their regions be subjacent to Cunard or White Star routes, they're especially likely to be bumped. I conceive of no inquiry: they're deep-sea fishes.
Or the slag of Slains. That it was a furnace-product. The Rev. James Rust seemed to feel bumped. He tried in vain to arouse inquiry.
As to a report, from Chicago, April 9, 1879, that slag had fallen from the sky, Prof. E.S. Bastian (Amer. Jour. Sci., 3-18-78) says that the slag "had been on the ground in the first place." It was furnace-slag. "A chemical examination of the specimens has shown that they possess none of the characteristics of true meteorites."
Over and over and over again, the universal delusion; hope and despair of attempted positivism; that there can be real criteria, or distinct characteristics of anything. If anybody can define—not merely suppose, like Prof. Bastian, that he can define—the true characteristics of anything, or so localize trueness anywhere, he makes the discovery for which the cosmos is laboring. He will be instantly translated, like Elijah, into the Positive Absolute. My own notion is that, in a moment of super-concentration, Elijah became so nearly a real prophet that he was translated to heaven, or to the Positive Absolute, with such velocity that he left an incandescent train behind him. As we go along, we shall find the "true test of meteoritic material," which in the past has been taken as an absolute, dissolving into almost utmost nebulosity. Prof. Bastian explains mechanically, or in terms of the usual reflexes to all reports of unwelcome substances: that near where the slag had been found, telegraph wires had been struck by lightning; that particles of melted wire had been seen to fall near the slag—which had been on the ground in the first place. But, according to the New York Times, April 14, 1879, about two bushels of this substance had fallen.
Something that was said to have fallen at Darmstadt, June 7, 1846; listed by Greg (Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1867-416) as "only slag."
Philosophical Magazine, 4-10-381:
That, in 1855, a large stone was found far in the interior of a tree, in Battersea Fields.
Sometimes cannon balls are found embedded in trees. Doesn't seem to be anything to discuss; doesn't seem discussable that any one would cut a hole in a tree and hide a cannon ball, which one could take to bed, and hide under one's pillow, just as easily. So with the stone of Battersea Fields. What is there to say, except that it fell with high velocity and embedded in the tree? Nevertheless, there was a great deal of discussion—
Because, at the foot of the tree, as if broken off the stone, fragments of slag were found.
I have nine other instances.
Slag and cinders and ashes, and you won't believe, and neither will I, that they came from the furnaces of vast aerial super-constructions. We'll see what looks acceptable.
As to ashes, the difficulties are great, because we'd expect many falls of terrestrially derived ashes—volcanoes and forest fires.
In some of our acceptances, I have felt a little radical—
I suppose that one of our main motives is to show that there is, in quasi-existence, nothing but the preposterous—or something intermediate to absolute preposterousness and final reasonableness—that the new is the obviously preposterous; that it becomes the established and disguisedly preposterous; that it is displaced, after a while, and is again seen to be the preposterous. Or that all progress is from the outrageous to the academic or sanctified, and back to the outrageous—modified, however, by a trend of higher and higher approximation to the impreposterous. Sometimes I feel a little more uninspired than at other times, but I think we're pretty well accustomed now to the oneness of allness; or that the methods of science in maintaining its system are as outrageous as the attempts of the damned to break in. In the Annual Record of Science, 1875-241, Prof. Daubree is quoted: that ashes that had fallen in the Azores had come from the Chicago fire—
Or the damned and the saved, and there's little to choose between them; and angels are beings that have not obviously barbed tails to them—or never have such bad manners as to stroke an angel below the waist-line.
However this especial outrage was challenged: the Editor of the Record returns to it, in the issue of 1876: considers it "in the highest degree improper to say that the ashes of Chicago were landed in the Azores."
Bull. Soc. Astro. de France, 22-245:
Account of a white substance, like ashes, that fell at Annoy, France, March 27, 1908: simply called a curious phenomenon; no attempt to trace to a terrestrial source.
Flake formations, which may signify passage through a region of pressure, are common; but spherical formations—as if of things that have rolled and rolled along planar regions somewhere—are commoner:
Nature, Jan. 10, 1884, quotes a Kimberley newspaper:
That, toward the close of November, 1883, a thick shower of ashy matter fell at Queenstown, South Africa. The matter was in marble-sized balls, which were soft and pulpy, but which, upon drying, crumbled at touch. The shower was confined to one narrow streak of land. It would be only ordinarily preposterous to attribute this substance to Krakatoa—
But, with the fall, loud noises were heard—
But I'll omit many notes upon ashes: if ashes should sift down upon deep-sea fishes, that is not to say that they came from steamships.
Data of falls of cinders have been especially damned by Mr. Symons, the meteorologist, some of whose investigations we'll investigate later—nevertheless—
Notice of a fall, in Victoria, Australia, April 14, 1875 (Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1875-242)—at least we are told, in the reluctant way, that someone "thought" he saw matter fall near him at night, and the next day found something that looked like cinders.
In the Proc. of the London Roy. Soc., 19-122, there is an account of cinders that fell on the deck of a lightship, Jan. 9, 1873. In the Amer. Jour. Sci., 2-24-449, there is a notice that the Editor had received a specimen of cinders said to have fallen—in showery weather—upon a farm, near Ottowa, Ill., Jan. 17, 1857.
But after all, ambiguous things they are, cinders or ashes or slag or clinkers, the high priest of the accursed that must speak aloud for us is—coal that has fallen from the sky.
The person who thought he saw something like cinders, also thought he saw something like coke, we are told.
Something that "looked exactly like coke" that fell—during a thunderstorm—in the Orne, France, April 24, 1887.
Dr. Angus Smith, in the Lit. and Phil. Soc. of Manchester Memoirs, 2-9-146, says that, about 1827—like a great deal in Lyell's Principles and Darwin's Origin, this account is from hearsay—something fell from the sky, near Allport, England. It fell luminously, with a loud report, and scattered in a field. A fragment that was seen by Dr. Smith, is described by him as having "the appearance of a piece of common wood charcoal." Nevertheless, the reassured feeling of the faithful, upon reading this, is burdened with data of differences: the substance was so uncommonly heavy that it seemed as if it had iron in it; also there was "a sprinkling of sulphur." This material is said, by Prof. Baden-Powell, to be "totally unlike that of any other meteorite." Greg, in his catalogue (Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1860-73), calls it "a more than doubtful substance"—but again, against reassurance, that is not doubt of authenticity. Greg says that it is like compact charcoal, with particles of sulphur and iron pyrites embedded.
Reassurance rises again:
Prof. Baden-Powell says: "It contains also charcoal, which might perhaps be acquired from matter among which it fell."
This is a common reflex with the exclusionists: that substances not "truly meteoritic" did not fall from the sky, but were picked up by "truly meteoritic" things, of course only on their surfaces, by impact with this earth.
Rhythm of reassurances and their declines:
According to Dr. Smith, this substance was not merely coated with charcoal; his analysis gives 43.59 per cent carbon.
Our acceptance that coal has fallen from the sky will be via data of resinous substances and bituminous substances, which merge so that they cannot be told apart.
Resinous substance said to have fallen at Kaba, Hungary, April 15, 1887 (Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1860-94).
A resinous substance that fell after a fireball? at Neuhaus, Bohemia, Dec. 17, 1824 (Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1860-70).
Fall, July 28, 1885, at Luchon, during a storm, of a brownish substance; very friable, carbonaceous matter; when burned it gave out a resinous odor (Comptes Rendus, 103-837).
Substance that fell, Feb. 17, 18, 19, 1841, at Genoa, Italy, said to have been resinous; said by Arago (OEuvres, 12-469) to have been bituminous matter and sand.
Fall—during a thunderstorm—July, 1681, near Cape Cod, upon the deck of an English vessel, the Albemarle, of "burning, bituminous matter" (Edin. New Phil. Jour., 26-86); a fall, at Christiania, Norway, June 13, 1822, of bituminous matter, listed by Greg as doubtful; fall of bituminous matter, in Germany, March 8, 1798, listed by Greg. Lockyer (The Meteoric Hypothesis, p. 24) says that the substance that fell at the Cape of Good Hope, Oct. 13, 1838—about five cubic feet of it: substance so soft that it was cuttable with a knife—"after being experimented upon, it left a residue, which gave out a very bituminous smell."
And this inclusion of Lockyer's—so far as findable in all books that I have read—is, in books, about as close as we can get to our desideratum—that coal has fallen from the sky. Dr. Farrington, except with a brief mention, ignores the whole subject of the fall of carbonaceous matter from the sky. Proctor, in all of his books that I have read—is, in books, about as close as we can get to the admission that carbonaceous matter has been found in meteorites "in very minute quantities"—or my own suspicion is that it is possible to damn something else only by losing one's own soul—quasi-soul, of course.
Sci. Amer., 35-120:
That the substance that fell at the Cape of Good Hope "resembled a piece of anthracite coal more than anything else."
It's a mistake, I think: the resemblance is to bituminous coal—but it is from the periodicals that we must get our data. To the writers of books upon meteorites, it would be as wicked—by which we mean departure from the characters of an established species—quasi-established, of course—to say that coal has fallen from the sky, as would be, to something in a barnyard, a temptation that it climb a tree and catch a bird. Domestic things in a barnyard: and how wild things from forests outside seem to them. Or the homeopathist—but we shall shovel data of coal.
And, if over and over, we shall learn of masses of soft coal that have fallen upon this earth, if in no instance has it been asserted that the masses did not fall, but were upon the ground in the first place; if we have many instances, this time we turn down good and hard the mechanical reflex that these masses were carried from one place to another in whirlwinds, because we find it too difficult to accept that whirlwinds could so select, or so specialize in a peculiar substance. Among writers of books, the only one I know of who makes more than brief mention is Sir Robert Ball. He represents a still more antique orthodoxy, or is an exclusionist of the old type, still holding out against even meteorites. He cites several falls of carbonaceous matter, but with disregards that make for reasonableness that earthy matter may have been caught up by whirlwinds and flung down somewhere else. If he had given a full list, he would be called upon to explain the special affinity of whirlwinds for a special kind of coal. He does not give a full list. We shall have all that's findable, and we shall see that against this disease we're writing, the homeopathist's prescription availeth not. Another exclusionist was Prof. Lawrence Smith. His psycho-tropism was to respond to all reports of carbonaceous matter falling from the sky, by saying that this damned matter had been deposited upon things of the chosen by impact with this earth. Most of our data antedate him, or were contemporaneous with him, or were as accessible to him as to us. In his attempted positivism it is simply—and beautifully—disregarded that, according to Berthelot, Berzelius, Cloez, Wohler and others these masses are not merely coated with carbonaceous matter, but are carbonaceous throughout, or are permeated throughout. How anyone could so resolutely and dogmatically and beautifully and blindly hold out would puzzle us were it not for our acceptance that only to think is to exclude and include; and to exclude some things that have as much right to come in as have the included—that to have an opinion upon any subject is to be a Lawrence Smith—because there is no definite subject.
Dr. Walter Flight (Eclectic Magazine, 89-71) says, of the substance that fell near Alais, France, March 15, 1806, that it "emits a faint bituminous substance" when heated, according to the observations of Bergelius and a commission appointed by the French Academy. This time we have not the reluctances expressed in such words as "like" and "resembling." We are told that this substance is "an earthy kind of coal."
As to "minute quantities" we are told that the substance that fell at the Cape of Good Hope has in it a little more than a quarter of organic matter, which, in alcohol, gives the familiar reaction of yellow, resinous matter. Other instances given by Dr. Flight are:
Carbonaceous matter that fell in 1840, in Tennessee; Cranbourne, Australia, 1861; Montauban, France, May 14, 1864 (twenty masses, some of them as large as a human head, of a substance that "resembled a dull-colored earthy lignite"); Goalpara, India, about 1867 (about 8 per cent of a hydrocarbon); at Ornans, France, July 11, 1868; substance with "an organic, combustible ingredient," at Hessle, Sweden, Jan. 1, 1860.
That, according to M. Daubree, the substance that had fallen in the Argentine Republic, "resembled certain kinds of lignite and boghead coal." In Comptes Rendus, 96-1764, it is said that this mass fell, June 30, 1880, in the province Entre Rios, Argentina: that it is "like" brown coal; that it resembles all the other carbonaceous masses that have fallen from the sky.
Something that fell at Grazac, France, Aug. 10, 1885: when burned, it gave out a bituminous odor (Comptes Rendus, 104-1771).
Carbonaceous substance that fell at Rajpunta, India, Jan. 22, 1911: very friable: 50 per cent of its soluble in water (Records Geol. Survey of India, 44-pt. 1-41).
A combustible carbonaceous substance that fell with sand at Naples, March 14, 1818 (Amer. Jour. Sci., 1-1-309).
Sci. Amer. Sup., 29-11798:
That, June 9, 1889, a very friable substance, of a deep, greenish black, fell at Mighei, Russia. It contained 5 per cent organic matter, which, when powdered and digested in alcohol, yielded, after evaporation, a bright yellow resin. In this mass was 2 per cent of an unknown mineral.
Cinders and ashes and slag and coke and charcoal and coal.
And the things that sometimes deep-sea fishes are bumped by.
Reluctances and the disguises or covered retreats of such words as "like" and "resemble"—or that conditions of Intermediateness forbid abrupt transitions—but that the spirit animating all Intermediateness is to achieve abrupt transitions—because, if anything could finally break away from its origin and environment, that would be a real thing—something not merging away indistinguishably with the surrounding. So all attempt to be original; all attempt to invent something that is more than mere extension or modification of the preceding, is positivism—or that if one could conceive of a device to catch flies, positively different from, or unrelated to, all other devices—up he'd shoot to heaven, or the Positive Absolute—leaving behind such an incandescent train that in one age it would be said that he had gone aloft in a fiery chariot, and in another age that he had been struck by lightning—
I'm collecting notes upon persons supposed to have been struck by lightning. I think that high approximation to positivism has often been achieved—instantaneous translation—residue of negativeness left behind, looking much like effects of a stroke of lightning. Some day I shall tell the story of the Marie Celeste—"properly," as the Scientific American Supplement would say—mysterious disappearance of a sea captain, his family, and the crew—
Of positivists, by the route of Abrupt Transition, I think that Manet was notable—but that his approximation was held down by his intense relativity to the public—or that it is quite as impositive to flout and insult and defy as it is to crawl and placate. Of course, Manet began with continuity with Courbet and others, and then, between him and Manet there were mutual influences—but the spirit of abrupt difference is the spirit of positivism, and Manet's stand was against the dictum that all lights and shades must merge away suavely into one another and prepare for one another. So a biologist like De Vries represents positivism, or the breaking of Continuity, by trying to conceive of evolution by mutation—against the dogma of indistinguishable gradations by "minute variations." A Copernicus conceives of helio-centricity. Continuity is against him. He is not permitted to break abruptly with the past. He is permitted to publish his work, but only as "an interesting hypothesis."
Continuity—and that all that we call evolution or progress is attempt to break away from it—
That our whole solar system was at one time attempt by planets to break away from a parental nexus and set up as individualities, and, failing, move in quasi-regular orbits that are expressions of relations with the sun and with one another, all having surrendered, being now quasi-incorporated in a higher approximation to system:
Intermediateness in its mineralogic aspect of positivism—or Iron that strove to break away from Sulphur and Oxygen, and be real, homogeneous Iron—failing, inasmuch as elemental iron exists only in text-book chemistry:
Intermediateness in its biologic aspect of positivism—or the wild, fantastic, grotesque, monstrous things it conceived of, sometimes in a frenzy of effort to break away abruptly from all preceding types—but failing, in the giraffe-effort, for instance, or only caricaturing an antelope—
All things break one relation only by the establishing of some other relation—
All things cut an umbilical cord only to clutch a breast.
So the fight of the exclusionists to maintain the traditional—or to prevent abrupt transition from the quasi-established—fighting so that here, more than a century after meteorites were included, no other notable inclusion has been made, except that of cosmic dust, data of which Nordenskiold made more nearly real than data in opposition.
So Proctor, for instance, fought and expressed his feeling of the preposterous, against Sir W.H. Thomson's notions of arrival upon this earth of organisms on meteorites—
"I can only regard it as a jest" (Knowledge, 1-302).
Or that there is nothing but jest—or something intermediate to jest and tragedy:
That ours is not an existence but an utterance;
That Momus is imagining us for the amusement of the gods, often with such success that some of us seem almost alive—like characters in something a novelist is writing; which often to considerable degree take their affairs away from the novelist—
That Momus is imagining us and our arts and sciences and religions, and is narrating or picturing us as a satire upon the gods' real existence.
Because—with many of our data of coal that has fallen from the sky as accessible then as they are now, and with the scientific pronouncement that coal is fossil, how, in a real existence, by which we mean a consistent existence, or a state in which there is real intelligence, or a form of thinking that does not indistinguishably merge away with imbecility, could there have been such a row as that which was raised about forty years ago over Dr. Hahn's announcement that he had found fossils in meteorites?
Accessible to anybody at that time:
Philosophical Magazine, 4-17-425:
That the substance that fell at Kaba, Hungary, April 15, 1857, contained organic matter "analagous to fossil waxes."
Of the block of limestone which was reported to have fallen at Middleburg, Florida, it is said (Science, 11-118) that, though something had been seen to fall in "an old cultivated field," the witnesses who ran to it picked up something that "had been upon the ground in the first place." The writer who tells us this, with the usual exclusion-imagination known as stupidity, but unjustly, because there is no real stupidity, thinks he can think of a good-sized stone that had for many years been in a cultivated field, but that had never been seen before—had never interfered with plowing, for instance. He is earnest and unjarred when he writes that this stone weighs 200 pounds. My own notion, founded upon my own experience in seeing, is that a block of stone weighing 500 pounds might be in one's parlor twenty years, virtually unseen—but not in an old cultivated field, where it interfered with plowing—not anywhere—if it interfered.
Dr. Hahn said that he had found fossils in meteorites. There is a description of the corals, sponges, shells, and crinoids, all of them microscopic, which he photographed, in Popular Science, 20-83.
Dr. Hahn was a well-known scientist. He was better known after that.
Anybody may theorize upon other worlds and conditions upon them that are similar to our own conditions: if his notions be presented undisguisedly as fiction, or only as an "interesting hypothesis," he'll stir up no prude rages.
But Dr. Hahn said definitely that he had found fossils in specified meteorites: also he published photographs of them. His book is in the New York Public Library. In the reproductions every feature of some of the little shells is plainly marked. If they're not shells, neither are things under an oyster-counter. The striations are very plain: one sees even the hinges where bivalves are joined.
Prof. Lawrence Smith (Knowledge, 1-258):
"Dr. Hahn is a kind of half-insane man, whose imagination has run away with him."
Conservation of Continuity.
Then Dr. Weinland examined Dr. Hahn's specimens. He gave his opinion that they are fossils and that they are not crystals of enstatite, as asserted by Prof. Smith, who had never seen them.
The damnation of denial and the damnation of disregard:
After the publication of Dr. Weinland's findings—silence.
The living things that have come down to this earth:
Attempts to preserve the system:
That small frogs and toads, for instance, never have fallen from the sky, but were—"on the ground, in the first place"; or that there have been such falls—"up from one place in a whirlwind, and down in another."
Were there some especially froggy place near Europe, as there is an especially sandy place, the scientific explanation would of course be that all small frogs falling from the sky in Europe come from that center of frogeity.
To start with, I'd like to emphasize something that I am permitted to see because I am still primitive or intelligent or in a state of maladjustment:
That there is not one report findable of a fall of tadpoles from the sky.
As to "there in the first place":
See Leisure Hours, 3-779, for accounts of small frogs, or toads, said to have been seen to fall from the sky. The writer says that all observers were mistaken: that the frogs or toads must have fallen from trees or other places overhead.
Tremendous number of little toads, one or two months old, that were seen to fall from a great thick cloud that appeared suddenly in a sky that had been cloudless, August, 1804, near Toulouse, France, according to a letter from Prof. Pontus to M. Arago. (Comptes Rendus, 3-54.)
Many instances of frogs that were seen to fall from the sky. (Notes and Queries, 8-6-104); accounts of such falls, signed by witnesses. (Notes and Queries, 8-6-190.)
Scientific American, July 12, 1873:
"A shower of frogs which darkened the air and covered the ground for a long distance is the reported result of a recent rainstorm at Kansas City, Mo."
As to having been there "in the first place":
Little frogs found in London, after a heavy storm, July 30, 1838. (Notes and Queries, 8-7-437);
Little toads found in a desert, after a rainfall (Notes and Queries, 8-8-493).
To start with I do not deny—positively—the conventional explanation of "up and down." I think that there may have been such occurrences. I omit many notes that I have upon indistinguishables. In the London Times, July 4, 1883, there is an account of a shower of twigs and leaves and tiny toads in a storm upon the slopes of the Apennines. These may have been the ejectamenta of a whirlwind. I add, however, that I have notes upon two other falls of tiny toads, in 1883, one in France and one in Tahiti; also of fish in Scotland. But in the phenomenon of the Apennines, the mixture seems to me to be typical of the products of a whirlwind. The other instances seem to me to be typical of—something like migration? Their great numbers and their homogeneity. Over and over in these annals of the damned occurs the datum of segregation. But a whirlwind is thought of as a condition of chaos—quasi-chaos: not final negativeness, of course—
Monthly Weather Review, July, 1881:
"A small pond in the track of the cloud was sucked dry, the water being carried over the adjoining fields together with a large quantity of soft mud, which was scattered over the ground for half a mile around."
It is so easy to say that small frogs that have fallen from the sky had been scooped up by a whirlwind; but here are the circumstances of a scoop; in the exclusionist-imagination there is no regard for mud, debris from the bottom of a pond, floating vegetation, loose things from the shores—but a precise picking out of frogs only. Of all instances I have that attribute the fall of small frogs or toads to whirlwinds, only one definitely identifies or places the whirlwind. Also, as has been said before, a pond going up would be quite as interesting as frogs coming down. Whirlwinds we read of over and over—but where and what whirlwind? It seems to me that anybody who had lost a pond would be heard from. In Symons' Meteorological Magazine, 32-106, a fall of small frogs, near Birmingham, England, June 30, 1892, is attributed to a specific whirlwind—but not a word as to any special pond that had contributed. And something that strikes my attention here is that these frogs are described as almost white.
I'm afraid there is no escape for us: we shall have to give to civilization upon this earth—some new worlds.
Places with white frogs in them.
Upon several occasions we have had data of unknown things that have fallen from—somewhere. But something not to be overlooked is that if living things have landed alive upon this earth—in spite of all we think we know of the accelerative velocity of falling bodies—and have propagated—why the exotic becomes the indigenous, or from the strangest of places we'd expect the familiar. Or if hosts of living frogs have come here—from somewhere else—every living thing upon this earth may, ancestrally, have come from—somewhere else.
I find that I have another note upon a specific hurricane:
Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist., 1-3-185:
After one of the greatest hurricanes in the history of Ireland, some fish were found "as far as 15 yards from the edge of a lake."
Have another: this is a good one for the exclusionists:
Fall of fish in Paris: said that a neighboring pond had been blown dry. (Living Age, 52-186.) Date not given, but I have seen it recorded somewhere else.
The best-known fall of fishes from the sky is that which occurred at Mountain Ash, in the Valley of Abedare, Glamorganshire, Feb. 11, 1859.
The Editor of the Zoologist, 2-677, having published a report of a fall of fishes, writes: "I am continually receiving similar accounts of frogs and fishes." But, in all the volumes of the Zoologist, I can find only two reports of such falls. There is nothing to conclude other than that hosts of data have been lost because orthodoxy does not look favorably upon such reports. The Monthly Weather Review records several falls of fishes in the United States; but accounts of these reported occurrences are not findable in other American publications. Nevertheless, the treatment by the Zoologist of the fall reported from Mountain Ash is fair. First appears, in the issue of 1859-6493, a letter from the Rev. John Griffith, Vicar of Abedare, asserting that the fall had occurred, chiefly upon the property of Mr. Nixon, of Mountain Ash. Upon page 6540, Dr. Gray, of the British Museum, bristling with exclusionism, writes that some of these fishes, which had been sent to him alive, were "very young minnows." He says: "On reading the evidence, it seems to me most probably only a practical joke: that one of Mr. Nixon's employees had thrown a pailful of water upon another, who had thought fish in it had fallen from the sky"—had dipped up a pailful from a brook.
Those fishes—still alive—were exhibited at the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park. The Editor says that one was a minnow and that the rest were sticklebacks.
He says that Dr. Gray's explanation is no doubt right.
But, upon page 6564, he publishes a letter from another correspondent, who apologizes for opposing "so high an authority as Dr. Gray," but says that he had obtained some of these fishes from persons who lived at a considerable distance apart, or considerably out of range of the playful pail of water.
According to the Annual Register, 1859-14, the fishes themselves had fallen by pailfuls.
If these fishes were not upon the ground in the first place, we base our objections to the whirlwind explanation upon two data:
That they fell in no such distribution as one could attribute to the discharge of a whirlwind, but upon a narrow strip of land: about 80 yards long and 12 yards wide—
The other datum is again the suggestion that at first seemed so incredible, but for which support is piling up, a suggestion of a stationary source overhead—
That ten minutes later another fall of fishes occurred upon this same narrow strip of land.
Even arguing that a whirlwind may stand still axially, it discharges tangentially. Wherever the fishes came from it does not seem thinkable that some could have fallen and that others could have whirled even a tenth of a minute, then falling directly after the first to fall. Because of these evil circumstances the best adaptation was to laugh the whole thing off and say that someone had soused someone else with a pailful of water in which a few "very young" minnows had been caught up.
In the London Times, March 2, 1859, is a letter from Mr. Aaron Roberts, curate of St. Peter's, Carmathon. In this letter the fishes are said to have been about four inches long, but there is some question of species. I think, myself, that they were minnows and sticklebacks. Some persons, thinking them to be sea fishes, placed them in salt water, according to Mr. Roberts. "The effect is stated to have been almost instantaneous death." "Some were placed in fresh water. These seemed to thrive well." As to narrow distribution, we are told that the fishes fell "in and about the premises of Mr. Nixon." "It was not observed at the time that any fish fell in any other part of the neighborhood, save in the particular spot mentioned."
In the London Times, March 10, 1859, Vicar Griffith writes an account:
"The roofs of some houses were covered with them."
In this letter it is said that the largest fishes were five inches long, and that these did not survive the fall.
Report of the British Association, 1859-158:
"The evidence of the fall of fish on this occasion was very conclusive. A specimen of the fish was exhibited and was found to be the Gasterosteus leirus."
Gasterosteus is the stickleback.
Altogether I think we have not a sense of total perdition, when we're damned with the explanation that someone soused someone else with a pailful of water in which were thousands of fishes four or five inches long, some of which covered roofs of houses, and some of which remained ten minutes in the air. By way of contrast we offer our own acceptance:
That the bottom of a super-geographical pond had dropped out.
I have a great many notes upon the fall of fishes, despite the difficulty these records have in getting themselves published, but I pick out the instances that especially relate to our super-geographical acceptances, or to the Principles of Super-Geography: or data of things that have been in the air longer than acceptably could a whirlwind carry them; that have fallen with a distribution narrower than is attributable to a whirlwind; that have fallen for a considerable length of time upon the same narrow area of land.
These three factors indicate, somewhere not far aloft, a region of inertness to this earth's gravitation, of course, however, a region that, by the flux and variation of all things, must at times be susceptible—but, afterward, our heresy will bifurcate—
In amiable accommodation to the crucifixion it'll get, I think—
But so impressed are we with the datum that, though there have been many reports of small frogs that have fallen from the sky, not one report upon a fall of tadpoles is findable, that to these circumstances another adjustment must be made.
Apart from our three factors of indication, an extraordinary observation is the fall of living things without injury to them. The devotees of St. Isaac explain that they fall upon thick grass and so survive: but Sir James Emerson Tennant, in his History of Ceylon, tells of a fall of fishes upon gravel, by which they were seemingly uninjured. Something else apart from our three main interests is a phenomenon that looks like what one might call an alternating series of falls of fishes, whatever the significance may be:
Meerut, India, July, 1824 (Living Age, 52-186); Fifeshire, Scotland, summer of 1824 (Wernerian Nat. Hist. Soc. Trans., 5-575); Moradabad, India, July, 1826 (Living Age, 52-186); Ross-shire, Scotland, 1828 (Living Age, 52-186); Moradabad, India, July 20, 1829 (Lin. Soc. Trans., 16-764); Perthshire, Scotland (Living Age, 52-186); Argyleshire, Scotland, 1830, March 9, 1830 (Recreative Science, 3-339); Feridpoor, India, Feb. 19, 1830 (Jour. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, 2-650).
A psycho-tropism that arises here—disregarding serial significance—or mechanical, unintelligent, repulsive reflex—is that the fishes of India did not fall from the sky; that they were found upon the ground after torrential rains, because streams had overflowed and had then receded.
In the region of Inertness that we think we can conceive of, or a zone that is to this earth's gravitation very much like the neutral zone of a magnet's attraction, we accept that there are bodies of water and also clear spaces—bottoms of ponds dropping out—very interesting ponds, having no earth at bottom—vast drops of water afloat in what is called space—fishes and deluges of water falling—
But also other areas, in which fishes—however they got there: a matter that we'll consider—remain and dry, or even putrefy, then sometimes falling by atmospheric dislodgment.
After a "tremendous deluge of rain, one of the heaviest falls on record" (All the Year Round, 8-255) at Rajkote, India, July 25, 1850, "the ground was found literally covered with fishes."
The word "found" is agreeable to the repulsions of the conventionalists and their concept of an overflowing stream—but, according to Dr. Buist, some of these fishes were "found" on the tops of haystacks.
Ferrel (A Popular Treatise, p. 414) tells of a fall of living fishes—some of them having been placed in a tank, where they survived—that occurred in India, about 20 miles south of Calcutta, Sept. 20, 1839. A witness of this fall says:
"The most strange thing which ever struck me was that the fish did not fall helter-skelter, or here and there, but they fell in a straight line, not more than a cubit in breadth." See Living Age, 52-186.
Amer. Jour. Sci., 1-32-199:
That, according to testimony taken before a magistrate, a fall occurred, Feb. 19, 1830, near Feridpoor, India, of many fishes, of various sizes—some whole and fresh and others "mutilated and putrefying." Our reflex to those who would say that, in the climate of India, it would not take long for fishes to putrefy, is—that high in the air, the climate of India is not torrid. Another peculiarity of this fall is that some of the fishes were much larger than others. Or to those who hold out for segregation in a whirlwind, or that objects, say, twice as heavy as others would be separated from the lighter, we point out that some of these fishes were twice as heavy as others.
In the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 2-650, depositions of witnesses are given:
"Some of the fish were fresh, but others were rotten and without heads."
"Among the number which I got, five were fresh and the rest stinking and headless."
They remind us of His Grace's observation of some pages back.
According to Dr. Buist, some of these fishes weighed one and a half pounds each and others three pounds.
A fall of fishes at Futtepoor, India, May 16, 1833:
"They were all dead and dry." (Dr. Buist, Living Age, 52-186.)
India is far away: about 1830 was long ago.
Nature, Sept. 19, 1918-46:
A correspondent writes, from the Dove Marine Laboratory, Cuttercoats, England, that, at Hindon, a suburb of Sunderland, Aug. 24, 1918, hundreds of small fishes, identified as sand eels, had fallen—
Again the small area: about 60 by 30 yards.
The fall occurred during a heavy rain that was accompanied by thunder—or indications of disturbance aloft—but by no visible lightning. The sea is close to Hindon, but if you try to think of these fishes having described a trajectory in a whirlwind from the ocean, consider this remarkable datum:
That, according to witnesses, the fall upon this small area occupied ten minutes.
I cannot think of a clearer indication of a direct fall from a stationary source.
"The fish were all dead, and indeed stiff and hard, when picked up, immediately after the occurrence."
By all of which I mean that we have only begun to pile up our data of things that fall from a stationary source overhead: we'll have to take up the subject from many approaches before our acceptance, which seems quite as rigorously arrived at as ever has been a belief, can emerge from the accursed.
I don't know how much the horse and the barn will help us to emerge: but, if ever anything did go up from this earth's surface and stay up—those damned things may have:
Monthly Weather Review, May, 1878:
In a tornado, in Wisconsin, May 23, 1878, "a barn and a horse were carried completely away, and neither horse nor barn, nor any portion of either have since been found."
After that, which would be a little strong were it not for a steady improvement in our digestions that I note as we go along, there is little of the bizarre or the unassimilable in the turtle that hovered six months or so over a small town in Mississippi:
Monthly Weather Review, May, 1894:
That, May 11, 1894, at Vicksburg, Miss., fell a small piece of alabaster; that, at Bovina, eight miles from Vicksburg, fell a gopher turtle.
They fell in a hailstorm.
This item was widely copied at the time: for instance, Nature, one of the volumes of 1894, page 430, and Jour. Roy. Met. Soc., 20-273. As to discussion—not a word. Or Science and its continuity with Presbyterianism—data like this are damned at birth. The Weather Review does sprinkle, or baptize, or attempt to save, this infant—but in all the meteorological literature that I have gone through, after that date—not a word, except mention once or twice. The Editor of the Review says:
"An examination of the weather map shows that these hailstorms occur on the south side of a region of cold northerly winds, and were but a small part of a series of similar storms; apparently some special local whirls or gusts carried heavy objects from this earth's surface up to the cloud regions."
Of all incredibilities that we have to choose from, I give first place to a notion of a whirlwind pouncing upon a region and scrupulously selecting a turtle and a piece of alabaster. This time, the other mechanical thing "there in the first place" cannot rise in response to its stimulus: it is resisted in that these objects were coated with ice—month of May in a southern state. If a whirlwind at all, there must have been very limited selection: there is no record of the fall of other objects. But there is no attempt in the Review to specify a whirlwind.
These strangely associated things were remarkably separated.
They fell eight miles apart.
Then—as if there were real reasoning—they must have been high to fall with such divergence, or one of them must have been carried partly horizontally eight miles farther than the other. But either supposition argues for power more than that of a local whirl or gust, or argues for a great, specific disturbance, of which there is no record—for the month of May, 1894.
Nevertheless—as if I really were reasonable—I do feel that I have to accept that this turtle had been raised from this earth's surface, somewhere near Vicksburg—because the gopher turtle is common in the southern states.
Then I think of a hurricane that occurred in the state of Mississippi weeks or months before May 11, 1894.
No—I don't look for it—and inevitably find it.
Or that things can go up so high in hurricanes that they stay up indefinitely—but may, after a while, be shaken down by storms. Over and over have we noted the occurrence of strange falls in storms. So then that the turtle and the piece of alabaster may have had far different origins—from different worlds, perhaps—have entered a region of suspension over this earth—wafting near each other—long duration—final precipitation by atmospheric disturbance—with hail—or that hailstones, too, when large, are phenomena of suspension of long duration: that it is highly unacceptable that the very large ones could become so great only in falling from the clouds.
Over and over has the note of disagreeableness, or of putrefaction, been struck—long duration. Other indications of long duration.
I think of a region somewhere above this earth's surface in which gravitation is inoperative and is not governed by the square of the distance—quite as magnetism is negligible at a very short distance from a magnet. Theoretically the attraction of a magnet should decrease with the square of the distance, but the falling-off is found to be almost abrupt at a short distance.
I think that things raised from this earth's surface to that region have been held there until shaken down by storms—
The Super-Sargasso Sea.
Derelicts, rubbish, old cargoes from inter-planetary wrecks; things cast out into what is called space by convulsions of other planets, things from the times of the Alexanders, Caesars and Napoleons of Mars and Jupiter and Neptune; things raised by this earth's cyclones: horses and barns and elephants and flies and dodoes, moas, and pterodactyls; leaves from modern trees and leaves of the Carboniferous era—all, however, tending to disintegrate into homogeneous-looking muds or dusts, red or black or yellow—treasure-troves for the palaeontologists and for the archaeologists—accumulations of centuries—cyclones of Egypt, Greece, and Assyria—fishes dried and hard, there a short time: others there long enough to putrefy—
But the omnipresence of Heterogeneity—or living fishes, also—ponds of fresh water: oceans of salt water.
As to the Law of Gravitation, I prefer to take one simple stand:
Orthodoxy accepts the correlation and equivalence of forces:
Gravitation is one of these forces.
All other forces have phenomena of repulsion and of inertness irrespective of distance, as well as of attraction.
But Newtonian Gravitation admits attraction only:
Then Newtonian Gravitation can be only one-third acceptable even to the orthodox, or there is denial of the correlation and equivalence of forces.
Or still simpler:
Here are the data.
Make what you will, yourself, of them.
In our Intermediatist revolt against homogeneous, or positive, explanations, or our acceptance that the all-sufficing cannot be less than universality, besides which, however, there would be nothing to suffice, our expression upon the Super-Sargasso Sea, though it harmonizes with data of fishes that fall as if from a stationary source—and, of course, with other data, too—is inadequate to account for two peculiarities of the falls of frogs: