Lo!, by Charles Fort, , at sacred-texts.com
Horses erect in a blizzard of frogs—and the patter of worms on umbrellas. The hum of lady birds in England—the twang of a swarm of Americans, at Templemore, Ireland. The appearance of Cagliostro—the appearance of Prof. Einstein's theories. A policeman dumps a wild man into a sack—and there is alarm upon all continents of this earth, because of a blaze in a constellation—
That all are related, because all are phenomena of one, organic existence—just as, upon Aug. 26, 1883, diverse occurrences were related, because all were reactions to something in common.
Aug. 26, 1883—people in Texas excitedly discussing a supposed war in Mexico—young men in Victoria, Australia, watching a snowstorm, the first time in their lives—crowds of Chinamen hammering
on gongs—staggering sailors in a vessel, off the Cape of Good Hope.
I have data for thinking that, somewhere beyond this earth, and not enormously far away, there was, before these occurrences, an eruption. About August 10th, of this year 1883, at various places, appeared "afterglows" that cannot be traced to terrestrial eruptions. Upon the 13th of August, an "afterglow" was reported from Indiana, and, ten days later, from California (Monthly Weather Review, 1883-289). Upon the 21st and 22nd, "afterglows" appeared in South Africa (Knowledge, 5-418).
There was no known eruption upon this earth, by which to explain these atmospheric effects, but there was a disturbance upon this earth, and the circumstances were similar to those in Italy, in April, 1872. The volcano Krakatoa, in Java, was in a state of minor activity. It was not considered alarming.
Upon the 25th of August, a correspondent to the Perth (Western Australia) Inquirer—see Nature, 29-388—was traveling far inland, in Western Australia. He was astonished to see ashes falling from the sky, continuing to fall, all afternoon. If this material came from regions external to this earth, it came down, hour after hour, as if to a point upon a stationary earth. An attempt to explain was that there may have been an eruption in some little-known part of Australia. In Australian newspapers, there is no mention of an eruption in Australia, at this time; and in my own records, there is only one instance, and that one doubtful, of an eruption in Australia, at any time. I am not here including New Zealand. There was, at this time, no eruption in New Zealand.
Krakatoa was in a state of minor activity. Wisemen from Batavia, localizing, like the wisemen at Vesuvius, in April, 1872, were studying only Krakatoa. Considered as a thing in itself, out of relation with anything else, conditions here were not alarming. The natives were told that there was no danger—and natives—Columbia University, or east side, west side, New York City—or Java—believe what the wisemen tell them.
April 19, 1872—the dust of unknown origin that fell from the sky—it preceded, by one day, the eruption of Vesuvius.
Aug. 25, 1883—the ashes of unknown origin that fell from the sky
August 26—Krakatoa exploded. It was one of this world's biggest noises, and surrounding mountains doffed their summits. Or, like a graduating class at Annapolis, they fired off their peaks, which came down, as new reefs in the ocean. The bombs that shot out were like meteors. The mountain was a stationary meteor-radiant, and shot out Krakatoatids. Had the winds gone upward, the new meteor stream would have been also of houses and cattle and people. The explosion shattered shores so that all charts were useless.
Early in the morning of the 27th, the Straits of Sunda went up. The units of its slaughters were villages. 95 villages went up, in waves that were 90 feet high, 100 feet high, 120 feet high. From the 95 villages, tens of thousands of humans were recruited, and they went dead into warring confusions. In the gigantic waves, armies of the dead were flung upon each other. There was no more knowledge of what it was all about than in many other battles. Charges of dead men rushed down the waves, and were knocked into rabbles by regiments spouting up from the bottom. Onslaughts of corpses—and in the midst of them appeared green fields that were the tops of palm trees. Raiders in thousands dashed over momentary meadows, and there were stampedes that were as senseless as the charges.
Stone clouds were rolling over the conflict. Furies of dead men were calming under bulks of pumice, and slimy palm trees were protruding. The waves were going down under pressures of pumice, twenty feet deep, in places. Battlefields on land have, after a while, turned quiet with graveyards: but change in the Straits of Sunda was of the quickest of mortuary transitions. The waves were pressed flat by pumice. There was a gray slab of stone over the remains of the people of 95 villages. Black palms, heavy with slime, drooped on each side of this long, gray slab.
By volcanic dust, the sun was dimmed so that unseasonable coldness followed. In places in Victoria, Australia, where for twenty-five years snow had not been seen, snow fell. I'd like to have this
especially noted—that at places far away, the volcanic bombs were mistaken for meteors—or they were meteors. An account of volcanic bombs from Krakatoa, which looked like "shooting stars," as seen from a vessel, about 90 miles from the volcano, is published in the Cape Times (Weekly Edition), Oct. 3, 1883. At Foochow, China, the glare in the sky was like an aurora borealis. For this record, which is important to us, see the Rept. Krakatoa Committee, Roy. Soc., p. 269. People in Texas heard sounds, as if of a battle. Off the Cape of Good Hope, vessels lurched in waves from the catastrophe.
It is my expression that the explosion of Krakatoa was stimulated by, or was a reaction to, an eruption in a land of stars that is not enormously far away. Afterglows that were seen after August 26th were attributed to Krakatoa—
That the preceding afterglows and the fall of ashes were of materials that drifted to this earth, from an eruption somewhere else, passing over a distance that cannot be considered vast, in a few weeks, or a few days—
And that the light of a volcanic eruption somewhere in the sky was seen by people of this earth.
See the Perth Inquirer, October 3—a correspondent tells of several observations, early in September, upon a brilliant light that had been seen in the sky, near the sun. There was a beam of light from it, and the observers thought that it was a comet. This appearance is described as conspicuous. If so, it was seen at no Observatory in Australia.
The circumstance that no professional astronomer in Australia saw this brilliant light brings up, in any normally respectful mind, doubt that there was such a light. But this appearance in the sky is the central datum of our expression, and I am going to make acceptable that, even though it was reported only by amateurs, there was at this time a conspicuous new appearance in the heavens. New Zealand—silence in the Observatories—but reports from amateurs, upon a "very large" light in the sky. See the New Zealand Times, Sept. 20, 1883. That a yarn in Australia could quickly spread to New Zealand? Ceylon—an unknown light that was seen in the sky of Ceylon, about a week after the eruption of Krakatoa (Madras Athenaeum, September 22). Straits Times, October 13—an appearance
like a comet, in the sky, at Samarung, where the natives and the Chinese were terrified, and burned incense for protection from it. England—observation, upon the night of August 28th, by Captain Noble, a well-known amateur astronomer. Whatever the professionals of Australia and New Zealand were doing, the professionals of England were doing likewise, if doing nothing is about the same wherever it's done. In Knowledge, 4-173, Capt. Noble tells of a sight in the heavens that he describes as "like a new and most glorious comet." An amateur in Liverpool saw it. Knowledge, 4-207—an object that looked like the planet Jupiter, with a beam from it. However, one professional astronomer did report something. Prof. Swift, at Rochester, N. Y., saw, nights of September 11 and 13, an object that was supposed by him to be a comet, but if so, it was not seen again (Observatory, 6-343).
There was a beam of light from this object: so it was thought to be a comet. See coming data upon beams of light that have associated with new stars.
The first observation upon a new light in the sky was two nights after the explosion of Krakatoa. It may have been shining, conspicuous but unseen, at the time of the eruption.
The matter of the supposed velocity of light, or the hustle of visibility, comes up in the mind of a conventionalist. But, if in the past, scientists have determined the velocity of light to be whatever suited their theories, I feel free for any view that I consider suitable. Look it up, and find that once upon a time the alleged velocity of light agreed with supposed distances in this supposed solar system, and that when changed theories required changes in these distances, the velocity of light was cut down to agree with the new supposed distances. In the kindergarten of science, the more or less intellectual infants who have made these experiments have prattled anything that the child-like astronomers have wanted them to prattle. A conventionalist would say that, even if there were a new star, at a time of terrestrial catastrophe, light of it would not be seen upon this earth, until years later. My expression is that so close to this earth are the stars that when a new star appears, or erupts, effects of it are observable upon this earth, and that, whether because of closeness, or because there is no velocity of light, it is seen
immediately—or is seeable immediately—if amateurs happen to be looking.
Upon the night of Aug. 6, 1885, while all the professional astronomers of this earth were attending to whatever may be professional astronomical duties, a clergyman made an astronomical discovery. The Rev. S. H. Saxby looked up at a new star, in the nebula of Andromeda, and he saw it.
There is much of uppishness to anybody who says, or announces, that of all cults his cult is the aristocrat. But most of his upward looking is likely to be at the supposed altitude of himself. All over this earth, professional astronomers were looking up at themselves. In England and Ireland, three amateurs, besides the Rev. S. H. Saxby, being probably of only ordinary conceit, looked up beyond themselves, and saw the new star. For the records, see the English Mechanic, of this period. Whatever the professional astronomers of the United States were looking up at, they saw nothing new. But somebody, in the U. S. A., did see the new star. Sidereal Messenger, 4-246—an amateur in Red Wing, Minnesota. It was not until August 31st that upness in an Observatory related to the stars. Finally a professional astronomer either looked up, or woke up; or waking up, looked up; or looking up, woke up.
The whole nebula of Andromeda shone with the light of the new star. Several observers thought that the newly illuminated nebula was a comet (Observatory, 8-330). From the light of the new star the whole formation lighted up, like a little West Indian island, at a time of an eruption in it. According to conventionalists, this nebula is 60 × 60 × 24 × 365 × 8 × 186,000 miles in diameter, and light from a new star, central in it, would occupy four years in traversing the whole. But as if because this nebula may not be so much as 60 × 186,000 inches in diameter, no appreciable time was occupied, and the whole formation lighted up at once.
Other indications—whatever we think we mean by "indications"—that the nebula of Andromeda is close to this earth:
Sweden—and it was reported that wild fowl began to migrate, at the earliest date (August 16th) ever recorded in Sweden—
Flap of a wild duck's wings—and the twinkles of a star—the star
and the bird stammered a little story that may some day be vibrated by motors, oscillating back and forth from Vega to Canopus. So the birds began to fly.
It was because of unseasonable coldness in Sweden. Unseasonable coldness is a phenomenon of this earth's volcanic eruptions. It is attributed to the shutting off of sunlight by volcanic dusts. The temperature was lower, in Sweden, than ever before recorded, in the middle of August (Nature, 32-427). Upon August 31st, the new star reached maximum brilliance, and upon this date the temperature was the lowest that it had ever been known to be, in the last of August, in Scotland (Nature, 32-495).
All very well—except that unusual coldness may be explained in various ways, having nothing to do with volcanoes
See Nature, 32-466, 625—that nine days after the first observation upon the new star in Andromeda, an afterglow was seen in Sweden. There is no findable record of a volcanic eruption, upon this earth, to which this phenomenon could be attributed. September 3rd, 5th, 6th—afterglows appeared in England. These effects continued to be seen in Sweden, until the middle of September.
I don't know whether these data are enough to jolt our whole existence into a new epoch, or not. From what I know of the velocity of thought, I should say not.
If a volcanic discharge did drift from Andromeda to Sweden, it came from a northern constellation to a northern part of this earth, as if to a part of this earth that is nearest to a northern constellation. But, if Andromeda were trillions of miles away, no part of this earth could be appreciably nearer than any other part, to the constellation. If repeating afterglows, in Sweden, were phenomena of repeating arrivals of dust, from outer space, they so repeated in the sky of one part of this earth, because this earth is stationary.
I note that I have overlooked the new star in Cygnus, late in the year 1876. Perhaps it is because this star was discovered by a professional astronomer that I neglected it. However, I shall have material for some malicious comments. Upon the night of Nov. 24, 1876, Dr. Schmidt, of the Athens Observatory, saw, in the constellation Cygnus, a new star. It was about third magnitude, and increased to about second. Over all the Observatories of this earth,
this new star was shining magnificently, but it was not until December 9th that any other astronomer saw it. It was seen, in England, upon the 9th, because, upon the 9th, news reached England of Dr. Schmidt's discovery. I note the matter of possible overclouding of the sky in all other parts of this earth, at this time. I note that, between the dates of November 24th and December 9th, there were eight favorable nights, in England.
It so happens that I have record of what one English astronomer was doing, in this period. Upon the night of November 25, he was looking up at the sky.
Meteoric observations are conventionalities.
New stars are unconventionalities.
See Nature, Dec. 21, 1876—this night, this astronomer observed meteors.
There was a volcanic eruption in the Philippines, upon the 26th of November. About two weeks later, a red rain fell in Italy.
There is considerable in this book that is in line with the teachings of the most primitive theology. We have noted how agreeable I am sometimes to the most southern Methodists. It is that scientific orthodoxy of today has brutally, or mechanically, or unintelligently, reacted sheerly against all beliefs of the preceding, or theological, orthodoxy, and has reacted too far. All reactions react too far. Then a reaction against this reaction must of course favor, or restore, some of the beliefs of the earlier orthodoxy.
Often before disasters upon this earth there have been appearances that were interpretable as warnings.
But if a godness places kindly lights in the sky, also is it spreading upon the minds of this earth a darkness of scientists. This is about the beneficence of issuing warnings, and also seeing to it that the warnings shall not be heeded. This may not be idiocy. It may be "divine plan" that surplus populations shall be murdered. In less pious terms we may call this maintenance of equilibrium.
If surplusages of people upon this earth should reduce, and if then it should, in the organic sense, becomes desirable that people in disaster-zones should live longer, or die more lingeringly, provided for them are phenomena of a study of warnings, a study that is now, or that has been, subject to inhibitions.
Aug. 31, 1886—"Just before the sun dropped behind the horizon, it was eclipsed by a mass of inky, black clouds." People noted this appearance. It was like the "dense, mountain-like cloud" that appeared, at Callao, Peru, before the earthquake of Sept. 4, 1868. But these people were in a North American city. Meteors were seen. They were like the fire balls that have shot from this earth's volcanoes. Luminous clouds, such as have been seen at times of this earth's eruptions, appeared, and people watched them. There was no thought of danger. There was a glare. More meteors. The city of Charleston, South Carolina, was smashed.
People running from their houses—telegraph poles falling around them—they were meshed in coils of wires. Street lamps and lights in houses waved above, like lights of a fishing fleet that had cast out nets. It was a catch of bodies, but that was because minds had been meshed in the net of a cult, woven out of the impudence of the De Ballores and the silences of the Davisons, spread to this day upon every school of this earth.
The ground went on quaking. Down from the unknown came, perhaps, a volcanic discharge upon this quaking ground. Whether it were volcanic dust, or not, it is said, in the New York World, September 4, that "volcanic dust" was falling, at Wilmington, North Carolina.
September 5th—a severe shock, at Charleston, and a few minutes later came a brilliant meteor, which left a long train of fire. At the same time, two brilliant meteors were seen, at Columbia, S. C. See almost any newspaper, of the time. I happen to take from the London Times, September 7.
There was another discharge from the unknown—or a "strange cloud" appeared, upon the 8th of September, off the coast of South Carolina. The cloud hung, heavy, in the sky, and was thought to be from burning grass on one of the islands. Charleston News and Courier, September to—that such was the explanation, but that no grass was known to be burning.
If a procession starts at Washington Square, New York City, and, if soldiers arrive in Harlem, and then keep on arriving in Harlem, I explain that, in spite of all the eccentricities of Harlem, Harlem is neither flying away from the procession, nor turning on 125th
[paragraph continues] Street, for an axis. Meteors kept on coming to Charleston. They kept on arriving at this quaking part of this earth's surface, as if at a point on a stationary body. The most extraordinary display was upon the night of October 22nd. There was a severe quake, at Charleston, while these meteors were falling. About fifty appeared (New York Sun, November 1). About midnight, October 23-24, a meteor exploded over Atlanta, Georgia, casting a light so intense that small objects on the ground were visible (New York Herald, October 25). A large meteor, at Charleston, night of October 24th (Monthly Weather Review, 1886-296). An extraordinary meteor, at Charleston, night of the 28th, is described, in the News and Courier, of the 29th, as "a strange, celestial visitor."
"It was only coincidence."
There is no conventional seismologist, and there is no orthodox astronomer, who says otherwise.
In the Friend of India, June 22, 1897, is another record of some of the meteors that were seen in Charleston: that, at the time of the great quake, Prof. Oswald saw meteor after meteor shoot from an apparent radiant near Leo. Carl McKinley, in his Descriptive Narrative of the Earthquake of August 31, 1886, records a report from Cape Romain Light Station, upon "an unusual fall of meteors during the night."
Again a volcanic discharge came to this point—or a fall of ashes was reported. In the News and Courier, November 20, it is said that, about ten days before, ashes had fallen from the sky, at Summerville, S. C. It is said that the material was undoubtedly ashes. Then it is said that it had been discovered that, upon the day of this occurrence, there had been "an extensive forest fire near Summerville."
Monthly Weather Review, October and November, 1886—under "Forest and Prairie Fires," there is no mention of a forest fire, either small or extensive, in either North or South Carolina.
Summerville, and not Charleston, was the center of the disturbances. Ashes came from somewhere exactly to this central point.
In A Study of Recent Earthquakes, Dr. Charles Davison gives 36 pages to an account of phenomena at Charleston. He studies neither meteors nor anything else that was seen in the sky. He
studiously avoids all other occurrences upon this earth, at this time. Refine such a study to a finality of omissions, and the vacancy of the imbecile is the ideal of the student. I approve this, as harmless.
The other occurrences were enormous. Destruction in South Carolina was small compared with a catastrophe in Greece. Upon the day of the first slight shock, at Charleston (August 27th), there was a violent quake in Greece, and at the same time, torrents poured from the sky, in Turkey, carrying away houses and cattle and bridges (Levant Herald, September 8). Thousands of houses collapsed, and hundreds of persons perished. This day, there was a shock, at Srinagar, Kashmir: shocks in Italy and Malta; and increased activity of Vesuvius. Just such an inky cloud as was seen at Charleston, was seen in the eastern Mediterranean, at the time of the catastrophe in Greece—reported by the captain of the steamship La Valette—see Malta Standard, September 2—"a mass of thick, black smoke, changing into a reddish color." "The sea was perfectly calm, at the time." In the sky of Greece, there was a glare, like the light of a volcanic eruption (Comptes Rendus, 103-565) .
I confess to a childish liking for making little designs, or arrangements of data, myself. And every formal design depends upon blanks, as much as upon occupied spaces. But my objection to such a patternmaker as Dr. Davison is to the preponderance of what he leaves out. In Dr. Davison's 36 pages upon the lesser catastrophe, at Charleston, he spins thin lines of argument, in a pretty pattern of agreements, around omissions. It is his convention that all earthquakes are of local, subterranean origin—so he leaves out all appearances in the sky, and mentions none of the other violences that disturbed a zone around this earth. It is a monstrous disproportion, when a mind that should be designing embroidery takes catastrophes for the lines and blanks of its compositions.
It is my expression that if a clipper of data should mislay his scissors, or should accidentally let in an account of one of the many localized repetitions of meteors, he would tell of an indication that this earth is, or is almost, stationary. Night of October 10th—meteors falling at Srinagar, Kashmir. There was an earthquake. Shocks
and falls of meteors continued together. According to my searches in Indian newspapers, these repeating meteors were seen nowhere else. As to zone-phenomena, I point out that there is a difference of only one degree of latitude between Charleston and Srinagar. For the data, see the Times of India, November 5.
If a string of meteors should be flying toward this earth, and if the first of them should fall to this earth, at Srinagar, how is anybody going to think of the rest of them falling exactly here, if this earth is speeding away from them? Sometimes I am almost inclined to have a little faith, of course not in general reasoning, but anyway in my own reasoning, and I go on to observe that a long string of meteors can be thought of, as coming down to the one point where the first fell, if that point is not moving away from them. But I begin to suspect that the trouble with me is that I am simple-minded, and that mine enemies, whom I call "conventionalists," are more subtle than I am, and prefer their views, because mine are so obvious. Of course this earth is stationary, in a surrounding of revolving stars so far from far away that an expedition could sail to them. But no dialectician, of any fastidiousness, would be attracted by a subject so easy to maintain.
Back to data—geysers spouted from the ground, at Charleston, and there were sulphurous emissions. The ground was incipiently volcanic and charged electrically.
Meteors and smoky discharges and glares and falls of ashes and enormous pours of water, as if from a volcano that was moving around a zone of this earth
And there is no knowing when, in the year 1886, disturbances began in the constellation Andromeda.
In the Observatory, 9-402, it is said that, upon September 26th, a new star in the Andromeda nebula had been reported by one astronomer, but that, according to another astronomer, there was no such new star. Astronomical Register, 1886-269—that, upon October 3rd, a new star in this nebula had been photographed.
I think of our existence as a battery—an enormous battery, or, in the cosmic sense, a little battery. So I think of volcanic regions, or incipiently volcanic regions, in a land of the stars and in a land of this earth, as electrodes, which are mutually perturbative, and
between which flow quantities of water and other volcanic discharges, in electrolytic, or electrically teleportative, currents. According to data, I think that some teleportations are instantaneous, and that some are slow drifts. To illustrate what I mean by stimulation, most likely electric, by interacting volcanoes, and transportation, or electric teleportation, of matter, between mutually affective volcanoes, I shall report a conversation, which, unlike mere human dialogue, was seen, as well as heard.
Upon the evening of Sept. 3, 1902, at Martinique, where the volcano Mont Pelée humps high, Prof. Angelo Heilprin, as he tells in his book, Mont Pelée, saw southward, at sea, electric flashes. They were in the direction of La Soufrière, the volcano upon the island of St. Vincent, 90 miles away. La Soufrière was flashing. Then Pelée answered. Pelée hugely answered, in tones befitting greater magnitude. A dozen flickers in the southern sky—and then Pelée speaking up, with a blinding, electric opinion. The little female volcano, or anyway the volcano with a feminine name, nagged and nagged, and was then answered with a roar. This bickering kept up a long time.
About 5 o'clock, morning of the 4th, there was another appearance, upon the southern horizon. It was a dense bulk of smoke from La Soufrière. It drifted slowly. It went directly to Pelée, and massed about Pelée.
There's no use arguing with a little, female volcano: she casts out obscurations. But there may be enormous use for this occurrence regarded as data.