The Book of the Damned

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X



Chapter XIV

WE see conventionally. It is not only that we think and act and speak and dress alike, because of our surrender to social attempt at Entity, in which we are only super-cellular. We see what it is "proper" that we should see. It is orthodox enough to say that a horse is not a horse, to an infant -- any more than is an orange an orange to the unsophisticated. It's interesting to walk along a street sometimes and look at things and wonder what they'd look like, if we hadn't been taught to see horses and trees and houses as horses and trees and houses. I think that to super-sight they are local stresses merging indistinguishably into one another, in an all-inclusive nexus.

I think that it would be credible enough to say that many times have Monstrator and Elvera and Azuria crossed telescopic fields of vision, and were not even seen -- because it wouldn't be proper to see them; it wouldn't be respectable, and it wouldn't be respectful: it would be insulting to old bones to see them: it would bring on evil influences from the relics of St. Isaac to see them.

But our data:

Of vast worlds that are orbitless, or that are navigable, or that are adrift in inter-planetary tides and currents: the data that we shall have of their approach, in modern times, within five or six miles of this earth --

But then their visits, or approaches, to other planets, or to other of the few regularized bodies that have surrendered to the attempted Entity of this solar system as a whole --

The question that we can't very well evade:

Have these other worlds, or super-constructions, ever been seen by astronomers?

I think there would not be much approximation to realness in taking refuge in the notion of astronomers who stare and squint and see only that which it is respectable and respectful to see. It is all very well to say that astronomers are hypnotics, and that an astronomer looking at the moon is hypnotized by the moon, but our acceptance is that the bodies of this present expression often [184/185] visit the moon, or cross it, or are held in temporary suspension near it -- then some of them must often have been within the diameter of an astronomer's hypnosis.

Our general expression:

That, upon the oceans of this earth, there are regularized vessels, but also that there are tramp vessels:

That, upon the super-ocean, there are regularized planets, but also that there are tramp worlds:

That astronomers are like mercantile purists who would deny commercial vagabondage.

Our acceptance is that vast celestial vagabonds have been excluded by astronomers, primarily because their irresponsibilities are an affront to the pure and the precise, or to attempted positivism; and secondarily because they have not been seen so very often. The planets steadily reflect the light of the sun: upon this uniformity a system that we call Primary Astronomy has been built up; but now the subject-matter of Advanced Astronomy is data of celestial phenomena that are sometimes light and sometimes dark, varying like some of the satellites of Jupiter, but with a wider range. However, light or dark, they have been seen and reported so often that the only important reason for their exclusion is -- that they don't fit in.

With dark bodies that are probably external to our own solar system, I have, in the provincialism that no one can escape, not much concern. Dark bodies afloat in outer space would have been damned a few years ago, but now they're sanctioned by Prof. Barnard -- and, if he says they're all right, you may think of them without the fear of doing something wrong or ridiculous -- the close kinship we note so often between the evil and the absurd -- I suppose by the ridiculous I mean the froth of evil. The dark companion of Algol, for instance. Though that's a clear case of celestial miscegenation, the purists, or positivists, admit that's so. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1915-394, Prof. Barnard writes of an object -- he calls it an "object" -- in Cephus.(1) His idea is that there are dark, opaque bodies outside this solar system. But in the Astrophysical Journal, 1916-1, he modifies into regarding them as "dark nebulæ."(2) That's not so interesting.

We accept that Venus, for instance, has often been visited by other worlds, or by super-constructions, from which come cinders and coke and coal; that sometimes these things have reflected light and have been seen from this earth -- by professional astronomers. [185/186] It will be noted that throughout this chapter our data are accursed Brahmins -- as, by hypnosis and inertia, we keep on and keep on saying, just as a good many of the scientists of the 19th century kept on and kept on admitting the power of the system that preceded them -- or Continuity would be smashed. There's a big chance here for us to be instantaneously translated to the Positive Absolute -- oh, well --

What I emphasize here is that our damned data are observations by astronomers of the highest standing, excommunicated by astronomers of similar standing -- but backed up by the dominant spirit of their era -- to which all minds had to equilibrate or be negligible, unheard, submerged. It would seem sometimes, in this book, as if our revolts were against the dogmatisms and pontifications of single scientists of eminence. This is only a convenience, because it seems necessary to personify. If we look over Philosophical Transactions, or the publications of the Royal Astronomical Society, for instance, we see that Herschel, for instance, was as powerless as any boy star-gazer, to enforce acceptance of any observation of his that did not harmonize with the system that was growing up as independently of him and all other astronomers, as a phase in the development of an embryo compels all cells to take on appearances concordantly with the design and the predetermined progress and schedule of the whole.

Visitors to Venus:

Evans, "Ways of the Planets," p. 140:(3)

That, in 1645, a body large enough to look like a satellite was seen near Venus. Four times in the first half of the 18th century, a similar observation was reported. The last report occurred in 1767.

A large body has been seen -- seven times, according to Science Gossip, 1886-178 -- near Venus.(4) At least one astronomer, Houzeau, accepted these observations and named the -- world, planet, super-construction -- "Neith." His views are mentioned "in passing, but without endorsement," in the Trans. N. Y. Acad., 5-249.(5)

Houzeau or some one writing for the magazine-section of a Sunday newspaper -- outer darkness for both alike. A new satellite in this solar system might be a little disturbing -- though the formulas of La Place, which were considered final in his day, have survived the admittance of five or six hundred bodies not included in those formulas -- a satellite to Venus might be a little disturbing, but would be explained -- but a large body approaching a planet -- staying a [186/187] while -- going away -- coming back some other time -- anchoring, as it were --

Azuria is pretty bad, but Azuria is no worse than Neith.

Astrophysical Journal, 1-127:(6)

A light-reflecting body, or a bright spot near Mars: seen Nov. 25, 1894, by Prof. Pickering and others, at the Lowell Observatory, above an unilluminated part of Mars -- self-luminous, it would seem -- thought to have been a cloud -- but estimated to have been about twenty miles away from the planet.

Luminous spot seen moving across the disk of Mercury, in 1799, by Harding and Schroeter. (Monthly Notices of the R. A. S., 38-338.)(7)

In the first Bulletin issued by the Lowell Observatory, in 1903, Prof. Lowell describes a body that was seen on the terminator of Mars, May 20, 1903.(8) On May 27, it was "suspected." If still there, it had moved, we are told, about 300 miles -- "probably a dust cloud."

Very conspicuous and brilliant spots seen on the disk of Mars, Oct. and Nov., 1911. (Popular Astronomy, Vol. 19, No. 10.)(9)

So one of them accepted six or seven observations that were in agreement, except that they could not be regularized, upon a world -- planet -- satellite -- and he gave it a name. He named it "Neith."

Monstrator and Elvera and Azuria and Super-Romanimus --

Or heresy and orthodoxy and the oneness of all quasiness, and our ways and means and methods are the very same. Or, if we name things that may not be, we are not of lonely guilt in the nomenclature of absences --

But now Leverrier and "Vulcan."

Leverrier again.

Or to demonstrate the collapsibility of froth, stick a pin in the largest bubble of it. Astronomy and inflation: and by inflation we mean expansion of the attenuated. Or that the science of Astronomy is a phantom-film distended with myth-stuff -- but always our acceptance that it approximates higher to substantiality than did the system that preceded it.

So Leverrier and the "planet Vulcan."

And we repeat, and it will do us small good to repeat. If you be of the masses that the astronomers have hypnotized -- being themselves hypnotized, or they could not hypnotize others -- or that the hypnotist's control is not the masterful power that it is popularly [187/188] supposed to be, but only transference of state from one hypnotic to another --

If you be of the masses that the astronomers have hypnotized, you will not be able even to remember. Ten pages from here, and Leverrier and the "planet Vulcan" will have fallen from your mind, like beans from a magnet, or like data of cold meteorites from the mind of a Thomson.

Leverrier and the "planet Vulcan."

And much the good it will do us to repeat.

But at least temporarily we shall have an impression of a historic fiasco, such as, in our acceptance, could occur only in a quasi-existence.

In 1859, Dr. Lescarbault, an amateur astronomer, of Orgères, France, announced that, upon March 26, of that year, he had seen a body of planetary size cross the sun. We are in a subject that is now as unholy to the present system as ever were its own subjects to the system that preceded it, or as ever were slanders against miracles to the preceding system. Nevertheless few text-books go so far as quite to disregard the tragedy. The method of the systematists is slightingly to give a few instances of the unholy, and dispose of the few. If it were desirable to them to deny that there are mountains upon this earth, they would record a few observations upon some slight eminences near Orange, N.J., but say that commuters, though estimable persons in several ways, are likely to have their observations mixed. The text-books casually mention a few of the "supposed" observations upon "Vulcan," and then pass on.

Dr. Lescarbault wrote to Leverrier, who hastened to Orgères --

Because this announcement assimilated with his own calculations upon a planet between Mercury and the sun --

Because this solar system itself has never attained positiveness in the aspect of Regularity: there are to Mercury, as there are to Neptune, phenomena irreconcilable with the formulas, or motions that betray influence by something else.

We are told that Leverrier "satisfied himself as to the substantial accuracy of the reported observation." The story of this investigation is told in Monthly Notices, 20-98.(10) It seems too bad to threaten the naïve little thing with our rude sophistications, but it is amusingly of the ingenuousness of the age from which present dogmas have survived. Lescarbault wrote to Leverrier. Leverrier hastened to Orgères. But he was careful not to tell Lescarbault [188/189] who he was. Went right in, and "subjected Dr. Lescarbault to a very severe cross-examination" -- just the way you or I may feel at liberty to go into anybody's home and be severe with people -- "pressing him hard step by step" -- just as any one might go into some one else's house and press him hard, though unknown to the hard-pressed one. Not until he was satisfied, did Leverrier reveal his identity. I suppose Dr. Lescarbault expressed astonishment. I think there's something utopian about this: it's so unlike the stand-offishness of New York life.

Leverrier gave the name "Vulcan" to the object that Dr. Lescarbault had reported.(11)

By the same means by which he is, even to this day, supposed -- by the faithful -- to have discovered Neptune, he had already announced the probable existence of an Intra-Mercurial body, or group of bodies. He had five observations besides Lescarbault's upon something that had been seen to cross the sun. In accordance with the mathematical hypnoses of his era, he studied these six transits. Out of them he computed elements giving "Vulcan" a period of about 20 days, or a formula for heliocentric longitude at any time.(12)

But he placed the time of best observation away up in 1877.

But even so, or considering that he still had probably a good many years to live, it may strike one that he was a little rash -- that is if one has not gone very deep into the study of hypnoses -- that, having "discovered" Neptune by a method which, in our acceptance, had no more to recommend it than had once equally well-thought-of methods of witch-finding, he should not have taken such chances: that if he was right as to Neptune, but he should be wrong as to "Vulcan," his average would be away below that of most fortune-tellers, who could scarcely hope to do business upon a fifty per cent. basis -- all that the reasoning of a tyro in hypnoses.

The date:

March 22, 1877.

The scientific world was up on its hind legs nosing the sky. The thing had been done so authoritatively. Never a pope had said a thing with more of the seeming of finality. If six observations correlated, what more could be asked? The Editor of Nature, a week before the predicted event, though cautious, said that it is difficult to explain how six observers, unknown to one another, could have data that could be formulated, if they were not related phenomena.(13)

In a way, at this point occurs the crisis of our whole book. [189/190]

Formulas are against us.

But can astronomic formulas, backed up by observations in agreement, taken many years apart, calculated by a Leverrier, be as meaningless, in a positive sense, as all other quasi-things that we have encountered so far?

The preparations they made, before March 22, 1877. In England, the Astronomer Royal made it the expectation of his life: notified observers at Madras, Melbourne, Sydney, and New Zealand, and arranged with observers in Chile and the United States.(14) M. Struve had prepared for observations in Siberia and Japan --

March 22, 1877 --

Not absolutely, hypocritically, I think it's pathetic, myself. If any one should doubt the sincerity of Leverrier, in this matter, we note, whether it has meaning or not, that a few months later he died.

I think we'll take up Monstrator, though there's so much to this subject that we'll have to come back.

According to the Annual Register, 9-120, upon the 9th of August, 1762, M. de Rostan, of Basle, France, was taking altitudes of the sun, at Lausanne.(15) He saw a vast, spindle-shaped body, about three of the sun's digits in breadth and nine in length, advancing slowly across the disk of the sun, or "with no more than half the velocity with which ordinary solar spots move." It did not disappear until the 7th of September, when it reached the sun's limb. Because of the spindle-like form, I incline to think of a super-Zeppelin, but another observation, which seems to indicate that it was a world, is that, though it was opaque, and "eclipsed the sun," it had around it a kind of nebulosity -- or atmosphere? A penumbra would ordinarily be a datum of a sun spot, but there are observations that indicate that this object was at a considerable distance from the sun:

It is recorded that another observer, at Paris, watching the sun, at this time, had not seen this object;

But that M. Croste, at Sole, about forty-five German leagues northward of Lausanne, had seen it, describing the same spindle-form, but disagreeing a little as to breadth. Then comes the important point: that he and M. de Rostan did not see it upon the same part of the sun. This, then, is parallax, and compounded with invisibility at Paris, is great parallax -- or that, in the course of a month, in the summer of 1762, a large, opaque, spindle-shaped body traversed the disk of the sun, but at a great distance from the sun. The writer in the Register says: "In a word, we know of nothing to have recourse to, in the heavens, by which to explain this phenome- [190/191] non." I suppose he was not a hopeless addict to explaining. Extraordinary -- we fear he must have been a man of loose habits in some other respects.

As to us --


In the Monthly Notices of the R. A. S., Feb., 1877, Leverrier, who never lost faith, up to the last day, gives the six observations upon an unknown body of planetary size, that he had formulated.(16)

Fritsch, Oct. 10, 1802; Stark, Oct. 9, 1819; De Cuppis, Oct. 30, 1839; Sidebotham, Nov. 12, 1849; Lescarbault, March 26, 1859; Lummis, March 20, 1862.

If we weren't so accustomed to Science in its essential aspect of Disregard, we'd be mystified and impressed, like the Editor of Nature, with the formulation of these data: agreement of so many instances would seem incredible as a coincidence: but our acceptance is that, with just enough disregard, astronomers and fortune-tellers can formulate anything -- or we'd engage, ourselves, to formulate periodicities in the crowds in Broadway -- say that every Wednesday morning, a tall man, with one leg and a black eye, carrying a rubber plant, passes the Singer Building, at quarter past ten o'clock. Of course it couldn't really be done, unless such a man did have such a periodicity, but if some Wednesday mornings it should be a small child lugging a barrel, or a fat negress with a week's wash, by ordinary disregard that would be a prediction good enough for the kind of quasi-existence we're in.

So whether we accuse, or whether we think that the word "accuse" over-dignifies an attitude toward a quasi-astronomer, or mere figment in a super-dream, our acceptance is that Leverrier never did formulate observations --

That he picked out observations that could be formulated --

That of this type are all formulas --

That if Leverrier had not been himself helplessly hypnotized, or if he had had in him more than a tincture of realness, never could he have been beguiled by such a quasi-process: but that he was hypnotized, and so extended, or transferred, his condition to others, that upon March 22, 1877, he had this earth bristling with telescopes, with the rigid and almost inanimate forms of astronomers behind them --

And not a blessed thing of any unusuality was seen upon that day or succeeding days. [191/192]

But that the science of Astronomy suffered the slightest in prestige?

It couldn't. The spirit of 1877 was behind it. If, in an embryo, some cells should not live up to the phenomena of their era, the others will sustain the scheduled appearances. Not until an embryo enters the mammalian stage are cells of the reptilian stage false cells.

It is our acceptance that there were many equally authentic reports upon large planetary bodies that had been seen near the sun; that, of many, Leverrier picked out six; not then deciding that all the other observations related to still other large, planetary bodies, but arbitrarily, or hypnotically, disregarding -- or heroically disregarding -- every one of them -- that to formulate at all he had to exclude falsely. The dénouement killed him, I think. I'm not at all inclined to place him with the Grays and Hitchcocks and Symonses. I'm not, because, though it was rather unsportsmanlike to put the date so far ahead, he did give a date, and he did stick to it with such a high approximation --

I think Leverrier was translated to the Positive Absolute.

The disregarded:

Observation, of June 26, 1819, by Gruithinson -- but that was of two bodies that crossed the sun together --(17)

Nature, 14-469:(18)

That, according to the astronomer, J. R. Hind, Benjamin Scott, City Chamberlain of London, and Mr. Wray, had, in 1847, seen a body similar to "Vulcan" cross the sun.

Similar observation by Hind and Lowe, March 12, 1849. (L'Année Scientifique, 1876-9.)(19)

Nature, 14-505:(20)

Body of apparent size of Mercury, seen, Jan. 29, 1860, by F. A. R. Russell and four other observers, crossing the sun.

De Vico's observation of July 12, 1837. ("Observatory," 2-424.)(21)

L'Année Scientifique, 1865-16:(22)

That another amateur astronomer, M. Coumbray, of Constantinople, had written to Leverrier, that, upon the 8th of March, 1865, he had seen a black point, sharply outlined, traverse the disk of the sun. It detached itself from a group of sun spots near the limb of the sun, and took 48 minutes to reach the other limb. Figuring upon the diagram from M. Coumbray, a central passage would have taken a little more than an hour. This observation was disregarded by Leverrier, because his formula required about four times that [192/193] velocity. The point here is that these other observations are as authentic as those that Leverrier included; that, then, upon data as good as the data of "Vulcan," there must be other "Vulcans" -- the heroic and defiant disregard, then, of trying to formulate one, omitting the others, which, by orthodox doctrine, must have influenced it greatly, if all were in the relatively narrow space between Mercury and the sun.

Observation upon another such body, of April 4, 1876, by M. Weber, of Berlin. As to this observation, Leverrier was informed by Wolf, in August, 1876 (L'Année Scientifique, 1876-7).(23) It made no difference, so far as can be known, to this notable positivist.

Two other observations noted by Hind and Denning -- London Times, Nov. 3, 1871, and March 26, 1873.(24)

Monthly Notices of the R. A. S., 20-100:(25)

Standacher, Feb., 1762; Lichtenberg, Nov. 19, 1762; Hoffman, May, 1764; Dangos, Jan. 18, 1798; Stark, Feb. 12, 1820. An observation by Schmidt, Oct. 11, 1847, is said to be doubtful: but, upon page 192, it is said that this doubt had arisen because of a mistaken translation, and two other observations by Schmidt are given: Oct. 14, 1849, and Feb. 18, 1850 -- also an observation by Lofft, Jan. 6, 1818. Observation by Steinheibel, at Vienna, April 27, 1820 (Monthly Notices, 1862).(26)

Haase had collected reports of twenty observations like Lescarbault's. The list was published in 1872, by Wolf.(27) Also there are other instances like Gruithinsen's:

Amer. Jour. Sci., 2-28-446:(28)

Report by Pastorff that he had seen twice in 1836, and once in 1837, two round spots of unequal size moving across the sun, changing position relatively to each other, and taking a different course, if not orbit, each time: that, in 1834, he had seen similar bodies pass six times across the disk of the sun, looking very much like Mercury in his transits.

March 22, 1876 --

But to point out Leverrier's poverty-stricken average -- or discovering planets upon a fifty per cent. basis -- would be to point out the low percentage of realness in the quasi-myth-stuff of which the whole system is composed. We do not accuse the text-books of omitting this fiasco, but we do note that theirs is the conventional adaptation here of all beguilers who are in difficulties --

The diverting of attention.

It wouldn't be possible in a real existence, with real mentality, to [193/194] deal with, but I suppose it's good enough for the quasi-intellects that stupefy themselves with text-books. The trick here is to gloss over Leverrier's mistake, and blame Lescarbault -- he was only an amateur -- had delusions. The reader's attention is led against Lescarbault by a report from M. Lias, director of the Brazilian Coast Survey, who, at the time of Lescarbault's "supposed" observation had been watching the sun in Brazil, and, instead of seeing even ordinary sun spots, had noted that the region of the "supposed transit" was of "uniform intensity."(29)

But the meaninglessness of all utterances in quasi-existence --

"Uniform intensity" turns our way as much as against us -- or some day some brain will conceive a way of beating Newton's third law -- if every reaction, or resistance, is, or can be, interpretable as stimulus instead of resistance -- if this could be done in mechanics, there's a way open here for someone to own the world -- specifically in this matter, "uniform intensity" means that Lescarbault saw no ordinary sun spot, just as much as it means that no spot at all was seen upon the sun. Continuing the interpretation of a resistance as an assistance, which can always be done with mental forces -- making us wonder what applications could be made of steam and electric forces -- we point out that invisibility in Brazil means parallax quite as truly as it means absence, and, inasmuch as "Vulcan" was supposed to be distant from the sun, we interpret denial as corroboration -- method of course of every scientist, politician, theologian, high-school debater.

So the text-books, with no especial cleverness, because no especial cleverness is needed, lead the reader into contempt for the amateur of Orgères, and forgetfulness of Leverrier -- and some other subject is taken up.

But our own acceptance:

That these data are as good as ever they were;

That, if some one of eminence should predict an earthquake, and if there should be no earthquake at the predicted time, that would discredit the prophet, but data of past earthquakes would remain as good as ever they had been. It is easy enough to smile at the illusion of a single amateur --

The mass-formation:

Fritsch, Stark, De Cuppis, Sidebotham, Lescarbault, Lummis, Gruithinson, De Vico, Scott, Wray, Russell, Hind, Lowe, Coumbray, Weber, Standacher, Lichtenberg, Dangos, Hoffman, Schmidt, Lofft, Steinheibel, Pastorff --(30) [194/195]

These are only the observations conventionally listed relatively to an Intra-Mercurial planet. They are formidable enough to prevent our being diverted, as if it were all the dream of a lonely amateur -- but they're a mere advance-guard. From now on other data of large celestial bodies, some dark and some reflecting light, will pass and pass and keep on passing --

So that some of us will remember a thing or two, after the procession's over -- possibly.

Taking up only one of the listed observations --

Or our impression of the discrediting of Leverrier has nothing to do with the acceptability of these data:

In the London Times, Jan. 10, 1860, is Benjamin Scott's account of his observation:(31)

That, in the summer of 1847, he had seen a body that had seemed to be the size of Venus, crossing the sun. He says that, hardly believing the evidence of his sense of sight, he had looked for someone, whose hopes or ambitions would not make him so subject to illusion. He had told his little son, aged five years, to look through the telescope. The child had exclaimed that he had seen "a little balloon" crossing the sun. Scott says that he had not had sufficient self-reliance to make public announcement of his remarkable observation at the time, but that, in the evening of the same day, he had told Dr. Dick, F. R. A. S., who had cited other instances. In the Times, Jan. 12, 1860, is published a letter from Richard Abbott, F. R. A. S.: that he remembered Mr. Scott's letter to him upon this observation, at the time of the occurrence.(32)

I suppose that, at the beginning of this chapter, one had the notion that, by hard scratching through musty old records we might rake up vague, more than doubtful data, distortable into what's called evidence of unrecognized worlds or constructions of planetary size --

But the high authenticity and the support and the modernity of these of the accursed that we are now considering --

And our acceptance that ours is quasi-existence, in which above all other things, hopes, ambitions, emotions, motivations, stands Attempt to Positivize: that we are here considering an attempt to systematize that is sheer fanaticism in its disregard of the unsystematizable -- that it represented the highest good in the 19th century -- that it is mono-mania, but heroic mono-mania that was quasi-divine in the 19th century --

But that this isn't the 19th century.

As a duly sponsored Brahmin -- in the regard of Baptists -- the [195/196] objects of July 29, 1878, stand out and proclaim themselves so that nothing but disregard of the intensity of mono-mania can account for their reception by the system:

Or the total eclipse of July 29, 1878, and the reports by Prof. Watson, from Rawlins, Wyoming, and by Prof. Swift, from Denver, Colorado: that they had seen two shining objects at a considerable distance from the sun.

It's quite in accord with our general expression: not that there is an Intra-Mercurial planet, but that there are different bodies, many vast things; near this earth sometimes, near the sun sometimes; orbitless worlds, which, because of scarcely any data of collisions, we think of as under navigable control -- or dirigible super-constructions.

Prof. Watson and Prof. Swift published their observations.

Then the disregard that we can not think of in terms of ordinary, sane exclusions.

The text-book systematists begin by telling us that the trouble with these observations is that they disagree widely: there is considerable respectfulness, especially for Prof. Swift, but we are told that by coincidence these two astronomers, hundreds of miles apart, were illuded: their observations were so different --

Prof. Swift (Nature, Sept. 19, 1878):(33)

That his own observation was "a close approximation to that given by Prof. Watson."

In the Observatory, 2-161, Swift says that his observations and Watson's were "confirmatory each of the other."(34)

The faithful try again:

That Watson and Swift mistook stars for other bodies.

In the Observatory, 2-193, Prof. Watson says that he had previously committed to memory all stars near the sun, down to the seventh magnitude --(35)

And he's damned anyway.

How such exclusions work out is shown by Lockyer (Nature, Aug. 20, 1878).(36) He says: "There is little doubt that an Intra-Mercurial planet has been discovered by Prof. Watson."

That was before excommunication was pronounced.

He says:

"If it will fit one of Leverrier's orbits" --

It didn't fit.(37)

In Nature, 21-301, Prof. Swift says:(38) [196/197]

"I have never made a more valid observation, nor one more free from doubt."

He's damned anyway.

We shall have some data that will not live up to most rigorous requirements, but, if any one would like to read how carefully and minutely these two sets of observations were made, see Prof. Swift's detailed description in the Am. Jour. Sci., 116-313; and the technicalities of Prof. Watson's observations in Monthly Notices, 38-525.(39)

Our own acceptance upon dirigible worlds, which is assuredly enough, more nearly real than attempted concepts of large planets relatively near this earth, moving in orbits, but visible only occasionally; which more nearly approximates to reasonableness than does wholesale slaughter of Swift and Watson and Fritsch and Stark and De Cuppis -- but our own acceptance is so painful to so many minds that, in another of the charitable moments that we have now and then for the sake of contrast, we offer relief:

The things seen high in the sky by Swift and Watson --

Well, only two months before -- the horse and the barn --(40)

We go on with more observations by astronomers, recognizing that it is the very thing that has given them life, sustained them, held them together, that has crushed all but the quasi-gleam of independent life out of them. Were they not systematized, they could not be at all, except sporadically and without sustenance. They are systematized: they must not vary from the conditions of the system: they must break away for themselves.

The two great commandments:

Thou shalt not break Continuity;

Thou shalt try.

We go on with these disregarded data, some of which, many of which, are of the highest degree of acceptability. It is the System that pulls back its variations, as this earth is pulling back the Matterhorn. It is the System that nourishes and rewards, and also freezes out life with the chill of disregard. We do note that, before excommunication is pronounced, orthodox journals do liberally enough record unassimilable observations.

All things merge away into everything else.

That is Continuity.

So the System merges away and evades us when we try to focus against it.

We have complained a great deal. At least we are not so dull [197/198] as to have the delusion that we know just exactly what it is that we are complaining about. We speak seemingly definitely enough of "the System," but we're building upon observations by members of that very system. Or what we are doing--gathering up the loose heresies of the orthodox. Of course "the System" fringes and ravels away, having no real outline. A Swift will antagonize "the System," and a Lockyer will call him back; but, then, a Lockyer will vary with a "meteoric hypothesis," and a Swift will, in turn, represent "the System."(41) This state is to us typical of all intermediatist phenomena; or that not conceivably is anything really anything, if its parts are likely to be their own opposites at any time. We speak of astronomers -- as if there were real astronomers -- but who have lost their identity in a System -- as if it were a real System -- but behind the System is plainly a rapport, or loss of identity in the Spirit of an Era.

Bodies that have looked like dark bodies, and lights that may have been sunlight reflected from interplanetary -- objects, masses, constructions --

Lights that have been seen upon -- or near? -- the moon:

In Philosophical Transactions, 82-27, is Herschel's report upon many luminous points, which he saw upon -- or near? -- the moon, during an eclipse.(42) Why should they be luminous, whereas the moon itself was dark, would get us into a lot of trouble -- except that later we shall, or we sha'n't, accept that many times have luminous objects been seen close to this earth -- at night.

But numerousness is a new factor, or new disturbance, to our explorations --

A new aspect of inter-planetary inhabitancy or occupancy --

Worlds in hordes -- or beings -- winged beings perhaps -- wouldn't astonish me if we should end up by discovering angels -- or beings in machines -- argosies of celestial voyagers --

In 1783 and 1787, Herschel reported more lights on or near the moon, which he supposed were volcanic.(43)

The word of a Herschel has had no more weight, in divergences from the orthodox, than has had the word of a Lescarbault. These observations are of the disregarded.

Bright spots seen in the moon, Nov., 1821 (Proc. London Roy. Soc., 2-167).(44)

For four other instances, see Loomis ("Treatise on Astronomy," p. 174).(45)

A moving light is reported in Phil. Trans., 84-429.(46) To the writer, [198/199] it looked like a star passing over the moon -- "which, on the next moment's consideration I knew to be impossible." "It was a fixed, steady light upon the dark part of the moon." I suppose "fixed" applies to luster.

In the Report of the Brit. Assoc., 1847-18, there is an observation by Rankin, upon luminous points seen on the shaded part of the moon, during an eclipse.(47) They seemed to this observer like reflections of stars. That's not very reasonable: however, we have, in the Annual Register, 1821-687, a light not referable to star -- because it moved with the moon: was seen three nights in succession; reported by Capt. Kater.(48) See Quar. Jour. Roy. Inst., 12-133.(49)

Phil. Trans., 112-237:(50)

Report from the Cape Town Observatory: a whitish spot on the dark part of the moon's limb. Three smaller lights were seen.

The call for positiveness, in its aspects of singleness, or homogeneity, or oneness, or completeness. In data now coming, I feel it myself. A Leverrier studies more than twenty observations. The inclination is irresistible to think they all relate to one phenomenon. It is an expression of cosmic inclination. Most of the observations are so irreconcilable with any acceptance other than the orbitless, dirigible worlds that he shuts his eyes to more than two-thirds of them; he picks out six that can give him the illusion of completeness, or of all relating to one planet.

Or let it be that we have data of many dark bodies -- still do we incline almost irresistibly to think of one of them as the dark-body-in-chief. Dark bodies, floating, or navigating, in inter-planetary space -- and I conceive of one that's the Prince of Dark Bodies:


Vast dark thing with wings of a super-bat, or jet-black super-construction; most likely one of the spores of the Evil one.

The extraordinary year, 1883:

London Times, Dec. 17, 1883:(51)

Extract from a letter by Hicks Pashaw: that, in Egypt, Sept. 24, 1883, he had seen on the sun, through glasses, "an immense black spot on the lower part of the sun."

Sun spot, may be.

One night an astronomer was looking up at the sky, when something obscured a star, for three and a half seconds. A meteor had been seen nearby, but its train had been only momentarily visible. Dr. Wolf was the astronomer (Nature, 86-528).(52)

The next datum is one of the most sensational we have, except [199/200] that there is very little to it. A dark object that was seen by Prof. Heis, for eleven degrees of arc, moving slowly across the Milky Way (Greg's Catalogue, Rept. Brit. Assoc., 1867- 426).(53)

One of our quasi-reasons for accepting that orbitless worlds are dirigible is the almost complete absence of data of collisions: of course, though in defiance of gravitation, they may, without direction like human direction, adjust to one another in the way of vortex rings of smoke -- a very human-like way, that is. But in Knowledge, Feb., 1894, are two photographs of Brooks' comet that are shown as evidence of its seeming collision with a dark object, Oct., 1893.(54) Our own wording is that it "struck against something": Prof. Barnard's is that it had "entered some dense medium, which shattered it." For all I know it had knocked against merely a field of ice.


That upon the wings of a super-bat, he broods over this earth and over other worlds, perhaps deriving something from them: hovers on wings, or wing-like appendages, or planes that are hundreds of miles from tip to tip -- a super-evil things that is exploiting us. By Evil I mean that which makes us useful.

He obscures a star. He shoves a comet. I think he's a vast, black, brooding vampire.

Science, July 31, 1896:(55)

That, according to a newspaper account, Mr. W. R. Brooks, director of the Smith Observatory, had seen a dark round object pass rather slowly across the moon, in a horizontal direction. In Mr. Brooks' opinion it was a dark meteor. In Science, Sept. 14, 1896, a correspondent writes that, in his opinion, it may have been a bird.(56) We shall have no trouble with the meteor and bird mergers, if we have observations of long duration and estimates of size up to hundreds of miles. As to the body that was seen by Brooks, there is a note from the Dutch astronomer, Muller, in the Scientific American, 75-251, that, upon April 4, 1892, he had seen a similar phenomenon.(57) In Science Gossip, 3-135, are more details of the Brooks object -- apparent diameter about one-thirtieth of the moon's -- moon's disk crossed in three or four seconds.(58) The writer, in Science Gossip, says that, on June 27, 1896, at one o'clock in the morning, he was looking at the moon with a 2-inch achromatic, power 44, when a long black object sailed past, from west to east, the transit occupying 3 or 4 seconds. He believed this object to be a bird -- there was, however, no fluttering motion observable in it. [200/201]

In the Astronomische Nachrichten, No. 3477, Dr. Martin Brendel, of Griefswald, Pomerania, writes that Postmaster Ziegler and other observers had seen a body about 6 feet in diameter crossing the sun's disk.(59) The duration here indicates something far from the earth, and also far from the sun. This thing was seen a quarter of an hour before it reached the sun. Time in crossing the sun was about an hour. After leaving the sun it was visible an hour.

I think he's a vast, black vampire that sometimes broods over this earth and other bodies.

Communication from Dr. F. B. Harris (Popular Astronomy, 20-398):(60)

That, upon the evening of January 27, 1912, Dr. Harris saw, upon the moon, "an intensely black object." He estimated it to be 250 miles long and 50 miles wide. "The object resembled a crow poised, as near as anything." Clouds then cut off observation.

Dr. Harris writes:

"I cannot but think that a very interesting and curious phenomenon happened." [201]

1. E.E. Barnard. "A singular dark marking on the sky." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1 (1915): 394-6.

2. E.E. Barnard. "Some of the dark markings on the sky and what they suggest." Astrophysical Journal, 43 (1916): 1-8.

3. Martha Evans Martin. The Ways of the Planets. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1912, 140. The last report was made in 1791 by Montaigne, (not 1767). The other reports of this satellite were: in 1672 and 1686, by Cassini; in 1740, by Short, using two telescopes; in 1759, by Mayer; in 1761, during the transit of Venus, by Scheuten; in 1764, by Rödkier, Horrebow, and three others, at Copenhagen, and by Montbarron, at Auxerre. T.W. Webb. Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes. 4th ed. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1881, 61-2. A similar sighting, (possibly on May 22, 1823), was explained as being a star near Venus by a youthful Webb. T.W. Webb. "The satellite of Venus." Nature, 14 (June 29, 1876): 193-5, at 195.

4. "The planet Neith." Hardwicke's Science Gossip, 22 (1886): 178.

5. C.A. Young. "The year's progress in astronomy." Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 5 (May 17, 1886): 234-63, at 249. For more details of Houzeau's claims: "The problematical satellite of Venus." Observatory, 7 (1884): 222-6.

6. A.E. Douglass. "A cloud-like spot on the terminator of Mars." Astrophysical Journal, 1 (1895): 127-30. Only Pickering and Douglass are reported as having seen the "cloud-like spot."

7. B.G. Jenkins. "The luminous spot on Mercury in transit." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 38 (April 1878): 337-40, at 338.

8. Percival Lowell. "Projection on Mars." Lowell Observatory, Bulletin, no.1 (1903): 1-4. The projection was first noticed by V.M. Slipher on May 25, 1903, not May 20. The cloud's "height" was measured as 14 or 17 miles and 300 miles long. Lowell believed that, between May 26 and 27, the cloud moved 390 miles from its position above Mars: "...what alone fits the observations, an enormous cloud travelling northeast and dissipating as it went," and, "...finally its color leads one to believe it not a cloud of water-vapor but a cloud of dust."

9. Latimer J. Wilson. "Mars as seen with an 11-inch reflector." Popular Astronomy, 19 (1911): 627, and, pl. XXVI.

10. "A supposed new interior planet." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 20 (January 1860): 98-101. Correct quote: "M. Lescarbault was subjected to a severe cross-examination by his unknown visitor, who pressed him hard from step to step till he obtained such material and verbal evidence as no longer permitted him to doubt the reality of the observation or the good faith of the observer."

11. M.R. Radau."Future observations of the supposed new planet." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 38, 195-7, at 195.

12. Leverrier only later discovered that a sixth observation agreed with his calculated orbit, which was based upon five observations, including Lescarbault's. "The suspected Intra-Mercurial Planet." Nature, 15 (March 15, 1877): 437-8.

13. "The suspected Intra-Mercurial Planet." Nature, 15 (March 15, 1877): 437-8.

14. George Biddell Airy was the Astronomer Royal.

15. "An account of a very singular phaenomenon seen in the disc of the sun, in different parts of Europe, and not in others." Annual Register, 1766, pt. 2, 120-1. Correct quotes: "...with no more than about half the velocity with which the ordinary solar spots move...," and, "...have recourse to in the heavens, whereby to explain the phænomenon...."

16. E. Dunkin. "The suspected Intra-Mercurial planet." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 37 (February 1877): 229-30. Decuppis' observation was on October 2, 1839, (not October 30); and, Sidebotham's observation was on March 12, 1849, (not November 12). Stark's observation was not utilized in the formulation of Vulcan's orbit but was found to agree with it.

17. Fort marked "X" next to this paragraph, probably to indicate the error in spelling Gruithuisen's name. "New planets." Annual of Scientific Discovery, 1860, 410-11, at 411. Olbers. "On the passage of the comet of 1819 across the disc of the sun." Philosophical Magazine, s. 1, 57 (1821): 444-6.

18. J.R. Hind. "The Intra-Mercurial planet or planets." Nature, 14 (September 28, 1876): 469-70.

19. "Les planètes entre le Soleil et Mercure...." Année Scientifique et Industrielle, 20 (1876): 6-11, at 9.

20. F.A.R. Russell. "An Intra-Mercurial planet." Nature, 14 (October 5, 1876): 505. Russell was with three other observers, (not four).

21. "Search for Vulcan." Observatory, 2 (1879): 424. "Extrait d'une lettre du P. Ferrari à M. Mouchez, relativement à la planète intra-mercurielle." Comptes Rendus, 88 (March 3, 1879): 413.

22. "La planète intramercurielle." Année Scientifique et Industrielle, 10 (1865): 16-7. The observer was Coumbary, (not Coumbray).

23. "Les planètes entre le Soleil et Mercure...." Année Scientifique et Industrielle, 20 (1876): 6-11, at 7. Weber's observation was made at Peckeloh, (not Berlin), at 4:25 (Berlin Mean Time).

24. William F. Denning. "Total eclipse in December next." London Times, November 3, 1871, p. 8 c. 6. Denning notes a bright object seen near the sun during the eclipse of August 7, 1869. "Intra-Mercurial planet." London Times, March 26, 1873, p. 5 c. 6. Hind notes a spot seen on the sun's disk, by Cowie, at Shanghai, on March 24, 1873.

25. R.C. Carrington. "In the 10th number of Professor Wolf's Mittheilungen über die Sonnenflecken...." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 20 (January 1860): 100-1. For the Wolf's original list: June 6, 1761, by Scheuten; the end of February, 1762, by Staudacher, (not Standacher); November 19, 1762, (date questioned), by Lichtenberg; beginning of May, 1764, (date questioned), by Hoffman; June 17, 1777, (date questioned), for Messier's observation of many small globes; January 18, 1798, by (Chevalier) D'Angos; October 10, 1802, by Fritsch; June 26, 1819, (date questioned), by Stark; October 9, 1819, by Stark; February 12, 1820, (date questioned), by Stark; December 23, 1823, (date questioned), by Pons; July 31, 1826, by Stark; 1834, (no date given), by Pastorff; May 11, 1845, (date questioned), by Capocci; and, October 11, 1847, by Schmidt. Mittheilungen Über die Sonnenflecken, no. 10 (1859): 288-91.

26. R.C. Carrington. "On some previous observations of supposed planetary bodies in transit over the Sun." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 20 (March 1860): 192-4. Lofft's observation, on January 6, 1818, was not part of Wolf's list but was added to this article. For Lofft's original report: Capel Lofft. "On the appearance of an opaque body traversing the sun's disc." Monthly Magazine, 45 (March 1, 1818): 102-3. Steinhübel's observation was made on February 12, 1820, which is the same date as Stark's observation. No observation for April 27, 1820, is noted herein; and, the reference for 1862, given by Fort, appears to be erroneous.

27. Rudolf Wolf. Handbuch der Mathematik, Physik, Geodäsie und Astronomie. Zurich: Schulthese, 1869-72, Bd. ii, p. 327.

28. E.C. Herrick. "Supposed new planet between Mercury and the Sun." American Journal of Science, s.2, 28 (1859): 445-6. The dates given for Pastroff's observations are: 1834, (no specific dates); October 18 and November 1, 1836; and, February 16, 1837. Gruithuisen's name is again misspelt.

29. Fort marked "X" in the margin next to the last line in this paragraph, probably to note the misspelling of Liais, (not Lias).

30. Names are misspelt for Gruithuisen, Coumbary, Staudacher, D'Angos, and Steinhübel.

31. "New inferior planet." London Times, January 10, 1860, p. 11 c. 1. Fort confuses the facts: Scott told Richard Abbatt of his observation on the same evening, which Abbatt confirms; then, later, he told Thomas Dick of his observation. Thomas Dick was the author of Celestial Scenery.

32. "New inferior planet." London Times, January 12, 1860, p.11 c.5. Nothing is said of a letter; Abbatt says he remembers Scott's "mentioning to me...."

33. Lewis Swift. "Discovery of Vulcan." Nature, 18 (September 19, 1878): 539.

34. Lewis Swift. "Supposed discovery of Vulcan." Observatory, 2 (1878): 161-2.

35. "The discovery of Vulcan." Observatory, 2 (1878): 193-5, at 193.

36. J. Norman Lockyer. "The eclipse." Nature, 18 (August 29, 1878): 457-62, at 461. Correct quote: "There is little doubt, I think, that an intra-Mercurial planet has been found by Prof. Watson."

37. According to Gaillot, the longitude and latitude of Watson's suspected planet would be nearly the same on August 24, but no one apparently claimed to have seen it between August 22 and September 10, as recommended in Nature's astronomical column. "Watson's suspected planet." Nature, 18 (August 22, 1878): 433-4.

38. Lewis Swift. "The Intra-Mercurial planet question." Nature, 21 (January 29, 1880): 299-301, at 301.

39. "Letter from Lewis Swift, relating to the discovery of Intra-Mercurial planets." American Journal of Science, s. 3, 16 (1878): 313-5. "Letter from Professor Watson to Mr. Hind, Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 38 (1878): 525-6.

40. The horse and barn disappeared in a tornado at Mineral Point, Wisconsin, on May 23, 1878. Monthly Weather Review, May 1878, 9, c.v. "Tornadoes."

41. Fort refers to Lockyer's "meteoritic hypothesis," (not meteoric).

42. Wilhelm Herschel. "Miscellaneous observations." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 82 (1792): 23-7, at 27.

43. Wilhelm Herschel. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 77, 229. On October 22, 1790, Herschel reported seeing as many as one-hundred-and-fifty "bright, red, luminous points" upon the eclipsed moon; but, he was more cautious in 1791, and saying "we know too little of the surface of the moon," he would not "venture to surmise" their cause. Wilhelm Herschel. "Miscellaneous observations." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 82 (1792): 23-27, at 27.

44. Fearon Fallows. "Communication of a curious appearance lately observed upon the Moon." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 2, 167. The observations were made upon November 28 and 29, 1821.

45. Elias Loomis. A Treatise on Astronomy. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1881, 174-5. These other observations were all made during solar eclipses: June 24, 1778, by Ulloa; May 15, 1836, by Bessel; July 8, 1842, by Valz, at Marseilles; and, July 18, 1860, by two Frenchmen, (Bout and Mannheim), in Algeria. T.W. Webb. Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes. 4th ed. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1881, 76-7. Webb mentions that Gruithuisen believed he had seen the "specks of light," also reported by Schröter; and, "with great distinctness," Webb says they were observed by Grover and Williams.

46. "An account of an appearance of light, like a star, seen in the dark part of the Moon, on Friday the 7th of March, 1794, by William Wilkins, Esq. at Norwich." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 84, 429-40, at 430. The correct quote is from the article's title, thus: " the dark part...." The observation was made upon March 7, 1794, for about five minutes before the light vanished.

47. T. Rankin. "On a singular appearance of the shaded part of the Moon...." Annual Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1847, trans., 18.

48. "Volcanic appearance in the Moon." Annual Register, 1821, 687-8.

49. Henry Kater. "Notice respecting a volcanic appearance in the Moon, in a letter addressed to the President." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Institute of Great Britain, 12, 133. For the original report and illustration: Henry Kater. "Notice respecting a volcanic appearance in the Moon, in a letter addressed to the President." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 111 (1821): 130-3, pl. X.

50. Fearon Fallows. "Communication of a curious appearance lately observed upon the Moon." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 112 (1822): 237-8.

51. "Blue sun in the Soudan." London Times, December 17, 1883, p. 6 c. 4. Correct quote: "...half of it."

52. "A remarkable meteoric phenomenon." Nature, 86 (June 15, 1911): 528. On May 11, 1911, the star obscured was Aquilae (Gamma Aquilae). For the original report: Max Wolf. "Uber eine merkwürdige Sternschnuppe." Astronomische Nachrichten, no. 4503, c. 257-8.

53. Glaisher et al. "Report on observations of luminous meteors, 1866-67." Annual Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1867, 288-430, at 427. Heis reports the observation, but he may not have "seen" it, on October 4, 1864, in Westphalia.

54. E.E. Barnard. "On the probable encounter of Brooks' Comet with a disturbing medium on October 21, 1893." Knowledge, 17 (February 1, 1894): 34-7. Correct quote: "The appearance was precisely what we should expect had the comet's tail, in its flight through space, swept across or through some medium dense enough to break up the tail. I cannot see how anyone, comparing this with the picture of the 20th, can escape the conclusion that the tail did actually enter a disturbing medium which shattered it."

55. "The daily papers state that Mr. William R. Brooks...."

Science, n.s., 4 (July 31, 1896): 140.

56. Frank M. Chapman. "Meteor or bird?" Science, n.s., 4 (September 4, 1896): 316-7.

57. A.M. Du C. Muller. "Dark meteors." Scientific American, n.s., 75 (September 26, 1896): 251.

58. "Remarkable observation." Hardwicke's Science Gossip, n.s., 3, 135.

59. Martin Brendel. "Ueber ein 1898 Febr. 4 in Greifswald beobachtetes Phänomen." Astronomische Nachrichten, no.3477, 334. The location of the observation was Greifswald, Pomerania, Germany, (not Griefswald).

60. Frank B. Harris. "Peculiar phenomenon on the Moon." Popular Astronomy, 20 (1912): 398-9. Correct quote: "This object...poised as...."

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