New Lands

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X





IF we could stop to sing, instead of everlastingly noting vol. this and p. that, we could have the material of sagas — of the bathers in the sun, which may be neither intolerably hot nor too uncomfortably cold; and of the hermit who floats across the moon; of heroes and the hairy monsters of the sky. I should stand in public places and sing our data — sagas of parades and explorations and massacres in the sky — having a busy band of accompanists, who set off fireworks, and send up balloons, and fire off explosives at regular intervals — extra-geographic songs of boiling lakes and floating islands — extra-sociologic metres that express the tramp of space-armies upon interplanetary paths covered with little black pebbles — biologic epics of the clouds of mammoths and horses and antelopes that once upon a time fell from the sky upon the northern coast of Siberia —

Song that interprets the perpendicular white streaks in the repeating mirages at Youghal — the rhythmic walruses of space that hang on by their tusks to the edges of space-islands, sometimes making stars variable as they swing in cosmic undulations — so a round space-island with its border of gleaming tusks, and we frighten children with the song of an ogre's head, with wide-open mouth all around it — fairy lands of the little moon, and the tiny civilizations in rocky cups that are sometimes drained to their slums by the wide-mouthed ogres. The Maelstrom of Everlasting Catastrophe that overhangs Genoa, Italy — and twines its currents around a living island. The ground underneath quakes with the struggle — then the fall of blood — and the fall of blood — three days the fall of blood from the broken red brooks of a living island whose mutilations are scenery —

But after all, it may be better that we go back to Rept. B.A. — see the vol. for 1849, p. 46 — a stream of black objects, crossing the sun, watched, at Naples, May 11, 1845, by Capocci and other astronomers — things that may have been seeds.(1)


A great number of red points in the sky of Urrugne, July 9, 1853 (An. Soc. Met. de France, 1853-227).(2) Astro. Reg., 5-179 — C.L. Prince, of Uckfield, writes that, upon June 11, 1867, he saw objects crossing the field of his telescope.(3) They were seeds, in his opinion.

Birmingham Daily Post, May 31, 1867:

Mr. Bird, the astronomer, writes that, about 11 A.M., May 30, he saw unknown forms in the sky. In his telescope, which was focused upon them and upon the planet Venus, they appeared to be twice the size of Venus. They were far away, according to focus; also, it may be accepted that they were far away because an occasional cloud passed between them and this earth. They did not move like objects carried in the wind: all did not move in the same direction, and they moved at different speeds.

"All of them seemed to have hairy appendages, and in many cases a distinct tail followed the object and was highly luminous."

Flashes that have been seen in the sky — and they're from a living island that wags his luminous peninsula. Hair-like substances that have fallen to this earth — a meadow has been shorn from a monster's mane. My animation is the notion that it is better to think in tentative hysteria of pairs of vast things, travelling like a North and South America through the sky, perhaps one biting the other with its Gulf of Mexico, than to go on thinking that all things that so move in the sky are seeds, whereas all things that swim in the sea are not sardines.

In the Post, June 3, 1867, Mr. W.H. Wood writes that the objects were probably seeds. Post, June 5 — Mr. Bird says that the objects were not seeds. "My intention was simply to describe what was seen, and the appearance was certainly that of meteors." He saves himself, in the annals of extra-geography — "whether they were meteors of the ordinary acceptation, is another matter."

And the planet Venus, and her veil that is dotted with blue-fringed cupids — in the Astronomical Register, 7-138, a correspondent writes, from Northampton, that, upon May 2, 1869, he was looking at Venus, and saw a host of shining objects, not uniform in size.(4) He thinks that it is unlikely that so early in the spring could these objects be seeds. He watched them about an hour and twenty minutes — "many of the larger ones were fringed [120/121] on one side; the fringe appearing somewhat bluish." Or that it is better even to sentimentalize than to go on stupidly thinking that all such things in the sky are seeds, whereas all things in the sea are not the economically adjusting little forms without which critics of underground traffic in New York probably could not express themselves — the planet Venus — she approaches this lordly earth — the blue-fringed ecstasies that suffuse her skies.

With the phenomena of Aug. 7, 1869, I suspect that the "phantom soldiers" that have been seen in the sky, may have been reflections from, or mirages of, things or beings that march, in military formations, in space. In Popular Astronomy, 3-159, Prof. Swift writes that, at Mattoon, Ill., during the eclipse of the sun, Aug. 7, 1869, he had seen, crossing the moon, objects that he thought were seeds.(5) If they were seeds, also there happened to be seeds in the sky of Ottumwa, Iowa: here, crossing the visible part of the sun, twenty minutes before totality of the eclipse, Prof. Himes and Prof. Zentmayer saw objects that marched, or that moved, in straight, parallel lines (Les Mondes, 21-241).(6) In the Jour. Frank. Inst., 3-58-214, it is said that some of these objects moved in one direction across the moon, and that others moved in another direction across another part of the moon, each division moving in parallel lines.(7) If these things were seeds, also there happened to be seeds in the sky, at Shelleyville, Kentucky. Here were seen, by Prof. Winlock, Alvan Clark Jr., and George W. Dean, things that moved across the moon, during the eclipse, in parallel, straight lines (Pop. Astro., 2-332).(8)

Whatever these things may have been, I offer another datum indicating that the moon is nearby: that these objects probably were not, by coincidence, things in three widely separated skies, parallelness giving them identity in two of the observations; and, if seen, without parallax, from places so far apart, against the moon, were close to the moon; that observation of such detail would be unlikely if they were near a satellite 240,000 miles away — unless, of course, they were mountain-sized.

It may be that out from two floating islands of space, two processions had marched across the moon. Observatory, 3-137 — that at St. Paul's Junction, Iowa, four persons had seen, without telescopes, a shining object close to the sun and moon, apparently; [121/122] that, with a telescope, another person had seen another large object, crescentically illumined, farther from the sun and moon in eclipse.(9) See Nature, 18-663, and Astro. Reg., 7-227.(10)

I have many data upon the fall of organic matter from the sky. Because of my familiarity with many records, it seems no more incredible that up in the seemingly unoccupied sky there should be hosts of living things than that seemingly blank of the ocean should swarm with life. I have many notes upon a phosphorescence, or electric condition of things that fall from the sky, for instance the highly luminous stones of Dhurmsulla, which were intensely cold —

Amer. Jour. Sci., 2-28-270:(11)

It is said that, according to investigations by Prof. Shepard, a luminous substance was seen falling slowly, by Sparkman R. Scriven, a young man of seventeen, at his home, in Charleston, S.C., Nov. 16, 1857. It is said that the young man saw a fiery, red ball, the size and shape of an orange, strike a fence, breaking, and disappearing. Where this object had struck the fence, was found "a small bristling mass of black fibers." According to Prof. Shepard, it was "a confused aggregate of short clippings of the finest black hair, varying in length from one tenth to one third of an inch." Prof. Shepard says that this substance was not organic. It seems to me that he said this only because of the coercions of his era. My reason for so thinking is that he wrote that when he analyzed these hairs they burned away, leaving grayish skeletons, and that they were "composed in part of carbon." and burned with an odor "most nearly bituminous."

For full details of the following circumstances, see Comptes Rendus, 13-215, and Rept. B.A., 1854-302:(12)

Feb. 17, 1841 — the fall, at Genoa, Italy, of a red substance from the sky — another fall upon the 18th — a slight quake, at 5 P.M., Feb. 18th — another quake, six hours later — fall of more of the red substance, upon the 19th. Some of this substance was collected and analyzed by M. Canobbia, of Genoa. He says it was oily and red.


1. Baden Powell. "A catalogue of observation of luminous meteors."Annual Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1849, 1-53, at 46.

2. "Communications." Annuaire de la Société Météorologique de France, 1 (1853): 227-9.

3. C.L. Prince. "Meteor-like bodies near the sun." Astronomical Register, 5, 179.

4. D.T.K. "Bright objects passing the Sun," Astronomical Register, 7, 138-9.

5. Lewis Swift. "Meteors seen during a solar eclipse." Popular Astronomy, 3 (November 1895): 159.

6. Henry Morton. "Apparence d'une pluie météorique." Cosmos: Les Mondes, 21, 241-3. The objects were observed twenty-five minutes before totality, not twenty, according to this article.

7. Henry Morton. "Solar eclipse - August 7, 1869." Journal of the Franklin Institute, s. 3, 58 (whole series, v. 88): 200-16, at 213-4. The second group of objects moved from the edge of a ground glass's field of view to the solar crescent on the opposite side of the moon.

8. G.D. "Meteors observed during a total eclipse of the Sun," Popular Astronomy, 2 (March 1895): 332-3. The observation was made at Shelbyville, Kentucky, (not Shelleyville).

9. E. Ledger. "Observations or supposed observations of the transits of intra-Mercurial planets or other bodies across the Sun's disk." Observatory, 3 (1879-80): 135-8, at 137.

10. J.R. Hind. "Stellar objects seen during the eclipse of 1869." Nature, 18 (October 24, 1878): 663-4. The telescopic observation was made by Mr. Vincent, one of the observing party led by W.S. Gilman. "Was it the Intra-Mercurial planet?" Astronomical Register, 7, 227-8.

11. Charles Upham Shepard. "On a shooting meteor...." American Journal of Science, s. 2, 28 (1859): 270-6, at 275-6. Correct quote: "...resembling the bituminous."

12. Canobbio. "Description et analyse d'une eau de pluie rouge tombée à Gênes en fèvrier 1841." Comptes Rendus, 13 (1841): 215-9. Robert Mallet. "Third report on the facts of earthquake phenomena." Annual Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1854, 1-326, at 302.

Next Chapter

Or, go to:


Part One 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Part Two 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Return to Mr. X's Fortean Web-Site Valid CSS!Valid HTML 3.2!

© X, 1998, 1999, 2004