New Lands

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X





EXPLOSIONS over the town of Barisal, Bengal, if they were aërial explosions, were continuing. As to some of these detonations that were heard in May, 1874, a writer in Nature, 53-197, says that they did seem to come from overhead.(1) For a report upon the Barisal Guns, heard between April 28, 1888, and March 1, 1889, see Proc. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, 1899-199.(2)

Phenomena at Comrie were continuing. The latest date in Roper's List of Earthquakes is April 8, 1886, but this list goes on only a few years later.(3) See Knowledge, n. s., 6-145 — shock and a rumbling sound at Comrie, July 12, 1894 — a repetition upon the corresponding date, the next year.(4) In the English Mechanic, 74-155, David Packer says that, upon Sept. 17, 1901, ribbon-like flashes of lightning, which were not ordinary lightning, were seen in the sky (I think of Birmingham) one hour before a shock in Scotland.(5) According to other accounts, this shock was in Comrie and surrounding regions (London Times, Sept. 19, 1901).(6)

Smithson. Miscell. Cols., 37-Appendix, p. 71:(7)

According to L. Tennyson, Quartermaster's Clerk, at Fort Klamath, Oregon, at daylight, Jan. 8, 1867, the garrison was startled from sleep by what he supposed to be an earthquake and a sound like thunder. Then came darkness, and the sky was covered with black smoke or clouds. Then ashes, of a brownish color, fell — "as fast as I ever saw it snow." Half an hour later there was another shock, described as "frightful." No one was injured, but the sutler's store was thrown a distance of ninety feet, and the vibrations lasted several minutes. Mr. Tennyson thought that somewhere near Fort Klamath, a volcano had broken loose, because, in the direction of the Klamath Marsh, a dark column of smoke was seen. I can find record of no such volcanic eruption. In a list of quakes, in Oregon, from 1846, to 1916, [142/143] published in the Bull. Seis. Soc. Amer., Sept., 1919, not one is attributed to volcanic eruptions.(8) Mr. W.D. Smith, compiler of the list, says, as to the occurrence at Fort Klamath — "If there was an eruption, where was it?" He asks whether possibly it could have been Lassen Peak. But Lassen Peak is in California, and the explosion upon Jan. 8, 1867, was so close to Fort Klamath that almost immediately ashes fell from the sky.

The following is of the type of phenomena that might be considered evidence of signalling from some unknown world nearby:

La Nature, 17-126 — that, upon June 17, 1881, sounds like cannonading were heard at Gabes, Tunis, and that quaking of the earth was felt, at intervals of 32 seconds, lasting about 6 minutes.(9)

July 30, 1883 — a somewhat startling experience — steamship Resolute alone in the Arctic Ocean — six reports like gunfire — Nature, 53-295.(10)

In Nature, 30-19, a correspondent writes that, upon the 3rd of January, 1869, a policeman in Harlton, Cambridgeshire, heard six or seven reports, as if of heavy guns far away.(11) There is no findable record of an earthquake in England upon this date. In the London Times, Jan. 12, 15, 16, 1869, several correspondents write that upon the 9th of January a loud report had been heard and a shock felt at places near Colchester, Essex, about 30 miles from Harlton.(12) One of the correspondents writes that he had heard the sound but had felt no shock. In the London Standard, Jan. 12, the Rev. J.F. Bateman, of South Lopham, Norfolk, writes as to the occurrence upon the 9th — "An extraordinary vibration (described variously by my parishioners as being `like a gunpowder explosion,' `a big thunder clap,' and `a little earthquake' was noticed here this morning about 11.20."(13) In the Morning Post, Jan. 14, it is said that at places about twenty miles from Colchester it was thought that an explosion had occurred, upon the 9th, but, inasmuch as no explosion had been heard of, the disturbance was attributed to an earthquake.(14) Night of Jan. 13 -- an explosion in the sky, at Brighton (Rept. B.A., 1869-307.(15) In the Standard, Jan. 22, a correspondent writes from Swaffham, Norfolk, that, about 8 P.M., Jan. 15, something of an unknown nature had frightened flocks of sheep, which had [143/144] burst from their bounds in various places.(16) All these occurrences were in adjoining counties in southeastern England. Something was seen in the sky upon the 13th, and, according to the Chudleigh Weekly Express, Jan. 13, 1869, something was seen in the sky, night of the 10th, at Weston-super-Mare, near Bristol, in southwestern England.(17) It was seen between 9 and 10 o'clock, and is said to have been an extraordinary meteor. Five hours later were felt three shocks said to have been earthquakes.

Upon the night of March 17, 1871, there was a series of events in France, and a series in England. A "meteor" was seen at Tours, at 8 P.M. — at 10.45, a "meteor" that left a luminous cloud over Saintes (Charante-Inferieure) — another at Paris, 11.15, leaving a mark in the sky, of fifteen minutes' duration — another at Tours, at 11.45 P.M. See Les Mondes, 24-190, and Comptes Rendus, 72-789.(18) There were "earthquakes" this night affecting virtually all England north of the Mersey and the Trent, and also southern parts of Scotland. As has often been the case, the phenomena were thought to have been explosions and were then said to have been earthquakes when no terrestrial explosions could be heard of (Symons' Met. Mag., 6-39).(19) There were six shocks near Manchester, between 6 and 7 P.M., and others about 11 P.M.; and in Lancashire about 11 P.M., and continuing in places as far apart as Liverpool and Newcastle, until 11.30 o'clock. The shocks felt about 11 o'clock correspond, in time, with the luminous phenomena in the sky of France, but our way of expressing that these so-called earthquakes in England may have been concussions from repeating explosions in the sky, is to record that, according to correspondence in the London Times, there were, upon the 20th, aërial phenomena in the region of Lancashire that had been affected upon the 17th — "sounds that seemed to come from a number of guns at a distance" and "pale flashes of lightning in the sky."(20)

Whether these series of phenomena be relatable to Mars or Martians or not, we note that in 1871 opposition of Mars was upon March 19; and, in 1869, upon Feb. 13; and in 1867 two days after the explosions at Fort Klamath. In our records in this book, similar coincidences can be found up to the year 1879. [144/145] I have other such records not here published, and others that will be here investigated.

There is a triangular region in England, three points of which appear so often in our data that the region should be specially known to us, and I know it myself as the London Triangle. It is pointed in the north by Worcester and Hereford, in the south by Reading, Berkshire, and in the east by Colchester, Essex. The line between Colchester and Reading runs through London.

Upon Feb. 18, 1884, at West Mersea, near Colchester, a loud report was heard (Nature, 53-4).(21) Upon the 22nd of April, 1884, centering around Colchester, occurred the severest earthquake in England in the 19th century. For several columns of description, see the London Times, April 23.(22) There is a long list of town in which there was great damage: in 24 parishes near Colchester, 1250 buildings were damaged. One of the places that suffered most was West Mersea (Daily Chronicle, April 28).(23)

There was something in the sky. According to George P. Yeats (Observations on the Earthquake of Dec. 17, 1896, p. 6), there was a red appearance in the sky over Colchester, at the time of the shock of April 22, 1884.(24)

The next day, according to a writer in Knowledge, 5-336, a stone fell from the sky, breaking glass in his greenhouse, in Essex.(25) It was a quartz stone, and unlike anything usually known as meteoric.

The indications, according to my reading of the data, and my impressions of such repeating occurrences as those at Fort Klamath, are that perhaps an explosion occurred in the sky, near Colchester, upon Feb. 18, 1884; that a great explosion did occur over Colchester, upon the 22nd of April, and that a great volume of débris spread over England, in a northwesterly direction, passing over Worcestershire and Shropshire, and continuing on toward Liverpool, nucleating moisture and falling in blackest of rain. From the Stonyhurst Observatory, near Liverpool, was reported, occurring at 11 A.M., April 26, "the most extraordinary darkness remembered"; forty minutes later fell rain "as black as ink," and then black snow and black hail (Nature, 30-6).(26) Black hail fell at Chaigley, several miles from Liverpool (Stonyhurst Mag- [145/146] azine, 1-267).(27) Five hours later, black substance fell at Crowle, near Worcester (Nature, 30-32).(28) Upon the 28th, at Church Stretton and Much Wenlock, Shropshire, fell torrents of liquid like ink and water in equal proportions (The Field, May 3, 1884).(29) In the Jour. Roy. Met. Soc., 11-7, it is said that, upon the 28th, half a mile from Lilleshall, Shropshire, an unknown pink substance was brought down by a storm.(30) Upon the 3rd of May, black substance fell again at Crowle (Nature, 30-32).(31)

In Nature, 30-216, a correspondent writes that, upon June 22, 1884, at Fletching, Sussex, southwest of Colchester, there was intense darkness, and that rain then brought down flakes of soot in such abundance that it seemed to be "snowing black."(32) This was several months after the shock at Colchester, but my datum for thinking that another explosion, or disturbance of some kind, had occurred in the same local sky, is that, as reported by the inmates of one house, a slight shock was felt, upon the 24th of June, at Colchester, showing that the phenomena were continuing. See Roper's List of Earthquakes.(33)

Was not the loud report heard upon Feb. 18 probably an explosion in the sky, inasmuch as the sound was great and the quake little? Were not succeeding phenomena sounds and concussions and the fall of débris from explosions in the sky, acceptably upon April 22, and perhaps continuing until the 24th of June? Then what are the circumstances by which one small part of this earth's surface could continue in relation with something somewhere else in space?

Comrie, Irkutsk, and Birmingham.


1. G.B. Scott. "Barisal guns." Nature, 53 (January 2, 1896): 197.

2. "Report on Barisal Guns made at a meeting of the Sub-Committee held on the 17th July 1889, to consider the observations recorded during the year 1888." Proceedings of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1899 (August): 199-209. The last observation gathered in this report was for March 11, 1889, (not March 1).

3. William Roper. A list of remarkable earthquakes in Great Britain and Ireland during the Christian era. Lancaster: T. Bell, 1892.

4. Charles Davison. "The earthquakes of Comrie in Perthshire." Knowledge, n.s., 6 (April 1909): 143-6, at 145.

5. David E. Packer. "Earthquakes and meteors." English Mechanic, 74 (September 27, 1901): 155-6.

6. "Earthquake in Scotland." London Times, September 19, 1901, p. 6 c. 2.

7. Edward S. Holden. "Catalogue of earthquakes on Pacific Coast, 1769 to 1897." Miscellaneous Collections of the Smithsonian Institute, 37, (art. 5; no. 1087; II), 71-2. There is no quote of "frightful," though it is an apt descripton.

8. Warren DuPré Smith. "Earthquakes in Oregon." Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 9 (September 1919): 59-71, at 65-6, 69.

9. "Tremblements de terre." Nature (Paris), 1881 v. 2 (July 23): 126.

10. "Barisal guns and similar sounds." Nature, 53 (January 30, 1896): 295-6, c.v. Hy. Harries.

11. "The earthquake." Nature, 30 (May 1, 1884): 17-9, at 19, c.v. O. Fisher.

12. "Supposed earthquake." London Times, January 12, 1869, p. 5 c. 6. William H. Sewell. "Supposed earthquake." London Times, January 15, 1869, p. 3 c. 6. "Supposed earthquake." London Times, January 16, 1869, p. 5 c. 6.

13. "Curious circumstance." London Standard, January 12, 1869, p. 3 c. 2.

14. "An earthquake in West Suffolk." London Morning Post, January 14, 1869, p. 2 c. 6.

15. James Glaisher et al. "Report on observations of luminous meteors, 1868-69." Annual Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1869, 216-308, at 307. The meteor was reported seen at 1:20 A.M.

16. M.A. "What was it?" London Standard, January 22, 1869, p. 5 c. 2.

17. "A remarkable phenomena." Chudleigh Weekly Express (Chudleigh), January 13, 1869, p. 2 c. 4.

18. "Météore ou bolide lumineux du 17 mars." Cosmos: Les Mondes, 24, 190. The meteor, said to be seen over Saints at 10:40 P.M., (not at 10:45), was the same slow-moving meteor seen over Chantelleraut at 10:55 P.M.; and, its horizontal trail persisted for about an hour. A. Briffault. "Sur un bolide observée à Tours, le 17 mars 1871." Comptes Rendus, 72 (1871): 788-9. The meteor seen at 8 P.M. and that seen at 11:45 P.M., which crossed the sky in a minute and left a trail lasting 25 minutes, followed the same direction.

19. "Earthquake on March 17th." Symons' Meteorological Magazine, 6 (April 1871): 37-40.

20. Also, a meteor was seen over Chicester, about 10:30 P.M., on the night of the 17th, which left a trail visible for three to four minutes. "A meteor." London Times, March 21, 1871, p. 10 c. 6.

21. "Curious aerial or subterranean sounds." Nature, 53 (November 7, 1895): 4, c.v. R. Meldola.

22. "Earthquake in England." London Times, April 23, 1884, p. 7 c. 3-6.

23. "The earthquake in Essex." London Daily Chronicle, April 28, 1884, p. 2 c. 2. Further descriptions can be found in: "Severe earthquake." London Daily Chronicle, April 23, 1884, p. 5 c. 6-7. And, "It does not appear that the earthquake...." London Daily Chronicle, April 24, 1884, p. 4 c. 6-7.

24. G.P. Yeats. Observations upon the Earthquake of December 17, 1896. 6-7.

25. J.T. Norgate. "A strange incident." Knowledge, 5 (May 9, 1884): 336.

26. S.J. Perry. "Extraordinary darkness at midday." Nature, 30 (May 1, 1884): 6. Correct quotes: "...almost as black as ink," and, "The deserving of record as being the most intense that is remembered by any of the inhabitants."

27. Stonyhurst Magazine, v. 1 p. 267.

28. "The remarkable sunsets." Nature, 30 (May 8, 1884): 32, c.v. J.L.L. Bozward.

29. R.J. Buddicombe. "Black rain." Field, 63 (May 3, 1884): 597, c. 2.

30. The pink substance was found upon clothes hung out to dry after washing, on August 28, 1884, turned to a blue color when washed again in soft water and disappeared upon drying after a third washing. Charles Clement Walker. "On the injury by lightning to the monument to the First Duke of Sutherland, at Lilleshall, Shropshire, April 28th, 1884." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society of London, 11 (1885): 7-11, at 9, 11.

31. "The remarkable sunsets." Nature, 30 (May 8, 1884): 32, c.v. J.L.L. Bozward. A "considerable film of dust," (not identified as a black substance), fell at Crowle.

32. W.J. Treutler. "Black rain." Nature, 30 (July 3, 1884): 216.

33. William Roper. A List of Remarkable Earthquakes in Great Britain and Ireland During the Christian Era. Lancaster: T. Bell, 1892.

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