New Lands

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X





IF a grasshopper could hop on a cannon ball, passing overhead, I could conceive, perhaps, how something, from outer space, could flit to a moving earth, explore a while, and then hop off.

But suppose we have to accept that there have been instances of just such enterprise and agility, relatively to the planet Venus. Irrespective of our notion that it may be that sometimes a vessel sails to this earth from Venus and returns, there are striking data indicating that, whether conceivable or not, luminous objects have appeared from somewhere, or presumably from outer space, and have been seen temporarily suspended over the planet Venus. This is in accord with our indications that there are regions in the sky suspended over and near this earth. It looks bad for our inference that this earth is stationary, but it is the supposed rotary motion of this earth more than the supposed orbital motion that seems to us would dislodge such neighboring bodies; and all astronomers, except those who say that Venus rotates in about 24 hours, say that Venus rotates in about 224 days, a velocity that would generate little centrifugal force.(1)

I have a note upon a determined luminosity that was bent upon Saturn, as its objective. In the English Mechanic, 63-496, a correspondent writes that, upon July 13, 1896, he saw, through his telescope, from 10 until after 11.15, P.M., after which the planet was too near the horizon for good seeing, a luminous object moving near Saturn.(2) He saw it pass several small stars. "It was certainly going toward Saturn at a good rate." There may be swifts in the sky that can board planets. If they can swoop on and off an earth moving at a rate of 19 miles a second, disregarding rotation, because entrance at a pole may be thought of, why, then, for all I know smaller things do ride on cannon balls. Of course if our data that indicate that the supposed solar system, or the geo-system, is to an enormous degree smaller than is con- [161/162] ventionally taught be accepted, the orbital velocity of Venus is far cut down.

About the last of August, 1873 — Brussels; eight o'clock in the evening — rising above the horizon, into a clear sky, was seen a star-like object. It mounted higher and higher, until, about ten minutes later, it disappeared (La Nature, 1873-239).(3) It seems that this conspicuous object did appear in a local sky, and was therefore not far from this earth. If it were not a fire-balloon, one supposes that it did come from outer space, and then returned.

Perhaps a similar thing that visited the moon, and was then seen sailing away — in the Astronomical Register, 23-205, Prof. Schafarik, of Prague, writes that upon April 24, 1874, he saw "an object of so peculiar a nature that I do not know what to make of it."(4) He saw a dazzling white object slowly traversing the disc of the moon. He had not seen it approaching the moon. He watched it after it left the moon. Sept. 22, 1881 — South Africa — an object that was seen near the moon by Col. Markwick — like a comet but moving very rapidly (Jour. Liverpool Astro. Soc., 7-117).(5)

Our chief interest is in objects, like ships, that have "boarded" this moving earth with the agility of a Columbus who could dodge a San Salvador and throw out an anchor to an American coast screeching past him at a rate of 19 miles a second, or in objects that have come as close as atmospheric conditions, or unknown conditions, would permit to the bottom of a kind of stationary sea. We now graduate Capt. Noble to the extra-geographic fold. In Knowledge, 4-173, Capt. Noble writes that, at 10.35 o'clock, night of August 28, 1883, he saw in the sky something "like a new and most glorious comet."(6) First he saw something like the tail of a comet, or it was like a search light, according to Capt. Noble's sketch of it in Knowledge. Then Capt. Noble saw the nucleus from which this light came. It was a brilliant object. Upon page 207, W.K. Bradgate writes that, at 12.40 A.M., August 29, at Liverpool, he saw an object like the planet Jupiter, a ray of light emanating from it.(7) Upon the nights of Sept. 11 and 13, Prof. Swift saw, at Rochester, New York, an unknown object like a comet, perhaps in the local sky of Rochester, inasmuch as it was reported from nowhere else (Observatory, 6-345).(8) In [162/163] Knowledge, 4-219, Mrs. Harbin writes that, upon the night of Sept. 21, at Yeovil, she saw the same brilliant searchlight-like light that had been seen by Capt. Noble, but that it had disappeared before she could turn her telescope upon it.(9) And several months later (Nov., 1883) a similar object was seen obviously not far away, but in the local sky of Porto Rico and then of Ohio (Amer. Met. Jour., 1-110, and Scientific American, 50-40, 97).(10) It may be better not to say at this time that we have data for thinking that a vessel carrying something like a searchlight, visited this earth, and explored for several months over regions as far apart as England and Puerto Rico. Just at present it is enough to record that something that was presumably not a fire-balloon appeared in the sky of England, close to this earth, if seen nowhere else, and in two hours traversed the distance of about 200 miles between Sussex and Liverpool.

Aug. 22, 1885 — Saigon, Cochin-China — according to Lieut. Réveillère, of the vessel Guiberteau — object like a magnificent red star, but larger than the planet Venus — it moved no faster than a cloud in a moderate wind; observed 7 or 8 minutes, then disappearing behind clouds (C.R., 101-680).(11)

In this book it is my frustrated desire to subordinate the theme of this earth's stationariness. My subject is New Lands — things, objects, beings that are, or may be, the data of coming expansions —

But the stationariness of this earth can not be subordinated. It is crucial.

Again — there is no use discussing possible explorations beyond this earth, if this earth moves at a rate of 19 miles a second, or 19 miles a minute.

As to voyagers who may come to or near this earth from other planets — how could they leave and return to swiftly moving planets? According to our principles of Extra-geography, the planets move part of the time with the revolving stars, the remotest planets remaining in, under, or near one constellation years at a time. Anything that could reach, and then travel from, a swiftly revolving constellation in the ecliptic could arrive at a stellar polar region, where, relatively to a central, stationary body, there is no motion.


1. "Cassini gave the rotation as twenty-three hours, by observing a bright spot on her surface. Schröter made it 23h. 21m. 19s. This value was supported by others. In 1890 Schiaparelli announced that Venus rotates, like our moon, once in one of her revolutions, and always directs the same face to the sun. This property has also been ascribed to Mercury; but in neither case has the evidence been generally accepted." George Forbes. History of Astronomy. London: Watts & Co., 1909, 109-10.

2. "Saturn — Comet?" English Mechanic, 63 (July 17, 1896): 496.

3. "Le météore de Bruxelles." Nature (Paris), 1873, 2 (September 13): 239. The meteor was observed for about two minutes, (not ten), at Brussels and Sainte-Gudule.

4. Schafarik. "Telescopic meteors." Astronomical Register, 23 (1885): 205-11, at 207-8. Correct quote: " peculiar a character that I did not know...."

5. E.E. Markwick. "On comets of the last century." Journal of the Liverpool Astronomical Society, 7, 106-7. The object was observed on September 27, 1881, not on September 22.

6. William Noble. "A curious phenomenon." Knowledge, 4 (September 14, 1883): 173. Correct quote: "...the apparition of a new and most glorious comet...."

7. W.K. Bradgate. "A curious phenomenon." Knowledge, 4 (September 28, 1883): 207.

8. "Swift's new comet." Observatory, 6 (1883): 345.

9. Mrs. Harbin. "Curious phenomenon." Knowledge, 4 (October 5, 1883): 219.

10. Jacob Rice. [Letter.] American Meteorological Journal, 1 (July 1884): 110. "A remarkable phenomenon seen in Porto Rico." Scientific American, n.s., 50 (January 19, 1884): 40. "A remarkable phenomenon seen at Sulphur Springs, Ohio." Scientific American, n.s., 50 (February 16, 1884): 97.

11. Réveillère. "Sur un météore observé à Saigon, dans la soirée du 22 août." Comptes Rendus, 101 (October 5, 1885): 680. Réveillère was with the lieutenant of the Guiberteau, (he was not the lieutenant), when they observed this object. Saigon is also identified as Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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