A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book
Edited and Annotated by Mr. X
NOSE in the mud, and the bend of a thing to the ground. There are postures from which life is acting to escape: one of them, the embryonic crouch; another, whether in the degradation of worship, or as a convenience in eating grass, the bend of the neck to the ground. The all-day gnaw of the fields. But the eater of meat is released from the munch. One way to broaden horizons is to climb a tree, but another way is stand on one's own hind legs, away from the grass. A Bernard Shaw dines on hay, and still looks behind for a world that's far ahead.
These are the disgusts for vegetarians, felt by the planters of Ceylon, in July, 1910. Very likely, I am prejudiced, myself. Perhaps I think that it is gross and brutal to eat anything at all. Why stop at vegetarianism? Vegetarianism is only a semi-ideal. The only [76/77] heavenly thing to do is to do nothing. It is gross and brutal and animal-like to breathe.
We contribute to the records of strange alarms. There was one in Ceylon. Gigantic vegetarians were eating trees.
Millions of foreigners, big African snails (Achatena fulica) had suddenly appeared, massed in the one small district of Kalutara, near Colombo. Shells of the largest were six inches long. One of them that weighed three quarters of a pound was exhibited at the Colombo Museum. They were crowded, or massed, in one area of four square miles. One of the most important of the data is that this was in one of the most thickly populated parts of Ceylon. But nothing had been seen of these "gigantic snails," until suddenly trees turned knobby with the monsters. It was as surprising as it would be, in New York, going out one morning, finding everything covered with huge warts. In Colombo was shown a photograph of a tree trunk, upon the visible part of which 227 snails were counted. The ground was as thick with them as were the trees.
They were explained.
So were the periwinkles of Worcester: but we had reasons for omitting from our credulities, the story of the mad fishmonger of Worcester and his frenzied assistants.
In the Zoologist, Feb., 1911, Mr. E. Ernest Green, the Government Entomologist, of Ceylon, explained.(1) Ten years before, Mr. Oliver Collet, in a place about fifty miles from Kalutara, had received "some of these snails" from Africa, and had turned them loose in his garden. Then, because of the damage by the monsters, he had destroyed all, he thought: but he was mistaken, some of them having survived. In Kalutara lived a native, who was related to other natives, in this other place (Watawella). In a parcel of vege- [77/78] tables that he had brought from Watawella two of these snails had been found, and had been turned loose in Kalutara, and the millions had descended from them. No names: no date.
All the accounts, in the Ceylon Observer, in issues from July 27 to September 23, are of a sudden and monstrous appearance of huge snails, packed thick, and not an observation upon them until all at once appeared millions.(2) It takes one of these snails two years to reach full size. All sizes were in this invasion. "Never known in Ceylon before." "How they came here continues to be a mystery." According to Mr. Green's report, published in a supplement of the Ceylon Observer, Sept. 2, stories of the multitudes were not exaggerations: he described "giant snails in enormous numbers," "a horde in a comparatively small space," "a foreign pest." This was in a region of many plantations, and even if the hordes could have been hidden from sight in a jungle, the sounds of their gnawing and of the snapping of branches of trees under the weight of them would have been heard far.
Plantations -- and the ceaseless sound of the munch. The vegetarian bend -- the sagging of trees, with their tops to the ground, heavy with snails. Natives, too, and the vegetarian bend -- they bowed before the invasion. They would destroy no snails: it would be a sin. A bubonic crawl -- lumps fall off and leave skeletons. There would be a sight like this, if a plague could hypnotize a nation, and eat, to their bones, rigid crowds. Tumors that crawl and devour -- clothing and flesh disappearing -- congregations of bones.
There was a hope for infidels. When a lost soul was found, there was rejoicing in Kalutara, and double pay was handed out, satanically. The planters raked up infidels, who sinfully gathered snails into mounds and burned them. [78/79]
One of our reasons for being persuaded into accepting what we wanted to accept, in the matter of the phenomenon at Worcester, was that not only periwinkles appeared: also appeared crabs, which could not fit in with the conventional explanation. Simultaneously with the invasion of snails, there was another mysterious appearance. It was of unusually large scale-insects, which, according to Mr. Green (Ceylon Observer, Aug. 9) had never before been recorded in Ceylon.
Maybe, in September, 1929, somebody lost an alligator. According to some of our data upon the insecurities of human mentality, there isn't anything that can't be lost by somebody. A look at Losts and Founds -- but especially Losts -- confirms this notion. New York American, Sept. 19, 1929 -- an alligator, 31 inches long, killed in the Hackensack Meadows, N.J., by Carl Weise, 14 Peerless Place, North Bergen, N.J.(3) But my attention is attracted by another "mysterious appearance" of an alligator, about the same time. New York Sun, Sept. 23, 1929 -- an alligator, 28 inches long, found by Ralph Miles, in a small creek, near Wolcott, N.Y.(4)
In the Gentleman's Magazine, Aug., 1866, somebody tells of a young crocodile, which, about ten years before, had been killed on a farm, at Over-Norton, Oxfordshire, England.(5)
In the November issue of this magazine, C. Parr, a well-known writer upon antiquarian subjects, says that, thirty years before, near Chipping Norton, another young crocodile had been killed.(6) According to Mr. Parr, still another young crocodile had been seen, at Over-Norton. In the Field, Aug. 23, 1862, is an account of a fourth young crocodile that had been seen, near Over-Norton.(7)
It looks as if, for about thirty years, there had been a translatory current, especially selective of young [79/80] crocodiles, between somewhere, say in Egypt, and an appearing-point near Over-Norton. If, by design and functioning, in the distribution of life in an organism, or in one organic existence, we mean anything so misdirected as a teleportation of young crocodiles to a point in a land where they would be out of adaptation, we evidently mean not so very intelligent design and functioning. Possibly, or most likely. It seems to me that an existence that is capable of sending young butchers to medical schools, and young boilermakers to studios, would be capable of sending young crocodiles to Over-Norton, Oxfordshire, England. When I go on to think of what gets into the Houses of Congress, I expect to come upon data of mysterious distributions of cocoanuts in Greenland.
There have often been sudden, astonishing appearances of mice, in great numbers. In the autumn of 1927, millions of mice appeared in the fields of Kern County, California. Kern County, California, is continuous with all the rest of a continent: so a sudden appearance of mice there is not very mysterious.(8)
In May, 1832, mice appeared in the fields of Inverness-shire, Scotland. They were in numbers so great that foxes turned from their ordinary ways of making a living and caught mice. It is my expression that these mice may have arrived in Scotland, by way of neither land nor sea. If they were little known in Great Britain, the occurrence of such multitudes is mysterious. If they were unknown in Great Britain, this datum becomes more interesting. They were brown; white rings around necks; tails tipped with white. In the Magazine of Natural History, 7-182, a correspondent writes that he had examined specimens, and had not been able to find them mentioned in any book.(9)
I have four records of snakes that were said to have fallen from the sky, in thunderstorms. Miss Margaret [80/81] McDonald, of Hawthorne, Mass., has sent me an account of many speckled snakes that appeared in the streets of Hawthorne, one time, after a thunderstorm.
Because of our expressions upon teleportative currents, I am most interested in repetitions in one place. Upon May 26, 1920, began a series of tremendous thunderstorms, in England, culminating upon the 29th, in a flood that destroyed 50 houses, in Louth, Lincolnshire. Upon the 26th, in a central part of London -- Gower Street -- near the British Museum, a crowd gathered outside Dr. Michie's house. Gower Street is in Bloomsbury. To the Bloomsbury boarding houses go the American schoolmarms who visit London, and beyond the standards of Bloomsbury -- primly pronounced Bloomsbry -- respectability does not exist. Dr. Michie went out and asked the crowd what it, or anything else, could mean by being conspicuous in Bloomsbry. He was told that in an enclosure behind his house had been seen a snake.
In a positive sense, he did not investigate. He simply went to a part of the enclosure that was pointed out to him. Though, in his general practice, Dr. Michie was probably as scientific as anybody else, I must insist that this was no scientific investigation. He caught the snake.
The creature was explained. It was said to be a naja haja, a venomous snake from Egypt. Many oriental students live in Gower Street, to be near the British Museum and University College: in all probability the oriental snake had escaped from an oriental student.
You know, I don't see that oriental students having oriental snakes is any more likely than that American students should have American snakes: but there is an association here that will impress some persons. According to my experience, and according to data to [81/82] come, I think that somebody "identified" an English adder, as an oriental snake, to fit in with the oriental students, and then fitted in the oriental students with the oriental snake, arguing reasonably that if an oriental snake was found where there were oriental students, the oriental snake had probably escaped from the oriental students. As I have pointed out, often enough, I know of no reasoning process that is not parthenogenetic, and if this is the way the identification and the explanation came about, the author of them has companionship with Plato and Darwin and Einstein, and earthworms.
The next day, there was another crowd: this one in a part of London far from Gower Street (Sydenham). A snake had been seen in a garden. Then a postman killed it. Oriental students do not live in Sydenham. This snake was an adder (London Daily Express, May 28).(10)
Upon the 29th, in Store Street, near Gower Street, a butcher, Mr. G.H. Hill, looked out from his shop, and saw a snake wriggling along the sidewalk. He caught the snake which was probably an adder -- picture of it in the Weekly Dispatch, of the 30th.(11)
So there were some excitements, but they were mild, compared with what occurred in a crowded part of London, June 2nd. See the Daily Express, June 3.(12) Outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral (Westminster) an adder appeared. This one stopped traffic, and had a wide audience that approached and retreated, and reacted with a surge to every wriggle, in such disproportion that there's no seeing how action and reaction can always be equal. Three men jumped on it. This one is told of, in the Westminster and Pimlico News, June 4 and 11, and here it is said that another adder had appeared in Westminster, having been caught under a mat at
Morpeth-mansions.(13) About this [82/83] time, far away in North London (Willesden) an adder was killed in a field (London Times, June 21).(14)
Common sense tells me that probably some especially vicious joker had been scattering venomous snakes around. But some more common sense tells me that I can not depend upon common sense.
I have received letters upon strange appearances of living things in tanks of rain water that seemed inaccessible except to falls from the sky. Mr. Edward Foster, of Montego Bay, Jamaica, B.W.I., has told me of crayfishes that were found in a cistern of rain water at Port Antonio, Jamaica. Still, such occurrences may be explained, conventionally. But, in the London Daily Mail, Oct. 6, 1921, Major Harding Cox, of Newick, Sussex, tells of an appearance of fishes that is more mysterious.(15) A pond near his house had been drained, and the mud had been scraped out. It was dry from July to November, when it was refilled. In the following May, this pond teemed with tench. One day, 37 of them were caught. Almost anybody, interested, will try to explain in terms of spawn carried by winds, or in mud on the feet of water birds, but I am going right ahead with ideas different from Darwinian principles of biologic distributions. Major Cox, who is a well-known writer, probably reviewed all conventional explanations, but still he was mystified. There would not be so much of the interesting in this story, were it not for his statement that never before had a tench been caught in this pond.
Eels are mysterious beings. It may be that what are called their "breeding habits" are teleportations. According to what is supposed to be known of eels, appearances of eels anywhere can not be attributed to transportations of spawn. In the New York Times, Nov. 30, 1930, a correspondent tells of mysterious appearances of eels in old moats and in mountain [83/84] tarns, which had no connection with rivers.(16) Eels can travel over land, but just how they rate as mountain climbers, I don't know.
In the Amer. Jour. Sci., 16-41, a correspondent tells of a ditch that had been dug on his farm, near Cambridge, Maryland.(17) It was in ground that was a mile from any body of water. The work was interrupted by rain, which fell for more than a week. Then, in the rain water that filled the ditch, were found hundreds of perch, of two species. The fishes could not have developed from spawn, in so short a time: they were from four to seven inches long. But there was, here, a marksmanship that strikes my attention. Nothing is said of dead fishes lying upon the ground, at sides of the ditch: hundreds of perch arrived from somewhere, exactly in this narrow streak of water. There could have been nothing so scattering as a "shower." Accept this story, and it looks as if to a new body of water, vibrating perhaps with the needs of vacancy, there was response somewhere else, and that, with accuracy, hundreds of fishes were teleported. If somebody should have faith in us, and dig a ditch and wait for fish, and get no fish, and then say that we're just like all other theorists, we explain that, with life now well-established upon this earth, we regard many teleportations as mere atavisms, of no functional value. This idea of need and response, or of the actively functional, is taking us into a more advanced stage of conception of an organic existence. For a while, we shall make no progress with this expression, having much work to do, to make acceptable that there is Teleportation, whether organic, or not.
Perhaps some sudden and widespread appearances of exotic plants were teleportations. Such appearances in Australia and New Zealand seem to be satisfactorily explained, as ordinary importations: but, in the [84/85] London Daily News, April 1, 1924, Dr. F.E. Weiss, Professor of Botany, University of Manchester, tells of the Canadian pond weed that suddenly infested the canals and slow-moving rivers of England, about the year 1850, and says that the phenomenon never had been satisfactorily explained.(18)
Cardiff (Wales) Evening Express, July 1, 1919 -- "The countryside is set by the ears!"(19) That's a queer way for a countryside or anything else to be set. There may have been a queer occurrence. It is said that, upon land, belonging to Mr. William Calvert, between the villages of Sturton and Stowe, ten miles from Lincoln, wheat had appeared. It was ten years since wheat had grown here. There had been barley, but this year the field had been left fallow. "It was a fine crop of wheat, apparently of more robust growth than some in the cultivated fields around. Farmers from far and near were going to see this phenomenon, but nobody could explain it."
Perhaps, at the same time, another "mystery crop" appeared somewhere else. Sunday Express (London), Aug. 24, 1919 -- that, in a field, near Ormskirk, West Lancashire, where, the year before, because of a drought, wheat had died off so that there was nothing worth harvesting, a crop of wheat had appeared.(20) That some of the seeds that had been considered worthless should sprout would not have been considered extraordinary, but this was "one of the best crops of vigorous, young wheat in West Lancashire, for the season."
Though I am not a very pious theologian, I take respectful notice here. A Providence that gives one snails, or covers one's property with worms, has to be called "inscrutable": but we can understand a good crop of wheat better, and that is enough to make anybody grateful, until come following seasons, with no more benefactions. [85/86]
We take up again the phenomenon of localized repetitions, which suggest the existence of persisting translatory currents. If again we come to the seemingly preposterous, we reflect that we have only preposterous pseudo-standards to judge by. In this instance, the sending of salt water fishes to a fresh water lake is no more out of place than, for instance, is the sending of chaplains to battleships; and, of course, in our view, it is what is loosely called Nature that is doing all things. Perhaps what is called Nature amuses itself by occasionally sending somewhat intelligent fellows to theological seminaries, and salt water fishes to fresh water. Whether we theologians believe in God, or accept that there is an Organism, wherein we agree is in having often to apologize for him or it.
In Science, Dec. 12, 1902, Dr. John M. Clarke writes that a strange-looking fish had been caught in Lake Onondaga, Western New York, and had been taken to Syracuse.(21) Here it was identified as a squid. Then a second specimen was caught.
Whatever thoughts we're trying to develop did not belong away back in the Dark Age, or the other Dark Age, of the year 1902. Just where they do belong has not been decided yet. Said Dr. Clarke, with whatever reasoning abilities people had in the year 1902: "There are salt springs near Lake Onondaga: so perhaps there is, in the lake, a sub-stratum of salt water." The idea is that, for millions of years, there had been, in Lake Onondaga, ocean life down below, and fresh water things swimming around, overhead, and never mixing. Perhaps, by way of experiment, Dr. Clarke put salt water and a herring in an aquarium, and then fresh water and a goldfish on top, and saw each fish keeping strictly to his own floor, which is the only way to get along as neighbors.
Another scientist turned on his reasoning abilities. [86/87] Prof. Ortman, of Princeton University, examined one of the specimens, which according to him, was "a short-finned squid, of the North Atlantic, about 13 inches long." Prof. Ortman reasoned that Atlantic fishermen use squid for bait. Very well: then other fishermen may use squid for bait. So somebody may have sent for squid, to go fishing in Lake Onondaga, and may have lost a couple of live ones.
This is the science that is opposing our own notions. But for all I know, it may be pretty good science. An existence that would produce such explainers, might very well produce such fishermen. So perhaps fishermen of Lake Onondaga, with millions of worms around, sent several hundred miles for squid, for bait, and perhaps Atlantic fishermen, with millions of squid available, send all the way to Lake Onondaga for worms. I've done foolisher, myself.
It seems to me that there is something suggestive in the presence of large deposits of salt near this lake, but I have heard nothing of salt water in it. There's no telling about a story that was published in the New York Times, May 2, 1882, but if it could be accepted, here would be something worth thinking about -- that a seal had been shot, in Lake Onondaga.(22) Some years before the appearance of the squid, another sea creature, a sargassum fish, had been caught in Lake Onondaga. It had been exhibited in Syracuse, according to Prof. Hargitt, of Syracuse University (Science, n.s., 17-114).(23) It has to be thought that these things were strays. If they were indigenous and propagated, they'd be common.
For various reasons, I do not think much of an idea of an underground passage, all the way from the ocean to Lake Onondaga: but, in the London Daily Mail, July 1, 1920, a correspondent expresses an idea, like this, as to mysterious appearances and disappearances [87/88] of the Barbary apes of Gibraltar, conceiving of a submarine tunnel from Gibraltar to Africa.(24) "All these creatures were well-known to the staff of the signal station on the Rock, many of the apes being named. The numbers sometimes change in the most unaccountable way. Well-known monkeys are absent for months, and then re-appear with new, strange, adult monkeys of a similar breed. Those who know Gibraltar will agree that there is not a square yard on the Rock where they could have hidden."
Chicago Citizen, Feb. 27, 1892 -- an alligator, 5 feet long, found frozen to death, on a bank of the Rock River, near Janesville, Wisconsin.(25) In the Field, Sept. 21, 1895, it is said that a parrakeet had appeared in a farm yard, where it was caught at Gledhill, Ardgay, Scotland, and that, about two years later, another parrakeet appeared in this farm yard, and was caught.(26) Both birds were males. "No one living anywhere near had missed a bird, upon either occasion."
Later, we shall have expressions upon psychological, and also physiological, effects of teleportative seizures. It may be that a living thing, in California, was, upon the first of August, 1869, shot from point to point, and was torn to pieces, in the passage.
Flesh and blood that fell "from the sky," upon Mr. J. Hudson's farm, in Los Nietos Township, California -- a shower that lasted three minutes and covered an area of two acres. The conventional explanation is that these substances had been disgorged by flying buzzards. "The day was perfectly clear, and the sun was shining, and there was no perceptible breeze," and if anybody saw buzzards, buzzards were not mentioned.
The story is told in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin, Aug. 9, 1869.(27) The flesh was in fine particles, [88/89] and also in strips, from one to six inches long. There were short, fine hairs. One of the witnesses took specimens to Los Angeles, and showed them to the Editor of the Los Angeles News, as told in the News, August 3rd. The Editor wrote that he had seen, but had not kept the disagreeable objects, to the regret of many persons who had besieged him for more information. "That the meat fell, we can not doubt. Even the parsons of the neighborhood are willing to vouch for that. Where it came from, we can not even conjecture." In the Bulletin, it is said that, about two months before, flesh and blood had fallen from the sky, in Santa Clara County, California.
London Daily Express, March 24, 1927 -- a butterfly, a Red Admiral, that had appeared in a corner of the Girls' National School, at Whittlesey.(28) It is said that every year, for sixteen years, a butterfly had so appeared in this corner of this room, about the end of February, or the first of March. I wrote to Miss Clarke, one of the teachers, and she replied, verifying the story, in general, though not vouching for an appearance every one of the sixteen years. I kept track, and wrote again, early in 1928. I copy the letter that I received from Miss E. Clarke, 95 Station Road, Whittlesey. As to the idea of jokes by little girls, I do not think that little girls could get Red Admiral butterflies, in the wintertime, in England.
"On the 9th of Feb., a few days before I received your letter, a lovely Red Admiral again appeared at the same window. The girls were all quietly at work, when suddenly a voice exclaimed: `Oh! Miss Clarke -- the butterfly!' This child was with me, last year, and remembered the sudden appearance then, which I may add, was later, March 2nd, in fact.
"As I am writing, the visitor is fluttering about the window, and seems quite lively. Last year's visitor [89/90] lived about a month after its appearance, and then we found it dead.
"There is nothing else that I can tell you about our annual visitor, but really it does seem remarkable."
Early in the year 1929, I again wrote to Miss Clarke, but this time she did not answer me. Maybe a third letter was considered too much of a correspondence with somebody who had not been properly introduced. Anyway, people do not like to go upon record, in such matters.
There are circumstances in the story of the children of Clavaux that linger in my mind. It was a story of a double, or reciprocating, current. I have searched for accounts of a mysterious disappearance and an equally mysterious appearance, or something in the nature of an exchange, in the same place.
Upon Dec. 12th, 1910, a handsome, healthy girl disappeared somewhere in New York City. The only known man in her affairs lived in Italy. It looks as if she had no intention of disappearing: she was arranging for a party, a tea, whatever those things are, for about sixty of her former schoolmates, to be held upon the 17th of the month. When last seen, in Fifth Avenue, she said that she intended to walk through Central Park, on her way to her home, near the 79th Street entrance of the park. It may be that somewhere in the eastern part of the park, between 59th Street and the 79th Street entrances, she disappeared. No more is known of Dorothy Arnold.
This day something appeared in Central Park. There was no record of any such occurrence before. As told, in the New York
Sun, Dec. 13th, scientists were puzzled.(29) Upon the lake, near the 79th Street entrance, appeared a swan.
Mountainous districts of Inverness-shire, Scotland [90/91] -- mysterious footprints in bogs -- sheep and goats slaughtered. "A large, fierce, yellow animal of unknown species" was seen by a farmer, who killed it. More mysterious tracks in the bogs, and continued slaughter -- another large, fierce, yellow animal was shot. Soon a third specimen was caught in a trap. "The body was sent to the London Zoo, where it was identified as that of a lynx." See the London Daily Express, Jan. 14, 1927.(30) There is no record of the lynx, as indigenous to Great Britain. "It is found, in Europe, in the Alps, and the Carpathians, and more often in the Caucasus. The last specimen, in France, was killed 100 years ago."
I have a feeling of impiety, in recording this datum. So many of our data are upon a godness that so much resembles idiocy that to attribute intelligence to it may be even blasphemous. Early in this theological treatise we noted a widespread feeling that there is something of the divine in imbecility. But, if these three lynxes were teleported, say from somewhere in the Carpathians, there was good sense to this teleportation, and there was a good shot this time, because they landed in a lynx's paradise. There is no part of Great Britain that is richer in game than is Inverness-shire, and the country abounds with deer and sheep. However, if into this Eden were shot an Adam and two Eves, and these two Eves cats, we may think of this occurrence with a restored piety.
In the London evening newspapers, Aug. 26, 1926, it was told that a mystery had been solved. People in Hampstead (London) had reported that, in the pond, in Hampstead Heath, there was a mysterious creature. Sometimes it was said that the unknown inhabitant was a phantom, and there were stories of dogs that had been taken to the pond, and had sniffed, and had sneaked away, "with their tails between their legs." [91/92] All this in a London park. There was a story of "a huge, black creature, with the head of a gorilla, and a bark like that of a dog with a sore throat." Mostly these were fishermen's tales. Anglers sit around this pond, and sometimes they catch something.
Upon the night of August 25th, the line of one of these anglers, named Trevor, was grabbed. He landed something.
This is Mr. Trevor's story. For all I know, he may have been out on an iceberg somewhere, hunting for materials for his wife's winter coat, catching something that was insufficient, if he had a large wife. All that can be said is that Trevor appeared at a hotel, near the pond, carrying a small animal that he said he had caught in the pond.
Mr. F.G. Gray, proprietor of the hotel, had an iron tank, and in this the creature was lodged: and the next day the newspapers told that a young seal had been caught. Reporters went to the place, and one of them, the Evening News representative, took along Mr. Shelley, of the London Zoo. Mr. Shelley identified the animal, as a young seal and no tame specimen, but a wild one that snapped at fingers that were poked anywhere near him.
So it was said that a mystery had been solved.
But there were stories of other seals that had been seen or had been heard barking, before the time of the birth of this seal, in this London pond. One would think that the place was somewhere in Greenland. It was Mr. Gray's statement that for several years, there had been, intermittently, these sounds and appearances. The pond is connected with the River Fleet, which runs into the Thames, and conceivably a seal could make its way, without being reported, from the ocean to this park, far inland from London: but the idea of seals coming and going, without being seen on the [92/93] way, in a period of several years, whereas in centuries before nothing of the kind had been heard of, was enough to put this story where most of our other stories, or data, have been put. Mostly the opinion is that they should stay there.
London Daily Mail, Nov. 2, 1926 -- "Tale that taxes credulity!"(31) "A story of two seals, within three months, in a local pond, is taxing the credulity of residents of Hampstead." But there is a story of another seal that had been caught, after a struggle, dying soon after capture. In the Daily Chronicle, it is said that the "first mystery-catch" was still in the tank, in a thriving condition.(32)
I have come upon more, though to no degree enlighteningly more, about the apes of Gibraltar. In the New York Sun, Feb. 6, 1929, Dr. Raymond L. Ditmars tells of an "old legend" of a tunnel, by which apes travel back and forth, between Africa and Spain.(33) No special instances, or alleged instances, are told of. In Gilbard's History of Gibraltar, published in 1881, is mention of the "wild and impossible theory of communication, under sea, between Gibraltar and the Barbary coast."(34) Here it is said that the apes were kept track of, so that additions to families were announced in the Signal Station newspaper. The notion of apes in any way passing across the Mediterranean is ridiculous to Gilbard, but he notes that there are so many apes upon the mountain on the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar, that it is known as the Hill of Apes.
In November, 1852, a much talked about subject, in England, was reindeer's ears. There were letters to the newspapers. Reindeer's ears came up for discussion in Parliament. Persons who had never seen a reindeer were dogmatizing upon reindeer's ears. It had been reported that among reindeer's skins that had arrived [93/94] at Tromso, Norway, from Spitzbergen were some with the ears clipped.
Many Englishmen believed that Sir John Franklin had sailed through the North West Passage, and that survivors of his expedition were trying to communicate with occasional hunters in Spitzbergen, by marking reindeer. Spitzbergen was uninhabited, and no other explanation could be thought of. Spitzbergen is about 450 miles north of North Cape, Norway, and possibly an exceptional reindeer could swim this distance, but this is a story of many reindeer. All data upon drifting ice are upon southward drifts.
Branded reindeer, presumably from Norway or Finland. continued to be reported in Spitzbergen, but by what means they made the journey never has been found out. Lamont, in Yachting in the Arctic Seas, p. 110, says that he had heard of these marked animals, and that, in August, 1869, he had shot two stags, each having the left ear "back half-cropped."(35) "I showed them to Hans, a half-bred Lapp, accustomed to deal with reindeer since infancy, and he had no doubt whatever of these animals having been marked by the hands of men." Upon page 357, Lamont tells of having shot two more reindeer, similarly marked. Nordenskiold (Voyage of the Vega, vol. 1, p. 135) tells of these marked reindeer, some of them marked also upon antlers, and traces reports back to the year 1785.(36) Upon one of these antlers was tied a bird's leg.
Wherever they are coming from, and however they are doing it, or however
it is being done to them, the marked reindeer are still appearing in Spitzbergen.
Some of them that were shot, in the summer of 1921, are told of in the
Field, Dec. 24, 1921.(37) It must
be that hundreds, or thousands, of these animals have appeared in Spitzbergen.
There is no findable record of one reindeer having ever been seen drifting
on ice [94/95] in that direction. As to the possibility of swimming, I
note that Nova Zembla is much nearer the mainland than is Spitzbergen,
but that Nordenskiold says that the marked reindeer do not appear in Nova
1. E. Ernest Green. "The wanderings of a gigantic African snail." Zoologist, s.4, 15 (February 1911): 41-5. Correct quote: "...some living examples of the species...." The collector was Oliver Collett, (not Collet).
2. "The plague of snails in Kalutara District." Ceylon Observer (Colombo), July 27, 1910, p.5 c.3. "A new scale insect on Castilloa." Ceylon Observer, August 9, 1910, p.2 c.3. "The snail pest in Kalutara District." Ceylon Observer, September 2, 1910, p.6 c.2. "The Anchylosiomiasis Committee recommendations." Ceylon Observer, September 23, 1910, p.4 c.6.
3. "Believe it or not, alligator shot in Jersey marsh." New York American, September 19, 1929, p.5 c.5.
4. "Alligator found in New York creek." New York Sun, September 23, 1929, p.17 c.7.
5. George R. Wright. "Notes on a young crocodile found in a farm-yard at Over-Norton, Oxfordshire." Gentleman's magazine, 221 (August 1866): 149-154.
6. C. Parr. "Crocodiles in England." Gentleman's magazine, 221 (November 1866): 640.
7. George R. Wright. "Curious discovery of a crocodile." Field, 20 (August 23, 1862): 186. The "fourth" crocodile is actually a contemporaneous account of the "first" crocodile.
8. The invasion of mice occurred in January of 1927, (not in the autumn). "Mice swarm fields in California county." New York Times, January 19, 1927, p. 14 c. 3.
9. W.L. "Notice of a species of mouse, possibly an undescribed one, which has abounded in Inverness-shire and Ross-shire." Magazine of natural history, 7 (1834): 181-182.
10. "Snakes." London Daily Express, May 28, 1920, p.1 c.3. No "crowd" is mentioned herein.
11. "Snake roams West End." London Weekly Dispatch, May 30, 1920, p.1 c.7.
12. "Another London snake." London Daily Express, June 3, 1920, p.5 c.3. This was the fourth specimen "within a week," not including that found at Morpeth-mansions. For another article on snakes: "Child killed by a viper." London Daily Express, May 26, 1920, p.1 c.4.
13. "Snakes are fashionable just now." Westminster and Pimlico News, (London), June 4, 1920, p.3 c.2. "The brother or sister of the snake." Westminster and Pimlico News, June 11, 1920, p.3 c.2.
14. "News in brief." London Times, June 21, 1920, p.11 c.6.
15. "Fish from the clouds." London Daily Mail, October 6, 1921, p.6 c.6. For related articles: "Fish from the clouds." London Daily Mail, October 5, 1921, p.6 c.6. "Fish from the clouds." London Daily Mail, October 19, 1921, p.8 c.6.
16. John Sutton. "Breeding habits of eels puzzle." New York Times, November 30, 1930, s. 3 p. 2 c. 7. For previous articles: "New light shines on the eel, nomad of rivers and oceans." New York Times, August 17, 1930, s. 9 p. 4 c. 4-5. W.W. Hallock. "What of the eel?" New York Times, November 16, 1930, s. 3 p. 2 c. 5-6. "Eels do breeding in deep waters." New York Times, November 23, 1930, s. 3 p. 2 c. 4.
17. Joseph E. Muse. "Notice of the appearance of fish and lizards in extraordinary circumstances." American Journal of Science, s.1, 16 (1829): 41-4.
18. "Plant invaders." London Daily News and Leader, April 1, 1924, p.6 c.5.
19. "Mystery wheat." Cardiff Evening Express and Evening Mail, July 1, 1919, p. 4 c. 3. The owner's name was Edward Calvert, (not William); and, the town's name was Stow, (not Stowe). Correct quotes: "...there is a fine crop of wheat of apparently more robust growth and better quality than...," and, "Many agriculturists and others in Lincolnshire are making a pilgrimage to see the mystery crop. So far no explanation of it is forthcoming."
20. "Reaping without sowing." London Sunday Express, August 24, 1919, p.7 c.3. Correct quote: "...the farmer noticed in the field a vigorous crop of young wheat...one of the best crops of wheat in West Lancashire this season."
21. John M. Clarke. "The squids from Onondaga Lake, N.Y." Science, n.s., 16 (December 12, 1902): 947-8. Correct quote: "Onondaga Lake is a shallow body resting on the Salinas shales and unquestionably receiving at all times a considerable amount of saline seepage from the rocks below; for all we know to the contrary its bottom layers may be decidedly saline."
22. "Hair seal shot in Onondaga Lake." New York Times, May 2, 1882, p.8 c.7.
23. H.M. Smith. "Marine animals in interior waters." Science, n.s., 17, 114.
24. London Daily Mail, (July 1, 1920), (Not found here).
25. Chicago Citizen, (February 27, 1892, p.3).
26. A.A. "Stray parrots in Scotland." Field, 86 (September 21, 1895): 518, c.1. The location was Gledfield, Scotland, (not Gledhill). Correct quote: "...anywhere in the neighbourhood missed a bird on either occasion."
27. "The Los Angeles meat shower." San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, August 9, 1869, p.2 c.4.
28. Marie Templeman. "A butterfly mystery." London Daily Express, March 24, 1927, p.8 c.7.
29. "Lone swan from the sky." New York Sun, December 13, 1910, p.1 c.6. Director Smith, of the Central Park menagerie, "was puzzled by the coming of the bird," but there is no mention of other scientists in this article.
30. "Mystery tiger of the North." London Daily Express, January 14, 1927, p.3 c.7. Only the third specimen was trapped ans hot, in this article, which states: "Two other specimens have been killed in Scotland recently. How they reached there is unknown, but it is believed that they must have escaped from some travelling menagerie."
31. "A fishing story." London Daily Mail, November 2, 1926, p.7 c.6. Correct quote: "The discovery of the seals within three months in a local pond is taxing the credulity of residents of Hampstead, N.W."
32. "Another seal caught at Hampstead." London Daily Chronicle, November 2, 1926, p.5 c.2.
33. "He knows the tricky monkeys well." New York Sun, February 6, 1929, p.30 c.1.
34. George James Gilbard. A Popular History of Gibraltor. Gibraltor: Garrison Library Printing Establishment, 1887, 32-3. The location is identified as "Ape's Hill," (not Hill of Apes); and, the publication date of Gilbard's book was in 1887, (not 1881). Correct quote: "...theory of a communication under the sea between Gibraltor...."
35. James Lamont. Yachting in the Arctic Seas. London: Chatto & Windus, 1876; 110-11, 357. Correct quote: "...with tame reindeer from his infancy...."
36. Nordenskiold. Voyage of the Vega Round Asia and Europe. London, 1881, v.1, 135. Reports go back to 1705, (not 1785), according to Nordenskiold.
37. "Reindeer in Spitzbergen." Field, 138 (December 24, 1921): 883, c.2-3. The "bird's leg was firmly fastened with cotton thread."
Or, go to:
Part One 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Part Two 1 2 3 4
Part Three 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Return to Mr. X's Fortean Web-Site
Communications, (preferably in English), may be sent to Mr. X by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by letters to: Box 1598, Kingston, Ontario K7L 5C8 CANADA.
© X, 1998, 1999