A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book
Edited and Annotated by Mr. X
AS interpreters of dreams, I can't say that we have ambitions, but I think of one dream that many persons have had, repeatedly, and it may have relation to our present subject. One is snoring along, amidst the ordinary marvels of dreamland -- and there one is, naked, in a public place, with no impression of how one got there. I'd like to know what underlies the prevalence of this dream, and its disagreeableness, which varies, I suppose, according to one's opinion of oneself. I think that it is sub-conscious awareness of something that has often befallen human beings, and that in former times was commoner. It may be that occult transportations of human beings do occur, and that, because of their selectiveness, clothes are sometimes not included.
"Naked in the street -- strange conduct by a strange [205/206] man." See the Chatham (Kent. England) News, Jan. 10, 1914.(1) Early in the evening of Jan. 6th -- "weather bitterly cold" -- a naked man appeared, from nowhere that could be found out, in High Street, Chatham.
The man ran up and down the street, until a policeman caught him. He could tell nothing about himself. "Insanity," said the doctors, with their customary appearance of really saying something.
I accept that, relatively, there is insanity, though no definite lines can be drawn as to persons in asylums, persons not in asylums, and persons not yet in asylums. If by insanity is meant processes of thought that may be logical enough, but that are built upon false premises, what am I showing but the insanity of all of us? I accept that as extremes of the state that is common to all, some persons may be considered insane; but, according to my experience with false classifications, or the impossibility of making anything but false classifications, I suspect that many persons have been put away, as insane, simply because they were gifted with uncommon insights, or had been through uncommon experiences. It may be that, hidden under this cloakery, are the subject-matters of astonishing, new inquiries. There may be stories that have been told by alleged lunatics that some day will be listened to, and investigated, leading to extraordinary disclosures. In this matter of insanity, the helplessness of science is notorious, though it is only of the helplessness of all science. Very likely the high-priced opinions of alienists are sometimes somewhat nearly honest; but, as in every other field of so-called human knowledge, there is no real standard to judge by: there is no such phenomenon as insanity, with the noumenal quality of being distinct and real in itself. If it should ever be somewhat difficult to arrange with professional wisemen to testify either for or against any person's sanity, [206/207] I should have to think that inorganic science, in this field, may not be so indefinite.
This naked man of Chatham appeared suddenly. Nobody had seen him on his way to his appearing point. His clothes were searched for, but could not be found. Nowhere near Chatham was anybody reported missing.
Little frogs, showers of stones, and falls of water -- and they have repeated, indicating durations of transportory currents to persisting appearing points, suggesting the existence of persisting disappearing points somewhere else. There is an account, in the London Times, Jan. 30, 1874, of repeating disappearances of young men, in Paris.(2) Very likely, as a development of feminism, there will be female Bluebeards, but I don't think of them away back in the year 1874. "In every case, their relatives and friends declare that they were unaware of any reason for evasion, and the missing persons seem to have left their homes for their usual avocations."
A field, somewhere near, Salem, Va., in the year 1885 -- and that in this field there was a suction. In the New York Sun, April 25, 1885, it is said that Isaac Martin, a young farmer, living near Salem, Va., had gone into a field, to work, and that he had disappeared.(3) It is said that in this region there had been other mysterious disappearances. In Montreal, in July and August, 1892, there were so many unaccountable disappearances that, in the newspapers, the headline "Another Missing Man" became common. In July, 1883, there was a similar series, in Montreal. London Evening Star, Nov. 2, 1926 -- "mysterious series of disappearances -- eight persons missing, in a few days."(4) It was in and near Southend. First went Mrs. Kathleen Munn, and her two small children. Then a girl aged 15 -- girl aged 16, girl aged 17, another girl aged 16. [207/208] Another girl, Alice Stevens, disappeared. "She was found in a state of collapse, and was taken to hospital."
New York Sun, Aug. 14, 1902 -- disappearance, in about a week, of five men, in Buffalo, N.Y.(5)
Early in August, 1895, in the city of Belfast, Ireland, a little girl named Rooney disappeared. Detectives investigated. While they were investigating, a little boy, named Webb, disappeared. Another child disappeared. Sept. 10 -- disappearance of a boy, aged seven, named Watson. Two days later, a boy, named Brown, disappeared. See the Irish News (Belfast), Sept. 20.(6) In following issues of this newspaper, no more information is findable.
London Daily Mirror, Aug. 5, 1920 -- "Belfast police are in possession of the sensational news that eight girls, all under twelve years of age, are missing since last Monday, week, from the Newtownards-road, East Belfast."(7)
In August, 1869, English newspapers reported disappearances of 13 children, in Cork, Ireland. I take from the Tiverton Times, Aug. 31.(8) It may be that the phenomenon cannot be explained in terms of local kidnappers, because somewhere else, at the same time, children were disappearing. London Daily News, Aug. 31 -- excitement in Brussels, where children were disappearing.(9)
Five "wild men" and a "wild girl" appeared in Connecticut, about the first of January, 1888. See the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Jan. 5, and the New York Times, Jan. 9, 1888.(10)
I have records of six persons, who, between Jan. 14, 1920, and Dec. 9, 1923, were found wandering in or near the small town of Romford, Essex, England, unable to tell how they got there, or anything else about themselves. I have satisfactorily come upon no case in which somebody has stated that he was walking, say, [208/209] in a street in New York, and was suddenly seized upon and set down somewhere, say in Siberia, or Romford. I have come upon many cases like that of a man who told that he was walking along Euston Road, London, and -- but nine months later -- when next he was aware of where he was, found himself working on a farm, in Australia. If human beings ever have been teleported, and, if some mysterious appearances of human beings be considered otherwise unaccountable, an effect of the experience is effacement of memory.
There have been mysterious appearances of children in every land. In India, the explanation of appearances of children of an unknown past is that they had been brought up by she-wolves.
There have been strange fosterings: young rabbits adopted by cats, and young pigs welcomed to strangely foreign founts. But these cases are of maternal necessity, and of unlikely benevolence, and we're asked to believe in benevolent she-wolves. I don't deny that there is, to some degree, benevolence in wolves, cats, human beings, ants: but benevolence is erratic, and not long to be depended upon. Sometimes I am benevolent, myself, but pretty soon got over it. The helplessness of a human infant outlasts the suckling period of a wolf. How long do she-wolves, or any of the rest of us, keep on being unselfish, after nothing's made by unselfishness?
For an account of one of the later of the "wolf children" of India (year 1914) see Nature, 93-566.(11) In the Zoologist, 3-12-87, is an account of a number of them, up to the year 1852.(12) In the Field, Nov. 9, 1895, the story of the "wolf child" of Oude is told by an Assistant Commissioner, who had seen it.(13) It was a speechless, little animal, about four years old. Policemen said that, in a wolf's den, they had found this child, almost devoid of human intelligence. The child [209/210] grew up and became a policeman. In Human Nature, 7-302, is a story of two "wolf children" that were found at different times, near Agra, Northern India.(14) Each was seven or eight years old. For a recent case, see the London Observer, Dec. 5, 1926.(15) Hindus had brought two "wolf children," one aged two, and the other about eight years old, to the Midnapore Orphanage. The idea of abandonment of young idiots does not look so plausible, in cases of more than one child. Also, in a case of several children, a she-wolf would seem very graspingly unselfish. The children crawled about on all fours, ate only raw meat, growled, and avoided other inmates of the Orphanage. I suppose that they ate only raw meat, because to confirm a theory that was all they got.
London Daily Mail, April 6, 1927 -- another "wolf child" -- boy aged seven -- found in a cave, near Allahabad.(16) For an instance that is the latest, at this writing, see the New York Times, July 16, 1927.(17) Elephant youngsters and rhinoceros brats have still to be heard of, but, in the London Morning Post, Dec. 31, 1926, is a story of a "tiger child."(18) A "leopard boy" and a "monkey girl" are told of, in the London Observer, April 10, 1927.(19)
Our data are upon events that have astonished horses and tickled springboks. They have shocked policemen. I have notes upon an outbreak of ten "wild men," who appeared in different parts of England, in that period of extraordinary phenomena, the winter of 1904-05. One of them, of origin that could not be found out, appeared in a street in Cheadle. He was naked. An indignant policeman, trying to hang his overcoat about the man, tried to reason with him, but had the same old trouble that Euclid and Newton and Darwin had, and that everybody else has, when trying to be rational, or when trying, in the inorganic, or scientific, [210/211] way, to find a base to argue upon. I suppose the argument was something like this --
Wasn't he ashamed of himself?
Not at all. Some persons might have reasons for being ashamed of themselves, but he had no reason for being ashamed of himself. What's wrong with nakedness? Don't cats and horses and dogs go around without clothes on?
But they are clothed with natural, furry protections.
Well, Mexican dogs, then.
Let somebody else try -- somebody who thinks that, as products of logic, the teachings of astronomy, biology, geology, or anything else are pretty nearly final, though with debatable minor points, to be sure. Try this simple, little problem to start with. Why shouldn't the man walk around naked? One is driven to argue upon the basis of conventionality. But we are living in an existence, which itself may be base, but in which there are not bases. Argue upon the basis of conventionality, and one is open to well-known counter-arguments. What is all progress but defiance of conventionality?
The policeman, in Euclid's state of desperation, took it as self-evident disgracefulness. Euclid put theorems in bags. He solved problems by encasing some circumstances in an exclusion of whatever interfered with a solution. The policeman of Cheadle adopted the classical method. He dumped the "wild man" into a sack, which he dragged to the station house.
Another of these ten "wild men" spoke in a language that nobody had ever heard of before, and carried a book, in which were writings that could not be identified, at Scotland Yard. Like a traveller from far away, he had made sketches of things that he had seen along the roads. At Scotland Yard, it was said of the writings: "They are not French, German, Dutch, Italian, [211/212] Spanish, Hungarian, Turkish. Neither are they Bohemian, Greek, Portuguese, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, nor Russian." See London newspapers, and the East Anglian Daily Times, Jan. 12, 1905.(20)
I have come upon fragments of a case, which I reconstruct:
Perhaps in the year 1910, and perhaps not in this year, a Hindu magician teleported a boy from somewhere in England, perhaps from Wimbledon, London, perhaps not. The effect of this treatment was of mental obliteration; of profound hypnosis, or amnesia. The boy could learn, as if starting life anew, but mostly his memory was a void. Later the magician was dying. He repented, and his problem was to restore the boy, perhaps not to his home, but to his native land. He could not tell of the occult transportation, but at first it seemed to him that nobody would believe a story of ordinary kidnapping. It would be a most improbable story: that, in London, a Hindu had kidnapped a boy, and on the way to India had spent weeks aboard a vessel with this boy, without exciting inquiry, and with ability to keep the boy from appealing to other passengers. Still, a story of kidnapping is a story of commonplace terms. No story of ordinary kidnapping could account for the boy's lapsed memory, but at the most some persons would think that some of the circumstances were queer, and would then forget the matter.
For fragment of this story, see Lloyd's Sunday News (London), Oct. 17, 1920.(21) Sometime in the year 1917, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in Nepal, India, received a message from a native priest, who was dying, and wanted to tell something. With the priest was a well-grown boy. The priest told that, about the year 1910, in a street in Wimbledon (South London) he had kidnapped this boy. Details [212/213] of a voyage to India not given. The boy was taken to Gorakapur, and was given employment in a railway workshop. He could speak a little English, but had no recollection of ever having been in England.
This is the account that the Society sent to its London representative, Mrs. Sanderson, Earl's Court, London. A confirmation of the story, by Judge Muir, or Gorakapur, was sent. Mrs. Sanderson communicated with Scotland Yard.
Lloyd's Sunday News, Oct. 24 -- "boy not yet identified by Scotland Yard.(22) An even more extraordinary development of the story is that quite a number of boys disappeared in Wimbledon, ten years ago." It is said that the police had no way of tracing the boy, because, in Scotland Yard, all records of missing children were destroyed, after a few years. I have gone through the Wimbledon News, for the year 1910, without finding mention of any missing child. In Thomson's Weekly News, Oct. 23, 1920, (p.8), there are additional details.(23) It is said that without doubt the boy was an English boy: as told by the priest, his Christian name was Albert.
Hants and Sussex News, Feb. 25, 1920 -- "one of the most sensational discoveries and most mysterious cases of tragedy that we have been called upon to record" -- a naked body of a man, found in a ploughed field, near Petersfield, Hampshire, England.(24)
The mystery is in that there had not been a murder. A body had not been thrown from a car into this field. Here had appeared a naked man, not in possession of his senses. He had wandered, and he had died. It was not far from a road, and was about a mile from the nearest house. Prints of the man's bare feet were traced to the road, and across the road into another field. Police and many other persons searched for [213/214] cloths, but nothing was found. A photograph of the man was published throughout England, but nobody had seen him, clothed or unclothed, before the finding of the body. At the inquest, the examining physician testified that the body was that of a man, between 35 and 40; well-nourished, and not a manual worker; well-cared-for, judging from such particulars as carefully trimmed finger nails. There were scratches upon the body, such as would be made by bushes and hedges, but there was no wound attributable to a weapon, and in the stomach there was no poison, nor drug. Death had been from syncope, due to exposure. "The case remains one of the most amazing tragedies that could be conceived of."
The mystery did not immediately subside. From time to time there were
comments in the newspapers. London Daily News, April 16 -- "Although
his photograph has been circulated north, east, south, and west, throughout
the United Kingdom, the police are still without a clue, and there is no
record of any missing person, bearing the slightest resemblance to this
man, presumably of education and good standing."(25)
1. Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News (Chatham), (January 10, 1914).
2. "Mysterious disappearances." London Times, January 30, 1874, p.6 c.6. Correct quote: "In every case the relatives and friends...and the missing persons appear to have left their homes...."
3. New York Sun, (April 25, 1885), (Not found here).
4. "Mysterious series of disappearances." London Evening Star, November 2, 1926, p.16 c.2. Correct quote: "Alice Stevens, of Westcliff, who had been missing, was found in a state of collapse and taken to hospital." Mrs. Munn and her children were the most recent reported to disappear, not the first; no order is given herein to these disappearances.
5. "Five men missing." New York Sun, August 14, 1902, p.10 c.4.
6. "Mysterious disappearance of children." Irish News (Belfast), September 20, 1895, p.5 c.2.
7. "Nine missing Irish girls." London Daily Mirror, August 5, 1920, p.3 c.2. Correct quote: "...possession of sensational news...Newtownards-road district, East Belfast."
8. "Extraordinary disappearance of children." Tiverton Times and East Devon Reporter, August 31, 1869, p.2 c.2.
9. London Daily News, (August 31, 1869), (Not found here).
10. "Wild people." St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 5, 1888, p.3 c.5. "A lunatic in the woods." New York Times, January 9, 1888, p.6 c.4.
11. "Notes." Nature, 93 (July 30, 1914): 564-569, at 566.
12. William Sleeman. "Wolves nurturing children in their den." Zoologist, s.3, 12 (1888): 87-98.
13. Hercules Grey Ross. "Suppositious wild man." Field, 86 (November 9, 1895): 786 c.1.
14. "A myth revived." Human Nature, 7 (June 1873): 302-3.
15. "Girls fostered by wolves." London Observer, December 5, 1926, p.19 c.3. For the original newspaper article: "Man-wolves." Calcutta Statesman, November 13, 1926, p.6 c.3-4; and, "Wolf children of Midnapur." Calcutta Statesman, November 13, 1926, p.7 c.7 & p.8 c.2. Regarding Kalama, the older child, it was reported: "She has an overpowering desire for meat -- raw, if possible. So keen is her sense of smell that she can detect the presence of meat when the signs would pass unnoticed by a normal person, and her desire to obtain same is plainly indicated."
16. "A Daily Mail photograph...." London Daily Mail, April 26, 1927, p.20.
17. There is no article upon this subject in the issue of July 16, (which Fort may have been read from his notes, instead of July 10); instead, for a report upon the Miawana wolf-child, near Allahabad: "New wolf child found in India." New York Times, July 10, 1927, s.8 p.10 c.1-2.
18. "Tigress fosters human child." London Morning Post, December 31, 1926, p.11 c.5.
19. "Wolf children." London Observer, April 10, 1927, p.13 c.1.
20. "Queer character at Woodbridge." East Anglian Daily Times (Ipswich), January 12, 1905, p.2 c.4. "East Anglian mystery." London Weekly Dispatch, January 15, 1905, p.15 c.5. Correct quote: "It is not French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Bohemian, Greek Portuguese, Arabic, Persian, or Turkish. Neither is it Hebrew nor Russian. The writer appears to be mad."
21. "Boy prisoner in a priest's cave." Lloyd's Sunday News, October 17, 1920, p.3 c.1.
22. "Boy prisoner in a priest's cave." Lloyd's Sunday News, October 24, 1920, p.3 c.1.
23. "Strange sequel to kidnapping story." Thomson's Weekly News, October 23, 1920, p.8 c.1-2.
24. "Man's naked body in a field." Hants and Sussex News (Petersfield), February 25, 1920, p.3 c.5.
25. "Hampshire field mystery." London Daily News, April 16, 1920, p.7 c.4. Correct quote: "...through the United Kingdom...."
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