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Title: Lumen
Author: Flammarion, Camille, 1842-1925
Language: English
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LUMEN

    _The One Hundred and Forty-first of the Minor Planets,
    situated between Mars and Jupiter, which was discovered
    at the Paris Observatory by M. Paul Henry, on the 13th
    of January 1875, received the name of LUMEN in honour
    of the Author of this Work._



LUMEN

    BY
    CAMILLE FLAMMARION

    AUTHORISED TRANSLATION FROM THE FRENCH

    BY
    A. A. M. AND R. M.

    _With portions of the last chapter written specially
    for the English Edition_


    NEW YORK
    DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
    1897



    _Copyright, 1897,_
    BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY.

    _Fifty-two thousand copies of the French original
    of this volume have been sold_

    University Press:
    JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.



CONTENTS


    FIRST CONVERSATION

                                             PAGE
    RESURRECTIO PRÆTERITI                    1-63

    Death--The soul--The hour of death--Separation of the
    soul--Sight of the soul in Heaven--The Solar System in
    the heavens--The Earth as seen from the heavens--The
    star Capella--Velocity of light--The terrestrial planet
    seen from afar--The worlds seen from afar--Lumen--Lumen
    sees again his own life.


    SECOND CONVERSATION

    REFLUUM TEMPORIS                       64-105

    Journey on a ray of light--Events
    retraced--Re-ascending the Ages--Psychical
    optics--Light and sound--Man organised from the
    planet--The soul and destiny.


    THIRD CONVERSATION

    HOMO HOMUNCULUS                       106-128

    The sphere of human observation--Time and space--Events
    in space--Time, space, and eternity.

    FOURTH CONVERSATION

    ANTERIORES VITÆ                       129-196

    Space and light--The star Gamma in Virgo--The system
    of Gamma in Virgo--Former existence--The plurality
    of existences--The unknown--The constellations--The
    elements--Life on the earth--The process of
    alimentation--Nutritive atmospheres--Poetry on the
    Earth--A humanity--The organisation of beings--The
    development of life--The genealogical tree of life--The
    men-plants--Souls and atoms--Other senses--Atoms and
    monads.


    FIFTH CONVERSATION

    INGENIUM AUDAX: NATURA AUDACIOR       197-224

    A world in Orion--Analysis of the nervous system--The
    Commune--Animated molecules--Various forms of
    life--Infinite diversity on Sirius--Phosphorescent
    passions--Lives too long--Infinite diversity--The
    magnifying power of time--A chrono-telescope--Light.



LUMEN



FIRST CONVERSATION

RESURRECTIO PRÆTERITI


QUÆRENS. You promised, dear Lumen, to describe to me that supremest of
moments which immediately succeeds death, and to relate to me how, by
a natural law, singular though it may seem, you lived again your past
life, and penetrated a hitherto-unrevealed mystery.

LUMEN. Yes, my old friend, I will now keep my word; and I trust that,
thanks to the life-long communion of our souls, you will be able to
understand the phenomenon you deem so strange.

[Sidenote: Life and death.]

There are many conceptions which a mortal mind finds difficult to
grasp. Death, which has delivered me from the weak and easily-tired
senses of the body, has not yet touched you with its liberating hand;
you still belong to the living world, and in spite of your isolation
in this retreat of yours amid the royal towers of the Faubourg St.
Jaques, you still belong to the life of Earth, and are occupied with
its petty distinctions. You must not, therefore, be surprised if,
whilst I am explaining to you this mystery, I beg of you to isolate
yourself still further from outer things, and to give me the most
_fixed attention_ of which your mind is capable.

QUÆRENS. My one desire is to listen to your revelations; speak,
therefore, without fear and to the point, and deign to acquaint me with
those impressions, as yet to me unknown, which are experienced upon the
cessation of life.

LUMEN. From what point do you wish me to begin my recital?

QUÆRENS. If you can recall it, I shall be pleased if you will begin at
the moment when my trembling hands closed your eyes.

[Sidenote: Death.]

LUMEN. The separation of the thinking principle from the nervous system
leaves no remembrance. It is as though the impressions made upon the
brain which constitute memory were entirely effaced, to be renewed
afterwards in another form. The first sensation of identity felt
after death resembles that which is felt during life on awakening in
the morning, when still confused with the visions of the night, the
mind, wavering between the past and the future, endeavours to recover
itself, and at the same time to retain the vanishing dreams, the
pictures and events of which are still passing before it. At times when
thus absorbed in the recollection of a delightful dream, the eyelids
close, and in a half slumber the visions reappear. It is thus that our
thinking faculty is divided at death, between a reality that it does
not yet comprehend and a dream which has completely disappeared. The
most conflicting impressions mingle in and confuse the mind, and if,
overwhelmed by perishable feelings, a regret comes into the mind for
the world that has been left behind, a sense of indefinable sadness
weighs upon and darkens the imagination and hinders clearness of vision.

QUÆRENS. Did you feel these sensations immediately after death?

[Sidenote: No such thing as death.]

[Sidenote: Not death, but change.]

LUMEN. After death? There is no such thing as death. What you call
death--the separation of the body from the soul--is not, strictly
speaking, effected in a material form like the chemical separation of
a combination of elements such as one sees in the world of matter. One
is no more conscious of this final separation, which seems to you so
cruel, than the new-born babe is aware of his birth. We are born into
the heavenly life as unconsciously as we were born into the earthly;
only the soul, no longer enveloped by its bodily covering, acquires
more rapidly the consciousness of its individuality and of its powers.
This faculty of perception varies essentially between one soul and
another. There are those who, during their earthly life, never lift
their souls toward heaven, and never feel a desire to penetrate the
laws of creation; these, being still dominated by fleshly appetites,
remain long in a troubled and semi-conscious state. There are others
whose aspirations have happily flown upwards towards the eternal
heights; to these the moment of separation comes with calmness and
peace. They know that progress is the law of being, and that the
life to come will be better than that which they have quitted. They
follow, step by step, that lethargy which reaches at last to the
heart, and when, slowly and insensibly, the last pulsation ceases,
the departed are already above the body whose falling asleep they
have been watching. Freeing themselves from the magnetic bonds, they
feel themselves swiftly borne, by an unknown force, toward the point
of creation, to which their sentiments, their aspirations, and their
hopes have drawn them.

QUÆRENS. The conversation into which I have drawn you, my dear master,
recalls to my memory the dialogues of Plato on the immortality of the
soul; and as Phædrus asked his master, Socrates, on the day he had
to drink the hemlock in obedience to the iniquitous sentence of the
Athenians, I ask you--you who have passed the dread boundary--what is
the essential difference which distinguishes the soul from the body,
since the latter dies, whilst the former cannot die?

[Sidenote: Life viewed scientifically.]

LUMEN. I shall not imitate Socrates by giving a metaphysical answer to
this question, nor shall I, with the theologians, reply in a dogmatic
way; but I will give you instead a scientific answer, for you, like
myself, accept only as of real value the results of positive knowledge.

[Sidenote: Renewal of the body.]

[Sidenote: Atoms and molecules.]

We find in the human being three principles, _different, and yet in
complete union_: 1. The body; 2. The vital energy; 3. The soul. I
name them thus in order that I may follow the _a posteriori_ method.
The body is an association of molecules which are themselves formed
of groups of atoms. The atoms are inert, passive, immutable, and
indestructible. They enter into the organism by means of respiration
and alimentation; they renew the tissues incessantly, and are
continually replaced by others, and when cast out from the body go to
form other bodies. In a few months the human body is entirely renewed,
and neither in the blood, nor in the flesh, nor in the brain, nor in
the bones, does an atom remain of those which constituted the body
a few months before. The atoms travel without ceasing from body to
body, chiefly by the grand medium of the atmosphere. The molecule of
iron is the same whether it be incorporated in the blood which throbs
in the temples of an illustrious man, or form part of a fragment of
rusty iron; the molecule of oxygen is the same in the blush raised by
a loving glance, or when in union with hydrogen it forms the flame of
one of the thousand jets of gas that illuminate Paris by night, or when
it falls from the clouds in the shape of a drop of water. The bodies
of the living are formed of the ashes of the dead, and if all the dead
were to be resuscitated, the last comers might find the material for
their bodies wanting, owing to their predecessors having appropriated
all that was available. Moreover, during life many exchanges are made
between enemies and friends, between men, animals, and plants, which
amaze the analyst who looks at them with the eyes of science. That
which you breathe, eat, and drink, has been breathed, drunk, and eaten
millions of times before. Such is the human body, an assemblage of
molecules of matter which are constantly being renewed. The principle
by which these molecules are grouped according to a certain form so as
to produce an organism, is the vital energy of life. The inert, passive
atoms, incapable of guiding themselves, are ruled by vital force, which
calls them, makes them come, takes hold of them, places and disposes of
them according to certain laws, and forms this marvellously-organised
body, which the anatomist and the physiologist contemplate with wonder.

[Sidenote: Atoms indestructible.]

[Sidenote: Vital energy or force in nature and man.]

[Sidenote: Vital force has limits.]

The atoms are indestructible; vital force is not: atoms have no age;
vital force is born, grows old, and dies. Why is an octogenarian
older than a youth of twenty, since the atoms of which his body is
composed have only belonged to his frame a few months, and since
atoms are neither old nor young? The constituent elements of his
body when analysed have no age, and what is old in him is solely his
vital energy, which is but one of the forms of the general energy of
the universe, and which in his case has become exhausted. Life is
transmitted by generation, and sustains the body instinctively, and,
as it were, unconsciously. It has a beginning and an end. It is an
unconscious physical force, which organises and maintains the body
of which it is the preserving element. The soul is an intellectual,
thinking, immaterial being. The world of ideas in which the soul lives
is not the world of matter. It has no age, it does not grow old. It is
not changed in a few months like the body; for after months, years,
dozens of years, we feel that we have preserved our identity--that
our _ego_, ourself, is always ours. On the other hand, if the soul did
not exist, and if the faculty of thinking were only a function of the
brain, we should no longer be able to say that _we have_ a body, for
it would be our body, our brain, _that would have us_. Besides, from
time to time our consciousness would change; we should no longer have
a feeling of identity, and we should no longer be responsible for the
resolutions, secreted by the molecules, which had passed through the
brain many months before. The soul is not the vital force; for that
is limited and is transmitted by generation, has no consciousness of
itself, is born, grows up, declines, and dies. All these states are
opposed to those of the soul, which is immaterial, unlimited, not
transmissible, conscious.

[Sidenote: The soul has no limits.]

The development of the vital force may be represented geometrically
by a spindle, which swells out gradually to the middle, and decreases
again to a point. When the soul reaches the middle of life, it does
not become less, like a spindle, and dwindle down to the end, but
follows its parabolic curve into the infinite. Moreover, the mode of
existence of the soul is essentially different from that of the vital
force. It lives in a spiritual way. The conceptions of the soul, such
as the sentiments of justice or injustice, of truth or falsehood, of
good and evil, as well as knowledge, mathematics, analysis, synthesis,
contemplation, admiration, love, affection or hatred, esteem or
contempt--in a word, the occupations of the soul, whatever they may be,
are of an intellectual and moral order, which neither the atoms nor
the physical forces can apprehend, and which have as real an existence
as the physical order of things. The chemical or mechanical work of
cerebral cells, however subtle they may be, can never produce an
intellectual judgment, such, for instance, as the knowledge of the fact
that four multiplied by four is equal to sixteen, or that the three
angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles.

[Sidenote: The soul survives the body.]

These three elements of the human being are reproduced in the universe
at large: 1. The atoms, the material world inert, passive; 2. The
physical forces which regulate the world, and which are continually
transformed into one another or into others; 3. God, the eternal and
infinite spirit, the _intellectual_ organiser of the _mathematical_
laws which these forces obey, the unknown being in whom reside the
supreme principles of truth, of beauty, of goodness. The soul can be
attached to the body only by means of the vital force. When life is
extinct the soul naturally separates from the organism and ceases to
have any immediate connection with time and space. After death the soul
remains in that part of the universe where the Earth happens to be at
the moment of its separation from the body. You know that the Earth is
a planet in the heavens like Venus and Jupiter. The Earth continues to
run in its orbit at the rate of 12,700 kilometres an hour, so that the
soul an hour after death is at that distance from its body because of
its immobility in space, when no longer subject to the laws of matter.
Thus we are in the heavens immediately after death, where, however, we
have also been during the whole of our lives; but we then had weight
which held us to the Earth. I must add, however, that as a rule the
soul takes some time to disengage itself from the nervous organism,
and that it occasionally remains many days, and even many months,
magnetically connected with the old body, which it is reluctant to
forsake. Moreover, it has special faculties by means of which it can
transport itself from one point of space to another.

QUÆRENS. Now for the first time I am able to understand death as a
natural process, and to comprehend the individual existence of the
soul, its independence of the body and of life, its personality, its
survival, and its obvious position in the universe. This synthetic
theory has prepared me, I hope, to understand and appreciate your
revelation. But you said that a singular event struck you on your
entrance into the eternal life; at what moment did that take place?

[Sidenote: The hour of death.]

[Sidenote: Last impressions of the parting soul.]

[Sidenote: Separation of the soul.]

LUMEN. Well, my dear friend, let me go on with my story. Midnight
had just struck, you will remember, on the sonorous bell of my old
timepiece, and the full Moon shed its pale light on my dying bed,
when my daughter, my grandson, and other friends withdrew to take
some rest. You wished to remain with me, and you promised my daughter
not to leave me till the morning. I would thank you for your warm and
tender devotion if we were not so truly brothers. We had been alone
about half-an-hour, for the star of night was declining, when I took
your hand and told you that life had already abandoned my extremities.
You assured me that it was not so; but I was calmly observing my
physiological state, and I knew that in a few moments I should cease
to breathe. You moved gently towards the room where my children were
sleeping, but concentrating my powers by an extreme effort I stopped
you. Returning with tears in your eyes, you said to me, "You are right;
you have given them your last wishes, and to-morrow morning will be
time enough to send for them." There was in these words a contradiction
that I felt without expressing it to you. Do you remember that then I
asked you to open the window. It was a beautiful night in October; more
beautiful than those of the Scottish bards sung by Ossian. Not far from
the horizon, just level with my eyes, I could distinguish the Pleiades,
veiled by mist, whilst Castor and Pollux floated triumphantly a little
higher up. Above, forming a triangle with them, shone the beautiful
star with rays of gold, which, on maps of the zodiac, is marked
"Capella." You see how clearly I remember it all. When you had opened
the window the perfume of the roses, sleeping under the wings of night,
ascended upwards to me and mingled with the silent rays of the stars.
I cannot express to you how sweet were these last impressions that I
received from the Earth; language fails me to describe what I felt. In
the hours of my sweetest happiness, of my tenderest love, I never felt
such an intensity of joy, so glorious a serenity, such real bliss, as
I experienced then in the ecstatic enjoyment of the perfumed breath
of the flowers and the tender gleam of the distant stars.... When you
bent over me I seemed to return to the outer world, and with my hands
clasped over my breast, my sight and my thoughts, united in prayer,
together took flight into space. Before my ears closed for ever I heard
the last words as they fell from my lips: "Adieu! my old friend, I feel
that death is bearing me away to those unknown regions where I trust we
shall one day meet. When the dawn effaces these stars, only my mortal
body will be here. Repeat then to my daughter my last wish: to bring up
her children in the contemplation of the eternal goodness." And whilst
you wept, as you knelt by my bed, I added, "Recite the beautiful
prayer of Jesus," and you began with trembling voice, "Our Father, ...
Forgive us ... our trespasses, ... as we ... forgive those ... that ...
trespass ... against us...." These were the last thoughts that passed
through my soul by means of the senses; my sight grew dim as I looked
at the star Capella, and immediately I became unconscious.

[Sidenote: Time does not exist outside the Earth]

Years, days, and hours are constituted by the movements of the Earth.
In space, outside these movements time _does not exist_; indeed, it is
impossible to have any notion of time. I think, however, that the event
I am now going to describe to you occurred on the very day of my death,
for, as you will see presently, my body was not yet buried when this
vision appeared to my soul.

[Sidenote: Sight of the soul in the heavens.]

As I was born in 1793, I was then, in 1864, in my seventy-second year,
so I was not a little surprised to find myself animated by a vivacity
of mind as ardent as in the prime of my life. I had no body, and yet
I was not incorporeal; I felt and saw that I was constituted of a
substance which, however, bore no analogy to the material form of
terrestrial bodies. I know not how I traversed the celestial spaces,
but by some unknown force I soon found that I was approaching a
magnificent golden sun, the splendour of which did not, however,
dazzle me. I perceived that it was surrounded by a number of worlds,
each enveloped in one or more rings. By the same unconscious force
I was driven towards one of these rings, and was a spectator of the
marvellous phenomena of light, for the starry spaces were crossed
everywhere by rainbow bridges. I lost sight of the golden sun, and
I found myself in a sort of night coloured with hues of a thousand
shades. The sight of my soul far exceeded that of my body, and, to
my surprise, this power of sight appeared to be subject to my will.
The sight of the soul is so marvellous that I must not stop to-day to
describe it. Suffice it to say that instead of seeing the stars in the
heavens as you see them on the Earth, I could distinguish clearly the
worlds revolving round each other; and strange to say, when I desired
to examine more closely these worlds, and to avoid the brilliance of
the central sun, it disappeared from my sight, and left me under the
most favourable conditions for observing any one of them I wished.[1]
Further, when my attention was concentrated on one particular world,
I could distinguish its continents and its seas, its clouds and its
rivers, although they did not appear to become larger, as objects seen
through a telescope do. I saw any special thing that I fixed my sight
upon, such as a town or a tract of country, with perfect clearness and
distinctness.

[Sidenote: The soul clothed in a new body.]

When I reached this ringed world I found myself clothed in a form like
that of its inhabitants. It appeared that my soul had attracted to
itself the constituent atoms of a new body. Living bodies on the Earth
are composed of molecules which do not touch one another, and which are
constantly renewed by respiration, by nutrition, and by assimilation.
The envelope of the soul is formed more quickly in that far-off world.
I felt myself more alive than the supernatural beings whose passions
and sorrows Dante celebrates. One of the special faculties of this new
world is that of seeing very far.

QUÆRENS. But pardon a rather simple remark. Is it not likely that
the worlds or planets that revolve round each star must mingle in a
distant view with their central sun; for instance, when you see our Sun
from afar with the planets of his system, is it possible for you to
distinguish our Earth amongst them?

[Sidenote: The soul's powers of vision.]

LUMEN. You have raised the single geometrical objection which seems
to contradict all previous experience. In point of fact, at a certain
distance the planets are absorbed in their suns, and our terrestrial
eyes would have difficulty in distinguishing them. You know that
from Saturn the Earth is invisible. But you must remember that this
discrepancy arises as much from the imperfection of our sight as from
the geometrical law of the decrease of surfaces. Now, in the world
on which I had just landed, the inhabitants are not incarnated in a
gross form, as we are here below, but are free beings, and endowed
with eminently powerful faculties of perception. They can, as I have
told you, _isolate_ the source of light from the object lighted, and,
moreover, they can perceive distinctly details which at that distance
would be absolutely hidden from the eyes of those dwelling upon this
Earth.

QUÆRENS. Do they make use, then, of instruments superior to our
telescopes?

LUMEN. Well, if, in order to realise this marvellous faculty, you find
it easier to suppose that they possess such instruments, you may do so,
in theory. Imagine a telescope which, by a succession of lenses and
an arrangement of diaphragms, brings near in succession these distant
worlds, and isolates each one in the field of view in order to study it
separately. I should also inform you that these beings are endowed with
a special sense by which they can regulate at will the powers of their
marvellous organs of sight.

And you must further understand that this power and this regulation
of vision are natural in those worlds, and not supernatural. In order
to conceive of the faculties possessed by these ultra-terrestrial
beings, reflect for a moment upon the eyes of some insects--of those,
for instance, which have the power to draw in, to lengthen out, or to
flatten the crystalline lens so as to make it magnify in different
degrees; or of those which can concentrate on the field of view a
multitude of eyes in order to bring them to bear upon the desired
object.

QUÆRENS. Yes, I can imagine it to be possible. Then you are able to see
the Earth, and to distinguish from above even the towns and villages of
our lower world?

[Sidenote: Lumen on a star world.]

LUMEN. Let me proceed with my description. I found myself then upon
the ring-shaped world, the size of which I told you is great enough
to make two hundred worlds like yours. The mountain on which I stood
was covered with trees woven into arboreal palaces. These fairy-like
chateaux seemed to me either to grow naturally, or else to be produced
by a skilful arrangement of branches and of tall flowering plants. The
town, where I entered it, was thickly peopled, and on the summit of the
mountain I noticed a group of old men, twenty or thirty in number, who
were looking with the most fixed and anxious attention at a beautiful
star in the southern constellation of the Altar on the confines of the
Milky Way. They did not observe my arrival amongst them, so absorbed
were they in observing and examining this star, or perhaps one of the
worlds belonging to its system.

[Sidenote: Lumen learns the language of spirits.]

As for myself, I became aware, on arriving in this atmosphere, that
I was clothed in a body resembling that of its inhabitants, and to
my still greater surprise I heard these old men speaking of the
Earth--yes, of the Earth in that universal spirit-language which all
beings comprehend from the seraphim to the trees of the forest. And not
only were they talking about the Earth, but about France. "What can
be the meaning of these legal massacres?" they said. "Is it possible
that brute force reigns supreme there? Will civil war decimate these
people, and will rivers of blood run in this capital, at one time so
magnificent and so gay?"

I could not follow the drift of this speech, I who had just come from
the Earth with the swiftness of thought, and who but yesterday had
breathed in the heart of this tranquil and peaceful capital. I joined
the group, fixing my eyes, as they did, on the beautiful star, and I
tried at the same time to understand what they were talking about.
Presently I saw to the left of the star a pale-blue sphere--that was
the Earth.

[Sidenote: The Solar System in the heavens.]

You are aware, my friend, that, notwithstanding the apparent paradox,
the Earth is really a star in the sky, as I reminded you just now. Seen
from one of the stars comparatively near to your system, it appears
to the spiritual sight, of which I have told you, like a family of
stars composed of eight principal worlds crowding round the Sun, which
is itself reduced to a star. Jupiter and Saturn first arrest the
attention, because of their great size; then one notices Uranus and
Neptune, and at length, quite near to the Sun-star, Mars and the Earth.
Venus is very difficult to make out. Mercury remains invisible because
of its too great proximity to the Sun. Such is the appearance of the
planetary system in the heavens.

[Sidenote: The Earth as seen from the heavens.]

My attention was fixed exclusively on the little terrestrial sphere
by the side of which I perceived the Moon. I soon remarked the white
snow of the North Pole, the yellow triangle of Africa, and the
outlines of the Ocean. Whilst my attention was concentrated on our
planet, the Sun-star became eclipsed before my eyes. Then I was able
to distinguish, in the midst of an expanse of azure, a brown cleft or
hollow, and pursuing my investigations I discovered a town in the midst
of this cleft. I had no difficulty in recognising that this continental
hollow was France, and that the town was Paris. The first sign by which
I recognised it was the silver ribbon of the Seine, that describes so
many graceful convolutions to the west of the great town. By the use of
my new optical organs I could see it in detail. At the eastern side of
the city I saw the nave and towers of Notre Dame in the form of a Latin
cross. The Boulevards wound round the north. To the south I recognised
the gardens of the Luxembourg and the Observatory. The cupola of the
Pantheon covered like a grey hood the Mount of Ste. Geneviève. To the
west the grand avenue of the Champs-Élysées formed a straight line.
Farther on I could distinguish the Bois de Boulogne, the environs of
St. Cloud, the Wood of Meudon, Sèvres, Ville d'Avray, and Montretout.

[Sidenote: Paris.]

The whole scene was lighted up by splendid sunshine; but, strange to
say, the hills were covered with snow as in the month of January,
whilst I had left it in October when the country was perfectly green.
I was fully convinced that I was looking at Paris; but as I could
not understand the exclamations of my companions, I endeavoured to
ascertain more details.

[Sidenote: Old Paris.]

[Sidenote: No Arc de Triomphe visible.]

[Sidenote: No Column Vendôme.]

[Sidenote: No obelisk in the Place de la Concorde.]

My eyes were fixed with most interest upon the Observatory. It was my
favourite quarter, and for forty years I had scarcely left it for more
than a few months. Judge, therefore, of my surprise when I came to look
more closely at it to find that the magnificent avenue of chestnuts
between the Luxembourg and the Observatory was nowhere to be seen,
that in its place were the gardens of convents. My indignation as an
artist was aroused against these municipal misdeeds, but it was quickly
suspended by still stranger feelings. I beheld a monastery in the midst
of our beautiful orchard. The Boulevard St. Michel did not exist, nor
did the Rue de Medici; instead I saw a confused mass of little streets,
and I seemed to recognise the former Rue de l'Est and the Place St.
Michel, where an ancient fountain used to supply water to the people
of the faubourg, and I made out a number of narrow lanes which existed
long ago. The cupolas and the two side wings of the Observatory had
disappeared. By degrees, as I continued my observations, I discovered
that Paris was indeed much changed. The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile,
and all the brilliant avenues that meet there, had disappeared. There
was no Boulevard de Sébastopol, no Station de l'Est, nor any other
station, and no railway. The tower of St. Jaques was enclosed in a
court of old houses, and the Column of Victory was reached that way.
The Column of the Bastile was also absent, for I should easily have
recognised the figure upon it. An equestrian statue filled the place
of the Vendôme Column. The Rue Castiglione was an old green convent.
The Rue de Rivoli had disappeared. The Louvre was either unfinished or
partly pulled down. Between the Court of Francis I. and the Tuileries
there were tumble-down old hovels. There was no obelisk in the Place
de la Concorde; but I saw a moving crowd, though I was unable at first
to distinguish the figures. The Madeleine and the Rue Royal were
invisible. Behind the Isle of St. Louis I saw a small island. Instead
of the outer Boulevards there was only an old wall, and the whole was
enclosed by fortifications. In short, although I recognised the capital
of France by some familiar buildings, I was aware of a marvellous
metamorphosis, which had completely changed its aspect.

[Sidenote: Time merely relative.]

At first I fancied that, in place of having just come from the Earth,
I must have been many years _en route_. As the notion of time is
essentially relative, and there is nothing real or absolute in the
measure of duration, having once left the Earth, I had lost all
standard of measure, and I said to myself that years, centuries indeed,
might have passed over my head without my perceiving it, and that
the time had seemed short to me because of the great interest I had
taken in my aerial voyage--a commonplace idea which shows how merely
relative is our notion of time. Not having any means of assuring myself
of the facts of the case, I should undoubtedly have concluded that I
was separated by many centuries from the terrestrial life which was
now going on before my eyes in Paris, and I imagined that I saw the
period of the twentieth or twenty-first century until I penetrated
more deeply into the details of the life picture and examined all its
features. Eventually I succeeded in identifying the aspect of the town,
and I gradually recognised the sites of the streets and of the public
buildings which I had known in my early youth. The Hôtel de Ville
appeared to be decorated with flags, and I could distinguish the square
central dome of the Tuileries.

[Sidenote: Lumen sees a scene in his past life.]

A little further examination recalled everything to me; and then I saw,
in an old convent garden, a summer-house which made me tremble with
joy. It was in that spot that I met in my youth the woman who loved me
so deeply, my Sylvia, so tender and so devoted, who gave up everything
to unite her life to mine. I saw the little cupola of the terrace where
we loved to saunter in the evenings and to study the constellations.
Oh, with what joy I greeted those promenades where we had walked,
keeping step with one another, those avenues where we took refuge from
the curious eyes of intruders! You can fancy how, as I looked at this
summer-house, the sight of it alone was enough to assure me, absolutely
and convincingly, that I had before my eyes not, as it was natural to
suppose, the Paris of long _after my death_, but in reality the Paris
_of the past_, old Paris of the beginning of this century or of the
end of last century. But, in spite of all, you can easily imagine that
I could scarcely believe my eyes. It seemed so much more natural to
think that Paris had grown old and had suffered these transformations
since my departure from the Earth--an interval of time absolutely
unknown to me. It was so much easier to think that I beheld the city
of the future. I continued my observations carefully, in order to
ascertain if it was really the old Paris, now partly demolished, that
I was looking at, or if, by a phenomenon still more incredible, it was
another Paris, another France, another world.


II

[Sidenote: In the star Capella.]

QUÆRENS. What an extraordinary discovery for an analytical mind like
yours, dear Lumen! By what means did you satisfy yourself that your
conclusions were correct?

[Sidenote: The French Terror visible in Capella.]

[Sidenote: Old men in Capella watch the doings on the Earth.]

LUMEN. While I was gradually arriving at the conviction of which I
have told you, the old men around me on the mountain continued their
conversation. Suddenly the oldest of them, a venerable Nestor whose
aspect commanded both admiration and respect, called out, in a loud
and mournful voice "On your knees, my brethren; let us pray for
forbearance to the universal God. That world, that nation, that city
continues to revel in blood. A fresh head, that of a king this time,
is about to fall." His companions seemed to understand, for they
knelt down on the mountain, and prostrated their white faces to the
ground. For myself, I had not yet succeeded in distinguishing men in
the streets and squares of Paris, and not being able to verify the
observations of these old men, I remained standing, but I pursued
my examination of the scene before me carefully. "Stranger," said
the old man to me, "do you blame the action of your brothers since
you do not join your prayers to theirs?" "Senator," I replied, "I
neither approve nor blame what I do not comprehend. Having only just
arrived on this mountain, I do not know the cause of your righteous
indignation." I then drew near the old man, and while his companions
were rising and entering into conversation in groups, I asked him
to describe the situation to me. He informed me that the order of
spirits inhabiting this world are gifted by intuition with the power
of seeing and apprehending events in the neighbouring worlds, and
that they each possess a sort of magnetic relation with the stars and
systems around them. These neighbour-worlds, or stars, are twelve or
fifteen in number. Outside that limit the perceptions become confused.
They have therefore a vague but distinct knowledge of the state of
humanity in the planets of our Sun, and of the relative elevation in
the intellectual and moral order of their inhabitants. Moreover, when
a great disturbance takes place, either in the physical or the moral
realm, they feel a sort of inner agitation, like that of a musical
chord which vibrates in unison with another chord at a distance.

For a year (a year of this world is equal to ten of our years) they had
felt themselves drawn by special attraction towards the terrestrial
planet, and had observed with unusual interest and anxiety the march
of events in that world. They had beheld the end of a reign and the
dawn of glorious liberty, the conquest of the rights of man and the
assertion of the great principles of human dignity. Then they had seen
the cause sacred to liberty placed in peril by those who should have
been the first to defend it, and brute force substituted for reason and
justice.

I saw that he was describing the great Revolution of 1789, and the fall
of the old political world before the new régime. Very mournfully
they had followed the events of the Reign of Terror and the tyranny of
that bloody time. They trembled for the future of the Earth, and felt
doubtful of the progress of a humanity which, when emancipated, so soon
lost the treasure it had just acquired. I took care not to let the
senator know that I had just arrived from the Earth myself, and that I
had lived there seventy-two years. I do not know whether he was aware
of this, but I was so much surprised by this vision before me that it
completely absorbed my mind and I did not think of myself.

[Sidenote: Lumen witnesses the scenes of the French Revolution.]

At last my sight was fully developed, and I perceived the spectacle
in all its details. I could distinguish, in the midst of the Place
de la Concorde, a scaffold, surrounded by a formidable array of war,
drums, cannon, and a motley crowd armed with pikes. A cart, led by
a man in red, bore the remains of Louis XVI. in the direction of
the Faubourg St. Honoré. An intoxicated mob lifted their fists to
heaven. Some horsemen, sabre in hand, mournfully followed. Towards the
Champs-Élysées there were ditches into which the curious stumbled. But
the agitation was concentrated in this region. It did not extend into
the town, which appeared dead and deserted; the terror had thrown it
into a state of lethargy.

I was not present during the events of 1793, since that was the year of
my birth, and I felt an inexpressible interest in being thus a witness
of these scenes of which I had read in history. I have often discussed
and debated the vote of the Convention, but I confess to you I see no
excuse of state in the execution of such men as Lavoisier, the creator
of chemistry, Bailly, the historian of astronomy, André Chenier, the
sweet poet, or the condemnation of Condorcet, the philosopher. These
have roused my indignation much more than the punishment of Louis XVI.
I was intensely interested at being thus a witness of this vanished
epoch. But you may imagine how much greater was my surprise, and how
much more I was astonished, _that I beheld in_ 1864 _events actually
present before me which had taken place at the end of the last century_.

QUÆRENS. In truth, it seems to me that this feeling of its
impossibility ought to have awakened doubt in you. Visions are
essentially illusory. We cannot admit their reality even though we see
them.

LUMEN. Yes, my friend, it was as you say, impossible! Now can you
understand my experience in seeing with my own eyes this paradox
realised? The common saying is, "One cannot believe one's own eyes."
That was just my position. It was impossible to deny what I saw, and
equally impossible to admit it.

QUÆRENS. But was it not a conception of your own mind, a creation of
your imagination, or perhaps a reminiscence of your memory? Are you
sure it was a reality, not a strange reflection from your memory?

[Sidenote: Not a paradox.]

LUMEN. That was my first idea; but it was so obvious that I saw before
me the Paris of '93, and the events of January 21, that I could
no longer be in any doubt about it. Besides, this explanation was
anticipated by the fact that the old men of the mountain had preceded
me in observing these phenomena, and they had seen, and analysed, and
conversed on them as actual facts without knowing anything of the
history of our world, and were quite unaware of my knowledge of that
history. Further, we had before our eyes _a present fact_, not a past
event.

QUÆRENS. But, on the other hand, if the past can be thus merged into
the present, if reality and vision can be allied in this way, if
persons long since dead can be seen again acting on the scene of life,
if new structures and metamorphoses in a city like Paris can disappear
and give place to the aspect of the city as it was formerly--in short,
if the present can vanish and the past be re-created, what certainty
can we have of anything? What becomes of the science of observation?
What becomes of deductions and theories? On what solid foundation
can we base our knowledge? If these things are true, ought we not
henceforth to doubt everything, or else to believe everything?

[Sidenote: A reality.]

LUMEN. Yes, my friend, these considerations and many others occupied
my mind and tormented me, but they did not do away with the reality
which I was observing. When I had assured myself that we had _present_
before our eyes the events of the year 1793, it immediately occurred
to me that science, instead of conflicting with these facts, ought to
furnish an explanation of them, for two truths can never be opposed to
one another. I investigated the physical laws, and I discovered the
solution of the mystery.

QUÆRENS. What! the facts were real?

[Sidenote: Explanation of the apparent paradox.]

[Sidenote: Lumen ascertains the place where he was in space.]

LUMEN. They were not only real, but comprehensible and capable of
demonstration. You shall have an astronomical explanation of them.
In the first place, I examined the position of the Earth in the
constellation of the Altar as I have told you; I took the bearings of
my position relatively to the Polar star and to the Zodiac. I remarked
that the constellations were not very different from those we see from
the Earth, and that except in the case of a few particular stars,
their positions were evidently the same. Orion still reigned in the
ultra-equatorial region, the Great Bear pursuing his circular course
still pointing to the north. In comparing the apparent movements, and
co-ordinating them scientifically, I calculated that the point where
I saw the group of the Sun, the Earth, and the planets, marked the
17th hour of right ascension, that is to say, about the 256th degree,
or nearly so. I had no instrument to take exact measurements. I
observed, in the second place, that it was on the 44th degree from the
South Pole. I made these observations to ascertain the star on which
I then was, and I was led to conclude that I was on a star situated
on the 76th degree of right ascension, and the 46th degree of north
declination. On the other hand, I knew from the words of the old man
that the star on which we were was not far from our Sun, since he
considered it to be one of the neighbouring stars. From these data I
had no difficulty in recalling the star that stands in the position I
had determined. One only answered to it, that of the first magnitude,
Alpha in the constellation of Auriga, named also _Capella_, or the
_Goat_.

There was no doubt about this. Thus I was certain that I was on one of
the planetary worlds of the sun Capella. From thence our Sun looks like
a simple star, and appears in perspective to be in the constellation of
the Altar, just opposite that of Auriga, as seen from the Earth.

Then I tried to remember what was the parallax of this star. I recalled
that a friend of mine, a Russian astronomer, had made a calculation,
which had been confirmed, of this parallax. It was proved to be
0,″046.--When I had thus solved the mystery my heart beat with joy.
Every geometrician knows that parallax indicates mathematically the
distance in units of the magnitude employed in the calculation. I
sought then to recall exactly the distance which separated this star
from the Earth, in order to prove the accuracy of the calculation. I
only needed to find out what number corresponded to 0,″046.[2]

[Sidenote: The velocity of light.]

Expressed in millions of leagues, this number is 170,392,000, and so,
from the star on which I was, the Earth was distant 170 billions 392
thousand millions of leagues. The principle was thus established,
and the problem was three parts solved. Now, here is the main point,
to which I call your special attention, for you will find in it an
explanation of the most marvellous realities. Light, you know, does
not cross instantaneously from one place to another, but in successive
waves. If you throw a stone into a pool of tranquil water, a series of
undulations form around the point where the stone fell. In the same
way, sound undulates in the air when passing from one point to another,
and thus, also, light travels in space--it is transmitted in successive
undulations. The light of a star takes a certain time to reach the
Earth, and this time naturally depends on the distance which separates
the star from the Earth.

[Sidenote: How the heavenly bodies are seen.]

Sound travels 340 metres in a second. A cannon shot is heard
immediately by those who fire it, a second later by persons who are
at a distance of 340 metres, in three seconds by those who are a
kilometre off, twelve seconds after the shot at four kilometres. It
takes two minutes to reach those who are ten times farther off, and
those who live at a distance of a hundred kilometres hear this human
thunder in five minutes. Light travels with much greater swiftness,
but it is not transmitted instantaneously, as the ancients supposed.
It travels at the rate of 300,000 kilometres per second, and if it
could revolve, might encircle the Earth eight times in a second. Light
occupies one second and a quarter to come from the Moon to the Earth,
eight minutes and thirteen seconds to come from the Sun, forty-two
minutes to come from Jupiter, two hours to come from Uranus, and four
hours to come from Neptune. Therefore, we see the heavenly bodies not
as they are at the moment we observe them, but as they were when the
luminous ray which reaches us left them. If a volcano were to burst
forth in eruption on one of the worlds I have named, we should not see
the flames in the Moon till a second and a quarter had elapsed, if in
Jupiter not till forty-two minutes, in Uranus two hours after, and we
should not see it in Neptune till four hours after the eruption. The
distances are incomparably more vast outside our planetary system, and
the light is still longer in reaching us. Thus, a luminous ray coming
from the star nearest to us, Alpha, in Centaurus, takes four years in
coming. A ray from Sirius is nearly ten years in crossing the abyss
which separates us from that sun. The star Capella, being the distance
above mentioned from the Earth, it is easy to calculate, at the rate
of 300,000 kilometres the second, what time is needed to cross this
distance. The calculation amounts to seventy-one years, eight months,
and twenty-four days. The luminous ray, therefore, which came from
Capella to the Earth, traversed space without interruption seventy-one
years, eight months, and twenty-four days before it was visible on the
Earth. In like manner, the ray of light which leaves the Earth can only
arrive at Capella in the same period of time.

[Sidenote: Time occupied in the transmission of light.]

QUÆRENS. If the luminous ray which comes from that star takes nearly
seventy-two years to reach us, it follows that we see the star as it
was nearly seventy-two years ago?

LUMEN. You are quite right, and this is the fact that I want you take
note of specially.

[Sidenote: A belated courier.]

QUÆRENS. In other words, the ray of light is like a courier who brings
despatches from a distant country, and having been nearly seventy-two
years on the way, his news is of events that occurred at the time of
his departure seventy-two years ago.

LUMEN. You have divined the mystery. Your illustration shows me that
you have lifted the veil which shrouded it. In order to be still more
exact, the light represents a courier who brings, not written news, but
photographs, or, strictly speaking, _the real aspect_ of the country
from whence he came. We see this living picture such as it appeared,
in all its aspects, at the moment when the luminous rays shot forth
from the distant orb. Nothing is more simple, nothing more indubitable.
When we examine the surface of a star with a telescope we see, not the
actual surface as it was at the time of our observation, but such as it
was when the light was emitted from that surface.

QUÆRENS. This being so, if a star, the light of which takes ten years
to reach us, were to be annihilated to-day, we should continue to see
it for ten years, since its last ray would not reach us before ten
years had elapsed.

[Sidenote: We see the past, not the present, aspect of the stars.]

LUMEN. It is precisely so. In short, the rays of light that proceed
from the stars do not reach us instantaneously, but occupy a certain
time in crossing the distance which separates us from them, and show us
those stars not as they are now, but such as they were at the moment
in which those rays set out to transmit the aspect of the stars to
us. Thus we behold a wondrous _transformation of the past into the
present_. In the star we observe we see the past, which has already
disappeared, while to the observer it is the present, the actual.
Strictly speaking, the past of the star is positively the present of
the observer. As the aspect of the worlds change from year to year,
almost from day to day, one can imagine these aspects emerging into
space and advancing into the infinite, and thus revealing their phases
in the sight of far-distant spectators. Each aspect or appearance is
followed by another, and so on in endless sequence. Thus a series of
undulations bears from afar the past history of the worlds which the
observer sees in its various phases as they successively reach him.
The events which we see in the stars at present are already past, and
that which is actually happening there we cannot as yet see. Realise
to yourself, my friend, this presentation of an actual fact, for it
is of importance to you to comprehend the precession of the waves of
light and to understand the essential nature of this undoubted truth.
The appearance of things, borne to us by light, shows us those things
not as they are at present, but as they were in that period of the past
which preceded the interval of time needed for the light to traverse
the distance which separates us from those events.

We do not see any of the stars such as they are, but such as they were
when the luminous rays that reach us left them.

[Sidenote: The planet Earth as seen from afar.]

_It is not the actual condition of the heavens that is visible, but
their past history._ Moreover, there are distant stars which have been
extinct for ten thousand years, but which we can see still, because
the rays of light from them had set out before they were extinguished.
Some of the double stars, the nature and movements of which we seek
with care and toil, ceased to exist long before astronomers began to
make observations. If the visible heavens were to be annihilated to-day
we should still see stars to-morrow, even next year, and for a hundred
years, a thousand years, and even for fifty and a hundred thousand
years, or more, with the exception only of the nearest stars, which
would disappear successively as the time needed for their luminous rays
to reach us expired. Alpha of Centaur would go out first, in four
years, Sirius in ten years, and so on.

Now, my friend, you can easily apply a scientific theory in explanation
of these strange facts of which I was witness. If from the Earth one
sees the star Capella, not as it is at the moment of observation, but
as it was seventy-two years before, in the same way from Capella one
would see the Earth as it was seventy-two years earlier, for light
takes the same time to traverse the distance either way.

QUÆRENS. Master, I have followed your explanation attentively. But, I
ask you, does the Earth shine like a star? Surely she is not luminous?

[Sidenote: The other planets seen from afar.]

LUMEN. She reflects in space the light of the Sun; the greater the
distance the more our planet resembles a star. All the light that
radiates from the Sun on its surface is condensed into a disc that
becomes smaller and smaller. Seen from the Moon our Earth appears
fourteen times more luminous than the full Moon, because she is
fourteen times larger than the Moon. Seen from the planet Venus the
Earth appears as bright as Jupiter appears to us. From the planet
Mars the Earth is the morning and the evening star, presenting phases
like those of Venus to us. Thus, although our Earth is not luminous
herself, she shines afar like the Moon and the planets, by the light
that she receives from the Sun, and reflects into space.

Now the events taking place on Neptune, if seen from the Earth, would
have a delay of four hours; in like manner the view of life on the
Earth could only reach Neptune in the same time; nearly seventy-two
years, therefore, separate Capella and the Earth.

QUÆRENS. Although these views are new and strange to me, I now
understand perfectly how, since the light was nearly seventy-two
years in traversing the abyss which separates the Earth from Capella,
you beheld not the Earth as it was in October 1864, the date of your
death, but as it appeared in January 1793. And I comprehend quite as
clearly that what you saw was neither a phenomenon of memory, nor a
supernatural experience, but an actual, positive, and incontestable
fact, and that in very truth what had long passed away on the Earth was
only then present to an observer at that distance. But permit me to ask
you an incidental question. In coming from the Earth to Capella did you
cross that distance even more quickly than light?

[Sidenote: Thought swifter than light.]

LUMEN. Have I not already anticipated your question in telling you
that I crossed this distance with the swiftness of thought. On the very
day of my death I found myself on this star, which I had admired and
loved so much all my life on the terrestrial globe.

QUÆRENS. Ah, Master, although everything is thus explained, your vision
is not the less wonderful. Truly it is an astonishing phenomenon that
of seeing thus at once the _past in the present_ in this extraordinary
manner. Not less marvellous is the thought of seeing the stars, not
such as they are when one makes the observation, nor as they have been
simultaneously, but as they have been at different epochs according
to their distances, and the time that the light of each has taken in
coming to the Earth!

[Sidenote: Light.]

LUMEN. I venture to say that the natural astonishment that you feel
in contemplating this truth is only the prelude to the things which I
have now to unfold to you. Undoubtedly, it appears at first sight very
extraordinary, that by removing to a distance in space, one can become
a witness of long past events, and remount as it were the stream of
time. But this is not more strange than what I have yet to communicate
to you, and which will appear to you still more imaginary if you can
listen a little longer to the narrative of that day which followed my
death.

QUÆRENS. Go on, I beg of you, I am eager to hear you.


III

[Sidenote: Lumen sees his own life on Earth.]

LUMEN. On turning away from the sanguinary scenes of the Place de la
Révolution, my eyes were attracted towards a habitation of somewhat
an antique style, situated in front of Notre Dame, and occupying
the place of the present square in front of the cathedral. I saw
a group of five persons before the entrance of the cathedral, who
were reclining on wooden benches in the sunshine, with their heads
uncovered. When they rose and crossed the square, I perceived that one
was my father, younger than I could remember him, another my mother,
still younger, and a third a cousin of mine who died the same year as
my father, now nearly forty years ago. I found it difficult at first
to recognise these persons, for instead of facing them, I saw them
only from on high above their heads. I was not a little surprised at
this unlooked-for meeting, but then I remembered that I had heard that
my parents lived in the Place Notre Dame before my birth. I cannot
tell you how profoundly I was affected by this sight; my perception
seemed to fail me, and a cloud appeared to obscure Paris from my view.
I felt as though I had been carried off by a whirlwind; for, as you
are aware, I had lost all sense of time. When I began again to see
objects distinctly, I noticed a troop of children running across the
Place de Panthéon. They looked like school children coming out of
class; for they had their portfolios and books in their hands, and were
apparently going to their homes, gambolling and gesticulating. Two of
them attracted me especially, for I saw they were quarrelling and just
preparing to fight, and another little fellow was advancing to separate
them when he received a blow on the shoulder and was thrown down. In an
instant a woman ran to help him; this was my own mother. Words fail me
to tell my amazement when I perceived that the child to whose rescue my
mother came was _my own self_. Never in my seventy-two years of earthly
life, with all the unlooked-for changes and strange events with which
it was crowded, never in all its surprises and chances have I felt such
emotion as this sight caused me; I was completely overcome when in this
child I recognised--_myself!_

QUÆRENS. You saw yourself?

LUMEN. Yes, myself, with the blond curls of six years of age, with
my little collar embroidered by my mother's hands, my little blouse
of light blue colour, and the cuffs always rumpled. There I was, the
very same as you have seen in the half-effaced miniature that stood on
my mantelpiece. My mother came over to me, and sharply reproving the
other boys, took me up in her arms, and then led me by the hand into
the house, which was close to the Rue d'Ulm. There I saw that, after
passing through the house, we reappeared in the garden in the midst of
a numerous company.

QUÆRENS. Master, pardon me a criticism. I confess to you that it
appears to me impossible that you could see yourself; you could not be
two persons; and since you were seventy-two years old, your infancy was
passed, and had totally disappeared. You could not see a thing that no
longer existed. I cannot comprehend how when an old man you could see
yourself as an infant.

LUMEN. Why cannot you admit this point on the same grounds as the
preceding ones?

QUÆRENS. Because you cannot see yourself double, an infant and an old
man, at the same time.

[Sidenote: A logical inference.]

LUMEN. Look at the matter more closely, my friend. You admit the
general fact, but you do not sufficiently observe, that this last
particular is logically inferred from that fact. You admit that the
view I had of the Earth was seventy-two years in coming to me, do you
not? that events reached me only at that interval of time after they
had taken place? in short, that I saw the world as it was at that
epoch? You admit, likewise, that as I saw the streets of that time I
saw also the children running in those streets? You admit all this?

QUÆRENS. Yes, decidedly.

LUMEN. Well, then, since I saw this troop of children, and myself
amongst them, why do you say I could not see myself as well as the
others?

QUÆRENS. But you were no longer there amongst them!

LUMEN. Again, I repeat, this whole troop of children has ceased to
exist. But I saw them such as they were at the moment the ray of light
left the Earth, which only reached me at the present time. And as I
could distinguish the fifteen to eighteen children in the group, there
was no reason why I should disappear from amongst them because I myself
was the distant spectator. Since any other observer could see me in
company with my comrades, why should I form an exception? I saw them
all, and I saw myself amongst them.

QUÆRENS. I had not fully taken in the idea. It is evident, in short,
that seeing a troop of children, of whom you were one, you could not
fail to see yourself as well as you saw the others.

[Sidenote: Lumen sees himself a child.]

LUMEN. Now you can understand into what a state of surprise I was
thrown. This child was really myself, flesh and bones, as the vulgar
expression has it--myself, at the age of six years. I saw myself as
well as the company in the garden who were playing with me saw me. It
was no mirage, no vision, no spectre, no reminiscence, no image; it
was reality, positively myself, my thought and my body. I was there
before my eyes. If my other senses had the perfection of my sight, it
seemed as though I should have been able to touch and hear myself. I
jumped about the garden and ran round the pond, which had a balustrade
around it. Some time after my grandfather took me on his knees and
made me read in a big book. It is not possible for me to describe my
astonishment. I must leave you to imagine what it was to me, and to
realise the fact, now that you understand upon what it was based.
Suffice it to say, that I had never received such a surprise in my
life. One reflection especially puzzled me. I said to myself, this
child is really me, he is alive, he will grow up, and he ought to live
sixty-six years longer. It is undoubtedly myself. And on the other
hand, here I am, having lived seventy-two years of the terrestrial
life. I who now think and see these things, I am still myself, and
this child is me also. _Am I then two beings_, one there below, on
the Earth, and the other here in space--two complete persons and yet
quite distinct? An observer, placed where I am, could see this child in
the garden, as I see him, and at the same time see me here. I must be
two--it is incontestable. My soul is in this child; it is no less here.
It is the same soul, my own soul. How can it animate two beings? What
a strange reality! For I cannot say that I delude myself, or that what
I see is an optical illusion, for both according to nature, and by the
laws of science, I see at once a child and an old man--the one there
beyond, the other here where I am, the former joyous and free-hearted,
the other pensive and agitated.

QUÆRENS. In truth it is strange!

[Sidenote: Lumen sees himself a young man.]

[Sidenote: Lumen witnesses the events of the Hundred Days.]

LUMEN. Yes, but no less true. You may search through all creation and
not find such a paradox. Well, to proceed with my history, I saw
myself grow up in this vast city of Paris, I saw myself enter college
in 1804, and perform my first military exercises when the First Consul
was crowned Emperor. One day as I passed by the Carrousel I got a
glimpse of the domineering and thoughtful face of Napoleon. I could
not remember having seen him in my life, and it was interesting to see
him thus pass across my field of view. In 1810 I saw myself promoted
to the Polytechnic School, and there I was talking of the course of
studies with François Arago, the best of comrades. He already belonged
to the institute, and had replaced Monge at the school, because the
Emperor had complained of the Jesuitism of Binet. I saw myself, in like
manner, all through the brilliant years of my youth, full of projects
of travels for scientific exploration, in company with Arago and
Humboldt, travels which only the latter decided to undertake. Later on
I saw myself during the Hundred Days, crossing quickly the little wood
of the old Luxembourg, and then the Rue de l'Est and the avenue of the
garden of the Rue St. Jaques, and hastening to meet my beloved under
the lilac-trees. Sweet meetings all to ourselves, the confidences of
our hearts, the silences of our souls, the transports of our evening
conversations, were all presented to my astonished sight, no longer
veiled by distance, but actually before my eyes. I was present again
at the combat with the Allies on the Hill of Montmartre, and saw their
descent into the capital, and the fall of the statue in the Place
Vendôme, when it was drawn through the streets with cries of joy. I saw
the camp of the English and the Prussians in the Champs-Élysées, the
destruction of the Louvre, the journey to Ghent, the entrance of Louis
XVIII.

[Sidenote: Napoleon at St. Helena.]

The flag of the island of Elba floated before my eyes, and later on
I sought out the far Atlantic isle where the eagle, with his wings
broken, was chained. The rotation of the Earth soon brought before
my eyes the Emperor in St. Helena sadly musing at the foot of a
sycamore-tree.


[Sidenote: Historical events appear in succession.]

Thus the events of the years as they passed were revealed to me in
following my own career--my marriage, my various enterprises, my
connections, my travels, my studies, and so on. I witnessed at the
same time the development of contemporary history. To the restoration
of Louis XVIII. succeeded the brief reign of Charles X. I saw the
barricades of the days of July 1830, and not far from the throne of
the Duke of Orleans I saw the Column of the Bastile arise. Passing
rapidly over eighteen years, I perceived myself at the Luxembourg at
the time when that magnificent avenue was opened, that avenue I loved
so much, and which has been threatened by a recent decree. I saw Arago
again, this time at the Observatory, and I beheld the crowd before the
door of the new amphitheatre. I recognised the Sorbonne of Cousin and
of Guizot. Then I shuddered as I saw my mother's funeral pass. She was
a stern woman, and perhaps a little too severe in her judgments, but
I loved her dearly, as you know. The singular and brief revolution of
1848 surprised me as much as when I first witnessed it. On the Place
de la Bourse I saw Lamoricière, who was buried last year, and in the
Champs-Élysées, Cavaignac, who has been dead five or six years. The 2nd
of December found me an observer on my solitary tower, and from thence
I witnessed many striking events which passed before me, and many
others which were unknown to me.

QUÆRENS. Did the event pass rapidly before you?

LUMEN. I had no perception of time; but the whole retrospective
panorama appeared to me in successive scenes--in less than a day,
perhaps in a few hours.

QUÆRENS. Then I do not understand you at all. Pardon your old friend
this interruption, a little too abrupt perhaps. As I took it, you saw
the real events of your life, not merely images of them. But, in view
of the time necessary for the passage of light, these events appeared
to you after they had happened. If, then, seventy-two terrestrial years
had passed before your eyes, they should have taken seventy-two years
to appear to you, and not a few hours. If the year 1793 appeared to you
only in 1864, the year 1864, consequently, should only in 1936 appear
to you.

[Sidenote: The anachronism explained.]

LUMEN. You have grounds for your fresh objection, and this proves to
me that you have perfectly comprehended the theory of this fact. I
fully appreciate your belief in me; indeed its consciousness helps me
in my explanations. Thus it is not necessary that seventy-two years
should be needed in which to review my life, for under the impulse of
an involuntary force all its events passed before me in less than a
day. Continuing to follow the course of my existence, I reached its
later years, rendered memorable by the striking changes which had
come over Paris. I saw our old friends, and you yourself; my daughter
and her charming children; my family, and circle of acquaintances; and
last of all I saw myself lying dead upon my bed, and I was present at
the final scene. Yes; I tell you I had returned to the Earth. Drawn by
the contemplation which absorbed my soul, I had quickly forgotten the
mountain, the old men, and Capella. Even as a dream all faded from my
mind.

I did not at first perceive the strange vision which captivated all
my faculties. I cannot tell you either by what law or by what power
souls can be transported with such rapidity from one place to another.
Suffice it to say, _I had returned to the Earth_ in less than a day,
and I had entered my chamber even at the moment of my decease. Also in
this returning voyage I had travelled faster than the rays of light,
hence the various phases of my life on Earth had unrolled themselves to
my sight in their successive stages as they occurred. When I reached
half-way I saw the rays of light arriving only thirty-six years behind
time, showing me the Earth, not as it appeared seventy-two years ago,
but thirty-six. When I had travelled three-quarters of the way I saw
things as they had been eighteen years ago; at the half of the last
quarter, as they were nine years previously; until finally the whole
acts of my life were condensed into less than one day because of the
rapid rate at which my soul had travelled, which far surpassed the
velocity of the rays of light.

QUÆRENS. Was not this a very strange phenomenon?

LUMEN. Do any other objections rise in your mind as you listen to me?

QUÆRENS. No, this is the only one; or rather, this one has puzzled and
interested me so greatly that it has absorbed all others.

LUMEN. I would remark that there is another, an astronomical one,
which I will hasten to dispel, for fear it should arise and cloud
your mind. It depends upon the Earth's movement, not only upon its
diurnal rotation, which in itself would be sufficient to prevent
my seeing the facts in succession, but this movement would also
be greatly accelerated by the rapidity of my return to the Earth.
Hence seventy-two years would pass before me in less than a day. On
reflection, I was surprised that I had not earlier perceived this;
yet as I had only seen a comparatively small number of countries,
panoramas, and facts, it is probable that in returning to our planet I
had only a fleeting glance for a few moments of the successive points
of interest. But however this may be, I can but bear evidence that I
have been witness to the rapid succession of events both throughout the
century and of my own life.

QUÆRENS. That difficulty had not escaped me; I had weighed the thought,
and had come to the conclusion that you had revolved in space, even
as a balloon is spun round by the rotation of the globe. It is true
that the inconceivable speed with which you would be whirled through
space would be likely to give you vertigo, nevertheless, after hearing
your experience, this hypothesis forces itself upon me, that spirits
rush through space with the lightness and velocity of thought; and
in remarking on the intensity of your gaze as you approached certain
parts of the Earth, may it not be admissible to infer that this very
eagerness to see certain localities, might be the reason of your being
drawn to them, and as it were fixed above their point of vision?

LUMEN. As to this I can affirm nothing, because I know nothing; but
I do not think this is the explanation. I did not see all the events
of my life, but only a few of the main ones, which, successively
unfolding, passed in review before me on the same visual ray. A
magnetism drew me imperiously as with a chain to the Earth; or, if you
prefer it, a force similar to that mysterious attraction of the stars,
by reason of which, stars of a lesser degree would inevitably fall
upon those of the first magnitude, unless retained in their orbits by
centrifugal force.

QUÆRENS. In reflecting on the effect of the concentration of thought
upon a single point, and of the attraction which consequently ensues
towards that point, I cannot but conclude that therein lies the
mainspring of the mechanism of dreams.

[Sidenote: The source of dreams.]

LUMEN. You say truly, my friend; I can confirm you in this remark,
as for many years I have made dreams the subject of a special study
and observation. When the soul, freed from the attentions, the
preoccupations, the encumbrance of the body, has a vision of the
object which charms it, and towards which it is irresistibly drawn,
all disappear except the object. That alone remains, and becomes the
centre of a world of creations; the soul possesses it entirely without
any reserve, it contemplates it, it seizes it as its own, the entire
universe is effaced from the memory in order that its domination over
the soul may be absolute. I felt thus on being drawn earthwards. I saw
but one object, around which were grouped the ideas, the images, and
the associations to which it had given birth.

QUÆRENS. Your rapid flight to Capella and your equally rapid return
to the Earth were governed by this psychological law; and you acted
more freely than in a dream, because your soul was not impeded by the
machinery of your organism. Often in our former conversations have you
discoursed to me upon the strength of the will. Thus, willing to do
so, you were enabled to return and to see yourself upon your death-bed
before your mortal remains had been committed to the dust.

[Sidenote: Lumen witnesses his own funeral.]

[Sidenote: His flight to the stars.]

LUMEN. I did return; and I blessed my family for the sincerity of
their grief. I shed a benediction on them; I soothed their grief, and
poured balm upon their wounded hearts; and I inspired my children
with the belief that the body lying there was not my real self--my
_ego_--but merely the shell from which my soul had risen to a sphere
celestial, infinite, and far beyond their earthly ken. I witnessed my
own funeral procession, and I noticed those who called themselves my
friends and who yet, for some trifling reason, begged to be excused
from following my remains to their last resting-place. I listened to
the various comments of those following my bier, and although in this
region of peace we are free from that thirst for praise which clings
to most of us whilst on Earth, nevertheless I felt gratified to know
that I had left pleasant memories behind me. When the stone of the
vault was rolled away, that which separates the dead from the living,
I gave a last farewell to my poor sleeping body; and, as the Sun set
in its bed of purple and gold, I went out into the air until night had
fallen, plunged in admiration of the beautiful scenes which unrolled
themselves in the heavens. The aurora borealis displayed itself above
the North Pole in bands of glistening silver, shooting stars rained
from Cassiopeia, and the full Moon rose slowly in the east like a
new world emerging from the waves. I saw Capella scintillating and
looking at me with a glance pure and bright, and could distinguish
the crowns surrounding it, as if they were princes dowered with a
celestial divinity. Then I forgot the Earth, the Moon, the Planetary
System, the Sun, the Comets, in one intense, overpowering attraction
towards a shining brilliant star, and I felt myself carried towards
it instinctively with a celerity far greater than that of an electric
flash. After a time, the duration of which I cannot guess, I arrived
upon the same ring and upon the same mountain, from which I had first
kept watch when I saw the old men occupied in following the history
of the Earth, seventy-one years and eight months ago. They were still
absorbed in the contemplation of events happening in the city of Lyons
on the 23rd of January 1793. I will avow to you the reason of the
mysterious attraction of Capella for me. For marvellous as it may seem,
there are in creation invisible ties which do not break like mortal
ties; there are means by which souls can commune with each other, in
spite of the distance that separates them.

[Sidenote: He meets the spirit of his wife.]

[Sidenote: They recall their life on Earth.]

On the evening of the second day, as the emerald Moon enshrined itself
in the third ring of gold--for such is the sidereal measurement of
time--I found myself walking in a lonely avenue enamelled with flowers
of sweet perfume. Sauntering along, as if in a dream, imagine my
delight when I saw coming towards me my beautiful and beloved Sylvia.
She was at a ripe age at her death, and notwithstanding an indefinable
change I recognised the features, whose expression had but deepened
and spiritualised, in happy correspondence with her sweet, pure life.
I will not stop to describe to you the joy of our meeting, this is not
the time for it; but perchance some day we may have the opportunity of
descanting upon the different manifestations of affection in this world
and the world beyond the grave, and I only add now that together we
sought our native land on Earth, where we had passed days of peace and
happiness. We delighted to turn our gaze towards the luminous point,
which our state of exaltation enabled us to perceive was a world--the
one upon which we had lived in earthly form--we loved to wed the memory
of the past with the reality of our present, and in all the freshness
of our new and ecstatic sensations we sought to recall and review the
scenes of our youth. It was thus we actually saw again the happy years
of our earthly love, the pavilion of the convent, the flower garden,
the promenades in the charming and delightful environs of Paris, and
the solitary rambles that, loving and beloved, we took together. To
retrace these years we had but to travel together into space in the
direction of the Earth, where these scenes, focused by the light, were
being photographed. Now, my friend, I have fulfilled my promise in
revealing to you these remarkable observations.

Behold the day breaks, and the star Lucifer is paling already under its
rosy light. I must return to the constellations....

QUÆRENS. Just one more word, Lumen, before we conclude this interview.
Can earthly scenes be transmitted successively into space--if so,
the present could be kept perpetually before the eyes of distant
spectators, and be limited only by the power of their spiritual sight?

[Sidenote: The precession of events as seen in space.]

LUMEN. Yes, my friend. Let us, for example, place our first observer on
the Moon--he would perceive terrestrial events one second and a quarter
after they had happened. Let us place a second observer at four times
the distance--he would be cognisant of them five seconds later. Double
the distance, and a third would see them ten seconds after they had
taken place. Again double the distance, and a fourth observer would
have to wait twenty seconds before he could witness them; so on and on
with ever-increasing delay, until at the Sun's distance; eight minutes
and thirteen seconds must elapse before they could become visible.

Upon certain planets, as we have seen, hours must intervene between
the action and the sight of it; further off still, days, months even
years must elapse. Upon neighbouring stars earthly events are not seen
until four, six, ten years after their occurrence; but there are stars
so distant that light only reaches them after many centuries, and even
thousands of years. Indeed, there are nebulæ to which light takes
millions of years to travel.

QUÆRENS. Therefore it only needs a sight sufficiently piercing to
witness events historic or geologic which are long since past. Could
not one, therefore, so gifted see the Deluge, the Garden of Eden, Adam
and. . . .

LUMEN. I have told you, my old friend, that the rising of the sun on
this hemisphere puts to flight all spirits, so I must go. Another
interview may be granted us some other day, when we can continue our
talk on this subject, and I will then give you a general sketch which
will open out for you new horizons. The stars call me, and are already
disappearing. I must away. Adieu, Quærens, adieu.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Physiological anatomy would probably explain this fact by
suggesting that a sort of _punctum cæcum_ is displaced in order to
conceal the object that one does not wish to see.

[2] Every one knows that the farther an object is, the smaller it
appears. An object which is seen under an angle of one second, is at a
distance of 206,265 times its own diameter, whatever it may be; because
as there are 1,296,000 seconds in the circumference, the ratio between
the circumference and its diameter being 314,159 × 2, it follows that
this object is at a distance equal to 206,265 times its own diameter.
As Capella sees the semi-diameter of the terrestrial orbit only under
an angle 22 times smaller, its distance is 22 times greater. Capella
is therefore at a distance of 4,484,000 times the radius of the
terrestrial orbit. Future micrometrical measurements may modify these
results concerning the parallax of this star, but they cannot change
the principle upon which the conception of this work is grounded.



SECOND CONVERSATION

REFLUUM TEMPORIS



I


QUÆRENS. Your revelations which were interrupted by the break of day,
O Lumen, have left me hungering and thirsting to hear more of this
wonderful mystery. As a child to whom one shows a delicious fruit
longs to have a bite, and when he has tasted of it begs for more, so
my curiosity is eager to have renewed enjoyment of these paradoxes of
nature. May I venture to submit to you a few questions in relation to
the subject, which have been suggested to me by the friends to whom I
have communicated the substance of your revelations, and then may I ask
you to continue the narrative of your impressions of the regions beyond
this Earth?

[Sidenote: Scientific truth, not fancy or romance.]

LUMEN. No, my friend, I cannot consent to such curiosity. However
perfectly disposed your mind may be to accept my communications, I
am convinced that all the details of my subject have not been equally
apprehended by you, and are not in your eyes equally self-evident. My
recital has been called mystical by those who have not quite understood
that it is neither a romance nor a phantasy, but a scientific truth,
a physical fact demonstrable and demonstrated, indisputable and as
positive as the fall of an aerolite or the motion of a cannon-ball. The
reason which prevents you and your friends from fully comprehending
these facts is, that they took place beyond this Earth, in regions
foreign to the sphere of your impressions, and inaccessible to your
terrestrial senses. Naturally you do not comprehend them. (Pardon
my frankness, but in the spiritual world one is frank; there, even
thoughts are visible.) You only comprehend those things which you
perceive. And as you persist in regarding your ideas of time and space
as _absolute_, although they are only _relative_, and thence form a
judgment on truths which are quite beyond your sphere, and which are
imperceptible to your terrestrial organism and faculties, I should not
do you a true service, my friend, in giving you fuller details of my
ultra-terrestrial observations.

[Sidenote: An inquiring mind.]

QUÆRENS. It is not, I assure you, in a spirit of simple curiosity,
dear Lumen, that I ventured to draw you forth from the bosom of the
invisible world, where advanced souls partake of indescribable joys.
But I have understood, perhaps better than you, the grandeur of the
problem, and it is under the inspiration of an earnest, studious
avidity that I seek for other aspects of it, still more novel than
those you have given me, if I may say so, or rather more bold and more
incomprehensible. As the result of reflection, I have arrived at the
conclusion that what we know is _nothing_, and that what we do not know
is _everything_; I am therefore disposed to welcome everything you tell
me. I beg of you, if you will allow me, to share your revelations....

LUMEN. The fact is, my friend, I assure you, either you are not
sufficiently able to understand, or you are too willing to believe: in
the first case, you do not fully comprehend; in the second, you are too
credulous, and do not appreciate my communications at their full value.
However, I shall continue.

QUÆRENS. Dear comrade of my earthly life!

LUMEN. The remaining facts, which I shall now relate to you, are still
more extraordinary than any that preceded them.

QUÆRENS. I feel like Tantalus in the midst of his lake, or like the
spirits in the twenty-fourth canto of the Purgatorio. I am as eager as
the Hesperides holding out their hands for the fragrant fruit, or as
Eve in her desire for....

[Sidenote: Travelling on a ray of light.]

[Sidenote: Lumen sees the Revolution of 1848.]

LUMEN. Some time after my departure from the Earth, the eyes of my soul
being still mournfully directed toward my native world, I found that,
on an attentive examination, I could perceive at the 45th degree of
north latitude and the 35th degree of longitude, a triangular piece
of land of a sombre colour, north of the Black Sea, on the shores of
which I saw, towards the west, a grievous number of my compatriots
madly engaged in killing one another. I recalled to mind that relic
of barbarism, war, formerly called glorious, with which you are still
beset and burdened, and I remembered that in this corner of the Crimea
800,000 men fell, in ignorance of the cause of their mutual massacre.
Some clouds then passed over Europe. At that time I was not on Capella,
but in mid space, between that star and the Earth, about half the
distance from Vega. Having left the Earth some time before, I turned
toward a group of stars, that, seen from your planet, are to the left
of Capella. Meanwhile my thoughts recurred from time to time to the
Earth, and soon after taking the observation to which I have referred,
my eyes being fixed on Paris, I was surprised to see it a prey to an
insurrection of the people. Examining it more attentively, I discerned
barricades on the boulevards, near the Hôtel de Ville, and along the
streets, and the citizens firing at one another. The first idea that
occurred to me was that a new revolution was taking place before my
eyes, and that Napoleon III. was dethroned. But, by the secret sympathy
of souls, my sight was attracted to a barricade in the Faubourg St.
Antoine, upon which I saw lying prostrate the Archbishop Denis Auguste
Affre, with whom I had been slightly acquainted. His sightless eyes
were turned towards the heavens where I was, but he saw nothing; in his
hand he held a green branch. I was thus witnessing the days of 1848,
and in particular that of the 25th of June.

[Sidenote: He sees the events of 1831.]

A few minutes--a few hours, perhaps--passed, during which my
imagination and my reason sought in turns for an explanation of this
special scene. To see 1848 _after_ 1854! When my sight was again
attracted to the Earth, I remarked a distribution of tricoloured flags
in a grand square of the city of Lyons, Trying to distinguish the
official person who was making this distribution, I recognised the
uniforms, and I remembered that after the accession of Louis Philippe,
the young Duke of Orleans had been sent to quell the disturbances in
the capital of French manufactures. It followed from thence that,
_after_ 1854 and 1848, I had before my eyes an event of 1831. Presently
my glance turned to Paris on the day of a public fête. The king, a
coarse-looking man, with a rubicund face, was tearing along in a
magnificent chariot, and was just crossing the Pont Neuf. The weather
was splendid. Some fair ladies posed, like a basket of lilies, on the
white parapet of the bridge. Floating over Paris some brightly-coloured
creatures could be seen. Evidently I beheld the en trance of the
Bourbons into France.

[Sidenote: Supposed explanation of this strange slight.]

I should not have understood this last strange sight if I had not
recollected that a number of balloons, in the form of animals, had
been sent up on that occasion. From my higher altitude they appeared
to wriggle about the roofs of the houses. To see again past events
was comprehensible enough, according to the law of light. But to see
things contrary to their real order in time, that was too fantastic,
and puzzled me beyond expression. Nevertheless, as I had the things
before my eyes, I could not deny the fact. I sought forthwith for
some hypothesis to account for this singular phenomenon. At first I
supposed it was really the Earth that I saw, and that by a fiat of
fate, the secret of which is known only to God, the history of France
repeats itself, and passes through the same phases that it has already
traversed; that the course of events proceed up to a certain maximum,
where they shine gloriously for a time, and then comes a reaction to
the original state of things, by an oscillation in human affairs like
the variations of the magnetic needle, or like the movements of the
stars.

The personages whom I took for the Duke of Orleans and Louis XVIII.
were perhaps other princes, who were repeating exactly what the
former had done. This hypothesis, however, appeared to be so very
extraordinary, that I paused to consider a more rational theory.
Admitting the fact of the number of stars, with planets moving round
them, is it not probable that a world exactly like the Earth exists
somewhere in the universe of space?

[Sidenote: Calculation of probabilities.]

The calculation of probabilities supplies an answer to this question.
The greater the number of worlds, the greater will be the probability
that the forces of nature have given birth to an organisation like
that of the Earth. Now the real number of worlds surpasses all human
calculation, either written or possible to be written. If we could
understand what "infinite" means, we might venture to say that this
number is infinite. I concluded, then, that there is a very high
probability in favour of the existence of many worlds exactly like the
Earth, on the surface of which the same history is accomplished, and
the same succession of historical events takes place; worlds which are
inhabited by identically the same species of vegetables and animals,
and the same humanity, and where men and families like our own, I doubt
not, exist.

In the second place, I asked myself if another world analogous to
the Earth might not also be symmetrical to it; and then I worked out
the geometry of the problem, and the metaphysical theory of images.
I arrived at the conclusion that it was _possible_ for the world in
question to be like the Earth, but in an inverse form. When you look
at yourself in a mirror, you notice that the ring on your right hand
appears to be on the ring-finger of your left hand. This explains the
symbol. If you wink your right eye, your reflection winks the left
eye; when you advance your right arm, your image advances the left
arm. It is not impossible that in the infinity of the stars a world
exists exactly the converse of the terrestrial world. Undoubtedly in an
_infinity_ of worlds the non-existence of a similar world, perhaps of
millions of them, would be the real impossibility. Nature of necessity
repeats herself, reproduces herself, but still under all forms plays
the game of creation. I thought therefore that the world on which I saw
those things was not the Earth, but a globe like the Earth, the history
of which was precisely the opposite of yours.

QUÆRENS. I myself have had the idea also that it might have been as you
say. But was it not easy for you to make sure of it by ascertaining
whether it was the Earth or another star that you had before your eyes,
by examining its astronomical position?

[Sidenote: The solution of the problem.]

LUMEN. That is precisely what I did immediately, and this examination
confirmed me in my opinion. The star where I had just witnessed four
facts, analogous to four terrestrial facts, but inversely, did not
appear to me to occupy its original position. The little constellation
of the Altar no longer existed, and on that side of the heavens where
you remember the Earth appeared to be in my first episode, there was
an irregular polygon of unknown stars. I was thus convinced that it
was not our Earth that I had before my eyes. I could no longer feel
any doubt about it, and I was satisfied that I had now, for my field
of exploration, a world so much the more curious that it was not the
Earth, and that its history appeared to represent, in an inverse order,
the scenes of the history of our world.

[Sidenote: History retraced]

[Sidenote: France of the past.]

Some events, it is true, did not appear to have corresponding ones
on the Earth, but in general the coincidence was very remarkable. I
was the more struck with this because the contempt which I feel for
the instigators of war had led me to hope that a folly so absurd
and so infamous might not have existed in other worlds. But, on the
contrary, the greater part of the events which I witnessed were
combats or preparations for war. After a battle, which appeared to
me very much to resemble that of Waterloo, I saw the battle of the
Pyramids. An image of Napoleon as emperor had become first Consul,
and I saw the Revolution succeed to the Consulate. Some time after
I observed the square in front of the Château of Versailles covered
with mourning-coaches, and in an open pathway from Ville-d'Avray I
recognised the botanist Jean Jacques Rousseau slowly walking along,
and, no doubt, at that moment philosophising on the death of Louis XV.
I was particularly struck with the gala fêtes at the beginning of the
reign of Louis XV., worthy successors of those of the Regency, during
which the treasures of France glistened in precious stones on the
fingers of the three or four adored courtesans. I saw Voltaire, with
his white cotton cap, in his park at Ferney; and later on, Bossuet,
walking on the little terrace of his episcopal palace at Meaux, not far
from the little hill through which the railway is now cut, but I could
not see the least trace of the railway line. In this same succession of
events, I saw the highroads covered with diligences, and large sailing
ships on the seas. Steam and all the factories that are moved by it
now, had disappeared. Neither telegraphs nor any other application
of electricity existed. Balloons, which more than once I had seen in
the field of observation, were lost to sight. The last that I saw was
the shapeless globe sent up by the brothers Montgolfier at Annonay
in the presence of the States-General. The face of the Earth was
quite changed--Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, Havre, and more especially
Versailles, were not recognisable; the first four had lost their
immense activity, the last had gained incomparably in magnificence.

[Sidenote: The monarchy.]

I had formed a very imperfect idea of the splendour of the royal fêtes
at Versailles. It was a satisfaction to me to be present at them; and
it was not without interest that I recognised Louis XIV. himself, on
the splendid terrace at the west, surrounded by a thousand nobles whose
breasts were covered with decorations. It was in the evening; the last
rays of glowing sunshine were reflected on the royal façade, whilst
gallant couples gravely descended the steps of the marble stairs, and
presently disappeared along the silent and shady avenues. My sight was
fixed in preference on France, or at least toward that region of this
unknown world which represented France to me; for absence makes the
heart grow fonder, and when far from one's country one thinks of it
all the more, and recurs with ever new interest to the thought of it.
Do not believe that souls liberated from their bodies are scornful,
and indifferent, and devoid of memory. Our existence would then be a
sad one. No; we preserve the faculty of remembrance. Our hearts are
not wholly absorbed in the life of the spirit; and so it was with an
instinctive feeling of delight, which you can imagine, that thus I saw
again the history of France unfolded before me as though its phases
were being accomplished in an inverse order.

[Sidenote: Feudalism]

[Sidenote: Joan of Arc.]

[Sidenote: The Crusades.]

[Sidenote: The history of France unrolled.]

After the people had amalgamated into one nationality, I saw the rule
of a single sovereign established. After that came princely feudalism.
Mazarin, Richelieu, Louis XIII., and Henry IV. appeared to me at Saint
Germain. The Bourbons and the Guises resumed their skirmishes for me.
I thought I could distinguish the night of St. Bartholomew, I saw some
special events in the history of our provinces--for instance, one of
the scenes in the sorcery of Chaumont, which I had time to observe,
before the Church of Saint Jean, and the massacre of the Protestants
at Vassy. What a comedy is human life! Alas! too often a tragedy!
Suddenly I beheld in space the magnificent comet of 1577, in the
form of a sabre. In grand array in the midst of a plain, brilliantly
decorated, I recognised Francis I. and Charles V. saluting one another.
Louis XI. I perceived on a terrace of the Bastile, attended by his two
gloomy companions. Later on, my sight was turned to a square in Rouen,
where I observed flames and smoke, and in their midst I discerned the
form of the Maid of Orleans. Convinced as I was that the world I was
looking at was the exact counterpart of the Earth, I divined beforehand
the events that I was about to see. Thus, after having seen Saint
Louis dying before Tunis, I was present at the eighth Crusade, and
subsequently at the third, where I recognised Frederick Barbarossa by
his beard. Then at the first Crusade, when Peter the Hermit and Godfrey
reminded me of Tasso. I was not a little surprised. I then expected to
see, in succession, Hugh Capet, leading a procession, arrayed in his
official robes; the Council of Tauriacum deciding that the judgment of
God would be pronounced in the battle of Fontanet; Charles the Bald
ordering the massacre of a hundred thousand men and all the Merovingian
nobility; Charlemagne crowned in Rome: his war against the Saxons and
the Lombards; Charles Martel hammering away at the Saracens; King
Dagobert founding the Abbey of St. Denis, just as I had seen Alexander
III. laying the first stone of Notre Dame; Brunehaut dragged along
the pavement by a horse; the Visigoths, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths,
Clovis Meroveus appearing in the country of the Saliens: in a word,
the history of France, from its very beginning, unrolled itself before
me in an order inverse to the succession of events--this was what
actually happened. Many historical questions which were very important,
and which had hitherto been obscure to me, were rendered clear. I
ascertained, among other things, that the French were the original
possessors of the right bank of the Rhine, and that the Germans have no
right to claim that river, and still less to dispute the possession of
the left bank.

[Sidenote: Old Paris]

[Sidenote: Rome of the Cæsars.]

[Sidenote: Judea.]

[Sidenote: Calvary.]

[Sidenote: Death of Julius Cæsar.]

There was, I assure you, an immense interest in taking part, if I may
so express myself, in the events of which I had but the vague ideas
derived from the echoes of history, often deceptive, and in visiting
countries that are now totally transformed. The vast and brilliant
capital of modern civilisation became old to me, and had shrunk to
the size of an ordinary town, but was at the same time fortified with
crenellated towers. I admired in turns the beautiful city of the
fifteenth century, its curious types of architecture, the celebrated
tower of Nesle, and the extensive convents of Saint Germain-des-Prés.
Where the tower of St. Jacques now stands, I recognised the gloomy
court of the alchemist Nicolas Flamel. The round and pointed roofs had
the singular effect of looking like mushrooms on the banks of a river.
Then this feudal aspect disappeared, and gave place to a solitary
castle in the Seine valley surrounded by cottages; and finally there
was nothing but a fertile plain, where one could only distinguish a
few huts of savages. At the same time I remarked that the seat of
civilisation was changed, and was now in the south. I will confess to
you, my friend, that I never felt greater delight than at the moment
when I was permitted to see Rome of the Cæsars in all its splendour.
It was the day of a triumph, and no doubt under the rule of the Syrian
princes; for in the midst of magnificent surroundings, gorgeous
chariots, the purple oriflammes of the Senate, and of elegant women
and of performers of theatres, I distinguished the Emperor luxuriously
reclining in a golden car, clothed in delicately-coloured silk,
covered with precious stones and ornaments in gold and silver, which
glittered in the golden sunshine. This must have been Heliogabalus,
the priest of the sun. The Coliseum, the temple of Antoninus, the
triumphal arches, and Trajan's column were standing. Rome was in all
its ancient beauty and grandeur, that last beautiful phase which was
no more than a scene in a theatre to those crowned buffoons. A little
later I was present at the eruption of Vesuvius, which overwhelmed
Herculaneum and Pompeii. I saw Rome in flames, just for a moment; and
although I was not able to distinguish Nero on his terrace, I have no
doubt I beheld the conflagration in the year 64, and the signal for the
persecution of the Christians. A few hours after, my attention being
still occupied in examining the extensive gardens by the Tiber, I had
just seen the Emperor near a parterre of roses, when, in consequence of
the revolution of the Earth on its axis, Judea was presented to me. How
anxiously I regarded it when I distinguished Jerusalem and the mountain
of Golgotha. Jesus was climbing this mountain, accompanied by a few
women, escorted by a troop of soldiers, and followed by the Jewish
populace. I shall never forget this spectacle. It assumed a totally
different aspect to me from what it did to those who were living at
the time and who took part in it, for the glorious future (and the
past also) of the Christian Church was unfolded for me as the crown of
the Divine sacrifice.... I cannot dwell on it; you can understand what
various feelings agitated my soul on this supreme occasion.... A little
later, returning to Rome, I recognised Julius Cæsar prostrate in death,
with Antony beside him holding what I think was a roll of papyrus in
his left hand. The conspirators were hastening down to the banks of
the Tiber. With a very natural curiosity I traced back the life of
Julius Cæsar, and found him with Vercingetorix in the centre of Gaul,
and I may state that none of the suppositions of our modern historians
respecting the situation of Alesia are correct. In fact, this fortress
was situated on . . .

QUÆRENS.. Master, pardon me for interrupting you, but I am anxious to
seize this opportunity to question you on a particular point respecting
the Dictator. Since you have seen Julius Cæsar, tell me, I pray you, if
his face resembles that given by the Emperor Napoleon III. in his great
work on the life of that famous captain?

LUMEN. I should be delighted, my old friend, to enlighten you on this
point if it were possible for me to do so. But reflect for a moment,
and you will see that the laws of perspective forbid me.

QUÆRENS. Of perspective? You mean to say of politics.

LUMEN. No, of perspective (although these two things strongly resemble
one another); for in seeing great men from the height of heaven, I do
not see them as they appear to the vulgar. From the heavens we see
men geometrically from above, not face to face; that is to say, when
they are standing we have only a horizontal projection of them. You may
remember that once in a balloon, as we passed over the Vendôme Column
at Paris, you remarked to me that Napoleon seen from that height was
not above the level of other men. It was just the same with Cæsar. In
the other world material measures disappear, only intellectual measures
exist.

[Sidenote: Roman history.]

[Sidenote: Building of the Pyramids.]

[Sidenote: The Stone Age.]

To continue, however, I retraced history, from Julius Cæsar to the
Consuls, and then to the kings of Latium, in order to witness the rape
of the Sabines, which I was pleased to observe actually, as a type of
ancient manners. History has embellished many things, and I discovered
that most events as represented to us are totally different from the
actual facts. Then I saw King Candaules in Lydia, in the scene in the
bath that you remember, then the invasion of Egypt by the Ethiopians,
the oligarchical republic of Corinth, the eighth Olympiad in Greece,
and Isaiah the prophet in Judea. I saw the building of the Pyramids
by troops of obedient slaves under chiefs mounted on dromedaries.
The great dynasties of Bactria and of India appeared before me, and
China showed the marvellous skill in the arts that she possessed even
before the birth of the western world. I had an opportunity to search
for the Atlantis of Plato, and I saw that the opinions of Bailly on
that continent, now submerged, are not devoid of foundation. In Gaul I
could distinguish nothing but vast forests and swamps; even the Druids
had disappeared, and the savage inhabitants strongly resembled those
that we find now in Oceania. It was truly the _stone age_ as it is
unearthed for us by modern archæologists. Further back still, I saw
that the number of men diminished by degrees, and the domination of
nature seemed to belong to a race of the great apes, to the cave bears,
to lions, hyenas, and the rhinoceros. A moment arrived when it was
not only impossible to distinguish a single man on the surface of the
earth, but when not the least vestige of the human race was visible.
All had disappeared; earthquakes, volcanoes, deluges prevailed over the
surface of the planet, and the presence of man in the midst of such a
chaotic state of things was no longer possible.

QUÆRENS. I shall confess to you, dear Lumen, that I have waited with
impatience for the moment when you should arrive at the garden of Eden,
in order to learn in what form the creation of the human race on the
earth was presented to you. I am surprised that you do not seem to have
thought of making this important observation.

LUMEN. I relate to you only the things which I saw, my curious friend,
and I refrain from substituting the dreams of my imagination for the
evidences of my sight. I did not perceive the least trace of that
Eden so poetically depicted in the primitive theogonies. Now, this
was very extraordinary, since the resemblance between the world that
I had before my eyes and the Earth was so complete. It was more than
surprising, if the terrestrial paradise was really the cradle of
humanity. But I do not see why paradise might not have been, with as
good reason, at the end of human society.

QUÆRENS. Indeed I think it would be more just to suppose it to be at
the end rather than the beginning, as the result and the recompense,
instead of the misunderstood prelude, to a life of suffering. But since
you have not seen it I shall not urge my question.

[Sidenote: Prehistoric ages.]

[Sidenote: A dying world.]

[Sidenote: The beginning, not the end of the Earth.]

LUMEN. Finally, in concluding my observations of this singular world,
whose history was exactly the inverse of yours, I saw marvellous
animals, of monstrous forms, in combat on the shores of vast oceans.
There were enormous serpents armed with formidable paws; crocodiles
that flew in the air, sustained by wings organically longer than their
bodies; misshapen fishes with jaws wide enough to swallow an ox; birds
of prey struggling in terrible battles in the desert islands. There
were whole continents covered with forests, trees with enormous leaves
entangled in one another; a vegetation at once sombre and severe,
for the vegetable kingdom was devoid of both flowers and fruit. The
mountains vomited forth clouds of flame and vapour, the rivers fell
in cataracts, the ground opened in immense chasms in which were
engulfed hills, woods, streams, trees, and animals. But before long it
became impossible for me to perceive even the surface of the globe; a
universal sea appeared to cover it, and the vegetable kingdom, like
the animal kingdom, was slowly effaced, and gave place to a monotonous
verdure interspersed with lightning and whitish smoke. Henceforth
it was a dying world. I was present at the last palpitations of its
heart, intermittently revealed in the gloom by flashes of flame. Then
it seemed to me that it rained everywhere over its whole surface,
for the Sun threw light on nothing but clouds and torrents of rain.
The hemisphere opposite to the Sun appeared less sombre than before,
and one could perceive a dull light gleaming through the tempests.
This light increased in intensity, and spread over the entire sphere.
Great crevasses became red like iron in the furnace; and as iron in
a hot furnace becomes bright red, then orange, then yellow, then in
succession white and incandescent, so the world passed through all
the progressive phases of heat. Its volume increased, its movement of
rotation became slower. The mysterious globe seemed like an immense
sphere of molten metal enveloped in metallic vapours. Under the
incessant action of this interior furnace and the elemental combats
(or combinations) of this strange chemistry, it acquired enormous
proportions, and the sphere of fire became a sphere of smoke. Thence
it went on developing without cessation, and lost its personality. The
Sun, which at first had shed light on it, no longer surpassed it in
brightness, and it itself increased so much in circumference that it
became evident to me that the vaporous planet would soon lose its own
existence and be absorbed in the enlarged atmosphere of the Sun. It is
a rare experience to be present at the end of a world. And so in my
enthusiasm I could not prevent myself from crying out with a kind of
vanity, "Behold the end of the world, O God! and this, then, is the
fate in store for all the inhabited worlds!" "This is not _the end_,"
replied a voice in the hearing of my soul; "_this is the beginning_."
"How can this be the beginning?" thought I immediately. "The beginning
of the Earth itself," replied the same voice. "Thou hast seen over
again the whole history of the Earth _in thus withdrawing from her with
a velocity greater than that of light_."

This declaration did not surprise me so much as the first episode
of my ultra-terrestrial life, for I was now familiarised with the
astonishing effects of the laws of light; I was henceforth prepared
for every new surprise. I had some doubts of the fact, in consequence
of certain details that I have not given you to avoid disturbing the
unity of my recital or breaking the thread of my narrative, but which
were nevertheless incomparably more extraordinary than the general
succession of events.

QUÆRENS. But if it was really the Earth, how comes it that the
astronomical calculations you made in order to recognise her in the
constellation of the Altar, indicated, as you have pointed out, that
the world you were examining was neither the Earth nor a star of the
Altar?

[Sidenote: Events retraced.]

[Sidenote: Sidereal perspective.]

LUMEN. The fact is, that even that constellation had itself changed
in consequence of my voyage in space. In place of the stars of the
third magnitude, α, γ, and ϛ (alpha, gamma, zeta), and stars of the
fourth magnitude, β, δ, and θ (beta, delta, theta), which constitute
that figure as seen from the Earth, my distance towards the nebulæ had
reduced those starsa to little imperceptible points. It had placed
other brilliant stars there, which were no doubt α (alpha) and β (beta)
of Auriga, θ, ι, η (theta, iota, eta), and perhaps even ε (epsilon) of
the same constellation--stars diametrically opposite to the preceding
when seen from the Earth, but which were necessarily interposed there
when I had passed them by. The celestial perspective had already
changed, and it had become, in truth, almost impossible to determine
the position of our Sun.

[Sidenote: It was really the Earth that Lumen saw.]

QUÆRENS. I had not thought of this inevitable change of perspective
on the other side of Capella; and so it was really the Earth that you
saw, and therefore its history was unrolled before you in an inverse
order--you saw ancient events taking place _after_ modern events. By
what new process has light thus enabled you to ascend the stream of
time? Furthermore, dear Lumen, you have informed me that you have
observed some curious particulars relative to the Earth itself. I am
wishful to ask you some special questions on these details. I shall
listen, then, with interest to the extraordinary history which ought to
complete this recital, persuaded, as before, that it will fully reward
my curiosity.


II

[Sidenote: History read backwards.]

LUMEN. The first circumstance is connected with the battle of Waterloo.

QUÆRENS. No one remembers that catastrophe better than I do. I received
a ball in my shoulder there, in the neighbourhood of Mont Saint-Jean,
and a sabre-cut on my right hand from one of Blucher's blackguards.

[Sidenote: Waterloo beyond the tomb.]

LUMEN. Well, my old comrade, in taking part in this battle again,
I found it quite different from what it was in the past, as you
may judge from what I will relate to you. When I had recognised
the field of Waterloo, to the south of Brussels, I distinguished
first a considerable number of dead bodies lying on the ground
indiscriminately. Far off, through the mist, I perceived Napoleon
walking backwards, holding his horse by the bridle. The officers who
accompanied him were marching backwards also. The cannon began to
boom, and from time to time I saw the lurid gleam of their flashes.
When my sight was sufficiently habituated to the scene, I perceived
some soldiers coming to life out of the eternal night, and by a single
effort standing up. Group after group, a considerable number, were thus
resuscitated. The dead horses revived like the dead cavaliers, and
the latter remounted them. As soon as two or three thousand men had
returned to life, I saw them form unconsciously in line of battle. The
two armies took their places fronting one another, and began to fight
desperately with a fury that one might have taken for despair. As the
combat deepened on both sides, the soldiers came to life more rapidly.
French, English, Prussians, Germans, Hanoverians, Belgians--grey
coats, blue uniforms, red tunics, green, white--arose from the field
of the dead and fought. In the centre of the French army I espied the
Emperor, a battalion in square surrounded him; the Imperial Guard was
resuscitated. Their immense battalions advanced from the two camps
and engaged in a fierce onslaught; from the left and from the right,
squadrons advanced. The white manes of the white horses floated in the
wind. I remembered the strange picture by Raffet, and the spectral
epigram of the German poet Sedlitz:--

    "La caisse sonne, étrange,
     Fortement elle retentit.
     Dans leur fosse ressuscitent
     Les vieux soldats péris."

And this other:--

    "C'est la grande revue,
     Qu'à l'heure de minuit
     Aux Champs-Élysées
     Tient César décédé."

It was really Waterloo, but a _Waterloo beyond the tomb_, for the
combatants were raised from the dead. Besides, in this singular
apparition they marched backwards one against the other. Such a battle
had a magical effect, and impressed me more forcibly, because I foresaw
the event itself, and this event was strangely transformed in its
counterpart image. Not less singular was the fact, that the longer they
fought, the more the number of combatants increased; at each gap made
by the cannon in the serried ranks a group of resuscitated dead filled
up the gaps immediately. When the belligerents had spent the whole day
in tearing one another to pieces with grape-shot, with cannons and
bullets, with bayonets, sabres, and swords--when the great battle was
over, there was not a single person killed, no one was even wounded;
even uniforms that before it were torn and in disorder were in good
condition, the men were safe and sound, and the ranks in correct form.
The two armies slowly withdrew from one another, as if the heat of the
battle and all its fury had no other object than the restoration to
life, amid the smoke of the combat, of the two hundred thousand corpses
which had lain on the field a few hours before. What an exemplary and
desirable battle it was!

[Sidenote: Reascending the ages.]

Assuredly it was the most singular of military episodes, and the moral
aspect of it far surpassed the physical, when I found that this battle
resulted not in the defeat of Napoleon, but in placing him upon the
throne. Instead of losing the battle, it was the Emperor who gained
it; instead of a prisoner, he became a sovereign. Waterloo was an 18th
Brumaire!...

QUÆRENS. Dear Lumen, I do not half understand this new effect of the
laws of light. If you have discovered it, I shall be grateful to you if
you will give me an explanation of it.

LUMEN. I have helped you to divine it by telling you that I removed
from the Earth with a _greater_ velocity than that of light.

QUÆRENS. But tell me, I pray you, how does this retrogression in space
enable you to see events in an order inverse to that in which they took
place?

LUMEN. The theory is very simple. Suppose you set out from the Earth
with the velocity exactly _equal_ to that of light, you would always
have with you the aspect that the Earth assumed at the moment you
set out, since you would be receding from the globe with a swiftness
precisely equal to that which bore this very aspect into space. Thus,
even if you voyaged for a thousand years or a hundred thousand years,
this aspect would accompany you always like a photograph which did not
grow old; whilst the original is made old by the years that elapse.

QUÆRENS. I understood this fact already in our first conversation.

[Sidenote: Retrogressive light pictures.]

LUMEN. Well, suppose now that you remove from the Earth with a velocity
_superior_ to that of light, what will happen? You will find again, as
fast as you advance into space, the rays that set out _before_ you,
that is to say the successive photographs which, from second to second,
from instant to instant, project their rays into space. If, for
example, you set out in 1867 with the velocity equal to that of light,
you would retain for ever the year 1867 in sight. If you went more
quickly, you would find before you the rays that had set out in former
years, and which bore upon them the photographs of those years. In
order further to illustrate this fact, reflect, I pray you, on the many
luminous rays that have set out from the Earth in different epochs. Let
us suppose the first to be at some instant of the 1st January 1867.
At the rate of 300,000 kilometres a second, it has, at the moment in
which I am speaking to you, already passed a portion of space from the
instant of its departure till it reached a certain distance which I
shall express by the letter A. Let us now suppose that a second ray
sets out from the Earth a hundred years before, on the 1st January
1767; it is a hundred years _in advance_ of the first, and is found at
a still greater distance--a distance that I shall express by the letter
B. A third ray which I shall in like manner suppose on the 1st January
1667, is still _further off_ by a length equal to the distance that
the light would travel in a hundred years. I call the place where this
third ray reaches, C. Then a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, on respectively
the 1st January 1567, 1467, 1367, &c., are posted at equal distances D,
E, F, penetrating more and more into the infinite.

Here, then, we have a series of photographs, taken on the same line,
from post to post in space. Now, the mind which travels on in passing
successively by the points A, B, C, D, E, F, can retrace successively
the secular history of the Earth in those epochs.

QUÆRENS. Master, at what distance are these photographs from one
another?

[Sidenote: Photographs of the life on Earth imprinted in space.]

LUMEN. The calculation is very easy. The interval which separates
them is of necessity that which light travels in a hundred years.
Now, at the rate of 75,000 leagues per second, you see at once that
it travels 4,500,000 leagues in a _minute_, 270,000,000 leagues in
an _hour_, 6,480,800,000 leagues in a _day_, 2,366,820,000,000 in a
_year_, allowing for leap-years; consequently, the result would be
that the interval between two points of departure at the distance of
a _century_ from one another, is nearly 236 _billions_ 682 thousand
millions of leagues. Here, then, I say we have a series of terrestrial
photographs, imprinted in space, at corresponding distances, one after
another. Let us now suppose that between each of these centennial
pictures we should find annual pictures, between each of which the
distance is preserved in accordance with the time that light travels in
a year, which I have just given you; then between each of the annual
pictures we have those of every day, and as each day contains the
photographs of each hour, every hour the photographs of its minutes,
and every minute of its seconds, all succeeding one another, according
to their respective distances apart--we shall have in a ray of light,
or rather in a jet of light, composed of a series of distinct pictures
in juxtaposition, the aerial register of the history of the Earth.

[Sidenote: Psychical optics.]

When the spirit travels in this ethereal ray of pictures with a
swiftness greater than that of light, it sees in succession, backwards,
the ancient pictures. When it arrives at the distance at which the
aspect of events that set out in 1767 is to be seen, it has already
retraced a hundred years of terrestrial history. When it reaches the
point where the aspect of 1667 has arrived, it retraces two centuries.
When it attains to the photograph of 1567, it has seen, again, three
centuries, and so on successively. I told you in the beginning that I
directed my course toward a group of stars situated at the left of
Capella. This group proved to be at an incomparably greater distance
than that star, although from the Earth it appeared to be close beside
it, because the two visual rays are near one another. This apparent
proximity is solely due to the perspective. In order to give you an
idea of the remoteness of this far-off universe, I may tell you that
it is not less vast in size than the Milky Way. One may then ask to
what distance should the Milky Way be transported to reduce it to
the apparent size of this nebula. My learned friend Arago made this
calculation, of which you must be aware, as he repeated it every year
in his course of lectures at the Observatory, that have been published
since his death. It would be necessary to suppose the Milky Way to be
transported to a distance equal to 334 times its own length. Now, as
light takes 15,000 years to traverse the Milky Way from one end to
another, it follows that it cannot take less than 334 times 15,000
years, that is to say, less than 5,000,000 years, in coming from
thence. I have ascended a ray of light from the Earth to these remote
regions, and if my spiritual sight had been more perfect, I should have
been able to distinguish not only the retrogression of history for
10,000 years or 100,000 years, but even for 5,000,000 years.

QUÆRENS. Can the mind, then, by its powers alone, cross in this way the
immeasurable spaces of the heavens?

LUMEN. Not by its own power alone, but by making use of the forces
of nature. Attraction is one of these forces. It is transmitted with
a velocity incomparably superior to that of light, and the most
rigorously exact astronomical calculations are obliged to consider
this transmission as almost instantaneous. I will add that if I have
been able to perceive events at such distances, it is not by the
apprehension of a physical sense that I know them, but by a process
incomparably more subtle, which belongs to the psychic order. The
movements of the ether, which constitute light, are not luminous by
themselves, as you know. The eye is not necessary in order to perceive
them. A soul vibrating under their influence perceives them as well,
and often incomparably better than an organic optical apparatus. This
being psychical optics. For example, attraction crosses instantaneously
the 148,000,000 of kilometres that separate the Earth from the Sun,
whilst light occupies 493 seconds in this passage.

QUÆRENS. What length of time did your voyage to that remote universe
occupy?

LUMEN. Have I not told you that time does not exist outside the
movements of the Earth? Whether I employed a year or an hour, it would
have been exactly the same period in infinity.

QUÆRENS. I have thought it over, and the physical difficulties seem to
me enormous. Permit me now to submit to you a strange thought that has
just come into my head.

LUMEN. It is to hear your reflections that I give you this narrative.

QUÆRENS. I want to ask you if the same inversion would take place with
the hearing as well as the sight? If you can see an event backwards
from its real occurrence, can you also hear a discourse backwards,
beginning at the end? This is perhaps a daring question, and apparently
ridiculous, but in paradoxes where can one stop?

[Sidenote: Light and sound.]

LUMEN. The paradox is only apparent. The laws of sound are essentially
different from the laws of light. Sound travels only at the rate of 340
metres a second, and its effects have absolutely nothing in common with
those of light. Nevertheless it is evident that if we were to advance
into the air with a velocity _superior_ to that of sound, we should
hear inversely the sounds that left the lips of a speaker. If, for
instance, some one were to recite an alexandrine, an auditor in moving
with the aforesaid velocity, starting at the moment when he heard the
last foot of the line, would find successively the eleven other feet
which had been uttered before, and would thus hear the alexandrine
backwards.

As to the theory itself, it suggests a curious reflection, that nature
might have caused sound to travel, not at the rate of 340 metres
a second, and that its velocity, which depends on the density and
the elasticity of the air, might have been very much less. Why, for
instance, might it not have been transmitted at the rate of only a few
centimetres a second? Now see what would be the result if this were
the case. Men would not be able to speak to one another when walking
together. Let two friends be conversing, and suppose one takes a step
or two in advance, or goes on, say the distance of a metre; now, if
sound were to take many seconds to cross this metre, the consequence
would be that, instead of hearing the phrases spoken in their right
order by his friend, the foremost walker would hear in an inverse
order the sounds conveying the anterior phrases. In that case we could
not speak whilst walking, and three-fourths of mankind would not be
able to hear one another.

These remarks, my friend, induce me to suggest to you, in this
connection, for your consideration, a subject well worthy of attention,
and which has hitherto received little notice--that of the adaptation
of the human organism to its terrestrial environment. The manner in
which man sees, in which he hears; his sensations, his nervous system,
his build, his weight, his density, his walk, his functions--in a word,
all his actions are regulated and constituted by the condition of your
planet. None of your acts are absolutely free and independent. Man is
the obedient, though unconscious, creature of the organic forces of the
Earth.

[Sidenote: The human organism derived from the Earth.]

[Sidenote: Organic life accords with its habitat on each planet.]

Undoubtedly the human soul, not being a function of the brain,
and existing by itself, enjoys relative liberty; but this liberty
is limited by its faculties, its powers, and its energies; it is
determined, according to the causes which decide it, at the moment of
the birth of every man. Could one know exactly the faculties of his
soul and the circumstances which were to surround his life, one could
write beforehand that man's life in all its details. The human organism
is the product of the planet. It is not by a Divine fantasy, by a
miracle, or by a direct creation that terrestrial man is constituted
such as he is. His form, his figure, his weight, his sense, his whole
organisation, are derived from the state or condition of your planet,
the atmosphere that you breathe, the food that nourishes you, the
gravity of the surface of the Earth, the density of terrestrial matter,
&c. The human body does not differ anatomically from that of one of the
higher mammalia, and if you go back to the origin of species, you will
find gradual transformations established by unimpeachable evidence. The
whole of terrestrial life, from the mollusc to man, is the development
of one single and sole genealogical tree. The human form has its
origin in the animal form. Man is the butterfly developed from the
chrysalis of the palæontological ages. From this fact the consequence
results that on other worlds organic life is different from what it is
here, and that their humanities, which, like our own, are the result
of forces in activity on each planet, differ absolutely in their
forms from that of terrestrial humanity. For example, on the worlds
where they do not eat, the digestive apparatus and the intestines do
not exist. On the worlds which are very highly electric, the beings
inhabiting them are gifted with an electric sense. On others, sight is
adapted for the ultra-violet rays, and the eyes have nothing in common
with your eyes; they do not see what you see, and they see what you
cannot see. The organs are adapted to the functions they have to fulfil.

QUÆRENS. We are not, then, the absolute type of creation? Creation
itself is, it appears, a perpetual development of forces in activity.

[Sidenote: The soul and destiny]

LUMEN. The soul itself is subject to a similar law. There are as many
diversities of souls as of bodies. In order that the soul should exist
as an independent being having a consciousness of itself, in order that
it should preserve the recollection of its identity and be qualified
for immortality, it is necessary that even in this life it should know
that it really exists. Otherwise it is no more advanced the day after
death than the day before death, and falls as an insensible breath
into the blind cosmos, neither more nor less than any other centre
of unconscious force. Many men on the Earth boast that they do not
believe in anything but matter, without knowing what they say, since
they do not know what matter is. These last, and those, still more
numerous, who _do not think at all_, are not immortal, since they have
no consciousness of their existence. The spirits who live really the
spiritual life are the only ones who are fitted for immortality.

QUÆRENS. Are there many of them?

LUMEN. My friend, behold the dawn of morning which invites me anew to
return into the depths of space, peopled with things unknown on Earth,
that fruitful mine in which spirits find again the wrecks of past
existences, the secrets of many mysteries, the ruins of disintegrated
worlds, and the genesis of future worlds. And for the rest, it would
be superfluous to lengthen out this recital with useless details. My
object has been to show you that, in order to have the spectacle of a
world and of a system exactly opposite to yours, all that is needed is
to recede from the Earth with a velocity greater than that of light.
In this flight of the soul towards the inaccessible horizons of the
infinite, one retraces the luminous rays reflected by the Earth and
by the other planets for millions and myriads of years, and _while
observing the planets at this vast distance one can be present_ in
vision _at the events of their past history_. Thus one ascends the
stream of time to its source. Such a faculty ought to illuminate for
you the regions of eternity with a new light. If, as I hope, you admit
the scientific value of my expositions of these ultra-terrestrial
studies, I look forward to unfolding to you before long their
metaphysical consequences.



THIRD CONVERSATION

HOMO HOMUNCULUS


[Sidenote: Clouds no impediment to vision.]

QUÆRENS. I have listened to you with interest, Lumen, without, I
own, being entirely convinced that all you have told me is actually
real. Indeed it is difficult to believe that it is possible to see
with absolute certainty all the things of which you speak. When, for
instance, there are clouds across your field of view, you cannot see
clearly what passes on the Earth. The same objection obtains for the
interior of houses.

[Sidenote: Light a vibration of ether.]

LUMEN. You are mistaken, my friend. The undulations of ether pass
through obstacles that you would believe impenetrable. Clouds are
formed of molecules between which rays of light frequently pass. In the
contrary case, there are here and there vistas or gaps, across which
one can only see obliquely. The case is very rare when nothing can be
distinguished. Besides, light is not what it appears to be; it is a
vibration of ether, and there are other ways of seeing than by means
of the retina and the optic nerve.

The vibrations of ether are perceptible to senses other than those you
possess. Therefore, if this be your sole objection, it is, I must say,
far from being an insurmountable one.

QUÆRENS. You have a special faculty for resolving all doubts. Perhaps
this is one of the gifts granted to spiritual beings. I have been
obliged successively to admit, that you have been transported to
Capella with a swiftness exceeding that of light; that you reached
another world as a spirit; that your soul is liberated from the flesh;
that your ultra-earthly perception is able to distinguish from that
height all that passes here; that you can advance or recede in space
according to your fancy; and lastly, that the clouds themselves are no
obstacles to your clearly seeing the surface of our globe. It must be
owned that these are grave difficulties indeed.

LUMEN. You are very material, my old friend! Should you be very
surprised if I undertook to prove to you that all these difficulties
exist only in name, and that all the objections which oppose themselves
to your conception of phenomena are the effects of ignorance?

What should you think if I affirmed that no one has a single true idea
of what takes place upon the Earth, and that man utterly fails to
understand nature?

QUÆRENS. In the name of all the indisputable truths of modern science,
I should dare to think that you were trying to impose upon me.

[Sidenote: The marvels of spectral analysis.]

[Sidenote: Piercing nature of the soul's sight.]

LUMEN. God forbid! Listen to me, my friend. The marvellous discoveries
of contemporary science ought to enlarge the sphere of your
conceptions. You have just discovered spectral analysis! By this
methodic examination of a simple ray of light shot from a far-off star,
you learn what are the elements which compose this inaccessible star
and feed its brilliancy. This knowledge, my brother, is of more value
than all the conquests of Alexander, of Cæsar, and of Napoleon, than
all the discoveries of Ptolemy, of Columbus, of Gutenberg, than all the
books of Moses and of Confucius. Only think, trillions of leagues span
the abyss which separates us from Sirius, from Arcturus, from Vega,
from Capella, from Castor and Pollux, and it is now possible to analyse
the substances which constitute these suns, just as accurately as if
you could take them in your hand and submit them to the crucible of
the laboratory! How then can you refuse to admit that, by processes
which are unknown to you, the soul's sight can be sufficiently piercing
to see clearly a bright far-off world, and to distinguish even its
smallest details? Does not the telegraph carry in an inappreciable
moment your thought from Europe to America through the depths of the
ocean? Cannot two people converse in a low voice at a distance of
thousands of leagues, and still you hesitate to admit the truth of my
narrations, because you do not altogether comprehend them? But can you
explain how the telegraphic message is transmitted? No, you cannot.
Cease then to retain doubts which have not even the merit of being
scientific.

QUÆRENS. My objections, learned master, have not any other end in view
than to elicit fresh light upon the subject. I am far from denying the
truth of all you tell me, and I but seek to form a rational and exact
idea of it.

[Sidenote: The inadequacy of the earthly senses.]

LUMEN. Be assured, my friend, I do not take any offence at your
objections. My only desire is to develop and enlarge the sphere of your
conceptions. I can at this very instant open your eyes to see the utter
inadequacy of your terrestrial faculties, and the fatal poverty of
positive science itself, by inviting you to reflect that the causes of
your impressions are solely modes of motion, and that what is proudly
termed _science_ is only a very _limited organic perception_.

[Sidenote: The limitations of the senses.]

Light by which your eyes see--sound by which your ears hear--are
different forms of motion by which you are impressed; odours, flavours,
&c., are emanations which strike upon your olfactory nerve or touch
your palate; these are solely vibratory motions which are transmitted
to your brain. You can only appreciate a few of these movements through
the senses you possess, principally those of sight and hearing. You, in
your simplicity, believe that you see and hear nature? Nothing of the
kind. All you do is to receive some of the movements in activity upon
your sublunary atom. That is all. Beyond the impressions you receive
there are an infinitely greater number unperceived by you.

QUÆRENS. Pardon, master, but this new aspect of nature is not
sufficiently clear for me to understand it. Would you....

[Sidenote: The extent of the gamut _re_ vibrations of sound.]

[Sidenote: The extent of the vibrations of light.]

LUMEN. This aspect is indeed new to you, but attentive reflection will
enable you to grasp it. Sound is formed by vibrations in the air which
strike upon the membrane of the tympanum and give you the impression of
various tones. Man does not hear all sounds. When the vibrations are
too slow (below forty a second), the sound is too low; your ear cannot
catch it. When the vibrations are too rapid (above 36,000 a second),
the sound is too sharp; your ear cannot receive it. Above and below
these two limits, therefore, human beings do not perceive them. These
vibrations exist, however, and are perceived by creatures of other
kinds, as, for example, certain insects. The same rules apply to light.
The different aspects of light, the shades and colours of objects, are
equally due to the vibrations which strike upon the optic nerve and
give you the impression of the different degrees of intensity in light.
Man does not by any means see all that is visible. When the vibrations
are too slow (under 458 billions a second), light is too feeble; your
eye sees nothing. When the vibrations are too rapid (over 727 billions
a second), light outruns your organic faculty of perception and is
invisible to you. Above and below these two limits the vibrations of
ether still exist, and are perceived by other beings. You do not know
therefore, nor can you receive, any impressions except those that can
be made to vibrate upon the two chords of your organic lyre, called
respectively the optic nerve and the auditory nerve.

Imagine for one instant the extent of all the sights and sounds which
are not perceptible to you. All the undulatory movements that exist in
the universe between the figures of 36,000 and those represented by
458,000,000,000,000 in the same unity of time, can neither be heard nor
be seen by you, and remain utterly unknown to you.

[Sidenote: Man deaf to the concert of universal harmonies by reason of
his limitations.]

Try to measure that distance! Contemporary science is beginning to
penetrate a little into this invisible world, and you know that it
has just calculated the vibrations below 458 billions (these are the
caloric invisible rays) and the vibrations above 727 billions (these
are the chemical rays, also equally invisible to the human eye).
Scientific methods can enlarge the sphere of the perceptions but a
little; you remain isolated in the midst of infinitude. Moreover,
an endless number of other vibrations exist in nature which have no
_correspondence_ with your organisation, and therefore cannot be
received by you, _consequently you remain for ever utterly ignorant of
them_. Did you possess other strings to your lyre--ten, a hundred, a
thousand--the harmony of nature could more completely translate itself
to you, each of the myriad vibrations according to their kind. You
would perceive a number of facts which are certainly passing around
you, whose very existence you cannot even now guess, and in place of
two dominant notes you would be conscious of the grand concert of
harmonies everywhere about you.

But although thus ignorant, you are unconscious of it, because all
around you are equally ignorant, and therefore it is impossible to
compare your limited faculties with those of beings much more highly
organised.

[Sidenote: Were the eye a combined spectroscope and telescope, it would
see the chemical elements composing bodies.]

The senses you do possess suffice, however, to indicate the existence
of other senses, not only more powerful, but of a totally different
order. By the sense of touch, for example, you can, it is true, feel
the sensation of _heat_; but it is easy to conceive the existence of
a special sense, analogous to that by which light reveals to you the
aspect of exterior objects, and which would render man capable of
judging of the form and substance of an object, its interior structure,
and other qualities, by the action of the caloric waves radiating from
it. The same reasoning would hold good on the subject of _electricity_.
You could equally well conceive the existence of a sense, endowing
the eye with the powers of a spectroscope and telescope in one, thus
enabling it to see the _chemical_ elements, of which bodies are
composed.

Thus already, from a scientific point of view, you have sufficient
ground for imagining modes of perception, quite different from those
which characterise human beings. These faculties exist in other worlds,
and there are endless ways of perceiving the action of the forces of
nature.

[Sidenote: Our terrestrial senses are limited.]

QUÆRENS. Certainly, master, I own that as you unfold these
possibilities a new and singular clearness enlightens my understanding,
and your teachings appear to me a true interpretation of the reality.
I had already dreamed that similar marvels might be possible, but
I had not been able to explain them, enveloped as I still am in my
terrestrial senses. One thing is certain, we must be lifted out of our
earth-bound limitations ere we are capable of comprehending, or even of
attempting to judge, of the scope of the universe.

Thus, being endowed with only a few limited senses, we can but know the
facts that are perceptible to them. The remainder is naturally unknown.
Can it be that the unknown is infinitely more than the known?

[Sidenote: The ordinary senses are insensible to many physical
movements.]

LUMEN. This "remainder" is immense, and all you at present know will
seem as nothing by comparison. Not only do your senses not perceive
physical movements--such as solar and terrestrial electricity whose
currents cross in the atmosphere, the magnetism of minerals, of plants,
and of beings, the affinities of organisms, &c., which are invisible
to you--but they perceive still less the movements of the moral world,
its sympathies and antipathies, its presentiments, its spiritual
attractions, &c. I only speak the simple truth when I say, that all
that you know, and all that you could know, through the medium of your
earthly senses, is as nothing compared to that which is.

[Sidenote: Beings exist with other than our senses.]

This truth is so profound that it might well be asserted, that beings
exist upon the Earth essentially different from you, possessing neither
eyes, nor ears, nor any of your senses, but endowed with _other_
senses, and capable of perceiving that which you cannot perceive, and
who, while living in the same world as yourself, know that which you
cannot know, and form an idea of nature completely at variance with
your own.

QUÆRENS. All this is utterly beyond my comprehension.

LUMEN. Moreover, my earthly friend, I can add most emphatically that
the perceptions you receive, and that constitute the bases of your
science, are not even the perceptions of the _reality_. No. Light,
lucidity, colours, looks, tones, noises, harmonies, sounds, perfumes,
flavours, apparent qualities of bodies, &c., are nothing but _forms_.

These forms enter into your mind by the avenue of the eye, and the ear,
by the senses of smell, and taste, and are represented to you by their
appearances, but not even by the essence of the things themselves.

_The real nature of things entirely escapes your understanding, and you
are utterly incapable of comprehending the universe._

[Sidenote: Matter is not solid.]

Matter itself is not what you believe it to be. To speak absolutely,
there is not anything that is _solid_; your own body, a piece of iron
or of granite, are not more solid than the air you breathe. All these
things are composed of atoms which do not touch each other, and which
are in perpetual movement. The Earth, atom of the Heavens, moves in
space with a swiftness of 643,000 leagues a day; but, in proportion to
their dimensions, each atom which constitutes your own body and that
circulates in your blood, moves much more quickly. If your vision were
sufficiently powerful to see through this stone, you would no longer
see it thus, because your sight would pass through and beyond it....

[Sidenote: How man errs in thinking his limited sensations describe
those of the universe.]

[Sidenote: The difference of organisms on Mars, Uranus, &c.]

[Sidenote: The tie uniting the physical and spiritual world]

But I see by the disturbance of your brain, and the rapid movements of
the fluid which crosses your closely-concentrated lobes, that you no
longer understand my revelations. I will not then pursue this subject
which I have thus merely lightly touched upon, with the end in view of
thereby demonstrating how greatly you would err, did you attach any
importance to difficulties born of your terrestrial sensations, and
to assure you that neither you nor any man upon the Earth could form
even an approximate idea of the universe. What is earthly man but a
mere pigmy! Ah! if you were but acquainted with the organisms which
vibrate upon Mars or upon Uranus; if it had but been granted to you, to
appreciate the senses in action, upon Venus and upon a ring of Saturn;
if during centuries of travel you had been permitted to glance at and
observe the forms of life in the systems of the double stars; at the
sensations of sight in the coloured suns, to glean the impressions
of an electric sense, of which you can know absolutely nothing,
in the groups of multiple suns; if a suitable comparison of this
ultra-terrestrial state had furnished you with the elements of a fresh
knowledge, you would then have comprehended that beings exist--who can
see, hear, feel, or, to be more accurate, understand nature without
eyes, without ears, without sense of smell; that an incredible number
of other senses exist in nature, senses essentially different from
yours; and that there are in creation an incalculable number of
marvellous facts which it is absolutely impossible for you to imagine.
In this general contemplation of the universe, my friend, one perceives
the solidarity--the tie which unites the physical with the spiritual
world; one sees from a higher ground the instinctive strength which
raises certain souls, tried by the coarseness of matter but purified
by sacrifice, towards the higher regions of spiritual light; and one
understands how immense is the happiness reserved for those beings,
who, even while on Earth, have succeeded in gradually overcoming their
lower nature.

QUÆRENS.. To return to the transmission of light in space. Does
not light lose itself at last? Does the aspect of the Earth remain
eternally visible, and never, on the contrary, diminish in proportion
to the square of distance, thus becoming finally annihilated?

[Sidenote: The word end applied to space meaningless]

LUMEN. Your expression "at last" is without meaning, because there is
no end in space.

Light becomes attenuated, it is true, with distance, the scenes become
less vivid, but nothing is lost entirely. Any number, whatever it may
be, perpetually reduced by half, for example, can never become equal
to zero. The Earth is not visible to all eyes at a certain distance.
Nevertheless it still exists, even though it may not be seen by all;
and only spiritual sight can see it.

Besides, the image of a star, borne upon the wings of light, goes into
the unfathomable depths of the mysterious abysses of space.

[Sidenote: Vast regions exist without stars.]

Vast regions exist in space without stars, regions decimated by time,
whence worlds have been successively removed by the attraction of
exterior suns. The image of a star in crossing these dark abysses,
would be in a condition analogous to that of a person, or object, that
the photographer had forgotten and left in the _camera_.

It is not impossible that such images encounter in these vast spaces an
obscure star (celestial mechanics state the existence of many such) in
a special condition whose surface (formed perhaps of iodine, if one is
to credit spectral analysis) would be sensitised, and capable of fixing
upon itself the image of this far-off world.

Thus terrestrial events might be printed upon a dark globe. And if this
globe turns upon itself, like other celestial bodies, it would present
successively its different zones to the terrestrial image, and would
thus take a sort of continuous photograph of successive events.

[Sidenote: Images of this world's events photographed spirally upon
other globes in space.]

Following moreover, in ascending, or descending, a perpendicular
line to its equator, the line where the images were reproduced would
no longer be described in a circle, but in a spiral; and after the
first movement of rotation was finished, the new images would not
coincide with the old ones, nor superimpose them, but would follow
above and below. The imagination could now suppose that this world is
not spherical, but cylindrical, and thus see in space an imperishable
column around which would be engraved the great events of the world's
history.

I have not myself seen this realisation. It is so short a time since I
left the Earth, that I have barely done more than glance superficially
at these celestial marvels. Before long I shall seek to verify this
fact, and see if its reality does not form a part of the infinite
richness of the astral creations.

QUÆRENS. If the ray which leaves the Earth is never _destroyed_,
master, our actions are then eternal?

LUMEN. Certainly they are.

[Sidenote: Actions carried for ever on rays of light.]

An act once accomplished can never be effaced, and no power can ever
cause it to be as if it had never been. Say that a crime is committed
in the heart of a desert country. The criminal goes far away, remains
unknown, and supposes that the act which he has committed has _passed_
for ever. He has washed his hands of it, he has repented, he believes
his action _obliterated_. But in reality nothing is destroyed. At the
moment when this act was accomplished, the light seized it and carried
it into space with the rapidity of lightning. It became incorporated
in a ray of light; eternal, it will transmit itself eternally into
infinitude.

Likewise a good action is done in secret; the benefactor thinks it is
concealed, but a ray of light has taken possession of it. Far from
being forgotten, it will live for ever.

Napoleon, in order to satisfy his personal ambition, was voluntarily
the cause of the death of five millions of men, whose ages averaged
about thirty years, and who, according to the laws of life, had
thirty-seven more years to live. Therefore, by this calculation, he
caused the destruction of 185 millions of years of human life.

[Sidenote: Napoleon's punishment.]

His chastisement, his expiation, consists in being carried along by
that ray of light which left the plains of Waterloo on the 18th June
1815, and to be ever moving in space with the quickness of light
itself; to have constantly in sight that critical scene, where he saw
for ever crumbling to pieces the scaffolding of his vain ambition;
to feel, without respite, the bitterness of despair; and to remain
bound to this ray of light for the 185 millions of years for whose
destruction he was responsible. By thus acting, in place of worthily
fulfilling his mission, he has retarded for a similar length of time
his progress in the spiritual life.

And if it were given to you to see that which goes on in the moral
world, as clearly as you now see that which passes in the physical one,
you would recognise vibrations and transmissions of another nature,
which imprint in the arcana of the spiritual world, not only the
actions, but even the most secret thoughts.

[Sidenote: Speculation upon the problem of communication by luminous
signals between the Earth and stars.]

[Sidenote: An interval of two centuries between question and answer.]

QUÆRENS. Your revelations, Lumen, are awful! Thus, our eternal
destinies are intimately bound up with the construction of the universe
itself. I have many times speculated upon the problem of communication
between the worlds by the aid of light. Many physicists have supposed
that it will be possible to establish communication between the Earth
and the Moon, and even the planets, by the aid of luminous signals.
But suppose one could make signs from the Earth to a star, by employing
the light, for example, a hundred years must come and go before the
signal from the Earth could reach its destination, and the response
could only return after the same interval of time had elapsed. Two
centuries must consequently elapse between the question and its answer.
The terrestrial observer would have died long before his signal could
have reached his sidereal observer, and the latter would doubtless have
undergone a similar fate before his answer could have been received!

LUMEN. It would, in fact, be a conversation between the living and the
dead.

QUÆRENS. Pardon a last question, master--one perhaps a little
indiscreet, but a last one, for I see Venus is paling, and I feel that
your voice will soon cease to be heard. If actions are thus visible
in ethereal regions, we can then see, after our death, not only our
own actions, but also those of others--I mean those which specially
interest us?

For instance, a pair of twin souls, dwelling in perfect unity, would
like to see again for a thousand years the delightful hours passed
together on the Earth; they would rush into space with a rapidity equal
to that of light, in order to have always before their eyes the same
hours of joy.

In another sense, a husband would trace with interest the entire life
of his companion; and should some unexpected situation have presented
itself, he could at leisure examine the causes leading to the same. He
might even, if his disembodied companion resided in some neighbouring
region, call upon her to observe, in common with himself, these
retrospective incidents.

No denial could be admissible before such palpable evidence, and might
not this power exercised by these spirits give rise to some strange
revelations?

LUMEN. You are very earthly, my friend, to think that in the Heavens
memories of a material kind will be valued, and I am astonished that
you can continue to think them of importance. What should specially
strike you in all we have said during these two interviews is, that
by virtue of the laws of light, we can see events after they have
been accomplished, although they are past, and indeed when they have
entirely vanished.

QUÆRENS. Believe me, master, this truth will never more be effaced from
my memory. It is precisely this point which I find so exceedingly
marvellous.

Forget, I pray you, my last digression.

To say the truth, that which from our first interview has most
taxed and surpassed the bounds of my imagination, was to think
that the duration of the voyage of the spirit can be not only
_nil_--negative--but also _retrograde_!

[Sidenote: Time retrogressive.]

"Time retrogressive!" These two words involve a contradiction in terms.
Dare one believe it?

You start to-day for a star, and you arrive yesterday! What do I
say--yesterday? You will arrive there seventy-two years ago, even a
hundred years ago! The farther you go, the sooner you will arrive!
Terms in grammar must be remade for such extraordinary reckoning.

LUMEN. This is undeniable.

Speaking according to terrestrial style, there is not any error in this
mode of expression, since the Earth was only in 1793, &c., for the
world in which we arrived, or for the world which we reached.

[Sidenote: Apparent paradoxes anent time.]

You have, however, on your little globe certain apparent paradoxes,
which give an idea of this one.

For example, a telegram sent from Paris at noon arrives at Brest
twenty minutes before noon. But these curious aspects of particular
application are not of sufficient significance for you to dwell upon,
but rather the _revelation_ of which they are the metaphysical form and
the outward expression. Know that time is not an absolute reality, but
only a transitory measure caused by the movements of the Earth in the
Solar System.

Regarded with the eyes of the soul, and not with those of the body,
this picture of human life, not imaginary but real, such as it was,
dissimulation being impossible, touches on one side the domain of
theology, inasmuch as it explains physically a mystery hitherto
inexplicable: I mean "individual judgment" of ourselves after death.

From the point of view of the whole question, the present of a world
is no longer a momentary actuality, which disappears as soon as it
has appeared, it is no longer a phase without consistency, a gate
through which the past is precipitated unceasingly towards the future,
a mathematical plan in space. It is, on the contrary, an effective
reality, which flies away from this world with the swiftness of light,
sinking for ever in the infinite, and remaining thus an _eternal
present_.

[Sidenote: Events live for ever.]

The metaphysical reality of this vast problem is such, that one can now
conceive the omnipresence of the world throughout all its duration.
Events vanish from the place in which they were born, but they exist in
space. This successive and endless projection of all the facts enacted
upon every world takes place in the bosom of the _Infinite Being_,
whose ubiquity holds everything in an eternal permanence.

[Sidenote: Scientific explanation of ubiquity.]

The events which have been accomplished upon the surface of the Earth
since its creation are visible in space at distances proportioned to
their remoteness in the past. The whole history of the globe, and the
life of each one of its inhabitants, could thus be seen at a glance by
an eye which could embrace that space. We thus understand optically, as
it were, that the eternal Spirit, present everywhere, can see all the
past at one and the same moment.

That which is true of our Earth is true of all the worlds in space.
Thus the entire history of the whole universe can be present at once
to the universal ubiquity of the Creator. I may add that God knows all
the past, not only in consequence of this direct sight, but also by
the knowledge of each thing in the present. If a naturalist, such as
Cuvier, knows how to reconstruct, by the aid of a fragment of bone, any
species of extinct animals, surely the Author of Nature knows by the
present Earth the Earth which is past, the Planetary System, and the
Sun of the past, and all the conditions of temperatures, aggregations,
and combinations, by which the elements have produced the complex
condition of things at present in existence.

[Sidenote: Present, past, and future, all one.]

On the other hand, the future can be as completely present to God in
its actual germs, as the past is in its fruits.

Each event is bound in an indissoluble manner with the past and the
future.

The future will be as inevitably the outcome of the present, and is,
as logically deducible from it, and exists in it as exactly, as that
the past itself is therein inscribed for those who are able to decipher
it. But--and I emphasise it--the main point of this recital is to
state, to make you understand, that the past life of all worlds, and
of all beings, is always visible in space, thanks to the successive
transmission of light across and through the vast regions of the
infinite.



FOURTH CONVERSATION

ANTERIORES VITÆ


[Sidenote: New horizons.]

QUÆRENS. Two years have fled, Lumen, since the day when you granted
me that mysterious interview. During this period, unconsciously for
the inhabitants of eternal space, but most consciously for us dwellers
upon the Earth, I have often raised my thoughts to the great problems
in which you have initiated me, and to the horizons developed before
my mind's eye. Doubtless, also, since your departure from the Earth
you have made, through your observations and studies, great advance
upon a field of research more and more vast. Doubtless, also, you have
numberless marvels to declare to me, now that my intelligence is better
prepared to receive them. If I am worthy, and if I can comprehend
them, give me an account, Lumen, of the celestial voyages which have
transported your spirit into the higher spheres; of the unknown truths
which they have revealed to you; of the grandeurs which they have
opened out to you, and of the principles they have taught you in
reference to that mysterious subject, viz., the destiny of man, and
other beings.

LUMEN. I have prepared your mind, my dear old friend, to receive
marvellous impressions, such as no earthly spectacle ever has, or could
produce. It is, nevertheless, necessary that you should keep your
understanding free from all earthly prejudice. That which I am going to
unfold will astonish you, but receive it from the first with attention
as an undeniable truth, and not as a romance. This is the first
condition that I demand from my earnest pupil. When you comprehend--and
you will comprehend, if you bring to the task a mathematical mind
and an unprejudiced spirit--you will see that all the facts which
constitute our ultra-terrestrial existence are not only possible, but
also real, and moreover, are in perfect harmony with our intellectual
faculties as already manifested upon the earth.

QUÆRENS. Be assured, Lumen, that I bring to you an open mind, cleared
from all prejudice, and I am eagerly expecting to hear revelations such
as the human ear has never before heard.

[Sidenote: Space and Light.]

LUMEN. The events which will form the subject of this recital have
not only the Earth and its neighbouring stars for their subject, but
they will extend over immense fields of sidereal astronomy, and make
us acquainted with their marvels. Their explanation will be solved,
as was that of former difficulties, by the study of _light_, a magic
bridge thrown from one star to another, from the Earth to the Sun, from
the Earth to the stars--of _light_, the universal movement which fills
space, sustains worlds in their orbits, and constitutes the eternal
life of nature. Take care, then, to keep ever in mind, the fact of the
_successive transmission of light in space_.

[Sidenote: Velocity of Light.]

QUÆRENS. I know that light, whatever it may be, is the agent by which
objects are rendered visible to our eyes, that it is not transmitted
instantaneously from one point to another, but gradually, like all
motion. I know that it flies at the rate of 75,000 leagues a second,
that it runs 750,000 leagues in ten seconds, and 4,500,000 each minute.
I know that it takes more than eight minutes to cross the distance of
37 millions of leagues which separate us from the Sun. Modern astronomy
has made these facts familiar.

LUMEN. Do you perfectly realise its undulatory movement?

[Sidenote: Undulatory movement of Sound.]

QUÆRENS. I think so. I compare it to that of sound, although it be
accomplished upon a scale incomparably more vast. By undulation
following undulation, sound is diffused in the air. When the bells
peal forth their sonorous sound, this is heard at the very moment when
the clapper strikes the bell, by those living round the church, but is
not heard till one second after, by those living at a distance of 492
yards; two seconds later by those at 765 yards; and three seconds later
still, by those at a distance of 1093 yards from the church. Thus sound
only gradually reaches one village after another as far as it can go.

In the same way light passes successively from one region in space to
another at a greater distance, and travels without being extinguished
into the far-off realms of Infinity. If we could see from the Earth
an event which is being accomplished upon the Moon; for instance, if
we had sufficiently good instruments to perceive from here, a fruit
falling from a tree on the surface of the Moon, we should not see the
fact at the _moment of its occurrence_, but one second and a quarter
_after_, because light requires about that time to travel the distance
from the Moon to the Earth. Similarly, could we see an event taking
place upon a world at ten times greater distance than the Moon, we
could not witness it until 13 seconds after it had really happened. If
this world were a hundred times farther off than the Moon, we could
not see an event until 130 seconds after it had taken place; were it a
thousand times more distant, we should not see it until 1300 seconds,
or 21 minutes 40 seconds had elapsed. And so on according to the
distance.

[Sidenote: Time taken by Light in travelling from the Earth to the star
Capella.]

LUMEN. Exactly, and you are aware that the luminous ray sent to the
Earth by the star _Capella_ takes seventy-two years in reaching it. It
follows, therefore, that if we only receive the luminous ray to-day,
which left its surface seventy-two years ago, the denizens of Capella
see only that which happened on the Earth seventy-two years ago. The
Earth reflects in space the light that it gets from the Sun, and from
a distance, appears as brilliant as Venus and Jupiter appear to you,
planets lighted by the same Sun that lights the Earth. The luminous
aspect of the Earth, its photograph, journeys in space at the rate of
75,000 leagues a second, and only reaches Capella after seventy-two
years of incessant travel. I recall these elementary principles in
order that you may have them thoroughly fixed in your memory; you
will then be able to comprehend, without difficulty, the facts which
have happened to me during my ultra-terrestrial life since our last
interview.

QUÆRENS. These principles of optics are, to my mind, clearly
established. The day after your death in October 1864, when, as
you have confided to me, you found yourself rapidly transported to
Capella, you were astonished to arrive there at the moment when the
philosophical astronomers of the country were observing the Earth in
the year 1793, and witnessing one of the most significant acts of the
French Revolution. You were not less surprised to see yourself again as
a child, running about in the streets of Paris. Then, leaving Capella
and coming nearer to the Earth, you arrived at the zone where that part
of the terrestrial photography passed before your vision, which showed
you your infancy, and you saw yourself at six years of age, not in
memory, but in reality. Out of all your previous revelations, this is
the one I had the most difficulty in believing--I mean, in grasping its
meaning.

LUMEN. That which I now wish to make you comprehend is stranger still.
But it was first necessary for you to admit that one, before I could
adequately reveal to you this one.

[Sidenote: Retrospective survey of life on Earth.]

On leaving Capella and approaching the Earth, I saw again my
seventy-two years of earthly existence, my entire life such as it had
been, passed before me; for, in approaching the Earth, I passed through
successive zones of earthly scenes, where I saw spread out as in a
scroll the visible history of our planet, because in going back towards
the Earth, I was continually meeting the various zones which carried
through space the visible history of our planet, comprising that of
Paris as well as my own, for I was there. Taking thus in one day a
retrospective survey of the road which it had taken light seventy-two
years to traverse, I had reviewed my whole life in that one day, and I
perceived even my own interment.

QUÆRENS. It is as if, on returning from Capella to the Earth, you had
seen, as in a mirror, the seventy-two years of your life photographed
year by year. The one the farthest from the Earth, but which had
started the first, and was the oldest, showed events as they were in
1793; the second, which left the Earth a year later, and had not yet
reached Capella, contained those of 1794; the tenth, those of 1803;
the thirty-sixth, having reached midway on the road, gave those of
1829; the fiftieth, those of 1843; the seventy-first, those of 1864.

LUMEN. It is impossible to have better grasped these facts, which seem
so mysterious and incomprehensible at first sight. Now I can recount to
you that which happened to me upon Capella, after having thus witnessed
over again my existence on the Earth.


I

LUMEN. Whilst not very long ago (but I can no longer express that time
by earthly measurements), in a melancholy region of Capella, I was
contemplating the starry heavens at the beginning of a clear night,
occupied in noting the star which is your earthly Sun, and near it the
little azure planet, your Earth, I observed one of the scenes of my
childhood--my young mother seated in the midst of a garden, holding
an infant in her arms (my brother), having at her side a little girl
of two summers (my sister), and a boy two years older (myself). I saw
myself at that age when man is not yet conscious of his intellectual
existence, though he bears even then upon his brow the germ of future
promise. Whilst dreaming of this singular spectacle, which showed _me_
myself at the entrance of my earthly career, I felt my attention drawn
from your planet by a superior power, and directed towards another
point in the heavens, which, even at that moment, seemed to be linked
with the Earth and my career there, by some mysterious tie. I could
not turn my gaze from this new point in the the heavens, my eyes
being, as it were, chained to the spot by some magnetic power I was
unable to resist. Several times I endeavoured to withdraw my eyes, and
to fix them on the Earth I love so well; but in vain, for I was ever
re-attracted to the same unknown star.

[Sidenote: The star Gamma in Virgo.]

[Sidenote: Life on the planet of Virgo.]

This star, upon which my eyes sought instinctively to divine something,
belongs to the constellation of _Virgo_, whose form varies slightly as
seen from Capella. It is a double star, that is to say, an association
of two suns, one of a silvery whiteness, the other of a bright golden
yellow, which revolve round one another once in 175 years. This star
can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye, and its sign is the
letter γ (_Gamma_), in the constellation of Virgo. Around
each of the suns which form it there is a planetary system. My sight
was fixed upon one of the planets belonging to the golden sun. On that
planet there are animals and vegetables as upon the Earth; their forms
bear a similarity to earthly ones, although there is an essential
difference in their organisms. Their animal kingdom is analogous to
yours; they have fishes in the seas, quadrupeds in the air, in which
men can fly without wings, by reason of the extreme density of the
atmosphere. The men of this planet possess almost the same form as
those on the Earth, but no hair grows upon their heads, and they have
three large thin thumbs instead of five fingers on their hands, and
three great toes at the heel in place of soles to their feet, the
extremities of their arms and legs being supple as india-rubber. They
have, nevertheless, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, which give them
their resemblance to earthly beings. They have not two ears, one on
each side of the head, but one only, in the shape of a cone, which is
placed on the upper part of the skull like a little hat.

They live in societies and wear clothing. Thus, you see, in their
exterior they differ little from the inhabitants of the Earth.

QUÆRENS. Are there, then, in other worlds beings entirely distinct from
us, but who, notwithstanding their dissimilarities, can be compared
with us?

LUMEN. A distinction profound and unimaginable by you separates in
general the animal life of the different worlds. _These forms are the
result of elements special to each globe, and of the forces which
regulate them_: matter, density, weight, heat, light, electricity,
atmosphere, &c., differ essentially on each globe. Even in the same
system these forms differ.

[Sidenote: The system of Gamma in Virgo.]

Thus the men of Uranus and Mercury do not in any way resemble the men
of the Earth; those who see them for the first time cannot perceive
that they possess either head, members, or senses. On the contrary,
the forms of those in the planetary system of Virgo, towards which my
attention was being persistently drawn, are nearly similar to those
of the inhabitants of the Earth, whom they also resemble morally
and intellectually. Slightly inferior to ourselves, they belong to
that scale in the order of souls which immediately precedes that of
terrestrial humanity as a whole.

QUÆRENS.. Yet there is a wide divergence between human beings
themselves in all that pertains both to intellect and morals. We in
Europe differ greatly from the tribes of Abyssinia and from the savages
of the Oceanic Isles. What people do you take as a type of the highest
degree of intelligence on the Earth?

[Sidenote: The Arabs and their intelligence.]

LUMEN. The Arabs. They are capable of producing their Keplers, their
Newtons, their Galileos, their Archimedes, their Euclids, their
D'Alemberts. Besides, they sprang from those primitive hordes whose
roots reach down to the bed rock of humanity. But it is not necessary
to choose a people for a type. It is better to consider modern
civilisation as a whole. Nor is there so marked a distance as you
appear to suppose, between the brain capacity of a negro and that of
the Latin race.

However, if you insist upon a comparison, I can assure you that the
men of the planet of Virgo are almost on a par intellectually with the
Scandinavians.

[Sidenote: Vital difference between Virgo and the Earth.]

The most vital difference which exists between their world and the
Earth, _is the absence of sex_. Neither plants, animals, nor human
beings have sex. Generation is effected spontaneously, as the natural
result of the union of certain physiological conditions in some of
the fertile isles of this planet, man not being formed in the womb of
his mother as upon earth. It would be useless to explain the process,
to one whose earthly faculties prevent him comprehending the facts
of a world distinctly different from his own. It results from this
organic arrangement, that marriage in any form does not exist in this
world, and that the friendships between human beings are never mixed
with the carnal desires, which are inevitably manifested on the Earth
between people of different sexes, even when the attraction is most
pure. Probably you will remember that during the protozoic period, the
inhabitants of the Earth were all deaf, dumb, and sexless. The division
into sexes took place much later in the history of Nature both among
animals and plants.

Being attracted towards this far-off planet I attentively examined its
surface with my spiritual sight, and I was specially drawn, without
knowing the cause, to a white city, resembling from afar a region
covered with snow; but it is improbable that it was snow, as it is
unlikely that water can exist on that globe in the same physical
and chemical conditions as upon the Earth. Upon the borders of this
city an avenue led to a neighbouring wood of yellow trees. I soon
remarked three persons who seemed to be slowly sauntering towards
this wood. This little group was formed of two friends, who were in
close conversation, and of a third, who differed from both by his red
garment and the burden he bore, and who was probably their servant,
their slave, or some domestic animal. Whilst intently regarding the two
principal personages, I observed the one to the right raise his face
to the sky, as if some one had called him from a balloon, and turn his
gaze towards Capella, a star which, doubtless, he did not see, because
for him it was then daylight. Oh, my old friend, I shall never forget
the sudden surprise this sight gave me! I can still scarcely believe
that I was not dreaming....

This person on the planet of Virgo, who was looking towards me without
knowing it, was.... Can I tell you? Well, it was _myself_!

QUÆRENS. How _yourself_?

LUMEN. Yes, my very self. I recognised myself instantly, and you can
judge of my surprise!

QUÆRENS. Certainly I can. I cannot comprehend it at all.

[Sidenote: Anterior existence]

LUMEN. The fact is, the situation was so entirely novel that it demands
explanation. It was in truth myself, and I was not long in finding
out, not only that it was my former face and figure, but also that the
person walking by my side was my dear Kathleen, an intimate friend,
and the companion of my studies upon that planet. My gaze followed
them as far as the Yellow Wood, across picturesque valleys, beneath
golden cupolas, under trees covered with large orange-tinted branches,
and through hedges of elms with amber-coloured leaves. A purling brook
babbled on the fine sand, and we seated ourselves on its banks. I
recall sweet hours we have passed together, the happy years which have
glided away in this far-off country, the fraternal confidences, and
the impressions we shared, in the midst of woodland scenes, of silent
plains, of mist-covered hills, and of little lakes which smilingly
reflected the heavens. With aspirations raised towards all that was
grand and sacred in nature, we adored God in His works. With what joy
I saw again this phase of my previous existence, and riveted anew the
golden chain, whose links life on Earth had broken!

In truth, dear Quærens, it was my very self who then was living on that
planet of Virgo. I really saw myself, and I could follow in sequence
the events of my life and the happiest moments of that existence, now
so far remote.

Besides, if I had had any doubt of my identity, the uncertainty would
have ceased during my observation, for whilst pondering upon the
matter, I saw Berthor--my brother during that existence--come out of
the wood, approach us, and join in our conversation by the side of the
murmuring brook.

QUÆRENS. Master, I fail still to comprehend how you could really see
yourself on that planet of Virgo. Were you then gifted with ubiquity?

Could you, like Francis of Assisi or Apollonius of Tyana, be in two
places at the same time?

[Sidenote: Scientific explanation of anterior life on Virgo.]

LUMEN. Certainly not. But in examining the astronomical co-ordinates of
the Sun Gamma in Virgo, and knowing its parallax as seen from Capella,
I came to the conclusion that the light from this Sun could not employ
less than 172 years in traversing the distance which separates it from
Capella.

I was then actually receiving the luminous ray which left that world
172 years before. And it so happens that at that epoch I was absolutely
living upon the planet of which we speak, and that I was then in my
twentieth year. In verifying these periods, and in comparing the
different planetary styles, I found, in fact, that I was born on the
world of Virgo in the year 45904 (which corresponds to the year
1677 of the Christian era on Earth), and that I died--through an
accident--in the year 45913, which corresponds to the year 1767. Each
year of this planet equals ten of yours. When I saw myself, as I have
just told you, I appeared to be about twenty years of age according to
earthly reckoning, but following the way of reckoning on that planet,
I was only two years old. There the age of fifteen years is often
reached, which is considered the limit of life on that globe, and is
equivalent to 150 years on the Earth.

[Sidenote: Light takes 172 years to travel from Virgo to Capella.]

The luminous ray, or, to speak more accurately, the aspect or
photograph of the world of Virgo, takes 172 earthly years to traverse
the immense space which separates it from Capella; consequently, upon
finding myself upon this last star, I was receiving at that very moment
the image which left the constellation of Virgo 172 years previously.
And although things have changed greatly, though generations have
followed generations, though I died there myself, and have had time to
be born again and live seventy-two years on the Earth, nevertheless
light had taken all this time to cross the space which separates Virgo
from Capella, and was bringing afresh to me impressions of events long
passed away.

QUÆRENS. This duration of the passage of light being proved, I have not
any objection to urge on this point, but I frankly own that to credit
an experience of such amazing singularity, taxes my imagination beyond
its just limits.

[Sidenote: The history of each world is contained in the rays of light.]

LUMEN. This is not any imagination, my old friend. It is a reality,
eternal and sacred, holding its fixed place in the universal plan of
creation. The light of every star, direct or reflected--say otherwise,
the aspect of each Sun, and of each planet--is diffused in space,
according to a rate of rapidity already known to you, and the luminous
ray contains in itself all that is visible. As nothing can be lost,
the history of each world is contained in the light which incessantly
emanates from it in successive waves, eternally travelling into
infinite space without any possibility of its being annihilated. True,
the terrestrial eye cannot read it; but there are eyes immeasurably
superior to your earthly ones.

[Sidenote: Light is vibrations of ether; Sight, perceptions of thought.]

I make use of the terms _sight_ and _light_, in these conversations,
in order that you may comprehend me; but, as I told you in a previous
communication, speaking absolutely, there is not such a thing as light,
only vibrations of ether; neither is there any sight, only perceptions
of the mind. Moreover, even upon the Earth, when you examine the nature
of a star with a telescope, or better still with a spectroscope, you
well know it is not its actual state you have before your eyes, but
its past state, transmitted to you by a ray of light which left it,
perhaps, ten thousand years ago. You know, besides, that a certain
number of stars, of which your astronomers on the Earth are seeking
to determine the physical and numerical properties, and which shine
brilliantly over your heads, have long ago ceased even to exist--may
indeed have ceased to exist since the beginning of your world.

QUÆRENS. We know this is so. Thus you have seen, unrolled before your
eyes, your existence previous to the last one, 172 years after it had
flown by.

LUMEN. Say rather one phase of this existence; but I could have been
able, and could now indeed review my entire life by going closer to
that planet, as I have already done for my terrestrial existence.

Quærens. So, through the medium of light, you have really seen again
your last two incarnations?

LUMEN. Precisely; and what is more, I have seen them, and continue to
see them, _simultaneously_, side by side as it were of one another.

QUÆRENS. You see them again both at the _same time_?

LUMEN. This fact is easily explained. The light from the Earth takes
seventy-two years to reach Capella. The light from the planet of Virgo,
being once and a half farther off than Capella, takes once and a half
longer time to travel, which would make it about 172 years. As I lived
seventy-two years upon the Earth, and one hundred years before that
upon the other planet, these two periods reach me at precisely _the
same time_ upon Capella. Thus by simply looking at these two worlds, I
have before me my last two existences, which unroll themselves as if I
were not here to see them, and without my being able to change any of
the acts that I see myself upon the point of accomplishing, either upon
the one or the other, since those acts, although present and future to
my actual observation, are in reality past.

QUÆRENS. This is indeed a strange experience!

LUMEN. But what struck me most in this unexpected observation of two of
my previous existences in two different worlds, thus unrolled before
me, was the odd resemblance between these two lives. I found that I had
almost the same tastes in the one as in the other, the same passions,
the same errors. Nothing criminal, nothing saintly in either.

[Sidenote: Explanation of inherent tastes.]

Furthermore (extraordinary coincidence), I have witnessed scenes in
the first analogous to those I have seen upon the Earth. This explains
the innate tastes I brought into the terrestrial world, for the poetry
of the North, the poems of Ossian, the dreamy landscape of Ireland,
for its mountains and its Aurora Borealis. For Scotland, Scandinavia,
Sweden, Norway with its fiords, Spitzbergen with its solitudes--all
alike attracted me. Old towers in ruins, rocks and wild ravines,
sombre pines soughing with the northern winds--all these appealed
to me on the Earth, and seemed to have some mysterious link with my
deepest thoughts. When I saw Ireland for the first time, I felt as
if I had lived there before. When for the first time I ascended the
Rigi and the Finsteraarhorn, and saw the superb sunrise over the snowy
summits of the Alps, it seemed as if I had previously seen all this.
The spectre of the Brocken was not new, the reason being that I had
in a former life inhabited similar regions on the planet of Virgo.
The same life, the same actions, the same circumstances, the same
conditions--analogies, analogies! Almost all that I have seen, done,
thought on the Earth, I had already seen, done, thought a hundred years
before upon that anterior world. I had always suspected it! Taking it
altogether, however, my terrestrial life as a whole was superior to the
one preceding it. Each child in coming into the world brings with him
different faculties, special predispositions, innate dissimilarities,
which no one denies, and can only be explained to the philosophical
mind,--or in view of eternal Justice,--by the supposition of works
previously accomplished by free souls.

But though my terrestrial life was superior to its anterior one,
evincing, as it did, a more accurate and profound knowledge of the
system of the World, it yet lacked, I am bound to state, the possession
of certain moral and physical qualities which belonged to me in my
former existence.

On the other hand, I had faculties on that World which I had not had
upon the Earth. I may cite one specially, that of flying.

[Sidenote: Flying without wings.]

I see that on the planet of Virgo I could fly, just as easily as walk,
and this without either aeronautic apparatus or wings, by simply
stretching my arms and legs, as if I were swimming in the water. On
closely examining the mode of locomotion in use on that planet, I see
clearly that I have (or rather had) neither wings, balloon, nor any
kind of mechanical appliance. At a given moment I spring from the
ground by a vigorous leap, and, spreading out my arms, sail in the air
without fatigue. At other times, descending a steep mountain on foot, I
spring out into space, with feet pressed together, and float at will,
with a slow and oblique motion, to any point I wish, standing upright
as soon as my feet touch the ground.

[Sidenote: Dreams bring reminiscences of a former existence.]

Then again, when I wish to do so, I fly slowly in the manner of a
dove which describes a curve in returning to its dovecot. All this I
distinctly see myself doing in this world. Not once, but a hundred,
a thousand times have I thus felt myself transported in my dreams
on Earth softly, naturally, and without apparatus. How can such
impossibilities so often present themselves to us in our dreams?
Nothing can explain them, for nothing analogous exists upon this
earthly globe. Obeying instinctively this innate tendency, I have
frequently soared into the atmosphere suspended from the car of a
balloon, but the sensation is not the same; _one does not feel one's
self_ flying; on the contrary, one has the feeling of being stationary.

I now have the key to my dreams. During the slumber of my terrestrial
senses my soul had reminiscences of its anterior existence.

QUÆRENS. But I also often feel, and see myself flying in dreams in
precisely the way you describe, without wings or machinery, and simply
by an effort of will. Is this, then, a proof that I also have lived
upon the planet of Virgo?

LUMEN. I do not know. If you had abnormal sight, or instruments,
or eyes sufficiently piercing, you could see this planet from your
globe, examine its surface, and if, perchance, you had existed there
when it parted with the luminous rays which have actually reached the
Earth, you might perhaps find yourself again there. But your eyes are
too feeble to make a like research. Besides, it does not follow that
because you have been able to fly, that therefore you have lived in
that world. There are a considerable number of worlds where flying
is the normal condition, and where all the human race possess this
faculty. In reality, there are but few planets where the living
creatures crawl as upon the Earth.

[Sidenote: Plurality of existences.]

QUÆRENS. The conclusion resulting then from your experience is, that
you have had a life anterior to that upon the Earth. Do you, then,
believe in a plurality of existences for the soul?

LUMEN. You forget that you speak to a disembodied spirit. I ought to
be well fitted to give such evidence, having before me both my earthly
life and my anterior life upon the planet of Virgo. Besides, I can
recall many other existences.

QUÆRENS. Ah! that is precisely what I lack in order to possess a
similar conviction. I can recall absolutely nothing that preceded my
birth into this world.

[Sidenote: The soul's memory.]

LUMEN. You are yet in the flesh; you must wait for freedom from earthly
fetters before you can recall your spiritual life. The soul has
only full remembrance, full possession of itself in its normal, its
celestial life; that is to say, between its incarnations. It then sees
not only its life on the Earth, but all its anterior lives.

How could a soul, enveloped in the gross materialities of the flesh,
and fixed there for a transitory work, recall its spiritual life? Would
not such a remembrance even prove hurtful? What trammels would not be
put upon the soul's liberty of action, could it see its life from the
beginning to the end?

Where would be the merit of striving if one's destiny could be foreseen?

Souls incarnated upon the Earth have not yet attained to a sufficiently
elevated state of advancement, for the memory of their anterior life to
be of use to them.

[Sidenote: Man is oblivious of anterior impressions, as in the
butterfly.]

The permanence of the anterior impressions of the soul is not
manifested in this world of passage. The caterpillar does not remember
its rudimentary existence in the egg. The sleeping chrysalis cannot
recall the days it spent in work when it crawled upon the herbage. The
butterfly, which flits from flower to flower, has not any memory of the
time when its cocoon dreamed, as it hung suspended from its web; nor
of the twilight, when its larvæ trailed from plant to plant; nor of
the night, when it was buried like a nut in its shell. This does not
alter the fact that the egg, the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the
butterfly, are one and the same being.

In certain cases, even of terrestrial life, you have remarkable
examples of forgetfulness, such as that of somnambulism, either natural
or artificial, and also in certain psychical conditions of which modern
science makes a study. Hence it is not surprising that during one
existence we should not remember our anterior ones. Uranic life and
planetary life represent two states, free and distinct the one from the
other.

QUÆRENS. Still, master, if we had already lived a life before this
one, something of it would remain with us, otherwise these anterior
existences might as well never have been.

[Sidenote: Heredity.]

[Sidenote: Dissimilarities.]

_Lumen._ Do you, then, call it nothing to be born on the Earth with
innate tendencies? Such a thing as intellectual heredity does not
exist. Take two children of the same parentage, receiving identically
the same education, surrounded by the same care, and having in every
respect similar environments. Now examine each of them. Are they equal?
Not in any way; equality of souls does not exist. The one is born with
pacific instincts and great intelligence. He will be good, learned,
wise, illustrious perchance, amid the thinkers of his age. The other
one brings with him a domineering, envious perhaps, or even a brutal
instinct. His career defines and accentuates itself as each year
passes, and will lead him eventually to high rank in military life, and
will give him the honour (little to be coveted, though still admired
upon the Earth) which is attached to the title of an official assassin.

Whether feebly or strongly pronounced, this dissimilarity of character,
which depends neither upon family, nor upon race, nor upon education,
nor upon material conditions, is manifest in every man. Reflect upon
this at your leisure; you will arrive at the conviction that it is
absolutely inexplicable, and can only be accounted for by belief in an
anterior life of the soul.

[Sidenote: Creation of the soul.]

_Quærens._ Have not most philosophers and theologians taught that the
soul and the body are created at one and the same time?

_Lumen._ And which, pray, is the precise moment of its creation? Is
it at the moment of birth? Legislation, enlightened by anatomical
physiology, knows that a child lives before being delivered from its
uterine prison, therefore the destruction of an embryo of eight months
is regarded as murder. At what period do you then suppose, that the
soul appears in the fluid brain of the foetus or of the embryo?

_Quærens._ It was thought in olden times that the real spiritual
quickening of the human being took place during the sixth week of
gestation, but the modern belief is that it occurs at the moment of
conception.

_Lumen._ Oh, bitter mockery! In accordance with this view you would
have the eternal designs of the Creator dependent in their execution
upon capricious desires, upon the intermittent flames of two amorous
hearts! You would dare to admit that our immortal being is created by
the physical contact of two human beings! You would be disposed to
believe that the Divine Head which governs the worlds, is influenced by
intrigue, by passion, even by crime! You would think that the number of
souls depends upon the number of flowers impregnated by the touch of
the sweet pollen dust borne to them on golden wings?

Is not such a doctrine, such a supposition, an outrage upon the Divine
dignity and the spiritual grandeur of the soul itself? And would it
not, besides, be the complete materialisation of our intellectual
faculties?

_Quærens._ And yet----

_Lumen._ Yes; that seems so to you, because upon your planet no soul
can incarnate itself otherwise than in a human embryo. It is a law of
life on the Earth. But you must look through the veil. The soul is not
an effect. The body serves it only as its garment.

QUÆRENS. I admit that it would indeed be singular that an event of such
dire importance as the _creation_ of an immortal soul should spring
from a carnal cause, should be the result of casual unions, more or
less legitimate. Also, I agree with you that organic causes do not
explain the different degrees of capacity with which mankind is born
into this world.

But I ask, of what use would be these various existences if, on
beginning a new life, we retain no remembrance of those that precede
it? Also, if it is really desirable to have in prospect a journey
without end through endless worlds, and an eternal transmigration?
For at last there must be an end to it all, and, after many æons of
voyages, we must some day finish our existence and seek repose. Would
it not be as well to do so after one existence only?

[Sidenote: The unknown.]

LUMEN. O men! You do not comprehend either time or space. Do you not
know that outside the movement of the stars time no longer exists,
and that eternity is no longer measured? Do you not know that in the
infinite extent of the sidereal universe space is but a vain word, no
longer measurable? You ignore all; principles, causes, all escape you:
atoms upon a movable atom, you have not any exact appreciation of the
universe; and yet, despite ignorance so dense, and comprehension so
obscure, you would attempt to judge all, to envelop all, to seize all!
But it would be easier to put the ocean into a nutshell than it would
be to make you, with your terrestrial brain, understand the law of
destiny.

[Sidenote: Nothing created, nothing annihilated.]

Can you not, then, by making a legitimate use of the faculty of
induction which has been given you, gather the direct consequences
resulting from observation supported by reason? Observation, sustained
by proof, shows conclusively that all are not equal on coming into this
world; that the past is not unlike the future; and that the eternity
which is before us is equally behind us; that nothing is created in
nature, and that nothing is annihilated; that nature includes all
things existing, and that God, spirit, law, number, are no more outside
nature than matter, weight, motion; that moral truth, justice, wisdom,
virtue, exist in the progress of the world as surely as its physical
reality; that justice decrees equity in the distribution of its
destinies; that our destinies are not accomplished upon this earthly
planet; that the empyrean heaven does not exist, and that the Earth is
a star in the sky; that other inhabited planets soar with ours in the
vast expanse; opening out to the wings of the soul an inexhaustible
field of vision, and that the infinite in the universe corresponds, in
the material creation, with the eternity of our intelligence in the
spiritual creation.

[Sidenote: Unknown forces in nature.]

[Sidenote: Affinities.]

Are not certainties such as these, followed by the inductions with
which they inspire us, sufficient to liberate your mind from ancient
prejudices, and to open out, to an enlightened judgment, a panorama
worthy of the vague yet profound desires of our souls? I could
illustrate this general sketch by examples and details which would
surprise you still more. Let it suffice for me to add that there are in
nature other forces than those you know, which, both in essence and in
mode of action, differ from electricity, attraction, light, &c. Now,
among these natural and unknown forces there is one in particular,
the study of which will ultimately lead to singular discoveries in
elucidating the problems of the soul and of life. This is the psychic
force. This invisible fluidic force establishes a mysterious bond,
unknown to themselves, between living beings, and already in many
cases you have been able to recognise its existence. Take the case of
two beings _in love_ (as the saying is). It seems impossible for them
to live apart. Should circumstances lead to their being separated, our
two lovers become absent-minded, and their souls as it were leave their
bodies, and span any distance which prevents them re-uniting with one
another. The thoughts of the one are shared by the other, and they live
together despite their separation.

Should any misfortune touch one, the other becomes immediately
conscious of it; and such separations have been known to end in death.
How many facts have been stated by trustworthy witnesses of the sudden
apparition of a person to an intimate friend, of a wife to a husband,
of a mother to a son, and _vice versâ_, just at the moment of death,
even though many leagues might separate them! The most captious critic
cannot in these days deny facts thus circumstantially proved. Twin
children living ten leagues apart, and under very different conditions,
are stricken at the same time with the same malady, or if one is
excessively fatigued, the other feels the same without apparently any
assignable cause. And so on. These facts prove that ties of sympathy
exist between souls and even between bodies, and give room for the
repeated reflection, that we are far from knowing all the forces
operating in nature.

If I communicate these views to you, my friend, it is chiefly to show
that you can not only have a foretaste of truth before death, but
also that earthly existence is not so entirely deprived of light, as
to prevent one's reason recognising the chief characteristics of the
moral world. Besides, all these truths will be emphasised by my further
narration, when you learn that it is not only the previous existence
before my last one that I have seen again, thanks to the slowness of
light, but also my ante-penultimate planetary life, inclusive of more
than ten existences preceding that one in which we came to know each
other upon this Earth.


II

[Sidenote: Plurality of lives.]

QUÆRENS. Reflection and study had already inclined me, Lumen, to
believe in the plurality of the existences of the soul. Yet this
doctrine lacks proofs, logical, moral, and even physical, as numerous
and as weighty as are those in favour of the plurality of the inhabited
worlds. I own that until now I had grave doubts on the subject. Modern
optics and marvellous calculations, which enable us to touch, as it
were, the other worlds, show us their years, their seasons, their days,
and make us acquainted with the varieties of nature living on their
surface. All these elements have enabled contemporaneous astronomy to
establish the fact of human existence in the other worlds on a strong
and imperishable foundation. But I repeat that it is not so with
palingenesis, though I am strongly inclined towards the doctrine of
the transmigration of souls in the actual heaven, since this is the
only way by which we can gain an idea of eternal life. My desires,
however, need to be sustained by the help of a light, and inspired by a
confidence I do not yet possess.

LUMEN. It is precisely this light which we have under consideration,
and will be brought out by this interview.

I have, I own, an advantage over you, since I speak _de visu_, and
that I strictly limit myself to interpret with exactitude the events
with which my spiritual life is actually woven. But since you can see
the possibility and probability of the scientific explanation of my
statement, you cannot fail as you listen to increase your light and
augment your knowledge.

QUÆRENS. It is for this cause chiefly that I am always eager to hear
you.

LUMEN. Light, you understand, is the means of giving to the
disincarnated soul _a direct vision_ of its planetary existences.

[Sidenote: Constellations.]

After having reviewed my earthly existence, I saw once more my life
previous to my last one, upon one of the planets of Gamma in Virgo,
light bringing to me the former only after 72 years, and the latter
after 172 years. I see myself at present from Capella as I was upon the
earth 72 years ago, and as I was upon Virgo 172 years ago. Thus two
existences, both _past and successive_, are here shown me as _present
and simultaneous_, by virtue of the laws of light which transmit them
to me.

[Sidenote: Andromeda.]

[Sidenote: Effects of perspective.]

Nearly five hundred years ago, I lived upon a world whose astronomical
position as seen from the earth is precisely that of the left breast
of Andromeda. Assuredly the inhabitants of that world do not suspect
that the denizens of a little planet in space have joined the stars
by fictitious lines, tracing figures of men, women, animals, and
divers objects, incorporating all the stars in figures more or less
original, in order to give them a name. It would greatly astonish
some of these planetary people if they were told, that upon the
Earth certain stars bear the names of Heart-of-the-Scorpion (what a
heart!), Head-of-the-Dog, Tail-of-the-Great-Bear, Eye-of-the-Bull,
Neck-of-the-Dragon, Brow-of-Capricorn. You are, of course, aware that
neither the constellations drawn upon the celestial globe, nor the
position of the stars upon that globe, are either real or absolute, but
are only the result of the position of the Earth in space, and thus are
simply a question of _perspective_. Go to the top of a mountain and
fix upon a map the respective positions of all the summits surrounding
you in that circular panorama, its hills, its valleys, its villages,
its lakes; a map so constructed could only serve for the place from
whence it was drawn. Now transport yourself ten miles farther; the same
summits are visible, but their respective positions in regard to each
other are different, resulting from the change in perspective. The
panorama of the Alps and of the Oberland, as seen from Lucerne, and
Pilatus does not in the least resemble that seen from the Fulkhorn,
or from the Schynige Platte above Interlaken. Yet these are the same
summits and the same lakes. It is exactly so with the stars. The same
aspect is seen both from the star Delta in Andromeda and from the
Earth; but there is not a constellation that can be recognised, because
all the celestial perspectives have changed; stars of the first
magnitude have become of the second and of the third; whilst others, of
lesser magnitudes, seen nearer, shine with increased brilliancy; and,
above all, the respective situation of the stars as regards one another
has completely changed in consequence of the different position of that
star and of the Earth.

QUÆRENS. Therefore the appearance of the constellation which one has so
long believed to be ineffaceably traced upon the vaulted sky is only
due to perspective. In changing our position we change our perspective,
and our sky is no longer the same. But, then, ought we not to have a
change of celestial perspective every six months, since during this
interval the Earth has greatly altered its position, having removed
to a distance of seventy-four millions of leagues from the place it
formerly occupied?

LUMEN. This objection proves that you have perfectly comprehended the
principle of the deformation of the constellations as one moves in any
direction in space.

It would be, as you suppose, if the Earth's orbit were of a dimension
sufficiently vast for the two opposite points of this orbit to change
the view of this celestial scenery.

QUÆRENS. Seventy-four millions of leagues--

LUMEN. Are as nothing in the order of celestial distances, and can
no more affect the perspectives of the stars, than taking a step in
the cupola of the Pantheon would change the apparent position of the
buildings in Paris to the eye of the observer.

[Sidenote: The charts of the Middle Ages.]

QUÆRENS. Certain charts of the Middle Ages represent the Zodiac as
an arch in the heavens, and place some of the constellations, such
as Andromeda, the Lyre, Cassiopea, and the Eagle, in the same region
as the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Thrones. That, therefore, was
simply fancy, since constellations have no real existence, but are
simply appearances due to perspective.

LUMEN. Certainly the old heaven of theology has no legitimate place
to-day, and simple common sense shows that it does not exist. Two
truths cannot oppose one another; it is a necessity that the spiritual
heaven should accord with the physical heaven, and the object of my
various conversations is the demonstration of this truth. Upon the
world of Andromeda of which I speak, there is nothing resembling
the constellation of Andromeda. Seen from the Earth, those stars
which appear joined and have served on the celestial landscape to
distinguish the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopea, are in reality
spread out in space at all sorts of distances, and in every direction.
One cannot find either there or elsewhere the least vestige of the
tracings of terrestrial mythology.

[Sidenote: The poetry of the heavens lost.]

QUÆRENS. All its poetry is lost.... I shall feel, however, a certain
satisfaction in believing that for a part of my life I have rested
on the bosom of Andromeda. It is a pleasant fancy. There is in it a
mythological perfume and a comforting sensation. I should like to be
transported there without fear of the monster, and without solicitude
for the young Perseus bearing the head of the Medusa, and mounted on
his famous Pegasus. But now, thanks to the scalpel of science, there is
no longer an unveiled princess bound to a rock on the sea-shore, nor a
virgin holding an ear of golden corn, nor Orion pursuing the Pleiades;
Venus has vanished from our evening sky, and old Saturn has let fall
his scythe in the night. Science has caused these ancient myths to
disappear! I regret its progress.

[Sidenote: The facts of astronomy grander than its fancies.]

LUMEN. Do you, then, prefer illusion to reality? Do you not know
that truth is immeasurably more beautiful, grander, and infinitely
more marvellous than error, however that may be embellished? What
can be comparable in all the mythologies past and present, to the
rapt scientific contemplation of celestial grandeurs and the sublime
movements of nature? What impression can strike the soul more
profoundly than _the fact_ of the expanse crowded with worlds, and the
immensity of the sidereal systems? What voice is more eloquent than
the silence of a star-lit night? What wild flight of imagination could
conceive an image surpassing that, of the interstellar voyage of light,
stamping with the seal of eternity the transitory events of the life of
each world?

Throw off, then, my friend, your old errors and become worthy of the
majesty of science. Listen to what follows:--

[Sidenote: Description of the world of Andromeda.]

[Sidenote: The elements.]

By reason of the time light employs in coming from the system δ of
Andromeda to Capella, I have seen again, in this year of 1869, my
ante-penultimate existence, already ended five hundred years ago.
That world is very singular according to our ideas. It has only one
kingdom on its surface, and that the animal kingdom. The vegetable
kingdom does not exist there. But that aδnimal kingdom is very different
from ours, and of a superior kind, although it is endowed with five
senses similar to those on the Earth. It is a world without sleep and
without fixity. It is entirely enveloped in a rose-coloured ocean,
less dense than terrestrial water, and more dense than our atmosphere.
It is a substance holding a middle place as a fluid, between air and
water. Terrestrial chemistry does not produce any similar substance,
therefore it would be in vain to try and represent it to you. Carbolic
acid gas that can be held invisible at the bottom of a glass, and can
be poured out like water, will give you the nearest idea of it. This
is due to a fixed quantity of heat and electricity held in permanence
upon that globe. You are aware that the composition of all things upon
the Earth, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal, is in three states,
solid, liquid, and gaseous, and that the sole cause of these different
conditions is the heat radiated from the Sun upon the surface of the
Earth. The interior heat of the globe has now hardly any appreciable
effect upon its surface.

[Sidenote: Degree of heat fixes the condition of matter.]

[Sidenote: Effect of the Earth flying off at a tangent.]

Less solar heat would liquefy gases and solidify liquids. Greater heat
would dissolve solids and evaporate liquids. A more or less quantity
of heat would produce liquid air (yes, liquid air), and marble would
be turned into gas. If by any cause whatever the earthly planet were
one day to fly off from its orbit at a tangent, and rush away into the
glacial obscurity of space, you would see all the water on the Earth
become solid, and gases in their turn become liquids; then as to solids
themselves ... you would see! No, you could not see this by remaining
upon the Earth, but you could from the depths of space witness this
curious spectacle, should your globe ever indulge in the freak of
escaping from its orbit at a tangent. And note further, that should
this colossal cold ever take place suddenly, all creatures would find
themselves immediately frozen on the spot, and the globe would carry
into space the singular panorama of the whole human race, and every
animal immovably congealed for all eternity, in the various attitudes
assumed by each individual and each creature, at the moment of the
catastrophe.

[Sidenote: Worlds in a glacial state. Life arrested.]

[Sidenote: The awakening out of glacial repose.]

There are worlds now in this state. They are eccentric worlds,
the life of whose inhabitants has been insensibly arrested by the
rapid flight of their planet away from the Sun, and they have been
transformed into millions of statues. Most of them are lying down
asleep, seeing that this profound change of temperature takes many
days in its accomplishment. There they are by millions, pell-mell,
dead, or, to be more accurate, sunk in a complete lethargy. The cold
preserves them. Three or four thousand years later, when the planet
returns from its dark and frozen aphelion to its brilliant perihelion,
towards the sun--whose fertilising heat caressing its surface with
welcoming rays will rapidly increase--and when it has reached the
degree which betokens the normal temperature of these beings, they will
be resuscitated at the age at which they were when overtaken by sleep;
they will take up their affairs from the moment of their interruption
(long interruption indeed!) without any consciousness that they had
slept a dreamless sleep for so many ages. One may see some continuing
a game, or finishing a phrase whose first words have been uttered four
thousand years ago. All this is perfectly simple, for we have seen that
time does not in reality exist. This, on a large scale, is exactly
what passes on a small one on the Earth when you revive infusoria,
which take a fresh lease of life under the rain, after several years of
apparent death.

[Sidenote: World of Andromeda.]

But to return to our world of Andromeda; the rose-coloured and
quasi-liquid atmosphere, surrounding it entirely as an ocean without
islands, is the abode of living beings, who are perpetually floating in
the depths of that ocean which none have ever sounded: from their birth
to their death they have not one moment's repose. Incessant activity is
the condition of their existence. Should they become stationary they
would perish. In order to breathe, that is to say, to enable this fluid
element to penetrate to their bosom, they are constrained to keep their
tentacles in unceasing motion, and their lungs (I use this word the
better to be understood) constantly open.

[Sidenote: Process of nourishment.]

The external form of this human race resembles that of the sirens
of antiquity, but is less elegant, and their organism approaches
that of the seal. Do you see the essential difference between their
constitution and that of terrestrial man? It is that _on the Earth we
breathe without being conscious of the act_, and obtain oxygen without
exertion, not being compelled with difficulty to convert venous into
arterial blood by the absorption of oxygen. Upon this other world, on
the contrary, this nourishment _is only obtained with labour_ and at
the price of incessant effort.

QUÆRENS. Then this world is inferior to ours in the scale of progress?

LUMEN. Without any doubt, seeing that I inhabited it before coming
upon the Earth. But do not think that the Earth is much superior by
reason of our being able to breathe whilst we are asleep. Doubtless, it
is a great advantage to be furnished with a pneumatic mechanism, which
opens involuntarily every time that our organism needs the least breath
of air, and which acts automatically and unceasingly night and day. But
man does not live on air alone; his earthly organism requires to be
nourished with something more solid, and this solid something does not
come to him involuntarily as does air.

[Sidenote: Labour of life on the Earth.]

What is the result? Look for a moment at the Earth. See what sorrow,
what desolation! What a world of misery and brutality! Multitudes bowed
down with bent backs to the soil, which they dig with toil and pain,
that they may gain their daily bread! All these heads bent down to the
grossness of matter, in place of being raised up to the contemplation
of nature! All these efforts and these labours, bringing in their wake
feebleness and disease! All this traffic to amass a little gold at the
expense of others! Man taking advantage of his brother man! Castes,
aristocracies, robbery and ruin, ambitions, thrones, wars! In a word,
_personal interests_, always selfish, often sordid, and the reign of
matter over mind. Such is the normal state of the Earth, a condition
forced by the law which rules over your bodies, compelling you to kill
in order to live, and to prefer the possession of material goods that
cannot be earned beyond the grave, to the possession of intellectual
gifts, which the soul can keep as a rich and inalienable possession.

QUÆRENS. You speak, master, as if you thought it were possible to live
without eating.

LUMEN. Do you, then, believe that the beings of every world in space
are subject to an operation so ridiculous as this? Happily, in many of
the worlds, the spirit is not subjected to such ignominy.

[Sidenote: Atmospheric nutrition.]

It is not so difficult as you may suppose, on first thoughts, to
believe in the possibility of atmospheric nutriment. The maintenance of
life among man and the animals depends upon two causes, respiration and
nutrition. The first is found naturally in the atmosphere; the second
is derived from nourishment. Nutrition produces blood; from the blood
come the tissues, the muscles, the bones, the cartilages, the flesh,
the brain, the nerves, in a word, the organic constituents of the
body. The oxygen we breathe can itself be considered as a nutritive
substance, inasmuch as it combines with the principal aliments absorbed
by the stomach, and completes the formation of the blood and the
development of the tissues.

[Sidenote: The process of alimentation.]

Now, to imagine nutrition passing entirely into the domain of the
atmosphere, it is only necessary to observe that, as a whole, a
complete aliment is made up of albumen, of sugar, of fat, and of
salt, and to imagine also that an atmospheric fluid, in place of
being composed of azote and of oxygen only, should be formed of these
different substances in a gaseous state. These aliments are found in
the solids that you absorb; digestion is the function which separates
them, and which causes them to assimilate with the organs to which they
belong. When, for example, you eat a morsel of bread, you introduce
into your stomach a grain of starch, a substance insoluble in water,
and which is not found in the blood. The saliva, and the pancreatic
juice, transform the insoluble starch into soluble sugar. The bile,
the pancreatic juice, and the intestinal secretions, change the sugar
into fat. Both sugar and fat are present in the blood, and it is by
the processes of alimentation that substances are separated and
assimilated in your body.

It astonishes you, my friend, that after living five years--according
to terrestrial reckoning--in the celestial world, I can remember all
these material terms, and condescend to make use of them. But the
memories that I have brought from the Earth are still vivid, and as we
speak on this occasion on a question of organic physiology, I do not
feel ashamed of calling things by their own names.

If, then, we suppose that in place of being combined or mixed in the
constitution of bodies, solid or liquid, these aliments could be found
in a gaseous state in the composition of the atmosphere, we should
create by this means nutritive atmospheres, which would dispense with
digestion and its attendant coarse and humiliating functions.

That which man is capable of imagining in the restricted sphere of his
observation, Nature has put in practice in more than one spot of the
universe.

Besides, I can assure you that when one has ceased to be accustomed
to this material process of the introduction of nourishment into the
digestive tube, one cannot avoid being impressed with its coarseness.
This was the reflection I made a few days ago whilst observing one of
the richest countries on your planet. I was struck by the suave and
angelic beauty of a maiden, reclining in a gondola as it floated gently
on the blue waters of the Bosphorus before Constantinople. Red velvet
cushions, embroidered with brilliant silks, whose heavy tassels of gold
touched the water, formed the divan of this young Circassian. Before
her knelt a little black slave playing upon some stringed instrument.
Her form was so juvenile and graceful, her bended arm so elegant, her
eyes so pure and innocent, her pensive brow so calm under the light of
heaven, that for an instant I was captivated by a kind of retrospective
admiration for this masterpiece of living nature.

Well! while this pure vision of awakening youth, sweet as a flower
opening its petals to the sun's rays, held me in a kind of passing
enchantment, the bark reached the landing-stage, and the maiden,
leaning on a slave, seated herself on a couch near a well-spread table,
around which others had already gathered. She began to eat! Yes! for
near an hour _she was eating_!

I could scarcely tolerate the earthly recollections recalled by this
ridiculous spectacle. To see a being like that partaking of food
through the mouth, and making her charming body the receptacle for I
do not know what substances! What vulgarity! Masticating morsels of
some kind of animal which her pearly teeth did not disdain to chew,
and again fragments of another animal which her virginal lips opened
without hesitation to receive and swallow! What a diet: a medley of
ingredients drawn from cattle, or from deer, which have lived in the
mire and afterwards been slaughtered. Horror! I turned away with
sadness from this strange contrast, and directed my gaze to the system
of Saturn, where humanity need not stoop to such necessities.

[Sidenote: Victims to the struggle for existence.]

The floating beings belonging to the world of Andromeda, where my
antepenultimate existence was passed, are submitted to a still more
degrading manner of sustaining life than are the inhabitants of the
Earth. They have not the advantage of finding three parts of their
nutriment supplied by the air, as is the case on your globe: they
must work to obtain what may be called their oxygen, and, without
ceasing, they are condemned to use their lungs in order to prepare the
nutritious air they need, without sleeping, and without ever feeling
satisfied, because, despite their incessant toil, they cannot absorb
more than a small quantity at a time. Thus they pass their entire life,
and finally die victims to the struggle for existence.

QUÆRENS. Better far never to have been born! But does not the same
reflection apply to the Earth?

What is the use of being born, to weary one's self with endless work
and worry, to turn in the same daily treadmill for sixty or a hundred
years; to sleep, to eat, to work, to speak, to run, to err, to agitate,
to dream, _ad infinitum_? Of what use is all this? Would not one be
just as advanced if one were extinguished the day after birth, or,
better still, if one did not take the trouble to come into the world?
Nature would not go on in any worse fashion, and even if it did, no one
would be the wiser. And one might ask, of what use is Nature herself,
and why does the universe exist at all?

[Sidenote: Humanity in Andromeda.]

[Sidenote: Humanity.]

LUMEN. That is the great mystery. Yet must all destinies be
accomplished. The world of Andromeda is decidedly an inferior one. To
give you an idea of the poor mental calibre of its inhabitants, I will
cite two examples, selecting the subjects of religion and politics, as
these are generally the best criterions of the value of a people. In
religion, in place of seeking for God in nature, and of basing their
judgment on science, instead of aspiring to the truth, and of using
their eyes to see and their reason to comprehend--in a word, in place
of establishing the foundations of their philosophy upon knowledge
as exact as possible of the order which governs the world--they are
divided into sects, who are voluntarily blind, and believe they render
homage to their pretended God by ceasing to reason, and think they
adore Him, in maintaining that their anthill is unique in space; by
reciting phrases and in injuring other sects, and alas! by blessing
swords, and burnings at the stake, and in authorising massacres and
wars. Their doctrines contain assertions which seem expressly imagined
to outrage common sense. These are precisely those which constitute the
articles of their faith and belief!

They are stupid in politics. The most intelligent and pure-minded do
not understand each other. Therefore the Republic seems to be a form
of government which cannot be realised. Tracing the annals of their
history as far back as possible, one sees a people, cowardly and
indifferent, deliberately choosing, rather than govern themselves, to
be led by an individual claiming to be their Basileus, their king.
This chief deprives them of three-fourths of their resources, keeping
for himself and his, the atmosphere containing the greatest amount of
rose-essence--that is to say, that he keeps the best in the land for
his own use; he numbers his subjects, and from time to time sends them
to fight with neighbouring peoples, who, like themselves, are subject
to a similar Basileus.

Marshalling them like shoals of herrings, he directs them on either
side towards the field of battle, which they call the _field of
honour_, they then destroy one another like furious fools, without
knowing why, and without, for that matter, the power to comprehend, as
they do not even speak the same language.

And do you imagine that those who, most favoured by chance, live to
return, feel any hatred against their Basileus?

Nothing of the kind. The remnant of the army who live to see their
homes again, think nothing more natural than to celebrate their
thanksgivings in company with the dignitaries of their sects,
supplicating their God to grant long life to, and to pour blessings
upon, the worthy man whom they designate their father and king.

[Sidenote: Organisation of the beings on Andromeda.]

QUÆRENS. I gather from this narration, that the inhabitants of Delta
Andromeda are, both physically and intellectually, greatly our
inferiors, for upon the Earth we do not regulate our affairs in this
manner.... In short, upon their globe there is only one living kingdom,
and that a mobile one, without repose, without sleep, kept in perpetual
agitation by reason of an inexorable fate. A world like this strikes me
as being very fantastic.

LUMEN. What, then, would you say of the one I inhabited fifteen
centuries ago? A world also containing only one kingdom, and that not
a movable one, but, on the contrary, as fixed as is your vegetable
kingdom?

QUÆRENS. How! Animals and men held down by roots?


III

[Sidenote: Organisation of beings on Andromeda.]

LUMEN. My existence anterior to that upon the world of Andromeda was
passed upon Venus, a planet near to the Earth, where I can remember
myself as a woman. Not that I have directly seen myself there, for,
according to the law of light, it would require the same length of time
to travel from Venus to Capella as it would from the Earth to Capella,
and I consequently see Venus only as it was seventy-two years ago,
and not as it was nine hundred years ago, which was the epoch of my
existence upon that planet.

My fourth life, previous to my terrestrial one, was passed upon an
immense annular planet belonging to the constellation Cygnus, situated
in the zone of the Milky Way. This singular world is inhabited solely
by trees.

QUÆRENS. That is to say, that so far only plants are there, and neither
animals nor intelligent speaking beings?

LUMEN. Not exactly. There are only plants there, it is true. But in
this vast world of plants there are vegetable races more advanced than
those existing upon the Earth. There plants live as we do--feel, think,
reason, and speak.

[Sidenote: Reasoning plants.]

QUÆRENS. But this is impossible! Pardon!--I would say improbable,
incomprehensible, and entirely inconceivable.

LUMEN. These intelligent vegetable races really exist--so much so, that
I myself belonged to them. Fifteen centuries ago I was a tree possessed
of reason.

QUÆRENS. But tell me, how can a plant reason without a brain, and speak
without a tongue?

LUMEN. Tell me, I beg of you, by what process you yourself think,
and by what transformation of motion your soul translates its mute
conceptions into audible language?

QUÆRENS. I am seeking, O Master, but I fail to find, the material
explanation of this fact, however ordinary it may be.

[Sidenote: Facts not impossible because unknown.]

LUMEN. We have no right to declare an unknown fact impossible, when
we are so ignorant ourselves of the laws regulating our own being.
Because the brain is the physiological organ of intelligence placed at
the service of man on the Earth, do you therefore believe that there
are similar brains and spinal marrows upon all the worlds in space?
This would be an error too childish. The law of progress governs the
vital system of each world. This vital system differs according to the
secret nature of the special forces peculiar to each. When a world has
reached a sufficient degree of evolution to fit it for entering into
the service of moral life, _mind_, more or less developed, appears on
it.

[Sidenote: Gradation of the human race.]

Do not imagine that the Eternal Father creates at once a human race on
each globe. Not so. The first step in the ladder of the animal kingdom
receives the human transfiguration by force of circumstance, and by
natural law, which ennobles it, as soon as progress has brought it to a
state of relative superiority.

[Sidenote: The development of life.]

Do you know why you have a chest, a stomach, two legs, two arms, and
a head furnished with visual, auditory, and olfactory senses? It is
because the quadrupeds, the mammalia, which preceded the appearance
of man on the Earth, had them already. Monkeys, dogs, lions, bears,
horses, oxen, tigers, cats, &c., and before them the horned rhinoceros,
the cave-hyena, the elk, the mastodon, the oppossum, &c., and prior
to these the pleiosaurus, the ichthyosaurus, the iguanodon, the
pterodactyl, &c., and again before these the fishes, the crustacea, the
mollusca, &c., have been the result of the vital forces in action upon
the Earth, dependent upon the state of the soil, of the atmosphere,
of inorganic chemistry, of the quantity of heat, and of terrestrial
gravity. The earthly animal kingdom has followed, from its origin, this
continuous and progressive march towards the perfection of its typical
forms of mammalia, freeing itself more and more, from the grossness of
its material.

Man is more beautiful than the horse, the horse than the bear, the bear
than the tortoise. A similar law governs the vegetable kingdom.

Heavy, coarse vegetables without leaves and without flowers began the
series. Then, as the ages advanced, their forms became more pure, and
graceful leaves appeared filling the woods with silent shadows.

Flowers in their turn began to beautify the gardens of the Earth, and
spread sweet perfumes in an atmosphere until then insipid.

[Sidenote: The genealogical tree of life.]

To the scrutinising eye of the geologist who visits these tertiary,
secondary, and primordial districts, this double progressive series of
two kingdoms is to be seen to this day. There was a period upon the
Earth when a few islands had but just emerged from the bosom of the
warm waters, into an atmosphere surcharged with vapour, when the only
living things distinguishing this inorganic kingdom were long floating
filaments held in suspension in the waves. Seaweed and sea-wrack were
the first forms of vegetation. On the rocks, live creatures for which
one has no name. There, sponges swell out. Here, a tree of coral lifts
up itself. Further on, the Medusæ detach themselves and float like
balls of jelly. Are these animals? Are these plants? Science does not
answer. They are animal-plants, zoophites. But life is not limited to
these forms. There are creatures not less primitive, and as simple,
which typify a special species. These are the annelides, worms, fish in
the form of a simple tube, creatures without eyes, ears, blood, nerves,
will, a vegetative species, yet endowed with the power of _motion_.
Later on rudimentary organs of sight and of locomotion appeared, and
life became less elemental. Then fishes and amphibious creatures came
into existence. The animal kingdom began to form itself.

[Sidenote: Formation of the animal kingdom.]

What would have been the result if the first creature had never quitted
its rock? If these primitive elements of terrestrial life had remained
stationary at the point of their formation, and if, for any cause
whatever, the faculty of locomotion had never had a beginning? The
consequence would have been, that in place of the system of terrestrial
vitality being manifested in two different directions, viz., in the
world of plants and the world of animals, it would have continued
manifesting itself solely in the first direction, with the result that
there would have been but one kingdom instead of two, and the creative
progress would have operated in that kingdom as it operated in the
animal kingdom. It would not have been arrested at the formation of
sensitives, superior plants which are already gifted with a veritable
nervous system; nor would it have stopped at the formation of flowers,
which are already bordering on ours in their organic functions; but,
continuing its ascension, would have produced, in the vegetable
kingdom, that which has already been produced in the animal kingdom. As
it is, many vegetables feel and act; here would have been vegetables
feeling and making themselves understood. The Earth would not have been
on that account deprived of the human species. Only mankind, instead
of being gifted with locomotion as it is, would have been fixed by the
feet. Such is the state of the annular world in which I lived fifteen
centuries ago in the heart of the Milky Way.

QUÆRENS. Of a truth, this world of men-plants astonishes me more than
the previous one, and I find it difficult to picture to myself the life
and manners of these singular beings.

[Sidenote: Men-plants.]

LUMEN. Their kind of life is indeed very different from yours. They
neither build cities nor make voyages; they have no need of any form
of government; they are ignorant of war, that scourge of terrestrial
humanity, and they have nothing of that national self-love called
patriotism which is one of your characteristics. Prudent, patient, and
gifted with constancy, they have neither the mobility nor the fragility
of the denizens of the Earth. Life there reaches an average of five or
six centuries, and is calm, sweet, uniform, and without revolutions.
But do not think that these men-plants live only a vegetable life. On
the contrary, they have an existence both personal and positive. They
are divided, not by caste, regulated by birth and fortune, according to
that absurd custom on the earth, but by families, whose native value
differs precisely according to its kind. They have an unwritten social
history, but nothing which happens amongst them can be lost, inasmuch
as they have neither emigrations nor conquests, but their records and
traditions are handed down from one generation to another. Each one
knows the history of his own race. They have also two sexes, as upon
the Earth, and unions take place there in a similar manner, but are
purer, more disinterested, and invariably affectionate. Nor are these
unions always consanguineous; impregnation can even be effected at a
distance.

QUÆRENS. But, after all, how can they communicate their thoughts if it
be true that they think? And besides, master, how was it possible for
you to recognise yourself on this singular world?

[Sidenote: Manner of life upon Cygnus.]

LUMEN. The same reply will satisfactorily answer your double question.
I was looking at that ring in the constellation of Cygnus, being drawn
there with persistence by some irresistible instinct. It surprised
me to see only vegetable growths upon its surface, and I principally
remarked their singular manner of grouping: here two and two, there
three and three, farther off ten and ten, besides others in larger
clusters. Some were seated, as it were, upon the brink of a fountain,
others appeared to be reposing, with little shoots springing up round
them. I sought to find there the kinds familiar to me on the Earth,
such as pines, oaks, poplars, willows, but I could not find any of
these botanical growths.

At last I fixed my eyes upon a plant in the shape of a fig-tree,
without either leaves or fruit, but full of brilliant scarlet flowers,
when suddenly I saw this enormous fig-tree stretch out a bough like a
gigantic arm, raise the extremity of this arm to its head, and pluck
one of the magnificent flowers ornamenting its crown, and then present
the same, with an inclination of the head, to another fig-tree growing
some little distance apart, of slender and graceful form, and bearing
sweet blue flowers. This one appeared to receive the red flower with a
certain pleasure, for it extended a branch, or one might say a cordial
hand, to its neighbour, which was apparently held in a long clasp.

Under certain circumstances, as you know, a gesture is sufficient for
making yourself known to another. Thus, then, the meaning of this
tableau was borne in upon me. This gesture of the fig-tree in the Milky
Way awoke within me a world of memories.

This Man-Plant _was myself_ as I was fifteen centuries ago, and in
the fig-trees with the violet flowers which were grouped around me I
recognised my children; for I recollected that the tints of the flowers
borne by the offspring, are the result of the admixture of the two
colours distinguishing their parents.

[Sidenote: Faculties of men-plants.]

These Men-Plants see without eyes, hear without ears, and speak without
larynx. Have you not flowers upon the Earth which can discriminate
not only night from day, but also the different hours of the day, the
height of the sun above the horizon, a clear sky from a cloudy one, and
more, which perceive divers sounds with exquisite sensitiveness; and,
in fine, not only hear each other perfectly, but also the butterfly
messengers. These rudiments are developed to a veritable degree of
civilisation upon the world of which I speak, and these beings are
as complete in their kind as you on the Earth are in yours. Their
intelligence, it is true, is less advanced than the average intellect
of terrestrial humanity; but in their manners and mutual relations,
they show in all ways a sweetness and refinement, which might often
serve as a model to the dwellers upon the Earth.

QUÆRENS. How is it possible, master, that they see without eyes, and
hear without ears?

[Sidenote: Light and sound are only modes of motion.]

LUMEN. You will cease to be astonished, my old friend, if you will
but reflect that light and sound are nothing else than two _modes of
motion_. In order to appreciate either one or the other of these two
modes of motion, you must (and that is sufficient) be endowed with an
apparatus in correspondence with them, which might be only a simple
nerve. The eye and the ear are the apparatus for your terrestrial
nature. In another natural organisation the optic nerve and the
auditory nerve form quite different organs. Besides, light and sound
are not the only two modes of motion in nature. I can even say that
light and sound are the result of your manner of feeling, and not of
anything real.

[Sidenote: Nature possesses myriads of modes of motion.]

There are in nature not one, but ten, twenty, a hundred, a thousand
different modes of motion. Upon the Earth you are so formed as to be
able to appreciate chiefly these two, which constitute almost the whole
of your life in its external relations.

Upon other worlds there are other senses with which nature can be
appreciated under its various aspects. Some of these senses take the
place of your eyes and of your ears, and others are in touch with
perceptions entirely foreign to those which are received by terrestrial
organs.

QUÆRENS. When you spoke to me just now of the men-plants in the world
of Cygnus, the idea occurred to me to ask if earthly plants possess a
soul?

[Sidenote: Form determined by soul.]

[Sidenote: Souls of plants.]

LUMEN. Most certainly. Terrestrial plants are gifted with a soul
just as much as are animals and men. Without a potential soul no
organisation could exist. The _form_ of a plant is determined by its
soul. An acorn and the kernel of a peach are planted side by side in
the same soil, the same situation, under the same conditions; why
should the first produce an oak and the second a peach tree? Because
an organic force inherent in the oak will construct its special kind
of vegetable, and another organic force, another soul inherent in the
peach, will equally draw to itself other elements necessary for its
special body, just as the human soul, in the construction of its body,
uses the means put by nature at its disposal. Only the soul of the
plant has not any self-consciousness.

[Sidenote: Souls and atoms.]

[Sidenote: Personality of the soul.]

The souls in vegetables, in animals, and in men, have already attained
to that degree of personality and of authority, which enables them
to bend at will, and to command and govern at pleasure, all those
non-personal forces which exist in the bosom of immeasurable nature.
The human monad, for example, being superior to the monad of salt,
or of carbon, or of oxygen, absorbs and incorporates them in its
structure. Our human soul in our terrestrial body upon the Earth
governs, without being conscious of it, all the elementary souls
forming the constituent parts of its body. Matter is not a solid and
compassable substance. It is an assemblage of centres of forces.
Substance has not any importance. From one atom to another there is a
great distance in proportion to the dimensions of atoms. At the head
of the divers centres of forces which constitute and form the human
body is the human soul, governing all the ganglionic souls, which are
subordinated to it.

QUÆRENS. I must frankly own, most wise instructor, that I fail to
clearly grasp this theory.

LUMEN. Then I will illustrate it for you by an example which will
demonstrate the truth of all I have said, and convince you that it is a
fact.

QUÆRENS. A fact? Are you, then, a reincarnation of the Princess
Scheherazade, and have you been fascinating me with a new tale from the
"Arabian Nights"?



FIFTH CONVERSATION

INGENIUM AUDAX: NATURA AUDACIOR


[Sidenote: Theta (θ) in Orion.]

LUMEN. You know the splendid constellation of Orion which reigns like
a sovereign over your winter nights, and the curious multiple star
θ (theta) which is to be found below the sword suspended from the
Belt, and shines in the midst of the famous nebula. This system θ of
Orion is one of the most singular which is to be found in the vast
treasure-house which contains such a variety of celestial jewels. It is
composed of four principal Suns disposed in a quadrilateral form. Two
of these Suns, forming what I may call the base of the quadrilateral,
are accompanied, the one by a single Sun, the other by two Suns. Thus
it is a system of seven Suns around each of which circulate inhabited
planets.

[Sidenote: A world in Orion.]

I was on a planet turning round one of the secondary Suns. This
revolved round another of the four principal Suns. That in its turn
circulated, in concert with the others and at the same time, around an
invisible centre of gravity in the interior of the quadrilateral. I do
not insist on these movements, but the celestial mechanism explains
them.

[Sidenote: Day Suns and night Suns.]

I was therefore lighted and warmed on my planet by seven Suns at the
same time; by one larger and more brilliant in appearance than the
other six, because it was nearer to me; by a second very large and
equally bright; by a third of moderate size, and by two who were like
twins. These different Suns are never all together above the horizon.
There are day Suns and night Suns; that is to say, they have there no
night properly so called.

QUÆRENS. Really? Are there in the heavens double and multiple Suns?

[Sidenote: Inhabitants of Theta Orionis.]

LUMEN. Yes, a very great number. The system of which I am speaking to
you, amongst others, is known to the astronomers of the Earth, who
count by thousands in their catalogues, systems of double stars, of
multiple stars, and of coloured stars. You can study them yourself
with your telescope. Now, on the planet of Orion, which I have just
mentioned to you, the inhabitants are neither vegetables nor animals.
They could not be placed in any classification of terrestrial life,
nor in either of the two great divisions of the vegetable and animal
kingdoms. In truth I do not know with what to compare them in order to
give you an idea of their form.

Have you ever seen, in botanic gardens, the gigantic tapering plant the
_Cereus giganteus_?

QUÆRENS. I know this plant very well. Its name comes from its
resemblance to the wax tapers, placed in three or more branched stands,
with which churches are lighted.

[Sidenote: Analysis of the nervous system.]

[Sidenote: Plant-beings.]

LUMEN. Well, the men of θ Orionis bear some likeness to this
form. Only they move slowly, and maintain an upright position by means
of a process of suction analogous to that of the ampullæ of certain
plants. The lower part of the vertical stem, where it rests on the
ground, is slightly elongated, like a starfish, with little appendages
which fix themselves to the soil by means of suction. These beings
often go in troops, and change their latitude according to the seasons.
But the most singular peculiarity of their organisation is that which
illustrates the principle of which I have spoken to you, of the union
of elementary souls in the human body. One day I visited this world,
and found myself in the midst of an Orionic landscape. I beheld a
being standing there like a plant ten metres high, without leaves or
flowers. He consisted in fact of a cylindrical stalk, the uppermost
part of which separated into many branches like those of a chandelier.
The central stem, as well as those of the branches, measured about a
third of a metre in diameter. The tops of the stalk and of the branches
were crowned with a diadem of silver fringe. Suddenly I saw this being
agitate his branches and then vanish. The fact is that in this world
individuals, although quite well, fall to pieces literally in an
instant.

[Sidenote: Death by disintegration.]

The molecules of which they are constituted fall altogether to the
ground. The personal existence of the individual comes to an end. His
molecules separate and are dispersed.

QUÆRENS. They disintegrate, and the atoms fly apart, like truants from
school.

LUMEN. Just so. I can recollect this disintegration of the body often
took place in their lives. Sometimes it was the result of contrariety,
sometimes of fatigue, and in other cases of a want of organic accord
between the different parts. They exist in their entirety actual
and complete, then suddenly they are reduced into the most simple
elementary form. The cerebral molecule, which constitutes each one in
reality, feels itself descending in consequence of the fall of its
sister molecules of the long branches, and it arrives at the surface
of the ground solitary and independent.

QUÆRENS. This mode of dissolution would sometimes be a very convenient
proceeding here below. To get out of an embarrassing situation, for
example a conjugal scene _à la_ Molière, or a bad quarter of an hour
such as Rabelais describes, or a mournful situation such as the
scaffold for an execution, one would only have to let loose one's
constituent atoms, and--bid good-bye to the company....

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Animated molecules.]

LUMEN. You seem to regard the matter as a joke, but I assure you it is
an undoubted reality. It would exist on the Earth as well as on the
planet of Orion, if the principle of authority were not so firmly fixed
with you. There it is only in an elementary form. Your body is formed
of animated molecules.

According to one of your most eminent physiologists, your spinal marrow
is a series of centres, linked together independently, and yet under
control. The essential constituents of your blood, of your flesh, and
of your bones, are in a like case. They are provinces self-governed,
but subject to a superior authority. The working of this superior
authority is a condition of human life--a condition which is less
exclusive amongst the inferior animals. Each ring of the worm called
lombric is a complete worm, so that a lombric represents a series of
similar beings constituting a veritable living cooperative society. Cut
into rings, the worm would be so many independent individuals.

In the tape-worm, a solitary worm, the head is of more importance
than the rest of the body, and possesses the faculty of reproducing
the rest of the body after it has been cut off. The leech is another
example of united individuals. Cut it into five or six rings, and the
operation gives you as many leeches. Thus also, a cutting of a branch
of a tree will grow. In like manner a crab's claw or a lizard's tail
will be reproduced. In reality the vertebrate animals, such as man, are
essentially composite in structure. The spinal marrow, and its highest
expansion in the brain, consist of segments placed in juxtaposition,
with nervous centres, each of which possesses an elementary soul.

[Sidenote: Power of the personal soul.]

The law of authority in action on the Earth, has determined in the
animal series a preponderating direction. You are composed of a
multitude of beings grouped together, and dominated by the plastic
attraction of your personal soul, which from the centre of your being
has formed your body from the embryo, and has united round itself, in
a microcosm, a whole world of beings, who have not any consciousness of
their individuality.

QUÆRENS. On the planet of Orion nature itself is then in a state of
absolute Republicanism.

LUMEN. Republicanism governed by _law_.

QUÆRENS. But when a being finds itself thus disintegrated, how can he
afterwards reconstitute himself as a whole?

LUMEN. By an act of the will, and often without the least effort, and
even by a casual desire. Although separated from the cerebral molecule,
the corporeal molecules are still intimately connected with one
another. At a given moment they combine, and each takes its place. The
directing molecule draws the other from a distance, as the loadstone
attracts iron filings.

QUÆRENS. I can easily picture to myself the spectacle of this
Lilliputian army, when summoned by a whistle, drawing to its centre
to organise a reunion; all the little soldiers climbing one over the
other, and in a moment taking their places to reconstruct the man-taper
that you have described to me. One really ought to leave the Earth to
behold such rare wonders!

LUMEN. You still judge of universal nature by the atom that you have
before your eyes, and you are only qualified to comprehend the facts
which are within the sphere of your observations. But I assure you the
Earth is not the type of the universe.

[Sidenote: Various forms of life.]

This world of θ Orionis, with its seven revolving Suns,
is peopled by an organic system analogous to that which I have just
described to you.

I lived there 2400 years ago, and I can see myself there again in
accordance with the time that light occupied in coming from that point
in space to Capella. When there, I was acquainted with the spirit who
in this century was incarnated on the Earth and published his studies
under the name of Allan Kardec.

We did not recollect that we had known one another before, during
our terrestrial life, but we often felt attracted to one another by
peculiar intellectual sympathies. Now that he has returned, like
myself, into the world of spirits, he also remembers the singular
republic of Orion and can see it. Yes, this is very curious, but it is
quite true. You have no idea, on your poor planet, of the unimaginable
diversity which separates the worlds in their geological, as much as in
their physiological organisations.

[Sidenote: Sense of sight in spirits.]

These conversations may serve to throw light on your knowledge of
this general truth, so important in the conception of the universe.
But the scientific service that these conversations can specially
render you is in making you understand that light is the mode of
transmission of universal history. With the powerful visual faculty
which we enjoy here, we can distinguish the surface of distant worlds.
The eye of our "perisprit" is not identical with the bodily eye. In
the terrestrial sight the rays diverge, so that a very small object,
placed quite near the eye fills the interval of the two rays, whilst
at a greater distance, a larger object is necessary to fill the space,
proportionately increased, which separates the same rays. In our eye,
on the contrary, the visual rays enter in parallel lines, so that we
see each object in its real proportions, and in its normal size, its
apparent size being quite unaffected by distance. We do not see the
whole of large objects, but only sections of them proportioned to the
openings of our special retina, but these parts are seen by us with
equal clearness at any distance (when there is no atmosphere to veil
this distance).

A tree in a prairie on a celestial body, as far as Theta of Orion
is from Capella, is perfectly visible to us. On the other hand, in
accordance with the law of the successive transmission of the rays of
light, all the events in nature, and the history of all the worlds, are
depicted in space as a universal tableau, the most true and the most
magnificent in all nature.

[Sidenote: Infinite diversity in Sirius.]

As these conversations will have shown you, I have traversed a great
many different celestial countries, and have actually studied creation
without fixing myself in any place. I hope in the course of the next
century to be reincarnated on a world dependent on the train of Sinus.
The humanity there is more beautiful than that of the Earth. Birth is
effected by means of an organic system less ridiculous and less brutal
than that of the Earth.

But the most remarkable characteristic of the life on this world is,
that there men perceive the physico-chemical operations which take
place for the maintenance of the body. From each molecule of the body,
so to speak, proceeds a nerve which transmits to the brain the various
impressions that it receives, so that the soul absolutely knows its
body, and rules over it as a sovereign.

[Sidenote: Vegetable life in Aldebaran.]

There is an immense variety amongst the worlds. On one of the
planets of the system of Aldebaran, very curious from this point
of view, the vegetables are all composed of a substance analogous
to _the loadstone_, because silica and magnesia predominate in its
constitution. The animals feed on this substance only. Most of the
beings inhabiting this world are _incombustible_.

Upon the world of which I speak night is illumined by phosphorescent
lights. I have visited other worlds where night does not exist at
all, where day and night do not succeed each other as upon the Earth,
because every portion of their spheres is continuously supplied with
light by several suns, which never leave them in darkness for an
instant. There sleep is unnecessary, either for man, for animals, or
for plants.

Upon your planet sleep consumes a third portion of your life, its
primary cause being the rotation of the earth on its axis, which
produces day and night in succession, on the various parts of the globe.

Upon these worlds where it is always day, the inhabitants never sleep,
and it would greatly surprise them to learn, that there exists a
humanity where a third of life is passed in a lethargy resembling death.

[Sidenote: Phosphoric light]

Not far from this, a world revolves where night is almost unknown,
although it does not possess a nocturnal sun, as in the quadrilateral
of Orion, and it has no satellites. The rocks of its mountains, being
of a chemical composition that reminds one of the phosphates and the
sulphates of barytes, store up the solar light received during the
day; and during the night they radiate a sweet, calm, translucent
light, which illumines the scenery with a tranquil nocturnal clearness.
There, also, one sees curious trees, bearing flowers which shine in the
evening like fire-flies. These resemble horse-chestnuts, but the snowy
flowers are luminous.

Phosphorus enters largely into the composition of this curious and
singular world. Its atmosphere is constantly electrical; its animals
are luminous, as well as its plants, and its humanity partakes of the
same nature.

[Sidenote: The passions phosphorescent.]

The temperature is very high, and the inhabitants have not much need to
invent clothes. Now, it happens that certain passions are manifested
by the illumination of part of the body. This is, on a large scale,
what takes place on a small scale in your terrestrial meadows, where
one sees in the sweet summer evenings the glow-worms silently consumed
in an amorous flame. In the fire-flies of the north, that you see
in France, the male is winged and is not luminous; the female, on
the contrary, is luminous, but does not possess the aerial faculty.
In Italy the two sexes are winged, and both can become luminous. The
humanity which I am describing to you has all the advantages of this
latter type.

Certain forms of terrestrial life are to be met with among the sidereal
humanities. Thus we find in some of them, the same thing that takes
place on the Earth in the ant world, where, on the day of their aerial
unions, all the males die of exhaustion; and again in the world of
bees, where the procreators are pitilessly sacrificed; and amongst
spiders, where they are devoured by their companions unless they can
immediately escape. We find reproduced the habits of a great number
of insects, which never see their offspring, and lay their eggs in
surroundings in which the newly-born will find their first food.

The human body on this Earth owes its form and its state of being to
the atmospheric environment, and to the conditions of density, of
weight, and of nutrition, by means of which terrestrial evolution
operates.

The human being proceeds from the fusion of a microscopic masculine
corpuscle with a minute feminine ovule. This fusion gives birth to a
little cell which is transformed into the embryo, in which gradually
appear the heart, the head, the limbs, and the different organs. The
nervous system of this embryo may be compared to rays of delicate
threads, proceeding from a central point which will become the brain.

Under the influence of the Solar light and of the vibrations of the
air, one of these nerves is developed at its extremity, and forms the
eye. This is undefined at first, and almost blind in an elementary
state, like the eyes of the trilobites and of the fishes of the
Silurian period, but it develops into the admirable eyes of birds, of
the vertebræ, and of man. The senses of smell and taste proceed from
the nerves in the same way. These last two senses, with that of touch,
are the most primitive, the earliest, and the most necessary to life.
There are but two of the senses which place man in communication with
the outer world--sight and hearing,--but the eye is the sole organ
which puts us in communication with the whole universe.

Millions of these little nerve-threads proceed from the brain, through
the body, without producing any other than the five senses, unless we
except certain sensations of touch, which are intimate and personal,
and which have even been described as a sixth sense. You shall hear.

Now there is no reason why that which has taken place and been arrested
on our little planet, should take place and be arrested in the same
fashion elsewhere.

In proof of this I must tell you that I visited, not long since, two
worlds on which human beings have two senses of which we have not any
idea on our Earth.

One of these senses may be described as electrical. One of the
little nerve-threads of which I have just told you is developed into
a multitude of ramifications which form a sort of cornet. These,
under the scalpel and the microscope, appear to be tubes placed in
juxtaposition, the outer extremity of which receives the electric fluid
and transmits it to the brain, much as our optic nerves receive the
waves of light, and our auditory nerves receive the undulations of
sound.

The beings provided with this sense perceive the electrical condition
of bodies, of material things, of plants and flowers, of animals, of
the atmosphere, and of clouds. To these beings this electric sense is
a source of knowledge which is wholly forbidden to us. Their organic
sensations are all different from yours. Their eyes are not constructed
like yours; they do not see what you see; they see what you do not see.
They are conscious only of the invisible violet rays. But their mode of
existence differs from yours, especially through their electric sense.
The electric constitution of their world is the cause of the existence
and of the development of this sense.

Another sense with which I was still more struck, and which was of
quite a different character, I found on a second world. This was the
sense of orientation. Another of the nerve-threads proceeding from the
brain produced a species of winged ear, very light, by means of which
the living being perceives his direct bearings. He is conscious of the
points of the compass, and turns to the north or the south, the east or
the west, instinctively.

The atmosphere is full of emanations which you never perceive. This
singular sense orients the possessors of it infallibly. It enables them
also to discover things concealed in the interior of the Sun, and gives
them an insight into some of Nature's secrets which are absolutely
hidden from you.

I would thus demonstrate to you that in the vast domains of creation
an infinite variety exists, and that eternity will be inexhaustibly
occupied in gathering and partaking of its flowers and of its fruits.

There are worlds where old age is unknown--where lovers are consumed in
a delirious fantasy, transported by the intoxication of the body, and
careless of the morrow. The active sex never survive these nuptials;
the passive sex, oviparous, having secured the perpetuity of the
species, sleep their last sleep. Those celestial worlds, where one
never grows old, are not without their advantages.

[Sidenote: Life too long]

[Sidenote: A world without war.]

Worlds exist in which the vital movements, respiration, assimilation,
the organic periods, day and night, the seasons and the years, are all
of extreme length. Although the nervous system of the human inhabitants
is highly developed, and thought has a prodigious activity, life there
appears to be of an endless length. Those who die of old age have
lived more than a thousand of these years, but they are so rare that
the memory of a few only have been preserved in the historical records
of this humanity. War between the nations has never been invented,
because there is only one race, one people, one language. The natural
constitutions of these organisms are remarkable. Diseases are almost
unknown; there are no doctors. As a result of this great mental
activity, the length of life becomes a perspective without end, and
before long becomes a burden. Hence suicide is almost universal. This
custom has been habitual from very ancient times. The few old men who
from any special motive have not put an end to their lives, are looked
upon as exceptional beings, originals, and more or less eccentric.
Suicide is the general law.

But, my dear friend, it is impossible for me to describe to you all the
curiosities of the universe. Let it suffice that I have raised the veil
sufficiently, to give you a glimpse of the incommensurable diversity
that exists, in the animated productions of all the various systems
disseminated through space.

[Sidenote: Infinite diversity]

While accompanying me in spirit in this interstellar voyage, you
have passed several hours away from the Earth. It is well to isolate
one's self thus at times amongst the celestial solitudes. The soul
obtains a fuller possession of itself, and in its solitary reflections
it penetrates profoundly into the universal reality. Terrestrial
humanity, you understand, is, as regards moral as well as physical
life, the result virtually of the forces of the Earth. Human strength,
figure, weight, all depend on these forces. The organic functions are
determined by the planet. If life is divided with you between work and
rest, between activity and sleep, it is because of the rotation of the
globe, and day and night. In the luminous globes, and those lighted by
many Suns alternately, they do not sleep. If you need to eat and drink,
it is in consequence of the insufficiency of the atmosphere. The bodies
of the beings who do not eat are not constructed like yours, since they
have no need of a stomach and intestines. The terrestrial eye enables
you to see the universe in a certain way, the Saturnian eye sees in a
different manner.

[Sidenote: Other senses than those of the Earth.]

There are senses which perceive other things than those which you
perceive in nature. Each of the worlds is inhabited by a race
essentially different, and sometimes the inhabitants are neither
vegetables nor animals. There are men of all possible forms, of all
dimensions, of all weights, of all colours, of all sensations, of every
variety of characteristics. The universe is infinite. Our terrestrial
existence is only one phase of the infinite. An inexhaustible diversity
enriches this marvellous field of the eternal Sower. The function of
science is, to study all that the terrestrial senses are capable of
perceiving. The function of philosophy is, to form a synthesis of all
defined and determined ideas and facts, and to develop the sphere of
thought.

What would you say if I told you not only of the physical differences
of humanity, but also of its moral and intellectual diversities?
Its varieties are great--too much so, indeed, for you to thoroughly
understand them. As an instance, I will give you just one noteworthy
example. In your terrestrial humanity, intellectual or moral worth
counts for nothing in advancing a man, whatever may be the value of his
ideas, or the worth of his personal character, unless he possesses the
means and the determination to push himself forward. No one seeks for
hidden merit. A man must needs make his own way, and struggle against
intrigue, cupidity, and ambition--a strife which is the antipodes of
what ought to be. It results, therefore, that the noblest and most
worthy people remain in obscurity, whilst position, wealth, and social
distinction are often showered on worthless intriguers.

Ah well! I recently visited a world belonging to one of the most
luminous regions of the Milky Way, where an intellectual order
absolutely different exists; where the constitution of the Government
is such, that only those distinguished for their virtues are placed at
the head of the State; and their function is to seek out, and place in
responsible positions, men worthy of the trust.

In that country, in short, the search is as eager for the discovery
of merit and intelligence, as it is in yours for gold and diamonds.
All is done there for the benefit of humanity. They have not invented
any Academy, as they cannot conceive that a man of worth (instead of
being sought after) should be compelled to waste his time in visits
of ceremony, and find, probably, that a titled nobody (who has known
better than he how to cajole votes) has been preferred to himself. So
true it is, that the system prevailing in other worlds is far more
enlightened than that of yours.

[Sidenote: The magnifying power of time.]

Now, my dear terrestrial friend, you know what the Earth is in the
universe; you know something of what the heavens contain; and you know
also what Life is, and what Death is. We shall soon see the dawn of
morning, which puts spirits to flight and brings our conversations to
an end, as the approach of your terrestrial day causes the brightness
of Venus to fade away. But I should like to add to the preceding ideas
a very interesting remark suggested by the same observations. It is
this: If you set out from the Earth at the moment that a flash of
lightning bursts forth, and if you travelled for an hour or more with
the light, you would see the lightning as long as you continued to
look at it. This fact is established by the foregoing principles. But
if, instead of travelling _exactly_ with the velocity of light, you
were to travel with a little less velocity; note the observation that
you might make: I will suppose that this voyage away from the Earth,
during which you look at the lightning, lasts a minute. I will suppose
also, that the lightning lasts a thousandth part of a second. You will
continue to see the lightning during 60,000 times its duration. In our
first supposition this voyage is identical with that of light. Light
has occupied 60,000 tenths of seconds to go from the Earth to the point
in space where you are. Your voyage and that of light have co-existed.
Now if instead of flying with just the same velocity as light, you had
flown a little less quickly, and if you had employed a thousandth part
of a second more to arrive at the same point, instead of always seeing
_the same moment of the lightning_, you would have seen, successively,
the different moments which constituted the total duration of the
lightning, equal to 1000 parts of a second. In this whole minute
you would have had time to see first the beginning of the flash of
lightning, and could analyse the development of it, the successive
phases of it, to the very end. You may imagine what strange discoveries
one could make in the secret nature of lightning, increased 60,000
times in the order of its duration, what frightful battles you would
have time to discover in the flames! what pandemonium! what unlucky
atoms! what a world hidden by its volatile nature from the imperfect
eyes of mortals!

[Sidenote: Vision of the analysing eye.]

If you could see by your imagination sufficiently, to separate and
count the atoms which constitute the body of a man, that body would
disappear before you, for it consists of thousands of millions of atoms
in motion, and to the analysing eye it would be a nebula animated
by the forces of gravitation. Did not Swedenborg imagine that the
universe by which he was surrounded, seen as a whole, was in the form
of an immense man? That was anthropomorphism. But there are analogies
everywhere. What we know most certainly is, that things _are not_ what
they appear to be, either in space or in time. But let us return to the
delayed flash of lightning.

When you travel with the velocity of light, you see constantly the
scene which was in existence at the moment of your departure. If you
were carried away for a year, at the same rate, you would have before
your eyes the same event for that time. But if, in order to see more
distinctly an event which would have taken only a few seconds, such
as the fall of a mountain, an avalanche, or an earthquake, you were
to delay, to see the commencement of the catastrophe (in slackening a
little, your steps on those of light), you would see the progress of
the catastrophe, its first moment, its second, and so on successively,
in thus nearly following the light, you would only see the end after
an hour of observation. The event would last for you an hour instead
of a few seconds. You would see the rocks, or the stones suspended
in the air, and could thus ascertain the mode of production of the
phenomenon, and its incidental delays. Already your terrestrial
scientific knowledge enables you to take instantaneous photographs of
the successive aspects of rapid phenomena, such as lightning, a meteor,
the waves of the sea, a volcanic eruption, the fall of a building, and
to make them pass before you graduated in accordance with their effect
on the retina. Similarly you can, on the contrary, photograph the
pollen of a flower, through each stage of expansion to its completion
in the fruit, or the development of a child from its birth to maturity,
and project these phases upon a screen, depicting in a few seconds the
life of a man, or a tree.

[Sidenote: A chrono-telescope.]

I see in your thoughts that you compare this effect to that of a
microscope which would magnify time. That is exactly what it is; we
thus see time amplified. This process cannot strictly speaking be
called that of the microscope, but rather that of a _chronoscope_ or
of a chrono-telescope (to see time from afar). The duration of a reign
might, by the same process, be augmented according to the good pleasure
of the parti politique.

Thus, for example, Napoleon II. reigned only three hours, but one could
see him reign for fifteen years _successively_, by dispersing the 180
minutes of the three hours over the length of 180 months (in removing
one's self from the Earth with a velocity a little inferior to that
of light); so, by setting out at the very moment that the Chamber had
proclaimed Napoleon II., one would arrive at the last minute of his
supposed reign, only at the end of fifteen years. Each minute would be
seen for a month, each second for twelve hours.

[Sidenote: Light transmission in space.]

The conclusions of this discourse are based entirely on this principle,
my dear Quærens. I have endeavoured to show you that the physical law
of the _successive transmission of Light_ in space, is one of the
_fundamental elements of the conditions of eternal life_. According
to this law every event is imperishable, and the past is always
present. The image of the Earth as it was 6000 years ago, is actually
now in space at the distance that light crossed it 6000 years since.
The worlds situated in that region see the Earth of that epoch. We
could see again our own direct existence and our different anterior
existences. All that we need for this is to be at the proper distance
from the worlds in which we had lived. There are stars which you see
from the Earth, and which no longer exist, because they became extinct
after they had emitted the luminous ray which has only just reached you.

In the same way you might hear the voice of a man at a distance, who
might be dead before the moment at which you heard him, if, perchance,
he had been struck with apoplexy immediately after he had uttered his
last cry.

[Sidenote: There are living forms unknown to Earth.]

I am very much pleased that this last sketch has enabled me at the same
time to trace for you a picture of the diversities of existence and of
the _possibility of living forms unknown to the Earth_. Here also you
see the revelations of Urania are grander and more profound than those
of all her sisters. _The Earth is only an atom in the universe._

I must pause here, for all these numerous and diverse applications
of the laws of light are not apparent to you. On the Earth, in this
dark cavern, as Plato appropriately termed it, you vegetate in
ignorance of the gigantic forces in action in the universe. The day
will come when physical science will discover in light the principle
of every movement and the inner reason of things. Already within the
last few years spectrum analysis has demonstrated to you that by the
examination of a luminous ray from the Sun, or from a Star, you can
learn what substances constitute that Sun and that Star. Already you
can determine, across a distance of millions and millions of miles, the
nature of celestial bodies from which a ray of light has come to you!
And the study of light will afford still more splendid results, both
in experimental science, and in its application to the philosophy of
the universe.

[Sidenote: Anticipations.]

But the refraction of the earth's atmosphere is projecting beyond the
zenith the light shed forth by the distant Sun. The vibrations of the
light of day will let me talk with you no longer. Farewell, my good
friend. Farewell! or rather, _au revoir_! Great things are going to
happen around you. After the storm I shall perhaps return for one last
visit to give you proof of my existence, and to show that I have not
forgotten you. Then, later, when your life upon this little planet is
done, I shall come to you once more, and together we will take our
real journey through the unspeakable splendours of speed. Nor can you
ever, in your wildest dreams, form even a faint idea of the stupendous
surprises, the inconceivable wonders which there await you.


THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Page 32, Sidenote, "h" changed to "e" (the place where he was in)

Page 34, Footnote, "3,14159" changed to "314,159" (314,159 × 2, it)

Page 139, repeated word "the" deleted. Original read (Even in the the
same system)

Page 160, period added to text (surprise you still more.)

Page 172, Sidenote, "Adromeda" changed to "Andromeda" (World of
Andromeda)

Page 179, "oxgyen" changed to "oxygen" (called their oxygen)





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