By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: History of a World of Immortals without a God: Translated from an unpublished manuscript in the library of a continental university
Author: - To be updated
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "History of a World of Immortals without a God: Translated from an unpublished manuscript in the library of a continental university" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


                          A WORLD OF IMMORTALS
                             WITHOUT A GOD:
                            TRANSLATED FROM


                           ANTARES SKORPIOS.


                   WILLIAM M^CGEE, 18, NASSAU STREET.

                    LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL & CO.


              _Printed at_ THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, _Dublin_.



                               CHAPTER I.

 _Concerning the Birth and Education of Dr. Gervaas Van Varken, and
   his Loathing and Abhorrence of the whole Human Race—How he met
   an Ancient Parsee merchant in Bombay, and got an introduction to
   the Great Magician of Thibet—How he went to Thibet; what he
   learned there, and how he departed from it_,                        1

                               CHAPTER II.


 _Of the shining city of Lucetta—How Dr. Van Varken met an apparent
   Yahoo—Of the great astonishment of the citizens at sight of the
   Doctor, and how they gave him in charge to a committee of
   three—How the committee learned the Dutch tongue, and showed the
   Doctor sundry strange and wonderful maps_,                         19

                              CHAPTER III.

 _Concerning Physical Hesperography—Of the great Cloud-Screen, and
   its effect on Terrestrial Astronomy—Of the Chronic Equatorial
   Tornado, and of its extraordinary importance in the history of
   Hesperos—Of the Giant Mountains; and of the Flora and Fauna_,      35

                               CHAPTER IV.

 _Of the Origin of Rational Life in Hesperos—Of the Cyclical
   Organic Life—Of the Law of Evanescence by Mortal Lesion—The
   story of the Hesperian Cain—Of the Law of Evanescence by adverse
   Metronomic Balance—How a Court of Justice sentenced a culprit to
   Eternal Punishment; and how the culprit escaped_,                  45

                               CHAPTER V.

 _Of the causes of the high civilization of Hesperos—Of the
   relations of the sexes—Of private personal property—Of property
   in Land; and of the methods of Eviction—Of the Jacks and Masters
   of all Trades_,                                                    66

                               CHAPTER VI.

 _Of the Universal Language—Of the Universal Empire and first
   measures of the World-Parliament—Of the great progress of the
   Hesperians in all Physical Science; and of their fruitless
   craving after the Unknown God_,                                    74

                              CHAPTER VII.

 _Of the first attempt to pass the Equatorial Tornado; and its
   tragical issue—Of the attempt to pass the Cloud-Screen_,           85

                              CHAPTER VIII.

 _Of the great courage of three Engineers—How they passed the
   Screen and saw the Host of Heaven—How they further discovered a
   Disk of Unknown Fire—Of the reception of the news throughout the
   world—Of the construction of a mountain Observatory; and of the
   rapid growth of Astronomical knowledge_,                           98

                               CHAPTER IX.

 _Of the development of World-Weariness in Hesperos; and of the
   second attempt to cross the Equatorial Tornado—How the Forlorn
   Hope succeeded, and discovered a City of the Dead—How the
   terrible mystery of Evanescence was explained; and how the crew
   set out on their return_,                                         113

                               CHAPTER X.

 _The oldest inhabitant of the South relates its history—How the
   awful intelligence was received in the North_,                    128

                               CHAPTER XI.


 _How the two Hemispheres were amalgamated—concerning the
   Sympathetic Telegraph; and how the great astonishment of the
   Hesperians at the first sight of the Doctor was fully
   explained_,                                                       135

                              CHAPTER XII.

 _Of the great social changes which resulted from the discovery of
   the Indestructibility of Life_,                                   150

                              CHAPTER XIII.

 _How the Doctor delivered a course of lectures on the History of
   the Earth and its Inhabitants—Of the effects of his ghastly
   description—Of the attempt of two Hesperians to reach the Earth;
   and of its unsatisfactory result_,                                159

                              CHAPTER XIV.

 _Of the further wanderings of Dr. Van Varken—Of his visits to
   Australis and the great Observatory—Of a strange physical Theory
   concerning the Tornado—Supposed cause of the Doctor’s return to
   the Earth_,                                                       171

  ‘That we are to live hereafter, is just as reconcilable with the
  scheme of atheism, and as well to be accounted for by it, as that we
  are now alive is; and therefore nothing can be more absurd than to
  argue from that scheme, that there can be no future state.’—BISHOP

                               CHAPTER I.

  Concerning the Birth and Education of Dr. Gervaas Van Varken, and his
      Loathing and Abhorrence of the whole Human Race—How he met an
      Ancient Parsee merchant in Bombay, and got an introduction to the
      Great Magician of Thibet—How he went to Thibet; what he learned
      there, and how he departed from it.

[Mr. Gervaas Van Varken was a tradesman who flourished on the Boomptjes
of Rotterdam in the early years of the last century. His business was
that of a ship-chandler—for so we may approximately translate the
inscription, ‘Koopman en Touwwerk en andere Scheepsbehoeften,’ which
appeared at the side of his door.

Van Varken drove a tolerably brisk trade, and, being of extremely
miserly habits, succeeded in accumulating a respectable amount of
capital. He was a man of very morose and sulky disposition, and, when he
had reached the period of middle age, married a Vrouw who was not only
gifted with a moral character closely resembling his own, but had,
moreover, embraced Calvinistic views of the most austere type.

This disagreeable couple were blessed with a small family consisting of
one son, called Gervaas, after the name of his father, and this Gervaas,
junior, was the author of the diary before us.

The personal experiences of this unlucky youth were such that his
imbibing the very gloomiest views of things in general, and, in
particular, of human nature, was a simple matter of necessity. In his
earliest childhood he arrived at the conclusion that there was
absolutely nothing he could do which did not issue in a sound thrashing,
administered either by his father or his mother—supplemented, in the
latter case, by energetic assurances that his present suffering was a
mere joke in comparison with the elaborate and abiding torments in store
for him, as a vessel of wrath, in the next world. In addition to these
personal severities the child spent the greater part of his time locked
up in an empty room, imperfectly clothed, more than half-starved, and
with nothing whatever to do but reflect on the inscrutable problem of
human life.

When he was ten years old he was sent to a school kept by a savage old
friend of the ship-chandler, who carried out the parental system of
discipline with even greater vigour; and thus it resulted that when in
course of time Gervaas, junior, was moved to the University of Leyden to
study for the medical profession—a profession for which he was destined
by his father, without the slightest consideration for the young man’s
personal wishes—he had contracted such a habit of intense misanthropy
that it remained with him as his leading characteristic for life.

Gervaas, though by nature of a somewhat crusty disposition, was by no
means a cruel man—at least he had none of that delight in inflicting
pain, as such, which characterizes some of our species. In fact he was
very fond of most sorts of animals, and confined his malevolence
strictly to the human race, of which his experience had been so
unfavourable. When his medical education was completed he was sent, as
surgeon, for several voyages in an English vessel commanded by another
malignant friend of his father; and assuredly the rough and coarse life
on board had no tendency to counteract his pessimistic estimate of
mankind. The British mariners, with their habitual contempt of
foreigners, considered Doctor Van, as they called him, an eligible
subject for all sorts of violent practical jokes; which, to do him
justice, he retaliated, whenever he got the chance, by the infliction of
lingering torments in various surgical operations.

The doctor, who had a considerable gift for languages, soon picked up
English, and a copy of the, just then published, ‘Voyages of Captain
Gulliver’ falling into his hands, he read them with intense interest;
being specially delighted with the account of the crazy philosophers in
the third voyage, and, above all, with the horrible description of the
Yahoos in the fourth. From this time, indeed, he seems to have
invariably used this term in speaking of his fellow-men.

When he had reached the age of about thirty years his mother died; and
as his father did not long survive her, the young man inherited an
amount of property which afforded him a tolerable income, and rendered
him independent of his profession. He resolved to abandon it and visit
the East; for, having made several voyages to Bombay, he had come to the
conclusion that the Yahoos of that part of the world were less
intolerable than the European specimens of the breed.

So he took his passage in an English East Indiaman, and, after an
uneventful voyage, landed at Bombay in the early part of the year 1729.
As soon as the anchor was cast in the roads he lost not a moment in
quitting the ship, having with difficulty escaped the indignity of being
obliged to shake hands with the Yahoo captain. On landing he took up his
quarters at the house of a trader to whom he had a letter of
introduction; and, shortly afterwards, by the merest accident, he
encountered in the street an old Parsee merchant, who, though of course
a Yahoo, seems not to have been absolutely intolerable in the eyes of
the over-sensitive misanthrope, whose notes, at this point, become
continuous for the first time.]

‘As I was walking in the shade of a row of trees which lined the street,
I was accosted by a very ancient merchant of the Parsee persuasion, who
asked me if I had not come from England in the ship which arrived that
morning. I replied that I had been a passenger in her, and we fell into
conversation. The old gentleman was not nearly so offensive to the
senses as are the European Yahoos, and he was perfectly well acquainted
with the English tongue. I found that, in the exercise of his calling,
he had travelled a great deal in divers parts of Asia; and, from his way
of talk, I gathered that the Yahoos of those countries were fully as
abominable in his eyes as the European specimens of the breed were in
mine own. This common sentiment of loathing for our neighbours proved to
ourselves an occasion of union, and before long there was between us as
warm a friendship as two Yahoos are capable of entertaining for each

‘One day, as he was relating some of his adventures, he told me that, in
the days of his youth, when travelling on mercantile business in the
Himalayah Mountains, he chanced to meet a Thibetian gentleman named Koot
Homi. Having on one occasion done a signal service to this Mr. Homi, it
came to pass that the Thibetian, who was of a grateful turn of mind, had
always showed himself a faithful friend to the Parsee. The old merchant
further informed me that Homi was a man endowed with many and strange
gifts; that the famous wonders worked by the Indian magicians or
jugglers were the merest play of babies, when compared with the feats
accomplished by Homi; and that if you only whispered his name into the
ear of one of these magicians when engaged at his work, the magician
would give a frightful howl, and run as if Beelzebub himself was in
pursuit of him.

‘Among other wonders wrought by this Homi was one which struck me as the
most notable of all. This was the power of moving himself, and various
articles in contact with his person, in some inscrutable way from one
district of the earth’s surface to another, no matter how remote, and
apparently in an instant of time. I asked my friend whether he had ever
visited Mr. Homi in Thibet. He told me that he had been there, but only
once; that a long and terrible journey had to be undertaken; frightful
mountain-passes had to be surmounted; that the country in which the
magician’s abode was fixed was inhabited by a strange society or
brotherhood, the members of which were endowed with many of the powers
possessed by Homi himself, who was their chief; and that access, unless
by a special permission, which was very rarely granted, was an absolute

‘And hereupon the old man added an expression of his never-ceasing
regret that he had not availed himself of his opportunity when in Thibet
of endeavouring to persuade Mr. Homi to exercise his wonderful power
upon him, either by transporting him wholly from the Yahoo regions, or,
possibly, by transmuting him into a less hateful form. “I have never
ceased to mourn over my stupidity in this respect,” he said, “and, were
I only able for it, I should gladly repeat my visit to Thibet. But I am
far too old to venture on the fatigues of such a journey. As for you,
however, the case is quite different; you are an active and energetic
man; and should you think it worth your while to try what might be done
in your behalf in the way I have suggested, I will gladly give you a
letter which will enable you to pass without hindrance from the
Brotherhood to the head-quarters of Mr. Homi.” I thanked him very much
for his offer, and asked him to let me think the matter over till next
day, when I should give him my answer.

‘The more I reflected on my friend’s kind offer the better was I pleased
with the prospect of the journey. Inasmuch as life had become well-nigh
intolerable, I cared but little for fatigue and danger. My time also was
wholly at my own disposal. So next morning I told the Parsee that I
gladly accepted his proposal; and he, without any delay, not only wrote
the promised letter of introduction, but also drew up for my use an
itinerary of the most convenient road from Bombay to Eastern Thibet,
containing notices of the towns, distances, and various peculiarities of
the countries through which it was necessary to pass.’

[At this point the memoranda assume a very fragmentary form. This I have
observed to be always the case when the doctor was actually engaged in
travelling. When stationed for a time in some fixed locality he wrote
out his observations pretty fully; but whenever he was moving about,
mere hints are available for the guidance of the editor. His journey was
evidently very long and arduous, and it certainly occupied several
months. In its course many obstacles were plainly put in his way by the
natives of the different territories which he had to traverse; and the
annoyance thence arising greatly ruffled his temper, and seems to have
increased to an almost incredible extent his abhorrence of the human

At last his indomitable energy and perseverance were successful. He
reached the mysterious Thibetian region; and, having exhibited the old
Parsee’s letter, he was permitted by the Brotherhood to pass to the
residence of their chief. Koot Homi received the doctor in a very
friendly manner, and even declined to inspect his letter of
introduction, assuring him that the chief of the occult Brotherhood had
no need to do so. Van Varken seems to have resided with the chief for
about five months, and was evidently admitted to great intimacy with the
whole of the Brotherhood.

One reason for this was clearly the very great interest taken by Homi in
the ‘Voyages of Gulliver,’ a copy of which was presented to him by the
doctor. In particular, the accounts of the philosophers in Lagado, and
of the rational animals in the outward shape of horses, encountered on
his fourth expedition, were listened to by the sage with eager
attention. The chief does not seem to have even in the slightest degree
doubted the veracity of Gulliver; but he certainly expressed the most
intense contempt for the Lagado professors, laying much stress on the
profundity of their stupidity in not having amended the deplorable
condition of the Struldbrugs in Luggnagg, of whose existence the
professors were, doubtless, aware. ‘Even when immortal life was given
them to work upon, they were incompetent to ward off the effects of
senile decay! Why, the merest tiro in our schools would be ashamed to
allow the poor old Struldbrug to get into such a state,’ said he, with
scornful indignation.

But, though he showed much sympathy with Dr. Van Varken’s longing to be
transmuted out of the species he so much abhorred, Mr. Homi did not hold
out any hopes of success in so laudable an endeavour. ‘No,’ said he,
‘many years of arduous preparation, to say nothing of rare natural
gifts, are indispensable qualifications for such transformation; few
even of the adepts are capable of it. But the power of instantaneous
passage from one terrestrial point to another is far more easily arrived

And it appears that, after a few months’ probation, the secret of this
process was actually communicated to the doctor; but under such rigid
obligations to silence that no traces of its nature are to be found
committed to writing. All that can be ascertained about it is this—that
an instantaneous disintegration, and equally rapid reintegration of the
ultimate molecules of the bodies to be moved is effected; that the
transit is accomplished through the medium of the undulations of the
ethereal vehicle which pervades all space; and that the rate of
transmission is identical with that of the transmission of light,
namely, about 186,000 miles in a second. Once more the notes become

I was greatly pleased at gaining this new and wonderful faculty of
moving myself; but, after making a few successful essays, it seemed to
me that, after all, I should not be much the better for its possession.
Yahoos being everywhere spread over the face of the earth, wherever I
moved I should still assuredly And them; and perhaps this was the reason
why, as I was walking by myself one evening and chanced to see the
planet Venus, or Hesperos, shining in the sky, the thought came into my
mind that, inasmuch as the ether fills all the space between the
planets, it might be just possible that the power of movement by
disintegration of molecules, which, as yet, had only been essayed
between places on the earth’s surface, might extend as far as the
planets themselves.

The moon, being far the nearest of the heavenly bodies, would naturally
seem to afford the most promising opportunity for trying the experiment;
but, having learned in Thibet that she is quite destitute of air, I
resolved to try some other region; for I thought it would be quite
useless to arrive there, and straightway perish for want of breath. If I
could only get as far as Hesperos my chances of life would be much
better, inasmuch as I was assured, by the same philosophers, that there
is good reason for believing that planet to be very abundantly supplied
with air. Moreover, it fortunately happened that she was just then
approaching the position called by astronomers her inferior conjunction,
so her distance from the earth was not much over twenty-five millions of

The main risk I should run in attempting to make this passage would
evidently be the possibility, perhaps I should say the probability, of
extinction of the vital force during the period of disintegration, which
I estimated at a little more than two minutes. It was known to the
Thibetian Brotherhood that the disintegrated particles moved with
exactly the same speed as light; and as light requires about eight
minutes to traverse the distance between the sun and the earth, two
would nearly suffice to move it as far as Hesperos in her lower
conjunction. Whether after such an interval of suspension the vital
force would maintain sufficient energy to accomplish the reintegration
on which continuance of bodily life depends, an actual experiment alone
could show. But I cared but little for the risk. Life had long become
hateful to me; a chance was now given to escape the society of the
Yahoos, and all their abominations. I resolved to try my luck—at the
worst I should only perish.

I made no communication of my intention to the chief, lest perchance he
should raise some objection to my intended enterprise; and, on the very
next night, at ten o’clock, I went out, taking with me, in various
pockets of the eastern dress which, for convenience in Asiatic travel, I
had adopted in Bombay, sundry small articles for the toilet, also my
silver watch, and an ingenious instrument for measuring quantities of
heat, which had been sent me as a gift just before I left home, by my
good friend, Mr. Gabriel Fahrenheit, of Amsterdam, who had lately
invented it. I sat down on a rock by the side of the mountain; Hesperos
was distinctly visible, though only a thin crescent of her illuminated
face was turned towards the earth. Carefully noting the time, which was
exactly thirty-seven minutes past ten, and having also marked the
temperature, which was fifty-seven degrees of my thermometer, as the
instrument is called, I accomplished the disintegration, indicating
Hesperos as the goal.

                              CHAPTER II.

  Of the shining city of Lucetta—How Dr. Van Varken met an apparent
      Yahoo—Of the great astonishment of the citizens at sight of the
      Doctor, and how they gave him in charge to a committee of
      three—How the committee learned the Dutch tongue, and showed the
      Doctor sundry strange and wonderful maps.

On recovering consciousness I found myself lying on what felt like soft
grass on the steep side of a mountain. The sky was intensely dark, no
stars were visible, and, of course, there was no moon. Before me, at a
considerably lower elevation, and, as well as I could judge, at a
distance of four or five miles, I saw what had the appearance of a very
brilliantly illuminated city; the illumination was such as no artificial
light known on earth could approach in splendour. So strong was it, that
even at the distance of the place where I was sitting its effect was
quite visible in lighting the hill. In front of the city was a large
sheet of water, and on it were many moving bodies, probably ships, all
of them lighted with the same strange radiance which pervaded the city.
I looked at my watch, and, as might have been expected, I found that it
still marked thirty-seven minutes past ten. I had stupidly forgotten
that, during disintegration, the machinery could not have worked, so I
was unable to verify my computation of the time required for the
transit. The mercury in the thermometer quickly moved up to eighty-six

I judged it best to stay where I was till daylight, especially as I saw
some traces of dawn appearing in a quarter of the sky which I hence
concluded to be the east. I awaited the coming day with great eagerness,
and, I admit, with some anxiety, for it would be hard to say what
reception I might meet with. This much was plain—the planet was not
destitute of some forms of life, and I had escaped the detestable

But, as the reader will soon learn, my conclusion was over-hasty. As the
light gradually increased I began to make out at first the main
features, and soon the minuter details of the landscape. The sloping
ground on which I had landed formed the base of a high mountain. Dense
forests concealed the summit; the lower part, on which I was sitting,
was covered with soft short grass, and trees, most of them bearing some
sort of fruit, were here and there scattered about. A few yards below me
the steepness of the slope eased off into a gentle descent, and the
mountain finally terminated on the shore of a deep bay of clear and
still water. At the end of this bay lay the city which shone so brightly
in the night; it was about five miles from my landing-place, and, as I
afterwards learned, was called Lucetta. The opposite shore of the bay,
which was nearly ten miles wide, was occupied by a lofty range of peaked
mountains. The temperature was high, but by no means intolerable, and
the air was perfectly still.

I saw no traces of any habitation outside the city, and no signs of
animal life, excepting birds, were anywhere visible, but of the birds
there were many and lovely kinds. I was greatly struck by the appearance
of the sky; this was completely covered with a canopy of white cloud,
seemingly at an enormous elevation. I was very desirous to get a sight
of the sun, and, if possible, to measure its apparent magnitude, which I
knew must greatly exceed its appearance from the earth; but the
thickness of the cloud was such that no trace of the disk was visible. I
had hoped, by this means, to satisfy myself that I had really reached
Hesperos, namely, by comparing the observed magnitude with that which I
had computed, and noted on a leaf of my pocket-book before I left
Thibet. So I waited another hour, but seeing no signs of movement among
the clouds, and despairing of getting an observation, I got up and
walked down the hill in the direction of the city.

Presently the great steepness of the slope abated, and I soon arrived at
a wide and smooth track which ran along the shore of the bay. The
country was quite open; there were no walls, hedges, or any kind of
fences—not even any of those notice-boards so familiar to the wanderer
in civilized terrestrial regions, which address him by the name of
Trespasser, and convey menaces. I turned into the road, in the direction
of the city, and, after proceeding along it for about half a mile, I
descried, at some distance, an approaching object, which, to my
unspeakable horror, had all the look of a Yahoo.

As we came nearer the suspicion became a certainty. The creature was
walking very slowly, and seemed to be quite absorbed in contemplation of
a small article which he held in his hand. He was a man of middle age,
with an exceedingly intelligent cast of countenance, and his dress did
not materially differ from the Eastern costume which had accompanied me
from Thibet.

So I could not at all account for the extreme intensity of his
astonishment when, at last raising his eyes, he got the first sight of
me as I walked towards him. He seemed completely paralyzed, gasped for
breath, and for several moments was quite incapable of speech. Such
utter stupefaction might have been manifested by the inhabitants of
Lilliput and Brobdingnag when they first beheld Captain Gulliver, but in
the present case there was no apparent cause for amazement. At length he
recovered himself sufficiently to address a few words to me, none of
which I could understand. I replied, but with the like want of success.
I pointed to the sky, to intimate that I had come from another world,
and then to the city, as a hint that I wished to go there. Both of these
signs he evidently understood, and he turned back, and accompanied me in
silence. I must do my companion, and indeed all the Venusians (or
Hesperians) I have encountered, the justice of admitting that, though in
Yahoo form, they possess none of the offensive peculiarities of the

We had not gone very far before we overtook a young girl of exceedingly
prepossessing aspect, walking towards the city. She too, on seeing me,
appeared to be struck with the same overwhelming and stupefying
astonishment which had produced so great an effect on my first
acquaintance. I could not understand it at all. There was nothing in the
personal appearance of either the man or the girl which struck _me_ as
extremely unusual. Why, then, should I be so extraordinarily wonderful
in their eyes?

When we came up with the girl the man stopped, and they talked in a very
excited manner for some minutes. While they were so occupied it occurred
to me that something very remarkable might have happened in the
reintegration of my body on arrival at the surface of the planet. I
might, for all I knew, be suffering from some grotesque distortion of
features, or other bodily misfortune. But no, that was not the cause of
their wonder, for, as the road ran close along the shore, I took the
opportunity of surveying myself in the clear water, and the reflection
showed, beyond all possibility of doubt, that there was nothing whatever
astray with my personal appearance.

Presently, hearing a slight noise behind me, I looked back, and saw a
vehicle on its way to the city approaching us. It was running swiftly,
although there were no horses attached, nor any visible motive power;
the wheels ran on two steel rods which I had before noticed lying
parallel to each other on the road. As soon as the vehicle reached the
spot where we were standing it stopped at once, and the man and the girl
making signs to me to get into it, I did so. In the vehicle were about a
dozen people, of various adult ages, the youngest seemingly about twenty
years old, the eldest about sixty. They were of both sexes, and, with
one consent, they all, old and young, male and female alike, received me
with the same intense, and, as it seemed to me, needless amazement as
the first man and girl had shown.

The vehicle resumed its course and ran on swiftly and with exceeding
smoothness into the city. It was easy to see that I was the exclusive
theme of the eager and excited discourse of the passengers. Their manner
was very friendly, but their astonishment showed no signs of abating. A
few minutes sufficed to bring us to the end of our journey. The car ran
through a long and wide street, bordered on each side with rows of
splendid trees. Through their foliage the houses were visible. Each
house was separated from its neighbour by an interval of several yards;
was but one story in height; and, so far as I was able to judge from a
hasty glance in rapid passage, was very elaborately and tastefully
ornamented. It was plain that land was abundant, and ground rents, if
any, were trifling.

We soon reached our destination—a large open space in the middle of the
town. This great square was surrounded by stately public buildings, some
of them being of considerable elevation. One of these was especially
striking on account of its gorgeous magnificence. It had all the look of
a vast cathedral, and the roll of deep-toned music, much resembling the
tones of a powerful and curiously sweet organ, issuing from the open
portals, served to heighten the illusion. Though still early morning,
many people were about in the square, and, as soon as we alighted from
the car, I saw the faces of all the bystanders assume the same look of
bewildered astonishment which all who had yet seen me so needlessly put

From all sides the people came running together; but there was no
crowding or pressure; the multitude were most orderly, and seemed quite
friendly in their demeanour; but it was plain that, for some mysterious
reason, my arrival indicated a crisis in the history of the city. At
last a young man, who appeared to be in a position of authority, mounted
a low flight of steps which led up to the building before which the
vehicle had stopped, and addressed a short speech to the assembled
people. The crowd at once dispersed, and three persons came forward and
took me in charge.

Two of these were men, one of them elderly, the other of middle age; the
third of these custodians, as I had to consider them, was a very
beautiful girl, seemingly about twenty years old. The countenances of
all three were characterized by marks of extreme intelligence; and each
of them had a peculiar look which is common to all the Hesperians I have
seen, and which I can no otherwise describe than as a look indicative of
immense and profound knowledge. These three persons, as I afterwards
learned, were appointed by the man in authority as a sort of commission
to take charge of me, and endeavour to ascertain what I was, whence I
came, and whither I was going. The real cause of the intensity of the
wonder which I excited everywhere will be explained farther on.

The elder man made signs to me to walk up the steps, and enter the large
building beside us, which I did, the others following. The steps led up
to a spacious hall, from which long corridors branched out in various
directions. One of the men inquired by gesture-language if I wished for
food. As I was by this time exceedingly hungry, I replied, in the same
way, that I was quite ready for my breakfast. Whereupon they brought me
to a room which opened into one of the corridors, where, on turning a
handle in the wall, a sliding panel opened, and a table on rollers
passed through. Various kinds of meats and drinks were on the table, and
of these they invited me to partake. I made a hearty meal. I noticed, in
particular, respecting some of the dishes, that they greatly resembled
in taste various kinds of flesh-meat, very delicately cooked, but they
were totally different in appearance from anything of the sort ever
served up on earth.

I observed also that my three keepers did everything in their power to
induce me to give the names, in my language, of every object in sight.
The girl had a sort of small memorandum book, in which, with a fine
pencil, she constantly wrote, in what seemed a system of shorthand, the
words and sentences I uttered; and she and the two men repeated them
articulately several times. They gave me the idea that they were much
more anxious to learn my language than to teach me theirs. In fact, I
afterwards learned that this was part of the instructions they had
received respecting me.

As soon as I had finished my breakfast they took me into a large room,
which opened into another corridor, and was hung round with all sorts of
charts. Among these I saw, to my intense astonishment, a large circular
map, about sixteen feet in diameter, on which, depicted with singular
accuracy, were the well-known outlines of the continents and larger
islands of the eastern hemisphere of the earth. The immense white masses
at the poles, the blue colour of the southern and Indian oceans, the
yellow tinge of the Great Sahara and Asiatic deserts were especially
prominent objects. The process by which this wonderful map was made was
afterwards fully explained to me. It was what they called a sun-picture
taken by the help of an enormous telescope in one of the national
mountain observatories, of which I learned much more afterwards.

They showed me several other equally excellent charts of the earth,
exhibiting different portions of her surface. All of these were taken
when she was in opposition, and therefore were all on the same scale.
The committee showed great delight when I intimated my acquaintance with
the details of the charts; inasmuch as this was a sufficiently clear
proof of the place from which I came. I pronounced, as distinctly as I
could, the names of the continents, seas, and principal islands,
indicating, at the same time, by pointing them out, the localities
named. All of these words they repeated as before; and the girl took
them down in her rapid shorthand.

The extraordinary quickness with which these three Hesperians acquired
the language of Holland would not be easily credited by an inhabitant of
the earth. Still it is a fact that, by the simple process of constantly
conversing with me, and recording every word I spoke to them, in little
more than a week all the three could speak our language with great
fluency; while I, who had a great facility for learning foreign tongues,
had acquired only a few words and elementary sentences of the Hesperian
speech. This training in our language was by no means confined to the
three members of the committee. Each morning the results of the day’s
conversation were faithfully reported in the Hesperian journals from the
girl’s memoranda; and the whole population of the city engaged with
heart and soul in the study of Hollandish—plainly with the intention of
putting themselves as quickly as possible in the way of getting an
explanation of my astounding appearance among them.

                              CHAPTER III.

  Concerning Physical Hesperography—Of the great Cloud-Screen, and its
      effect on Terrestrial Astronomy—Of the Chronic Equatorial Tornado,
      and of its extraordinary importance in the history of Hesperos—Of
      the Giant Mountains; and of the Flora and Fauna.

To understand aright the nature of my intercourse with the Hesperians, I
must needs give a short description of the structure and principal
natural features of the surface of their planet; and likewise some
account of the origin of the rational inhabitants thereof, and of the
main points wherein their conditions of life differ from our own. All
this knowledge was obtained by me, after the establishment, as I have
explained, of a means of communication, in the course of many dialogues,
not only with the three whom I had instructed in the Hollandish tongue,
but also with many others, who had, with nearly equal quickness and
ease, picked it up. But I think the reader will find it more convenient
if I present him, in a connected discourse, this strange history which
came to my knowledge only by degrees and in a rather roundabout way.

Our own astronomers have, long ago, computed the distance of Hesperos
from the sun, her magnitude, density, time of rotation on her axis, and
a few other particulars. Some of these computations are approximately
right, but they have considerably over-estimated her distance from the
sun, which is really not much over sixty-six millions of miles. And with
respect to the physical geography, or more properly, Hesperography of
the planet, they are, all of them, in absolute ignorance, and that for
the best of possible reasons—no human being but myself has ever seen her
surface. Improvements in the telescope will never enable the terrestrial
astronomers to penetrate the permanent stratum of cloud which, at an
average elevation of twenty miles, surrounds the entire planet like a
screen. The visible disk of Hesperos is simply the outer surface of this
cloud-screen, which reflects the solar rays very copiously. The
Hesperian atmosphere is of immense density, for the average height at
which mercury stands in a tube constructed after the method of Signor
Torricelli is somewhat over fifty-nine inches. It is fortunate that,
except in the equatorial region, storms are unknown, for the impact of a
hurricane of air of such density would be fatal to most forms of life.

This ponderous atmosphere supports the stratum of cloud just mentioned,
which is sufficiently dense to act as a screen against the solar rays,
and it thus renders the climate of the greater part of the planet by no
means unpleasant. Though the supply of solar heat is nearly double of
that received by the earth, I never, during my two years’ residence in
Hesperos, experienced as much inconvenience from that source as I have
frequently met with in our own tropical countries.

The planet is divided into two regions, which in ancient times were
supposed to be, and, in one respect, really were, mutually inaccessible.
The division is made by an immense equatorial ocean which surrounds the
entire globe. The extent of this ocean, measured from north to south, is
nowhere less than four thousand miles. Each of the poles is the centre
of a vast continent which extends on all sides till it meets the great
central ocean. The margins of these continents are exceedingly irregular
in shape, being broken by arms of the sea, which often run up the
country for many hundreds of miles. Many islands, some of which are of
considerable size, are scattered through the ocean, but none of these
lie at a very great distance from the mainland. The entire surface is
nearly equally divided between land and water, this distribution forming
a marked contrast with the present state of the earth.

By far the most striking of the physical phenomena on the planet is the
frightful chronic hurricane which rages round the equator. To this I
must ask the reader’s special attention, inasmuch as some of the most
astounding events in the Hesperian history are only to be understood
with reference to this extraordinary and hitherto unexplained tornado. I
have already mentioned the exceeding density of the air, and also the
fortunate exemption of the greater part of the planet from storms. But
it seems that this latent energy of the atmosphere finds its vent in a
zone about five hundred miles in breadth, of which the equator forms the
central line. According to all accounts a permanent tornado, of such
violence that one who is accustomed only to the storms which occur in
the rarer atmosphere of the earth, is incapable of even imagining it,
tears and rages round this zone for ever. Still less could anyone
conceive the aspect of the ocean subjected to this unceasing and
tremendous hurricane. Anyone who could realize in imagination the
cataract of Niagara, broken loose from its American moorings, and
wandering on the sea, might perhaps have some notion of one of the
equatorial waves.

This is the reason why I described the northern and southern Hesperian
hemispheres as mutually inaccessible. No ship constructed by mortal
hands could approach this pandemonium and live. We shall see, farther
on, that, after the lapse of many ages, counting from the first
appearance of rational life, the transit was effected in a wholly
unexpected manner. This transit led to a most awful discovery, and with
this discovery we shall see that the Modern History of Hesperos begins.

Moreover, the differences as to heat and cold in the various climatal
regions of Hesperos are not nearly so great as those which are
experienced on the earth. This fact is partly to be explained by the
considerable increase in the density of the permanent cloud stratum,
which takes place as we approach the equatorial zone. This provides a
more effective barrier against the solar rays in the districts where
such a screen is most needed. For the purpose of residence the two polar
regions are unquestionably far the most agreeable. Each of them abounds
in beautiful lakes and magnificent mountain scenery. The Hesperian
mountains are on a much larger scale than any which occur on the earth.
In particular, starting from a point near the northern pole, there runs
in a south-easterly direction a mighty chain which has several peaks not
less than twenty English miles in height.

Some of these peaks even pierce through the cloud-screen, and these have
been made available for the construction of extensive astronomical
observatories. There are similar, though not quite as lofty ranges in
the southern hemisphere, and their summits have been utilised in the
same way. It should be observed that, were it not for these mountains,
the Hesperians would have been wholly cut off from all knowledge of the
remainder of the universe, for none of the heavenly bodies are visible
through the permanent screen. I need not say that very great precautions
are taken at all the observatories to protect the astronomers and the
instruments from the great heat of the sun.

I have already mentioned that, with the terrible exception noticed
above, storms are unknown in Hesperos. The country is everywhere well
watered. There are no sandy deserts. Extensive evaporation takes place
over the central ocean; rain clouds at a much lower altitude than the
screen are constantly formed, and, being wafted by very gentle breezes
over the land, discharge their contents in fertilizing rain. There are
no thunderstorms or electrical phenomena of any kind; no hesperoquakes,
no volcanoes, nor indeed any of those vast natural instruments of death
with which our earth is so copiously supplied.

The planet abounds, as might have been expected, in multiplied forms of
vegetable life. There are many trees which closely resemble those of the
earth; many also of very different types from any known here. The great
preponderance in number of the fruit-bearing trees over the barren
species is exceedingly noteworthy. As for the flowers, I have seen none
on earth, tropical or non-tropical, which in any way approach the
gorgeous splendour of the Hesperian colouring.

Animal life, on the other hand, is scanty, and confined to a small
number of seemingly insignificant species. The bird tribe forms the only
exception. Of these the forms are numerous and lovely, and, as they are
never molested by the inhabitants, they are singularly tame. There are
no large or carnivorous mammals; and it is worth notice that in the
small-sized and graminivorous types of this class—the only quadrupeds in
Hesperos—the reproductive power is, in comparison with the earth tribes,
exceedingly small. Insects and reptiles are wholly unknown; the numerous
birds live entirely on the abundant fruits. I greatly appreciated the
comfort of being able to sit and rest on the grass without being
immediately covered with a disgusting swarm of stinging ants, and, when
in the house, I soon learned to submit with resignation to the absence
of the loathsome cockroach and the both loathsome and dangerous
centipede and scorpion.

                               CHAPTER IV

  Of the Origin of Rational Life in Hesperos—Of the Cyclical Organic
      Life—Of the Law of Evanescence by Mortal Lesion—The story of the
      Hesperian Cain—Of the Law of Evanescence by adverse Metronomic
      Balance—How a Court of Justice sentenced a culprit to Eternal
      Punishment; and how the culprit escaped.

  [WARNUNG BY ANTARES SKORPIOS.—_Should this book, by any mischance,
      have fallen into the hands of any habitual consumer of the style
      of literature known as ‘Shilling Shockers,’ or ‘Penny Dreadfuls,’
      the Shocked or Terrified is earnestly exhorted to waste none of
      his valuable time on the pages which follow. He may rely on it
      that, although up to this point he may have been able to
      comprehend the narrative, the remainder of the work is utterly
      beyond his tether. I now proceed with my translation._]

I shall now proceed to give an account of the nature and origin of
rational life in Hesperos; but, before doing so, I must venture to
address a word of advice and exhortation to the reader. Should he,
unhappily, be one of those narrow-minded persons who exalt the normal
phenomena of this little globe of earth into the unique standard and
pattern of what must needs prevail throughout the entire universe, he
had better close the book at once. But should he be of larger mind, and
allow the possibility of more than he has dreamed of in his philosophy
existing in heaven, he may perhaps find in the following sketch of the
ancient history of Hesperos, communicated to me by those who were
themselves the eye-witnesses of what they related, abundant matter both
for profitable reflection and delectable entertainment.

I may here add that, for the convenience of these large-minded readers,
I have in all cases reduced the measures of time and distance from the
Hesperian terms in which they were given to me, to those which are best
known in Europe. Thus, when I speak of years, I mean our own period of
365 days, and not the Hesperian of 224; and similarly I have expressed
their measure of distance in English miles and feet; these being,
perhaps, the best international standards.

The whole surface of Hesperos contains a little over one hundred and
eighty-two millions of square miles. Hence, as land and water occur in
nearly equal proportions, we have as the total amount of land about
ninety-one millions. This again, being nearly equally divided between
the north and south hemispheres, gives forty-five and a-half millions
for each. If we deduct from this the odd five and a-half millions, as an
allowance for the immensely high mountain chains, and other districts
not suited for supporting life, we shall have left forty millions of
square miles in each hemisphere available for that purpose.

Such being the physical condition of the planet, it happened that, in
the year B.C. 18,270, just twenty thousand years ago, there suddenly
appeared, uniformly dispersed over the forty million square miles of the
northern hemisphere, exactly one hundred millions of rational creatures
in the likeness of the human race. This is an ultimate fact which has
hitherto baffled all inquiry. The manifestation took place suddenly and
simultaneously; but whether it was the result of a new creation, or of a
translation from other regions of space, is wrapped in impenetrable
mystery. For twenty thousand years the Unknown Power which called them
into being has preserved a rigid and unbroken silence. All that is known
is that at the above epoch one hundred millions of highly intelligent
creatures, equally divided between the two sexes, male and female,
simultaneously awoke into conscious life.

Though thus strictly contemporaneous in origin, they were nevertheless,
so far as appearance indicated, of very different ages. They all seemed
to be adults, but their aspects varied between that of an adult of
twenty and one of sixty years of age.

It is not my intention to describe the long and complicated process by
which these detached creations, all alike ignorant of what had taken
place, were, in the long course of ages, gradually amalgamated into
communities and states. This would form the subject of a separate work
on the ancient history of Hesperos, for which I possess copious
materials. [I fear lost.] I must here confine myself to setting out more
in detail the extraordinary differences, as to their circumstances and
conditions of life, which exist between the rational inhabitants of
Hesperos and those of the earth.

The first fact which will strike the reader as a very extraordinary
difference indeed is this—that, although there is the same distinction
of sexes as is found on earth, and although there is just the same
mutual attraction between them, there is no such thing as reproduction
of the species. To counterbalance this strange fact, however, there are
no such things, at least as the result of natural causes, as disease,
decay, and death. When I said that the apparent ages of the new created
or imported Hesperians varied between twenty and sixty years, I did not
mean to intimate, and the reader is not to infer, that anything in the
slightest degree resembling the horrible condition of the Struldbrugs of
Luggnagg has place in Hesperos. Far from it; the dependence of the
bodily organism on the age of the individual in that planet has no
analogy with the progressive decay of the wretched Struldbrug; it
follows a more complicated law.

Every Hesperian, in fact, considered solely with reference to this
bodily organism, leads a periodical life. The length of this period is
not absolutely fixed, but it may be taken on an average at one hundred
years, which may be conveniently divided into three sections, which may
be respectively named as stationary, senescent, and juvenescent. For
example, if we take a person who has just reached the apparent age of
twenty years, his organic life will proceed somewhat as follow:—For the
next twenty years he or she shows no outward and visible sign of change;
but, at the end of this first or stationary period, traces of departing
youth begin to manifest themselves. This process goes on for forty
years, much in the same way as is the case with the human race on earth;
and, at the end of this period, which we call senescent, the person has,
in external form, all the look of a man or woman sixty years old.

At or about this time a crisis in life takes place. This crisis is
marked by the patient falling into a sort of stupor or trance, in which
he usually continues for about seven days. On awakening from this trance
he resumes his ordinary life, apparently under the same conditions as
before. But the conditions are not the same. It soon becomes plain that
the trance has wrought some mysterious change in his powers of bodily
life. At the date of his awakening the last section of the periodical
life, called the juvenescent, begins. Change both in external form and
bodily activity proceeds, but it proceeds in a reversed direction, so
that at the end of ten years the man of sixty, instead of being promoted
to the rank of a septuagenarian, has all the appearance of a man of
fifty; ten years more bring him to forty, and so on, till the limit of
twenty is reached again, and the stationary stage sets in once more.

Thus the cycle of one hundred years is completed—twenty years
stationary, forty senescent, forty juvenescent. It should be remembered
that these numbers only give averages; they vary in different cases
within limits of a few years, nor are they, even for one and the same
person, quite rigidly fixed. So the reader must not suppose that those
who happen to be of the same apparent age at any one given date, will
evermore preserve the same chronological relation to each other.

It appears at once from the consideration of this cyclical law, that
about one-half of the population of the planet are (apparently) over,
and the other half under, the age of thirty-five years. Still it must
never be forgotten that this cycle of events affects the corporeal
existence exclusively. Mental power is in no way under its control.
Although it is true that, during the senescent period, both the desire
and the capacity for active bodily exertion alike decline, there is no
abatement whatever in the intellectual energy, or the slightest failure
in the faculty of memory.

This, then, is the second essential difference between the Hesperian and
the Terrestrial conditions of life. The first being the fact of
Non-reproduction, the second may be called the Law of Cyclical Organism.
A third still remains for our investigation.

This third essential difference was known, during the period of the
ancient history of Hesperos, as the Law of Evanescence. But, before
proceeding to explain it, I must premise that, since the commencement of
the modern history, it has been ascertained that the real significance
of this law was entirely misconceived in the earlier period. Though the
facts, so far as they had been then observed, were sufficiently
accounted for by it, the observations had been very far from complete.

The reader has, of course, already noticed, as an obvious consequence of
the fact of non-reproduction, that all the now existing rational
inhabitants of Hesperos are contemporaneous with the sudden
manifestation of rational life on her surface. Whatever appearances
might seem to indicate, not one of them is under twenty thousand years
of age. Even the lovely girl who made notes of my conversation was not a
day under it, though, at that time, I should have found it very hard to
believe the fact. I have already mentioned that there is no such thing
as death from disease or other natural and necessary cause. Still other
causes may exist, and to these a portion of the original population may
have fallen victims, so that the present Hesperians may be only the
survivors of the original creation. These, too, some day or other may in
like manner disappear, and rational life may thus be ultimately
obliterated from the face of the planet. Such indeed was for ages the
prevailing belief. How the belief was found to be based on an erroneous
view of the actual facts will appear when we come to the history of the
wonderful discovery which marks the commencement of the modern history.

But, as for the belief itself in the likelihood of extinction of life in
the planet, its origin may be easily explained. Soon after the sudden
creation, or manifestation, of the Hesperians, the people in contiguous
districts began to fraternise with each other. By degrees small
communities were formed; rude languages were invented; private property
began to be acquired; the advantages of co-operation and division of
labour were dimly discerned. But, side by side with these marks of
progress, many discouraging symptoms appeared. These, perhaps the
inseparable companions of advancing civilization, were simply envy,
hatred, jealousy, and all kinds of malice, too often resulting in
energetic quarrelling, blows, and wounds.

In one of these early contests one of the combatants, who had armed
himself with an exceptionally heavy bludgeon, chanced to strike his
antagonist an awful blow on the temple. The result was equally awful.
Instead of falling to the ground, stunned by the force of the blow, as
had been the usual result under similar circumstances in many previous
encounters, the man who had received it simply vanished—instantaneously
vanished. Not a trace of him was left, and the Hesperian Cain stood
staring at the vacancy which his departed brother had filled, gasping
with amazement and consternation at the work he had achieved.

As years went on many similar cases occurred. Occasionally this
evanescence took place as the result of an accident; the co-operation of
a neighbour, though a common, was not an indispensable antecedent. For
instance, if a man fell over a precipice several hundred feet high—and
many such are to be found among the mountains—evanescence on reaching
the foot of it was invariable.

At length, by the process of comparing a vast number of instances in
which this strange phenomenon had been observed, what was called the Law
of Evanescence was established, namely, that a certain class of bodily
injuries exist, which result in the instantaneous dissolution and
disappearance of the recipient. And here I found my medical education of
great service in enabling me to understand the nature of this law; for,
from the accounts I got of the various causes of evanescence, it became
quite clear to me that in _almost_ every case of the occurrence of the
phenomenon, what would be called in human beings a mortal lesion is the
invariable antecedent; that, in fact, the decomposition of the body,
which on the earth takes place slowly, is instantaneously effected in

Having referred to my medical education, I may call the reader’s
attention, just in passing, to a difficulty which that education brought
very forcibly before my mind. How could there be any science of anatomy
in Hesperos? No corpses could be procured for dissection. An amputated
arm or leg might be anatomised, but an examination of the structure of
any of the vital organs is simply impossible. Just as, in mediæval
times, medical students on the earth were obliged to have recourse to
the dissection of the lower mammalia, in order to learn their business,
so is it now with the Hesperians; and, in both cases, the results
arrived at may be useful as the grounds for more or less ingenious
hypotheses, but are quite insufficient as a foundation for any science
worthy of the name.

But the above account of evanescence as, in all cases, the result of
mortal lesion, is not in absolute conformity with the facts of
experience. Such lesions are unquestionably, in the vast majority of
instances, the real causes of the phenomena. Still, occasionally, though
comparatively rarely, cases occur which seem to be irreducible to any
such rule, and these, for many ages, were regarded as inexplicable
anomalies. However, the law which governs such mysterious cases of
evanescence was at last found out, as I shall now proceed to explain.

This important discovery was really the result of the invention of a
most ingenious instrument, by means of which the degrees of pain and
suffering on the one hand, and of joy and satisfaction on the other,
endured or enjoyed by any given individual, during any assigned period,
may be accurately measured, their aggregate amount computed, and the
balance on either side struck. The machine is constructed somewhat on
the principle of Mr. Fahrenheit’s thermometer, but the details of the
construction, and of the mode of fixing the unit on which the
calculations rest, were not communicated to me; indeed, the Hesperian
who gave me a general account of it very frankly assured me—and I find
no difficulty in believing him—that to understand its mode of action
lies far beyond the range of my merely human faculties. However this may
be, it is not easy to see how, without some such invention, the Second
Law of Evanescence could have been discovered; but, by the application
of this wonderful instrument to a great number of cases, the Law in
question was at last established on a sufficiently wide inductive basis.

This Second Law of Evanescence may be stated in a popular form as
follows:—Evanescence takes place whenever the total quantity of
suffering undergone by anyone, exceeds, by a certain fixed amount, the
total quantity of happiness he has enjoyed. This fixed amount when
estimated by the Hesperian joy-and-sorrow-metronome, above described, is
exactly ten million units of its scale. When this negative balance is
reached, the second law acts spontaneously, and the sufferer is thus
released from all further misery.

Under the existing conditions of life in Hesperos, it would be hard to
over-estimate the importance of this law. For example, only for it there
is nothing to prevent a court of justice from sentencing a prisoner to
eternal punishment. And, as a matter of fact, one of the very earliest
noticed cases of anomalous evanescence was the result of just such a

The case occurred, about three thousand years after the creation. At
that time, states, governments, and courts of justice had been fully
established. In one of the larger islands not far from the northern
continent, a somewhat turbulent citizen had, in a quarrel commenced by
himself, ‘evanesced’ one of his neighbours, a man who happened to be
exceedingly popular in the community where he dwelt. Public indignation
was thereby excited to a terrible pitch. Cases of violent evanescence,
or, as we should call them, murder, were frequent in the earlier
periods; but, at the time of this outrage, they were beginning to be
regarded with much disfavour. Owing to the absence of reproduction, it
was quite plain that, unless this practice was discountenanced, the
depopulation of the planet was inevitable; and, inasmuch as the question
‘Is Life worth living?’ had not yet been answered in the negative, it
was resolved that the whole force of society should be brought to bear
against all violent evanishers.

This state of public opinion, combined with the great amiability of the
victim, induced the judges to pass on the criminal a sentence which they
must have believed to amount to eternal punishment, namely, penal
servitude for life. Life was, at that time, held to be interminable,
except by violence; and, inasmuch as the convict in prison was secure
from everything of the kind, the sentence could bear no other
interpretation. However, at the end of about three years and a-half, the
prisoner, without any apparent lawful reason, suddenly evanesced. This
event greatly puzzled the community where it occurred; but after the
discovery of the Second Law, there was no further mystery about it. The
man’s absolute wretchedness at the forlorn prospect before him of
everlasting life in jail, was quite sufficient, without his undergoing
any other form of physical suffering, to work his deliverance. The
negative balance of ten million units was reached in the three years and
a half, whereupon he departed into invisibility under the natural
operation of the law.

It is obvious that the time which is required to make up the fixed
number of metronomic units will depend very much on the degree of the
intensity of the suffering undergone. Instances have occurred where a
few days of exceedingly acute bodily torture have sufficed to raise the
index to the required point. On the other hand, a man who is only
suffering from chronic _ennui_ may endure for half a century; the
balance against him rising by very slow degrees. It should also be
remembered that when a man who has enjoyed a very happy life falls into
adversity, he will certainly have much sorrow to endure, before he can
hope for deliverance by this beneficent law; for the balance on the
positive side (for joy), which will be high, must be reduced quite down
to zero before the negative summation begins.

From the above-stated facts the reader will have perceived that the
conditions of rational life among the Hesperians differ from those
experienced on the earth in several essential points. The most important
of these are the three following:—The absence of any reproduction of the
species; the exemption of the individual from death, so far as this is
the result of natural and necessary causes; and the cyclical waxing and
waning of the powers of the bodily organism. Evanescence, though its
real nature was unknown, had plainly, for the ancient Hesperians, the
same significance as death has for us; the only difference being that,
with them, the dissolution of the body was an instantaneous act, instead
of being effected, except when accelerated by fire, through the medium
of a slow and loathsome process of decay.

                               CHAPTER V.

  Of the causes of the high civilization of Hesperos—Of the relations of
      the sexes—Of private personal property—Of property in Land; and of
      the methods of Eviction—Of the Jacks and Masters of all Trades.

When we bear in mind these essential differences of Hesperian life, the
rapid development of civilization which took place in the northern
hemisphere after the sudden introduction of the rational creation will
not appear surprising. So far as I have been able to form an estimate,
from the information that has been very freely afforded me, the newly
created Hesperians were, both intellectually and morally, much on a par
with the average of human beings. But the conditions under which they
were placed rendered their advance in civilization incomparably more
rapid than anything which a similar species, circumstanced as we are on
the earth, could hope to attain.

Their total exemption from the chronic paralysis of the human race which
is involved in the incessant passage of the latter through the stages of
infancy and childhood, would, by itself, be enough to give the
Hesperians such a start in the race as to render competition useless.
With us the intelligent man of matured wisdom departs, carrying with him
to the grave the greater part of his accumulated stores of knowledge,
and all his skill; leaving his successor, the child, to recover them as
well as he can. The Hesperian is crossed by no such check; his course is
one uninterrupted advance. Thus it came to pass that, after the lapse of
a few thousand years, the condition of the northern hemisphere was, as
regards every form of advanced civilization, a very long way ahead of
anything even dreamed of, much less realized on earth.

It is quite necessary that I should here say a few words on the
relations between the sexes in this strange planet. On this difficult
subject I have taken abundance of notes from the information I received;
information which, I am bound to say, was given me without the slightest
reserve. [I suppress all details in these notes, as public opinion, very
rightly, does not permit the discussion of such matters.] It is obvious
of itself that the permanence of individual life renders the
establishment of such a life-contract as marriage an impossibility.
Accordingly, the Hesperian relation which most nearly corresponds with
the matrimonial institution on earth usually lasts for one of the
cyclical periods already described as one of the distinctive
peculiarities of Hesperian life. This is, I say, the customary
procedure; but the relation is terminable at any time, and at the will
of either party concerned. It should, of course, be remembered that, as
there are no children, the disastrous consequences which would be the
inevitable result of such a state of things on earth do not take place.

As for the institution of private property, the same permanence of
individual life gives it quite a different form from that which it
assumes under the conditions of death and succession. Personal property,
indeed, in our strict sense of the term, can hardly be said to exist at
all. There being no real family life—for the mere dwelling together of a
childless man and woman can scarcely be called by such a name—a
different social unit has been adopted. Three or four persons of each
sex usually reside together, thus forming a household numbering six or
eight, and ‘property’ has commonly reference to the household so
constituted. The reader will see further on that this account of
property is only correct for the _ancient_ history of the planet.

With respect to property in land, very great troubles took place in the
primitive times; and many ages elapsed before a satisfactory settlement
was arrived at. Hesperos is, in comparison with the earth, very sparsely
populated. One hundred millions of inhabitants to forty millions of
square miles of land, give but an average of two and a-half to each
square mile. Now, if we assume that the area of England is about 50,900
square miles—an estimate which does not much differ from the fact—and
that the population (A.D. 1730) is somewhere about seven millions, we
have above one hundred and thirty-seven to each square mile. In an
island of like dimensions in Hesperos—and one such really exists not far
from the mainland—there are only 127,250 inhabitants.

Hence it would seem that the land supply is greatly in excess of the
needs of the population. But there are such extraordinary differences in
the eligibility of particular sites as places for residence, that great
competition invariably arose for those spots which are specially
favoured by nature. These disputes were much aggravated by the
conviction that the successful candidate had acquired a real, _bona
fide_, and by no means fictitious perpetuity in the coveted abode. Thus
these bitter feuds only too frequently resulted in the eviction of the
occupier by one or other of the well-known processes by which
evanescence was brought about; either that of mortal lesion, which was
commonly effected by somebody lying in wait for the envied tenant in
some lonely place; or by the slow method of the metronomic balance,
carried out by imposing on the victim a sort of social ostracism,
refusing to hold any intercourse with him, or indeed supply him with the
necessaries of life.

Matters at length proceeded to such extremities, that the governing
bodies, in alarm at the depopulating process, passed a very stringent
land law, limiting the tenure of any holding to the period of the Life
Cycle, which, as we have already seen, averages one hundred years. At
the end of that period the estate was disposed of by lot, but there was
no rule to prevent the incoming tenant from coming to terms with the
outgoer. It must be distinctly understood, however, that, as the extent
in area of each holding was strictly limited by law, there was abundance
of land for everyone, and the dispossessed occupiers were merely
transferred to another part of the country.

Permanence of individual life again is the cause of a marked difference
in Hesperos from anything we experience on Earth, with respect to the
tenures of the various occupations, trades, or professions, by the
persons who exercise them. With us life is so short, and art so long,
that when a man has once acquired the skill which is needful for his
calling, he has but small opportunity, after having exercised it for a
time, of ever learning another. But eternal tailoring or shoe-making, or
even eternal writing of poetry, or painting, or playing on the fiddle,
could not be thought of. Any attempt to carry out such a permanence of
occupation would quickly terminate in the evanescence of the patient by
the operation of the metronomic law.

So here again the life cycle is usually adhered to; and on its
completion the subject almost invariably adopts a new calling. Hence a
strange state of affairs now in Hesperos—every man, and woman also, is
not only Jack, but master, or mistress, of all trades. A friend told me
that, during the last seven centuries of the ancient period, he had
successively occupied the positions of miner, lamp-maker,
cathedral-organist, confectioner, marine engineer, barrister-at-law, and
maker of sun-pictures.

                              CHAPTER VI.

  Of the Universal Language—Of the Universal Empire and first measures
      of the World-Parliament—Of the great progress of the Hesperians in
      all Physical Science; and of their fruitless craving after the
      Unknown God.

It has been already mentioned that the land surface of Hesperos consists
of an immense polar continent, bordered with a very considerable number
of islands, which vary greatly both in magnitude and configuration. The
island populations naturally lived for a long period in complete
separation from each other, and the hesperographical peculiarities of
the continent, such as extensive chains of impassable mountains,
produced a similar effect on the mainland. Hence, just as on earth,
different nationalities came into existence; and also, as on earth, each
of these different nationalities had its own special language. But, as
time went on, ships were invented, and communication between the islands
and the continent became frequent. Commerce soon assumed extensive
proportions; for in Hesperos, as in the earth, different regions abound
in different products. Engineering operations also had been organized on
a large scale, and these required much transportation of minerals and
other materials of construction.

In the sixth millenary period, counting from the rational creation, a
most important improvement was originated by the Hesperians; an
improvement which brought still more notable changes in its wake. This
was the adoption of one universal language for the globe, in room of the
many which had sprung up in the different states. By this time they had
fully realized their positions as permanent denizens of the planet, and
the advantages of a universal medium of communication were too obvious
to need discussion. For this reason all the independent governments
united in an international convention, and appointed a large committee
of the most eminent philologists to consider the whole question.
Pursuant to the report of this committee, a universal language was
adopted; and the whole Hesperian world set to work, resolutely, at its
study. In a very short time the polyglot system came to an end, and the
language still spoken over the whole planet was an established fact.

The adoption of this universal language prepared the way for the union
of all the separate states into one vast empire. Thanks to the reckless
use of the two methods of evanescence, the original population of one
hundred millions had, in the lapse of ages, dwindled down to little more
than eighty millions, and eighty millions were not considered to be too
large a number for a single administration. It is true they were
scattered over an exceedingly wide area; but, even at the time I speak
of, an admirable system of communication had been organized. The
sciences of mechanics and chemistry had made astonishing progress, and
natural forces had been discovered and utilised for the purpose of
locomotion. Of these, however, a fuller account will be given further

Here it will suffice to mention that, in the year 5784, the whole
northern hemisphere was finally united under one central administration,
chosen by the suffrage of the whole Hesperian population, male and
female alike. For it should be noticed that, as a consequence of the
female sex being exempt from the cares of maternity, they take a much
larger share in the pursuits of the other sex than would be at all
desirable, or even possible, with us.

Two highly important measures were at once agreed to by the
world-parliament—first, the limitation of tenure of land to the cyclical
period of life, which had been already adopted by most nationalities,
was made a universal law; and, secondly, very stringent penalties were
annexed to the crime of procuring the evanescence of any one. Whether it
was effected directly or indirectly no difference was made in the
penalty, which was evanescence of the perpetrator by the
ten-million-unit process applied by a cat-o’-nine tails.

Some years later another resolution was passed to the effect that it is
inexpedient that any city should be allowed to exceed the limit of one
hundred thousand inhabitants. This was issued rather as a recommendation
than as a binding statute; but its expediency was so plain that it was
almost universally adopted. The legislature were induced to pass it, in
consequence of the congestion of the population at Lasondre, which had
been unanimously selected as the metropolis and seat of government. The
natural advantages of its situation, at the head of a vast indentation
of the continent by a bay of the central ocean, its magnificent scenery
and delightful climate, rendered it so desirable a residence, that, at
the time when this resolution was passed, the population had already
reached the incredible number of two millions; it was still on the
increase, and the resulting inconveniences were so manifold and severe,
that it was further resolved to emigrate the superabundant citizens
gradually, by the help of the cyclical law.

It must not be supposed that, during all the ages which had elapsed
before the establishment of the world-parliament, speculation had not
been rife among the Hesperians as to the nature and significance of the
sudden and mysterious wakening into life which they had all
simultaneously experienced. Quite the reverse was the fact. From the
very earliest period, even from the time when small groups of them had
invented the first rude forms of speech, the questions how they had been
formed, how summoned into life, whence had they come, and whither were
they going, had been started, discussed, solved, the solutions rejected,
abandoned for a time as hopeless, again resumed, and as zealously as
ever re-discussed, with the same results as before. All were agreed that
Something had made them, and had made them for some purpose. But that
the Something either could not or would not speak to them, or hold any
sort of communication with them was a patent fact, and this caused
unutterable sorrow to the Hesperian mind.

In the earlier ages all persons were so much engrossed with the cares
unavoidable for the supply of the necessaries of life; and, besides,
were so deeply interested in investigating the physical laws of the
world in which they were placed, that this increasing source of grief
and anxiety did not produce as much effect upon them as it did in later
times. But even then there was hardly a small town to be found which had
not, among its public buildings, some sort of a temple, with the
inscription ‘To the Unknown God,’ whom they ignorantly worshipped and
longed after, but in vain.

And, not only were they in this state of darkness respecting their Maker
in consequence of the absence of any form of a direct revelation, but,
being absolutely cut off from all knowledge of the remainder of the
universe, by the physical structure of their atmosphere, they were also
debarred from reaching Him through the medium of His works. The
cloud-screen which shelters them from the fierce solar rays is
impenetrable to vision, and thus, so far as any knowledge of the sun,
and planets, and stars is concerned, they might as well have been a race
of blind men. How it was that the canopy over their heads passed
regularly in the course of about twenty-three hours and a-half through
the two phases of brightness and darkness, was to them an inexplicable
phenomenon. All sorts of conjectures, hypotheses, theories, were
hazarded, but none were accepted. The phenomenon was not even universal.
At one place, near the centre of the continent, and for a considerable
distance around it, the alternation of light and darkness followed quite
a different law. For, instead of the change taking place at intervals of
a few hours, light shone steadily for more than a hundred and twenty
days, and was followed by nearly as long a period of darkness. It was an
inscrutable puzzle. Some said that on one or two occasions a round and
shining body had been dimly seen for a few moments through the mist, and
that this might possibly have something to do with the illumination. But
the fact was discredited, and the alleged appearance ascribed either to
an optical illusion or deliberate mendacity. The observers, accordingly,
being invariably treated with either contempt or personal violence, the
theory disappeared.

Meanwhile great progress continued to be made in all departments of
physical science. The various branches of mathematics were extensively
and successfully studied, and the Hesperians became most expert
geometers. The art of ship-building was soon carried to a high pitch of
excellence, and various methods of propelling the vessels through the
water were devised by the mechanical engineers. Some such artificial
propulsion was almost indispensable, as the prevailing calms rendered
the use of sails unavailable. One of the earliest motive powers
extensively employed was the expansive force of the vapour of water,
raised at a high temperature; and for many hundred years these curious
ships were in actual use. I have seen several of them which are still
kept in a vast marine museum at Lasondre. The vapour-engines propelled
the ships either by means of great wheels furnished with boards which
turned in the water, or by the action of one or more screws at the
stern, which worked much as the tail of a fish does in shoving the
animal along. But the use of the vapour of water as a motor was found to
involve a terrible waste of power, and it has been long since abandoned.

The progress of chemical science led to the discovery of an
inexhaustible supply of force, which combines all the advantages of
small cost, extreme portability, resistless strength, immunity from
risk, and universal applicability. All this was obtained by the steady
work and indomitable perseverance of three chemists who, contrary to
usage, devoted themselves to this one branch of science for several
consecutive cyclical periods of their career. Not being skilled in
chemical learning, I was unable to comprehend the nature of their
discovery; but I was told that it consisted in the application of
certain laws of combination among various gases, each of which is easy
to manufacture and store up.

                              CHAPTER VII.

  Of the first attempt to pass the Equatorial Tornado; and its tragical
      issue—Of the attempt to pass the Cloud-Screen.

These improvements in ship-building and ship-propelling were naturally
followed by a great development of the science of navigation, to which
the mathematical powers of the Hesperians formed an invaluable
auxiliary. And thus all that was possible for them to ascertain
concerning the physical universe was soon learned. The circumnavigation
of the globe was easily effected, for the shape of the continent was
such that it could be made without going out of sight of land. Other and
more adventurous ships were sent on voyages of discovery in a southerly
direction, and these made the discovery of the frightful tempest,
mentioned before, which rages everlastingly in the equatorial zone. Not
one of these ships succeeded in getting within two hundred miles of the
equator itself. The crews reported unanimously that, even at that
distance, the seas were simply terrific, and appeared to increase
rapidly in violence towards the south. Some of them escaped from the
vortex with extreme difficulty.

Whereupon two ships were specially constructed for the purpose of
carrying out this exploration. They were of extraordinary strength,
fitted with immensely powerful gas-engines, and provided with a
seemingly inexhaustible supply of the necessary chemical agents. A crew
of one hundred volunteers embarked in each, and they started together on
their perilous expedition. After eighty-five days one of these ships
returned, but only twenty-five of her crew were with her; the rest had
vanished either by mortal lesion or metronomic misery. The survivors
reported the existence of an absolute pandemonium. The crew had
succeeded in forcing the ship about fifty miles further into the zone of
tempests than any of the former explorers. But further progress was
hopeless. The man who before described to me one of the waves as a
wandering cataract was among those who escaped, and his escape was a
very narrow one indeed. He told me himself that when he got back into
port his negative metronomic balance wanted but a few units of the point
which would have terminated his career. And though they succeeded in
forcing their way out of the tornado, this was only accomplished by
putting on such power as threatened to tear the sides out of the ship.
One of the Niagara-like waves fell on the sister-ship, and she was never
seen again.

After this tragedy an act was passed forbidding all attempts to enter
the South Sea. Though many volunteers were ready to risk their lives,
the legislature refused to sanction such peril.

So now the Hesperian knowledge of the Universe, at the period I speak
of, may be shortly summed up as follows:—They knew that their place of
abode was a spherical cap. Some had at first maintained that it was a
circular plain; but this theory was soon exploded. The uniformly
circular horizon visible at sea, and on every large plain, and the
results obtained from a general survey of the continent by
triangulation, combined to discredit the planar and establish the
spherical theory. They knew, also, from pendulum and other experiments,
that, at a spot coincident with the centre of the presumed sphere on
which they lived, an unknown centre of force existed to which all bodies
on the surface tended. And beyond this knowledge there was a great
blank. What lay outside the cloud-screen or beyond the equatorial ocean
had not entered into the Hesperian mind to conceive.

The attempt to pass the ocean, and the hopes of thereby being enabled to
gain some further knowledge of the works of the Unknown Maker, having
been completely baffled, the attention of the Hesperians was at once
concentrated on their only remaining resource—the possibility of
penetrating quite through the cloud-screen. Could this be passed, it was
possible that something might be found beyond it which would throw some
light on the dark problem of their origin. But difficulties, seemingly
insuperable, lay directly in the way of any such attempt. I have already
mentioned that a chain of gigantic mountains extends in a south-easterly
direction for several thousands of miles from the vicinity of the North
Pole, and that several of the peaks of this chain attain an altitude of
not less than twenty miles. But, to the ancient Hesperians, the real
height of these peaks was quite unknown. No man had ever seen their
summits, for they were lost in the cloud-screen.

It might certainly be supposed that here was an obvious way of entering,
and possibly penetrating through the screen. But a very short
description of the physical features of the mountains will suffice to
dispel any such notions.

All the engineers who had made a minute survey of the great mountain
chain seem to have agreed that the particular peak which afforded the
most favourable opportunity for ascent is one which is situated at about
three thousand miles from the pole. It should be remembered that the
level of the cloud-screen crosses these peaks at an altitude of about
twenty miles, or, in round numbers, one hundred and five thousand feet.

At the place referred to, the several stages of the ascent would be as
follows:—First, about twenty thousand feet of easy slopes lead to a wide
table-land, a resort much frequented by Hesperian households on account
of its delightfully cool and bracing climate. Then follow ten thousand
feet of steep ascent to the glacier region. This region, which is
commonly regarded as the most formidable obstacle to success, extends,
at an average inclination of forty-five degrees, to a vertical height of
twenty thousand feet more. The strata of rainclouds, which are as
different in formation from the cloud-screen as water is from smoke,
never attain a greater elevation than ten miles; so here we have the
limit above which neither rain nor snow can be deposited, and where,
consequently, the glacier region ends.

This brings us to an altitude of fifty thousand feet above the level of
the ocean, and next comes the region of precipices which stretch up to
the cloud-screen. This final ascent is divided into three gigantic
steps; the first, and smallest of them, about ten thousand feet high,
leads to a wide plateau; next comes the most awful of the three, not
less than thirty thousand feet, terminating in a much narrower terrace,
from which starts the last of the steps. This is not exactly a
precipice, but a slope of seventy-five degrees; about fifteen thousand
feet of this are visible; it then enters the cloud and is lost to view.

The above description has, I trust, made it manifest that an attempt to
reach the screen by the mountain route would prove a very arduous
undertaking. Vast labour and cost would be essential, and here the
advantages of the great world-parliament became exceedingly conspicuous.
The enterprise was cheerfully voted to be a world-work. There was no
fear that it would come to an untimely end through lack of any material
supplies. A committee of the ablest engineers was appointed to examine
and report on the most favourable spot for commencing operations. They
were not long in coming to an unanimous decision, and the works began.

It was resolved to drive a tunnel the whole way from the table-land
under the glacier as far as its upper edge. This formidable work was
found to be quite indispensable, in consequence of the incessant
avalanches and ice-falls which, issuing from the glacier, fell down the
steep slope to the table-land. Indeed, they were obliged to start the
tunnel at a distance of fully five miles from the foot of the slope, as
a security against the blocking of the entrance. Running nearly
horizontally for these five miles, it then bent upwards at an angle of
forty-five degrees, and, after a total rise of thirty thousand feet,
issued at the top of the glacier, close to the foot of the first step in
the series of precipices. The excavation of this tunnel, which was
nearly thirteen miles long, was an exceedingly formidable task. But it
was undertaken with such zeal and energy, and carried on with such
perseverance, that the seemingly insuperable obstacles were at last
overcome. Gangs of experienced miners, superintended by skilful
engineers, relieved each other, night and day, at the work. Every
material required was supplied in profusion. The new dynamical agent
which had supplanted the vapour of water as a motor force, had been
rendered available for instantaneous percussive action, after the manner
of gunpowder, but with incomparably greater energy; and this was
extensively utilised for the removal of the rocks. Still, as it was not
possible to work at the tunnel except on one face, several years elapsed
before the miners emerged into daylight at the top of the glacier.

Here, before beginning the assault on the region of precipices, an
immense depôt was established. The tunnel was laid down with double
lines of the same sort of parallel steel rods as those which I had
noticed on the road at Lucetta. On these ran a series of small trucks,
driven by an endless chain which was moved by the gas engine
beforementioned; and by means of these all the stores required were
easily brought up.

At the height of fifty thousand feet, which had now been reached, little
or no difficulty in breathing was encountered. This was probably owing
to the extreme density of the Hesperian atmosphere, which, as was
noticed before, is so great that the mercury in the tube of Torricelli,
at the sea level, stands at an average height of more than fifty-nine
inches. Moreover, the slow rate at which it was observed to fall, during
the ascent of the last few thousand feet, gave the engineers good hope
that, even at the summit, a sufficiency of air to support life would be

The ascent of all the three stages of the precipice region was effected
by the process of cutting open galleries, inclined at an angle of thirty
degrees, in the face of the vertical cliff. The region of ice and snow
having been passed, tunnelling was no longer necessary. Four zigzags,
each a mile long, sufficed to reach the first terrace, where another
depôt was constructed; and a few years’ more labour, and about a dozen
similar zigzags, accomplished the ascent of the tremendous middle
precipice, thus bringing them within fifteen thousand feet of the

As the great work neared its completion, the anxiety and excitement, not
only of those actually engaged in it, but of the entire population of
the planet, rose to a scarcely conceivable intensity. It was now plain
that the cloud level would be reached; but no light had as yet been
thrown on the question whether the mountain top did or did not pass
through the cloudy stratum. If it did not, all their labour of years had
been merely thrown away, and they were left as before in absolute
ignorance of the external universe. And the fact that the ascent which
still remained to be scaled, was not absolutely vertical, but, sloping a
little, even at its foot on the last terrace, appeared to diminish its
inclination as it approached the cloud, gave reason to suspect that the
actual summit of the mountain was not very far off. It may be added that
the cloud itself, as they came nearer, presented an unpromising
appearance of great density.

So, the final depôt having been constructed, the work on the last series
of galleries was begun and carried on with greatly increased vigour,
till an altitude only a few yards lower than the under surface of the
cloud was gained. At this place the angle of inclination of the cliff
had eased off to sixty-three degrees, and it was thought advisable, in
view of the unknown possibilities of the mountain inside this thick
screen, to establish, by blasting away the rock, a level surface of
sufficient extent to enable them to build yet another storehouse, before
venturing to proceed with the sloping gallery.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

  Of the great courage of three engineers—How they passed the Screen and
      saw the Host of Heaven—How they further discovered a Disk of
      Unknown Fire—Of the reception of the news throughout the world—Of
      the construction of a mountain Observatory; and of the rapid
      growth of Astronomical knowledge.

The levelling of the rock was necessarily a work which required a good
deal of time; and, while it was proceeding, three of the engineers
formed the daring project of scrambling up the cliff, into the cloud,
and endeavouring to penetrate through it by themselves. All the three
were in the stationary period of life, and, consequently, in the
possession of full bodily strength and activity. The cliff was in most
places rough enough to give good hold for both hands and feet. Still, to
venture on a climb through a dense mist, on the face of a nearly
precipitous and wholly unknown mountain, where a single slip would be
certainly followed by immediate destruction, was regarded by their
comrades as too hazardous to be thought of.

But the three were not to be dissuaded—I ought, perhaps, to mention that
it is to one of these daring men I am indebted for the account of the
whole expedition. Their preparations were soon complete, for their
equipment was very simple; each of them took about one pound weight of
some sort of food in a highly concentrated form, and a flask containing
a pint of water. Water, it may be observed, was valuable at this
elevation, for every drop had to be carried up from the glacier region.
Each man also carried a coil of about five hundred yards of fine, but
very strong twine. This was intended to be used as a clue to guide them
back to the camp. Fixing an end of one of these coils to the wall of
their store, they started on their perilous journey at two o’clock in
the afternoon. Without very much difficulty they scrambled up to the
edge of the cloud, and there disappeared from the sight of their
friends, most of whom believed that they had gone mad.

As a proof of the great care and skill with which the works had been
carried on, I may here remark that, up to this time, but one fatal
accident had occurred. This was during the construction of the galleries
on the face of the thirty-thousand-feet precipice. The top had been
nearly reached, when a man, who was heaving a fragment of rock over the
edge, lost his balance, and fell with the fragment. His horrified
comrades watched his terrible fall, unbroken for about twenty thousand
feet; there he touched a projecting spur of the rock, and evanesced
instantly, mortal lesion having been made.

As soon as the three adventurers had entered the cloud they had the
satisfaction of finding that, at all events, one possible obstacle, an
obstacle which might have proved fatal to the success of the whole
undertaking, had no existence. It had been feared that the atmosphere of
the cloud-screen might turn out to be unfit for the support of animal
life. But they found no difficulty in breathing. The extreme tenuity of
the air, of course, rendered active exertion very laborious and
exhausting, and thus, though the rock was not unfavourable for climbing,
their upward progress was exceedingly slow. They often encountered
difficulties which were quite insuperable, and which compelled them,
retracing their steps, and recoiling their clue, to seek another line of

As they slowly attained a higher altitude, it became quite plain that
the angle of inclination was steadily becoming less. Before long it
reached fifty degrees, and this change of slope, though it eased their
climb, caused great apprehension to the climbers, for it seemed to
indicate an approach to the top, and certainly no signs of any abatement
in the density of the mist had yet become visible. To reach the summit
while still wrapped in the cloud would be the deathblow to all their

This angle of fifty degrees continued unaltered for a considerable
distance. At about six o’clock, after four hours’ hard work, they came
to the end of their second coil of string. Night was evidently coming
on; they sat down on a small ledge of rock, and after taking some
refreshment, they fastened their last coil to the string already paid
out, resolved to proceed till it also came to an end.

A few hundred feet further on the slope suddenly grew much steeper, and
this, requiring additional exertion in the very thin air, soon produced
such exhaustion in two of the party, that they were obliged to stop
again and rest.

By this time it had become quite dark, and the third engineer, who was
still in as vigorous a condition as when he started from the camp,
imagined that he perceived overhead through the mist what seemed to be
small twinkling lights. Immediately he resumed the ascent, and still
holding the clue, climbed a few yards higher up the mountain. And then
he stopped and held on to the steep rock with both his hands, while he
looked at the great Host of Heaven shining in the black depths of space.
The cloud terminated above as abruptly as it began below. He had reached
the edge, and the vision came upon him suddenly.

When he recovered his speech he called softly to his companions to
follow up the clue, for the cloud was passed. They struggled up with
difficulty, and then all three stood together in silent wonder at the
spectacle before them. They had not the slightest conception of its
meaning; what the lights were; whether connected or not with their own
abode; what were their distances; were they living beings—for a falling
star, which suddenly flashed across the sky, suggested this question.
Seen through that exceeding thin air, the splendour of the stars and
planets was greater than what we, who have only seen them through a much
denser medium, are able to conceive. Conspicuous above them all in
beauty and brightness was the earth itself, which, being then in
opposition, was at its least distance from the observers. When in that
position, the earth presents to the Hesperians a much more brilliant
object than their planet does to us. For, though not receiving as great
a supply of light from the sun as Hesperos does, this deficiency is far
more than balanced by the fact that, when in opposition, the whole of
the illuminated face of the earth is visible at Hesperos, while only an
exceedingly thin crescent of Hesperos is visible at the earth.

Notwithstanding the intense coldness of the air, they stood for a long
time contemplating the wondrous illumination. At last they became
conscious of a change in the scene. The small lights began to grow dim,
while the light diffused around them increased. The upper surface of the
sea of cloud which lay stretched out on all sides, a few feet below
them, gradually manifested itself as a smooth greyish-coloured plain.
Behind them, towards the east, the mountain still sloped steeply up;
but, at no great height above their heads, the top was distinctly
visible. They resolved to continue the ascent, having first fastened the
end of their clue, which was now unnecessary, to a conspicuous
projection of rock about a hundred feet above the upper cloud surface.

The remainder of the climb, which was hardly a thousand feet more, was
easily accomplished by the three engineers, now rested and reinvigorated
by success. And, on reaching the summit, which proved to be a small and
nearly level platform of rock, they were rewarded with another spectacle
totally different in kind, but fully as astonishing as that which met
their eyes when they emerged from the cloud.

By this time every trace of the heavenly lights had vanished, and they
beheld on all sides of them a perfectly uniform and level plain. At one
point, towards the east of this plain, an object was visible which at
once absorbed the entire attention of the three. A very small segment of
a fiery circle bordered on the horizon, shedding a track of bright light
over the cloudy sea, which lay about a thousand feet below them. As they
gazed and gazed on the fiery segment, it soon became plain that the
segment belonged to a burning circular disk which was rising out of the
cloud. The segment quickly grew into a semicircle; a few minutes more,
and the whole disk became visible, left the cloud, and mounted slowly in
the sky. At the same time the vast plain took a snow-white colour of
dazzling radiance, and the heat emitted from the disk became so intense
that the three mountaineers retreated quickly into the shadow of the
peak by descending a few steps on the western side. One thing had become
quite clear to them, namely, the cause of the daily illumination of the
cloud-screen. It was evidently the great disk of unknown fire, which was
still mounting in the air and travelling towards the west.

Obviously no delay was to be made in descending to the camp and
communicating to their comrades the tidings of the complete success of
the expedition. They were obliged to use great caution on the downward
journey. All mountaineers are aware that the descent of a very steep
slope, where a single slip would be fatal, is a much more ticklish
process than its ascent, insomuch that some have ventured to affirm that
few great ascents would be made if the descent came first. By two
o’clock in the afternoon they had accomplished the descent of the open
part of the mountain; they easily found the string fastened to the
projecting rock, and, re-entering the cloud, and guided by the clue,
they very slowly, but without accident, found their way back to the
camp, which they reached about six o’clock in the evening.

The reader will easily understand the joy which the safe return of the
three engineers occasioned in the camp, and the intense interest with
which their story of the marvels visible beyond the cloud was listened
to. Their report was hastily committed to writing, sent down by the
tramways, and circulated through the world with all speed. Operations
were instantly resumed at the gallery, which had still to be driven
through the cloud stratum. It was resolved to continue it right up to
the top of the mountain, for the report of the engineers rendered it
quite plain that an extensive observatory must be established there, and
that a corps of the ablest mathematicians and best trained physical
observers must take up their permanent abode in it, in order to
investigate the nature and meaning of the myriad smaller lights and the
great fiery disk.

Meanwhile, daring the progress of the works, many of the artificers who
were in the prime of life, repeated the ascent which had been so
successfully accomplished by the three pioneers; with the guidance of
the clue, this was now a comparatively easy undertaking. Before the
lapse of three years the first Hesperian observatory had been actually
built, and a body of twenty-five of the ablest scientific men entered
upon the study of practical and theoretical astronomy in that elevated
abode. As a protection against the violence of the unscreened solar
rays, a cavern was excavated in which the observers could pass the
daytime at their calculations, and, issuing forth at nightfall, they
laboriously watched the stars.

The speed with which these men found out the clue to the explanation of
the complicated phenomena before them, would be quite incredible to
anyone who did not bear in mind the remarkable conditions under which
they worked. This was no case of a gang of stolid country bumpkins
contemplating for the first time the starry heavens. Every one of the
observers was an expert geometer, was perfectly familiar with all kinds
of algebraical calculation, and had been trained for centuries in every
type of physical observation and experiment. Before the discovery of the
heavenly world telescopes had been invented; but, being adapted for use
on the surface of the planet only, they were all of small size. The vast
field for observation now disclosed, created a demand for a much more
powerful class of instruments, and the stimulus thus given to opticians
soon showed its effect in most important improvements in the manufacture
of glass. Before many years were over, high class astronomical
instruments were attainable, including those by which angles can be
measured to an extraordinary degree of minuteness.

Thus the great rapidity with which this able band of observers succeeded
in reducing the chaos of the fields of heaven to an orderly cosmos may
be explained. I need not attempt to recount the successive steps in
their marvellous progress. A very few days after they began their
systematic labour, one of them suggested the real rotation of the planet
on her axis as the cause of the apparent diurnal movement of the
celestial sphere. This conjecture was speedily verified by pendulum
experiments at the pole. Then followed the discoveries of the
distinction between stars and planets and satellites; the distances and
magnitudes of the planets; the position of their own world among them,
and the dependence of the whole solar system on the sun. In short, by
the close of the ninth millenary period, the Hesperian astronomy was a
long way in advance of anything even now known on earth.

In the ancient history of Hesperos this discovery of the external world
forms by far the most important epoch, and, for several centuries, the
study of astronomy seems to have absorbed a great part of the energies
of the inhabitants. Two other places were found on the mountain chains
of the north, where, by going through the same kind of works as those
detailed above—some of them involving even greater difficulties in their
execution—peaks which rose above the cloud were reached, and
observatories built upon them. It thus became possible to compare
observations taken at different parts of the surface, and astronomical
discoveries proceeded with still greater rapidity.

                              CHAPTER IX.

  Of the development of World-Weariness in Hesperos; and of the second
      attempt to cross the Equatorial Tornado—How the Forlorn Hope
      succeeded, and discovered a City of the Dead—How the terrible
      mystery of Evanescence was explained; and how the crew set out on
      their return.

But, notwithstanding the signal success which had attended their
labours, there can be no doubt that during the next thousand years a
general feeling of gloom and despondence gradually settled down over the
Hesperian race. That the brilliant discoveries of the astronomers had
failed to throw the faintest glimmer of light on the question of
questions—Who was their Maker?—was a fact which could not be disguised.
An answer to this was as far off as ever—further off, indeed. They had
learned the enormous extent of the universe, and, as a consequence, that
the Hesperians, so far from exhausting its contents, were no more than
insignificant specks in its unfathomed deeps. In the vast profusion of
worlds they felt themselves lost. If their Maker had charge of that vast
universe, he might well have forgotten them altogether. Why, then,
should they not depart from life? The door of exit was always open. A
fall down the nearest precipice was always easy, and the instantaneous
dissolution of the body was an unfailing remedy for every ill.

This feeling of discontent with life, or general world-weariness,
reached a climax in the concluding years of this period; and its
existence in the mind of a small band of practical engineers was
certainly the main cause which led to the terrible discovery that placed
an indelible line of distinction between the ancient and modern
Hesperian histories.

Although the northern hemisphere only was accessible for exploration, it
was by this time perfectly well known that the planet is a sphere. Hence
they considered it not at all improbable that, to the calms of the
north, a similar condition in the south might correspond; and that the
chronic hurricane which had hitherto barred the passage to the southern
ocean might prove to be confined to a zone not exceeding a few hundred
miles in width. Should this be the case, it might perhaps be passed, and
a southern continent discovered. This would greatly develop astronomical
science; nothing less than a hemisphere of unseen stars might be brought
into vision. Moreover, a transit of Mercury across the face of the sun
would take place in a few years; and, in order to utilise this, a place
of observation in the southern hemisphere was essential.

It occurred to one of these engineers that, though no ship floating on
the surface of the ocean could possibly live in the equatorial tornado,
it might be practicable to devise a submarine vessel which, by sinking
to a very great depth below the surface, could traverse the four or five
hundred miles of raging cataracts, and then, emerging from the depths,
might find a smoother sea.

It was plain, however, that whoever ventured on such service must be
content to incur imminent risk of utter destruction. No one could
venture to guess how far downwards the seemingly preternatural
disturbance might reach; or what horrors fatal to every form of life
might be met in those frightful abysses. So, except for that feeling of
weariness of life which was fast growing through the world, it is not at
all likely that a body of volunteers, sufficiently numerous, could have
been found for a service of such exceeding peril. In one respect,
indeed, but only in one, this new enterprise had not as terrible an
aspect as that which had been undertaken by the earlier and unsuccessful
voyagers to the south. These earlier voyagers had actually ventured on
the Infinite, for they had no clue to the shape or extent of their
world; but, thanks to the astronomers, it was now well known that the
planet is, at all events, bounded in every direction.

The engineer communicated his plan to some of his comrades, and, after
trying a great many experiments in submarine navigation on a small
scale, they succeeded in constructing a model boat, which promised well
for success. Their next step was to collect a sufficient number of
volunteers; they considered that fifty would suffice. Owing to the
desponding feeling then prevalent, the fifty, a forlorn hope, were soon
found. They then applied to the world-parliament for the funds necessary
for building and fitting out the ship, which would be a very costly
undertaking, in consequence of the enormous strength which would be
requisite to resist the water pressure at the great depths to which they
would be constrained to descend. But, in the interest of scientific
discovery, the funds were readily supplied; the works were commenced
without any delay; and, in about two years, the ship was complete. It
was lavishly supplied with stores of food, and force, and every
requisite that could be conceived; and the fifty embarked and started
for the south; none of them expecting, or indeed much wishing, ever to

All of them were excellent engineers, and practised astronomers; indeed
the hope of extending the field of the latter science had certainly some
influence in stirring them up to their expedition. They continued on the
surface of the water till they approached the stormy region. Into this
they penetrated, still keeping on the surface, till the violence of the
waves became so great that it was no longer possible to steer the ship.
They then stopped the propelling engines, and opening the valves which
admitted water into the tanks, sank slowly into the deep. At the depth
of five hundred feet they found the sea quite still, and they started
the propellers again. But, a few miles farther on they had to go five
hundred feet lower. As they approached the line of the equator itself
they were obliged by degrees to go lower and lower, till at last an
immersion of two thousand feet was reached; and, at this depth they
forced their way for about two hundred miles.

The ship behaved admirably. Notwithstanding a pressure exceeding a
thousand pounds on the square inch, not a trace of a leak could be
discovered. At last they thought they might venture to rise a little;
so, by altering the inclination of the propellers they gradually
ascended about a thousand feet without any unpleasant result. At this
height, signs of water disturbance rendered it inexpedient to continue
their upward progress till they had made another fifty miles of their
voyage. They then ascended five hundred feet more; at that depth the
water was rough, but practicable. Fifty miles further, they ventured to
force the water out of the tanks, and rise to the surface. This they did
very slowly and cautiously, and on emerging they found that the zone of
tornadoes was passed. The sea was still exceedingly rough; but looking
back towards the north, it was easy to see, from the much greater
violence of the waves in that quarter, that they had left the equatorial
hurricanes behind them.

They were now in the southern hemisphere, and, as well as they could
compute, about two hundred and fifty miles south of the equator. The
total width of the belt of storms, at the place where they had crossed
it, they estimated at five hundred miles. As they proceeded towards the
south, the sea became smoother and smoother, till they reached a region
of nearly perfect calm. They resolved to hold on their course, due
south, till they either reached land or the South Pole itself.

On the ninth day after their emergence they sighted land. The country
was evidently mountainous; overhead, the cloudy screen continued
unbroken, and seemingly at the same elevation as in the north. Soon the
ship was near enough to the shore for the crew to be able to discern
unmistakable signs of life; and, on rounding a headland, a city of
moderate size came into view. The style of the buildings was in no way
different from that which was familiar to them at home. As they cast
anchor a few hundred yards from the shore, they could see that the pier
was densely crowded with people, who had been evidently attracted by the
strangely-shaped vessel.

Presently one of the crew, taking up a spy-glass, leaned on the handrail
and took a steady look at the people on the pier. He had not gazed for
more than a few seconds when he suddenly turned as white as a sheet,
staggered back a couple of steps, and, gasping for breath, handed the
glass to the man beside him. The captain asked him what was the
matter—‘It is a City of the Dead,’ he stammered, in a voice all but
inarticulate with terror.

A like expression of horror came over the second man’s face, as he also
looked through the telescope. And no wonder at it. The people who were
standing on the pier had lived with them in the north, and were believed
to have vanished from life for ever. A feeling like that which arises on
earth in the presence of a ghostly visitor came over the crew. They were
plainly face to face with some terrible mystery, which was now to be
cleared up.

Meanwhile a boat with several rowers pushed off from the pier and came
swiftly towards the ship. As she approached, several of the engineers
recognized in the steerer the man who had perished on the awful
precipice which leads up to the great observatory of the north. When the
boat came within hail, this man shouted, ‘We have been expecting you for
some time, and we congratulate you on your submarine passage.’ So it was
plain that these mysterious people knew all about the expedition. They
saw the consternation of the engineers, but evidently did not
reciprocate their confusion. On the other hand, all seemed highly
delighted at the arrival of their old friends. More boats came out to
the ship, and the crew were speedily landed. The citizens received them
with great kindness; took them hospitably into their houses, and, when
the astonished guests had rested, and recovered a little from their
state of utter stupefaction, the supposed ghosts communicated to them
the history of their adventures in the southern hemisphere.

The substance of what they learned was as follows:—The phenomenon of
evanescence, hitherto supposed to be the final destruction of the
subject in which it takes place, is only the first step in a much more
complicated process. The evanescence itself consists in a sudden
disintegration of the molecules which compose the body. But these
disintegrated, and therefore invisible, molecules are really endowed
with an affinity or attraction which tends to the south pole of the
planet. Just as on earth, the magnetic needle turns into the magnetic
meridian, so on Hesperos those organized molecules which enter into the
structure of a rational animal, when freed by disintegration,
instantaneously seek the South Pole, the transmission taking place with
the exact velocity of light. On reaching the pole, reintegration is
equally instantaneous; so that in Hesperos we may say that the death,
decomposition, and resurrection of the body form three consecutive steps
in one connected series of events, the whole of which is accomplished in
a single instant.

Evanescence, then, in the northern hemisphere, and indeed in the
southern also, is nothing more nor less than instantaneous transference
to the South Pole. The reintegrated body is, with one most important
exception, an exact reproduction of the disintegrated original. The
exception is this: any bodily organ which has suffered a lesion of any
kind is restored in its primitive healthy condition. Had this not been
the case, many a man would have been doomed to the shocking fate of
languishing in a maimed and mutilated state for evermore. The two laws
of evanescence which have been observed in the north are equally valid
in the south; but it should be remembered that the transference is
always to the _South_ Pole, no matter in which hemisphere evanescence

Hence it is obvious that, before the arrival of the submarine boat, the
conditions of population in the north and in the south respectively were
directly contrasted. In the former there was a constantly diminishing
number which could not be increased; in the latter a constantly
increasing number which could not be diminished. But it was quite plain
that, assuming the return voyage of the submarine ship to be
practicable, equilibrium would soon be restored.

Such were the main facts communicated that evening to the astonished
engineers. They all retired to rest in their new quarters half petrified
with amazement and horror. The gate of exit from life was shut and
barred—or rather, none such had ever existed. What was supposed to have
been one had no such real significance; and if there was one anywhere it
had still to be found.

To their question, How had the southerners become aware of their
projected submarine voyage? their hosts replied that one of the
northerners who had been evanesced by an accident while the ship was
building had, on arrival at the pole, communicated the plan. Indeed, in
this way, by the frequent arrivals from the north, the southerners were
kept well posted up as to everything which took place at the other side
of the equator, and had learned all the grand results of the new

The engineers resolved to lose no time in making the return voyage; and
they offered to take with them, as passengers, any, to the number of
fifty, who chose to revisit their former habitations; more than fifty
they could not easily accommodate. The offer was gladly accepted. Among
those who returned they brought the oldest inhabitant of the south, the
victim of the Hesperian Cain, whose untimely extinction, just 9997 years
before, had led to the discovery of the first law of evanescence. He was
now, to all appearance, in the twenty-fifth year of his age. Also three
of the crew of that ill-fated ship which perished in the abortive
attempt to cross the surface of the equatorial sea accompanied them.

                               CHAPTER X.

  The oldest inhabitant of the South relates its history—How the awful
      intelligence was received in the North.

As the return voyage occupied several days, the engineers had a good
opportunity for obtaining from the passengers much interesting
information concerning the past history and present condition of the
southern hemisphere. In both physical structure and configuration the
northern and southern portions of the planet are very similar; a great
polar continent, with many islands off the coast, being the leading
feature common to both. The south pole itself is situated in the middle
of a very wide and fertile valley, surrounded on all sides by gently
sloping hills. The climate is delightful, especially in the spring and
the autumn; and this attraction, combined with the fact that the pole,
hitherto, had been the sole port of ingress to the hemisphere, caused
its selection as the site of the southern metropolis.

The oldest inhabitant proved invaluable as a historian. His account of
the origin and gradual growth of the city was as follows:—‘When I found
myself extended on the ground at the pole, I had no conception of what
had happened, or even that I had been moved from one place to another. I
remembered distinctly the fight in which I had been engaged, my own
exasperation, and the furious gestures of my antagonist. But he had
vanished altogether, and the place where I now found myself was quite
different from the scene of the combat. I got up and looked around me.
The country was similar to my former place of abode; the same abundance
of fruit-trees; the same pure streams of water; but the hills and
mountains were quite differently shaped and grouped together. I could
see no signs of rational life; the silence was broken only by the sweet
singing of the birds, of which, as before, there were many kinds.

‘While I was still lost in astonishment at what had occurred, there
suddenly appeared on the exact spot of ground where I had, a few minutes
before, awakened into new life, another man extended on the grass. An
instant before not a trace of him was visible. For a moment I imagined
he must be my recent antagonist, and I instinctively prepared to renew
the battle. But he turned out to be a man I had never seen before; his
speech was unintelligible to me, as was mine to him. We separated; he
walked off to seek his fortune elsewhere, while I remained in the
neighbourhood of the strangely-haunted spot which is now known as the
South Pole.

‘Before long more arrivals took place in the same mysterious manner. I
must necessarily omit details: it will suffice to say that before many
years had expired a population amounting to several thousands surrounded
the pole. As most of these men, and women also, arrived in consequence
of mortal lesions received in fights, it turned out that they were, as a
general rule, of rowdy and quarrelsome dispositions, and thus for many
centuries the lovely country was little better than a pandemonium.

‘But by degrees things began to improve. Among the importations there
was always a respectable minority of orderly persons, whose evanescence
had been brought about either by accident, or when honestly fighting in
self-defence. Order has always a tendency to prevail over disorderly
violence. The orderly party combined and formed a compact body on the
side of regular government. A sort of vigilance committee was
established to keep guard over the pole itself. The special function of
this committee was to take charge of all fresh arrivals, to explain to
them the actual state of affairs in the south, and to enlist them on the
right side.

‘Thus, at last, the anarchical period came to an end. After the
establishment of the universal empire in the north, and the consequent
cessation of international war, immigration to the South Pole diminished
enormously. Such things as batches of several hundreds arriving in the
course of a few minutes from a field of battle were no more heard of.
The rowdies themselves showed signs of reformation; they were never
intrinsically bad, and they are now as well conducted as any in the

‘The comparatively few who still continued to drop in from the north
proved of inestimable service. As you are aware, they taught us the
universal language, and they have always kept us well informed in the
history and discoveries of the larger world. Owing to the great
congestion of population at the metropolis which naturally resulted from
the conditions of immigration, it was found necessary, about two
thousand years ago, to adopt very stringent measures for its abatement,
and great numbers of the inhabitants were removed to other parts of the
country. Since that time the northern limit of one hundred thousand has
been rigidly observed.’

Such was the main part of the information given to the crew of engineers
as they pursued their northern course through the smooth waters of the
southern sea. When the equatorial zone was reached they descended once
more beneath the waves, and by the same process and with no more
difficulty than before effected its passage. On the twenty-second day,
after a total absence of fifty-three days, they arrived in safety at the
port of Lasondre.

By this time their return was expected in the northern metropolis, and
the anxiety of the people had risen to very great intensity. As the ship
was entering the harbour the whole population swarmed on the quays. The
city was decked with every sign of rejoicing, and the sweet-toned peal
of the great bells which hung in the towers of the vast world-cathedral,
erected in honour of the Unknown, filled the air with their music. But
when the engineers landed with their company who had returned from the
dead, and when the knowledge of what had been found spread into the
city, all was hushed in silence. Joy at the safety of the crew, and at
the unexpected sight of their departed friends, was none the less; but
awe was the predominant feeling. The certainty of everlasting life, and
of the shutting for ever of the only door of exit, were not to be
lightly received. The tremendous intelligence was immediately
communicated to the world, and the Modern History of Hesperos began.

                              CHAPTER XI.

  How the two hemispheres were amalgamated—Concerning the Sympathetic
      Telegraph; and how the great astonishment of the Hesperians at the
      first sight of the Doctor was fully explained.

On the morning after the return of the ship the parliament met, and
immediately passed a vote for the construction of a large fleet of
submarine vessels, to be built on the pattern of the original whose
voyage had proved so successful. It was evident that intercourse on a
very large scale would take place between the two hemispheres. The
southerly journey, as was now well known, might be effected in quite a
different way; for an energetic blow on the head provided the intending
traveller with a swift and gratuitous passage to the South Pole. But
there were many objections to this mode of transit; and, at all events,
the return journey was strictly confined to the submarine route.

So the new fleet was at once put on the stocks, and all the Hesperian
dockyards were provided with work in abundance for several years.
Meanwhile the original ship was kept on hard duty. On each voyage, and
in both directions, she was crowded with passengers, some eager to see
the new discovered world, others longing to revisit the scenes of their
former life. Presently, as one of the results of the discovery, there
arose an important question in international law. Whether those persons,
now residing in the southern hemisphere, and subjects of its government,
but whose evanescence had taken place subsequently to the establishment
of the universal empire of the north, were still bound by their northern
allegiance, or, had the fact of evanescence discharged them of that
allegiance, thus leaving them lawful citizens of the south.

The question involved some nice points; but fortunately there never was
any occasion to bring it to an issue. For, the advantages arising from
the amalgamation of all the northern governments into one universal
empire were so manifest, and were so thoroughly appreciated even in the
south, that the union of the two hemispheres in one universal planet
empire very speedily took place. In fact it took place immediately after
the important preliminary question was settled, In which hemisphere
should the seat of the central government be fixed? Many circumstances
seemed to suggest that it should be in the south, and at the pole.

The explanation of the real significance of evanescence which ultimately
revolutionized Hesperian life, was not the only piece of astounding
intelligence imported into Lasondre by the submarine ship, on her first
return voyage. Even in the midst of the general stupefaction occasioned
by the return of the dead, the announcement of another extraordinary
discovery excited the attention of the citizens. This was no less than a
method whereby instantaneous communication might take place between two
persons no matter how widely separated they might be on the surface of
the planet.

The discovery was made in this way. About one thousand years earlier, a
man who was an earnest student of chemical science, was engaged in
trying some experiments at Lucetta. These experiments were of a highly
dangerous character; and one day, notwithstanding all precautions, a
terrific explosion took place. So violent was it, and so minute were the
fragments to which the experimentalist’s body was thereby reduced, that
there was scarcely need for the first law of evanescence to operate in
removing the remains from the land of the living. However, of course, it
_did_ operate, and the chemist was duly reintegrated at the South Pole.
He was, as usual, received by the vigilance committee, who explained to
him, as they were in duty bound to do, the circumstances of his new

The chemist, nothing daunted, proposed continuing his experiments; and
the southern authorities, hearing the nature of them, and suspecting
that a considerable series of sudden disintegrations and reintegrations
of his body were likely to result, kindly assigned him a laboratory
quite close to the pole—a fact which materially facilitated the
memorable discovery which soon rewarded his labours.

At a distance of a few miles to the east there is a hill which is mainly
composed of a singular-looking mineral which has not, as yet, been found
anywhere else in the planet. This mineral occurs at a very small depth
below the surface, in separate masses, none of them exceeding ten pounds
in weight, is of a bright green colour, and possesses the remarkable
property of very easily splitting into exceedingly fine rods, no thicker
than an ordinary needle.

Desiring to make an analysis of this mineral, which the southerners
called molygdon, the chemist procured a great quantity of these rods,
cut them into lengths of a few inches, and tied them up tightly in
bundles which he left for some days on a shelf in his laboratory till he
was ready to examine them. When he was at leisure, he took one of these
bundles, untied it, and threw the little rods into a flat vessel full of
water, in which they floated, their specific gravity being small. To his
great surprise the rods speedily assumed positions parallel to each
other. He twisted one of them a little out of its direction, whereupon
all the others turned through the same angle, so that the parallelism

At last, after a long and careful series of experiments he succeeded in
establishing the following momentous law:—Two needles of molygdon which
have been kept in close contact for not less than thirty-six hours at
any spot not exceeding three hundred yards’ distance from the South
Pole, possess the property of always remaining parallel to each other,
whenever they are freely suspended in parallel planes, no matter how
they are situated with respect to each other on the surface of the

This discovery afforded an easy mode of immediate communication between
any two places in the southern hemisphere. All that was needful was to
suspend two needles, rendered sympathetic by the above process, on
pivots in the centres of two circular cards. A code of signals was
easily devised, sufficient for ordinary purposes; and, by placing the
letters of the alphabet round the edges of the cards, verbal
conversation could be carried on.

Soon after the discovery of this important law of nature, the southern
parliament resolved to utilise it on a vast scale by founding an
institution which would enable any two persons, even without being in
possession of two directly sympathizing needles, to communicate with
each other. It was estimated that the population of the south was not
much under twenty-five millions. Accordingly, twenty-five million pairs
of these sympathetic needles were manufactured, and each needle was
mounted in a suitable circular box. This was done at the national
expense; the intention being that one box should be given to each
inhabitant of the south, the corresponding box being deposited in a
building to be erected in the metropolis for the special purpose of the
safe custody of the duplicates. As each box was a small cylinder, not
exceeding three inches in diameter and one inch in height, no very large
space was required for their accommodation. These duplicates were all
arranged in order and numbered; the corresponding number being stamped
on each sympathetic box.

The process of conversation thus became very simple. For example, No.
23,482,657 wishes to say a few words to No. 10,334, who is somewhere,
but where he knows not, in the southern hemisphere. He sends his message
to the central depôt. The stirring of the needle there rings a small
bell, and displays a white mark on the front of the box. The clerk on
duty takes it down, reads the message; then taking box No. 10,334, he
repeats it to the required correspondent. Of course, any two particular
friends who may have occasion for frequent conversation can have, in
addition, two special needles with which they can communicate directly.

All the passengers in the submarine ship were provided with these boxes,
and, on their arrival at Lasondre, the question, whether the sympathetic
influence extended to the northern hemisphere, was at once decided in
the affirmative. Communication with the South Pole was just as easy from
the north as from the south side of the equator.

The South Pole being thus the most convenient centre for communication
with the entire surface of the planet, had evidently strong claims for
selection as the site of the universal metropolis. And before two years,
dating from the return of the ship, were over, the whole planet was
united in one vast empire, and the seat of government fixed at
Australis, as we may style the city of the South Pole.

The united government at once extended to the whole world the signalling
system which had been so successfully carried out in the south; this, of
course, involved an enormous addition to the depôt in Australis. And
now, for the first time, the exact number of the primeval creation of
the rational inhabitants was definitely ascertained. It was found that,
at the era of the ship, there were in the northern hemisphere 70,589,347
persons, and in the southern 29,410,653; thus the total population,
which had never been increased, nor, as they had just learned,
diminished, was, as before stated, exactly one hundred millions, and
these were equally divided between the male and female sexes.

Several years elapsed after the return of the ship before the stupendous
change which had been wrought in the condition of the Hesperians, by the
knowledge they had acquired of the indestructibility of life, began to
produce the effects which afterwards became conspicuous. They were
essentially a travel-loving race, and the great stimulus given to this
propensity by the discovery of a new hemisphere seems for a time to have
absorbed a good deal of their energies. The epoch, moreover, was
immediately marked by the complete cessation of voluntary evanescence—in
other words, of suicide, which, under the influence of the widely-spread
world-weariness, had become only too common during the last age. When it
was clearly understood that evanescence only meant change of place, the
ignoble custom came to an end.

It is well worth notice that, at the era of the union, the southern
empire, though numerically far inferior to the northern, had reached a
very much higher stage of both moral and political development. This
superiority is easily explained. For thousands of years the southerners
had been acquainted with the true conditions of life; that is to say,
they had known that each individual is an indelible unit, in no way to
be obliterated; and, therefore, that it is expedient for society to make
the best of him. This same knowledge also reacted on the individual,
however badly disposed he might have been by nature. He knew perfectly
well that he could no more get rid of the society than the society could
get rid of him; that, in fact, society was by far the stronger of the
two, and, for this reason, it was plainly his interest to conduct
himself at least in an inoffensive manner. It was invariably found that
such a course of behaviour, steadily maintained for a lengthened period,
reacted so strongly on even a malignant character, that, in a century or
two, the subject became a worthy member of society.

In the northern empire, on the other hand, as it was believed, and
indeed with truth, that an undesirable and troublesome neighbour could
at any time be suppressed, either by the gallows or some equivalent
method, criminal legislation seems to have rather aimed at the
extirpation than the reformation of the offender. But after the era of
the ship, and subsequent union of the whole planet, all this was very
speedily changed.

Through the entire period of ten thousand years which, at the time of my
arrival, had elapsed since the beginning of the modern history, no
revolutionizing discovery had taken place. But, slowly and silently, a
change took place in the characters of the Hesperians, which ultimately
led to the complete remodelling of the greater part of their social
institutions. Evanescence, except as the result of accident, wholly
disappeared, for the age of violence was passed, capital punishment was
an impossibility, and suicide a fruitless ebullition of temper. The
enforced toleration of everyone by everyone else, worked, in the course
of ages, as its inevitable result, a greatly increased kindliness of
disposition and demeanour; and this was still further helped when
progress of time, combined with the absolute fixity of the population,
brought about the strange state of things, that each individual was
personally acquainted with every other member of the Hesperian
multitude. The number of his acquaintances was 99,999,999.

And now we have the explanation of the great intensity of the
astonishment which my sudden appearance in Lucetta excited in that town.
Though not differing very much either in person or dress from many of
themselves, yet the mere fact of my being a stranger to them was
sufficient evidence that I was either a new creation on the planet, or
had come from another world. In either case my arrival gave them hope
that some light was about to be thrown on the great question which had
vexed them all so long—Who was the Maker of the Universe?

                              CHAPTER XII.

  Of the great social changes which resulted from the discovery of the
      Indestructibility of Life.

When this period of the acquaintance of everyone with everyone else had
been reached, very little time intervened before a completely
socialistic system was established all over the world. In fact it soon
became obvious to all that private property had now become a clumsy
incumbrance. The substitution of socialism was greatly facilitated by
the extreme ease with which all the necessaries, and most of the
luxuries, of life were procurable. This was partly due to the favourable
climatic and other conditions of the planet, and partly to the
extraordinary progress which had been made in the physical sciences in
general, and in chemistry in particular. The universal abundance of
vegetable life has been already noticed, and also the absence of all
noxious and destructive types of the animal kingdom. Food, in the shape
of esculent fruits, grew everywhere and in superfluous abundance; and,
for all who tired of these, a perfect equivalent for the flesh of
animals was readily available.

Hesperian chemists had, long before this, completely solved the problem,
which still baffles their terrestrial brethren, of the artificial
formation of organic compounds from their ultimate elements. For
instance, the seeming roast-beef with which I was regaled on my first
morning in Lucetta, had just before been manufactured from some carbon,
azote, and water, with a very small admixture of fluorine and potassium,
without interfering with and inconveniencing any animal whatever. All
the purveyors of provisions were good chemists. It is true that, some
thousands of years earlier, the Hesperians were in the habit of using
animal food, but the practice has been for ages abandoned, and is now
regarded with abhorrence. Milk and butter and eggs are also manufactured
with equal ease, and of singular excellence, out of similar materials.

So much for the supply of food. As for their clothing, it is exceedingly
simple, and is made exclusively from vegetable products. It is worn,
indeed, merely as a protection from heat or cold; for the notion of
there being anything indecorous in appearing in a state of nudity has no
existence in the Hesperian mind. Thus, the two great leading wants being
easily supplied, the population being all personally known to each
other, and a due consideration for the wishes of their neighbours being
universally recognized as a ground of moral obligation—engrained as this
had been into the disposition of each through ages of exercise—the
establishment of a perfect socialistic system was easily accomplished.

The state of society which, at the time of my visit, prevailed over the
whole planet, was one which could not have existed under less favourable
conditions of life. It was not based on the chimerical theory that
everybody is supposed to sacrifice himself for everybody else; and thus
unite in each person the incongruous characters of a greedy baby and a
self-denying saint—selfishly and unscrupulously taking from others the
fruits of their labour, while unselfishly yielding up whatever he has
earned by his own hard work. Far from it: the Hesperian system was
founded on the fair and rational doctrine of give and take, honestly
carried out. No one was afflicted with an inscrutable desire of
thrusting a ‘happiness’ on his neighbour which he, for himself,
repudiated with scorn. The gifts of nature were so very liberal that a
small amount of daily labour on the part of each person sufficed to
discharge his debt to the society; and this amount was, by everyone,
regarded as a rigorous debt of honour, never to be shirked or evaded in
any way.

In the appointment of this prescribed quantity, it was a recognized
maxim in practice that, whenever it was possible, the inclination of the
labourer should be consulted. Special commissioners entrusted with this
task were from time to time appointed in each town and district. The
work proceeded with great smoothness. Everyone was anxious to do his
share honestly. There were none of those idle scamps whose only object
is to loaf around in idleness at the expense of their neighbours, and
whose existence elsewhere renders every form of socialism an
impossibility, except under a system of espionage so rigorous as to
render life an intolerable burden. Everyone, by this time, being quite
competent for the work of every skilled trade or calling, exchanges of
allotted tasks were easily effected. The more irksome the labour, the
shorter was the time required from the labourer. Sometimes it would
happen that a man or woman would prefer, instead of working for a short
time each day, to execute a long task by continuous labour, so as to
have leisure afterwards for some special pursuit; this also was a matter
easily arranged.

This organization of labour was not nearly so complicated a business as
such a task would be if attempted on the earth, even if we were to
assume that the average terrestrial character was as well-conditioned as
that of the Hesperians. For it is plain that, under the Hesperian
conditions of life, the number of separate callings and professions is
comparatively small. A world where there are no children has no need for
the vast machinery of education; the great army of schoolmasters,
tutors, and professors is non-existent. The absence of death leaves no
place for the undertaker and his ghastly satellites. There are no
clergy, for there is no known God.

Medical science is, as has been already noticed, in a very strange
condition, or rather is non-existent. Dissection of the vital parts of
the body being impossible, the physician is indebted to the analogy of
the lower animals for his hypotheses as to the structure of the rational
being. Fortunately, diseases are unknown.

As for surgery, a singular revolution in its practice was an immediate
result of the discovery of the real nature of evanescence. In the
earlier ages, before the weariness of life had set in to any great
extent, the occurrence of any grave bodily lesion, which, though not
fatal, was sufficient to involve a serious mutilation, or the entire
loss of organs of perception, was a calamity so great that the
inhabitants of the earth, confined as they are to one short bodily life,
would find it hard, even in imagination, to realize its severity. In
spite of all precautions such accidents sometimes took place, and the
unhappy sufferers, reluctant to surrender their whole existence, would
often consent to undergo operations which had the effect of leaving them
to abide for ever as helpless, mutilated trunks. So the Hesperian
surgeons were skilful amputators of limbs, and they could, and often
did, perform other serious operations for the purpose of preserving the
patient from evanescence. Still their success was but small, for the
wretched condition of the sufferer usually led to the extinction of his
life under the metronomic law of Adverse Balance—evanescence, in fact,
was only postponed.

But, as the world-weariness gained ground, few were found who were
willing to purchase life at so heavy a price. And finally, when the true
nature of evanescence was understood, all operations except those of the
most trifling character ceased at once. Whenever a serious accident
takes place, an anæsthetic sufficiently powerful to destroy life is
administered, and the patient awakes immediately, with his organism
restored, at the South Pole.

The complete establishment of the communistic system also contributed to
the simplicity of the social arrangements in the planet; inasmuch as all
the multifarious professions which are incidental to the tenure of
private property collapsed at once. There was no further need for
lawyers, attorneys, bankers, stockbrokers—still less for
stock-jobbers—and the great multitude formerly required to serve as
policemen, coast-guards, and excisemen, were now at liberty for more
directly useful occupations.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

  How the Doctor delivered a course of lectures on the History of the
      Earth and its Inhabitants—Of the effects of his ghastly
      description—Of the attempt of two Hesperians to reach the Earth;
      and of its unsatisfactory result.

[At this point the doctor’s notes become very scanty: still the
following facts may be readily gleaned from his memoranda. Hesperos was
the abode of one hundred millions of rational and highly-cultured
beings, incapable alike of increase or diminution in number, constrained
to exist on the surface of the planet, and firmly believing in the
existence of an intelligent Creator who, although in all his works which
were accessible to them, he manifested unmistakable marks of
benevolence, refused to speak to or hold any communication with his
intelligent creation. And yet, for such communication they craved with
all their soul and with all their strength. The vast temples erected in
their cities to the Unknown God, and the solemn services held therein,
as well as their intense devotion to all branches of natural science,
alike indicated their longing to penetrate the mystery of the material
world, and reach the spirit which they believed to lie behind.

The hopes which had been excited so many years earlier by the discovery
of the immensity of the Universe when the cloud-screen was passed, had
ended in bitter disappointment. Vastness of power on the part of the
Maker had indeed been strongly illustrated; but, most certainly, no
light had been thrown on any of his other attributes. So it is easy to
understand the intensity of interest with which the news of an arrival
from another world was received. That their visitor came from the earth
was at once ascertained, as we have already seen, by his familiarity
with the earth charts in the museum at Lucetta.

When this wonderful arrival was telegraphed at the metropolis, the
world-parliament instantly met. It was resolved that a committee should
be appointed at Lucetta, whose business should be, first, to learn the
stranger’s language, and then to communicate to him a general
description of Venus, and the leading facts in the history of her
inhabitants, so as to enable him to bring before them the main points of
agreement and difference in the conditions of life on the two planets.
That these instructions were well carried out by the committee is
manifest from the notes which have now been brought to light and
translated into the English tongue.

As soon as this preliminary process was completed, the doctor was
requested in his turn to give the Hesperians an account of the affairs
of the earth; of its physical condition; of its irrational animals,
supposing such to exist; of its rational animals, one of which they had
seen; and lastly, to answer the great question of questions—Whether the
terrestrial rational beings had any direct knowledge of the Maker of the

On all of these points he delivered lectures in the cathedral of
Lucetta, to a crowded audience of more than five thousand people. From
the short notes in his pocket-book it is easy to gather his manner of
treating the above subjects. Of course the reader will bear in mind the
great intensity of his misanthropy.

He began by describing the physical condition of the earth’s surface,
and contrasting it, much to its disadvantage, with that of Hesperos. In
illustration of his malignant remarks, he seems to have made much use of
the great terrestrial charts which had been constructed at the
observatories. The awful polar climate of the earth came out very
unfavourably when compared with that of the corresponding regions of
Hesperos; as did also the burning heat of the torrid zone, unprotected
from the solar rays by a permanent screen of cloud. He dilated, with
much relish, on the phenomena of earthquakes, volcanoes, thunder and
lightning, deluges, droughts, great sandy deserts, and other terrestrial
peculiarities of a disagreeable character, which were quite unknown to
the Hesperians.

As he approached the animal kingdom his spirits seem to have risen. The
abundance on earth of loathsome and noxious types of animal life; their
portentous fecundity; the formation of entire species which can live
only by destroying and devouring the weaker and more defenceless, were
happily contrasted with the innocent fauna of Hesperos, confined to a
small number of harmless, frugivorous animals, in which the power of
reproduction no more than sufficed to keep up the breed.

But when he came to explain the nature and circumstances of terrestrial
rational life, Van Varken’s hatred of the Yahoos burst out in a
description which seems to have filled the Hesperian congregation with
horror and dismay. The entrance of the human being into life through the
same reproductive process as that of the lower animals; the redundancy
of procreative power, in respect of the means of subsistence, which is
one of the curses of the race; their helpless infancy; their wretched
education; their liability to horrible and torturing diseases; their
early extinction by death; the low civilization in which the masses
vegetate, leading the lives of cattle; their mutual hatred; their
incessant wars—all of these topics, and many more of a similar nature,
were expatiated upon by the doctor with a cheerful vehemence which much
astounded his audience, and enhanced the contrast between all these
abominations and social life in Hesperos.

As for the final question—that of the Maker of all—he began by
hypocritically expressing his deep regret that his profession as a
Doctor of Medicine rendered him but a badly qualified person as an
expounder of theology; he also professed an earnest wish that a learned
terrestrial Doctor of Divinity could be found to relieve him of such an
uncongenial task. The reader will readily appreciate the sincerity of
his aspirations after the help of a Yahoo divine.

He then proceeded to inform his audience that the inhabitants of the
earth, not being included, as the Hesperians, in one vast empire, but
being dispersed in a great number of independent nationalities, which
varied very much in their degrees of civilization, had formed for
themselves equally varying theological systems. That those who were in
the lowest grades, either did not recognize the Maker at all, or, if
they did recognize him, regarded him as a fiend who was only to be
propitiated by offering him bloody sacrifices. That there was another
system of religious belief, the followers of which were in a much higher
state of civilization than those last spoken of, who held that all true
believers (meaning themselves) would be ultimately admitted to a
paradise of sensual delights, the most effectual passport being the
extirpation, by the sword, of unbelievers (meaning all the rest). That
another system, the followers of which were, perhaps, the most numerous
of any, taught that the Maker would ultimately grant the boon of
cessation of existence to his creatures, but only after they have
undergone a long series of transmigrations into other forms of life.

At last he came to the form of religion which he described as that
which, though not including the greatest number, is certainly professed
by all of the most highly civilized types of humanity. Into the doctor’s
exposition of the Christian faith we need not enter. Suffice it to say
that when he came to the explicit statement—delivered with evident marks
of delight—that the Maker designed the greater part of the human race to
live everlastingly in excruciating torture by fire, the whole of the
assembly rose simultaneously to their feet and left the cathedral. They
would hear no more.

Every word of these extraordinary lectures was automatically taken down,
and sent through the world as fast as delivered. The whole history of
the earth contained therein fell like a thunderbolt on the Hesperians,
who were quite unprepared for any such revelation of the Unknown. After
this, the notes show that the doctor had many interviews and discussions
with people from all parts, but no memoranda of them are to be found.
Clearly, the result of his communications was an intensifying of the
gloom which prevailed in Hesperos. The hopes of the people, which had
been strongly excited by his arrival, were as suddenly changed to
despondency. And no wonder; for, certainly, tidings of such a Maker as
the Being depicted by their visitor, were not calculated to raise any
enthusiastic delight.

Doubts seem to have sprung up among some of the Hesperians as to the
perfect accuracy of his statements, which, as one or two of the leading
journals pretty plainly hinted, might possibly be coloured by prejudice.
So incredible, indeed, did some parts of his lectures appear, that two
enterprising persons, then in the juvenescent period of life,
volunteered to attempt the passage to the earth, if Van Varken would
entrust them with the secret of transference. They wished to examine the
terrestrial phenomena, both religious and temporal, for themselves.

Dr. Van Varken, who was much mortified at these suspicions as to his
veracity, received them with some coolness. He made two objections to
their proposal. First, he was under a pledge of secrecy to Mr. Homi,
and, secondly, the attempt would be attended with extreme peril to
themselves. For it was quite impossible to tell beforehand what region
of the earth they might land in; and, if they chanced on an uncivilized
nation, death by mortal lesion, and that beyond the salutary influence
of the Hesperian pole, would be their nearly certain fate.

But his indignation at their unworthy suspicions, and his burning desire
that an irrefragable proof of the truth of his statements might be
afforded to the sceptics, by an actual inspection of the earth by two
pairs of Hesperian eyes, at last overcame his scruples. He argued that,
inasmuch as he himself had actually discovered the mode of passing the
interplanetary space, he was, in that respect, bound by no promise to
Mr. Homi; and that, having warned the adventurers of the risk they ran,
his duty to them was discharged. So he gave way at last, and imparted
the secret of interplanetary transference by the process of

All in vain; the disintegration was effected at once without the
slightest difficulty; but when that stage was reached the Hesperian
polarity proved too strong for the terrestrial influence; overcame it
instantly, and the two missionaries to the earth, to their very great
chagrin, found themselves reintegrated, in perfect safety, at the South
Pole of Venus, according to the ordinary Law. It was quite plain that
the Hesperians were absolutely bound to their planet, and that escape,
even if it were desirable, was hopeless.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

  Of the further wanderings of Dr. Van Varken—Of his visits to Australis
      and the great Observatory—Of a strange physical Theory concerning
      the Tornado—Supposed cause of the Doctor’s return to the Earth.

After the delivery of his remarkable lectures, the doctor’s notes become
even scantier than before, and are of quite a fragmentary character. We
can gather from them that his time thenceforth was mainly occupied in
travelling in various directions through the country; and this is, very
likely, the cause of the deficiencies in his memoranda.

He seems to have been greatly struck with the vast engineering works
which met him everywhere; and especially with the magnificent roads on
which carriages, like those at Lucetta, ran on rails; these carriages
were free to all; everyone in his turn took his share in managing the
service, like any other calling. His first visit was to the great
imperial metropolis, Australis, to which he of course proceeded by the
submarine route.

When he arrived there it was the winter season for the southern
hemisphere. During the discussion on the selection of the universal
metropolis, at the time of the union of the hemispheres, an objection
had been raised to Australis, namely, that there was darkness for about
one-third of the year. But, in consequence of the other advantages of
the site, the objection was overruled, and that the more readily, as an
artificial chemical light of extraordinary brilliancy had just been
discovered. So great was its power that, for moderate distances, it
nearly equalled the light of day. These were the lights which Van
Varken, on his first arrival, saw shining in Lucetta, and on the ships
in the bay. And thus, when he reached Australis, he found not only the
city, but the whole surrounding valley blazing with this wonderful
illumination. Some persons, indeed, could never reconcile themselves to
this artificial light, so another city was, in course of time, built at
the North Pole; and, by migrating at the proper seasons, from one to the
other, perpetual daylight might be enjoyed.

The curt and jejune memoranda which remain tell us but little of the
metropolitan city. The points which seem to have specially impressed him
were—The great magazines or depôts of all sorts of articles which, in
our cities, are usually sold in the shops, and which, under the
Hesperian system, are abundantly supplied by the communistic labour;
from these stores everyone supplied himself as he wanted. The splendid
museums of science and art, and the picturesque style of the houses, all
of which were, as in Lucetta, detached from each other, and but of one
story in height, filled the doctor’s soul with admiration. Above them
all was conspicuous the great temple or cathedral of the Unknown God.
The gorgeous services performed there made a wonderful impression on the
traveller; he was specially affected by one solemn and mournful chant,
sung in unison by the whole of the immense congregation, and accompanied
in strangely rich and complicated harmony on the largest organ he had
ever seen.

But, beyond these few details, nought is recorded. After his return to
the north, he paid a visit to the great Observatory whose foundation he
has so fully described. The original structure had been removed, and the
buildings which now occupy the site are of vast dimensions, and are
furnished with every astronomical instrument which the great skill of
the Hesperians is competent to execute. Specially noteworthy are the
mechanical contrivances for moving and adjusting the ponderous
telescopes. Though these weigh many tons, the mere pressure of the
finger on a couple of metal knobs suffices to direct any of them to
whatever point of the sky is to be examined; and, with the telescope,
the platform for the observer simultaneously takes the requisite

He found some of the astronomers engaged in abstruse mathematical
calculations, in connexion with a theory which had just been suggested
as an explanation of the chronic equatorial tornado. It was this, that
Hesperos has a satellite of small dimensions, not, indeed, exceeding a
mile in diameter, but of very great density; and that this satellite
revolves in the plane of the equator with tremendous velocity, so close
to the surface that it comes into actual contact with the water several
times in each revolution. Hence the terrible waves and storms. Whether
this ingenious theory was verified or not we have no record.
Unfortunately, at the time of the doctor’s visit, the earth, being in
conjunction, was not favourably placed for observation. He seems to have
suffered a great deal on this excursion from the extreme rarity of the

And, at this point, the notes may be said to end. Nothing more than a
few incoherent jottings on the last remaining page are legible. From
these I gather that he went back to Lasondre, and there, having probably
informed the inhabitants of his surgical profession, he delivered a
lecture on the anatomy of the human body. When we remember the
invincible obstacle to any scientific study of the anatomy of the
Hesperians which was presented by their conditions of life, we can
easily understand that such a lecture, from an expert, must have excited
unusual interest, and, combining this fact with the abundance of strong
and profane expressions which disfigure the concluding memoranda, I
think it not at all unlikely that some signs of a desire to avail
themselves of the doctor’s own person for the purpose of dissection may
have been exhibited by his audience, and may have suggested to his mind
the expediency of a hasty return to the earth. But I wish it to be
distinctly understood that this is only a conjecture, and not, as the
remainder of his history, based on the explicit statements of the

At all events the discovery of the manuscript in the University library
is abundantly sufficient proof that the Thibetian influence was powerful
enough to overcome the Hesperian attraction, and that he succeeded in
getting back to the earth. So much, I say, is certain, _et hypotheses
non fingo_.

And here ends our knowledge of the Godless Immortals. It is not likely
that their hundred and sixty years’ additional existence have lightened
the World-Weariness and Sorrow which was plainly settling down upon them
like a heavy pall.]

             _Printed by_ PONSONBY AND WELDRICK, _Dublin_.


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in
 2. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
 4. Denoted superscripts by a caret before a single superscript
      character or a series of superscripted characters enclosed in
      curly braces, e.g. M^r. or M^{ister}.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "History of a World of Immortals without a God: Translated from an unpublished manuscript in the library of a continental university" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.