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The Book of the Damned
By Charles Fort (1874-1932)
Noded by panamaus
THE living things that have come down to this earth:
Attempts to preserve the system:
That small frogs and toads, for instance, never have fallen from the sky, but were — "on the ground, in the first place;" or that there have been such falls — "up from one place in a whirlwind, and down in another."
Were there some especially froggy place near Europe, as there is an especially sandy place, the scientific explanation would of course be that all small frogs falling from the sky in Europe, come from that center of frogeity.
To start with, I'd like to emphasize something that I am permitted to see because I am still primitive or intelligent or in a state of maladjustment:
That there is not one report findable of a fall of tadpoles from the sky.
As to "there in the first place":
See Leisure Hours, 3-779, for accounts of small frogs, or toads, said to have been seen to fall from the sky. The writer says that all observers were mistaken: that the frogs or toads must have fallen from trees or other places overhead.
Tremendous number of little toads, one or two months old, that were seen to fall from a great thick cloud that appeared suddenly in a sky that had been cloudless, August, 1804, near Toulouse, France, according to a letter from Prof. Pontus to M. Arrago. (Comptes Rendus, 3-54.)
Many instances of frogs that were seen to fall from the sky. (Notes and Queries, 8-6-104); accounts of such falls, signed by witnesses. (Notes and Queries, 8-6-190.)
Scientific American, July 12, 1873:
"A shower of frogs which darkened the air and covered the ground for a long distance is the reported result of a recent rainstorm at Kansas City, Mo."
As to having been there "in the first place":
Little frogs found in London, after a heavy storm, July 30, 1838. (Notes and Queries, 8-7-437);
Little toads found in a desert, after a rainfall, (Notes and Queries, 8-8-493).
To start with I do not deny — positively — the conventional explanation of "up and down." I think that there may have been such occurrences. I omit many notes that I have upon indistinguishables. In the London Times, July 4, 1883, there is an account of a shower of twigs and leaves and tiny toads in a storm upon the slopes of the Apennines. These may have been the ejectamenta of a whirlwind. I add, however, that I have notes upon two other falls of tiny toads, in 1883, one in France and one in Tahiti; also of fish in Scotland. But in the phenomenon of the Apennines, the mixture seems to me to be typical of the products of a whirlwind. The other instances seem to me to be typical of — something like migration? Their great numbers and their homogeneity. Over and over in these annals of the damned occurs the datum of segregation. But a whirlwind is thought of as a condition of chaos — quasi-chaos: not final negativeness, of course —
Monthly Weather Review, July, 1881:
"A small pond in the track of the cloud was sucked dry, the water being carried over the adjoining fields together with a large quantity of soft mud, which was scattered over the ground for half a mile around."
It is so easy to say that small frogs that have fallen from the sky had been scooped up by a whirlwind; but here are the circumstances of a scoop; in the exclusionist-imagination there is no regard for mud, débris from the bottom of a pond, floating vegetation, loose things from the shores — but a precise picking out of frogs only. Of all instances I have that attribute the fall of small frogs or toads to whirlwinds, only one definitely identifies or places the whirlwind. Also, as has been said before, a pond going up would be quite as interesting as frogs coming down. Whirlwinds we read over and over — but where and what whirlwind? It seems to me that anybody who had lost a pond would be heard from. In Symons' Meteorological Magazine, 32-106, a fall of small frogs, near Birmingham, June 30, 1892, is attributed to a specific whirlwind — but not a word as to any special pond that had contributed. And something that strikes my attention here is that these frogs are described as almost white.
I'm afraid there is no escape for us: we shall have to give to civilization upon this earth — some new worlds.
Places with white frogs in them.
Upon several occasions we have had data of unknown things that have fallen from — somewhere. But something not to be overlooked is that if living things have landed alive upon this earth — in spite of all we think we know of the accelerative velocity of falling bodies — and have propagated — why the exotic becomes the indigenous, or from the strangest of places we'd expect the familiar. Or if hosts of living frogs have come here — from somewhere else — every living thing upon this earth may, ancestrally, have come from — somewhere else.
I find that I have another note upon a specific hurricane:
Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist., 1-3-185:
After one of the greatest hurricanes in the history of Ireland, some fish were found "as far as 15 yards from the edge of the lake."
Have another: this is a good one for the exclusionists:
Fall of fish in Paris: said that a neighboring pond had been blown dry. (Living Age, 52-186.) Date not given, but I have seen it recorded somewhere else.
The best-known fall of fishes from the sky is that which occurred at Mountain Ash, in the Valley of Abedare, Glamorganshire, Feb. 11, 1859.
The Editor of the Zoologist, 2-677, having published a report of a fall of fishes, writes: "I am continually receiving similar accounts of frogs and fishes." But, in all the volumes of the Zoologist, I can find only two reports of such falls. There is nothing to conclude other than that hosts of data have been lost because orthodoxy does not look favorably upon such reports. The Monthly Weather Review records several falls of fishes in the United States; but accounts of these reported occurrences are not findable in other American publications. Nevertheless, the treatment by the Zoologist of the fall reported from Mountain Ash is fair. First appears, in the issue of 1859-6493, a letter from the Rev. John Griffith, Vicar of Abedare, asserting that the fall had occurred, chiefly upon the property of Mr. Nixon, of Mountain Ash. Upon page 6540, Dr. Gray, of the British Museum, bristling with exclusionism, writes that some of these fishes, which had been sent to him alive, were "very young minnows." He says: "On reading the evidence, it seems to me most probably only a practical joke: that one of Mr. Nixon's employees had thrown a pailful of water upon another, who had thought fish in it had fallen from the sky" — had dipped up a pailful from a brook.
Those fishes — still alive — were exhibited at the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park. The Editor says that one was a minnow and that the rest were sticklebacks.
He says that Dr. Gray's explanation is no doubt right.
But, upon page 6564, he publishes a letter from another correspondent, who apologizes for opposing so "high an authority as Dr. Gray," but says that he had obtained some of these fishes from persons who lived a considerable distance apart, or considerably out of range of the playful pail of water.
According to the Annual Register, 1859-14, the fishes themselves had fallen by pailfuls.
If these fishes were not upon the ground in the first place, we base our objections to the whirlwind explanation, upon two data:
That they fell in no such distribution as one could attribute to the discharge of a whirlwind, but upon a narrow strip of land: about 80 yards long and 12 yards wide —
The other datum is again the suggestion that at first seemed so incredible, but for which support is piling up, a suggestion of a stationary source overhead —
That ten minutes later another fall of fishes occurred upon this same narrow strip of land.
Even arguing that a whirlwind may stand still axially, it discharges tangentially. Wherever the fishes came from it does not seem thinkable that some could have fallen and that others could have whirled even a tenth of a minute, then falling directly after the first to fall. Because of these evil circumstances the best adaptation was to laugh the whole thing off and say that some one had soused some one else with a pailful of water, in which a few "very young minnows" had been caught up.
In the London Times, March 2, 1859, is a letter from Mr. Aaron Roberts, curate of St. Peter's, Carmathon. In this letter the fishes are said to have been about four inches long, but there is some question of species. I think, myself, that they were minnows and sticklebacks. Some persons, thinking them to be sea fishes, placed them in salt water, according to Mr. Roberts. "The effect is stated to have been almost instantaneous death." "Some were placed in fresh water. These seem to thrive well." As to narrow distribution, we are told that the fishes fell "in and about the premises of Mr. Nixon." "It was not observed at the time that any fish fell in any other part of the neighborhood, save in the particular spot mentioned."
In the London Times, March 10, 1859, Vicar Griffith writes an account:
"The roofs of some houses were covered with them."
In this letter it is said that the largest fishes were five inches long, and that these did not survive the fall.
Report of the British Association, 1859-158:
"The evidence of the fall of fish on this occasion was very conclusive. A specimen of the fish was exhibited and was found to be the Gasterosteus leuris.
Gasterosteus is the stickleback.
Altogether I think we have not a sense of total perdition, when we're damned with the explanation that some one soused some one else with a pailful of water, in which were thousands of fishes four or five inches long, some of which covered roofs of houses, and some of which remained ten minutes in the air. By way of contrast we offer our own acceptance.
That the bottom of a super-geographical pond had dropped out.
I have a great many notes upon the fall of fishes, despite the difficulty these records have in getting themselves published, but I pick out instances that especially relate to our super-geographical acceptances, or to the Principles of Super-Geography: or data of things that have been in the air longer than acceptably could a whirlwind carry them; that have fallen with a distribution narrower than is attributable to a whirlwind; that have fallen for a considerable length of time upon the same narrow area of land.
These three factors indicate, somewhere not far aloft, a region of inertness to this earth's gravitation, of course, however, a region that, by the flux and variation of all things, must at times be susceptible — but, afterward, our heresy will bifurcate —
In amiable accommodation to the crucifixion it'll get, I think —
But so impressed are we with the datum that, though there have been many reports of small frogs that have fallen from the sky, not one report upon a fall of tadpoles is findable, that to these circumstances another adjustment must be made.
Apart from our three factors of indication, an extraordinary observation is the fall of living things without injury to them. The devotees of St. Isaac explain that they fall upon thick grass and so survive: but Sir James Emerson Tennent, in his History of Ceylon, tells of a fall of fishes upon gravel, by which they were seemingly uninjured. Something else apart from our three main interests is a phenomenon that looks like what one might call an alternating series of falls of fishes, whatever the significance may be:
Meerut, India, July, 1824 (Living Age, 52-186); Fifeshire, Scotland, summer of 1824 (Wernerian Nat. Hist. Soc. Trans., 5-575); Moradabad, India, July, 1826 (Living Age, 52-186); Rossshire, Scotland, 1828 (Living Age, 52-186); Moradabad, India, July 20, 1829 (Lin. Soc. Trans., 16-764); Perthshire, Scotland (Living Age, 52-186); Argyleshire, Scotland, 1830, March 9, 1830 (Recreative Science, 3-329); Feridpoor, India, Feb. 19, 1830 (Jour. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, 2-650).
A psycho-tropism that arises here — disregarding serial significance — or mechanical, unintelligent, repulsive reflex — is that the fishes of India did not fall from the sky; that they were found upon the ground after torrential rains, because streams had overflowed and had then receded.
In the region of Inertness that we think we can conceive of, or a zone that is to this earth's gravitation very much like the neutral zone of a magnet's attraction, we accept that there are bodies of water and also clear spaces — bottoms of ponds dropping out — very interesting ponds, having no earth at bottom — vast drops of water afloat in what is called space — fishes and deluges of water falling —
But also other areas, in which fishes — however they got there: a matter that we'll consider — remain and dry, or even putrefy, then sometimes falling by atmospheric dislodgment.
After a "tremendous deluge of rain, one of the heaviest falls on record" (All the Year Round, 8-255) at Rajkote, India, July 25, 1850, "the ground was literally covered with fishes."
The word "found" is agreeable to the repulsions of the conventionalists and their concept of an overflowing stream — but, according to Dr. Buist, some of these fishes were "found" on the tops of haystacks.
Ferrel (A Popular Treatise, p. 414) tells of a fall of living fishes some of them having been placed in a tank, where they survived — that occurred in India, about 20 miles south of Calcutta, Sept. 20, 1839. A witness of this fall says:
"The most strange thing which ever struck me was that the fish did not fall helter-skelter, or here and there, but they fell in a straight line, not more than a cubit in breadth." See Living Age, 52-186.
Amer. Jour. Sci., 1-32-199:
That, according to testimony taken before a magistrate, a fall occurred, Feb. 19, 1830, near Feridpoor, India, of many fishes, of various sizes — some whole and fresh and others "mutilated and putrefying." Our reflex to those who would say that, in the climate of India, it would not take long for fishes to putrefy, is — that high in the air, the climate of India is not torrid. Another peculiarity of this fall is that some of the fishes were much larger than others. Or to those who hold out for segregation in a whirlwind, or that objects, say, twice as heavy as others would be separated from the lighter, we point out that some of these fishes were twice as heavy as others.
In the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 2-650, depositions of witnesses are given:
"Some of these fish were fresh, but others rotten and without heads."
"Among the number which I had got, five were fresh and the rest stinking and headless."
They remind us of His Grace's observation of some pages back.
According to Dr. Buist, some of these fishes weighed one and a half pounds each and others three pounds.
A fall of fishes at Futtepoor, India, May 16, 1833:
"They were all dead and dry." (Dr. Buist, Living Age, 52-186.)
India is far away: about 1830 was long ago:
Nature, Sept. 19. 1918-46:
A correspondent writes, from the Dove Marine Laboratory, Cuttercoats, England, that, at Hindon, a suburb of Sunderland, Aug. 24, 1918, hundreds of small fishes, identified as sand eels, had fallen —
Again the small area: about 60 by 30 yards.
The fall occurred during a heavy rain that was accompanied by thunder — or indications of disturbance aloft — but by no visible lightning. The sea is close to Hindon, but if you try to think of these fishes having described a trajectory in a whirlwind from the ocean, consider this remarkable datum:
That, according to witnesses, the fall upon this small area, occupied ten minutes.
I cannot think of a clearer indication of a direct fall from a stationary source.
"The fish were all dead, and indeed stiff and hard, when picked up, immediately after the occurrence."
By all of which I mean that we have only begun to pile up our data of things that fall from a stationary source overhead: we'll have to take up the subject from many approaches before our acceptance, which seems quite as rigorously arrived at as ever has been a belief, can emerge from the accursed.
I don't know how much the horse and barn will help us to emerge: but, if ever anything did go up from this earth's surface and stay up — those damned things — may have:
Monthly Weather Review, May, 1878:
In a tornado, in Wisconsin, May 23, 1878, "a barn and horse were carried completely away, and neither horse nor barn, nor any portion of either have since been found."
After that, which would be a little strong were it not for a steady improvement in our digestions that I note as we go along, there is little of the bizarre or the unassimilable, in the turtle that hovered six months or so over a small town in Mississippi:
Monthly Weather Review, May, 1894:
That, May 11, 1894, at Vicksburg, Miss., fell a small piece of alabaster; that, at Bovina, eight miles from Vicksburg, fell a gopher turtle.
They fell in a hailstorm.
This item was widely copied at the time: for instance, Nature, one of the volumes of 1894, page 430, and Jour. Roy. Met. Soc., 20-273. As to discussion — not a word. Or Science and its continuity with Presbyterianism — data like this are damned at birth. The Weather Review does sprinkle, or baptize, or attempt to save, this infant — but in all the meteorological literature that I have gone through, after that date — not a word, except mention once or twice. The Editor of the Review says:
"An examination of the weather map show that these hailstorms occur on the south side of a region of cold northerly winds, and were but a small part of a series of similar storms: apparently some special local whirls or gusts carried heavy objects from this earth's surface up to the cloud regions."
Of all the incredibilities that we have to choose from, I give first place to a notion of a whirlwind pouncing upon a region and scrupulously selecting a turtle and a piece of alabaster. This time, the other mechanical thing "there in the first place" can not rise in response to its stimulus: it is resisted in that these objects were coated with ice — month of May in a southern state. If a whirlwind at all, there must have been very limited selection: there is no record of the fall of other objects. But there is no attempt in the Review to specify a whirlwind.
These strangely associated things were remarkably separated.
They fell eight miles apart.
Then — as if there were real reasoning — they must have been high to fall with such divergence, or one of them must have been carried partly horizontally eight miles farther than the other. But either supposition argues for power more than that of a local whirl or gust, or argues for a great, specific disturbance, of which there is no record — for the month of May, 1894.
Nevertheless — as if I really were reasonable — I do feel that I have to accept that this turtle had been raised from this earth's surface, somewhere near Vicksburg — because the gopher turtle is common in the southern states.
Then I think of a hurricane that occurred in the state of Mississippi weeks or months before May 11, 1894.
No — I don't look for it — and inevitably find it.
Or that things can go up so high in hurricanes that they stay up indefinitely — but may, after a while, be shaken down by storms. Over and over have we noted the occurrence of strange falls in storms. So then that the turtle and the piece of alabaster may have had far different origins — from different worlds, perhaps — have entered a region of suspension over this earth — wafting near each other — long duration — final precipitation by atmospheric disturbance — with hail — or that hailstones, too, when large, are phenomena of suspension of long duration: that it is highly unacceptable that the very large ones could become so great only in falling from the clouds.
Over and over has the note of disagreeableness, or of putrefaction, been struck — long duration. Other indications of long duration.
I think of a region somewhere above this earth's surface, in which gravitation is inoperative, and is not governed by the square of the distance — quite as magnetism is negligible at a very short distance from a magnet. Theoretically the attraction of a magnet should decrease with the square of the distance, but the falling-off is found to be almost abrupt at a short distance.
I think that things raised from this earth's surface to that region have been held there until shaken down by storms —
The Super-Sargasso Sea.
Derelicts, rubbish, old cargoes from inter-planetary wrecks; things cast out into what is called space by convulsions of other planets, things from the times of the Alexanders, Caesars and Napoleons of Mars and Jupiter and Neptune; things raised by this earth's cyclones: horses and barns and elephants and flies and dodoes, moas, and pterodactyls; leaves from modern trees and leaves of the Carboniferous era — all, however, tending to disintegrate into homogeneous-looking muds or dusts, red or black or yellow — treasure-troves for the paleontologists and for the archaeologists — accumulations of centuries — cyclones of Egypt, Greece, and Assyria — fishes dried and hard, there a short time: others there long enough to putrefy —
But the omnipresence of Heterogeneity — or living fishes, also — ponds of fresh water: oceans of salt water.
As to the Law of Gravitation, I prefer to take one simple stand:
Orthodoxy accepts the correlation and equivalence of forces:
Gravitation is one of these forces.
All other forces have phenomena of repulsion and of inertness irrespective of distance, as well as of attraction.
But Newtonian Gravitation admits attraction only:
Then Newtonian Gravitation can be only one-third acceptable even to the orthodox, or there is denial of the correlation and equivalence of forces.
Or still simpler:
Here are the data.
Make what you will, yourself, of them.
In our Intermediatist revolt against homogeneous, or positive, explanations, or our acceptance that the all-sufficing cannot be less than universality, besides which, however, there would be nothing to suffice, our expression upon the Super-Sargasso Sea, though it harmonizes with data of fishes that fall as if from a stationary source — and, of course, with other data, too — is inadequate to account for two peculiarities of the falls of frogs:
That never has a fall of tadpoles been reported;
That never has a fall of full-grown frogs been reported —
Always frogs a few months old.
It sounds positive, but if there be such reports they are somewhere out of my range of reading.
But tadpoles would be more likely to fall from the sky, than would frogs, little or big, if such falls be attributed to whirlwinds; and more likely to fall from the Super-Sargasso Sea, if, though very tentatively and provisionally, we accept the Super-Sargasso Sea.
Before we taken up an especial expression upon the fall of immature and larval forms of life to this earth, and the necessity then of conceiving of some factor besides mere stationariness or suspension or stagnation, there are other data that are similar to data of falls of fishes.
Science Gossip, 1886-238:
That small snails, of a land species, had fallen near Redruth, Cornwall, July 8, 1886, during "a heavy thunderstorm": roads and fields strewn with them, so that they were gathered up by the hatful: none seen to fall by the writer of this account: snails said to be "quite different to any previously observed in this district."
But, upon page 282, we have better orthodoxy. Another correspondent writes that he had heard of the supposed fall of snails: that he had supposed that all such stories had gone the way of witch stories; that, to his astonishment, he had read an account of this absurd story in a local newspaper of "great and deserved repute."
"I thought I should for once like to trace the origin of one of these fabulous tales."
Our own acceptance is that justice can not be in an intermediate existence, in which there can be approximation only to justice or to injustice; that to be fair is to have no opinion at all; that to be honest is to be uninterested; that to investigate is to admit prejudice; that nobody has ever really investigated anything, but has always sought positively to prove or disprove something that was conceived of, or suspected, in advance.
"As I suspected," says the correspondent, "I found that the snails were of a familiar land-species" — that they had been upon the ground "in the first place."
He found that the snails had appeared after the rain: that "astonished rustics had jumped to the conclusion that they had fallen."
He met one person who said that he had seen the snails fall.
"This was his error," says the investigator.
In the Philosophical Magazine, 58-310, there is an account of snails said to have fallen at Bristol, in a field of three acres, in such quantities that they were shovelled up. It is said that the snails "may be considered as a local species." Upon page 457, another correspondent says that the numbers had been exaggerated, and that in his opinion they had not been upon the ground in the first place. But that there had been some unusual condition aloft comes out in his observation upon "the curious azure-blue appearance of the sun, at the time."
That, according to Das Wetter, (Dec., 1892), upon August 9, 1892, a yellow cloud appeared over Paderborn, Germany. From this cloud, fell a torrential rain, in which were hundreds of mussels. There is no mention of whatever may have been upon the ground in the first place, nor of a whirlwind.
Lizards — said to have fallen on the sidewalks of Montreal, Canada, Dec. 28, 1857. (Notes and Queries, 8-6-104.)
In the Scientific American, 3-112, a correspondent writes, from South Granville, N. Y., that, during a heavy shower, July 3, 1860, he heard a peculiar sound at his feet, and looking down, saw a snake lying as if stunned by a fall. It then came to life. Gray snake, about a foot long.
These data have any meaning or lack of meaning or degree of damnation you please: but, in the matter of the fall that occurred at Memphis, Tennessee, occur some strong significances. Our quasi-reasoning upon this subject applies to all segregations so far considered.
Monthly Weather Review, Jan. 15, 1877:
That, in Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 15, 1877, rather strictly localized, or "in a space of two blocks," and after a violent storm in which rain "fell in torrents," snakes were found. They were crawling on sidewalks, in yards, and in streets, and in masses — but "none were found on roofs or any elevation above ground" and "none were seen to fall."
If you prefer to believe that the snakes had always been there, or had been upon the ground in the first place, and that it was only that something occurred to call special attention to them, in the streets of Memphis, Jan. 15, 1877 — why, that's sensible: that's the common sense that has been against us from the first.
It is not said whether the snakes were of a known species or not, but that "when first seen, they were of a dark brown, almost black." Blacksnakes, I suppose.
If we accept that these snakes did fall, even though not seen to fall by all the persons who were out sight-seeing in a violent storm, and had not been in the streets crawling loose or in thick tangled masses, in the first place;
If we try to accept that these snakes had been raised from some other part of this earth's surface in a whirlwind;
If we try to accept that a whirlwind could segregate them —
We accept the segregation of other objects raised in that whirlwind.
Then, near the point of origin, there would have been a fall of heavier objects that had been snatched up with the snakes — stones, fence rails, limbs of trees. Say that the snakes occupied the next gradation, and would be next to fall. Still farther would there have been separate falls of lightest objects: leaves twigs, tufts of grass.
In the Monthly Weather Review there is no mention of other falls said to have occurred anywhere in January, 1877.
Again ours is the objection against such selectiveness by a whirlwind. Conceivably a whirlwind could scoop out a den of hibernating snakes, with stones and earth and an infinitude of other débris, snatching up dozens of snakes — I don't know how many to a den — hundreds may be — but, according to the account of this occurrence in the New York Times, there were thousands of them; alive; from one foot to eighteen inches in length. The Scientific American, 36-86, records the fall, and says that there were thousands of them. The usual whirlwind-explanation is given — "but in what locality snakes exist in such abundance is yet a mystery."
This matter of enormousness of numbers suggests to me something of a migratory nature — but that snakes in the United States do not migrate in the month of January, if ever.
As to falls or flutterings of winged insects from the sky, prevailing notions of swarming would seem explanatory enough: nevertheless, in instances of ants, there are some peculiar circumstances.
Falls of fishes, June 13, 1889, in Holland; ants, Aug. 1, 1889, Strasbourg; little toads, Aug. 2, 1889, Savoy.
Fall of ants, Cambridge, England, summer of 1874 — "some were wingless." (Scientific American, 31-193.) Enormous fall of ants, Nancy, France, July 21, 1887 — "most of them were wingless" (Nature, 36-349.) Fall of enormous, unknown ants — size of wasps — Manitoba, June, 1895. (Sci. Amer., 72-385.)
However, our expression will be:
That wingless, larval forms of life, in numbers so enormous that migration from some place external to this earth is suggested, have fallen from the sky.
That these "migrations" — if such can be our acceptance — have occurred at a time of hibernation and burial far in the ground of larvae in the northern latitudes of this earth; that there is significance in recurrence of these falls in the last of January — or that we have the square of an incredibility in such a notion as that of selection of larvae by whirlwinds, compounded with selection of the last of January.
I accept that there are "snow worms" upon this earth — whatever their origin may have been. In the Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. of Philadelphia, 1899-125, there is a description of yellow worms and black worms that have been found together on glaciers in Alaska. Almost positively were there no other forms of insect-life upon these glaciers, and there was no vegetation to support insect-life, except microscopic organisms. Nevertheless the description of this probably polymorphic species fits a description of larvae said to have fallen in Switzerland, and less definitely fits another description. There is no opposition here, if our data of falls are clear. Frogs of every-day ponds look like frogs said to have fallen from the sky — except the whitish frogs of Birmingham. However, all falls of larvae have not positively occurred in the last of January.
London Times, April 24, 1837:
That, in the parish of Bramford Speke, Devonshire, a large number of black worms, about three-quarters of an inch in length, had fallen in a snow storm.
In Timb's Year Book, 1877-26, it is said that, in the winter of 1876, at Christiana, Norway, worms were found crawling upon the ground. The occurrence is considered a great mystery, because the worms could not have come up from the ground, inasmuch as the ground was frozen at the time, and because they were reported from other places, also, in Norway.
Immense numbers of black insects in a snowstorm, in 1827, at Pakroff, Russia (Scientific American, 30-193).
Fall, with snow, at Orenburg, Russia, Dec. 14, 1830, of a multitude of small, black insects, said to have been gnats, but also said to have had flea-like motions. (Amer. Jour. Sci., 1-22-375.)
Large number of worms found in a snowstorm, upon the surface of snow about four inches thick, near Sangerfield, N. Y., Nov. 18, 1850 (Scientific American, 6-96). The writer thinks that the worms had been brought to the surface of the ground by rain, which had fallen previously.
Scientific American, Feb. 21, 1891:
"A puzzling phenomenon has been noticed frequently in some parts of Valley Bend District, Randolph County, Va., this winter. The crust of the snow has been covered two or three times with worms resembling the ordinary cut worms. Where they come from, unless they fall with the snow is inexplicable." In the Scientific American, Mar. 7, 1891, the Editor says that similar worms had been seen upon the snow near Utica, N. Y., and in Oneida and Herkimer Counties; that some of the worms had been sent to the Department of Agriculture at Washington. Again two species, or polymorphism. According to Prof. Riley, it was not polymorphism, "but two distinct species" — which, because of our data, we doubt. One kind was larger than the other: color-differences not distinctly stated. One is called the larvae of the common soldier beetle and the other "seems to be a variety of the bronze cut worm." No attempt to explain the occurrence in snow.
Fall of great numbers of larvae of beetles, near Mortagne, France, May, 1858. The larvae were inanimate as if with cold. (Annales Société Entomologique de France, 1858.)
Trans. Ent. Soc. of London, 1871-183, records "snowing of larvae," in Silesia, 1806; "appearance of many larvae on the snow," in Saxony, 1811; "larvae found alive on the snow," 1828; larvae and snow which "fell together," in the Eifel, Jan. 30, 1847; "fall of insects," Jan. 24, 1849, in Lithuania; occurrence of larvae estimated at 300,000 on the snow in Switzerland, in 1856. The compiler says that most of these larvae live underground, or at the roots of trees; that whirlwinds uproot trees, and carry away the larvae — conceiving of them as not held in masses of frozen earth — all as neatly detachable as currants in something. In the Revue et Magasin de Zoologie, 1849-72, there is an account of the fall in Lithuania, Jan. 24, 1849 — that black larvae had fallen in enormous numbers.
Larvae thought to have been of beetles, but described as "caterpillars," not seen to fall, but found crawling on the snow, after a snowstorm, at Warsaw, Jan. 20, 1850. (All the Year Round, 8-253.)
Flammarion (The Atmosphere, p. 414) tells of a fall of larvae that occurred Jan. 30, 1869, in a snowstorm, in Upper Savoy: "They could not have been hatched in the neighborhood, for, during the days preceding, the temperature had been very low"; said to have been a species common in the south of France. In La Science Pour Tous, 14-183, it is said that with these larvae there were developed insects.
That, upon the last of January, 1890, there fell, in a great tempest, in Switzerland, incalculable numbers of larvae: some black and some yellow; numbers so great that hosts of birds were attracted.
Altogether we regard this as one of our neatest expressions for external origins and against the whirlwind-explanation. If an exclusionist says that, in January, larvae were precisely and painstakingly picked out of frozen ground, in incalculable numbers, he thinks of a tremendous force — disregarding its refinements: then if origin and precipitation be not far apart, what becomes of an infinitude of other débris, conceiving of no time for segregation?
If he thinks of a long translation — all the way from the south of France to Upper Savoy, he may think then of a very fine sorting over by differences of specific gravity — but in such a fine selection, larvae would be separated from developed insects.
As to differences in specific gravity — the yellow larvae that fell in Switzerland, Jan., 1890, were three times the size of the black larvae that fell with them. In accounts of this occurrence, there is no denial of the fall.
Or that a whirlwind never brought them together and held them together and precipitated them and only them together —
That they came from Genesistrine.
There's no escape from it. We'll be persecuted for it. Take it or leave it —
The notion is that there is somewhere aloft a place of origin of life relatively to this earth. Whether it's the planet Genesistrine, or the moon, or a vast amorphous region super-jacent to this earth, or an island in the Super-Sargasso Sea, should perhaps be left to the researches of other super — or extra — geographers. That the first unicellular organisms may have come here from Genesistrine — or that men or anthropomorphic beings may have come here before amoebae: that, upon Genesistrine, there may have been an evolution expressible in conventional biologic terms, but that evolution upon this earth has been — like evolution in modern Japan — induced by external influences; that evolution, as a whole, upon this earth, has been a process of population by immigration or by bombardment. Some notes I have upon remains of men and animals encysted, or covered with clay or stone, as if fired here as projectiles, I omit now, because it seems best to regard the whole phenomenon as a tropism — as a geotropism — probably atavistic, or vestigial, as it were, or something still continuing long after expiration of necessity; that, once upon a time, all kinds of things came here from Genesistrine, but that now only a few kinds of bugs and things, at long intervals, feel the inspiration.
Not one instance have we of tadpoles that have fallen to this earth. It seems reasonable that a whirlwind could scoop up a pond, frogs and all and cast down the frogs somewhere else: but, then, more reasonable that a whirlwind could scoop up a pond, tadpoles and all — because tadpoles are more numerous in their season than are frogs in theirs: but the tadpole-season is earlier in the spring, or in a time that is more tempestuous. Thinking in terms of causation — as if there were real causes — our notion is that, if X is likely to cause Y, but is more likely to cause Z, but does not cause Z, X is not the cause of Y. Upon this quasi-sorites, we base our acceptance that the little frogs that have fallen to this earth are not products of whirlwinds: that they come from externality, or from Genesistrine.
I think of Genesistrine in terms of biologic mechanics: not that somewhere there are persons who collect bugs in or about the last of January and frogs in July and August, and bombard this earth, any more than do persons go through northern regions, catching and collecting birds, every autumn, then casting them southward.
But atavistic, or vestigial, geotropism in Genesistrine — or a million larvae start crawling, and a million little frogs start hopping — knowing no more what it's all about than we do when we crawl to work in the morning and hop away at night.
I should say, myself, that Genesistrine is a region in the Super-Sargasso Sea, and that parts of the Super-Sargasso Sea have rhythms of susceptibility to the earth's attraction.
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