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The Book of the Damned
By Charles Fort (1874-1932)
Noded by panamaus
ONE of the damnedest in our whole saturnalia of the accursed —
Because it is hopeless to try to shake off an excommunication only by saying that we're damned by blacker things than ourselves; and that the damned are those who admit they're of the damned. Inertia and hypnosis are too strong for us. We say that: then we go right on admitting we're the damned. It is only by being more nearly real that we can sweep away the quasi-things that oppose us. Of course, as a whole, we have considerable amorphousness, but we are thinking now of "individual" acceptances. Wideness is an aspect of Universalness or Realness. If our syntheses disregard fewer data than do opposing syntheses — which are often not syntheses at all, but mere consideration of some circumstance — less widely synthetic things fade away before us. Harmony is an aspect of the Universal, by which we mean Realness. If we approximate more highly to harmony among the parts of an expression and to all available circumstances of an occurrence, the self-contradictors turn hazy. Solidity is an aspect of realness. We pile them up, and we pile them up, or they pass and pass and pass: things that bulk large as they march by, supporting and solidifying one another —
And still, and for the regiments to come, hypnosis and inertia rule us —
One of the damnedest of our data:
In the Scientific American, Sept. 10, 1910, Charles F. Holder writes:
"Many years ago, a strange stone resembling a meteorite, fell into the valley of the Yaqui, Mexico, and the sensational story went from one end to the other of the country that a stone bearing human inscriptions had descended to the earth."
The bewildering observation here is Mr. Holder's assertion that this stone did fall. It seems to me that he must mean that it fell by dislodgment from a mountain side into a valley — but we shall see that it was such a marked stone that very unlikely would it have been unknown to dwellers in the valley, if it had been reposing upon a mountainside above them. It may have been carelessness: intent may have been to say that a sensational story of a strange stone said to have fallen, etc.
This stone was reported by Major Frederick Burnham, of the British Army. Later Major Burnham revisited it, and Mr. Holder accompanied him, their purpose to decipher the inscriptions upon it, if possible.
"This stone was a brown, igneous rock, its longest axis about eight feet, and on the eastern face, which had an angle of about forty-five degrees, was the deep-cut inscription."
Mr. Holder says that he recognized familiar Mayan symbols in the inscription. His method was the usual method by which anything can be "identified" as anything else: that is to pick out whatever is agreeable and disregard the rest. He says that he has demonstrated that most of the symbols are Mayan. One of our intermediatist pseudo-principles is that any way of demonstrating anything is just as good a way of demonstrating anything else. By Mr. Holder's method we could demonstrate that we're Mayan — if that should be a source of pride to us. One of the characters upon this stone is a circle within a circle — similar character found by Mr. Holder in a Mayan manuscript. There are two 6's. 6's can be found in Mayan manuscripts. A double scroll. There are dots and there are dashes. Well, then, in turn, disregard the circle within a circle and the double scroll and emphasize that 6's occur in this book, and that dots are plentiful, and would be more plentiful if it were customary to use the small "i" for the first personal pronoun — that when it comes to dashes — that's demonstrated: we're Mayan.
I suppose the tendency is to feel that we're sneering at some valuable archæologic work, and that Mr. Holder did make a veritable identification.
"I submitted the photographs to the Field Museum and the Smithsonian and one or two others, and, to my surprise, the reply was that they could make nothing out of it."
Our indefinite acceptance, by preponderance of three or four groups of museum-experts against one person, is that a stone bearing inscriptions unassimilable with any known language upon this earth, is said to have fallen from the sky. Another poor wretch of an outcast belonging here is noted in the Scientific American, 48-261: that, of an object, or a meteorite, that fell Feb. 16, 1883, near Brescia, Italy, a false report was circulated that one of the fragments bore the impress of a hand. That's all that is findable by me upon this mere gasp of a thing. Intermediatistically, my acceptance is that, though in the course of human history, there have been some notable approximations, there never has been a real liar: that he could not survive in intermediateness, where everything merges away or has its pseudo-base in something else — would be instantly translated to the Negative Absolute. So my acceptance is that, though curtly dismissed, there was something to base upon in this report; that there were unusual markings upon this object. Of course that is not to jump to the conclusion that they were cuneiform characters that looked like fingerprints.
Altogether, I think that in some of our past expressions, we must have been very efficient, if the experience of Mr. Symons be typical, so indefinite are we becoming here. Just here we are interested in many things that have been found, especially in the United States, which speak of a civilization, or of many civilizations not indigenous to this earth. One trouble is in trying to decide whether they fell here from the sky, or were left behind by visitors from other worlds. We have a notion that there have been disasters aloft, and that coins were dropped here: that inhabitants of this earth found them or saw them fall, and then made coins imitatively: it may be that coins were showered here by something of a tutelary nature that undertook to advance us from the stage of barter to the use of a medium. If coins should be identified as Roman coins, we've had so much experience with "identifications" that we know a phantom when we see one — but, even so, how could Roman coins have got to North America — far in the interior of North America — or buried under the accumulation of centuries of soil — unless they did drop from — wherever the first Romans came from? Ignatius Donnelly, in Atlantis, gives a list of objects that have been found in mounds that are supposed to antedate all European influence in America: lathe-made articles, such as traders — from somewhere — would supply to savages — marks of the lathe said to be unmistakable. Said to be: of course we can't accept that anything is unmistakable. In the Rept. Smithson. Inst., 1881-619, there is an account, by Charles C. Jones, of two silver crosses that were found in Georgia. They are skillfully made, highly ornamented crosses, but are not conventional crucifixes: all arms of equal length. Mr. Jones is a good positivist — that De Sota had halted at the "precise" spot where these crosses were found. But the spirit of negativeness that lurks in all things said to be "precise" shows itself in that upon one of these crosses in an inscription that has no meaning in Spanish or any other known, terrestrial language:
"IYNKICIDU," according to Mr. Jones. He thinks that this is a name, and that there is an aboriginal ring to it, though I should say, myself, that he was thinking of the far-distant Incas: that the Spanish donor cut on the cross the name of an Indian to whom it was presented. But we look at the inscription ourselves and see that the letters said to be "C" and "D" are turned the wrong way, and that the letter said to be "K" is not only turned the wrong way, but is upside down.
It is difficult to accept that the remarkable, the very extensive, copper mines in the region of Lake Superior, were ever the works of American aborigines. Despite the astonishing extent of these mines, nothing has ever been found to indicate that the region was ever inhabited by permanent dwellers — "...not a vestige of a dwelling, a skeleton, or a bone has been found." The Indians have no traditions relating to the mines (American Antiquarian, 23-258). I think we've had visitors: that they have come here for copper, for instance. As to other relics of them — but we now come upon frequency of a merger that has not so often appeared before:
Hair called real hair — then there are wigs. Teeth called real teeth — then there are false teeth. Official money — counterfeit money. It's the bane of psychic research. If there be psychic phenomena, there must be fraudulent psychic phenomena. So desperate is the situation here that Carrington argues that, even if Palladino be caught cheating, that is not to say that all her phenomena are fraudulent. My own version is: that nothing, indicates anything, in a positive sense, because, in a positive sense, there is nothing to be indicated. Everything that is called true must merge away indistinguishably into something called false. Both are expressions of the same underlying quasiness, and are continuous. Fraudulent antiquarian relics are very common, but they are not more common than are fraudulent paintings.
W. S. Forest, Historical Sketches of Norfolk, Virginia:
That, in Sept., 1833, when some workmen, near Norfolk, were boring for water, a coin was drawn up from a depth of about 30 feet. It was about the size of an English shilling, but oval — an oval disk, if not a coin. The figures upon it were distinct, and represented "a warrior or hunter and other characters, apparently of Roman origin."
This means of exclusion would probably be — men digging a hole — no one else looking: one of them drops a coin into the hole — as to where he got a strange coin, remarkable in shape even — that's disregarded. Up comes the coin — expressions of astonishment from the evil one who had dropped it.
However, the antiquarians have missed this coin. I can find no other mention of it.
Another coin. Also a little study in the genesis of a prophet.
In the American Antiquarian, 16-313, is copied a story by a correspondent to the Detroit News, of a copper coin about the size of a two-cent piece, said to have been found in a Michigan mound. The Editor says merely that he does not endorse the find. Upon this slender basis, he buds out, in the next number of the Antiquarian:
"The coin turns out, as we predicted, to be a fraud."
You can imagine the scorn of Elijah, or any of the old more nearly real prophets.
Or all things are tried by the only kind of jurisprudence we have in quasi-existence:
Presumed to be innocent until convicted — but they're guilty.
The Editor's reasoning is as phantom-like as my own, or St. Paul's, or Darwin's. The coin is condemned because it came from the same region from which, a few years before, had come pottery that had been called fraudulent. The pottery had been condemned because it was condemnable.
Scientific American, June 17, 1882:
That a farmer, in Cass Co., Ill., had picked up, on his farm, a bronze coin, which was sent to Prof. F.F. Hilder, of St. Louis, who identified it as a coin of Antiochus IV. Inscription said to be in ancient Greek characters: translated as "King Antiochus, Epiphanes (Illustrious) the Victorious." Sounds quite definite and convincing — but we have some more translations coming.
In the American Pioneer, 2-169, are shown two faces of a copper coin, with characters very much like those upon the Grave Creek stone — which, with translations, we'll take up soon. This coin is said to have been found in Connecticut, in 1843.
Records of the Past, 12-182:
That, early in 1913, a coin, said to be a Roman coin, was reported as discovered in an Illinois mound. It was sent to Dr. Emerson, of the Art Institute, of Chicago. His opinion was that the coin is "of the rare mintage of Domitius Domitianus, Emperor in Egypt." As to its discovery in an Illinois mound, Dr. Emerson disclaims responsibility. But what strikes me here is that a joker should not have been satisfied with an ordinary Roman coin. Where did he get a rare coin, and why was it not missed from some collection? I have looked over numismatic journals enough to accept that the whereabouts of every rare coin in anyone's possession is known to coin-collectors. Seems to me nothing left but to call this another "identification."
Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc., 12-224:
That, in July, 1871, a letter was received from Mr. Jacob W. Moffit, of Chillicothe, Ill., enclosing a photograph of a coin, which he said had been brought up, by him, while boring, from a depth of 120 feet.
Of course, by conventional scientific standards, such depth has some extraordinary meaning. Paleontologists, geologists, and archæologists consider themselves reasonable in arguing ancient origin of the far-buried. We only accept: depth is a pseudo-standard with us; one earthquake could bury a coin of recent mintage 120 feet below the surface.
According to a writer in the Proceedings, the coin is uniform in thickness, and had never been hammered out by savages—"there are other tokens of the machine shop."
But, according to Prof. Leslie, it is an astrologic amulet. "There are upon it the signs of Pisces and Leo."
Or, with due disregard, you can find signs of your great grandmother, or of the Crusades, or of the Mayans, upon anything that ever came from Chillicothe or from the five and ten cent store. Anything that looks like a cat and a goldfish looks like Leo and Pisces; but, by due suppressions and distortions there's nothing that can't be made to look like a cat and a goldfish. I fear me we're turning a little irritable here. To be damned by slumbering giants and interesting harlots and clowns who rank high in their profession is at least supportable to our vanity; but, we find that the anthropologists are of the slums of the divine, or of an archaic kindergarten of intellectuality, and it is very unflattering to find a mess of moldy infants sitting in judgment upon us.
Prof. Leslie then finds, as arbitrarily as one might find that some joker put the Brooklyn Bridge where it is, that "the piece was placed there as a practical joke, though not by its present owner; and is a modern fabrication; perhaps of the sixteenth century; possibly Hispano-American or French-American origin."
It's sheer, brutal attempt to assimilate a thing that may or may not have fallen from the sky, with the phenomena admitted by the anthropologic system: or with the early French or Spanish explorers of Illinois. Though it is ridiculous in a positive sense, to give reasons, it is more acceptable to attempt reasons more nearly real than opposing reasons. Of course, in his favor, we note that Prof. Leslie qualifies his notions. But his disregards are that there is nothing either French or Spanish about this coin. A legend upon it is said to be "somewhere between Arabic and Phoenician, without being either." Prof. Winchell (Sparks from a Geologist's Hammer, p. 170) says of the crude designs upon this coin, which was in his possession — scrawls of an animal and of a warrior, or of a cat and a goldfish, whichever be convenient — that they had been neither stamped nor engraved, but "looked as if etched with acid." That is a method unknown in numismatics of this earth. As to the crudity of design upon this coin, and something else — that, though the "warrior" may be, by due disregards, either a cat or a goldfish, we have to note that his headdress is typical of the American Indian — could be explained, of course, but for fear that we might be instantly translated to the Positive Absolute, which may not be absolutely desirable, we prefer to have some flaws or negativeness in our own expressions.
Data of more than the thrice-accursed:
Tablets of stone, with ten commandments engraved upon them, in Hebrew, said to have been found in the mounds in the United States;
Masonic emblems said to have been found in the mounds in the United States.
We're upon the borderline of our acceptances, and we're amorphous in the uncertainties and mergings of our outline. Conventionally, or, with no real reason for doing so, we exclude these things, and then, as grossly and arbitrarily and irrationally — though our attempt is always to approximate away from the negative states — as ever a Kepler, Newton, or Darwin, made his selections, without which he could not have seemed to be, at all, because every one of them is now seen to be an illusion, we accept that other lettered things have been found in mounds in the United States. Of course we do what we can to make the selection seem not gross and arbitrary and irrational. Then, if we accept that inscribed things of ancient origin have been found in the United States; that can not be attributed to any race indigenous to the western hemisphere; that are not in any language ever heard of in the eastern hemisphere — there's nothing to it but to turn non-Euclidean and try to conceive of a third "hemisphere," or to accept that there has been intercourse between the western hemisphere and some other world.
But there is a peculiarity to these inscribed objects. They remind me of the records left, by Sir John Franklin, in the Arctic; but, also, of attempts made by relief expeditions to communicate with the Franklin expedition. The lost explorers cached their records — or concealed them conspicuously in mounds. The relief expeditions sent up balloons, from which messages were dropped broadcast. Our data are of things that have been cached, and of things that seem to have been dropped —
Or a Lost Expedition — Somewhere.
Explorers from somewhere, and their inability to return — then, a long, sentimental, persistent attempt, in the spirit of our own Arctic relief-expeditions — at least to establish communication —
What if it may have succeeded?
We think of India — millions of natives who are ruled by a small band of esoterics — only because they receive support and direction from — somewhere else — or from England.
In 1838, Mr. A.B. Tomlinson, owner of the great mound at Grave Creek, West Virginia, excavated the mound. He said that, in the presence of witnesses, he had found a small, flat, oval stone — or disk — upon which were engraved alphabetic characters.
Col. Whittelsey, an expert in these matters, says that the stone is now "universally regarded by archæologists as a fraud": that, in his opinion, Mr. Tomlinson had been imposed upon.
Avebury, Prehistoric Times, p. 271:
"I mention it because it has been the subject of much discussion, but it is now generally admitted to be a fraud. It is inscribed with Hebrew characters, but the forger has copied the modern instead of the ancient forms of the letters."
As I have said, we're as irritable here, under the oppressions of the anthropologists as ever were the slaves in the south toward superiorities from "poor white trash." When we finally reverse our relative positions we shall give lowest place to the anthropologists. A Dr. Gray does at least look at a fish before he conceives of a miraculous origin for it. We shall have to submerge Lord Avebury far below him — if we accept that the stone from Grave Creek is generally regarded as a fraud by eminent authorities who did not know it from some other object — or, in general, that so decided an opinion must be the product of either deliberate disregard or ignorance or fatigue. The stone belongs to a class of phenomena that is repulsive to the System. It will not assimilate with the System. Let such an object be heard of by such a systematist as Avebury, and the mere mention of it is as nearly certainly the stimulus to a conventional reaction as is a charged body to an electroscope or a glass of beer to a prohibitionist. It is of the ideals of Science to know one object from another before expressing an opinion upon a thing, but that is not the spirit of universal mechanics:
A thing. It is attractive or repulsive. Its conventional reaction follows.
Because it is not the stone from Grave Creek that is in Hebrew characters, either ancient nor modern: it is a stone from Newark, Ohio, of which the story is told that a forger made this mistake of using modern instead of ancient Hebrew characters. We shall see that the inscription upon the Grave Creek stone is not in Hebrew.
Or all things are presumed to be innocent, but supposed to be guilty — unless they assimilate.
Col. Whittelsey, (Western Reserve Historical Tracts, no. 33) says that the Grave Creek stone was considered a fraud by Wilson, Squires, and Davis. Then he comes to the Congress of Archæologists at Nancy, France, 1875. It is hard for Col. Whittelsey to admit that, at this meeting, which sounds important, the stone was endorsed. He reminds us of Mr. Symons, and "the man" who "considered" that he saw something. Col. Whittelsey's somewhat tortured expression is that the finder of the stone "so imposed his views" upon the congress that it pronounced the stone genuine.
Also the stone was examined by Schoolcraft. He gave his opinion for genuineness.
Or there's only one process, and "see-saw" is one of its aspects. Three of four fat experts on the side against us. We find four or five plump ones on our side. Or all that we call logic and reasoning ends up as sheer preponderance of avoirdupois.
Then several philologists came out in favor of genuineness. Some of them translated the inscription. Of course, as we have said, it is our method — or the method of orthodoxy — way in which all conclusions are reached — to have some awfully eminent, or preponderantly plump, authorities with us whenever we can — in this case, however, we feel just a little apprehensive in being caught in such excellently obese, but somewhat negativized, company:
Translation by M. Jombard:
"Thy orders are laws: thou shinest in impetuous élan and rapid chamois."
M. Maurice Schwab:
"The chief of Emigration who reached these places (or this island) has fixed these characters forever."
"The grave of one who was assassinated here. May God, to revenge him, strike his murderer, cutting off the hand of his existence."
I like the first one best. I have such a vivid impression from it of someone polishing up brass or something, and in an awful hurry. Of course the third is more dramatic — still they're all very good. They are perturbations of one another, I suppose.
In Tract 44, Whittelsey returns to the subject. He gives the conclusion of Major De Helward, at the Congress of Luxembourg, 1877:
"If Professor Read and myself are right in the conclusion that the figures are neither of the Runic, Phoenician, Canaanite, Hebrew, Lybian, Celtic, or any other alphabet-language, its importance has been greatly over-rated."
Obvious to a child; obvious to any mentality not helplessly subjected to a system:
That just therein lies the importance of this object.
It is said that an ideal of science is find out the new — but, unless a thing be of the old, it is "unimportant."
"It is not worth while." (Hovey.)
Then the inscribed ax, or wedge, which, according to Dr. John C. Evans, in a communication to the American Ethnological Society, was plowed up, near Pemberton, N.J., 1859. The characters upon this ax, or wedge, are strikingly similar to the characters on the Grave Creek stone. Also, with a little disregard here and a little more there, they look like tracks in the snow by someone who's been out celebrating, or like your handwriting, or mine, when we think there's a certain distinction in illegibility. Method of disregard: anything's anything.
Dr. Abbott describes this object in the Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1875-260.
He says he has no faith in it.
All progress is from the outrageous to the commonplace. Or quasi-existence proceeds from rape to the crooning of lullabies. It's been interesting to me to go over various long-established periodicals and note controversies between attempting positivists, and then intermediatistic issues. Bold, bad intruders of theories; ruffians with dishonorable intentions — the alarms of Science; her attempt to preserve that which is dearer than life itself — submission — then a fidelity like Mrs. Micawber's. So many of these ruffians, or wandering comedians that were hated, or scorned, pitied, embraced, conventionalized. There's not a notion in this book that has a more frightful, or ridiculous, mien than had the notion of human footprints in rocks, when that now respectabilized ruffian, or clown, was first heard from. It seems bewildering to one whose interests are not scientific that such rows should be raised over such trifles: but the feeling of a systematist toward such an intruder is just about what anyone's would be if a tramp from the street should come in, sit at one's dinner table, and say he belonged there. We know what hypnosis can do: let him insist with all his might that he does belong there, and one begins to suspect that he may be right; that he may have higher perceptions of what's right. The prohibitionists had this worked out very skillfully.
So the row that was raised over the stone from Grave Creek — but time and cumulativeness, and the very factor we make so much of — or the power of massed data. There were other reports of inscribed stones, and then, half a century later, some mounds — or caches, as we call them — were opened by the Rev. Mr. Gass, near the city of Davenport. (American Antiquarian, 15-73.) Several stone tablets were found. Upon one of them, the letters "TFTOWNS" may easily be made out. In this instance we hear nothing of fraudulency — time, cumulativeness, the power of massed data. The attempt to assimilate this datum is:
That the tablet was probably of Mormon origin.
Because, at Mendon, Illinois, was found a brass plate, upon which were similar characters.
Because that was found "near a house once occupied by a Mormon."
In a real existence, a real meteorologist, suspecting that cinders had come from a fire engine — would have asked a fireman.
Tablets of Davenport — there's not a record findable that it ever occurred to any antiquarian — to ask a Mormon.
Other tablets were found. Upon one of them are two "F's" and two "8's." Also a large tablet, twelve inches by eight to ten inches "with Roman numerals and Arabic." It is said that the figure "8" occurs three times, and the figure, or letter "O" seven times. "With these familiar characters are others that resemble ancient alphabets, either Phoenecian or Hebrew."
It may be that the discovery of Australia, for instance, will turn out to be less important than the discovery and the meaning of these tablets —
But where will you read of them in anything subsequently published; what antiquarian has ever since tried to understand them, and their presence, and indications of antiquity, in a land that we're told was inhabited only by unlettered savages?
These things that are exhumed only to be buried in some other way.
Another tablet was found, at Davenport, by Mr. Charles Harrison, president of the American Antiquarian Society. "...8 and other hieroglyphics are upon this tablet." This time, also, fraud is not mentioned. My own notion is that it is very unsportsmanlike ever to mention fraud. Accept anything. Then explain it your way. Anything that assimilates with one explanation, must have assimilable relations, to some degree, with all other explanations, if all explanations are somewhat continuous. Mormons are lugged in again, but the attempt is faint and helpless — "because general circumstances make it difficult to explain the presence of these tablets."
Altogether our phantom resistance is mere attribution to the Mormons, without the slightest attempt to find base for the attribution. We think of messages that were showered upon this earth, and of messages that were cached in the mounds upon this earth. The similarity to the Franklin situation is striking. Conceivably centuries from now, objects dropped from relief-expedition-balloons may be found in the Arctic, and conceivably there are still undiscovered caches left by Franklin, in the hope that relief expeditions would find them. It would be as incongruous to attribute these things to the Eskimos as to attribute tablets and lettered stones to the aborigines of America. Some time I shall take up an expression that the queer-shaped mounds upon this earth were built by explorers from Somewhere, unable to get back, designed to attract the attention from some other world, and that a vast sword-shaped mound has been discovered upon the moon — Just now we think of lettered things and their two possible significances.
A bizarre little lost soul, rescued from one of the morgues of the American Journal of Science:
An account, sent by a correspondent, to Prof. Silliman, of something that was found in a block of marble, taken Nov., 1829, from a quarry, near Philadelphia (Am. J. Sci., 1-19-361). The block was cut into slabs. By this process, it is said, was exposed an indentation in the stone, about one-and-a-half inches by five-eighths of an inch. A geometric indentation: in it were two definite-looking raised letters, like "I U": only difference is that the corners of the "U" are not rounded, but are right angles. We are told that this block of stone came from a depth of seventy to eighty feet — or that, if acceptable, this lettering was done long, long ago. To some persons, not sated with the commonness of the incredible that has to be accepted, it may seem grotesque to think that an indentation in sand could have tons of other sand piled upon it and hardening into stone, without being pressed out — but the famous Nicaraguan footprints were found in a quarry under eleven strata of solid rock. There was no discussion of this datum. We only take it out for an airing.
As to lettered stones that may once upon a time have been showered upon Europe, if we cannot accept that stones were inscribed by indigenous inhabitants of Europe, many have been found in caves — whence they were carried as curiosities by prehistoric men, or as ornaments, I suppose. About the size and shape of the Grave Creek stone, or disk: "flat and oval and about two inches wide." (Sollas.) Characters painted upon them: found first by M. Piette in the cave of Mas d'Azil, Ariége. According to Sollas, they are marked in various directions with red and black lines. "But on not a few of them, more complex characters occur, which in a few instances simulate some of the capital letters of the Roman alphabet." In one instance the letters "F E I" accompanied by no other markings to modify them, are as plain as they could be. According to Sollas (Ancient Hunters, p. 95) M. Cartailhac has confirmed the observations of Piette, and M. Boule has found additional examples. "They offer one of the darkest problems of prehistoric times." (Sollas.)
As to caches in general, I should say that they are made with two purposes: to proclaim and to conceal; or that caches documents are hidden, or covered over, in conspicuous structures; at least, so are designed the cairns in the Arctic.
Trans N. Y. Acad. of Sciences, 11-27:
That Mr. J.H. Hooper, Bradley Co., Tenn., having come upon a curious stone, in some woods upon his farm, investigated. He dug. He unearthed a long wall. Upon this wall were inscribed many alphabetic characters. "872 characters have been examined, many of them duplicates, and a few imitations of animal forms, the moon, and other objects. Accidental imitation of oriental alphabets are numerous."
The part that seems significant:
That these letters had been hidden under a layer of cement.
And still, in our own heterogeneity, or unwillingness, or inability, to concentrate upon single concepts, we shall — or we shan't — accept that, though there may have been a Lost Colony or Lost Expedition from Somewhere, upon this earth, and extra-mundane visitors who could never get back, there have been other extra-mundane visitors, who have gone away again — altogether quite in analogy with the Franklin expedition and Peary's flittings in the Arctic —
And a wreck that occurred to one group of them —
And the loot that was lost overboard —
The Chinese seals of Ireland.
Not the things with the big, wistful eyes; that lie on the ice, and that are taught to balance objects on their noses — but inscribed stamps, with which to make impressions.
Proc. Roy. Irish Acad., 1-381:
A paper was read by Mr. J. Huband Smith, descriptive of about a dozen Chinese seals that had been found in Ireland. They are all alike: each a cube with an animal seated upon it. "It is said that the inscriptions upon them are of a very ancient class of Chinese characters."
The three points that have been made a leper and an outcast of this datum — but only in the sense of disregard, because nowhere that I know of is it questioned:
Agreement among archæologists that there were no relations, in the remote past, between China and Ireland;
That no other objects, from ancient China — virtually, I suppose — have ever been found in Ireland;
The great distances at which these seals have been found apart.
After Mr. Smith's investigations — if he did investigate, or do more than record — many more Chinese seals were found in Ireland, and, with one exception, only in Ireland. In 1852, about 60 had been found. Of all archæologic finds in Ireland, "none are enveloped in greater mystery." (Chambers' Journal, 16-364.) According to the writer in Chambers' Journal, one of these seals was found in a curiosity shop in London. When questioned, the shopkeeper said that it had come from Ireland.
In this instance, if you don't take instinctively to our expression, there is no orthodox explanation for your preference. It is the astonishing scattering of them, over field and forest, that has hushed the explainers. In the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 10-171, Dr. Frazer says that they "appear to have been sown broadcast over the country in some strange way that I cannot offer solution of."
The struggle for expression of a notion that did not belong to Dr. Frazer's era:
"The invariable story of their find is what we might expect if they had been accidentally dropped...."
Three were found in Tipperary; six in Cork; three in Down; four in Waterford; all the rest — one or two to a county.
But one of these Chinese seals was found in the bed of the River Boyne, near Clonard, Meath, when workmen were raising gravel.
That one, at least, had been dropped there.
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