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The Book of the Damned

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Dusk
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« Reply #75 on: April 21, 2009, 03:06:11 pm »

as the Scientific American Supplement would say—mysterious disappearance of a sea captain, his family, and the crew—

Of positivists, by the route of Abrupt Transition, I think that Manet was notable—but that his approximation was held down by his intense relativity to the public—or that it is quite as impositive to flout and insult and defy as it is to crawl and placate. Of course, Manet began with continuity with Courbet and others, and then, between him and Manet there were mutual influences—but the spirit of abrupt difference is the spirit of positivism, and Manet's stand was against the dictum that all lights and shades must merge away suavely into one another and prepare for one another. So a biologist like De Vries represents positivism, or the breaking of Continuity, by trying to conceive of evolution by mutation—against the dogma of indistinguishable gradations by "minute variations." A Copernicus conceives of helio-centricity. Continuity is against him. He is not permitted to break abruptly with the past. He is permitted to publish his work, but only as "an interesting hypothesis."

Continuity—and that all that we call evolution or progress is attempt to break away from it—

That our whole solar system was at one time attempt by planets to break away from a parental nexus and set up as individualities, and, failing, move in quasi-regular orbits that are expressions of relations with the sun and with one another, all having surrendered, being now quasi-incorporated in a higher approximation to system;

Intermediateness in its mineralogic aspect of positivism—or Iron that strove to break away from Sulphur and Oxygen, and be real, homogeneous Iron—failing, inasmuch as elemental iron exists only in text-book chemistry;

Intermediateness in its biologic aspect of positivism—or the wild, fantastic, grotesque, monstrous things it conceived of, sometimes in a frenzy of effort to break away abruptly from all preceding types—but failing, in the giraffe-effort, for instance, or only caricaturing an antelope—

All things break one relation only by the establishing of some other relation—

All things cut an umbilical cord only to clutch a breast.

p. 79

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« Reply #76 on: April 21, 2009, 03:06:27 pm »

So the fight of the exclusionists to maintain the traditional—or to prevent abrupt transition from the quasi-established—fighting so that here, more than a century after meteorites were included, no other notable inclusion has been made, except that of cosmic dust, data of which Nordenskiold made more nearly real than data in opposition.

So Proctor, for instance, fought and expressed his feeling of the preposterous, against Sir W. H. Thomson's notions of arrival upon this earth of organisms on meteorites—

"I can only regard it as a jest" (Knowledge, 1-302).

Or that there is nothing but jest—or something intermediate to jest and tragedy;

That ours is not an existence but an utterance;

That Momus is imagining us for the amusement of the gods, often with such success that some of us seem almost alive—like characters in something a novelist is writing; which often to considerable degree take their affairs away from the novelist—

That Momus is imagining us and our arts and sciences and religions, and is narrating or picturing us as a satire upon the gods’ real existence.

Because—with many of our data of coal that has fallen from the sky as accessible then as they are now, and with the scientific pronouncement that coal is fossil, how, in a real existence, by which we mean a consistent existence, or a state in which there is real intelligence, or a form of thinking that does not indistinguishably merge away with imbecility, could there have been such a row as that which was raised about forty years ago over Dr. Hahn's announcement that he had found fossils in meteorites?

Accessible to anybody at that time:

Philosophical Magazine, 4-17-425:

That the substance that fell at Kaba, Hungary, April 15, 1857, contained organic matter "analagous to fossil waxes."

Or limestone:

Of the block of limestone which was reported to have fallen at Middleburg, Florida, it is said (Science, 11-118) that, though something had been seen to fall in "an old cultivated field," the witnesses

p. 80

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« Reply #77 on: April 21, 2009, 03:06:37 pm »

who ran to it picked up something that "had been upon the ground in the first place." The writer who tells us this, with the usual exclusion-imagination known as stupidity, but unjustly, because there is no real stupidity, thinks he can think of a good-sized stone that had for many years been in a cultivated field, but that had never been seen before—had never interfered with plowing, for instance. He is earnest and unjarred when he writes that this stone weighs 200 pounds. My own notion, founded upon my own experience in seeing, is that a block of stone weighing 500 pounds might be in one's parlor twenty years, virtually unseen—but not in an old cultivated field, where it interfered with plowing—not anywhere—if it interfered.

Dr. Hahn said that he had found fossils in meteorites. There is a description of the corals, sponges, shells, and crinoids, all of them microscopic, which he photographed, in Popular Science, 20-83.

Dr. Hahn was a well-known scientist. He was better known after that.

Anybody may theorize upon other worlds and conditions upon them that are similar to our own conditions: if his notions be presented undisguisedly as fiction, or only as an "interesting hypothesis," he'll stir up no prude rages.

But Dr. Hahn said definitely that he had found fossils in specified meteorites: also he published photographs of them. His book is in the New York Public Library. In the reproductions every feature of some of the little shells is plainly marked. If they're not shells, neither are things under an oyster-counter. The striations are very plain: one sees even the hinges where bivalves are joined.

Prof. Lawrence Smith (Knowledge, 1-258):

"Dr. Hahn is a kind of half-insane man, whose imagination has run away with him."

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« Reply #78 on: April 21, 2009, 03:06:46 pm »

Conservation of Continuity.

Then Dr. Weinland examined Dr. Hahn's specimens. He gave his opinion that they are fossils and that they are not crystals of enstatite, as asserted by Prof. Smith, who had never seen them. The damnation of denial and the damnation of disregard: After the publication of Dr. Weinland's findings—silence.



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« Reply #79 on: April 21, 2009, 03:07:01 pm »

p. 81

7
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. Arago. (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

p. 82
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« Reply #80 on: April 21, 2009, 03:07:18 pm »

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 of over and over—but where and what whirlwind? It seems

p. 83

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« Reply #81 on: April 21, 2009, 03:07:33 pm »

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, England, 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 a 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

p. 84

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« Reply #82 on: April 21, 2009, 03:07:45 pm »

 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 at 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

p. 85

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« Reply #83 on: April 21, 2009, 03:08:00 pm »

the first to fall. Because of these evil circumstances the best adaptation was to laugh the whole thing off and say that someone had soused someone 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 seemed 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 leirus.

Gasterosteus is the stickleback.

Altogether I think we have not a sense of total perdition, when we're damned with the explanation that someone soused someone 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 the instances that especially relate to our super-geographical acceptances, or to the Principles of Super-Geography: or data of

p. 86

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« Reply #84 on: April 21, 2009, 03:08:18 pm »

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 Tennant, 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); Ross-shire, 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, 3-339); 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

p. 87

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« Reply #85 on: April 21, 2009, 03:08:28 pm »

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 found 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., I-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:

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« Reply #86 on: April 21, 2009, 03:08:42 pm »

"Some of the fish were fresh, but others were rotten and without heads."

"Among the number which I 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.

And:

"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 the 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:

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« Reply #87 on: April 21, 2009, 03:08:55 pm »

In a tornado, in Wisconsin, May 23, 1878, "a barn and a 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 shows 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 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" cannot 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

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« Reply #88 on: April 21, 2009, 03:09:07 pm »

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,

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« Reply #89 on: April 21, 2009, 03:09:18 pm »

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 palaeontologists 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

p. 92

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