The Certainty of a Future Life in Mars
Being the Posthumous Papers of
BRADFORD TORREY DODD
EDITED BY L.P. GRATACAP
PARIS CHICAGO WASHINGTON NEW YORK
PREFACE BY EDITOR.
The extraordinary character of the story here published, which some peculiar circumstances have fortunately, I think, put into my hands, will excite a curiosity as vivid as the incidents of the narratives are themselves astonishing and unprecedented. To satisfy, as far as I can, a few natural inquiries which must be elicited by its publication, I beg to explain how this unusual posthumous paper came into my possession.
It was written by Bradford Torrey Dodd, who died at Christ Church, New Zealand, January, 1895, after a lingering illness in which consumption developed, which was attributed to the exposure he had experienced in receiving some of the wireless messages his singular history details. I was not acquainted with Mr. Dodd, but some information, acquired since the reception of his manuscript, has completely satisfied me, that, however interpreted, Mr. Dodd did not intend in it the perpetration of a hoax. His scientific ability was undoubtedly remarkable, and the facts that his father and himself worked in an astronomical station near Christ Church; that his father died; that his acquaintance with the Dodans was a reality; that he did receive messages at a wireless telegraphic station; that he himself and his assistants fully accredited these messages to extra-terrestrial sources, are, beyond a doubt, easily verified.
A mutual friend brought me Mr. Dodd's papers, which I looked over with increasing amazement, culminating in blank incredulity. On rereading them and considering the usefulness of giving them to the public, I have been influenced by two motives, the desire to satisfy the fervently expressed wish of the writer himself and the reasonable belief that if they are preposterously improbable their publication can only furnish a new and temporary and quite harmless diversion, and that if Mr. Dodd's experiment shall be in some future day successfully repeated his claims to distinction as the first to open this marvelous field of investigation will have been honorably and invincibly protected.
Posthumous Papers of Bradford Torrey Dodd
Note by Mr. August Bixby Dodan
Note by the Editor
The Planet Mars—By Giovanni Schiaparelli
BRADFORD TORREY DODD.
A FUTURE LIFE IN MARS.
In the confusion of thought about a future life, the peculiar facts related in the following pages can certainly be regarded as helpful. Spiritualism, with its morbid tendencies, its infatuation and deceit, has not been of any substantial value in this inquiry. It may afford to those who have experienced any positive visitation from another world a very comforting and indisputable proof. To most sane people it is a humiliating and ludicrous vagary.
At the conclusion of a life spent rather diligently in study, and in association especially with astronomical practice and physical experiments, I have, in view of certain hitherto unpublished facts, decided to make public almost incontrovertible evidence that in the planet Mars the continuation of our present life, in some instances, has been discovered by myself. I will not dwell on the astonishment I have felt over these discoveries, nor attempt to describe that felicity of conviction which I now enjoy over the prospect of a life in another world.
My father was the fortunate possessor of a large fortune, which freed him of all anxieties about any material cares, and left him to pursue the bent of his inclination. He became greatly interested in physical science, and was also a patron of the liberal arts. His home was stored with the most beautiful products of the manufacturer's skill in fictile arts, and on its walls hung the most approved examples of the painter's skill. The looms of Holland and France and England furnished him with their delicate and sumptuous tapestries, and the Orient covered his floors with the richest and most prized carpets of Daghestan and Trebizond, and of Bokhara.
But even more marked than his love for art was his passion for physical science. His opportunities for the indulgence of this taste were unlimited, and the reinforcement of his natural aptitude by his great means enabled him to carry on experiments upon a scale of the most magnificent proportions. These experiments were made in a large building which was especially built for this object. It contained every facility for his various new designs, and in it he anticipated many advances in electrical science and in mechanical devices, which have made the civilization of our day so remarkable. I recall distinctly as a boy his ingenious approximation to the telephone, and even the recent advances in wireless telegraphy, which has been the instrumentality by which my own researches in the field of interplanetary telegraphy have been prosecuted, had been realized by himself.
It was in the midst of a life almost ideally happy that the blow fell which drove him and myself, then a boy and his only child, into a retirement which resulted in the discoveries I am about to relate. My father's devotion to my mother was an illustration of the most beautiful and tender love that a man can bear toward a woman. It was adoration. Though his mind was employed upon the abstruse questions of physics which he investigated, or edified by new acquisitions in art, all his knowledge and all his pleasure seemed but the means by which he endeavored to gain her deeper affection. She indeed became his companion in science, and her own just and well regulated taste constantly furnished him new motives for adding to his wide accumulations of art.
I can recall with some difficulty the day when with my father in a room immediately below the bedroom in which my mother was confined he awaited the summons of the doctors to see his wife for the last time. It was a rainy day, the clouds were drifting across a dull November sky. Through an opening in the trees then leafless, the Hudson was visible, even then flaked with ice, while an early snow covered the sloping lawn and whitened the broad-limbed oaks. I remember indistinctly his leading me by the hand through the hallway up the stairs, and softly whispering to me to be quite still, entered the large room dimly lit where my mother, attended by a nurse and a doctor, lay on the white bed. I remember being kissed by her and then being led from the room by the nurse. My father doubtless lingered until all was over, and the dear associate of his life, whose tenderness and charity had made all who approached her grateful, whose genial and appreciative mind had supplied the stimulus of recognition he needed for his own studies, passed away. After that I seemed dimly to recall a period of extreme loneliness when I was left in charge of a private instructor, while my father, as I later learned, bewildered by his great loss, and temporarily driven into a sort of madness, wandered in an aimless track of travel over the United States.
On his return the sharp recurrence to the scenes of his former happiness renewed the bitterness of his spirit, and he reluctantly concluded to abandon his home. His own thoughts had not as yet clearly formed any decision in his mind as to where he would go or what he would do. It was inevitable, however, that he should revert to his scientific investigations. He found in them a new solace and distraction, but even then his passion for research would not have sufficed to adequately meet his desperate desire to escape his grief, if in a rather singular manner there had not come to him an intimation of the possibilities of some sort of communication with my mother through these very investigations in electricity and magnetism in which he had been engaged.
I had become quite inseparable from him. He found in me many suggestions in face and manner of my mother, and particularly he was interested in my peculiar lapses into meditation and introspection which in many ways suggested to him a similar habit in her. On one occasion when, as was his wont, before we finally left the old home at Irvington, he had taken me in the summer evenings to the top of the observatory, then situated about half a mile west of the Albany road, we had both been silently watching the sun sink into a bank of golden haze, and the black band of the Palisades passing underneath like a velvet zone of shadow, I turned to my father and in a sudden access of curiosity said:
"Father, if mother had gone to the Sun, would she speak to us now with a ray of light?"
My father smiled patiently, half amused, and then standing and looking at the sun's disk, disappearing behind the Jersey hills, said, "My son, it was a curious thought of a well-known French writer, Figuer, who lost his son, who was very dear to him, that his soul with armies and hosts of other souls, had departed to the sun and that they made the light and heat of this great luminary, and this wise man felt some comfort in the thought that the heat and light of the sun as he felt himself bathed in radiance and warmth were emanations from his boy, and his eyes and body seemed then in a figurative, and yet to him, very real way, communicating with his boy. You smile. I know it is with interest. Let me read to you from Figuer's singular book what he has written about it."
He disappeared and left me also standing and looking upward at a faint wreath of cloud, tinged in rosiness, which floated almost in the zenith. I was then about eleven years old, precocious for my years and gifted with a sympathy for occult and difficult subjects that became only intensified through the peculiar concentrated companionship I had from day to day, and month to month enjoyed with my father.
This narrative may be inadvertently classed with those ephemeral fictions in which the reader is constantly conscious that the dialogue and the incidents are veritable creations. It may here be asked how could I recall with any literalness the conversations and events of a time so long past. I do not pretend or wish it to be thought that these interviews with my father are here literally related. That, of course, is beyond the limits of reasonable probability. But I do insist that in the following pages the occurrences described are very faithful transcripts of those connected with the peculiar inquiry and experiments my father and myself began, and brought to a startling conclusion. Although conducted in the form of an imaginative story the reader is importuned to give them his most implicit credence.
My father soon returned with the small volume of Figuer and read, I imagine, that passage which runs as follows in Chapter XIII:
"Since the sun is the first cause of life on our globe; since it is, as we have shown, the origin of life, of feeling, of thought; since it is the determining cause of all organized life on the earth—why may we not declare that the rays transmitted by the sun to the earth and the other planets are nothing more or less than the emanations of these souls? that these are the emissions of pure spirits living in the radiant star that come to us, and to dwellers in the other planets, under the visible form of rays?
"If this hypothesis be accepted, what magnificent, what sublime relations may we not catch a glimpse of, between the sun and the globes that roll around him; between the Sun and the planets there would be a continual exchange, a never broken circle, an unending 'come and go' of beamy emissions, which would engender and nourish in the solar world motion and activity, thought and feeling, and keep burning everywhere the torch of life.
"See the emanations of souls that dwell in the Sun descending upon the earth in the shape of solar rays. Light gives life to plants, and produces vegetable life, to which sensibility belongs. Plants having received from the Sun the germ of sensibility transmit it to animals, always with the help of the Sun's heat. See the soul germs enfolded in animals develop, improve little by little, from one animal to another, and at last become incarnated in a human body. See, a little later, the superhuman succeed the man, launch himself into the vast plains of ether, and begin the long series of transmigrations that will gradually lead him to the highest round of the ladder of spiritual growth, where all material substance has been eliminated, and where the time has come for the soul thus exalted, and with essence purified to the utmost, to enter the supreme home of bliss and intellectual and moral power; that is the Sun.
"Such would be the endless circle, the unbroken chain, that would bind together all the beings of Nature, and extend from the visible to the invisible world."
From that moment, moved more and more by the strangeness of the fancy, which evidently fascinated him, he buried himself in the indulgence of the thought of the possibility of some sort of communication with his wife. Singularly and fortunately he did not have recourse to the fruitless idiocy of spiritualism, nor engage in that humiliating intercourse with illiterate humbugs who personate the minds of men and women almost too sacred to be even for an instant associated in thought with themselves.
In 1881 electrical science had well advanced toward those perfected triumphs which give distinction to this century. Electric lighting was well understood, the Jablochkoff and Jamin lamps were then in use, the incandescent and Maxim light, or arc light were employed, and indeed the panic caused by Edison's premature announcement of the solution of the incandescent system of lighting had then preceded by two years, the excellent results of Mr. Swan in England in the same field. Edison's first carbon light and his original phonograph were exhibited toward the end of 1880 in the Patent Museum at South Kensington.
The daily News of New York in April of 1881 published the victory of the Edison Electric Lighting Company over the Mayor's veto in words that may be read to-day with considerable interest. It said "the company will proceed immediately to introduce its new electric lamps in the offices in the business portion of the city around Wall Street. It consists of a small bulbous glass globe, four inches long, and an inch and a half in diameter, with a carbon loop which becomes incandescent when the electric current passes through. Each lamp is of sixteen candle power with no perceptible variation in intensity. The light is turned on or off with a thumb screw. Wires have already been put into forty buildings."
My father had anticipated the incandescent light in its fuller later development and had used, before it was announced by Prof. Avenarius of Austria, a method of dividing the electric current, by the insertion of a polariser in a secondary circuit connected with each lamp, a method, it need not be said to electricians, now utterly obsolete.
The rooms of our physical laboratory at Irvington were almost all lit by electric lamps constructed somewhat on the principle of Edison's, but using platinum wires, and the old residents of that village may recall the singular, lonely house half hidden in broad sycamores, sending out its electric radiance late at night while my father and frequently myself, then a boy of thirteen years, worked at experimental problems in physics.
My father gave my precocity for science a very successful impetus and left me at his death fully in possession of the ideas and projects he cherished. Amongst these projects, one partially realized, was the acceleration of plant growth by means of electric light, and heating by electricity.
Dr. Siemens of England, it may be recalled, had very ingeniously experimented upon the influence of the electric light upon vegetation. In a paper read by that distinguished man before the Society of Telegraph Engineers in June, 1880, he referred to his conclusion that "electric light produces the coloring matter, chlorophyll, in the leaves of plants, that it aids their growth, counteracts the effects of night frosts, and promotes the setting and ripening of fruit in the open air."
I find in an old note book of my father's, dated 1879, "chlorophyllous matter in leaves encouraged by electric energy, presumably by the blue rays." In heating and cooking by electricity my father had made some progress though he had not in 1880 employed his time in this direction.
Perhaps more remarkable than anything else presenting my father's great scientific ingenuity was his improvements of the dynamo and the invention of a new successful small traction engine.
In 1880 the complete distinction between alternating and direct currents had not been made, and the device of a successful converter, for the change of the former comparatively inert to the latter's dynamic condition, only dreamed of. Yet in my father's notebook I find this suggestive sentence: "It seems possible to devise an apparatus which would deliver from an alternating circuit a direct current to a direct current circuit."
I have dwelt somewhat upon my father's scientific acquirements and genius in order to impress upon the reader the strictly legitimate training I received in scientific procedure, and I have instanced somewhat the status of his scientific development in 1880, because it was at that time that he concluded to leave Irvington and locate his laboratory and observatory elsewhere. And for the sake of his astronomical interests he determined to find some place peculiarly well fitted, on account of its atmospheric advantages, for astronomical observations. It is necessary likewise to recall some of the facts then known to astronomers and my father's own theories, in order to weave into a logical sequence the incidents leading up to my positive demonstration of a future life for some of our race in the planet Mars.
Astronomy had a great charm for my mother. Her enthusiasm was soon communicated to my father who found his wealth was a requisite in establishing the observatory he had erected at Irvington and in its equipment. Telescopes are expensive playthings.
The Lick Observatory was begun in 1880 and my father through correspondence with the directors of the University of California had learned many of the details pertaining to this great project. Influenced by the splendid prospects of this undertaking my father determined if possible to surpass it. He wrote to Fiel of Paris and expected to be able to secure an objective of 4 feet diameter, exceeding that of the Lick Observatory by one foot, a hopeless and as it proved an utterly abortive design. He spent an entire year in New York after leaving Irvington examining the various possible locations for his new observatory. The requisites were nearness to the equator, an equable climate, elevation and a clear atmosphere. During this year my father heard that Prof. Hertz of Berlin had generated waves of magnetism and that it was hoped that these might ultimately prove efficacious as a means of direct communication between distant points without the introduction of wire conductors.
This thought of communicating with distant points without fixed conductors greatly impressed my father and led him along a line of speculation upon which finally rested my own success in securing the messages detailed in this book from the planet Mars.
I recall that one evening in the winter of 1881 while he was yet engaged in making preparations for his departure from the United States to New Zealand, which he finally chose for the erection of his laboratories, and especially his observatory, I heard him read with the greatest satisfaction of the attempt made in the siege of Paris to bring the besieged French into telegraphic communication with the Provinces by means of the River Seine.
It was proposed to send powerful currents into the River Seine from batteries near the German lines and to receive in Paris upon delicate galvanometers, such an amount of their current as had not leaked away in the earth. Profs. Desains, Jamin, and Berthelot were interested in these experiments, although the suggestion had been made by M. Bourbouze, and after some interruptions when the attempt was to be carried out, the armistice of Jan. 14, 1871, brought their preparations to a close.
How often my father spoke of these attempts, and half smilingly on one occasion as we watched the starry skies "thick inlaid with patterns of bright gold" said to me: "It seems to me within the reach of possibility to attain some sort of connection with these shining hosts. If we must assume that the disturbances on the Sun's surface effect magnetic storms on ours, it is quite evident that a fluid of translatory power or consistency exists between the earth and the sun, then also between all the planetary inhabitants of space, and I cannot see why we may not hope some day to realize a means of communication with these distant bodies. How inspiring is the thought that in some such way upon the basis of an absolutely perfect scientific deduction we might be brought into conversational alliance with these singular and orderly creations, and actually look upon their scenes and lives and history, and bring to ourselves in verbal pictures a presentation of their marvellous properties."
I think it was on this occasion that my father expressed his thought upon some form of interplanetary telegraphy in a manner that left it in my own mind a very impressive and majestic idea. He had read at some length the address of Sir William Armstrong before the British Association in 1863, when that distinguished observer speaks of the sympathy between forces operating in the sun, and magnetic forces in the earth and remarks the phenomenon seen by independent observers in September, 1859. The passage, easily verified by the reader, was to this effect:
"A sudden outburst of light, far exceeding the brightness of the sun's surface was seen to take place, and sweep like a drifting cloud over a portion of the solar surface. This was attended by magnetic disturbances of unusual intensity and with exhibitions of aurora of extraordinary brilliancy. The identical instant at which the effusion of light was observed was recorded by an abrupt and strongly marked deflection in the self-registering instruments at Kew."
My father then pausing and walking impetuously across the room declaimed, as it were, his views:
"Here we are, a group of limited intelligent beings circumscribed by a boundless space, and placed upon a speck of matter which is whirled around the sun in an endless captivity, bound by this inexorable law of gravitation, like a stone in a sling. About us in this ethereal ocean floats a host of similarly made orbs, perhaps, in thousands of cases, inhabited by beings throbbing with the same curiosity as our own to reach out beyond their sphere, and learn something of the nature of the animated universe which they may dimly suspect lies about them in the other stars. Why must it not be part of this immeasurable design which brought us here, that we shall some day become part of a celestial symposium; that lines of communication, invisible but incessant, shall thread in labyrinths of invisible currents these dark abysses, and bring us in inspiring touch with the marvels and contents of the entire universe."
He turned to me and gazing intently at my upturned face which I am sure reflected his own in its enthusiasm and delight, continued: "You, my son, and I, will put this before us as a possible achievement and work incessantly for that end. Prof. Hertz has generated these magnetic waves; we will; and by means of some sort of a receiver endeavor to find out a clue to wireless telegraphy." These closing remarkable words were actually used by my father, and in view of the marvellous realization of Marconi's hopes in that direction, as well as my own stupendous success in reaching the inhabitants of Mars, was a distinct prophecy.
It was a few months later that my father completed all of his arrangements in regard to the disposition of his investments, and perfected the necessary arrangements for being constantly supplied with funds by his bankers in New York. He also had agreed upon the apparatus to be forwarded, expecting to be largely supplied at Sydney in new South Wales, as it was from this point he intended to sail or steam to New Zealand. Much of the equipment for his observatory was to come from Paris, and he relied upon intelligent assistance both in Sydney and Christ Church, in New Zealand, for the erection and furnishment of his various houses.
He finally concluded to place his station on Mount Cook at an elevation of 1,000 feet upon a well protected plateau, which was described to him by a Mr. Ashton who had extensive acquaintance and some five years' experience in New Zealand. We found this position ideal, and in the perfection of all the conditions necessary for our experiments possessed by it, made the realization at that time utterly unsuspected by either of us, of our final designs, commensurately more simple.
I left New York with my father filled with a curious expectancy. I seemed to cherish no regret at leaving my childhood's home. I only felt a vague wondering delight to go abroad and see strange and new things. My seclusion with my father had developed in me a singular inaptitude for companionship with boys of my own age, and furthermore from the influence of his rather poetic and dreaming nature, I began to show a half wistful intensity of interest in things occult, mysterious and difficult. We left New York in 1882, and it was then that I read for diversion in my long ride to California, Colonel Olcutt's Esoteric Buddhism.
The whole central fancy of reincarnation affected me deeply. But I modified the idea as displayed by Blavatsky and Theosophists generally. From a long familiarity with the stars, in conjunction with the inevitable creative and anthropomorphic sensibility of youth, I began to think that this reincarnation did not occur on the earth, but had its stages of transmutation placed elsewhere. In short, I amused myself incessantly with placing the poets in one star, the novelists in another, the scientists in a third, the mechanicians in a fourth, and in each I imagined a Utopia. A very little mature thought and the most ordinary observation of plain men, men who at 20 have far more practical sense than I possess to-day, would have demonstrated the hopelessness of this arrangement, and the deplorable social chaos it would have led to.
I think, however, that along this line of feeling I grew more and more in sympathy with my father's dimly expressed hopes to achieve something tangible in the way of interstellar or planetary communication. So that gradually he, by reason of a desire that slowly invaded every emotional recess of his being, and I, through the vagaries of an imaginative mind reached successively an intense conviction that we should work in this direction.
There was much in our scientific work also that encouraged a certain high mindedness and liberty of speculation, a careless audacity before the most difficult tasks. The resolution of matter into a phase of energy, the interpretation of light as an electric phenomenon, the mysteries of the electric force itself, the peculiar hypotheses about the force of gravitation, lead men, studying these subjects, and endowed with speculative tendencies to conceive, moved also by a quasi sensational desire to reach new results, that the most extravagant achievements are possible to science.
With us, regarding the physical universe as a unit, recognizing the notes of intelligence of a deep coercive and comprehensive plan involved throughout, feeling that our human intelligence was the reflex or microcosmic representation of the planning, upholding mind, that if so, no conceivable limitation could be placed upon its expansion and conquests, that further it would be incomprehensible that the colonizing (so to speak) of the central mind occurred only on one sphere, when it doubtless might be embodied in other beings, on hundreds or thousands or millions of other spheres; that continuance of life after death was a truth; feeling all this, their concomitant influence was to make us positive that the human mind in an intelligent, satisfactory, self-illuminating way some day would reach mind everywhere in all its specific forms; and that the abyss of space would eventually thrill with the vibrations of conscious communion between remote worlds.
With feelings of this sort excited and reinforced by my father's passionate hope to learn something of his wife's life after death we reached Christ Church, New Zealand, in June, 1883.
I may now revert to the line of suggestions that led my father and myself to locate in Mars the scene, at least, as we surmised in part, of those phases of a future life which I am now able to reveal with, I think, positive certainty.
The planet Mars as being the next orb removed from the Sun after our own world in the advance outward from our solar center, has always attracted attention. At perihelion, when in opposition with the earth, it is 35 millions of miles from the earth, and its surface, as is well known from the drawings of Kaiser, the Leyden astronomer, and of Schiaparelli, Denning, Perrotin and Terby, has apparently revealed an alternation of land and water which, with the assumption of meteorological conditions, such as prevail on the earth, has gradually made it easy to think of its occupation by rational beings as altogether possible.
During the opposition of Mars in 1879-80, Prof. Schiaparelli at Milan determined for the second time the topography of this planet. The topography revealed the curious long lines or ribbons, commonly called canals, which seamed the face of our neighboring planet. In 1882 this observation was enormously extended. He then showed that there was a variable brightness in some regions, that there had been a progressive enlargement since 1879 of his Syrtis Magna, that the oblique white streaks previously seen, continued, and, more remarkable, that there was a continuous development day after day of the doubling of the canals which seemed to extend along great circles of the sphere. In 1882 Schiaparelli expected at the evening opposition in 1884 to confirm and add to these observations.
My father had read Schiaparelli's announcements with absorbed interest. They fed his burning fancies as to the extension of our present life, and offered him a sort of scientific basis (without which he was inclined to view all eschatology as superficial) for the belief that we may attain in some other planet an actual prolonged second existence.
His great reverence for Sir William Herschell was indisputable. He quoted Herschell's own words with appreciation. These pregnant sentences were as follows:
"The analogy between Mars and the earth is perhaps by far the greatest in the whole solar system. Their diurnal motion is nearly the same, the obliquity of their respective ecliptics not very different; of all the superior planets the distance of Mars from the sun is by far the nearest, alike to that of the earth; nor will the length of the Martial year appear very different from what we enjoy when compared to the surprising duration of the years of Jupiter, Saturn and the Georgian Sidus. If we then find that the globe we inhabit has its polar region frozen and covered with mountains of ice and snow, that only partially melt when alternately exposed to the sun, I may well be permitted to surmise that the same causes may probably have the same effect on the globe of Mars; that the bright polar spots are owing to the vivid reflection of light from frozen regions; and that the reduction of these spots is to be ascribed to their being exposed to the sun."
"In the light of these larger analogies," my father would continue, "why are we not further permitted to conclude that there is a more intimate and minute correlation. Why can not we predicate that under similar climatic and atmospheric vicissitudes, with a very probably similar or identical origin with our globe, this planet Mars, now burning red in the evening skies, possesses life, an organic retinue of forms like our own, or at least involving such primary principles as respiration, assimilation and productiveness, as would produce some biological aspects not extremely differing from those seen in our own sphere.
"If we imagine, as we are most rationally allowed to, that Mars has undergone a progressive secularization in cooling, that contraction has acted upon its surface as it has on ours, that water has accumulated in basins and depressed troughs, that atmospheric currents have been started, that meteorological changes in consequence have followed, and that the range of physical conditions embraces phases naturally very much like those that have prevailed in our planet, how can it be intelligently questioned that from these very identical circumstances, an order of life has not in some way arisen."
My father had an interesting habit of snapping his fingers on both hands together over his head when he declaimed in this way, always circling about the room in a rapid stride. I remember he stopped in front of me and continued in a strain something like this:
"For myself I am convinced that there has been an evolution in the order of beings from one planet to another, that there is going on a stream of transference, from one plane of life here to planes elsewhere, and that the stream is pouring in as well as out of this world, and that it may be, in our case, pouring both ways, that is, we may be losing individuals into lower grades of life as well as emitting them to higher. See, what economy!
"Instead of wasting the energies of imagination to account for the destinations of millions upon millions of human beings, the countless host that has occupied the surfaces of this earth through all the historic and prehistoric ages, we can, upon this assumption, reduce the number of individuals immensely, allowing that spirits are constantly arriving, constantly departing, and that the sum total in the solar system remains perhaps nearly fixed, just as in the electrolysis of water we have hydrogen rising at one electrode and oxygen at the other by transmission of atoms of hydrogen and atoms of oxygen toward each electrode through the water itself, in opposite directions, while for a sensible time the mass of water remains unchanged.
"Let us suppose that in Mercury some form of mental life exists, that it is individualized, that it expresses the physical constants of that globe, that its mentality has reached the point where it can make use of the resources of Mercury, can respond to its physical constants so far as they awaken poetry or art or religion or science. Suppose that this life is one of extreme forcefulness, of stress and storm, like some prehistoric condition on our globe, but invested with more intellectual attributes than the same ages on our earth required or possessed, perhaps reaching a permanent condition not unlike that depicted in the Niebelungen Lied or the Sagas of the North. It might be called the brawn period. Then the spirits born upon our planet or on any other planet in an identical condition, would find after death their destination in Mercury, where they could evolve up to the point where they might return to as, or to some other planet fitted for a higher life.
"Then Venus, we may imagine, succeeding Mercury, carries a higher type, an emotional life, though of course I am not influenced by her accidental name, in suggesting it. Here in Venus, a period perchance resembling a mixture of the pagan Grecian life and the troubadour life of Provence may prevail and again to it have flown the spirits which in our planet only touch that development, which from Venus flow to us, those adapted for the religious or intellectual phase we present. This Venus life might be called the sense period.
"And now our world follows, with its scientific life which probably represents its normal limit. Beyond this it will not go. As we have developed through a brawn and sense period to our present stage, so in Mercury and Venus, ages have prevailed of development which eventuated in their final fixed stages at brawn and sense. In Venus, too, the brawn stage preceded the sense period. In us both have preceded the scientific stage. There has been, may we not think, constant interchanges between these planets of such lives as survive material dissolution, and they have found the nidus that fits them in each. Souls leaving us in a brawn epoch have fled to Mercury, souls leaving us in a sense epoch have fled to Venus, and all souls in Mercury or Venus, ready for reincarnation in a scientific epoch, have come to us.
"But there is an important postulate underlying this theory. It is, that upon each planet the possibilities of development just attain to the margin of the next higher step in mental evolution. That is, that on Mercury the period of brawn develops to the possibility of the period of sense without fully exemplifying it, so in Venus the period of sense develops to the possibility of the period of science without attaining it, and in our world the period of science develops to the period of spirit, without, in any universal way, exhibiting it.
"These are steps progressively represented, I may imagine, in the planets. And, in the further progress outward, we reach the planet Mars. Let us place here the period of spirit. On Mars is accomplished in society, and accompanied by an accomplishment in its physical features, also, of those ideals of living which the great and good unceasingly labor to secure for us here and unceasingly fail to secure. O my child, if we could learn somehow to get tidings from that distant sphere, if only the viewless abyss of space between our world and Mars might be bridged by the noiseless and unseen waves of a magnetic current."
We reached Christ Church in June, in 1883, and for one year were most busy in completing the station we had selected, in receiving apparatus, getting our observatory built and a useful, but not large telescope mounted.
The position taken by us was attractive. It was upon a high hill, a glacial mound which had been smoothed upon its upper surface into a long and broad plain. The prospects from this position were exceedingly beautiful. Christ Church was some ten miles distant and the irregular shores northward outlined by ribbons of breaking waves lay upon the seaward margin of our vision, while the broken intermediate landscape, with interrupted agricultural domains and forests was in front of us and far above us rose the grander peaks of the New Zealand Alps, a constant charm through the changing atmosphere, now brought near to us through the optical refraction of the clear air, and again veiled and shadowed and removed into spectral evanescent forms. The picture was intensely interesting and like all commanding views where the most expressive elements of scenery are combined, the remote sea, reflecting every mood of light and color, and the snowy peaks carrying to us the opaline glories of rising or setting sun was a comparison that stimulated and controlled the spectator with its wonderful charm and strength and poetic changes.
To me whose emotional nature, inherited from a mother gifted with delicate tastes and a refined enthusiasm for the beautiful had been curiously discouraged by association with my father's scientific pursuits, this lively panorama constantly fed my dreams with pleasing pictures.
My life has been an isolated and repressed one, except for the one incident I am about to bequeath to posterity. I had not enjoyed the play of youthful companions except in a fugitive way, I had not gone to school nor passed three years of muscular and buoyant activity in the usual pastimes and pleasures of childhood. I had a precocious nature and it had been unfolded in an atmosphere of strictly intellectual ideas. My mother had been a constant joy to me during the short years of her life on earth, but somehow by reason of sickness I had not enjoyed even her endearment as I might have.
So in my father and his aspirations, and the later hopes of his excited and passionate longing to regain some trace of my mother, my life from four years of age was actually and potentially concentrated. My father cherished me with a great consuming love. He saw in me the representation in face and partially in temperament of his wife. He lavished on me every care. Yet because of his eager affection, and his complete suspense from social connections I was made too largely dependent on him alone. I lived in his companionship only. My conversation became prematurely advanced in terms and principles, and my childish confidence was nurtured by nothing less wonderful than books and theories, experiments and dissertations.
The wonderful beauty of our new surroundings, the strangeness of our sudden removal from America, the long distances travelled, awoke in me new thoughts and I readily surrendered myself at times to the incoherent struggles of my nature, to find someone, something, more responsive to my young feelings than essays on magnetism, and a man, father though he was, immersed in demonstrations and problems. It was then that this distant picture in the days of the fragrant and reviving springtime, filled me with unutterable and touching ecstacy.
My father, as I had said, fully intended to arrive at some definite conclusions as to the possibilities of wireless telegraphy. At one end of the grassy plain I have alluded to, our chief stations were erected and, at the distance of two miles, almost at the other extremity, we placed a smaller station. Our whole work was to achieve telegraphic communication between these points without wires. At night my father bent his telescopic gaze upon the heavens, and as the earth approached opposition to Mars in 1884 I remember his eagerness and his repeated adjurations that if we failed in the task in his lifetime I should devote my life, separated from all other occupations and indulgences, to carrying on his designs.
At first he only dimly intimated his great ambition, the union of our world with others by magnetic waves, but as it slowly assumed a theoretical certainty he talked more and more boldly of this portentous and transforming possibility.
I cannot refrain from noticing another important scientific activity of my father's. It was the use of photography in stellar measurement. As is well known to photographers, in 1871 Dr. R.L. Maddox used gelatine in place of collodion from which innovation rose the present system of dry plate photography. My father had always felt the greatest interest in the use of photography in astronomy. He was acquainted with the splendid work done by Chapman for Rutherford, New York, in his careful and exquisite photographs of the moon. As early as 1850 Whipple of Boston made photographs of the stars.
It was, however, the incomparable advantages, furnished in speed, by the dry plate photography which made my father realize early as anyone, the boundless possibilities thus opened in human attainment for the penetration of the Sidereal firmament. He had made a great number of photographs at Irvington, and the photographic laboratory was a charming illustration of my father's ingenuity and precision. At Mt. Cook we enjoyed a marvellously clear atmosphere for work of this sort, and amongst the first thoughts of my father was to provide the most satisfactory means for the continuance of our stellar photography. Besides our visual telescope we had a photographic telescope which was used, instead of connecting the visual lens on one and the same instrument, as in the Lick Observatory.
The innovations introduced by photography have revolutionized the processes of stellar measurement. Instead of the laborious task of measuring the stars through the telescope, the photographic plate can be studied at ease as a correct and identical chart of the heavens and the results thus obtained placed at the disposal of astronomers. My father appreciated this and amongst his numerous projects of scientific usefulness the preparation of photographs of the stars fully occupied his mind.
We had no Meridian Circle, as it was less in the direction of the determination of the position of stars than in the elucidation of the surfaces of planets, that my father's astronomical predilections lay. Our telescope was a refractor and had an objective of two feet diameter. It was firmly supported on a trap rock pedestal. The eye piece adjustment was unusually successful, and the remarkable freedom of the objective from any traces of spherical or chromatic aberration gave us an image of surprising clearness. The photographic results were admirable. I imagine few more satisfactory photographs of the face of Moon have been made than those we secured, so far at least as definition is concerned, and the detail within the limits of our powers of magnification.
The telescope was very slowly installed and it was well in 1885 before we were able to use it for either observation or photography.
As the surprising messages detailed in the following pages came by means of wireless telegraphy, I will dwell for an instant for the benefit of the non-scientific reader, upon the investigations made by my father and myself in this subject.
The installation of a wireless telegraphic station is not necessarily difficult. The progress made since my father and myself began these experiments has been, of course, considerable, and yet so far as I am able to ascertain the new devices in this direction were largely anticipated by us. The tuning of wireless messages by which the interception of messages is prevented was certainly forestalled by us, though in the communications with Mars herein detailed the ordinary [non-syntonic.—Editor] receiver was employed.
We employed an induction coil, emitted a wave by a spark, and had a wire rod [antenna.—Editor] which was in turn part of an induction coil. This was the sender (transmitter) and we could regulate the wave length so that a receiving wire adjusted for such a wave could only receive it. [There seems to be implied in these words an arrangement known as the Slaby-Arco system, which American readers have had described for them by M.A. Frederick, Collins, Sci. Amer., March 9 and Dec. 28, 1901.—Editor.] The receiver consisted of iron filings in which later carbon particles were added.
My father died in 1892 and we had not at the time of his death learned of Popoff's microphone-coherer in which steel filings were mixed with carbon granules. The magnetic waves received at first by us presumably from Mars, and later, as the communications indisputably show, from that planet, were taken upon a Marconi receiver, or what was practically that.
My father became more and more interested in the direction of interplanetary research by means of the magnetic wave. He argued vehemently, buoyed up by his increasingly augmented hopes as our own experiments improved, that the electric wave through space moving in an ethereal fluid of the extremest purity would progress more rapidly than in our atmosphere, that the tension of such waves would be greater, that they could be so "heaped up" as he expressed it—(In the Slaby-Arco system an apparatus is employed consisting of a Ruhmkorff coil with a centrifugal mercury interrupter, by which a steeper wave front of the disruptive discharge is secured.—Editor)—that their reception over the almost impassable distances of space would be made possible.
This idea of piling up the waves was suggested by purely physical analogies. The enormous waves generated by severe storms upon the ocean travel farther than the smaller waves, and are less consecutively dissipated by the resistance of the water, the traction of its molecules and the occasional diversion of cross disturbances from other centers.
Again some experiments made invacuo upon a limited scale seemed to show the accuracy of his predictions. Through a glass tube one foot in diameter and ten feet long we sent magnetic waves both when the tube was filled with air and when it was exhausted. Our means of measuring the time required in both cases were quite inadequate—perhaps there was no appreciable difference—but the records in the latter case, secured upon a Morse register, were unmistakably more vigorous and audible.
At last our various results had reached a point where we felt justified in extending the limits of our investigations. We had up to this time only tried our messages between the two stations upon the plateau of Mt. Cook. My father now proposed that I go to Christ Church, install a sender (transmitter) and send messages to him at the observatory. I did so and the experiment was convincing. The day before I was ready to transmit a message I had attended an attractive church service—it was toward the close of Lent in the year 1889—and as my father was entirely unprepared for the account I proposed to give him of the function, I thought its correct transmission would afford an indubitable proof of our success. I wrote out the description. It was received by my father with only ten imperfect interpretations in a list of 1,000 words.
From this time forward our plans for erecting a receiver in the observatory were pushed to a completion. We had discovered the necessity of elevation for the senders (transmitters) and receivers for long distance work, and a tall mast, fifty feet in height, was put up at the observatory, which—needlessly I think—was to serve as the terrestrial station for the reception of those viewless waves which my father thought might be constantly breaking unrecorded upon the insensitive surfaces of our earth.
The eventful night came. It was August, 1890. Mars was then in opposition. The evening had been extremely beautiful. Nature united in her mood the most transporting contradictions of temperament. It was August and the day had been marked by changes of almost tropical severity, although, as we were south of the equator (the latitude of Christ Church is S. 44 degrees) August was, with us, mid-winter. A thunderstorm had broken upon us in the morning, itself an unusual meteorological phenomenon, and the downpour of black rain, shutting off the views and enclosing us in a torrential embrace of floods, had lasted an hour when it passed away, and the Sun re-illumined the wide glistening scene. The line of foam from the breakers along the remote shore, yet lashing with curbing crests the inlets, promontories, and islands, was readily seen; the northern Alps shone in their ermine robes, greatly lengthened and deepened by the season's snows, the washed country side below us was a patch work of rocks and fields and denuded forestland. Christ Church like a vision of whiteness sprang out to the west upon our vision, and immediately about us the mingling rivulets poured their musical streams through and over the icy banks of half consolidated snow.
As night came up, the stars seemed almost to pop out in their appropriate places, like those stellar illusions that appear so appropriately upon the theatrical stage, and the low lying moon sent its flickering radiance over the yet unsubdued waters. It was the time of the opposition of Mars which brings that planet nearest to us. As is well known to astronomers, the perihelion of Mars is in the same longitude in which the earth is on August 27; and when an opposition occurs near that date, the planet is only 35 millions of miles from the earth, and this is the closest approach which their bodies can ever make.
Our magnetic receiver had been placed in position, the Morse register was attached; the whole apparatus was in one of the upper rooms of the observatory, in proximity with the telescope through whose glass for days we had watched the approach of our sister planet. As the night settled down upon us we had taken our seats for a few instants at a table in a lower room engaged in one of those innumerable desultory talks upon our project and their, even to us, somewhat problematic character. Everything connected with that evening, apart from its having been carefully recorded in my diary and notebooks, is very distinctly remembered by me. I recall my father reading from a letter to Nature, May 15, 1884, by Mr. W.F. Denning, discussing "The Rotation Period of Mars." From my note-book I find the passage literally transcribed:
It read—"Notwithstanding his comparatively small diameter and its slow axial motion, the planet Mars affords especial facilities for the exact determination of the rotation period. Indeed, no other planet appears to be so favorably circumstanced in this respect, for the chief markings on Mars have been perceptible with the same definiteness of outline and characteristics of form through many succeeding generations, whereas the features, such as we discern on the other planets, are either temporary, atmospheric phenomena, or rendered so indistinct by unfavorable conditions as to defy measurement and observation. Moreover, it may be taken for granted that the features of Mars are permanent objects on the actual surface of the planet, whereas the markings displayed by our telescopes on some of the other planetary members of our system are mere effects of atmospheric changes, which, though visible for several years and showing well defined periods of rotation cannot be accepted as affording the true periods. The behavior of the red spot on Jupiter may closely intimate the actual motion of the sphere of that planet, but markings of such variable, unstable character can hardly exhibit an exact conformity of motion with the surface upon which they are seen to be projected. With respect to Mars' case, it is entirely different. No substantial changes in the most conspicuous features have been detected since they were first confronted with telescopic power and we do not anticipate that there will be any material difference in their general configurations.
"The same markings which were indistinctly revealed to the eyes of Fontana and Huyghens in 1636 and 1659 will continue to be displayed to the astronomers of succeeding generations, though with greater fullness and perspicuity owing to improved means. True, there may possibly be variations in progress as regards some of the minor features, for it has been suggested that the visibility of certain spots has varied in a manner which cannot be satisfactorily accounted for on ordinary grounds. These may possibly be due to atmospheric effects on the planet itself, but in many cases the alleged variations have doubtless been more imaginary than real. The changes in our own climate are so rapid and striking, and occasion such abnormal appearances in celestial objects that we are frequently led to infer actual changes where none have taken place; in fact, observers cannot be too careful to consider the origin of such differences and to look nearer home for some of the discordances which may have become apparent in their results."
It was just as he finished reading this extract that the shrill fluttering call of the maxy bird was heard from the bare branches of a poplar near the station, and in the next instant, in that intense quiet that succeeds sometimes a sudden unexpected and acute accent, the Morse register was audible above us, clicking with a continuity and evident intention that, weighted as we were with vague sensational hopes, drew the blood from our faces, and seemed almost like a voice from the red orb then glowing in the southeastern sky. We sprang together up the stairs to the operating-room and saw with our eyes the moving lever of the little Morse machine. We had made ourselves familiar with the ordinary telegraphic codes, the international Telegraphic Code and that in use in Canada and the United States. They were useless. The succession of short or long intervals was entirely different and the message, if message it was, defied our persistent efforts at translation. The disturbance of the register continued some three hours, and though we were unmistakably in communication with some external regulated and intentional source of magnetic impulses we were hopelessly confused as to their meaning.
I can never forget our excitement. We were certainly the recipient of exact careful conscious messages. Their terrestrial origin, strange and incredible as it might appear, did not seem likely, for the two codes so generally in use were not represented in it. Could it be—the thought seemed to stop the beating of our hearts—could it be that we had indeed received an extra-terrestrial communication? The register of the dots and dashes cannot be all reproduced here, though a very long record of them, indeed almost complete, was made by myself. During the whole time that the register moved hardly a word of conversation escaped our lips. We were fixed in mute amazement. We were full of unexpressed imaginings, which were told, however in my father's face, so flushed with eagerness, as with half-parted lips he bent over the instrument or interrupted his attention by walking to the window and gazing far out into the heavens.
The record we obtained is here reproduced, in part, as the whole would occupy altogether too much space. I am interested in giving it as it may effectually remain a proof of my sincerity in this matter, and will, I have the firm conviction, be repeated in the future, not exactly or at all, as I have written it, but some message similarly received will corroborate the statement here made, and the still further marvellous facts I am yet to relate.
The record I will select for reproduction is as follows:
. . . - . . .— . . . - - - . - - . . . - . . . . . - - - - . . . . . - - - . . . . . . . . . . - - . . . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - . . . - - . . . - - - - - . . . . . . . - - - . . - . . . - - - - - . . . . . . . - - . - . . . . - - - . . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - . . . - . . . - - - . . . - . . . - . . . - - - - - . . . . - - - . . . . - - - -
As I now know there is a Martian language, if this communication came from that planet, which was my own and my father's deepest conviction, it would be impossible to interpret the foregoing record with any certainty, or indeed, in any way. Absolute ignorance of that language, except the brief mention in my father's communications, received by myself from that body—whose publication before I die is the sole purpose of this manuscript—make it quite certain that it is in the main a vowel language, consisting of short vocalic syllables. In such a case it is probable that some abbreviation has been used, and the problem of its resolution simply is placed out of the question. I may here partially forestall the facts communicated to me by my father from Mars. In those unparalleled messages he has told me of the desire of the Martians to communicate with the earth, and as the Martians themselves are largely made up of transplanted human spirits, the possibility of doing so would have been completely expected. But the singular evanescence of memory amongst these humans which absolutely displaces details of strictly mnemonic acquirements, except in certain directions of art and invention, has apparently precluded this.
We remained at the register almost the entire night taking turns in our tireless vigil. But no more disturbances occurred. My father was deeply moved and I scarcely less so. Accustomed as we had become to the thought that wireless telegraphy would place us more readily in touch with the sidereal universe than with distant points upon our earth, presuming indeed, that, except for the intervening envelopes of atmosphere attached to our or any neighboring planet, the path of transmission of messages through space would be inconceivably swift, we saw nothing really impossible in the impression that we had that night received communications from extra-terrestrial sources.
The thought was none the less stupendous, and it seemed almost impossible for us to allude to the subject without a peculiar sense of reverential self-suppression, at least for a week or so. Examination and inquiry showed us no contiguous source of the message and it seemed most improbable that it had come to us from any distant part of the earth, as we had become acquainted with the difficulty or impossibility of bridging our very great distances with the resources then at human command, and with the unavoidable exigence of the earth's convexity.
* * * * *
It was a few months after this that my father, returning from a climb in the neighboring hills, complained of great weariness and a sort of mild vertigo. I had become exceedingly endeared to him. I found him a most unusual companion, and unnaturally separated as I had been from more ordinary associations, our lives had assumed an almost fraternal tenderness.
I was greatly troubled to see my father's illness, and begged him to take rest; indeed, to leave the observatory for a while; to visit Christ Church. We had made some very congenial acquaintances in Christ Church. A family of Tontines and a gentleman and his daughter by the name of Dodan had often visited us, and while we had become somewhat a subject of perennial curiosity, and were more or less visited by curiosity hunters and others, actuated by more intelligent motives, the Tontines and the Dodans remained our only very intimate friends.
Indeed, Miss Dodan had come to me, buried in scientific speculations and denied hitherto all female acquaintances, like a beam of light through a sky not at all dark, but gray and pensive and sometimes almost irksome. Miss Katharine Dodan was gentle, pretty, and unaffectedly enthusiastic. Her interest in all equipment of our laboratories was boundless. When I found myself alone with her at the big telescope adjusting everything with—oh! such exquisite precision—and then sometimes discovered my hand resting upon hers, or my head touching those silken brown curves of hair that framed her white brow and reddening cheeks, the throbbing pleasure was so sweet, so unexpected, so strange, that I felt a new desire rise in my heart, and the newness of life lifted me for a moment out of myself, and started those fires of ambition and hope that only a lovely woman can awaken in the heart of a man. I mention this circumstance that led to the fatal train of occurrences that led to my father's death.
I urged my father to go to Christ Church and stay with the Dodans. Mr. Dodan had frequently invited him, and Miss Dodan's brightness and her cheerful art at the piano would, I know, cheer him, inured too long to his lonely life, subject to the periodic returns of that bitter sadness, which was now only accentuated by his self-imposed exile from the home and scenes of his former happiness.
He at last consented, and in October, 1891, accompanied by the Dodans, whom he had summoned from Christ Church, he went down the steep hillside that slanted from our plateau to the lowlands, and was soon lost from view in a turn of the road, which also robbed me of the sight of a waving, small white handkerchief, floating in front of a half-loosened pile of chestnut hair.
A few days later I received a visit from Miss Dodan. I was then working at some photographs in the dark room. My assistant told me of her arrival. I hurried to our little reception room and library, where a few of my father's "Worthies of Science" decorated the walls, which for the most part were covered with irregular book cases, while a long square covered table occupied the center of the room, littered with charts, maps, journals and daily papers.
Miss Dodan sat near the wide window looking toward Christ Church and the quickly descending road over which only a few days ago my father had journeyed. I caught in her face, as I entered, an anxious and disturbed glance, and I felt almost instantly an intimation of disaster. She turned to me as I came into the room and with a quick movement advanced.
"Mr. Dodd, your father is ill. I hardly know what is the matter with him. He is quite strange; does not know us when we talk to him, and wanders in a talk about 'magnetic waves' and 'his wife' and 'different code.' Won't you come to see him? You may help him greatly."
The kind, clear eyes looked up into mine and the impulse of real sympathy as she pressed my hand seemed unmistakable. I asked a few questions and was convinced that my father was the victim of some sort of shock, perhaps precipitated by the continuous excitement caused by our unaccountable experience in the observatory.
I was but a few moments getting ready for the drive to Christ Church. I remember the cold, crisp air, the rapid motion, and can I ever forget it—the nearness and touch of Miss Dodan's person, perhaps only a hurried brushing past me of her arm, the stray touch of her floating hair, or the accidental stubbing of her foot against my own. It seemed a short, delicious drive. I fear my heart was almost equally divided between apprehension for my father's health and the joy of simple nearness to the woman I loved. At last we reached Christ Church. The Dodans lived in the suburbs in a pretty villa on a high hill, from whose top the city lay spread before them in its modest extent with its neighboring places and Port Lyttelon eight miles away.
I found my father better, but it required my own zeal and affection to thoroughly restore him, and bring him back to his characteristic interest and alertness, which made him so original and delightful a companion. At length, by a week's nursing, during which Miss Dodan and myself were frequently together, becoming more and more attached to each other, my father renewed his wonted studies, and strongly desired to return to the "plateau."
I almost regretted, harsh as the thought may seem, our return. Such incidents are now a kind of sweet sadness to recall, for as I write these words, I hear nearer and nearer the summons that must put me also in the spirit world, while she, in whose heart my own trustingly lived, has been taken away, I think wisely and prudently, to live with her father's people in a charming, rustic village of Devonshire. But oh! so far away! and this picture which daily I draw from beneath the pillow of my sick couch must alone serve to replace the companionship of her face and voice.
I can permit myself in this last record of an unrecoverable past to describe a treasured incident just before I left the Dodan home with my father. I was coming out of my room when I found Miss Dodan also emerging from her own bedroom at the opposite end of an upper hall. We met and I said: "Miss Dodan, it is a treacherous confession, but I wish you were going back with us, or that my father would stay a little longer here. I shall miss you."
"Yes," she answered. "Aren't you a good nurse?"
"Oh, I think you need not misunderstand me," I insisted.
"Misunderstanding is rather an English trait, you Americans say," she retorted.
"But in this case," I continued, "I hoped any disadvantages of that sort would be overcome by your own feelings."
She blushed and looked quite dauntlessly into my eyes: "You mean," she inquired, "that you are sorry to leave me?"
My face was very red, I knew, and I felt a puzzling sensation in my throat, but I did not hesitate: "Of course, I am sorry to leave you, more sorry than I can say, but I fear more, that leaving you may mean losing you."
This time confusion seemed struggling with a pleased mirth in her face, and with a laugh and a quick movement toward the stairway she exclaimed: "Well, Americans, they say, never lose what they really care to win."
I darted forward, but she was too quick for me and the chase ended in the lower hall in a group of people—her parents, my father, visitors and servants—and I saw her disappear with a backward glance, in which, I could swear, I saw two pouting lips.
My father was overjoyed to return to our really very comfortable quarters on "Martian Hill," as Mr. Dodan, in reference to my father's infatuation over his imaginary (?) population of Mars, was accustomed to call our professional home.
It was, I think, only a few weeks after this that my father called me to his room. He was standing in his morning apparel, a strange garb which he sometimes affected, made up of a black velvet gown brought together at the waist by a stout yellow cord, a bright red skull cap, a sort of sandal shoe, picked out with silver ornaments, his arms covered with loose, puckered sleeves of lace, dotted with black extending up to the close fitting sleeves of the velvet gown which only descended to his elbow. Beneath the gown, when he was thus theatrically attired, he wore a shirt of pale blue silk with a flat collar, over which came a black vest meeting his black trunks and blue hose.
My father was a really striking and beautiful picture in his incongruous habiliment. His strong and thoughtful face, over which yet clustered the curly hair of boyhood, just touched with gray, lit up by his earnest, sad eyes, seemed—how distinctly I recall it—almost ideally lovely that morning, and I compared him in my thoughts with the father of Romola, only as wearing a more youthful expression. He was seated when I came in, and as his eyes encountered mine, I detected the traces of tears upon his cheeks. My heart was full of love for my father, or childlike adoration it might have been called. I hurried to him and embraced him. The tenderness overcame his habitual self-restraint and he seemed to fall sobbing in my arms.
"My son," he finally whispered, "my days are drawing very fast to a close. The shock I experienced at Christ Church prepared me to believe I would die in some attack of paralysis. A slight aphasia occurred this morning. It, too, as suddenly disappeared. But these warnings cannot be neglected. I and you must at once make preparations for that future colloquy which we must endeavor to establish between ourselves, when I have left this earth and you yet remain upon it.
"I have been thinking a good deal on this subject and my reflections have resulted in this conclusion."
His voice had now resumed its usual melody and power, and we sat down while he turned the pages of Prof. Bain's little work entitled "Mind and Body." He read (I marked at the time the passage): "The memory rises and falls with the bodily condition; being vigorous in our fresh moments and feeble when we are fatigued or exhausted. It is related by Sir Henry Holland that on one occasion he descended, on the same day, two mines in the Hartz Mountains, remaining some hours in each. In the second mine he was so exhausted with inanition and fatigue, that his memory utterly failed him; he could not recollect a single word of German. The power came back after taking food and wine. Old age notoriously impairs the memory in ninety-nine men out of a hundred."
My father then continued: "It seems to me quite clear that our memory, at any rate, however little of our other mental attributes is engaged in matter, is quite constructed in a series of molecular arrangements of our nervous tissues. No doubt there is memory also in that subtle fluid that survives death, but, inasmuch as memory is so closely expressed in physical or material units or elements, does it not seem plain that as spirits we shall probably lose memory?
"The material structure in which it existed, which in a sense was memory itself, is dissipated by death. Memory disappears with it. But perhaps not wholly. Some shadow of itself remains. What will most likely be treasured then? The strongest, deepest memories only. Those which are so subjectively strong as to leave even in the spirit flesh an impression. In this same little book of Bain's this sentence occurs: 'Retention, Acquisition, or Memory, then, being the power of continuing in the mind, impressions that are no longer stimulated by the original agent, and of recalling them at after-times by purely mental forces, I shall remark first on the cerebral seat of those renewed impressions. It must be considered as almost beyond a doubt that the renewed feeling occupies the very same parts, and in the same manner as the original feeling, and no other parts, nor in any other manner that can be assigned.'
"It seems to me, my son, in view of all this, that, as the fondest hope of my life is to send back to you from wherever I may be, a message, and as we both believe the means must be something like this wireless telegraphy, I must imbed in my mind the whole system we have developed, and especially make myself almost intuitively familiar with the Morse alphabet. Beating, beating, beating upon my brain substance this ceaselessly reiterated mechanical language, it will become so incorporated, that even in the surviving mind I shall find its traces and be able to use it.
"So I have concluded to put aside almost everything else and think and live in the thought only of this coming experience. You understand me? You sympathize in this? Yes, yes, I shall get ready for this supreme experiment which may at last, to a long waiting world, bring some reasonable assurance that death does not end all. As I think of it, as I look forward to meeting your mother, the whole prospect of death grows wonderfully interesting and sublimely welcome. And yet, my son, you, you who have been so patient, so kind, giving up your life for my convenience and pleasure, I dread to leave you. But I will speak to you! Watch! wait! and at that instrument upstairs, which I know responded to some waves of magnetism crossing the oceans of space, I shall be heard by you in English words, opening up the mysteries of other worlds!"
He stopped in sheer exhaustion with his whole face charged with almost frantic ecstacy. It seemed to me so natural, nurtured in the same impossible dreams, that I saw nothing ludicrous in his hopes.
From that day on we gave ourselves up to telegraphing from our two stations, while my father again and again consulted models of our transmitters and receivers. This excitement lasted a long time and it did seem psychologically certain that in any disembodied condition my father would be likely to recall some important parts or all of this well learned lesson.
For years my father, as I mentioned before, in his astronomical studies, had limited himself to the study, photography and drawing of the surfaces of our planetary neighbors. Mars particularly fascinated him, for he had, by some illusion or accident of thought fixed his belief firmly that Mars represented his future post mortem home.
The progress of study of the physical features of Mars had been considerable. With these results my father and I were very familiar, had been in correspondence with certain astronomical centers with regard to them, and had even contributed something toward the elucidation of the problems thus presented.
In 1884, before the Royal Society, some notes on the aspect of Mars, by Otto Baeddicker, were read by the Earl of Rosse. They were accompanied by thirteen drawings of the planet and showed many features represented on the Schiaparelli charts. W.F. Denning in 1885, remarked upon "the seeming permanency of the chief lineaments on Mars, and their distinctiveness of outline." Schiaparelli confirmed his previous observations upon the duplications of the canals and Mr. Knobel published some sketches.
In 1886, M. Terby presented to the Royal Academy of Belgium notes on drawings made by Herschell and Schroeter, indicating the so-called Kaiser Sea. M. Perrotin at the Nice Observatory was able to redetect Schiaparelli's canals, which elicited the remark that "the reality of the existence of the delicate markings discovered by the keen-sighted astronomer of Brera seems thus fully demonstrated, and it appears highly probable that they vary in shape and distinctness with the changes of the Martial seasons."
These observations of M. Perrotin were detailed at length in the Bulletin Astronomique, and the distinguished observer called attention to the fact that these markings varied but slightly from Schiaparelli's chart, and indicated a state of things of considerable stability in the equatorial region of Mars. M. Perrotin recorded changes in the Kaiser Sea (Schiaparelli's Syrtis Major). This spot, usually dark, was seen on May 21, 1886, "to be covered with a luminous cloud forming regular and parallel bands, stretching from northwest to southeast on the surface, in color somewhat similar to that of the continents but not quite so bright." These cloud-like coverings were later more distributed and on the three following days diminished greatly in intensity. They were referred by Perrotin to clouds.
In March and April of the year 1886 a study was made of the surface of Mars by W.F. Denning in England. Mr. Denning's drawings corroborated the charts of Green, Schiaparelli, Knobel, Terby and Baeddicker. He found the surface of Mars one of extreme complexity, a multitude of bright spots in places, but with a general fixity of character which led him to believe that the appearances were not atmospheric. He indeed attributed to Mars an attenuated atmosphere and thought that some of the vagaries in its surface characters were due to variations in our own atmosphere He did not find the Schiaparelli canals as distinct in outline as given by that ingenious observer. He noted many brilliant spots on Mars and indicated the disturbing influences of vibrations produced by winds on the surface of our earth in connection with changes in the earth's atmospheric envelope.
In 1888 M. Perrotin continued his observations on the channels of Mars and noted changes. The triangular continent (Lydia of Schiaparelli) had disappeared, its reddish white tint indicating, or supposed to indicate, land, was then replaced by the black or blue color of the seas of Mars. New channels were observed, some of them in "direct continuation" with channels previously observed, amongst these an apparent channel through the polar ice cap. Some of these seemed double, running from near the equator to the neighborhood of the North Pole. The place called Lydia disappeared and reappeared. A strange puzzling statement was made that the canals could be traced straight across seas and continents in the line of the meridian. M. Terby confirmed many of these observations. Later the so-called "inundation of Lydia," observed by M. Perrotin, was doubted. Schiaparelli himself, Terby, Niesten at Brussels, and Holden at the Lick Observatory, failed to remark this change. These observers did not double the canals satisfactorily, but all agreed upon the striking whiteness and brightness of the planet.
M. Fizeau (1888) argued that the Schiaparelli canals were really glacial phenomena, being ridges, crevasses, rectilinear fissures, etc., of continental masses of ice. Again (Bulletin de l'Academie Royale de Belgique, June) M. Nesten averred that the changes on the surface of Mars were periodic.
In 1889, Prof. Schiaparelli reviewed what had been observed upon the surface of the planet in a continued article in Himmel und Erde, a popular astronomical journal published by the Gesellschaft Urania and edited by Dr. Meyer.
Some remarkable photographs taken by Mr. Wilson in 1890 were commented on by Prof. W.H. Pickering in the "Sidereal Messenger." They showed the seasonal variations in the polar white blotches.
In 1889 there reached us from Chatto and Windus of London a most entertaining book by Hugh MacColl, entitled "Mr. Stranger's Sealed Packet." It was a work of fancy, ingeniously constructed upon scientific principles. It described a hypothetical machine, a flying machine, which was made up of a substance more than half of whose mass had been converted into repelling particles. Such a fabric would leave the earth, pass the limits of its attraction with an accelerating velocity and move through space. In such a way Mr. Stranger reached Mars. He found it inhabited by a people—the Marticoli—happy in a state of socialism, and with abundance of food manufactured from the elements, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen, with electric lights, phonetic speech, but without gunpowder or telescopes.
Its inhabitants had been derived from the earth by a most delightful scientific fabrication. A sun and its satellites in its course around some other center draws the earth and Mars so together that on some parts of the earth's surface the attraction of Mars would overcome that of the earth and gently suck up to itself inhabitants from the earth, who would not suffer death from loss of air, as the atmosphere of both bodies would be mingled.
These observations and this last scientific myth have some interest in view of the actual knowledge now vouchsafed to the world through my father's messages. I have very briefly reviewed them.
My father's premonitions were fully realized. He grew sensibly weaker as the months of 1891 passed. His mind became eager with the cherished expectation which grew day by day into a sort of a mild possession. It seemed to me that there was a moderate aberration involved in his deeply seated convictions, and when sometimes I saw him walking past the windows on the plateau with his head thrown back, his arms outstretched as if he were inviting the stars to take him and his murmuring voice, repeating some snatches of song, I felt awed and frightened.
My father was stricken with paralysis on September 21, 1892, became speechless the following day, but for a day thereafter wrote on a pad his last directions. Some of these were quite personal, and need not be detailed here. It was indeed pathetic to see his strenuous and repeated efforts to assure me that he remembered all the parts of the telegraphic apparatus, and his smile of saddened self-depreciation when he hesitated over some detail. At last he sank into a torpor with the usual stertorous breathing, flushed face and gradually chilled extremities. His last words were scrawled almost illegibly by his failing hand—"Remember, watch, wait, I will send the messages."
Miss Dodan came to the plateau and was helpful; to me especially. She kept up my breaking spirits, and her womanly tenderness, her brave grace, and the joy my loving heart felt in seeing her, enabled me to go through the trial of death and separation.
All was finished. My father was buried in Christ Church cemetery by his own request, although thus separated by a hemisphere from his wife.
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A year had passed. I had received nothing. Mr. and Miss Dodan came to the observatory. They both were acquainted with the singular prepossessions which controlled both myself and my father, and I think Mr. Dodan was himself, though he admitted nothing, most curious and interested in the whole matter. Miss Dodan frankly said she was. But I know, to Miss Dodan's fresh, healthy, human life there was something weirdly repellent in this thought of communication with the dead. She thought of it with a nervous dread and excitement. It just kept me in her thoughts a little shrouded in mystery and superiority and closed a little the avenues of absolute confidence and peaceful self-surrender.
I had forgotten nothing, although at first an overwhelming sense of the uselessness of the attempt, the almost grotesque absurdity of expecting to hear from beyond the limits of the earth's atmosphere any word transmitted through a mechanical invention, upon the earth's crust, made me feel somewhat ashamed of my preparations, yet I arranged every portion of the receiver and exercised my best skill to give it the most delicate adjustment.
Whenever I had occasion to rest I either sent an assistant to the post, or kept on my pillow, adjusted to my ear, a telephone attachment to the Morse register, so that its signals might instantly receive attention. At length as time wore on I arranged a bell signal that might summon us to the register.
On the occasion of this visit by the Dodans I was in the loft at the receiver which was in a room to one side of that we called "the equatorial," where the telescope was suspended. I was as usual waiting for a message that never came, and my failing hopes, made more and more transitory by the brightness of the southern spring and all the instant present industry of the fields below me on the low-lands, seemed to dissolve into a mocking phantom of derisive dreams.
I stood up hackneyed and forlorn. Had I not done everything I could? Had I not kept my promise? I heard the voices below me; one, that musical tone, that made the color come and go upon my cheeks, and as I turned hastily to descend to them while the breathing earth seemed to send upward its powerful sensitizing odors that turn energy into languorous desire, and touch the senses with indolence; at that moment the Morse register spoke!
Could my ears have deceived me? No! It was running, running, running, intelligible, strong, definite; it seemed to me of almost piercing loudness, although just audible. I bent over, seized my pad and wrote. The Abyss of Death was bridged! From behind the veil of that inexorable silence which lies beyond the grave came a voice—and what a voice! The clicking of a telegraphic register in signals, that the whole world knew and used. I was quiet, preternaturally so, I think, as I took down the message. I became almost aged in the intense rigidity of my absorption.
I was told the Dodans came up and saw me, heard the telltale clicks of the register, and unnoticed left me. Still I wrote on, unheeding the time. My assistants, pale with wonder, stood around me. The measured tappings were the ghostly voices of another world. This message began at 10 a.m., Sept. 25, 1893. It ended at 10 p.m. on the same day. It came quite evenly, though slowly, and was unmistakably intended to be inerrantly recorded, as indeed it was.