|Note A to Page 80.||(untitled).|
|Note B to page 133.||THE MADONNA AND CHILD; OR, MOTHER-WORSHIP..|
NEWLY-DISCOVERED WORLD CALLED
It may be a matter of profound interest to the great race of man to know how I came to be called Mammoth Martinet. It originated thus: --- My mother, when she carried me; had many strange dreams. I suppose mothers generally, in similar circumstances, have wonderful dreams. But one dream was more remarkable than all the others; which may, nevertheless, be nothing very remarkable. Her dream was to this effect: --- She had given birth to a man-child; but then the man-child, as she handled, dandled, and looked at it, melted away into a huge swallow. And when it spread abroad its wings she thought they widened and widened out till they touched, with their extreme tips, the two opposite sides of the horizon, darkening the face of the whole country. It flew away, brushing all the clouds from the face of the sky like so many cob-webs, finally disappearing, and never returned.
Dreams often make deep impressions upon youth, old age, and superstitious people. Many a musing had I on this dream. I would sit for hours on the rocks of the ocean, stretching my eyes far into the blue depths of sea and sky; and when the sun was setting amid the immense of crimsoned, gold-edged, ragged clouds, I fancied I had a glimpse of the far-off regions Fate had destined me to visit.
My father was a seaman, sailing ships. Many a thrilling story of adventure had he to tell. But I may as well say --- lest there should be any mistake in the matter, and seeing my object is to write true history --- that it was not he who saw all the old moons lying behind the outermost edge of the world; neither was it he who brought up some of the wheels of Pharaoh's chariot out of the Red Sea. I don't exactly know whether he did ever try the whaling in the Red Sea. I cannot remember. That is all I will venture to say, as I wish to be accurate. But I will tell you one thing which he told me, and which determined my future. He once had got so far north in his whale pursuits that he got a sight of a beautiful open sea, where were scattered up and down in it rich emerald isles. It appeared the outskirts of a new world; and he told me that others had got a sight of it before his day. It was believed to lead into the centre of our world. The thought haunted me. "What!" I would say to myself, "a world within a world?" My resolution was taken. A sailor I should become. I would sail, too, in a whaling vessel.
My mother was by religion a Roman Catholic. If my father was of any religion it was the Protestant; practically he was of no religion. The highest ambition of my mother was that I should be a priest. My father contended that "the boy should be allowed to choose for himself." And he did choose. But all my training and studies were directed towards qualifying me for the priesthood. As my taste, however, did not lie in that direction, I made but little proficiency in them. I hated the drudgery of learning Latin, Greek, and Mathematics; not but that I relished the stories of Virgil and Homer, old translations of which I found in manuscript in the library of the monastery. I devoured the wild romance of the Iliad; the love songs of Ovid I abominated. I cannot to this day explain to my satisfaction the existence of so many manuscript translations of this libidinous poet. Every monk that had lived in the monastery for centuries seemed to have translated his poems in his own handwriting, especially the most prurient, with copious notes. The notes were often paraphrases, and, to my mind, were, as a rule, more disgusting than the text itself. True, they were interspersed with pious reflections and condemnations; but it appeared to me that their motives were very contradictory; it was as if they did, at bottom, relish the pruriencies of the love songs, and yet they had a better nature or principle, which condemned both the songs and themselves.
I may as well tell you that though the writings of Aquinas, Scotus, and Den were placed in my hands, and we had prelections and examinations on them, I made but little acquaintance with them. A nature so romantic as mine was but little fitted to grapple with the subtleties and casuistries of such scholastics. Robinson Crusoe was infinitely more congenial to me. I would not have given one half-hour with Jack the Giant-killer or Bluebeard for a twelvemonth with the lucubrations of the seraphic Doctor. This was fast bringing me into disgrace with the holy fathers of the monastery. But when it was discovered that I was an omnivorous student of the legends of the saints, and that I could repeat them by the hour, I took a distinguished place among the neophytes. The more unnatural and improbable the legend, the more eagerly I read it and implicitly believed it. What the other students would laugh at as a tale written by some lunatic I would receive and believe in, though the Bible itself had condemned it. Honours were showered on me, and I was brought under the notice of the highest dignitaries of the Church as a young man of most remarkable promise. I was counselled to persevere as I had begun, and coaxed, at the same time, to turn a little more of my attention to the classics and theology. Assurances were given me that I was bidding fair for reaping, in a ripe old age, the triple crown of the Ecclesia Romana. Seldom a day now passed but I was plied with such like encouragements, and I was watched with most assiduous interest. I was cloyed with the most winning smiles of the burly fathers as I encountered them in the corridors, or as they passed through the library, where I sat dozing my brains with the wildest creations of the human fancy. I was pronounced a prodigy --- a coming star --- a son of inspiration. But their thoughts were not my thoughts. It is with tears I think of all the kindnesses they showered on me and the honours they beckoned me on to. This day might I have been sitting in the apostolic chair of Peter, had I but been of their mind. But another arena of distinction and fame lay before me; I could not but press towards it. The restraints of cloistered life were not congenial to a wild nature like mine. The very legends I devoured fostered this love of roaming in the wide world. Hence I stole from the monastery of St. Kildaine, and made for the seaport that lay in sight of it. I engaged with the captain of a whaler as cabin-boy; for though I was now merging into manhood, I knew nothing of a seafaring life and duties. It was not long, however, before I was discovered to be of considerable aptitude, and soon was ranked with the forecastle hands.
My experiences as a sailor may be learned from the lips of thousands who have sailed in whalers. I shall not, therefore, waste my pains and your time on so commonplace a subject. I shall only begin where others end --- viz., the real point of my divergence from ordinary mortals.
The excitement of whaling was to me, at first, something very overpowering; but little did I imagine it would lead to such a strange issue. These are the real facts of the case, if only you can believe them.
There was sighted by our ship's crew a huge whale. Two boats were manned for the pursuit; harpoon in hand, I stood at the prow of one of them. We neared --- I struck, and the usual scene occurred. We captured our monster victim; it lay like an island on the surface of the water. While the boat's crew stood on its back at their usual operations, another whale, unnoticed, neared us. I saw at once our danger. Seizing the harpoon, I let fly. There being none in the boat with me, I was alone dragged away between two billowy furrows. The boat being light, I was soon miles off from the ship. I thought little of it at first, as I knew I would be followed by-and-bye; but as hours passed, and our pace slackened not, I became alarmed. I had no other harpoon. The prow of the boat was level with the waves. Had I moved forward to cut the rope, the boat had been filled in a twinkling, and I had gone to the bottom. Night overtook me in this plight. The pace of the whale slackened at length, but I had no inducement now to lose the rope. I thought it might tug me back to the vessels, the neighbourhood of some others, or the sight of some shore. Thus I moved, and rested by fits and starts, for longer and shorter periods, over a space of weeks. Through many a shoal of vast icebergs did we wind and glide. Sometimes we ran for days up between the rents of the interminable floes. At length we came upon an open sea; the icebergs grew smaller and less numerous. By-and-bye I lost all sight of them. Green islands here and there lifted up their heads out of the blue waves. Clothed with rich verdure, from their highest summits to their sea-bathed margin, they looked Elysian isles.
So engrossed was I with the new and fair scenes that kindled in my eye, I failed to observe one strange phenomenon. The sea beat inward towards the earth's centre with a resistless but waveless current. I had long passed the dividing line between the outer and inner earth before I observed it. What a boundless sight burst on the view! I stood not now in a convex world, with a few leagues visible to the naked eye; I stood within a hollow ball, every point of whose vast surface was visible. There was no sky. Wherever you looked you saw sea or land. There was no sun or moon. The whole atmosphere seemed impregnated with glittering points of glory. The light was something ineffably intense, and yet, withal, so soft and pleasing, that the eye revelled in it. So powerful was it, that when you looked across the nearly seven thousand miles that lay between you and the opposite side of the hollow globe, it looked nearer than seven miles would do under our sun. This gave to the eye a vast range; one sweep of the eye, and the panorama of twenty thousand miles passed under your review. There was this strange peculiarity in the light or atmosphere, or both, I know not which; it seemed to intensify; and then tarify immensely at times. When you looked at any object, though seven thousand miles off, it would occasionally enlarge, and come so near that you thought you could touch it; then, at other times, it would shrink up to such a minute point, it looked as if twenty thousand miles intervened. From this peculiarity it was almost impossible to enjoy any privacy. You could be brought under the eye of one, ten, a hundred, or ten million of the inhabitants at any moment. Every eye of the countless inhabitants of that world could be turned on you at once; and whether the eye had any effect on the atmosphere or no, I cannot positively say --- I am anxious to keep strictly within the limits of what I do know --- but it was strangely agitated in that portion of it lying between the person or persons looking and the object looked at. The object would expand into various degrees of dimensions, in proportion to the measure of intensity with which you looked at it; sometimes into titanic vastness, and at others into microscopic minuteness. The longer I lived in Myu-me-ae-nia, I was the more persuaded that the atmosphere had a close affinity with the state of the mind. If you were in a dull and melancholy state, the air thickened into clouds above and around you. It was a strange sight to me at first, though familiarity wore off the wonder, to see one followed by a bank of mist; and so closely did it muffle him, that he could not see more than a few steps before him. Another had thick clouds stretched over him, the lightning flashing out and the thunder crashing above him. In the case of others, the arrowy, hustling hail might be seen blinding him, or the snow falling in thick flakes around him. Another might be seen walking, vestured in a little atmosphere of light, looking by all the world as if some unseen sun reserved all its beams for him, showering its wealth about him.
Another peculiarity of the atmosphere was its highly stimulating character. It excited to an eager curiosity and to a resistless love of chattering. When I first entered this new world I could not understand the change that had come over me. I used to be so reserved and reticent, I was looked on as unsocial and sullen; but here my tongue went like the perpetual motion. I talked to myself --- I seemed to think aloud; every idea and emotion, as it rose within me, was blurted out. I wanted some one to listen to me, and tell me something new. I talked to every object that attracted my attention, and my ears had acquired a keen --- painfully keen --- power of hearing. The whole wide air seemed a whispering gallery; it was full of sounds, and yet each sound was pitched on a different key. There was an endless scale of whispering voices eddying about you everywhere; and how the ear could wander at will through them, like a bee over a meadow, choosing which to extract its sweets from! And though the atmosphere of this world was a Babel of voices, yet it did not irritate or confuse you, as one would naturally have supposed. So far from that, it kept up a constant round of tip-toe excitement. The voices, also, were all melodious. It felt a great hive, every voice being a bee, storing up in its own atmospheric cell a richer than Hymettean honey. Sounds reached your ear, if only you gave attention, from the remotest corner of Myu-me-ae-nia. No matter how low your whisper was, it went circling round the whole concave, as if seeking an outlet. The only chance you had for your words escaping others' ears was if they were all taken up too much with other matters. You would have thought an invisible electric net-work of wire had been laid by some wicked spirits from every mouth to every ear in Myu-me-ae-nia. To keep a secret there was almost a perfect impossibility, if only you uttered it at any time in confidence to your nearest, dearest, and most trustworthy friend. Nay, what puzzled me above everything was, that your very thoughts, though unuttered --- aye, thoughts you never had in your mind at all at any time --- would go circling round, and come back to your own ear; yea, sayings you had never said got wind, and stamped your character. And the climax of all was this --- your protestations against such unsaid sayings came back the hideous ghosts of what left your lips. But can you wonder at it? Dividing out along such myriad discursive lines, meeting all ears, was it surprising if some sounds were lost, while endless echoes altered the key of others ere they were all gathered up in converging lines to your ear? The wonder was if truth was ever heard within that world. The atmosphere was such in its elastic character, that, like waves of ocean, no sound repeated itself without some lessening or enlarging of its just dimensions. Silence was safest there; and yet silence was a barking Cerberus, with thrice three hundred tongues.
It would be difficult to believe it, but if you inclined your ear to any sound it grew and multiplied upon you. It was "like the letting in of waters;" I have felt that, when listening to a varied sound, I had caught the first glimpse of its meaning; my whole soul scooped more and more towards it till a widening flood was deluging me. I was like Leviathan drawing in a river --- no --- "an eternity" of sound into my ears. Whether you would or no, in Myu-me-ae-nia you must hear. But no one feels disinclined in that world to hear. It seems one of the chief employments and enjoyments of the Myu-me-ae-nians. You never saw one there walking or sitting by himself. When I landed on these shores I was much gazed at because, I dwelt so much apart. Many a strange and uncouth rumour ran concerning me on that account. But it was as strange to me to see mortal beings always in groups; it looked as if they could not trust themselves alone. They recoiled from solitude as a child would do at midnight from a churchyard. From the small coterie of two or three to the vast assemblage of thousands were they everywhere rallied together.
Another peculiarity of that wondrous world was the ever varying dimensions of its inhabitants. At one time they stood before you like Titans, at another like ordinary-sized men, while at others they shrank up into mere points. I have seen them expanding from a pin-point till they seemed furlongs in height. Nothing so appalled me as the first sight of this phenomenon. When I was sailing up what seemed the estuary of a whole universe I was amazed to see the shores crowded with countless myriads of small living objects. At first they looked like dwarfs; but as I neared the shore, and they increased in number, they dwindled to the size of toads. But when I sprang upon the beach they were not so large as locusts; and so numerous were they, I could scarce find a place to plant my feet on without treading on them. The agility of their movements excited my curiosity; moreover, when they crowded closer together they became like ants, or rather midges. But oh! the hum! It was not the hum of insect clouds that dance in our summer evening sky; it was something grander than that. It struck me like the hum of a great city, while I stood on some mountain that overhung it --- nay, like the hum of a universe. Well, as I have said, I was greatly puzzled as to what these living things might be. Surprise gave birth to curiosity. I stooped to catch one of these strange creatures; I would fain examine it. But lo! swifter than roes they all fled back, and as they did so they expanded in size. I pursued; and, as I neared, they grew and grew, till, like sons of Anak, they covered hill and dale. Paralyzed with fear, I stood and quaked, shaking like an aspen leaf. I was hemmed in on every side by an extraordinary race of beings. What could I do? Had I been near the shore I had leapt back into my boat, and tried to flee. But, as it was, what now? Were they cannibals, demons, fairies, satyrs, nemeses, or what were they? Endless conjectures rushed upon me, which it would be worse than useless to rehearse here. It was not time for meditation, but for action.
One thing I observed as they expanded --- they seemed to me to be transparent. As you have seen stars gleaming dimly through a fleecy cloud, so could I see objects behind them. But as they shrank and condensed into more reasonable proportions, they were more opaque, though not perfectly intransparent. You can imagine the eerie feelings this discovery awakened within me. It occurred to me they were insubstantial, and therefore they could do me no physical harm. This gave me a kind of physical relief. It is wonderful how courageous one can become if only you are sure you win escape with skin and bone uninjured.
Another discovery I made, which mightily relieved me, and put my courage into high mettle. It was that they were more afraid of me than I was of them. One could chase a thousand of them, and two put ten thousand to flight. Not but that they wore an air of bravery and daring. When they stood in full height there was a noble and imposing appearance about them; in fact, it was a long time ere I could divest myself of all fear of them, though there was a latent hesitation about them that made you suspect them of poltroonery. I thought, at first, it was my strange and uncouth appearance among them that caused that; for I must inform you, for your better understanding of my situation, that they were all bristling with armour. It would he impossible to conceive of a living creature more terribly arrayed for war. Why, each looked to me at first, when they stood upright in their great height, as "the tower of David, builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers --- all shields of mighty men." But one extraordinary characteristic of their armour consisted in this: it all enlarged and contracted in the same proportion and in sympathy with those wearing them. Another thing noticeable about their armour lay in this: while they wore many and large shields --- for they had shields to cover every part of their bodies --- they bristled all over with burning darts, like a hedgehog, the sharp points of which were tipped with fire. Notwithstanding the many years I spent among them I never could learn how they manufactured these in such exhaustless quantities, and stuck them about them ready for use. It seemed a subject they did not like to be touched on --- a secret they never would impart. I had always a suspicion that these arrows were a native growth of their etherial bodies like feathers in a bird, and that they tipped them in a lake of fire I shall subsequently mention. They had bows and cross-bows of all sizes hanging about them, as well as two-edged swords, with so keen an edge that the most powerful microscope could not detect its outline. These swords have I seen making a long gash upon the back of a Myu-me-ae-nian when one passed by, and it was some time ere he was aware that he had been injured. And I may mention here that I scarcely ever saw one Myu-me-ae-nian hurling a dart or giving a sword-cut but behind the back of his victim. I only remember three or four exceptions to this rule. But to return. It was only when the poison in which all their swords are bathed began to take effect they knew they had been wounded. So much so was this the case, that I have seen many accused of inflicting a wound while they were entirely innocent and ignorant of it.
One national custom of these Myu-me-ae-nians was this: they were for ever twanging from their bows, large or small, some of their burning arrows, or they were hurling their javelins, or aiming secretly sword-cuts. The air was constantly gleaming with all manner of missiles; not that they carried on any great battles that I saw or ever could learn. Nay, they professed universally to hate war and strife. They loved peace above all things. They denounced all revenge, spite, hatred, enmity, cruelty, cunning, maliciousness, &c.; and yet, in the midst of their tirades against the bad dispositions of others --- and all were bad but themselves --- they could never sit, or stand, or ride, or walk, without twanging their bows. As if altogether beautifully unconscious of it --- as if it were a mere pastime, and as if they could not help it --- they were whirring away some cutting missile to some one or other in Myu-me-ae-nia. As you stood, or sat, or walked beside them, you had to maintain a constant vigilance, and jerk your body in every conceivable direction to let the darts pass by. So did they all in that world. You never saw a being at rest. They rock to and fro perpetually, like a ship at anchor when a bursting sea tumbles at all angles around it, to escape the hissing darts. Even when eating, the same thing went on. Between every supply they took, they proceeded with shooting, and hurling, and rocking.
I never could say I saw, as a rule, a genuine friendship among them; for though I have seen them living, walking, eating, hunting in groups, yet there was a constant rolling of their sharp, burning, restless eyes, as if each suspected a traitor in the other. Even when they would salute one another in token of love and friendship they would watch the hands and movements of each other. But they seldom long kept together in friendship. A few hours or days sufficed to alter the face of the whole group. Like as I have watched the clouds of our skies melting away, while I gazed, from one shape, into another, so was it with all the coteries I ever observed in that world. Those who were fast friends this moment were hurling darts and arrows in fierce fury at each other secretly the next.
Speaking of their artillery, I must not omit to mention one thing. It was this: Either they were not designed to kill outright, or they could not do it. And of all these weapons of attack, none inflicted, evidently, such pain as the minute arrows that were tipped with the strange fire. I have seen them writhing most terribly when one of these pierced them, while a spear that passed right through them only made them wince and stagger for a moment. Being transparent to my eye, I could follow the course of the little arrow. It generally had just sufficient force to get under the epidermis or outer skin. Every movement of their body --- and I have told you how they rocked incessantly --- made it work its way in deeper and deeper towards the more vital and sensitive parts. It scoriated a path for itself with its burning point till it reached the heart. Whenever it pierced that organ there was a terrible effervescence, with great agitation among all the vital spirits of their bodies, till at length the arrow was entirely dissolved or absorbed --- I cannot tell which: perhaps both. You could see the blood or vital spirits as they now flowed out through the nervous system, considerably altered, thickened, and blackened, producing a changed condition, more or less, of the whole external appearance. I have seen some of the noblest Myu-me-ae-nians with scores of these burning little arrows at all stages of progress, making their way inwards to the vital centre. Once I saw the king and his prime minister bristling all over, like a porcupine, with these infixed arrows; and the air around them was crowded with myriads more on the way, as I have seen myself in this world on a summer eve surrounded with a cloud of insects. For a circuit of leagues on every side of them the air was gleaming with them. If you watched the angle at which they were flying you would find that they came from every point of the wide area of Myu-me-ae-nia. The privilege of a king and a prime minister there seemed to me to be common victims for all their subjects; and none but those who experienced the suffering these gave could understand it. Death had been infinitely preferable to this deathless death and torture.
Can you be surprised, therefore, if when I first arrived amid such new and strange scenes I was appalled. Not that they essayed their artillery on me on my immediately landing, though they could not resist hurling them at all shades of distances near to me. They could not forego this inveterate habit of theirs, no matter who was the person concerned. But not knowing what manner of being I was --- harmless or dangerous --- they experimented in safety. They wished to test me, whether I was open to fear or not. My trepidation they mistook for defiance; my swoon they interpreted to be treachery and deceit; the pallor of my cheeks and the blueness of my lips they understood to be rage. It was well for me that it was so, for it laid the ground-work of my future ascendancy over them. When I flung myself on my knees and implored their protection they fled; when I rose and pursued them they rallied, and hurled each a volley of arrows with such accurately measured distance that it formed a burning wall for a few seconds between them and me, while none of them reached or touched me. This, I afterwards learned, was designed. I saw, at length, that by concealing my true motives, and appearing to them other than real, I would gain my end. Therefore, without running, I advanced. They all enlarged their dimensions, till the whole plains and mountain-sides appeared covered as if with immense moving towers flashing in brass and steel. As I still neared them they grew higher and more majestic; their frown blackened like a thunder-cloud with a glowing furnace-fire slumbering behind it. My knees quaked: I was speechless from fear. Still I advanced. I saw it was to be the turning point of my history in that strange country. And now the arrows flew thicker. They aimed them nearer. They fell still, however, within a few feet of me. By-and-bye they shot them so near as to let them fall at my feet: and now they singe my hair. They fizzed on my clothes and riddled them. I still advanced. The arrows begin to pierce me. Like one with a wasp's or hornet's nest clustering round and stinging him at ten thousand points, so was I. I reeled for a moment. I debated now whether I should advance or recede; it was but death in any case. So I reasoned. "Let me, then, advance." My resolve was made. And now the storm of battle thickened. Brave warriors! --- myriads against one! The earth shook beneath me, from the stamp of their feet in anger. The air burst out at every point around me like as with forked lightning; the whole atmosphere seemed as if it had taken on fire --- that part of it, at least, which surrounded me. This only maddened me to desperation. I rushed forward, determined to bring this fearful conflict to an end by provoking them to destroy me. But lo! what took place? As I dashed wildly at them all, all ablaze, still unsubdued and unquailed, the storm abated --- the fire of artillery slackened. The Myu-me-ae-nians were awestruck. They had never seen it thus before; and as I neared them they shrank down into smaller dimensions, till, when I stood in the midst of them, they collapsed in appearance into an army of ants. What contempt now seizes my scorning soul! I thought I could rush in among them, and tread them by the thousand or ten thousand to death. Without a single weapon, I had conquered the terrific fire of myriads. Brave them; suffer, as if you did not; betray not lacerated emotions --- you conquer them. "Base poltroons!" cried I. Happily they did not understand my language. Prudence is the better part of valour. "Revenge," said I, "is not true wisdom. Insignificant as each really is, yet by sheer force of numbers they could overpower me. Let me not, then, retaliate. Let me show I neither fear nor despise them. Thus will I secure their friendship --- at least neutrality." It was well I did so; for what could I have done against so many? They were not mortal. I could not have crushed a single one of them out of existence. I had, therefore, been baffled in this had I tried it; and if I had tried, and failed --- as I must have done --- they had learnt my rage and impotence; they had known how to despise and torment me. But by acting as I did, concealing my true feelings and sufferings, I became a riddle to them. I sat down among them to rest myself, to show that I was neither afraid nor vindictive, and soon fell asleep.
Days must have passed, according to our mode of calculation, ere I awoke. I became conscious, on awaking, that I had passed through the delirium of a fever. Want, excitement, and the poisoned arrows had done their work. I was weak as a new-born babe; I could neither lift hand nor foot; I was scorched with a terrible thirst; an awful hunger gnawed within me. But how was I to tell my wants? I could not understand the speech of Myu-me-ae-nia, nor they mine.
Such were some of my half-conscious musings as I languidly lifted my heavy eyelids. But what was my surprise when I caught sight of a most beautiful creature that was bending tenderly by my side, shaking a large branch that rained a rich balm upon me! It showered over me like a thin white mist creeping along a winding valley stream in the summer morn or eve. I felt the ebbing waves of life begin to rally, and, gathering up their disorganized forces, rush back in delirious might through every vein and nerve of my body. Nor was it so much as if I had won back my former self and strength, but as if I had regained it a hundredfold intensified. I was braced with a vitality, an elasticity, a vigour, a joyousness I never had tasted of before. It was as if I had now reached the first and outermost zones of immortality.
Never shall I forget the glow of ineffable delight that kindled in the ravishing face of that Myu-me-ae-nian fair one. To see that I had come to consciousness again yielded her a keen sense of satisfaction. By all the claims that a stranger in calamity can wring sympathy out of the hearts of others had I touched her with pity. She had viewed with awe and admiration the unequal contest I had maintained, and when I fell a victor her heart was mine. I did not know this at the time, nor was she herself aware of it; but the sequel of my Myu-me-ae-mian life revealed it.
Ree-mia-me-an, which means "The blossom of beauty," was the most perfect ideal, taken as a whole, both in mind and body, that I have ever witnessed. I should here mention that in Myu-me-ae-nia, more than in our world, the mind projects itself into the forms of the body; the body there mirrors out to the eye the internal moods and character. At the beginning of our own history this attribute seems to have been possessed, and explains the brand put on the forehead of Cain. But as time rolled on the grosser part of our nature overlaid the more spiritual, till this law has become almost effete. Hence it is the most consummate villains can smile and stab you at the same moment, without your suspecting their aims.
Oh! it was the first real sip of the cup of unmixed bliss that I ever enjoyed when my eyes met the liquid celestial light of the eyes of Ree-mia-me-an. Like the huge waves of the German Ocean thundering against the chalk cliffs of old England, so my heart tumultuated behind my ribs. Every feature of her face was beautiful. They were all so perfect in their lines and mutual proportions --- withal so soft, ethereal, noble; expression, love, purity, independence, transparency, trueness lay behind each. As you have seen the clouds catching and reflecting back to earth the glories of the departed sun as it lay far beneath the western waves --- so every feature in her face was the tell-tale of the emotions, thoughts, and workings of her hidden but glorious soul. I could but lay and gaze upon her. The sight of her completely prostrated me with delight. It relaxed the whole knit-up energies of my manhood. The romance of my soul was for once satisfied; aye, more than satisfied. I was as one that dreamed. I have seen on earth beautiful faces, but the self-consciousness of their beauty was too apparent to suffer you long to admire them. But the wealth of joy that was here had no alloy. Her beauty grew upon you with time. Unlike our fair sisters in this world, time fades not the eye, the cheek, the rosy living light and health-freshness of a Myu-me-ae-nian. It is character alone --- the mouldings of the soul it is which chisels out the lines of life in the countenance of a Myu-me-ae-nian. The soul development in the deeper and more delicate lines, and finer tints of wisdom and virtue imparted fresher and more sparkling loveliness to her face, and more graceful movement to her whole gait. I knew not then that this fair one was older than our Christian era. A maiden of sixteen had looked older in our world; and yet she was looked upon as but in her teens.
Can the oldest and most confirmed bachelor on earth condemn me for becoming at once the blindest votary of such a beauty? Pity bound her to me --- love, me to her. How free and artless were her manners. It was the overflowing fulness of a generous heart held her in angel ministries at my side. She watched and tended me as a mother would do some helpless babe that was left by some heartless mother at her door. To her I was an uncouth stranger; but yet we had affinities, she knew. Whatever the outward casket, the inward jewel --- the soul --- had something akin to her own. To her, what was I but an infant? If a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, might not an almost divine creature nurse one of Adam's descendants? Oh! delightful nurse! My soul grew great as it fed on hers. We had not a mutual language, but her keen intuitions enabled her to read my wants, my thoughts, my feelings. I saw she grew embarrassed as my young affections burst up in twining arms about her. A friend she wished in me --- but not a lover. As, however, the lover became more dominant, she grew more guarded. I saw that if she could think I needed not now her nursing care she would leave me; but I was as bent that this she should not know. My very love for her favoured the feint: in fact I was as much enfeebled --- aye, more so --- by Cupid's darts than I had been by the Myu-me-ae-nian. Many a rich dew she flung over me; but nothing so refreshed me as the beholding of her queenly --- nay, angelic form. Never did I know till then the kindling joys of life --- of pure being. What immortal yearnings, like the hungry waves of the Atlantic, multiply within us. They create an ever-more restlessness, which eats out of us the calm, the peace, the satisfiedness, so necessary to our full-orbed happiness. If the lot of man supplied the objects suited to the various yearnings, then would there be rest. But where is there such a happy contingency? Where is there one being that finds in another created being, in our unhappy world, all that they would desiderate? Is there not always some deficiency or excrescence, some infirmity of temper, some confirmed habit that spoils the ointment more or less? Could it be matter for surprise, then, that when one concentrated in herself such a fulness of attributes as met every craving of the soul as it rose into prominence, she took such a mysterious hold of my whole manhood? I was henceforth a satellite, held in the luminous, soft, but adamant chains of a great gravitating law, that knit every grain of my being to every grain of her own. She was a fulness to me: I felt it. The longer I lay in the lapping outgoings that betrayed her true self I felt it. She rose up within me as a deepening tide covering the black, tangled, and unsightly basin of my existence. But how was I to retain that gleaming, pellucid, and delicious tide? That was now the hungry torment that gnawed upon my liver as Etna did upon Prometheus. But while I sunned me in her ingenuous friendship, I drank the joys of Paradise. Months, according to our calculation, must have passed while she nursed me. But it was brought to a close in the following manner.
Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa, or "the sheen of resplendent virtues," came at the head of a band of Myu-me-ae-nian maidens singing and dancing in circular fashion. I knew not at the time what they sang, but afterwards I came to know. They celebrated the praises of modesty, of virtue, of maidenhood, as it was woven into the traditions of some great Myu-me-ae-nian virgin, in contrast to the shame of another famous character, who fell before the subtle solicitations of an accomplished villain. Their songs were so pointed as to throw a slight upon us both, while they seemed to be unconscious of our presence. They so skilfully regulated their movements as to make a complete circuit round us, and then, as they were about to dart away into another, to stumble immediately upon us. The air of surprise, of flurried timidity, and the look of virtuous and indignant shame they cast upon us, was most theatrically effected. At the time, I did not suspect it as the result of a deep-laid plot; neither did I understand its meaning. But I detected a something in them, especially in Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa, which gave them an inferiority in my estimation to Ree-mia-me-an. There was a soft and luxurious beauty and grace about them all; but there was a deficiency of naturalness I felt, yet could not explain. The absolute inartificialness of Ree-mia-me-an had, from the first, thrown an ineffable charm over all the perfect qualities she was endowed with. But to my mind there was not that in this choir of maidens. There seemed a studious aim at effect in every gesture, movement, look. I would not have observed it so readily had not contact with Ree-mia-me-an, so tutored my eye and perceptions. What indignant reproof they administered to her! They commended her for her past integrity and purity; but it was all with a view to foil her present shame. They left no room for doubt that she had fallen. They painted in the blackest and most odious colours the disgrace she had brought on their race; and as for myself, they had the most infamous narratives to record. They told of my antecedents, and how it had come to their knowledge I was banished from my own world for my immoralities.
As long as they had dwelt on her own follies she encountered it with an unruffled and celestial smile. The consciousness of her own innocence rendered her proof to their insinuations. They saw she was impervious to them all. But when they touched upon me they smote her in her seven streams. What guarantee had she but that there might be some truth in what they so boldly asserted regarding me? It was here where she fell into the snare they had laid for her. It would be impossible to paint the wondrous mixture of pity, love, agony, and doubt that gathered in her eye when she rose, beckoned me an adieu, and vanished into the distance. I could not divine the meaning of it. My heart was smitten and withered by her sudden withdrawal. I knew not but some unhappy event had summoned her to her own family circle. But oh! 'twas to me as if the firmament had been stripped of its sun and moon and stars, and all nature had gathered blackness. The desolation of my heart was beyond all conception.
Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa now strove to take the place of Ree-mia-me-an. She put on the softest, richest, and most fascinating smiles and airs. She imitated the tender solicitudes of Ree-mia-me-an. She gave me to understand that she had come to rescue me from the treacheries of a deep and deceitful maiden. At first I met her insinuations with a deep and gathering scorn; but she played the game so skilfully, with such seeming simplicity and purity of motive (backed by her maidens, who appeared the very embodiment of all that was sincerest, gentlest, truest, and most guileless) that I began to waver. An agony of doubt awoke within me regarding Ree-mia-me-an. They perceived the first fiery glancings of the ray of jealousy and suspicion, as they tried to impress me with the conviction that she was the betrothed of another. They fed and fanned the ember fires. With inimitable art they plied me, till my heart became like a cage of every wild beast. I was strongly tempted, in a spirit of revenge, to dismiss Ree-mia-me-an from the last retreats in which she lurked in my hankering affections, and abandon myself to the fascinations of Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa. But who has loved --- really, deeply, strongly loved, from the great tap roots of manhood? Let him essay to shake loose that love --- and will he succeed without loosening to a great extent the very hold he has on life itself? It is like the throes of an earthquake beneath the broad and deep foundations of a grim fortress --- a fortress that has rolled back for ages the tide of battle --- but is sore rent by this spasm of nature. Thus was it with me; but one of those fortuitous and unforeseen contingencies that sometimes take place in life, decided the case for me. Whilst I was thus meditating upon my future action, an immense assembly of Myu-me-ae-nians began to congregate around us. The report of my arrival in that world, where nothing can be hid, had penetrated into the remotest corners of it. The most extraordinary descriptions had gone abroad. I was reported to be the most marvellous being that ever was, or possibly could be. At one time --- so report said --- I could shrivel myself up into a minute point; at another, I could stand so tall that they could not see from the feet to the head of me. It did appear ridiculous to me when I came afterwards to learn this. They did not understand that it was their own peculiarity of expansion and contraction that gave rise to this appearance of mine in their eyes. When they hung about me as motes, of course I must have appeared to them enormously large; but when, again, they rose to a size of furlongs in height, I must have appeared to them a very minute thing. For they, though they contracted and expanded after this extraordinary fashion, were never aware of it; for everyone contracted and expanded, by force of sympathy, who were together at the time. When I came to learn this impression they had concerning my believed alterable dimensions, I never tried to undeceive them: it would have been of no use; besides, if I had succeeded, it would have tended to weaken my influence over them. For, with created and intelligent beings, however high they stand in the ranks of creatures, nothing exercises such a control as an element of the mysterious, mythical, or marvellous. Hence it is, so many of our aristocracy are anxious to trace up their ancestry, to some one or other of the sea kings. It is upon this very principle, the priests of our Holy Mother Church, play upon the credulous and vulgar. The priests of paganism, with their secret rites and arcana, did the same thing.
Though there is a vast fertility in Myu-me-ae-nia, it is all insubstantial as compared with what we have in this world. I came upon an apple tree in the course of the day (you see I must still speak of days, though there are no nights there), I put forth my hand to pluck one of its apples, but my hand passed through it. I thought at first it must have fallen to the ground; but no, there it hung still. I essayed again to pluck it, but the same failure signalised the attempt. The Myu-me-ae-nians, instead of laughing, were awe-struck. I now began more minutely to examine the tree --- and lo! it was transparent. I went forward to place my hand on the bark; my hand went into the tree. I walked right through it --- felt nothing: I turned and looked --- there it was, perfect as if I had never touched it. As we journeyed on --- for I followed the multitude --- we came to a great high hedge of prickly thorn. I had never before seen one so high and thick and prickly; but it, too, as I neared, was transparent. I went up and tried if I could walk through it; there was no obstruction-not a thorn or branch could I feel, though I saw them in myriads; and yet, not one in all Myu-me-ae-nia could walk through it as I did; it lacerated them, though it could not hurt me. The same was equally true of their rivers. While journeying with the King and his people to the capital of Myu-me-ae-nia, we came upon a beautiful cascade. I had never seen one of such enormous height. Though it fell from the highest peak of Teneriffe, it could never have equalled this; and then, it looked like a vast fall of quicksilver; the roar was something terrible. I stood and gazed in wrapt amazement; how long, I cannot tell. Time in that world is of no account. They are not tied up to beggarly quarters of an hour, or a day, week, month, &c. If they want to speak to you there a minute --- only a minute --- that means a month, or three months, as likely as not. Well, I say, I don't know how long I stood. I drew neat by-and-bye to the edge of the great basin, where the bubbling and foaming waters were playing; and what a sight! Looking down into it, you would have thought you were looking down, through and through, into our own great unfathomed sky. What great blocks of all manner of precious stones, each of them, in appearance, as large as the Pyramids of Egypt. This did look marvellous! How long I gazed down to see whether or not these were not stars magnified, that lay at the bottom, I cannot tell; nor does it matter. Being thirsty, I bent down to drink. To my surprise, I could have as soon caught my own shadow, and drunk it. I thought I would venture down a little way into this great bathos. You can have no idea of the horror displayed by the Myu-me-ae-nians at my rashness. They made all manner of grimaces and gesticulations to discourage me from what seemed to them a most perilous undertaking; however, I ventured down. What was my surprise! Instead of being immeasurably deep --- thousands of leagues to the bottom --- it was not more than a few feet; and as for the precious stones being as large as pyramids, they were not as large as the diamonds I wear in my shirt studs; besides, when I tried to pick them up, they were only shadows of stones. "Vile mockery!" I said within myself, "this world is all a sham." I walked in among the enchanted mist, and its very roar was gone. You needed to go to a distance from it to hear its hollow thunderings. After I had wandered about in this phlegethon a little time, I turned round to look on the Myu-me-ae-nians ľ what they were thinking. There they were, clustering on the edge like a swarm of midges. I now wandered in till I stood beneath the cataract: it was no more to me than a column of wreathed smoke. It indeed flashed with a clearer than crystal brilliancy; it glittered in grit luminousness as if it were a column of finely-powdered diamond dust.
I afterwards learned that I had appeared to the assembled Myu-me-ae-nians a most dazzling picture. It is said I literally shone as if a mass of burnished silver; and to what an enormous size I had expanded! Had they believed in a God, they would have worshipped me there as such.(1) But of all this I knew nothing at the time. When I had satisfied my curiosity I returned to the edge whence I had entered. As I came out, the Myu-me-ae-nians all gradually expanded to their normal stature. I now looked back again into the boiling gulf of glittering mist. It appeared anew in all its terrible vastness. Though I knew it was all a deception, yet I could not resist the impression of its awful vastness in size, depth, and greatness of precious stones, so long as I remained outside.
We now journeyed onwards to Lli-me-muia, the royal city of that world. The highway leading to it was something very magnificent. It could not be less than ten leagues in breadth. It was covered with a kind of grass, that felt to the foot like down; nay, rather, as if you were treading on sunbeams. The richness of the green hue was truly ineffable, and it was enamelled with a profusion of flowers, unrivalled by this earth for form and beauty. You did not bruise a flower by treading on it: its finest gossamer-like petals were as uncrumpled as the delicate wings of the little insects in the vice-like grasp of the amber stone. But lo! what a countless multitude thronged this highway. We came at length, in our journey, to the banks of a broad, deep, pure river. It looked like molten quicksilver. The banks to the water's edge hung in awful wealth of verdure and shrubbery, while it literally blazed with flowers. A bridge was thrown across this river. Far as the eye could reach, ran a row of colossal pillars, as if made of burnished gold. From one pillar to the other was stretched, what appeared, an enormous slab of ivory --- thus was that great broad river bridged. The king led the way, mounting the great steps leading up to it; but when he planted his foot upon it, he shrank to a minute stature. I looked around, and lo! all the countless multitude had done the same. I now planted my foot --- rather tried it --- on the broad staircase. My, foot went through it. There were the steps --- there the bridge; but they were neither steps nor bridge for me. The thought occurred "What if this river is no river to me?" I made for its banks, and slipped down amid its gliding currents. It was a glittering, moving mirage! What horror seized the Myu-me-ae-nians, from the king to the humblest. They thought I should now be lost: it gave them great distress. I was now become an object of intense interest. They did not wish to lose me; but I was in happy ignorance of all this. Yes, they were sure I would either be swallowed up in some of the vast whirlpools, or be devoured by one of the monster Mmou-me-noo-oos. Certainly I was not prepared for a re-encounter with one of these scaly monsters. They must be a reality, though, I am happy to say, the one I met did me good service: it devoured the last remaining fears I had for anything I should ever after see or encounter in Myu-me-ae-nia. Whether it has ever been able to digest them, I never could learn.
I can well conceive the awful terror they inspire to a Myu-me-ae-nian, but only to a Myu-me-ae-nian. I was walking along, thinking only of the agreeable surprise I was to give the Myu-me-ae-nians on the other side, when I was startled from my reverie by a great rushing and splashing sound. This was nothing less than shoals of fishes --- or what seemed to be such --- driving along at an enormous rate. They came in such abundance that I fancied, for the time, they cast a deep shadow all around me. I could scarcely see the ivory bridge by which I was guiding my steps to the other side. Such is the force of imagination! The rush so increased, and the multitudes, that I became uneasy. At length I caught sight of two immense eyes: each looked as large as a lunar rainbow. The body of the fish appeared to stretch away behind for leagues. It seemed, with its huge mouth, to take in whole shoals at once. At fearful speed it came bearing down in my direction, like a huge railway train, as if to dash me to atoms, or snap me up as a petit morceau. Strange to relate, however, --- and this, I assure you, is as true as my whole story --- it dwindled down as it came nearer; and when it fairly reached me it was no larger than a shrimp! Nay, it was but the transparent skeleton of a shrimp. I was quite indignant at the vile deception. I tried to catch and crumple in pieces this queer pigmy monster, that created such dismay among the finny tribes of Myu-me-ae-nia.
When I reached the side of the river on the edge of which rests the city of Lli-me-muia, I came to a great broad flight of steps that seemed made of vast blocks of sapphire. Monsters, that appeared a cross-breed between lions and sphynxes, were cut out of the same material, resting at various landings in the noble balustrade that ran up the middle and at either side of this stair. It had such a Titanic vastness and massiveness, I stood and gazed in mute wonderment. But here again I was doomed to fresh disappointment; for, when I placed my foot on the first step, the whole dwarfed down in a twinkling, so that I passed up over the entire flight at one bound. All the inhabitants of Lli-me-muia looked on bewildered, and said it had never been so seen before. True, they did not perceive that it shrank up to such small dimensions; for they and all Lli-me-muia shrank in sympathy to proportional minuteness. But it gave them an overwhelming sense of mysterious greatness as attachable to my personage. Their surprise was not to end here. At the top of this stair were great gates of immeasurable height, never opened but when the king gave orders. This gate was of most curious workmanship. The history of Myu-me-ae-nia for untold milleniums was recorded on it in symbolic characters. As the king had not arrived, and might not for some considerable time, I stood and closely inspected it. I could not decipher its hieroglyphics, but it was a marvel of curiosity, apart from its interpretation. I next approached it to feel its consistence, when lo! it was not. Whatever it was to those of Lli-me-muia, its immense framework was to me but as the fretwork of light and shadow thrown by forest trees upon the ground beneath a gorgeous summer's sun. I walked through it, and yet it remained perfect as before. Not one of its minutest parts was displaced. All Lli-me-muia was in dismay. Thus, in spite of myself, I provoked attention and wonderment. I would fain have avoided such notoriety; but I could not help myself. I sought only to be true to myself, and act according to the true nature of things. But this, so far from securing my much desired obscurity, only drew to myself increased observation. I was in utter dismay at myself lest I might, through these outrages upon the laws of that new world, bring myself into trouble. I was not studious of such contrariety to all the use and wont --- the ideas and prejudices --- of that fair and enchanted realm. I say this much, specially for the sake of the Myu-me-ae-nians, should this narrative of mine --- as it is sure to do --- come at any time under their notice. I can certify to them I bore them no ill will, but only wished my most generous aspirations for them could be accomplished.
Lli-me-muia was, in truth, a superb city. The meaning of the name Lli-me-muia is "the gates of wisdom." It is needless for me to remind you that I did not know this, or even the name and distinguished character of the city when I first saw it. You must have already perceived that much of the narrative I have already given antedates my chronological knowledge. But I am cherishing the hope that the forbearing reader will not dispute with me on account of these anticipations. But to return. I was much delighted with this "gate of wisdom." Every residence in the city was like what the ancient city of Babylon must have been for size and magnificence. Hanging gardens here, rising tier above tier in endless succession, characterised every residence in this great city. The palaces, for such they were, were all built of a pure material, in appearance like purest alabaster. But what enormous piles they were! I would not venture to say how high they rose lest I might be suspected of exaggerating, and so destroy all faith in the veracity of my narrative. But if I said the most modest building was at least some furlongs high, I shall not be likely to stagger your credulity nor outstep modesty. None but those whose sceptical incredulity I count it an honour to provoke would hesitate to award me their implicit belief. But one thing I must notice as a sad disfigurement was this --- their doors and windows were mere port or pigeon-holes. True, they had a false door, that was in due proportion to the whole building, and so likewise windows. But the real doors and windows were such as I have described. They seemed to live as if in constant terror of attack; at least that was the conclusion I came to in my own mind. None but a Myu-me-ae-nian could enter at such doors. They could be easily guarded.
I had at the time a great curiosity to get a peep into those dwellings, but when I looked at their doors I abandoned the idea. Many a pressing invitation was I favoured with; but as I saw no possibility of entering, I politely refused, preferring to live entirely in the open air. For in that world, save as places of retreat and secresy, houses are altogether unnecessary. It is true the climate has its variations. For example, it has its rain; but, like so many other things mentioned, it was no rain for me. I cannot describe to you the queer feelings I experienced the first time I saw the rain begin to fall. There was a sudden change in the atmosphere that made all the Myu-me-ae-nians in my company seek for shelter under the huge trees, or some of the great overhanging rocks you occasionally met with. Curious to know what all this meant, I stood and gazed with open mouth up into the depths of the atmosphere. There I saw large things like balloons come floating down in countless numbers. They looked as if they would come and smother me all at once, or drown me in one of their immense drops. At an earlier stage of my history they might have frightened me out of my senses; but I had got over such fears. Just as I supposed, they turned out anything but formidable; for as they approached me they diminished in size till they fell as an impalpable mist about me. It required many of them heaped together on the pile of my pilot cloth coat to form a globule as large as a dew-drop. Nay, I have often doubted whether it was they or my own breath, while watching for them in their accumulative value, that beaded the piles with the small drops; and to this day I have not been able to decide the case.
It was not till I had spent some considerable time in Myu-me-ae-nia I made the following discovery; viz., that I could enter their abodes at pleasure, indifferent to door or window. It happened thus: --- I was reconnoitring the vast palace of the king Eng-wy-we-wa, which means "the morning womb of knowledge." ("Morning" is not the exact rendering, but that is the nearest idea we have to represent their meaning.) The pillars of the palace were of a mould different from all I had ever seen or read of. There was a massive yet ethereal elegance about them that is altogether indescribable. The nearest idea I can give you of them is the long shafts of sunbeams you sometimes see sent through the volcanic-like openings of vast collected or huddled clouds on a summer's day, only there was this difference --- they were carved all over with beautiful figures, which looked more like things of life bedded within them. I was so puzzled and enamoured of them, I could not resist the impulse to touch them. and run my fingers over the luxuriously moulded figures. What was my astonishment to find they were as impalpable as the bridge that crossed the river Yo-weem-le-ai-ai --- that is, "the milk of the mountains of Ai-ai." It then dawned upon me as just possible the walls of the palace might be as insubstantial. I neared and touched, or tried --- they were like a dream. I passed through and through them at pleasure; and yet, unlike the fairy castles of indolence, they melted not away to reappear under new forms. There they stood as they had done for ages, with the same elegance and minute traceries.
What a thought! A city --- aye, a vast world --- lay at my feet. At pleasure I could pry into its secrets. What consternation this created throughout the wide-wide world of Myu-me-ae-nia! For there rumours, as I have told you so often, spread indeed like wildfire. Terrible, frightful, --- horrid, I may say --- were the pictures drawn of me in their perfervid minds. From the throne to the hut I was an object of hobgoblin awe. One thing, however, consoled them --- I did not understand their language. My intercourse with them was conducted for a long time by signs. By-and-bye, as my face grew familiar among them --- and as they discovered I was actuated by no sinister motives --- they grew to regard me with favour. Like all real cowards, discovering I was unarmed, and therefore harmless, they ceased to dread me. My popularity soon grew oppressive to myself; and one thing that tended mightily to this was, that they found if I got a secret I kept it. Nothing did they dread or execrate so much as betraying secrets. And yet there was only a few choice souls in all Myu-me-ae-nia who could keep a secret; and even them I was not entirely confident about. Of all beings I ever knew, or ever hope to know, none could keep secrets so badly. I told you already the peculiar effect the atmosphere seems to have upon you; but whether it is due mainly or originally to the atmosphere, and not to the atmosphere through its resistless sympathy with the minds of the people, I was never able accurately to decide. I trust this subject will yet be taken up and discussed in some of the meetings of the British Association of Science.
What tended to repress in me the temptation of blabbing everything may be mentioned in the interests of truth. In the first place, my voice sounded so harshly in that clear, elastic, ringing atmosphere, that when I tried to speak in my softest tones it sounded round Myu-me-ae-nia like the roar of a storm at sea. I was startled by it myself; and as for the Myu-me-ae-nians, it created much dismay among them. Never did I listen to such soft, bewitching, spiritual, and æolian voices as those of the inhabitants of that new world. Talk of wiling a bird off a bush! The nightingale, among birds, does not so sweetly utter her thoughts as every one in Myu-me-ae-nia does. So conscious are they of this that they cannot help chattering continually. It is quite a monomania with them to hear their own voices. If Narcissus fell in love with his own image, so they with their voices. So disgusted did this make me with my own voice, that for a long time I scarce spoke any. I listened, but said nothing. This added to my popularity, but it was like to have been the death of me; for all Myu-me-ae-nia wanted to chatter to me, seeing they got one to listen without interruption. And then everyone wanted to make me a kind of ragstore or great lumber-room for their secrets. This habit of silence very nearly robbed me of the power of speech altogether. Had it not been that occasionally I had to adopt means to defend me from my fond oppressors, I had been unable this day to record my history.
Another element conducing to silence was my difficulty in uttering their language. What an ethereal limpidness characterised their language! It flowed from them whether they would or no. So far as I could make out, their words were all vowels. But how they managed to wreathe them up in such endless forms of sounds I cannot tell. I hope some of our orthoepists and linguists will turn their attention to this matter. Whether this may not serve as a key to those members of the British Scientific Association who are deep in the mysteries and mysticisms of anthropology, is not for me to say. I would merely give the hint, which is perhaps better than a wink to the blind. But to return. I have tried to express, by vowels and consonants, the names of some persons and things; but I would not for a moment have you suppose I have succeeded in conveying a right impression of the sounds. It is the nearest thing our harsh language helps me to. You must hear them for yourself to understand the syren lures they are compounded of. They dropped about you like honey from the honeycomb --- and not that either, but more like a Paradise of most delicious odours wafted around you by the softest zephyrs.
By-and-bye, when I came to understand their language, I was overpowered by the endlessness of their vocabulary. Their synonyms were past finding out; and they dealt in them to a degree that was to me perfectly irritating. Time, as I have said, seemed to them of no account, and hence they never condensed their thoughts as those who aimed at getting to the end of their business in the least possible space. Nay, but they would multiply synonyms without end and metaphors without number; so that you seemed to have wandered through every region in Myu-me-ae-nia before they had got through their first-place sentence. I am sure I have sat and listened to as glowing and brilliant a fireworks of mere words and images as would have equalled for length the whole Iliad or Odyssey of Homer, and yet, perhaps, it was all about her baby cutting her teeth, or some of the wonderful things it said or did. I could not have endured it all had I not fallen into the habit of shutting my eyes and going to sleep. Their voices acted as a lullaby; and as engineers will sleep soundly among the eternal rattle of hammers or the crashing noise of machinery, but awake whenever the sounds stop, so was it with me. As I never spoke --- was never expected to answer --- I got credit for listening when I heard nothing. Thus I gained an easy popularity and a refreshing sleep. All who intend visiting Myu-me-ae-nia I would advise to cultivate this habit, otherwise they will chatter you to death in a very short time.
I must confess I was disgusted with a language that consisted so much of mere sound, however beautifully musical it is. There they would sit by the day winding out a cataract of musical sounds all about the merest trifles, while they were jerking their bodies convulsively into all manner of attitudes to evade the burning darts that thickened around them, and ceaselessly shooting, now in this direction, now in that, and anon in a third, their burning arrows, or hurling darts and javelins. To me their lives appeared ignobly wasted and frittered away. In vain did I seek for hints of knowledge among them. A sparrow might carry in its bill all the real knowledge you could acquire from the great mass of the Myu-me-ae-nians in a century --- I had almost said a millennium. From the noble to the humblest serf in the kingdom it was, except in the case of a few individuals, an endless chatter about everything and everybody, ending in no good whatever. It did not put you in possession of a true knowledge concerning even persons or things; for it never was so much about what they themselves knew and had seen, but what so-and-so and such-and-such had said, or heard, or fancied, or understood about such-and-such a person, event, or thing. And if they spoke in their own name it was a mere endless list of hints, doubts, suspicions, innuendos, conjectures, beliefs, fancies, feelings, prejudices, or desires. There was ever a hitch or flaw that vitiated all their information. No two persons ever coincided in their descriptions or information concerning the same person or object. It was so overlaid with words and interlarded with suspicions, rumours, impressions, &c., that had you had even the sieve of Wisdom herself you could not have riddled away the chaff and got at the grains of truth. You might riddle a mountain of words as high as a Himalaya before you got at the single grain of truth or information round which they were gathered. Words there seemed to be used like the stones of the Israelites thrown on Achan --- for a monument to cover the dead body of Truth. Of course I do not include the choice few I will yet tell you of.
Another thing in the language I disliked was the perversion of it. For example, one of the words used for slander was Yem-yoom-la-lui. Now the real meaning of that word, in plain English, is "The divine vindication of truth." One name for virtue was Ooa-ooa-aoo; that is, "The simpering simper of prudery." The fear of God was rendered by such a word as this --- Amma-amnia-oho. The real meaning is "The morbid dotings of old age." A lie was called Ya-nein-a-mel-wa; which, rightly rendered, is "The irresponsible falterings of nature." God was called Ye-hoa-el-o-eem-im; that is, "The last refuge of ignorance in explaining unknown causes." Truth was called Mea-mea-me-em-wa; that is, "The lunatic asylum of fastidious minds."
Some of their words were rather ludicrous in their signification. For example, one word for king was Myu-whea-mem-lei; that is, "The pickpocket of nations." The name they gave to myself was Moho-yoho-me-oo-oo; that is, "The variable quantity of what is it." The tongue was called Ee-ee-a-em-mem-wa-wa; that is, "The spinningwheel of thinking, automatic entities."
I have done enough to indicate the peculiarity of their language. It ignored the eternal distinction that subsists between right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and vice. It tended to destroy all seriousness. There was a levity and frothiness accompanying all their words and combinations of words that rendered their conversation trifling and contemptible to a thinking mind.
Again, not their words only were at fault --- their themes of conversation were almost invariably unprofitable. It was an endless talk about other people's affairs, or about matters that did you not a whit of good to know anything about. And yet never did a people live in a world more replete with subjects of most profitable conversation and investigation. Take, as an example, the Mountain of Roses. Anything more magnificent than this natural scenery it would be impossible to imagine. It was so vast that it could be seen from every point of the Myu-me-ae-nian world. It had various zones, which formed distinct bands or stripes of various particular hues. Each stripe or zone might be about one hundred miles in breadth. Not that roses alone grew in this mountain, but that they predominated. And, it was this peculiarity I am about to mention gave it its chief characteristic. Throughout the extent of each zone only one genus of rose could be found. You had endless species of the same genus of rose. The flowers that grew there --- and nothing else but flowers seemed capable of growing on the mountain --- were all native, indigenous; they needed no hand to tend and prune them. An amazing luxuriance prevailed there.
Meandering paths branched away at every step in endless number. Though you should live as long as Methusaleh, you could not get through every track of labyrinthine delights and sweetnesses. Here, too, there was another enhancing association: it was the presence of birds of every size, varied plumage, and ravishing song. Each zone had its own variety of feathery minstrels; the air throbbed with music. And then the bees, butterflies, and countless hosts of insects I could not name, made the air all alive. A dew --- though there is no night in Myu-me-ae-nia --- settled continually on the flowers and soil. It was like a great hot-house, only with this difference --- it did not oppress you. It regaled every sense. The eyes feasted on new varieties of flowers grouping together in ever diversified combinations. As you moved on you never saw the same roses mixed up with the same flowers. And what a Paradise of perfume! Not that it by any means satiated you. And the insects, so far from being troublesome, enhanced all by lending glittering animation to the lovely scene; being of all varieties in shape, hue, and piping tone, they greatly enlivened it. One would have thought that Botany and Natural History would have been prosecuted in such a world --- at least by those living in the neighbourhood of this marvellous museum. But no! If the Myu-me-ae-nians were at all alive to the beauties and wonders of this mountain, they never expressed it by word or emotion. I have seen them wandering in companies through its rich mazes, and never so much as lifting their eyes from among their feet or standing to admire any flower or flowers. Jerking, shooting, chattering, they never listened to the burst of melody that swept around them in waves of gushing joy from myriads of feathery throats in softest pleasurable ecstacy.
I had almost forgotten one peculiarity in these flowers; it was this --- the colour of each flower seemed to float as a kind of dreamy mist about the flower rather than to be an inherent quality of it. This made the whole of the mountain atmosphere, as you walked through it, a kind of kaleidescope. If you looked from any point of the mountain away to any point in the distance, the air between the object looked at and you had a wondrous mixture of blending dreamy hues, arising from the flowers you happened to be surrounded with. But I should have remarked that the roses, birds, insects, &c., of this mountain had the same insubstantialness as the pillars and walls of the king's palace and many other things I have referred already to. I have tried to pluck a rose, but my hand passed through it like a shadow; and yet there it hung, visible, beautiful, fragrant. I could look away down among its petals as distinctly as I can among those of our own world. Often have I tried to gather up some of the withering petals that strewed the ground, or some of the beautiful feathers dropped from the wings of some of the birds. I might as well have tried to pick up the shadow of the star that I saw lying at the bottom of the well by whose mouth I stood. It lay there, and moved to and fro when a breeze swept softly past, but get hold of it I could not. Often have the Myu-me-ae-nians stood by and laughed most uproariously at my abortive efforts; then one or other would step forward and pick it up.
The royal city of Lli-me-muia --- as I have given you already to understand --- stood on the banks of the river Yo-weem-le-ai-ai, or "The Milk of the Mountains of Ai-ai." I shall not now speak of these remarkable mountains; it may afford us a pleasant excursive discourse anon. Not only was the city bounded on the one side --- for there was no north or south, east or west in Myu-me-ae-nia-by the river; it was bounded on the other by the winding base of the mountain of roses. Hence it was notably situated. From any spot ill the concave world, in the twinkling of an eye, you could fix your gaze on the seat of royalty. I think I have told you how it was an exceeding great city. It spread over the whole area that lay between the bending serpentine river and the mountain's base for hundreds of leagues. At a distance it was one of the most ravishing, picturesque sights that could be seen anywhere. There were the huge piles of building shining like pure alabaster. Round them lay a perfect Paradise of verdure, flowers, and arboreal wealth. Over all kindled, in endless hues of beauty, that atmosphere or mist which the mountain flung as an enchantment for hundreds of leagues all around it. From whatever point of Myu-me-ae-nia you looked at the royal city it swam like a thing of beauty in a very ocean of rarest colourings. From every varied point of that concave world it was draped with arras of new and inimitable dye.
It may be thought that a city of such vast dimensions would be too vast for ordinary civil purposes. And so it would be in a world like ours. But where the inhabitants were of such an extraordinary character as I have indicated it was quite different. When they drew themselves up to their fullest possible dimensions it was a perfectly easy feat to tread over a league at a few steps. Besides, time was of little account among them. A small piece of business which we would think should be accomplished in a day was quickly done by them, if overtaken, in a year of our measurement.
Speaking of locomotion in that world, the atmosphere is of such an elastic character, you did not walk --- you properly could not; you rather bounded. It might be a delusion, but I never felt that my feet and the solid earth came into contact. If I lay down to rest or sleep, I felt like one with a layer of thick India-rubber-like air between me and it. It was so in walking. If you planted your feet smartly and heartily down in walking, you vaulted forward in the same proportion. The very air seemed to press about you and hold you up. I could walk hundreds of leagues in a day without feeling exhausted. Exercise there was quite a joy. It sent streams of healthful pleasure through your whole framework. Now to some this may appear too much of a good thing. Some may shrug their shoulders here, saying, "Ah! we have caught you napping at length. Your whole story is nothing less than a tissue of lies. In a word, it is all a fable." Now, in reply, I say it is easy to make charges; not so easy to prove them. However, seeing that there is seemingly a great dearth of subjects among our scientific men --- so much so, that, for the sake of keeping up appearances that science is not a mine wrought out, they are taking to prove all sorts of puerile absurdities and fancies, I would propose this for their profound study. Supposing there be such a world as Myu-me-ae-nia (for in the interests of science it is well to take nothing on trust); supposing, then, such a world possible --- a concave world, lying in the very heart of this convex world --- would not the centre of gravity tend to draw the inhabitants upwards and inwards to the radial point where all the diametrical lines crossed each other? In a word, would not our centre of gravitation be theirs? And if so, would not that account for the lightness with which every one trode in Myu-me-ae-nia? Gravitation drags us by the feet downwards in our world; gravitation would drag them by the head upwards in such a world. Eh? Having stated facts and started these conjectures that occurred to me in connection with them, surely I may leave them for mature consideration among our men of science. I hope the whole subject of Myu-me-ae-nia will be fairly broached at an early meeting of the British Association. In the interests of every-ology, I implore the eminent members of that Association to give it their attention. This world of ours has been so ransacked, our men of science need a new world to conquer; otherwise the harrying process will commence that will involve all truth, or real distinctions between truth and error, in total ruins. The common herd of mankind is following apace at such enormous strides they will soon be abreast of our profoundest philosophers. To keep ahead of them, even in appearance, will require no ordinary efforts. The danger is that this will tempt the would-be leaders of science and philosophy into regions of scepticism, as it will provoke them, for the sake of appearances, to travel beyond the laws of nature and deal in mystifications. But surely my steps have been heaven-directed. Not an hour too soon have these discoveries of a new world been made. Here, ye profound thinkers and never-tiring explorers into all realms of nature --- here you may strike out, and leave for ages behind you the vulgar hydra-headed mob.
I have again, however, wandered away from my description of Lli-me-muia, and especially from my connection with the king. By signs and movements he conducted me to the door of his magnificent palace. He urged me --- though I could not understand him at the time --- to use my contractile power, and enter at his palace-door. I understood he wanted me to enter, but that was all. I should not omit here to mention that as he neared his palace-door he gradually shrank to dimensions proportionate to the palace-door. Of course when he was contracting, to his eyes I was expanding. I would not, as I thought at that time I could not, enter. He then retired with me in another direction. As he advanced he now expanded, and so did all his retinue. He led me to a vast peristyle or colonnade, the pillars of which looked like pure agate, rising to an enormous height. A canopy of curious workmanship rested upon these pillars. In the centre of this pillarade rose a massive platform as of pure gold. The blocks of which it was made were as large as an ordinary shepherd's hut in our own world. I thought, at first, it would be a temple for the worship of God or some god; but instead of that it was a doll-house. Here, on a throne, was placed a large doll. At the time I did not understand what it was, but by-and-bye I came to learn that it was the king's doll. It was a great favourite with him. He wished me to occupy the vacant throne that was beside it. His intention was to keep me beside his doll as a plaything. Of course I did not understand the high honour he intended to pay, and consequently lost the royal appointment. The name of this doll was Gnang-we-ya-am; that is, "The mountain of resplendent glory." But the plain English for the word is "Glory." The thought was very natural, though at the time I did not comprehend it. If he could have me as his possession, while I did all those things that they esteemed so marvellous, it would contribute vastly to his glory in the kingdom. The love of glory amounted to a passion among them, and that in the measure that they did nothing worthy of it.
I did not know then, what I soon came to learn, that everyone in that new world had their doll and doll-house. All the nobles and aristocracy had their dolls, of course, because the king had; the middle classes had their dolls, because the nobility had; and the common people had theirs, because the gentry had. Pshaw! vulgar aping is in all worlds. It was rather ludicrous to me, at first, to see this childish custom. At all hours of the day you might catch them toying away with their dolls. If they went to any feast each took his or her doll with them. And what struck me in connection with these dolls was this --- they contracted and expanded as their owners did.
It may be to you a matter of curiosity how the king and I got on in the matter of the doll. I really did not know what to think. I waited to see if he was going to worship it, supposing it then a ludicrous god. My mind then ran back to early days when I had worshipped with my mother in Popish Chapels. I began to wonder if Mother Church had established a branch of her missions in that country. You can learn my chagrin when my pious thoughts were upset. But I consoled myself with the thought that, mayhap, it was destined that I should be the pioneer of the true faith in that new world.
I must return to the king. Perceiving that I was by no means disposed to accept his honours, he guided my steps in another direction. After winding through endless bye-paths, where nature rioted in beauty and fruitfulness, we came upon two immense structures. They were formed after the fashion of Druidical temples, but on a scale compared with which the temples must have been mere trifles. Here you had concentric pillars ranged within one another to the number of twenty rows. The circles were arranged thus: two rows of exact height, the pillar without standing opposite to its corresponding pillar within. These could not be less, each of them, than a furlong high. The next circle consisted of two similar rows, but still higher; and thus it progressed to the centre. Over all these was thrown one roof in the manner of concentric waves, each rising higher than another. The whole did not culminate in a cone, but in an immense dimple. What the material was of which the roof was made I could never learn, but it had this peculiarity --- it was pervaded with endless shades of brilliant colouring. This colouring, like the ribbon-bands of dissolving views, were continually running out and then running in in cross-checks. Again, they would shoot out from the centre to the circumference in streamers of boreas-like but more wonderful lights.
The pillars of this house were somewhat peculiar. They were carved all over with every conceivable shape of beasts, with a transparent outline of a Myu-me-ae-nian behind each, the form of the animal so far skilfully taken advantage of, as it served to shape in with the Myu-me-ae-nian figure. I was curious to know the reason for such double engravings, but could not make myself sufficiently understood. I had a theory of my own. I thought it was to represent the animal development whence each distinctive peer family had emerged at the beginning. I was something of a Darwinian long before Darwin was born. I had observed that in our own world some men bore a wonderful resemblance, so far as a human face or head-piece can do, to some animals. I also noticed that the peculiar dispositions and temperament corresponded, more or less, to the animal root. There was the bull-dog head and face. It was accompanied with a fierce combative disposition. There was the leonine face. The cunning, sudden, ferocious, and terrible movements of that animal radix were characteristic of the man. Then, again, you had the monkey, serpentine, &c., correspondents. Let these suffice as specimens.
Another explanation than this may yet be given of the Myu-me-ae-nian engravings on the pillars of the peers' chambers. But it is for the Darwinian disciples to consider whether it is truer to nature than their own. I came afterwards to understand that these double engravings were the coat-of-arms of the various peer families. If but some of our most accomplished antiquarians were sent by the British Association of Science to examine and study these pillars, it might serve to lay broader and deeper the foundations of physical science. It might rescue Darwinianism from an untimely, dishonoured, and undeserved grave.
This strange building was called the Gnam-na-ma-meu-moi. This word had two very different meanings. The one was "The celestial chamber of the ancients," the other "The infernal chamber of confirmed imbeciles." The word "infernal," however, had not the same terrible significance as employed by us. It supposed a world under their feet. In other words, it was our world. They thought if there were such a world as ours the inhabitants must be all idiots. How near they came to the truth in their noble compliment to us you are just as able to judge as I. This "celestial chamber of the ancients" was the gilded chamber of the hereditary peers of Myu-me-ae-nia. And, looking at this chamber in its mere material associations, it was truly an imposing one. A throne of inimitable grandeur --- a perfect compost, to appearance, of every kind of precious stone --- rose in the centre. It was of enormous dimensions, stayed on either side by huge creatures, compared with which the ancient mastodons were but pigmies. The seats of the peers were a collection of lesser thrones, rising tier upon tier around the throne till the highest tier stood all but on a level with the royal throne. The thrones of the peers were ranged in nearness to, or distance from, the royal throne, according to their antiquity. Whether it was a libel among the commoners, originated by their spleen and envy, I could never make out; but it was asserted the antiquity was but a polite word covering hopeless imbecility. The more hopelessly imbecile any family in the peerage was, these were placed highest in office, dignity, privilege. Now, whether this was really the motive for giving precedence I could never make out, for certain. I was tempted, from what I saw, to believe there might be something in it; but I was hindered from arriving at such a sweeping conclusion from finding not a few among the first peerage families who were certainly above the average standard of Myu-me-ae-nians. But certainly the great herd of peers in Myu-me-ae-nia were as great imbeciles as I ever met with in Myu-me-ae-nia or anywhere else. Take this as a sample. Each of the peers took with him to the celestial chamber his huge doll. There you might find them in groups instead of discussing the great questions affecting the interests of the nation, discussing the superior merits each of his own doll. They would sit busking them and unbusking them for days together of our time. The business of the realm, meanwhile, was only talked of in a desultory way by some half dozen of the peers. These could not get the house to attend to it, and so they had to resign themselves, and keep up what show of business they could.
I was present upon one memorable occasion. It had been long talked of --- I suppose for a century of our time --- that the peers were to introduce a bill for regulating the training of the common children of Myu-me-ae-nia in the use of the bow with the burning arrow, the cross-bow, the sling, the dart, the javelin, &c. At length, after many an abortive attempt to arrest the attention of the house, one of the peers drew himself up to a great height. His audience, by sympathy; dilated with him. It looked now like an assembly of the gods on Mount Olympus. The dolls were forgotten for a few minutes. The speaker waxed eloquent; and I have already admitted that on any small question of this sort the eloquence of the Myu-me-ae-nian was unrivalled. In proportion as his eloquence gathered volume; his person expanded till you could read the emotion as they came along the ducts of the vital spirits. But all of a sudden, when he was just nearing the zenith of his oratorical splendour, a fire-tipped arrow pierced his epidermis; and lo! now a perfect shower of them fell on him, coursing their scoriating way inward to his vital column. He collapsed in a moment; and, shrivelled up, as well as crestfallen, he shrank back, a diminutive object, to his throne. He was succeeded by one, and another, and another, who essayed to gain the favour of the house to a fair consideration of the great bill; but it was only to experience the same warm and far from agreeable reception. Envy seemed the law of that house. If any possessed a superior mind, and was inspired with great, generous, and patriotic emotions, he was the continual point of attack for the great mass of peers, till they dwarfed him either really or feignedly to their own level. It was never known, so I was told, that one wholesome law had ever emanated from that peer chamber; nay, but all the oppressive legislation that the middle and poorer classes groaned under had proceeded thence. In what glorious contrast does the British House of Hereditary Peers stand! Wonder not if I was proud of my native country when I saw such imbecility gathered around that awful throne. "Ah!" thought I, "if but our British peers could be placed in these seats of legislature! Before their collective wisdom all class legislation would perish in a day. Their patriotic and disinterested spirit would wipe away all inequalities from the statute-book of Myu-me-ae-nia. They would scorn to pass their time in that chamber, like a parcel of old chattering wives, having only regard to their own 'mountain of glory,' as they called their dolls. Would they exhaust all their eloquence in decrying the lower chamber, where the representatives of the people meet, and crying up their own dignity, &c.? They would show to the peers of Myu-me-ae-nia wherein true peerage consists; viz., in a noble superiority to all class jealousy or lordly arrogance; how that it consisted in acknowledging and encouraging real merit and worth in whatever rank it was found --- in smoothing the way for industry, intellect, character, and genius, to rise along the ladder of elevation till it could reach the highest honour and privileges --- how that it sought, in the most generous spirit, to make the social links, from the throne to the hut, run into one another in the strongest, sweetest, and most reciprocal bonds; scorning all artificial outworks as a true line of unalterable demarcation between the lower and higher ranks of society." "This," I said to myself "is what the peerage of England would do if only they were in Myu-me-ae-nia. Is not this what they do in England? Who will make bold to say it is from any fault of theirs if feudal oppressions and class privileges adhere to their caste? Have they not fought with unwavering perseverance for ages to get rid of all those artificial, tyrannous, and unjust privileges which go far still in old England to irritate class against class? Have not the people kept them back from throwing away all these class invidiousnesses? So unlike Myu-me-ae-nia! There the commonalty chafe continually against the despotism of an imbecile Peer Chamber."
After surveying the Peer's Chamber I was next conducted by the king to the Myu-me-noo-oo-oo; that is, "The Elected Chamber of the Commons of Myu-me-ae-nia." The building was after the same design as the former, though certainly in a more modest style. There was not the same elegant, sluggish, and torpid ease of the Upper Chamber; but, strange to say, there was there, too, the invariable doll. That doll seemed of greater importance than all the affairs of Myu-me-ae-nia. Some, it is true, paid less heed to it; still it was not unheeded by any one. It was no uncommon thing --- if it was wished to disconcert a speaker and shorten his eloquence --- to smuggle away or mutilate his doll. Immediately, when this was observed by the individual interested, all his eloquence collapsed, and it could not be resumed till the doll was replaced or repaired.
The air of this chamber did wear the appearance, at least, of more activity and business. But close inspection and long observation led me to conclude that, for the most part, their time was spent in mere talk, bickering, reviling, slandering, undermining, deceiving, self-aggrandising, and such like. The interests of the nation were only made the stepping-stones to notoriety, greatness, applause, honour, wealth, &c. Not that I mean to say all the members of that Chamber set themselves up deliberately for these ends. There were noble and honourable exceptions, but they were few. And had it not been that I had watched it personally and from no prejudiced point of view --- having no interests at stake one way or another --- I could not have believed it.
One thing that irritated me at these Myu-me-ae-nian legislators was this --- they spent such an enormous amount of time in tall vapouring talk before they could conclude any measure whatever; and, in proportion to the insignificance of the measure, the greater the host of small speakers that winded out meaningless vocabularies in discussion about it. They would touch upon everything and everybody in Myu-me-ae-nia, without ever touching upon the subject matter. Terrible fireworks of sheer nonsense, ignorance, bombast, were poured around it. With the exception of some half-dozen, it had been a real gain to the nation if the thousands of representatives who were there blocking up the wheels of the state coach had been handsomely pensioned to stay at home. They seemed to be present for no other purpose than to afflict, sting, goad, and tie up the hands of these half-dozen noble leaders. Wherever these half-dozen moved, the eyes of the whole Chamber followed them --- aye, and their arrows and javelins too. Not one of all the thousands but gave them a sword-cut from behind when they could. They were literally riddled. The gadflies of all Myu-me-ae-nia were represented in that Chamber. Hence it seemed to be the safety-valve of that whole world's spleen, jealousy, rivalry, envy, hatred, malice, &c., &c. Each member, save these half-dozen, seemed to have no other mission than to prevent any great and truly national legislation. Class, trade, or local legislation formed the ruling elements. Hence it was no noble measures were almost ever passed worthy the time, talk, and passion spent upon them. Hence, too, the world of Myu-me-ae-nia is but in its infancy, though untold millenniums have passed over it. That noble race of beings are little removed beyond the irrational creatures whence they have been developed; for some take it now as demonstrated beyond all doubt that the development theory is founded in the adamant facts of past history. If the minds of the Myu-me-ae-nians were capable of the dilating volume of their bodies, no race could equal them. But, I must confess, it seemed to me their minds were in keeping with their bodies only when their bodies were at the minimum. Now I lay the credit of much of this to their legislation. Could they have been placed under a government and judicial code worthy of them --- could nobler institutions and social habits have been initiated and established among them, such as prevail in England, I have no doubt that, in the course of ages, they would take no mean place in the universe of intellect.
I forgot to say that the king, while he condescended to conduct my steps from the Peer Chamber to that of the Commons, allowed me to enter alone. Royalty never vouchsafes to enter there. Whether he returned to his palace or no I cannot tell; neither did I ever take the trouble to inquire. I saw sufficient by-and-bye to convince me that his royal highness was looked on as a mere pendicle of the commonwealth, or rather a gilded pinnacle gracefully finishing off the pyramid of Myu-me-ae-nian society. Everyone in Myu-me-ae-nia, thought himself the best and wisest in all that world or anywhere. The king despised them all --- peers, commons, people; and they, to an unit, as heartily despised him. Of course this was never shown openly; far from it. Nay, no king ever lavished more praise upon the three estates of his realm than did Eng-wy-we-wa; and no peers, commons, people flatter a king more than those of that realm. But the taller the flattery the more oppositely ought it to be understood and valued. Time served to show me this. When I came to have access to every palace, castle, hut in Myu-me-ae-nia, I then saw the two faces of society. Not that I have any reason to complain of the treatment I received; for from the king to the peasant I was flattered, but not hollowly. They said --- and I believed them; what else could I do, unless I had just said that they were liars? --- that I was beyond all praise. I knew their estimate was correct I must confess it often amazed me that, notwithstanding the lowness of their intellectual condition, they were able to appreciate myself. It was the only true thing I found the mass of them capable of during the whole of my sojourn; but that, so far from weakening my faith in their sincerity, only tended to confirm it. I was so conscious that what they said was true, I could not hesitate to believe that they really and ex animo meant what they said. And this must form a groundwork of hope for those who feel an increasing interest in this extraordinary people. It shows that there is a latent modicum of truthfulness in that people, which, if taken advantage of, might form a basis of operation for the army, which I hope will soon volunteer to assail the citadel of error in that world.
I was not long in the Chamber of the Commoners till I was surrounded by one bevy after another of honourable members. They came to do me honour, as, long before I had arrived; the report of me had reached them. Me-ma-muia-yang, the prime minister, was the first, with his noble group, to salute me. His name, in our language, means "The chief with the golden mouth." He, by-and-bye, allured me away to his castle. This immense building had, more of the Grecian style than any I saw in all Myu-me-ae-nia. I learned it had been built twenty centuries at least before my arrival. No house in Myu-me-ae-nia was of a later date than that; so they assured me. Of course in this they may unwillingly have misled me, for time with them is not measured by days and nights; it is only by the number of times the Ta-ta tree bears fruit they reckon. The door of Me-ma-muia-yang's castle was like the rest --- too small for my entering. Not having at that time made the discovery I subsequently did, I refused his invitation. He immediately led me to a favourite bower of his. Here he set to learning me the language of Myu-me-ae-nia. He pointed to various things, telling me their names, till I had got them by heart. After I had mastered as much as enabled us to carry on a broken conversation, he immediately posed me with questions about my origin, people, race --- everything, in short, that his world could suggest to his mind. Of all the Myu-me-ae-nians he had the least tautology in his speech, though I thought him capable of infinite improvement. It occurred to himself that my use of the Myu-me-ae-nian language was more condensed, though less eloquent and elegant, than as they used it. He was staggered by what I told him of our world. He asked me what I thought of their Chambers of Peers and Commons. Without passing any opinion upon them I told him of a thought that had occurred to me. It was that some of both Chambers in our world might be sent to the respective Chambers in theirs, and some of both their Chambers, respectively to ours. The benefit, I thought, would be mutual. He was intensely delighted with the idea; "For," said he, "we would be very glad to get rid of a host of the most imbecile of both Houses." "And ditto," said I, "with dots." He was rather puzzled with that phrase. I forgot I was in Myu-me-ae-nia when I said it. He wished to know its meaning. I waived that, lest he might think it anything but complimentary; but in his sweet simplicity he overlooked the compliment he was paying us. And yet, the best of the matter was, we were both sincere, having more an eye to our own respective national interests than those of each other.
We closed a long interview with mutual esteem, and friendship. He was pleased with me, and I with myself, that I had met with one capable, in some measure, of reciprocating my good intentions. Talking there is like dreaming here; it kills time amazingly. I am sure we must have sat months together, without fatigue, hunger, or cloy. Me-ma-muia-yang wound up by urging me to visit the whole of Myu-me-ae-nia, and on my return to oblige him with the results of my reflections and observations. He informed me that he had such a high opinion of me and of my superiority to their race --- which showed a great amount of natural sagacity and penetration in him --- that he would secure for me the highest place of peerage in the realm if only I would sojourn among them. You may guess how much I was flattered by this intended honour. Artfully smothering my chagrin, I declined the honour. "Chiefest place of imbecility!" thought I. A fine compliment, with a vengeance! I almost felt small for a moment; but rallying myself with the thought that this was only a Myu-me-ae-nian, and that a midge could never judge of an elephant, I regained my self-importance and looked very large. He did not mean it as an insult. His thought, as I learned afterwards --- and it raised my opinion of him mightily --- was to get the benefit of my wisdom in both Chambers. Had I understood it --- as I did not --- I would still have refused the honour; for what could one do, with all the wisdom of a universe, in such a Hereditary Chamber? The inertia and imbecility of ages would checkmate you at every step. How different would such an honour in my own country have been! Need I answer?
He then insisted that I would condescend to take a place in the Commons Chamber. He assured me he would count it the joy of his life if I would take the place of leader. He would stand my second in everything, so would his noble colleagues. I thanked him, assured him he had an exaggerated estimate of my talents, learning, knowledge, wisdom, and superiority. Of course I was only fishing for more compliments, and to whet his opinions of me. It is nothing less than absurd to suppose, when a man is thrusting away compliments in pretended modesty, that he really means to disabuse your mind of the opinion you profess to entertain. He only intends to make you lay them on more thickly. Not that I care for compliments if they are not true. Here they were true, and I wanted to deepen that thought upon him. I told him I was not so insane as to hold up my carcase for such riddling as he and his colleagues endured. At this he heartily laughed, but pleaded, on his part, patriotism. I promised to do all the good I could for benefitting their race. This infinite humility profoundly affected him.
He then ordered his chariot for my use. But such a chariot! It had no wheels. It looked, by all the world, like a great cluster of rolling clouds lined with rosy sunbeams. It was drawn by creatures like to which we have nothing in our world. They were immense beasts --- something like what I could fancy the incarnation of a whirlwind would be. I understand them to have been a cross-breed between the ancient great-winged dragons and the horses that drive the chariot of the sun. The charioteer, when he sat in his place and held the reins, was drawn up to his highest elevation. The thong of his whip could not be less than one of the streamers that shoot up from the horizon to the cope of heaven on a clear wintry night. Me-ma-muia-yang asked me to enter it, and take my use of it till I had traversed all Myu-me-ae-nia. He now shrank for a moment to his smallest stature --- something like a midge --- then dilated till he stood furlongs high, when he returned to his normal state. This is the mode of most honoured salutation in that world. Likewise, by sympathy, his chariot, horses, charioteer, whip, all shrank to proportionate smallness; then they dilated till you would have thought a third of the Myu-me-ae-nian world was overshadowed by them, when they returned again to their normal size. I now stepped into the chariot; but alas! I was like Paddy in the sedan chair. Me-ma-muia-yang was mortified to see how little he could do for me. I was so tickled with my parallelism with the Irishman that I literally roared with merriment. This so frightened the horses --- if horses I can call them --- that they dashed off and rushed round the whole circuit of Myu-me-ae-nia before they could be stopped; and though this was a journey of at least twenty thousand miles, they were back before the last echoes of my laugh had died away. They who would hesitate to believe this should overthrow the story of Mahomet's journey through the seventy thousand heavens, which hundreds of millions of men believe in to this day. Turks, at least, will believe my story of the horses. It is intolerable that when travellers tell anything marvellous there is a race of captious sceptics who are ever ready to charge them with drawing the longbow. But that this is true story, I, Mammoth Martinet, am ready to swear to on the Sacred Books of the Koran.
Now before I started on my journey I thought it but proper I should call on my friend his royal highness the king. Me-ma-muia-yang offered to be my guide. After many windings we arrived at the sacred palace gate. To his amazement I walked right through it. Horrorstruck, he looked after me, and then examined the framework, if injured or otherwise. I went on some distance ere I was aware I had left him behind, or that he could not pass through as I did. Having turned, I observed his position. I waved him to come on. He shook his head, saluted me, and returned.
When I entered the palace, the queen rushed to greet me. The palace astonished me more within than without. The walls rose to an enormous height, and ran for leagues in one direction. But the whole building was very ancient; it could not be less than millions of years --- so I was told. "But," you say, "they are such great liars!" What say you, then, to Egyptian and Chinese chroniclers? None can visit the royal palace of Lli-me-muia without being convinced that it is of a date that would baffle all chronologists to express. It would fully repay the travel of all antiquarians. I was asked to read the names of all the kings that had inhabited that palace, as left in symbols on the palace walls. I might as soon have thought of counting all the blades of grass on a continent. Anyone who will doubt its vast antiquity after that may go to Jericho till his beard be grown.
It is very gratifying to me to be able thus to substantiate the views of those who, on geological grounds, repudiate the version of Moses about the creation of the world. The vast age of the earth is put beyond all doubt from Myu-me-ae-nian revelations. That the Mosaic history begins at a very recent date in the age of the world must now be unquestionable; and it is but one out of the evermultiplying proofs confirmatory of the law of development. Science need no longer stand by blushing while timidly enunciating her conclusions built on her glimpses into nature.
The roof of the palace looked, by all the world, like one sky. To give you an idea of the height of it --- I have seen the Me-wa-na-wau-wa, a bird that stood at least thirty feet high, rising and soaring upwards like our lark, till I could scarcely see it, and it did not seem half way up to the roof. Of course you may remind me that things deceive there by shrinking. And so they do. Let us pass it. The whole interior of the palace was like an enormous greenhouse, only it had in it all manner of curious birds and beasts. Rivers, large and small, ran through it. It was an endless maze of walks winding among all manner of flowers and fruit trees. There were grottos, alcoves, parterres, groves, &c., in countless number. Some of the trees all but touched the roof of the palace. They were truly magnificent. An ordinary little town in this world might have stood within the bark of one if hollowed out.
The queen conducted me to her private grotto. But, oh! how shall I describe it? What murmuring music of sparkling waters, or something very like it! And what a chatter of birds, small and great! It was quite a concert of itself. I could have sat and listened for ever to it. But the sweetest music of all was the queen's voice. What a charming and elegant creature! What an amount of fine frolic she had! I was not surprised afterwards, when I learnt that the king was sometimes never seen outside the palace walls for a period of six months. It was a great complaint in Myu-me-ae-nia that he did not travel more through his kingdom. It caused such a stagnation in the trade of the empire that it often brought the kingdom to the verge of bankruptcy. The staple trade of the empire --- I may here mention, as I shall by-and-bye show --- is the weaving of gossip. It is carried to great perfection there. Unless you had lived in the kingdom you could not possibly form a conception of the enormous quantities that are produced and consumed.
The queen and I were soon deep in the mysteries of bonnets, dresses, shawls, petticoats, hoops, lace, shoes, stockings, pocket-handkerchiefs, rings, ribbons, brooches, band-boxes, &c. She thought our ladies must be a most absurd-looking class of intelligent beings when plastered over with such a universe of things. "Surely," she said, "the queen of your world will not wear such things?" "Queen of our world!" I exclaimed; "why, we have almost as many queens as you have birds hopping and singing about in this grotto of yours." How she did draw herself up, and assume a majesty I was not prepared for! But she again collapsed into her normal proportions, and resumed her interrogatories.
"Do you believe in a God?" she asked.
The question startled me. The associations of youth were upon me. I immediately responded:
"In our world we almost all believe in a God. Some believe in more than one. A very few believe in none; but we do not give them credit for being very sincere in their unbelief."
"My daughter," she replied, "has led the way to higher thoughts among us. Our world, as a whole, has sunk to Atheism; but some few of us start back appalled from the natural fruits of such principles. We see the nation sinking. The pyramid is resting unstably on its cone instead of its broad foundation."
Here that countenance, which was so radiant, soft, beautiful, gathered a fear, a despair, a horror, that could not be described. The change was so rapid and so complete that I felt shrivelled up. I asked for a few of the most prominent specimens of the fruits of the Atheistic principles.
"Look around society," she replied, "as it is in this Myu-me-ae-nian world, and what do you see? The days were when we lived together in sweetest and most natural relations. There was no war of classes, there was no unnatural rebellion of one against another; but what do we now see? Each one more eager than another to steal a march upon his neighbour or superior; a restless grasping at the rights of others; a discontent with their present lot; and a resorting to unscrupulous methods of compassing what is not legitimate. The tendency is to level all ranks, and thus outrage the inexorable laws of nature. Not the throne only is threatened with subversion, but every gradation of rank between the throne and the lowest stratum of society; each intervening aims at levelling what is above it. But they see not that they are giving increased momentum to a deepening flood that will at length engulph themselves. We are trembling on the edge of a bottomless abyss of ruin. We cannot see to what descent we shall be swept downwards."
Never shall I forget the agony that pictured itself on that divine face. Such consummate beauty in sorrow --- aye, in the throes of despair --- was the most relaxing and grief-extorting sight I had ever witnessed. To see a loveliness that is only natural when wreathed in smiles, dissolving itself in tears, would make even an angel weep. How I wished I dared kiss these tears away, and hush back into the realms of tranquillest joys that bursting heart!
"But how," I asked, "did the idea of a God lead you upwards to a higher landing-place, thus forming an arrest on what you consider a downward career?"
"That," she said," is to me inexplicable. But you must understand that, save to my daughter, those among us who now lean to the belief in a God, do so on the strength of a probability. We long to have the assurance that God is. We have argued with ourselves that if the bare idea of a God has such an elevating effect, it is presumptive proof that such a God exists. And if he does exist, what must the real knowledge of him not effect in the way of sublimating a life?"
"Ah! your majesty," I responded, "your inference is most natural. But what will you think if I tell you that there are myriads of beings who profess to believe in a God, and to a certain extent have a knowledge of his character, who yet are the most depraved and degraded of beings? In our world, in my own native country, we have countless thousands who never doubted the existence of a God, and yet you have none more degraded or more rebellious in all Myu-me-ae-nia than they."
"There is, then, really a God?" she asked, as if she would dig the reality out of my soul.
"We believe there is," I answered.
"You believe, do you?" she said.
"I have always been taught to believe it," I rejoined.
"And you joy in the belief of it?" she further added.
"Well, I should," I said.
"And you do?" she asked.
"Should I not?" I retorted.
"Oh! my daughter, where are you?" she cried, as she looked round in an ecstacy; "it is true --- it is true, my daughter; there is a God! Oh, that we knew him! We must know him! You will tell us of him, will you not?" she continued, in the same excited strain. I must confess I was thrown into a perplexity and confusion. How could I refuse to inform so charming a being anything that I had the least inkling of, if only I could thereby sit in the fascinating beams of her friendship? And yet how was I to do it? How was I to tell her of One I have been taught to believe in, from, my infancy; and in whom I less and less believe to this very hour? I know my scepticism is but madness, and yet I love --- strangely love --- the madness. To shake off the conviction that there is a God, I cannot. I have tried it --- am trying it --- yea, and will try it; but do I --- will I succeed?
I promised to tell her all I knew. I expressed my sorrow that the limits of my knowledge were so very narrow. I told her, however, of a book that could reveal to her all she wished to learn, and gave her my word of honour that if ever I returned to my native world I would bring her one of them.
How can I depict to you the celestial joy that gathered about her face as I uttered these words? She became radiant with a delight I never knew anything of --- perhaps never shall. I envied her such keen and rich emotions. I thought there were hidden wells of being, which, if we could but tap them, life would be ransomed from much of its aridity, barrenness, and desolateness. But what bore shall reach them? What adamant layers lie between them and the surface! In some more, in many fewer, than in others. What! I thought, are there in me capabilities of joy like this --- aye, even deeper? Her ecstacy arises, not so much from what she has as expects to have. Is not this prophectic [sic] of still grander things? If their forecast shadow thrills so much the soul, what will the things themselves?
It was at this moment that his royal highness Eng-wy-we-wa entered the grotto, leading by the hand his daughter Ree-mia-me-an. Not till now did I know that the lovely being who had hung over me, and nursed me was the daughter of the king. I was, therefore, quite unprepared for the rencontre. Like warring winds pouring to one central spot from every point of the compass, so diverse emotions upon my heart. I scarce knew how to rally my lost self-possession and conduct myself in that critical hour. But others soon rescued me from my dilemma.
The king advanced to me with such a hearty good-will, that he soon put me at ease. Ree-mia-me-an did the same. But it was as if we had never met before, or, if so, as casual strangers meet. The queen related somewhat of our conversation about the existence of a God. The king manifested a very lively and intelligent interest. His mind seemed to revel in intellectual subtleties. He had an imagination of a brilliant character and a keen sense of the sublime and beautiful. To my thinking, his pleasure mounted no higher than a sentiment. His admiration for the queen predisposed him to entertain the thoughts which had seized and now swayed her whole being. But for this, I question if he had troubled himself with the idea of a God. Were I to be allowed to form an opinion concerning another, I should say that he rather irked at the practical outcome of such a doctrine. When in the neighbourhood of the enthusiastic queen and his princess, he was, more or less, carried onward in their direction --- but only then.
I afterwards discovered that a profitable bearing of the doctrine which had impressed his logical mind was its influence, politically, upon the people for governing them. Conscious in himself of the subduing influence of such an idea upon his own spirit --- observing how it had developed a mental and moral stamina in his daughter that was unrivalled in all Myu-me-ae-nia, it occurred to him that if this doctrine could have its shadow thrown over the popular mind it would restore it to a healthier condition.
But how shall I relate the kindling and lofty emotions that gathered round Ree-mia-me-an like the advancing glories of a summer morn around the face of nature? It told at once that it was no mere cold intellect illuminated by a resplendent imagination, and made to glow like a winter evening sky with the rising and falling fires of a volcanic sentiment. Her whole being seemed impregnated with this sublimest of all thoughts --- or, if you will, facts. She looked, as I gazed on her, as one that stood on some awful Himalaya impalpable to the eyes and touch of men, where she caught, and was made luminous in the glories of another but invisible world. Her whole conversation and bearing showed that it was a thought that had filtered its way through every moral stratum of her existence; and which was, by a spiritual alchemy, transmuting them into its own essential qualities. If it were possible that the beholding in such practical results and value the ennobling power of divine religion would convert one from unbelief to the true belief of it, I, for one, ought to be numbered among its converts. But, alas! though you should witness vice itself transmuted into virtue, even such a miracle would not suffice to transmute your vicious into a virtuous nature. I need not go beyond myself for proof of this.
"And you believe in God in your world?" asks Reemia-me-an.
"Not all, but myriads do," I rejoined. "And do you?" I asked.
"Believe in him! Yes," she responded. "From my earliest conscious moments his shadow hung over my young spirit. With bright and beaming face he looked out on me from the invisible, above and behind all the loving faces that crowded round me. No face to me was half so loving and so beautiful. I loved to dwell upon it; I felt it did me good to do so. It helped me to realize how deeply, truly, awfully I was beloved. A mother's love was but as a glistening and perishable dew-drop beside this ocean. Every day it seemed to come nearer to me; and, as it did so, I drank into its richer beauties. All else I gazed on lost somewhat with growing familiarity; not so this."
"You never doubted, then?" I said.
"Doubted!" she replied; "I never thought of doubting. I could not doubt. Nay, suppose you could demonstrate to me that it was but a figment of the mind I revelled in, yet would I cling to it even on the brink of annihilation. True, it is not only ravishing as a thought, but there is in it a vitality I cannot describe. I feed on it; I feel it lies in at the very roots of my being, and that they, with their immortal affinities, assimilate the living fulness of such a God. So keenly sensible am I that I live in, and am nourished by, this great God, that when I think of his withdrawing himself from me by any possibility it is with horror. I sometimes try to realize the consequences, and feel myself dropping away down into the deepening and darkening gulfs of hungry non-entity."
"And do you think he win sustain you for ever?" I asked.
"That I cannot say," she responded, while a shade of painful uneasiness swept for a moment over her lovely face; "but this I do know, from what I feel, if I am to live for ever it must be by him; yea, and what is more, if I could live without him I would not desire the life. He is to me everything. I wish to know more of him. Can you tell me more? I hope you can. You know I nursed you. I feared you should pass away from us as do our ancestors. I trusted you could tell me of that God whom our world has banished from its thoughts and practice. Next to God I will love you, if only you can tell me of him." And as she said this she grew so lovely that I both loved and feared her. There was no carnal passion here. Her love was too spiritual for such a being as I; and yet she might be mine! What! such loveliness --- a being of so inimitable mould? What eyes! How full of thought, love, soul! What moulded limbs! It was pasture to the soul to gaze on them. What a pure, simple, intelligent, lofty, sincere, and generous mind! What! all that may be mine? It was enough to put one mad. But then the terms! How could I fulfil them? I was neither priest nor parson; and yet even they might fail. However that might be, I must. There was agony! --- it was unutterable anguish! Will it surprise many if I almost hated religion because it seemed to raise a barrier between me and the loveliest creature that I ever witnessed? And yet the thought arose behind it --- "Is there no inseparableness between that loveliness that so ravishes your heart and her religion? Is it not the great, rich, calm, ennobling thoughts she has of God that sit behind her natural grace, form, beauty, and give them a finish nothing else could? Might she not be a great giddy, vain, and silly coquette, that would disgust you rather than charm you? You revel in the effect, but kick at the cause." Was Tantalus ever more tormented? What a thirst burnt within me! But, with the waters almost at my lips, I could not drink.
To some of the fair sisters in our world her promise to love me may sound imprudent, as wanting in female modesty.
Modesty! The most modest in our world would not come up to the hem of her garment even in respect of that most charming of feminine qualities. It was the natural outgoings of a pure soul that promised to love me. It was a promise given as she would have done had I been an angel. It was as one nearer to God than herself or any in Myu-me-ae-nia that she conceived of me when she gave that promise. Her love was a mere linking up of souls in great common thoughts and affinities. My love to her, alas! was not so pure and spiritual. Hence I felt an inferiority that made me fear her. She was too, transcendental for me. But might I not climb to her landing-place, and so wear the bright jewel?
It was at this moment the sound of a great tumult reached the quick ears' of the king, queen, and princess.
"Myu-me-ae-nia is in revolt!" they all exclaimed. As they looked at each other. "We have been living in continual apprehension of this," said the king, looking at me. And while he said this the whole palace lighted up with a strange sparkling blaze. I looked up to the roof, and saw, as it were, a perfect storm of fire-sparks, as if from a volcano, falling upon it. The fiery storm gathered in burning brilliancy, and the tumultuous noise of voices increased and drew nearer. I saw at a glance what the fire was; it was nothing else than the fire-tipped arrows hurled from myriads of bows, directed from all parts of Myu-me-ae-nia against the palace.
While we were in consternation as to the meaning of it, Me-ma-muia-yang entered the palace. He was in great trepidation. The king hastened to meet him. According to the etiquette of the court, he did obeisance to the king. He then told him how that all Myu-me-ae-nia was in agitation. The cause of it was Ree-mia-me-an. Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa had circulated a report that Ree-mia-me-an had disgraced their race in connexion with Moho-yoho-me-oo-oo. She had lost the modesty due to her sex, and made shipwreck of her virtue. She had thus set a ruinous example to the maidens of Myu-me-ae-nia, which would lead to all manner of evils. The glory of Myu-me-ae-nia was at an end if such an example was not signally and summarily punished. Some such had been the language of Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa. Her comparisons had industriously abetted her efforts, and substantiated, with more or less exaggerations her statements. They had so skilfully managed the whole business as to succeed in evoking a tempest of indignation throughout Myu-me-ae-nia which would not be easily allayed. Me-ma-muia-yang did not hesitate to say that he believed the real cause of the agitation "was the unrivalled beauty --- physical, mental, and moral, --- of Ree-mia-me-an, and her counter-movement to the Atheism of the nation. He did not believe that any, in their hearts, doubted the spotless chastity of his daughter or unassailable loftiness of her spirit. But Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa chiefly hated her because she eclipsed her own personal attractions, and the great mass of the people because he reproved their lives and principles. It was the two deepest and fellest passions of a Myu-me-ae-nian nature called into play, he added. How to quell them was the difficulty. For his own part, he was convinced that the collision between the two opposed principles of Theism and Atheism must come sooner or later. But was Theism sufficiently matured to enter successfully upon the conflict? That was the question that faced them at the present; and as they decided regarding that, their action should be accordingly.
While this conversation was proceeding between the king and Me-ma-muia-yang, the storm of fire-tipped arrows grew more terrible and the noise of angry voices more boisterous. Meanwhile it occurred to me that, as I had been in great part the cause of this tumult, I should attempt to quell it, or perish in the undertaking. I thereupon dashed from the side of the queen, passed through the broad side of the palace walls, went straight on through trees, hedges, the great beautiful gate, till I came into the fore-front of the people. The eyes of all Myu-me-ae-nia were upon me. As I advanced, at every step the storm and tumult abated. Never had I seen them dilated to such immense proportions nor looking so awfully fierce. But I had learned before how to cow them, and accordingly I repeated my experiment. As I neared them they dwarfed gradually down till they swarmed about me on the ground like myriads of ants. I now began to address them. I told them how amazed I was to find so noble a race acting in a manner so unworthy of themselves. Had I known that I was so obnoxious to them I should have left their world before this. I had reckoned on a lengthened sojourn among them, that I might see the beauties of their world, and become acquainted with the customs and habits of such a great people. I had, I said, two courses open to me to choose from; one was to leave their world immediately, and return to my own, or enter upon a conflict with them, and exterminate them. "Who of you," I asked, "can do what you see me do? Who of you can walk through walls, gates, trees, rivers, as I? Who of you ever ventured down into the great gulf, and stood below the fall of Wir-win-fan-fa? Can your arrows hurt me? Can your spears, swords, darts, &c.? You tried them before, and if that did not convince you, you are free to try them again. I challenge you to hurt me. You know how, without any weapons, I chased you and discomfited you, though you were countless myriads against one. I despised your arms, and condescended not to fight with you. I despised you as cowards, and I can afford to despise you yet. I charge you with cowardice, that so many hundreds of millions must collect together against a harmless, beautiful, noble princess.
Where was there ever such beauty as hers? Where was there ever such spotless chastity? Where was there ever such a lofty, noble, and intelligent soul? Were she in our world all the people would die for her; all the people would be proud of such a princess. Instead of envying her beauty, they would be vain of it. They would be proud that their princess was so very beautiful, good, and true. What kind of a race are you? I thought you were the noblest I had ever seen. I thanked my good fortune that had led me hither. But must I change my opinion? Must I leave you, saying you have a great world, great bodies, but pigmy souls? Some of you, I understand, hate her for her beliefs. She is persuaded that there is a God; but is that a just cause for hating her? Suppose there should be a God --- and I am not here to say whether there is or not --- is that a mean thought? Is it not the largest thought that can enter an intelligent mind? It is the greatness of the thought that oppresses me. But is it that you hate the thought because it is too large and grand for your minds? Is that how you proclaim your intellectual littleness? Are you such dwarfs that, instead of reasoning down what you believe wrong or untrue, you would, by mere brute force, beat it down? That is how they do in our world in some cases. Heretics or Atheists burn holy Roman Catholics. Why? Because they believe in God and Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the apostles and martyrs. They build prisons, and throw them into them; they invent all manner of tortures, whereby they slowly murder them. But nowhere does the nobility of a Roman Catholic show itself as in the meekness and nobility wherewith it faces these cruelties. Truth never persecutes; Truth loves its enemies. Error alone persecutes, for it cannot but hate. If Ree-mia-me-an is in error, you should pity her. If you persecute, you show that error is on your side and the truth on hers."
In some such terms, though at far greater length, did I address the Myu-me-ae-nians. It is wonderful how arguments go down with the great mass when they come from the lips of one clothed with power or the semblance of power. They seemed to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves; and, after I had finished my oration, they gave me three rounds of lusty cheers, and dispersed. As I returned towards the palace, Me-ma-muia-yang and the king hastened to meet me. They thanked me heartily, saying, "Atheism has got its first signal blow to-day; but envy I has had its edge whetted." So said Me-ma-muia-yang. "Yes," adds the king, "the doctrine is now safe, but my crown is lost. But rather would I see my country elevated than my dynasty established on its ruins." I thought it the noblest speech that ever had escaped from the lips of a monarch. How many kings have stepped to thrones over the prostrate and bleeding body of the nation, and ruled while loaded with chains!
I hastened to the queen and princess, who sat in the grotto. How serene they looked! It was not a senerity [sic] induced by the quelling of the tumult --- it was a serenity of mind, bottomed on the great doctrine of a divine existence! Instead of taking notes, as the king and prime minister did, of the movements of the people, they, altogether unconscious of it, had been discoursing together on the great doctrine. Rapt up in the one contemplation, they were armed against every change, incident, and trial. They hailed my return; but as I divined the motive --- viz., expecting to get more doctrinal information --- I felt it necessary to excuse myself. I said I was evidently the cause of all this mutinous feeling; and, though it had been allayed, yet an attempt would be made to arouse it anew into disastrous play. However much it pained me to withdraw from their society, for their sakes I must make the sacrifice.
Little they knew that I envied them their deeper intuitions and steady faith. I shrank from their discovery of my own real ignorance of that deep subject. I had not the joys they experienced rising out of the bosom of this doctrine. God is, and has been, more an object of terror than of love to me. If I have done anything of a religious nature, it has been more of the nature of a bribe to speak him fair and forgiving, than the free-will offering of a grateful and devoted heart. Hence my religion has been a burdensome one --- not a buoyant and elastic atmosphere that sustained me.
Having bid adieu to their royal highnesses, I left for a tour through Myu-me-ae-nia. The king offered me his state chariot, horses, and charioteer. But having told him my past experiences, he smiled, and let me go.
I had scarcely passed through the royal gate when I encountered Wan-wan-ye-ya-ma, the principal peer in the realm. He was pleased to say how it delighted him to make my acquaintance. I had not then learned what value to set on the complimentary speeches of peers, I bowed most graciously, but he did not understand me. However, being one of the most gifted peers, it occurred, by a happy accident of molecular arrangements in his brain, to think that I did not as yet know the etiquette of Myu-me-ae-nia, and so he overlooked it. Etiquette! how could I expand and contract at pleasure to all shades of dimensions? I found out afterwards I had paid him the greatest insult I possibly could have done, according to Myu-me-ae-nian ideas. Such is etiquette! It is one thing here --- it is another there; it is just what caprice makes it. Fools and imbeciles are we all!
He invited me to his palace. I followed. How he did stare when I walked right through the broad side of it! He could not follow me but by the door, and that in vastly diminished dimensions. I thought how true it is, you must see one enter his own dwelling ere you know his true proportions. It was an infinite relief to him to see that I had not injured his abode. The wall was as if I had never passed through. His dwelling, though like a great city, was on a humble scale compared with the royal residence.
I have here to confess I was much taken with Wan-wan-ye-ya-ma. I certainly did not expect to encounter such a specimen of shrewdness, intellect, and information among the peers of Myu-me-ae-nia, after what I had witnessed in the Peer Chamber. He would have done credit to the Peers' Chamber of England. He posed me with an infinite variety of questions about our world. He was inclined to treat me as drawing the long bow when I told him what worlds, infinitely greater than theirs, we saw lying around ours. He told me that Myu-me-ae-nia was not what it used to be --- that there was a restless spirit abroad that threatened their order. I did not say it, but I though it, there was no wonder. But if they had been all like himself there had been no danger to their order. He mourned that so many of the peers were blind to the signs of the times. They would hear of no improvements, no relaxations, no abandonment of ancient privileges. He foresaw in this the ruin of the Myu-me-ae-nian world. It would not, in his esteem, result in bettering the condition of the humbler classes if the order of peers was subverted. They would learn this when it was too late; but so would the infatuated members of his own order when the fruit of their present obstructiveness came to be gathered. He mourned over the dismal prospects of Myu-me-ae-nia. He hoped my visit would be productive of lasting benefit to his country. Happy would he be if he could secure the lessons I had gathered in another world for the benefit of all classes of his countrymen. After endless talk on other matters I bade him adieu, and set off on my travels.
Travelling in Myu-me-ae-nia over large tracts of country is easy compared with the same in our world. You can always guide yourself by the mountain of roses. I accordingly set out without any hired guide. Not that I ever wanted company; nay, I had more of that than I desired. I had not travelled above a hundred leagues from the city of Lli-me-muia, when I came upon a scene such as I shall not soon forget. It looked at first like the great circular staircase leading down from the Myu-me-ae-nian world to our own. It must have been a thousand miles in diameter at the mouth, and narrowing downwards like the ancient amphitheatres. It could not be less than five hundred miles in depth. On inquiry I found that this was one of the ancient quarries from which all Lli-me-muia was built, also that they had so quarried it that it might serve as a theatre for a certain area of Myu-me-ae-nia. It was, from the top to the bottom, one long series of tiers of seats cut in the solid alabaster-like rock, and the whole was elaborately carved and adorned. The performances, I was informed, did not go on continuously. The actors had a circuit, performing in other such like places in Myu-me-ae-nia. Those who accompanied me insisted I should stay and see the exhibitions. They were to be commenced in a space of time equal to three months of our modes of reckoning. I thought I could not do better than spend the intervening time in descending to the bottom of this enormous amphitheatre. I was curious to know whether there might not be a trap-door leading out into our own world, for I was beginning to fear I should never find my way back again. When I got down to the very bottom, I found nothing but solid rock. I laid my ear on the ground, and made myself fancy I heard the noises of our own world; but whether it was the noise of miners digging out iron or silver ore, or whether it was the tossing of the ocean, I could not tell. But, you know, it is most likely to have been all fancy. What one wishes to hear, how readily they do imagine they hear it. Never shall I forget the toil downward and upward. But it served to impress me with the greatness of that original race whence the present degenerate sons have sprung.
I had scarcely returned to the surface when the Myu-me-ae-nians began to gather in countless multitudes. With what ease they descended the weary tiers of stairs that had entailed on me such herculean labour. They drew themselves up to an enormous height and stepped down in a twinkling to whatever place they chose. And there they sat filling every available seat, in just such a manner as I often picture to myself the gods of Homer doing on great occasions round Jupiter, on the heights of Olympus. I expected that the performances would be on a scale of proportionate greatness; but in this I was greatly disappointed. One was who could stuff the greatest number of gossip-webs into his mouth, and gobble them up quickest. The one that managed the greatest number in the shortest time gathered about him deafening applause. The next was who could stand longest while being riddled with firetipped arrows from the bows of all the spectators in the amphitheatre. The successful candidate was crowned knight of the fire-tipped arrow. The applause was something terrible --- the earth rocked under it.
I felt exceedingly happy that I had been prevailed upon to stay, for it opened up to me a secret I could not otherwise have come into the possession of; that is, the cause of our earthquakes. From what I saw and felt, I have no manner of doubt now that they are caused by the rockings of the earth during the applause in the theatres of Myu-me-ae-nia. It may disappoint some of our men of science that they have so long misunderstood the causes of earthquakes --- that they have both misled others and been misled themselves. But it is in the interest of all true science that every new discovery, however much it may for a time shock our prejudices and overturn all our past ideas and theories, should be broadly, freely, and boldly proclaimed. Had I not been an eye and ear witness of what I have now stated, I would have hesitated to disturb the beliefs of our schools of science on such an all important question as that of earthquakes; but, as it is, I would deserve to be dubbed as the veriest poltroon and the basest traitor to all true knowledge, did I not ventilate this great discovery. I am fully aware that there is a class of confirmed sceptics who will call in question the veracity of my statements as much as they do the teachings of the Bible. Aye, suppose I could put all Myu-me-ae-nia into their pocket, they would still contradict it. These I seek not to convince; I would simply implore them, in the interests of science and scepticism, to proceed themselves to Myu-me-ae-nia; and I solemnly assure them, if they believe it not then, I am not Mammoth Martinet --- and that is saying a great deal.
The other exhibitions were equally absurd; but the more childish, the more excited the Myu-me-ae-nians became. I consequently left them, and went forward on my journey. I had not travelled many leagues when I came upon a strange sight. It was a great lake --- more like an ocean than a lake --- of blue lambent flame. It was as great in width, if not more so, than the amphitheatre which I had so recently left. It puzzled me much, as I had never seen anything like smoke in the vast concave bosom of Myu-me-ae-nia. I got information, which, in the interests of science, I will now divulge. I know that, of all men, no class is so sceptical as scientific men; none are so bigoted and narrow in their views. They can sneer at the narrowness and bigotry of what is called divine revelation or the ignorance and superstition of the vulgar mob, and yet I am bold to say there is not a class of men on earth make more mistakes and more pertinaciously adhere to them than themselves. Of course I do not here include all scientific men. I know of many who are far ahead of the class they are identified with. But I do refer to the class as a whole. From these one would think science was the art of caption, scepticism, sneering. After the discoveries I have made in Myu-me-ae-nia, I am free to confess I hold them, as a whole, in utter contempt. The most of their professed data are merely fancies --- delusions; and yet there is not a more reckless race of sneerers, I believe, in the great universe of mind. The sneer curls on their lip ere they have got half a truth --- like Milton's primeval beasts --- unearthed. When the other half comes, the sneer is gone, only to light on some other half truth. Mark my words, it is not the safe Baconian pioneers in science that are the foremost in scepticism and sneering. Would God it were!
This much I have thought it necessary to say preparatory to my unearthing this great discovery. I am anxious that it should be fairly listened to. My information regarding the lake was to the following effect. I have already told you that the staple trade of Myu-me-ae-nia was the manufacture of gossip. Now --- like the Chinese nests, which are such a dainty for epicures --- this gossip is for eating. As nearly as I can describe it by what we are familiar with, it is, by all the world, like a spider's web, but infinitely more airy and gossamer, and woven in longer or shorter lengths. There are finer and coarser, more beautiful as well as more ugly webs. The finer are bought and largely consumed by the nobility and gentry; the coarsest are more in demand among the common people. The gelatinous kind of substance out of which they are woven is obtained from the sap of a certain kind of tree that grows very abundantly in Myu-me-ae-nia. This tree is cultivated in all the gardens and houses of Myu-me-ae-nia. At certain seasons, when the juice is richest and most abundant, the Myu-me-ae-nians tap them, insert tubes into them of various lengths, which all meet in a conduit. When the flow stops the tubes are removed; certain kinds of herbs are thrown into the tank to purify it. After a time they draw off into vessels, like huge alabaster jars, the pure gold-like serum. The gross residuum is run off into a common sewer, which tail races away into central lakes such as what I am now describing. In ancient times this gross residuum had accumulated to an alarming extent. It became a matter of serious inquiry what should be done with it. It occurred to one to consume it with fire. This being approved of, the experiment was tried; but the smoke it generated, rising from so many such lakes, threatened to pollute all Myu-me-ae-nia, as well as destroy all vegetable life. What was now to be done? The fires could not be extinguished. The same eminent person suggested the boring of a vent through the bottom of these lakes, by which the smoke might be let off into the regions below. After many abortive and dangerous experiments the plan succeeded; and from that time to this they have never been troubled with any smoke. What was my surprise to discover in this the origin of all our volcanos and the oilwells of our own world! What! Vesuvius, Etna, &c., but the gigantic chimneys of Myu-me-ae-nia? I was like to dance for joy. The discovery came on me with such a surprise, I was wrapt up in the silence of a great wonder and joy for nearly three months. I could but lie on the edge of the great fire-lake, listening to the hissing, tumbling, and commotion of the fires, and fancied I saw them throwing up occasionally some jets of fiery spray out of the craters of earth.
I do hope, after so complete an exposure of some forms of ignorance, as taught with great show of learning and authority in our schools and colleges under the name of science, that men will be more modest in their assertions and more sparing in their sceptical sneers. How many dogmata have they loaded our shelves with! and yet, at the best, they are but the impudent assertions of ignorant and bouncing pedantry. Behold! Mammoth Martinet is the latest and truest prophet of science, raised up by the mysterious, accidental combination of molecular elements, to expose the false teachers of our day.
There, without doubt, was the cause --- the only real and possible cause --- of our volcanos. Why these volcanos languish at one time, and burst out anew with sevenfold energy at others, was hitherto an enigma; but it receives now an explanation that sets all difficulty at rest. The same thing applies to the oil-wells of America, &c.; but, in explaining this, it brings the self-evident proofs of such a world as Myu-me-ae-nia along with it in the physical conditions and states of our volcanos. It is only at set times the fires of the lake are fed anew with vast supplies of this gross residuum. When whole rivers of this gross serum, from an area of many thousands of square leagues, are pouring into these lakes, the agitation is something fearfully grand. Though I did not, at my visit to this first fiery lake, witness it in its grandest displays, yet afterwards I was more fortunate in the neighbourhood of other lakes. I have, therefore, in the very existence of these volcanos, a loud-tongued testimony to the truthfulness of my story anent the existence of Myu-me-ae-nia. Others will arise in their order.
Not far from this lake lay the vast city of Yem-ye-yoo-ne-moo. It was a new thing for me to see a whole city emptied of its teeming population. All were off to the performances at the amphitheatre --- men, women, children, old, young, middle-aged. The enormous gates of the city stood wide open, so did the doors of all the houses. Not a solitary Myu-me-ae-nian was left behind. I was free to roam at large through the vast extent of the city. This was the greatest weaving city in all Myu-me-ae-nia. It lay on the banks of a river that had tributaries passing by every city, town, village, hamlet in Myu-me-ae-nia.
I must not omit to mention that the weaving of gossip is not confined especially to any particular class in Myu-me-ae-nia. From the palace to the hut it is cultivated. The king and queen, as well as the peasant, ply this trade. It seemed to me that this trade was pursued from sheer obedience to the promptings of instinct. A bee no more certainly takes to making honey than a Myu-me-ae-nian to weaving gossip. I have seen little babes, when cutting their first teeth and scarce able to walk, making ceaseless attempts to master this weaving process. A fresh proof of molecular action!
Another remarkable feature of this weaving is that no one web is ever woven by one individual. It requires a number --- not certainly less than two, however many more --- to weave it. The finest webs are the product of a great multitude of hands. The reason of this will be obvious if I explain to you the whole process.
I have told you of the purified serum. This is dyed by each family with the dye peculiar to that family; for no two families have the same secret for dyeing. As they never impart their own secret, so they never ask to know the secret of another. Now some have very fine dyes; others more common or vulgar. After the process of dyeing is finished, the process of spinning is next attended to; and they produce threads so fine, that by the aid of the most powerful microscope you could not see them, though a Myu-me-ae-nian can see them without difficulty. I have seen a pile of this thread no larger than a common pea, and yet this would serve a weaver for more than a day of our time.
As for the weaving, whatever was the pattern and the amount of necessary colours, in such proportion was the length and breadth of the web and the number of weavers engaged on it. Every colour, too, was symbolic. Thus green was jealousy, and every particular shade significant of the degree. Yellow was envy; black, murder; red, rage; brown, hatred; and so on.
The webs most in vogue were those in which the greatest amount of various colours was introduced. These were the costliest, and were principally bought and consumed by the wealthy. No one could believe it unless they saw it. What an infinite variety of patterns they could design and work out! But there was this remarkable fact about these weavers --- they could never reproduce the same pattern exactly. It had been tried times without number, but they never succeeded. Every time they tried it they invariably produced a different pattern; so that, after twenty or more attempts to reproduce the same, if you looked at the last production and compared it with the first, winter was not more unlike summer than they. It was this, in great measure, necessitated a different pattern for every web. Besides, the pleasure of producing a new pattern was very intense.
It was curious to go into the market every day and see the webs that were put up for sale, and likewise to watch the purchasers. Now you must not suppose that this gossip was the staple food of the Myu-me-ae-nians. It was rather a kind of substitute for bitters, sauce, seasoning, &c. to them. It was the principal part of their dessert. Few ever sat down to a meal without a piece of gossip beside him. In fact, few went anywhere without a supply of it for their own use or the use of others. It was no uncommon thing to see a number of Myu-me-ae-nians standing in the public streets, each chewing away at a long web floating down to their very feet, gabbling away at an enormous rate, and shooting their arrows and darts in all directions. It was to me a very curious sight at first. Standing to the height of roods, and a web floating down from their mouths to their feet as large as would form a winding-sheet for a whole town almost in this world, it was a peculiar-looking thing. One might have a green and yellow web, or envy interwoven with jealousy; another with brown or black, or hatred and murder commixed; a third with a figuring of red, green, and yellow, or rage, jealousy, and envy; and so on.
One peculiar effect caused by the consumption of this gossip was the dilating and contracting effect it had on the Myu-me-ae-nians. I have seen one eating a web of red gossip, and he would swell out like a huge balloon covering acres of ground, and his eyes standing out of his head like enormous icebergs. It was something terrific. But what made it sometimes ludicrous was this --- when, perhaps, he had consumed the whole web, and was strutting about with terrific dimensions, like a wild bull in a china shop, a burning dart or two, sometimes a shower of them, came whistling along, and ere he could jerk himself aside they were fathoms deep in his inflated carcass. And lo! what a sudden collapse! He went into a furlong whipping-post the one minute and a tiny Lilliputian height the next. He slunk away into some secret corner for days till his writhing torture was at an end.
It seemed to be a custom in that world to watch what kind of gossip each preferred. They plied that subject accordingly with their artillery. I have seen an aristocratic scamp go strutting about with a long gossamer web of finest purple --- purple being the symbol of pride --- streaming behind him for roods from his mouth. The air, as he passed along, literally swarmed with burning little arrows shot after him. If it was the street of a town or village he paraded through, you might see every door behind him crowded with those who were hurling their arrows and javelins after him. I have seen such a scamp with his corpus bristling like a hedgehog's. He usually got smaller in his dimensions every volley that overtook him, till perhaps --- from pain and rage --- he tore off the rest of the web, gathered it up in the hollow of his hand, and rushed out of sight as fast as possible.
There was one in Yem-ye-yoo-ne-moo whom I saw receiving the following treatment. He was certainly, in outward appearance, one of the noblest and most commanding of all I ever witnessed in Myu-me-ae-nia. No one that passed him but turned to look after him. His artillery, too, hung about him in bristling and burning array. No one could load themselves with such an enormous supply of it. He knew it, and therefore was inclined to treat every one with contempt and harshness. I was the first and only one he was ever known to entertain any fears of and show any respect and deference to. He came to the market every day when it was most crowded. He waved his two-edged glittering sword, with blade of enormous length, and by the terror of it opened up a broad and free pathway to and from the stall he chiefly frequented. Except an occasional dart or fire-tipped arrow secretly launched at him, none dared to interfere with him. Ere one could fit an arrow to a string, his eye caught him; and woe to that unhappy wight! However, a spirit of wide-spread vindictiveness began to burst out like a prairie fire over the whole populace. He had for a very long period kept them in awe of him; but what each dared not singly do, they felt they might unitedly accomplish. Accordingly, when he came one day as usual, flourishing his terrible brand, he saw a sullen scowl gathering on the face of the great multitude. A look of defiance greeted him; no pathway was left for him. Accordingly he laid right and left about him, to the sore wounding of many; but he had scarcely advanced a few steps into their midst, when a perfect whirlwind of arrows, darts, javelins, and swords burst down upon him. Like a great ship smitten suddenly in the teeth with a euroclydon, and flung on her beam ends, so he reeled. Thrice he tried to rally and brave the terrible storm; thrice was it renewed, till, literally riddled and fearfully reduced in his dimensions, he retired from the field of battle covered with shame, and writhing with pain and rage. Never again did he show himself with such airs in the market of Yem-ye-yoo-ne-moo.
My presence in Yem-ye-yoo-ne-moo was greatly prized by all the inhabitants after their return from the theatre. Immediately all manner of patterns were taken from me. The theatre was generally a source whence they derived patterns for a long time after, but I believe very few were drawn thence so long as I resided among them. The markets rose immediately --- yea, rose every day till my departure. Orders came from all parts of Myu-me-ae-nia for bales of gossip of the Moho-yoho-me-oo-oo pattern. The excitement every morning was intense at the market. The crowds of purchasers, instead of sauntering in at all hours of the day, as they used to do, came at very early hours; and often, to their intense mortification, the whole, was already bought up. Merchants in all the chief cities of Myu-me-ae-nia appointed agents to reside at Yem-ye-yoo-ne-moo, and buy up at any price the whole or as much of it as they could. It need not surprise you, then, if I tell you that this city grew enormously rich and populous in a short space of time; nor will it be a matter of wonder that I was feted and honoured as not even the king had ever been. They wished to prevail on me --- and in this they exhausted every device --- to take up my permanent residence among them. They offered me the Gneem-gnee-me-wy Palace, second only in antiquity and grandeur to that of the king's at Lli-me-muia; but I politely declined, telling them I must first, at least, visit all their great and beautiful world.
It was while residing in this city of Yem-ye-yoo-ne-moo I witnessed, for the first time the following phenomena. Going forth upon one occasion through the vast streets, wherever I met or saw any of the people they seemed in terrible distress. They appeared as if struggling with a fearful tempest, though I felt very little difference from usual. The trees also swayed terribly. At one time they looked as if crushed from atop and flattened down to the roots; at another they swayed to the side like a field of corn under a strong wind. The opposite side of the Myu-me-ae-nian world seemed at one time coming so near us it was as if it were going to fall in on us, and crush us to pieces. At another it projected away out cone-shaped, as if it were being turned on some Titan's lathe for a boy's top. The only impression I felt was as if I were going at times to be lifted up on a huge wave from the solid ground; at others as if I were going to be swept along on a swift rushing torrent. This lasted sometimes for days, according to our calculation. I have very often witnessed the same atmospherical disturbance, in more or less aggravated form. It always creates very great dismay among the Myu-me-ae-nians.
I often asked some of the more intelligent among them what they thought was the cause of it; but, dear bless you, how they did stare at me! They thought I had lost my senses. To inquire into the cause of things was a region of philosophy they seldom or never dreamt of climbing up into. I could not help pondering it over in my mind till I thought I had found a solution. It may annoy, surprise, and disconcert men of science, but I cannot hide it from my fellow-men. By long study, I found these storms took place about the time of our vernal and autumnal equinoxes and are the real and only cause of them. The explanation of it is this --- The whole concavity of Myu-me-ae-nia is a great electric jar, receiving and retaining the magnetic fluid generated by the cosmical conditions of that world. It accumulates to such a degree it needs a periodic escape. How this is done I shall not stay to speculate on; it is one of those subjects I would humbly submit to the British Association of Science. No more interesting subject could be proposed; and I do trust that a paper will be read on it at some no distant date at one of their annual meetings. It may not be very flattering to our men of science to find that my discoveries in Myu-me-ae-nia have nearly laid in ruins the whole temple of science. It surely, however, is sufficient to place Mammoth Martinet's name at the head of all science and philosophy, that he has laid his hand on the fountain-head of this great Nile of magnetism that winds its endless folds around our world.
It occurred to me on one occasion to inquire one day, while in the market of Yem-ye-yoo-ne-moo, why it was they took so much trouble to convert the serum into threads and then the threads into webs. Could they not sup the serum itself? They laughed at my simplicity and ignorance, but they informed me that it was the whole process of converting it into threads and dyeing it that brought out the peculiar flavour for which gossip is so much prized. "But, then," I asked, "why not eat the dyed threads without weaving them?" Here, again, they were amused at my expense. But they were at pains to show me that the appetite of a Myu-me-ae-nian was very fastidious, and the older he grew the more fastidious it became. What gratified to-day would not do so to-morrow. Although the same coloured threads were used to-morrow as had been to-day to gratify it, yet it must be those ingredients in different proportions and new combinations. It was found, after long and painful experiments, that nothing secured this so infallibly as weaving, and weaving in new patterns. This made it almost a simple impossibility that any two could ever exactly agree in taste. And they likewise informed me that it was often quite sufficient to change the entire flavour by the introduction of one single newcoloured thread. At the same time they informed me that the more new threads of different shades could be obtained each day, the more intense was their gratification. I confess I understood now what had puzzled me so long. Not that it helped to raise them in my estimation; nay, it rather lowered them that they spent so much precious time and ingenuity in seeking mere sensual gratification; for I must here remind you, that besides the weaving of this gossip, there was no other trade worth mentioning. Clothing was not much needed there.
I should have remarked that the Myu-me-ae-nians, being transparent to my eyes, I could see through their bodies as well as scanty dress, the nervous currents and ganglia, as well as the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, &c, and the effect the gossip had on their various organs, and for what parts the various colours had a special affinity. If the fine gossamer web was black, my eye could trace the black lines running from the stomach to the heart, telling that the black decocted poisonous dye was transmuting the blood into its own consistency. I have seen the heart become as black as night; and oh! how it heaved and tossed, as I could suppose the pitchy waves of Tartarus doing. Or, again, if the colour of the web was yellow, how it coursed on to the gall-bladder, changing it into its own colour. Or, was it green --- it rushed to the spleen. Or, was it a mixture of red, yellow, green, black --- each colour would separate at the stomach, and go to their respective organs. Thus you might have rage, envy, jealousy, murder; &c., all excited at once in the Myu-me-ae-nian by the use of this gossip; and yet, strange to say, it was for the disturbing of these various organs the gossip was so much prized.
The next city I visited was Nya-me-a-man-way. This signified "The City of the Great White Valley." Life here was of the same character as in Yem-ye-yoo-ne-moo. The houses were all of the same vast dimensions; even that of the poorest was far larger than a palace in this world. I saw nothing that I could call poverty. It was only varied degree of affluence you witnessed even in what comparatively was called a hut; but they thought themselves poor, and that was enough, Poverty is a relative idea. The Arab is poor, and begs, who has only half-a-dozen steeds. Poverty is more imaginary than real; but if one thinks he is poor, it is useless trying to undeceive him --- he only hugs the more the afflictive idea.
The only thing note-worthy in. this city was the neighbourhood of the White Valley. The city was not standing immediately on the edge of it, but nearly so. They told me that that valley once was at least a hundred leagues distant from it, according to the traditions of the country. It was one of the most interesting sights, next to the Mountain of Roses, that I saw in all Myu-me-ae-nia. When you stood on the edge of it, which was about a furlong distant from the city at its nearest point, you look down into a gulf of nearly five hundred miles. From the one side of the valley to the other could not be less, in some places, than fifteen hundred miles broad. I could never find out the whole length of the valley. From what I gleaned in other parts of Myu-me-ae-nia, I was led to believe that it branched away into valleys by which it intersected that whole world. I have crossed some of the narrowest necks or isthmuses of these valleys on natural arches of the solid rock.
It was something very imposing to see a great mass of this white rock to a depth of five hundred miles, and as far as the eye could reach, tumble suddenly into the valley. This, by-and-bye seemed to be all melted down, and prepared the way for another like fall in of the side. Age after age this process had been going on, so that it was reckoned that after so many falls of the fruit of the sacred tree their whole city would be swallowed up.
And what was the material composing this rock? If it was not salt it was as near it as I could guess. It had, to my taste, all the properties of rock-salt. The Myu-me-ae-nians had no name by which to indicate its chemical properties. Chemical properties! They would not give one yard of gossip for the knowledge of all the chemical properties of the universe!
I will now tell you my candid opinion of it, after long and patient thought and study. It is no less than this: --- These great valleys are the feeders of our oceans with the preservative element of salt. It is thence, and thence alone, whence the briny properties of our oceans are derived. It has long puzzled scientific men whence originated the ocean salt. If any remain in ignorance now it can only be from wilful prejudice against all sound information. I am aware that all new discoveries have to pass through the agonies of a birth-hour ere they can assert themselves among the current classics of society. Doubtless those I have in the course of this narrative advanced will provoke more than ordinary opposition; for the nearer anything comes to the truth the more it is despised as a fable.
It struck me as very peculiar that all the rivers were called the Milk of Ai-ai, or Am-wam, or Myo-no, &c. It had not occurred to me to ask for the reason of this peculiarity. I thought it a Myu-me-ae-nian method of expressing water. I was not prepared for the solution of it which awaited me in the mountains of Ai-ai. These mountains are very peculiar in their configuration; but all the mountains of Myu-me-ae-nia are similar. They look, by all the world, like so many enormous bee-hives piled up above one another, with streams like wreaths of white mist curving round their base and hurrying downwards. They are all covered with a densely growing gossamer-like moss or grass. It sank beneath the foot like immense velvet nap and was of an exquisitely delicate green. Here enormous creatures grazed, something of the nature of cows; but they were more like what I would suppose the mastodons in pre-Adamic days were, only on a vastly larger scale. While they grazed their mouth seemed to spread from side to side over a furlong of ground. One of our largest heifers in this world might have run beneath their bellies, as a kitten would under them. You may imagine the impression these enormous beasts made on my mind the first time I saw them; and they were in such numbers that I wondered where they could find sufficient sustenance. But as I watched them, and saw the rapid growth of the vegetation, I ceased to be astonished. While huge swathes fell before them, it rose up behind them almost visibly. It was no uncommon thing to see a hundred or more following in the track of each other; and yet, at the rear of them all, it was as if they had, never cropped it. The only difference was a paler shade of colour. There was one peculiarity --- you never saw any ordure, as in sheep-walks or cow-fields with us. In fact, excrementations of any sort are unknown in Myu-me-ae-nia.
According to our mode of calculations I must have passed some days while watching the habits of these Nye-me-wim ere my attention was drawn to the following observation. I had seen them stop grazing all of a sudden, move on in a row, wind round one of the beehive-like mounds, and disappear. As there were still vast herds near at hand, and moving forward in my direction, my attention was transferred to them. At length it occurred to me to follow one of these, caravan-like companies; but I felt myself wholly unable to keep pace with the first herd I started with. They were soon lost in the winding curve; but as I knew one herd would follow on the track of the previous, I moved slowly on till it overtook me. They, too, soon left me behind. By-and-bye others came; but it was not till very many herds passed did I reach the place of their destination. What was my amazement, at last, to find that I stood at the entrance of a gigantic cave. I entered; but a fresh surprise awaited me --- the interior of it was like the overarching of a sky. It was not dark, as in our caves, but full of light. The prevailing hue of the light was green, mingled with various other hues. I stood and gazed on the vaulted roof with entranced emotions. There was something so dreamy, delicate, rapturous, that I felt spellbound. After my first surprise in connection with the roof was somewhat abated, I began to turn my attention to the basement. A cool current of air was winding round this vast concavity. The ground shaped away into the centre, which seemed to end in an unsounded shaft or pit.
These huge animals wandered round the sides of the cave; and as they did so, milk, or a consistence like milk, streamed from their udders like rain through a roan. Thousands of these animals were wandering round for a little, and then disappearing by another passage --- thousands more entering as they passed out. This inflow and outflow never ceased. The milk-like liquid met in the central basin, which revolved at a churning speed. The churning threw to the surface a kind of fleecy or frothy matter, which ran off in the natural grooves leading from the basin to the entrance of the cave. The heavier residuum, in its whirling course, wound in nearer and nearer to the centre, losing any whiteness it had as it neared the deep shaft, where it disappeared. The kind of floccy element that floated past me, and wound in fleecy-like currents round the external mounds till it met currents from other mounds, and these, in broader and deeper stream, marched forward till they met others, and so on till they all united in the one grand channel of the Yo-yeem-le-ai-ai; for I must here inform you that what I found in this first concavity I found in all the other mounded swellings. Every one I visited, and they were not few, were of the same nature, and used for the same purposes. Some were larger, some smaller, some more brilliant and varied in their light colourings, others less so, but all of them very marvellous. Every mountain in Myu-me-ae-nia that I visited was of the same beehived conformity, with great hollow concavities; and I never visited one that was not appropriated, by these huge grazing Nye-me-wim; and everyone of them was the feeder of a river of milk. The inhabitants of Myu-me-ae-nia used it for every variety of purpose as we use water. But it has been often in my thoughts --- what became of the water-like residuum that was sucked away down into the enormous shafts? The conclusion l arrived at was this --- that it searched its way down through fissures and porous matter till it reached our side of the earth, where it gushed up in springs and the fountain-heads of our great and small rivers. Much boasting has there been about the river explorations of Bruce, Park, Livingstone, &c.; but surely they are empty boasts. Who, like Mammoth Martinet, has caught Nature in the very act of river manufacturing?
Travelling among the mountains of Myu-me-ae-nia is totally unlike what it is in this world. You are in no danger there of falling into some enormous crevasse, or slipping your foot and sliding away down a sloping glacier that terminates in a fearful precipice. Naked and rugged mountains are unknown and unseen there. Vegetation of the richest kind mantles the highest summits; and the higher up you climb you feel nimbler, stronger, more buoyant. Instead of fatiguing, it is in the highest degree exhilarating. The scenery ever varies. The embosoming glories of these mountains are but miniature Paradises. Larger or lesser lakes, margined by tree-embowered cottages, is a frequent feature of them. These picturesque spots in no two cases resemble each other. However many of them you may have seen, the very next you come upon bursts upon you with a fresh and delightful surprise. There is also this peculiarity about them --- no two mountain valleys but have a variety of trees, plants, flowers, beasts, birds, insects peculiar to themselves; and the combinations of form, structure, colouring are endless. In the vegetable and animal kingdoms there are forms, hues, habits, like to which we have nothing in our world; and yet everything appears so natural, you are often led to wonder that such forms and colourings never suggested themselves to you before. But in vain would I essay words that might shape the ideas to your minds.
While travelling in the mountains of Ai-ai I came upon an extraordinary appearance. I have seen not a few of the same since. It had something of the tangled and knotty aspect of a great tree-root twisted round into an enormous ball; but it was dotted all over with huge crimson cup-like formations, something after the appearance of the scarlet fungus sometimes found among moss. This was nothing else than a tree, with this peculiarity --- that all its branches grew inwards. As you entered it you were loaded with perfume. Every branch clustered with beautiful fruit. It was a tree ever in bloom, and with fruit at all stages. It grew above the soil, the crimson cups being the real roots, and imbibing nourishment from the atmosphere. In size it covered an area equal to the largest cities of our world. Within, what a wealth of gratification to every sense! But these trees had this peculiarity --- they were all sacred to the hermits of Myu-me-ae-nia. I have almost omitted to mention that the branches of these trees were cylindrical. There were natural openings in them here and there by which you could enter, and wander at pleasure through their labyrinthine windings. The fibrous texture was transparent, and shaded away into endless hues. It was a whispering gallery, too, where your voices wandered endlessly. The fruit, some of it, was as large as the globe on the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. You could walk into the midst of it, and count the great seeds that grew in the centre of it, hanging from filaments as thick as a ship's hawser. The flowers, too, were as large as the bell called the Great Tom of Lincoln. What an insect world was here! But the great object of interest was the hermit. I could not understand the great excitement manifested by him at first. I thought that to him, at least, I would be a cause of great surprise. He, a hermit, would know nothing of me. In this, however, I was greatly mistaken. He knew my whole history from the time I had landed on the Myu-me-ae-nian shores. These hermit trees had this peculiarity --- they formed a point of conveyance for all the voices and sounds of Myu-me-ae-nia. Nothing escaped the knowledge of these hermits, from the palace to the hut. The secrets of every individual and family were familiar to them.
When the excitement of this aged hermit had somewhat abated, and when he conducted me away to his favourite nook he then told me what a delightful surprise my visit to him and Myu-me-ae-nia afforded. None in all Myu-me-ae-nia had such a personal interest in and claim to me as he. I asked him how this came to pass. In reply, he said that I was, in part, descended from him. "From you!" I exclaimed; "how can that be?" "Well," he answered, "I shall tell you. Let me inform you that I am now the oldest inhabitant in this world of ours. From of old, during all our history as a race till my days, we visited your world. We were not then cooped up in this hollow globe as we now are. We used to go to your world, and enjoy pastime in hunting the mastodon, megatherium, mammoth, or fishing for ichtheosaurus, &c." These were not the names he gave them; but, from his accurate descriptions of them, I knew these were some of the animals he referred to. He described the manner in which they hunted them. It was with huge boulders or masses of rock torn from their native beds. From this narrative it was evident that there were tracks of country more abounding with the peculiar game, which they well knew, and whither they resorted. Some of these were fearful of speed. Sometimes they would chase them a hundred miles or more before they could get a chance of striking them. I asked him how they did when they had to run down the face of steep-hills or mountains. "Such animals as the mastodon," he replied, "always slid down them. They had glazed pathways, towards which they always hurried, and swept down them at lightning speed. From their knowledge of this we used to lie in ambush near the foot of these mountain pathways, and attack them ere they had power to change their course."
"My dear hermit," I answered; interrupting him, "you surprise me. We ascribe these scattered boulders to the carrying power of icebergs and glaciers, as well these polished tracks down mountains. But if what you say is true, then all our men of science are at fault. Certainly your version of it looks far more plausible; for we find boulders in countries where it would be very difficult to suppose either icebergs or glaciers ever travelled. We find them high up on the summits of Brazilian mountains; so that, unless all South America was at one time under water, they could never be there, and unless the climate of South America was then like that of the North Pole." He merely smiled. I immediately recalled to myself that the terms glacier, iceberg, Brazil, South America, had a meaning to me but none to him. I therefore apologized to him for interrupting him, and prayed him to proceed.
He continued: "I have been through every part of your world, and might have been visiting it to this, had it not been for the following untoward circumstance. There was a tract of country which no Myu-me-ae-nian ever dared to explore. It was a region where a huge winged serpent reigned. It was not that we dreaded it for itself, but there was a tradition among us, that whoever was caught by the power of its eye, evil would befall them. Hence it was no Myu-me-ae-nian ever approached near its neighbourhood. But it happened once a daughter of mine went with me in the chase. We had become exceedingly excited, and she was left behind. She strayed into this fatal district. She fell under the spell of the serpent, who gave her to a favourite gorilla. By him she conceived. In vain did I use all my influence to get her removed to Myu-me-ae-nia. The serpent's spell held her. Hence your race. But from that day to this no Myu-me-ae-nian ever ventured into your world. A law was passed prohibiting it, and this law still prevails. Hence it is that almost no Myu-me-ae-nian of these times knows anything of your world. I suppose I am the only one remaining of all that visited your world. From that untoward era events emerged which altered my relations to Myu-me-ae-nian society. But how it consoles me to learn that so noble a race as I see in you have sprung from her!" (2)
"What strange revelations you give me!" I replied. "How different is the account of our origin in our world. We are told that we all sprang from one, Adam, who was made by God, and that Eve was taken out of his side. Also we were taught, as children, to believe that a serpent had tempted them to eat forbidden fruit, and that they became wicked and miserable after that, and that God ceased to visit them. But if your story is correct, then you must have been the God whom tradition tells us ceased to visit them. It is true there are men in our day, in our world, who believe that our race descended from the monkey tribes; but they are scouted as Infidels, though they must be nearer the truth than they get credit for."
"Ah!" resumed the hermit, "our race is not what it once was. It has dwarfed every way since then. Cooped up in this little ball, we have lost all the energy which rendered us remarkable. Look, in your wanderings through our world, what immense works the Myu-me-ae-nians of old undertook and accomplished. Material beings need vast and violent changes to develop them. What scope we enjoyed in those halcyon days! We were not even confined to this globe: we roamed at large among the other globes in space. Some of our race have travelled out as far as the Great Tree."
"The Great Tree!" I said; "what do you mean?" "Mean? Do you not know that the restless tendencies of eternal matter are all towards life and the higher forms of life and being? But the first successful effort was in the Great Tree. This is the origin of all these shining orbs you see hanging above your world." "You stagger me still more! What mean you?" I asked. "I mean that primeval matter in its chaotic surgings, after many abortive efforts, at length formulated into a tree. This tree grew and expanded, absorbing into it more and more of the primordial elements. It flowered and fruited, and as these fruits ripened they dropped off. Our world, your sun, and moon, and stars are all dropped from the same tree. The opening by which you entered into our world is that part at which it was attached to the branch of the Great Tree." (3)
You may fancy how ludicrous all this appeared to me after what I had been taught as a boy at school. It was with the utmost difficulty I could refrain from derisive laughter. But the old hermit was so sincere in his utterances, that I frosted down the rising scorn out of respect to his vast age. I tried to question with myself whether I might not be the ignoramus, and not he. I therefore asked him how it was he accounted for the spinning round of our world and the moon.
"That," replied he, "is easily explained. You must know that there is an illimitable outlying ocean of chaotic elements. Streams are continually pouring in from all points of this surrounding ocean towards the Great Tree for its sustenance and growth. These streams, as they come rushing past our world and the other worlds, strike in whirling eddies around them, and swing them round at the same time, as you have seen a leaf in some of your mountain torrents."
"But how does the Great Tree stand?" I asked. "Where is the solid ground for it to rest on and root in?" A smile gathered on his lofty and beaming countenance. "Child," he replied, "why do you ask such a foolish question? It needs no soil to rest on or root in --- why should it?"
"It must fall or sink," I answered, "unless it is propped up."
"Sink or fall! How? What do you mean? I don't understand you."
"You don't? Why, nothing can stand in our world without something to rest on. If I tried to plant a tree in the air, would it remain?"
"Remember," responds the sage, "you talk of up and down; but where is up and where is down, when you are in clear void space? Suppose yourself there, and say which, is which? You say it would sink. Which way would it sink? Where would it sink to? Sink! It might. What of that? There is no bottom. Your ideas are all relative. But why should I wonder? You owe it to my foolish daughter. You inherit the gross elements of the gorilla. But know, my child, in clear space self motion may alter your place, not what you call gravity or inert qualities."
"What say you to our moon? Why does it always roll round our world?" I asked.
"Caught in the eddying currents round your world, and being so much smaller and lighter, how could it else?" replies the hermit.
"What say you," I respond, "to the shining of the moon?"
"It is but the decay of that fruit. You have seen a piece of rotten wood in your own world throwing out a phosphorous light in the dark; so with it," he replies.(4)
"But it waxes and wanes," I said.
"Yes," he retorts; "and you don't see the phosphorous light of it when the light of the sun strikes against it. As long as the shadow of your earth lies between it and the sun, you see and get the benefit of its phosphor-light; but as far as it gets out of your earth's shadow it loses its light to your eyes."
"Father," I replied, "your information perplexes me. In our world we are taught to believe it is the light of the sun falling on it causes it to shine."
"Ah! Alas! my child, why should I chide you? It is my fault that you are thus wrapt up in such ignorance. Had I not lost sight of my daughter you should all have been born in Myu-me-ae-nia and we and you had still wandered out among the universe of lights and seen the Great Tree." Here he beat upon his breast, and laboured with huge sorrow.
To arrest his grief I again besought him to inform me how it was the sun gave such light and heat.
"You see," he answered, "there are several stages in the history of these fruit worlds. The first stage is when it drops ripe and beautiful, many hued, gleaming in the sky. You may see them hanging around your world, glancing with blue, green, red, white, yellow lights alternately, like diamonds. By-and-bye --- after vast ages of time, as counted by the revolutions of your world, as I have learnt, since your arrival, you reckon time --- they begin to decay. They mould all over, as you see here. These Nyee-me-wim feed on this green mould. By-and-bye it gets into that dry, phosphorous state like the moon, when it can no longer be inhabited. Still further on it takes on fire like the sun, and when it takes on fire, the lighter, subtler elements of matter feed the flames. No grander sight is to be seen in the whole universe than one of these worlds on fire. Your sun has its fire-tongues, drawn out along the currents of converging, ethereal matter for thousands of miles. Were it not for this the heat of its great fires would never reach your earth."
"Yes, my child," he resumed, "your world and ours will one day take on fire. It will be what you call a sun; but every living thing upon it will die."
"Do you not believe in a God?" I asked.
"A God!" he exclaimed, "what mean you by that?"
"I mean," said I, "a great uncaused cause --- a being infinite and eternal, who, in his supreme wisdom and power, created all things."
"What makes you think there is such a being?" he asked, in great earnestness.
"Many things," I replied. "For example, we cannot look upon so many wonders all around us without seeing the marks of intelligence. Chance could never explain the wonderful mechanisms and adaptations strewn all around us. Besides, we have a conscience in us that tells us we are subject to a higher authority, and that we are transgressors against his law."
"A conscience!" he exclaimed, "what is a conscience?
"Oh!" said I, "it is a faculty which tells of right and wrong."
"Right and wrong!" he said. "Ah! woe's me. I know it now. It is the terrible struggle of a twofold nature in you leads to these painful and conflicting thoughts. It is the grosser elements of the gorilla's struggling to gain the ascendancy over the finer and subtler elements of a Myu-me-ae-nian nature. But there is no blame to you in that, my child; it is only a misery --- not a fault."
"But we have a book we call a Bible," I replied, "which professes to be a revelation from God; and it tells us many things contrary to you. It says our world was created in six days: it tells us that our first ancestors were a man and woman; it says that they were put into a garden called Eden --- a very beautiful and rich garden. It further informs us that the God who made all things told them that if they ate of a certain tree they would sin and die. They did so at the temptation of a serpent, and that is why our race is such a bad and wretched race."
"Ah! my child," he said, "it is but a mangled tradition that. I understand it all. Your race is too proud to admit that one of your first parents was a gorilla. The story of the tree is connected with the Great Tree. The serpent has something of a near part in the drama. But, believe me, what I have said is true."
"How comes it, then," I asked, "that those who give stricter heed to this internal voice we call conscience make nobler men and women?"
"Easily answered," he responded. "It is not the giving heed to the voice originates the difference; it is that that superior individual has more in him of the Myu-me-ae-nian nature than of the gorilla nature."
"What becomes of you," I asked, "when you die?"
"We never die. We are reabsorbed into the great elemental chaos. Death to you is the throwing off of your gorilla nature; you then become a Myu-me-ae-nian. But in the gross atmosphere and light of your world a Myu-me-ae-nian is invisible. Your ancestors all haunt your world, and must do till the whole Myu-me-ae-nian nature is released; then it will be reabsorbed as we are."
Since my return from Myu-me-ae-nia I have heard of spiritualists or spirit-rapping. Little did I anticipate that my discoveries were to be of service in giving confirmation to this new science. But so it is. I, Mammoth Martinet, present compliments to Mr. Home and all his confreres, making them welcome to this timely testimony.(5)
"But here," I said, "is a strange thought or fact. Those among us who believe most firmly in a God are those that live most happily and are the most indifferent to the thought of death."
"Oh!" says the hermit, "that is not at all remarkable. The more there is in any of you of the finer elixir of pure matter, the more physical gratification is it to that nature to revel in transcendental thoughts. Thought is but the resultant of new polar relations among the molecules of animated matter. You must know that the molecules of being are continually on the move. The law of growth necessitates this. They cannot remain any single moment, any more than the drops in a river, in the exact same relations to each other. And if this is so among the grosser objects, how much more so among the ethereal, angular, and fluidescent? Thought is but the friction of polar angularity, under certain conditions, in organic living substances."
You may be sure this definition almost took the breath from me. It approximated so nearly to what my own theories were, that I almost leaped for joy. But it was rather startling to me, as yielding an internal evidence of the progenital relation of the hermit to myself and our race.
"And what say you to emotion --- the emotion of love, for example?" I said.
"Love is the fortuitous attraction of the positive molecular poles; and the strength or weakness of love results from the greater or less number of such positive molecular poles in proper situation or juxtaposition. Hate, on the other hand, is the repulsion of the negative poles; and it is stronger or weaker, according to the number of such arranged poles antagonistic to each other." So replied the hermit.
"And what do you say to the emotion of pleasure or delight?" I inquired.
"This," he answered, "arises from the contact of the polished surfaces of the molecules leaning on and moving across each other."
"The difficulty, to my mind," I replied, "in connection with this theory, lies in this --- How my intercourse with you or any other person has the effect of throwing the molecules of my soul into these various relations, so as to originate such corresponding thoughts and emotions in me as you desire to produce."
"But, my child," responds the hermit, "your difficulty originates in ignorance of the subtle laws of matter. Every moment, in every new state and setting of my body and spirit, I throw off an ethereal material effluence, which is a whole self or plasm of me.(6) This thrown off material habit, as it impinges against your molecular condition, gives it a force or arrangement among the molecules more or less corresponding to itself. Hence the result."
Here I confess I did burst out into irrepressible laughter.
"These mountains of Ai-ai, in the midst of which you spend your existence, puzzle me. How comes it that they are an endless congeries of vast caves?"
"The walls of each cave," he replied, "are but the cellular tissues of the fruit. The cavities are caused by the decay of the fatty or fruity consistence."
I thought of the orange, and how, if the juice were carefully extracted, it would leave so many cavities that would be as great a marvel to a monad as these caves of the mountains of Ai-ai were to me.
I further added; "You say this world was once a fruit --- call it apple or orange, or what you please --- growing on the Great Tree; and that this tree was the casual resultant of chaotic matter in its primordial movements. But, if so, how did the various kinds of living plants and animals that now burden this world in countless genera and species happen to exist on it?"
"The question," he answered, "is worthy of your acuteness. It had lowered my opinion of you and your race had it not occurred to you. But, in reply, remember what I said --- This world is passing through its first stage of decay. Now it is an established fact that any organic materiality while in a state of decay, if it is arrested at any stage in that process, gives rise to new forms. According to the cause of this arrest, as well the time and conditions of the arrest, is the particular character of the new form."
I called to mind how Chemistry proceeded on this very principle; also how the process of fermentation produced, in connection with the juice of the grape, either wine or vinegar, just as it was arrested sooner or later. I thought too, of how old cheese generated mites!"
"But," I asked, "can you tell me how it is the life in one originates a plant, in another an animal, while in another a man or a Myu-me-ae-nian?"
"Ah!" he answered, "you have stepped beyond my fathoming-line now."
"Well, perhaps you can inform me," I said, "how it is we see not any new formations in our day?"
"You mean in your day," he replied. "In my day I have seen many new creations since we first hunted the Megatherium in your world. Your own race is the last formation. It was the result of the arrest laid on two forces --- the one struggling in the gorilla, the other in a Myu-me-ae-nian, my daughter. But if you wish a later, you must remember that the process of decay may have gone past that stage favourable to the origination of any more living types. I shall not say it is so; but I have often surmised that this might be the case."
"How can you explain colours on this strictly accidental confluence of atoms?" I asked.
"You mistake, my child," replied the hermit; "there is no such thing as colour. It is not an inherent quality in matter; it is only the result of polar angulosity, and hence is quite accidental. The same molecules that by one arrangement present a yellow colour to the eye, by an entirely different setting would present a rose, or blue or black colour."
"May I ask you to explain the difference between one person and another --- how one is more talented than another --- one is a genius, another is a dunce?"
"It is the aggregate of brain matter," he responded, "explains the whole. Look at the external shape and form of the head, and you will see evidences of a well or ill-developed brain power. It is the fortuitous aggregation of more or fewer brain molecules originates mightier or feebler thought-power."
"But why does thought lodge itself in the head, and not in the fingers or toes?" I asked.
"You forget, my child, what I have said of the arrest of matter in its degenerating stages. In a word, whether man or beast, or bird or plant, each separate part is the result of an arrest. It is the particular stage of the arrest decides the form. Stamp that thought well into your memory."
"Memory! In connection with related organized molecules, what is memory?"
"Had not I the deep musings of ages upon me, I could not answer you," he replied. "But let me explain to you, once for all, that the brain power, in its different organisms, divides itself into separate cells. Every event treasures itself up in the memory just as a sunbeam in your world treasures itself up in a tree. Every self-form in its effluence leaves a vestige of itself clinging to the various powers just as sheep leave threads or shreds of their wool on the briers or thorns through which they force themselves. It is thus the past leaves its footprints or shreds of itself behind it in the soul."
Little did I ween at the time that in our own world Phrenology had tapped the sources of knowledge laid open for the first time, as a marvellous discovery, to my mind, by the Myu-me-ae-nian hermit. How sad it is that so few give heed to this noble science. What with Phrenology, Spiritualism, and Darwinianism at their highest state of culture, we might arrive at a stage of great perfection. I know some are sneering at Spiritualism as a charlatanism. They cannot admit that one man is a better medium than another for communicating through with our departed ancestors; but little they know that a better medium just means one who has a greater preponderence of the Myu-me-ae-nian nature in him than the gorilla nature.
I said to my hoary ancestor the hermit, "I must take you back to the subject of sin. We call it a murder when one man slays another, and we generally put him to death. We look upon him as an enormous sinner, and think we cannot too soon get quit of him. Do you approve of that?"
"My reply must be double," he replied. "Murderers are your greatest benefactors. They only destroy the gorilla nature and set free the higher --- viz., the Myu-me-ae-nian; and you are their greatest benefactor when you put them to death, for you just set them free from their gorilla nature. Murder is Gorillaism destroying Gorillaism."(7)
"But is it not a crime to shorten the life, possession, and enjoyment of this world? I asked.
"My child, the destruction of gross gorilla bodies does not shorten these. In your Myu-me-ae-nian nature you shall live till your world enters upon the stage of phosphor decay. That must be for untold ages yet, according to your mode of reckoning. And you possess and enjoy your world infinitely more in the Myu-me-ae-nian nature than you do now. The grosser qualities of frost, snow, rain, and such as I learn afflicts your earth since my daughter's arrival, does not affect a Myu-me-ae-nian. Neither is your earth an opaque body, dark with the shadows of night. It is only senses thickened with the gross nature of the beast that such discomforts and disadvantages affect."
"What!" I rejoined, "can we reap the fruits of the earth in our Myu-me-ae-nian state?"
"Yes," he answered, "the fruits in your world have a grosser and a finer form.(8) The finer can only be appropriated by a Myu-me-ae-nian. You see our world. Try to pluck any of our flowers or fruits, will you succeed?"
"No," I responded; "I certainly cannot. I have tried that long ere now, and failed."
"Just so," he said, "and only what you might have expected if you had known before what I now tell you."
"And what of the animals --- can we enjoy them? Have they a twofold form?"
"Yes," he answered, "but differently from the fruits. Every animal, whether bird, insect, horse, steer, sheep, &c., when they die or are slain, retain their etherial form suited to a Myu-me-ae-nian state."
"Then death to us is but breaking down the gorilla walls that lie between us and a higher condition of being, possession, and enjoyment?" I added.
"Exactly so," said the hermit.
"And our friends hover around us? They bend over us, follow us with their sympathies, take as deep an interest in us as ever --- only, on account of our gross nature, they cannot be seen, felt, or communicated with?"
"Perfectly so," rejoins the hermit.
"Then murder is not sin?" I again asked.
"How can it be," he answers, "when it only takes off the arrest from a higher nature?"(9)
"And what say you to a lie --- is it not a sin?"
"What mean you by a lie? I do not understand you," says the hoary sire.
"If I said that you were a gorilla that would be a lie. It would be saying you were what you were not."
"You forget, my child," says the hermit,' "that you cannot think or speak but as the molecules of your being set themselves. If, then, you tell a lie, you cannot help it. You don't mean anything wrong by it; you but obey the necessities of your material forces."
"Ah!" I said, "if I could but believe all that, how happy I would be. But the force of early training will come back on me, and make me believe that I am still responsible for every thought, word, and act; but though I may not be able, so long as I am burdened with this gross gorilla nature, to shake off these fears of conscience, yet there are multitudes, I am aware, to whom your philosophical ideas and explanations will be highly satisfactory. They will be particularly relishable to what we call the vicious, profane, licentious. To myriads in our world, both among the rich and poor, the great and mean, the noble and ignoble, the learned and unlearned, the self-righteous and irreligious, will this revelation be hailed as the dawn of a new and brighter day. Nothing so mars the happiness and peace of our world as the thought of conscience being the voice of a holy God within us charging us with guilt. And if you but saw the dying hours of the great mass of people in our world, you would pity the awful agony of their minds. So little do they know that they are but throwing off the gorilla nature, and about to be set free, in their higher Myu-me-ae-nian nature, into a higher state of being and physical enjoyment on earth. To get rid of the thoughts of a hell is one of the greatest boons that could befall our race. Why, our very laws must be reconstructed. Instead of hanging murderers, we must pension them; we must build them monuments, as the greatest benefactors or our race. When the Athenians put Socrates to death by making him drink hemlock, they were but crowning grandeur with still greater grandeur."
I would have continued to dilate on my theme had it not been that suddenly the aged hermit became more than usually excited.
"I feel it --- I feel it!" he exclaimed. "Another fruit is dropping from the Great Tree." Here he rushed away in certain direction, while I followed. He soon left me behind, and I had to guess my way as best I could. Many a wandering had I through the endless windings of the branches. Days of our time must have passed in the search before I lighted upon the spot where the old hermit was. Here he was peering through a branch of the tree in the greatest abstraction. When I came upon him he apologized for leaving me so abruptly, and then asked me to look through the same branch with him. What a magnifying power it had! The opening by which I entered into the Myu-me-ae-nian world was plain to my eyes. The stars in our sky that hung opposite to this opening were like great balloons of light. But the most noticeable object was what we would call a comet. "See!" he said; "see it rushing! A fruit fresh dropped from the Great Tree!"
"But how do you account for the streaming tail?" I asked.
"Oh!" replies the hermit, "that is caused by its friction while rushing through the finer elements of matter. They are, for the moment, thrown into an incandescent state."
It reminded me of what is often seen in tropical seas, when ships at night, sailing through shoals of phosphor animalcules, leave behind a gleaming, comet-like tail on the waters.
"And can you look upon your own world through this tubular tree?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied, "on every spot. From every elbow, large or small, I can have a different view."
He then told me to turn my head a little aside, and look through a tubular opening near to me. I did so. To my surprise it brought the inhabitants of the opposite side of Myu-me-ae-nia so near to me that I could recognise their faces as plainly as if they stood beside me. Since my return I have enjoyed the sight of the largest telescopes of earth, but they are mere child's toys to what I then enjoyed beside the hermit.
After having satisfied my curiosity with looking out upon different views of the Myu-me-ae-nian world, we again returned to the favourite nook of the hermit. When we were seated, I said ---
"Can you tell me how it is that molecules of matter originate life under certain circumstances, while they fail in others? The great thought that has wrought within me, since I began to think, is what life is. It cannot be matter, for then everything that is would live. If it is a certain collocation of molecules, what is that particular collocation? It is here, I confess, where I am oppressed by the thought of an overshadowing something infinitely higher than matter; for if matter is eternal, and if life is the fortuitous resultant of its ceaseless surgings, how comes it that an eternity has passed without such previous manifestations?"
"But that is just what requires to be proved," replied the hermit, "whether there have not been life emergences rising and disappearing along the line of the past eternity, like the air-bells that are ever rising and bursting on the Yo-yeem-le-ai-ai. My own belief is that the Great Tree and all its fruit will one day relapse into the atomic state whence they emerged, and by-and-bye a new order will arise. But as for life, it is the deepest puzzle of all. I suppose I have tried, during the last six thousand years, to get at the bottom of this mystery, and yet I seem as far as ever from mastering it. You are quite right in saying that life is not bare matter. It is something behind it, following it like its shadow --- a resultant, if you will, of certain material forces in happy combination."
"I can understand," I said, "how the attraction or repulsion of the positive and negative poles of molecules could originate love and hate, if I saw my way to the explanation of the living sensitiveness that gathered up and recorded these material affections; but not otherwise. For example, in our world, we have what we call loadstones and magnetic needles. If I place the positive poles of two magnetic needles near to one another they repel each other; if a positive to a negative, they attract. But I have no reason whatever to believe they originated either love or hate in the attraction or repulsion. Now the question comes to be --- Can any adjustment or collocation of molecules originate what is not in themselves separately?"
"The question, however, is --- Are there not latent forces in matter so feeble, that only a happy combination of them can start them into vividness by their summation? Take a flower. If you reduced it to its molecules, would you know that a certain arrangement of them would give rise to such and such hues or any hues?"
"Well," I replied, "what though I admitted I could not? That might only be an expression of my ignorance. But the admission of one ignorance does not solve another ignorance; one puzzle throws no light on a deeper. For, mark this, I see that universally the collocation of all particles of matter gives rise to one form of colour or another. I hence infer that whatever colour is, or however it originates, it is a natural and necessary resultant or quality of matter; but I do find that every possible collocation of atoms or molecules originates life. Hence the illustration is not parallel with what you wish to illustrate. For example, in our world, if I strike a man a blow on the hand or foot, he may live many years after; but if I dealt the same blow on the head or heart he would die. So with a beast; a gorilla, for example. How is it that thus, in the diffusion of life over a whole framework, it has yet a rallying point of concentration? If we pluck a rose or other flower from its stem it withers and dies, and yet it retains all the material combinations it ever had."
"Have you no theories of life in your world?" asks the hermit."
"Theories!" I responded. "Endless theories, and all of them unsatisfactory, save one."
"And that one?" interrogates the hermit.
"That there is a God, uncreated, infinite, eternal, and that he is above matter. But even here there are differences of opinion. Some have a theory of a God who is impersonal. Instead of referring everything, as you do, to matter, they refer it to God. They say every living manifestation is but a development of God, whether plant or animal. Death with them is but reabsorption into God, while death with you, is but reabsorption into primordial elementary matter. Another theory, and the least open to objection as well difficulty, is that God is as far removed above matter as matter is above nothingness --- yea, infinitely further. For the distance between nothingness can be bridged over by creative power, but that between matter and Godhead can never be bridged over. Life, then, according to these latter theorists, is a direct superaddition to matter. It is not matter, nor any possible arrangement of matter, gives rise to life, though it is in connection with certain organized states. In our world you may see, after death, every physical power of a dead body as complete as before the departure of life. In anatomizing it nothing might be found wanting; and yet what a vast difference when the life is gone!"
"And what say they that life is?" asks the hermit.
"I know not," I replied, "of one successful attempt at a definition. Difficulties multiply at every stage of ascent or descent in the scale of life. Life in man is said to consist in a spiritual principle. This spiritual principle, they say, is not matter. But the question arises --- How do they know? It is only an assertion. If it is not matter, what is it? To call it, then, a spiritual principle is merely escaping from the difficulty, not solving it, by employing words of which they have no distinct conception. Is it spirit, or a spiritual principle, too, in beasts? If so, wherein does it differ from that in man? Is it a spiritual principle in insects? Is it a spiritual principle in plants? Again, this spiritual principle in man is indivisible, they say. In other words, the life is indivisible. What warrant have they for this? It is mere assertion. We find that life is not always indivisible. Cut a slip from some trees and plant them --- they will grow to large trees. Cut some worms into many pieces; and yet every piece becomes a distinct living worm. Cut the polypus of the ocean into sections, and each, becomes a polypus. Here is life divisible. Yea, is not life procreative, and hence divisible. What are the seeds of grain, and the fruits of trees but one life germinating into many potential lives? Every living thing bringeth forth after its kind; the fish of the sea, the fowls of the air, the beasts of the field, and the race of man."
Here we sat in mute bewilderment, gazing at each other. We found ourselves standing on the edge of an unsounded abyss. We had unwittingly plunged ourselves into unpremeditated entanglements. It was from no desire on my part to upset the materialistic theory of the Myu-me-ae-nian hermit that I launched along this sweeping current. My own personal theory, so far as I had one, coincided with his; but the traditionary ideas of my early training and associations cropped up suddenly into bristling harvest. I vented these cognate difficulties with the view of drawing from him counter-statements that would extinguish them for ever like grasped soap-bubbles. I did want to get beyond the conviction of an uncreated and personal God; but in the attempt I found myself face to face with Him.
"My child," exclaimed the hermit, beaming with delight, "the memory of thirteen thousand years ago is upon me. I stood once upon a rock that overhung one of your mountain lakes. Beside me grew a tree. When I peered down into the calm blue water of the lake, what a huge shadow of that tree projected far away down as if interminably! It is thus you and I stand, in thought, on the steep outskirts of matter. In the calm deep abyss beyond we see a huge shadow thrown. What is it? It is the shadow of life as it exists in this world. You mistook this shadow, in your superstitious fear and ignorance, for a God! I see it now --- the mystery is solved!"
Oh! what an immense relief this brought to us both. We clutched at it as a drowning man would at the shadow of his own arm. We mutually smiled and congratulated one another. We now dismissed the subject, lest further conversation would rob us of our solace. Without admitting it to each other, or even to ourselves, we inwardly resolved that no other belief should take possession of our mind. It was a settled point --- there was no God. What was thought to be such was only the highly exaggerated shadow of that inexplicable reality --- life. The only true believers worthy of the name are those who can believe against all assertions, arguments, or evidences to the contrary. What credit is there to any for believing on evidences? But to believe without, and contrary to evidences, that is true sublimity. We felt we had planted our feet on the very pinnacles of being and thought. Our position was a proud and enviable one indeed. We had cut the Gordian knot that has puzzled myriads for ages. Beyond matter and chance, all was a region void, dreary, unreached by the waves of life, or force, or ought.
"May I ask," I said, "how you knew another fruit was falling from the Great Tree?"
"My child," answers the hermit, "when you get rid of your gorilla nature, your senses will be immensely quickened. Every movement in the great ocean of matter tells upon you and me. The only difference is, you are not so sensitive to it as we Myu-me-ae-nians are; and as a Myu-me-ae-nian gets older he becomes more keenly sensitive. Every chemical change produces a certain agitation that vibrates along through the whole infinite mass of polarized matter; but it is chiefly through the finest and most etherealized atoms this percussionary force is conveyed."
Little did I ween, at the time he was thus opening up a new vein of discovery, that in our own world experiments were being made on the same principle, which was linking nations to nations. What is electricity but the same law reduced to a science and art? These electric wires bridge over the difficulty originating in our gorilla nature. I have learned, since my return, that astronomers have determined that every great change in the sun produces certain climatic changes or aberrations in our world. Does not this prove that what the old hermit of Myu-me-ae-nia said was true? It is thus you learn how a man, when he enters upon his Myu-me-ae-nian condition gets into conscious electric relation with the whole universe of being.
"And why," I further interrogated, "does the tubular state of your tree branches magnify objects, and bring them apparently nearer?"
"I before informed you," he said, "that the outlying sea of chaotic matter pressed forward in ceaseless currents towards the Great Tree. The finest elements of the same matter are absorbed by our own trees, plants, animals. The polarized movements of these elixir currents, while filing through and feeding these branches, yield a vast magnifying medium for the eye. And however great may be its magnifying power to your gross eyes, it is as nothing compared with what it is to our eyes."
"Alas!" I said; "what a pity it is that so noble a race as yours is should have so degenerated. You cannot conceive the contempt I entertained for the Myu-me-ae-nians till I met with you. I thought them the veriest of imbeciles. I was offered a peerage, but I scorned it; for I thought the peers the greatest imbeciles. I was next offered the premiership, but I rejected it; I saw not what good I could effect in a government constituted as the two chambers were."
"Ah!" responds the hermit, "you see the results of all violent changes. I must here inform you that the throne of Myu-me-ae-nia was occupied by myself. When my daughter came under the spell of the great dragon, and could not be induced to return, murmurs broke out among all the Myu-me-ae-nians. It was chiefly among the lowest, most ignorant, and lawless this discontentment was greatest. They were joined by a few of the rich, the learned, and the nobles, who were covetous of popularity among the mob. The smouldering fires gathered force and fury till they burst out in an ungovernable tempest. I was hurled from my throne. Having once begun to move, they could not stop. After the suppression of the throne came that of all the superior orders. All estates and wealth were confiscated and equally divided. Rank, wealth, learning, greatness were all indiscriminately assailed. The gathered wisdom of untold cycles, as it was concreted into a political code, was cancelled. Might became right. Myu-me-ae-nia was anew constituted. Our libraries were burned; our institutions for advancing knowledge were destroyed, and their revenues confiscated. An age of anarchy ensued. The wise of the nation were ostracised, banished, persecuted. Ignorance, boldness, and clamour were henceforth the stepping-stones to power. True to the eternal laws of gradation in the ranks of life and organized matter, society by-and-bye readjusted itself. Property and rule relapsed into the hands of the few; but these few were the lowest of the people --- the imbeciles of the nation; for none of the independent and intelligent would accept the governmental power on the terms which were offered. This reacted on the people themselves; for the rulers, dreading the return of intelligent and independent minds to power, did everything they could think of to stamp out both from among the race; and you see how well they have succeeded.(10) A nobler and grander race it was impossible to conceive of than the Myu-me-ae-nian once was; but since that unhappy day that originated your race its glory has all passed away. May your visit be the return of our past glory; may you yet step to the throne that is legitimately yours. If you do, I will stand by you with all the weight of my wisdom and prestige."
"Will you leave your hermitage," I said, "and help me to resuscitate a great people?"
"I will!" he replied, "I will!"
"Adieu," I answered; "adieu. May the goddess of chance guide and direct us!"
"Amen," said the hermit, "amen."
We both started at our own words after they were uttered; we looked each other full in the face with searching and meaning looks; but we had resolved to say no more on such matters. Still it was obvious to us both that one of the deepest instincts of being was to trust to some higher presiding mind for guidance in the hour of greatest difficulty, doubt, and danger. The thought rose whether we would or not. "Was this a latent quality of matter starting only into prominence in the fortuitous aggregation of certain polarized forces, or was there something higher than matter?" But since we had resolved on a happy simile to dismiss the idea of a Deity, why should I trouble you with doubts we allowed not ourselves to entertain? The force of mind never shows itself so great as when it determines not to yield to its own laws. It proves the superiority of etherealized matter over grosser matter.
I now rose to depart, when another thought pressed upon me. It demanded solution. I apologized for wishing to trouble him with one more question.
"My child," said the hermit, "tender no apologies. Your stay with me is the solace of millenniums; your departure will afflict me till we meet again. Say on, and stay on."
"There is a habit," I said, "very prevalent among you to which I would specially call your attention. It is indeed, I regret to say, very prevalent in our world also. Can you explain to me the origin of swearing? I have long studied the problem, but cannot see what possible excuse there is for it, or what gratification arises from it."
"Be it known to you," replied the hermit, "that swearing among the Myu-me-ae-nians is more a development, nationally, of these modern times than a characteristic of us as a race. It was a rare thing among us to hear an oath prior to the historic era with which you are identified; and the Myu-me-ae-nian who offended thus entailed upon himself his own punishment by being self-tabooed. It was looked upon by us as the evidence of a raw, undeveloped materialism, that degraded the individual who indulged in it. You know my ideas on our origin. We are the highest development of matter. The thinking principle is the climax of life development; but this thinking principle shows itself in various individuals at various stages. The emergence or development in many has been arrested when just getting clear of gross, inert, inorganized matter; in others it has been arrested when escaping from organized vegetableism; in a third when emancipating itself from the entangling organisms of animalism. Now the stages, of arrestment in these three departments are almost infinite; more than that, they are, more or less, combined and interlaced in the greatest number of intelligent beings. The perfection or imperfection of a nature is in proportion as the escape has been more or less complete from any or all of these. If you ask me what swearing has to do with all this, the explanation is very near at hand. It is this: If you observe, you will find that the class of people who are addicted to swearing are of a low type of intellectualism. They are not much afflicted with politeness, common sense, or self-respect. They are rather a low, coarse, blustering class or a vain, bouncing, pretentious species. This blustering and bouncing are put on to cover a felt inferiority. There is in such individuals some of the highest elixir elements of matter, which, happily combined, form the pregnant mould or matrix of purest thought. This, however, is in them in such minute proportions, and is so hampered, oppressed, and harrassed by the superincumbent presence of the lower developments or undevelopments, that the consciousness of their inferiority is ever pressing gallingly upon them. Tormented by this Nemesis, they are apt to think everybody else despises them or is disposed to do so. Hence the physical irritation between this fragment of highest philosophic or thinking matter and the grosser elements finds relief in swearing. Just as you have seen the surgings of the ocean leaping and breaking itself into foam against the iron coast, so this finer elixir, dashing against the grosser, bursts in oaths. Swearing is but the foam or an exasperated, homťopathic intellect, caused by its futile attempts to dominate the lower forms of organized or inorganized matter. The greatest swearers are those in whom this struggle is fiercest and least successful."
"But how," I said, "comes it that your race, which is at the highest stage of living development, should yet be blighted by this vulgar habit?"
"Ah!" replied the hermit, "you must take this thought along with you. Although thinking matter is the highest emergence, yet much is due to cultivation. There is ever a tendency in the highest organisms to relapse into the inert condition whence we, emerged. Life alone checkmates this backward tendency. If it be intellectual life in vigorous exercise it leads it up higher and further away from pure animalism; if animal, further away from vegetableism; and so on. But if the force of these upward tendencies or efforts be relaxed the inevitable result is to relapse more and more into the lower, from that to the lower still, till it reaches the molecular. In the Myu-me-ae-nian world the higher and intellectual has relaxed more and more towards the animal and vegetable;(11) but it has not reached the stage wherein full consciousness of increased inferiority is stamped on it. There are still hovering memories of a past greatness they now in vain reach after; and it is where the point of intellectual submergence is greatest there the swearing is greatest. It is hence the truest index of a low vegetable or animal nature burdening a minute and struggling intellectual nature:"
"There is a vice," I further added, "common among us such as I see not common among you. I refer to the unlawful commerce between the sexes. In some countries one wife does not satisfy a man; he must have two, three, more, sometimes well on to a thousand. In countries where such is not sanctioned by law men have their kept mistresses besides their wives; others will trade with prostitutes; others indulge in adulterous amours."
"I am sorry to say," responds the hermit, "the reason is not far to seek. Your gorilla nature explains the whole. There is in your race an animal preponderance above what is in us; such as it would be in vain to picture forth: You see in the animal kingdom of your world beasts and birds that go in pairs; but you see other beasts where the male lords it over a whole herd, larger or smaller. That your race is not stamped with the awful venerealism of the latter class is due to this; viz., that in some there is a greater preponderance of the Myu-me-ae-nian nature than, in others. In proportion as the animal, vegetable, or inorganized predominate in any, such are their peculiar characteristics."
"Then you look upon this venereal excess as the proof of a beastly nature paramount in the man or woman?" I asked.
"Decidedly so," he replied. "You have but to look around you on the animal kingdom to find the fitting type to the individual. The higher the nature the further it recoils from this animalism, till it, in some cases, breaks loose altogether from the last attenuated cord. Hence the bachelors and spinsters you speak of."
"Bachelors!" I thought, "why, they are often the most venereal and lawless of all men, and nuns, monks, and some spinsters, too."
"I have been thinking," I added, "over what you said anent murder. You said that murder was no sin. Would you, then, that we encourage it? Should we pension murderers as the benefactors of our race?"
"Far from it," responded the hermit, with something of indignant heat. "You misunderstood me if what I said fostered any such inference. A murderer is one who has, animalism in highest development; and if you don't scruple to shoot a bear or lion if it destroy a friend, neither do so in relation to a murderer. A murderer but obeys the impulse of the fierce gorilla nature that is in him; but is it for you to foster and fatten gorillaism?"
"You have explained to my satisfaction," I rejoined, "many anomalies. Will you solve for me the material phenomenon of a lie?"
"A lie! a lie!" he ejaculated, while nervously passing his fingers through his long beard; "yes; I have been thinking of that. In some natures there is a hitch in the developments. Instead of a natural shading in of the vegetable and animal into the intellectual, there is often an abrupt termination. Thus you may find a high intellectualism recumbent on the vegetable, without any intermediate layers of the animal. These, as a rule, are vegetarians in their diet: they prefer vegetables, from the natural instincts of their preponderating vegetable nature; or you may find a high intellectualism in juxtaposition with a low animalism. A gulf in the graduating series of animal layers is existing. The regular gradation is wanting. Two extremes are brought together in abrupt and unnatural juxtaposition. This is an outrage on the regular sequences of nature. Hence the man is a liar."
"How extraordinary are your solutions!" I rejoined.
"To you, my child, they may be," he replied; "but the lowest fractions of thought to me."
"Is it so?" I added. "Then I shall not spare you." I was about to pose him with the question why the conviction of a God was among the innate and most irrepressible of instincts in an intelligent being, but it just occurred to me that I had inwardly resolved that that should no more be an open question; I had settled it for ever that there was --- at least must be --- no God. True, in spite of all conclusions and determinations, it will force itself upon you, will ye or nill ye. But there is one consolation; if you cannot control realities, you can at least control your belief. And in these modern times belief is everything --- reality nothing.
While I was casting about for other subjects that had taxed my thoughts, I again recalled him to the subject of lying.
"Does your theory," I said; "account for all shades arid grades of liars?"
"All shades and grades of liars," was his emphatic reply. "If you would make an analysis of them, from the grossest to the most refined, I think I could show you the point and extent of the defect originating it. In proportion as the hiatus is great, bracketting a larger number of missing layers, the more bold and deliberate the liar; or if there be rather a great number of small but frequent hiatuses, then that man is always nibbling at the truth; he cannot help it --- he is a liar from constitutional defects."
"How, then," I asked, "would you extort truth from a liar? Or how would you cure lying?"
"Why," he answered, "by sharp, short, cornerless questions. Surprise is of the nature to cause the molecular organization to brace up and clear its gulfs at a bound. It is the time you give for hesitation that leaves your subject helpless to the lame steps of a defective organism; but you must take heed there be no lanes or corners by which it can start aside or disappear with a leer while you bound past unwitting."
"There is one more vice common among us," I said, "unknown among you, so far as I can perceive. I refer to drunkenness."
"Drunkenness! drunkenness!" he reiterated; "what is that?"
I explained to him, how they pressed out the juice of the grape, and he suffered it to pass through certain processes till it became what we call wine. Also I showed how the hop was converted into beer, barley into whiskey, &c. I described to him our drinking clubs, saloons, gin palaces, hotels, club-rooms. I gave him an accurate description of the several stages of inebriation, from the happy and chatty to the jabbering and dead drunk. I led him, in thought, down to our purlieus and dens of squalor and crime; into our hospitals, penitentiaries, gaols, &c. It had been worth a hundred millions a year to our world had an artist been there to witness and perpetuate, in a series of cartoons, the various phase of mental surprise, indignation, and horror through which tile hermit passed. His wrath knew no bounds when animadverting on the wickedness of those who prosecuted the trades of distillation out of love of pure gain. His language was a torrent of burning rebuke against legislators who licensed such traffic, and then punished those who indulged most in it. I recalled him to the point I aimed at --- viz., an explanation of the phenomenon.
"The easiest thing in the world," was his prompt reply.
"What you tell me anent distillation or the manufacture of these intoxicants is but the result of an arrest, put upon the disintegrating forces of vegetable matter. The preponderating vegetable affinities, of some natures crave instinctively in their sympathies, after the experience of this final dissolution; for, you must know, whatever is most natural is most congenial, even though it be heaped on the high road to everlasting molecular reabsorption. The intoxicants you describe act upon the latent physical forces which are, more or less, quiescent in the juvenescent era of intellectual being. This acting yields a physical pleasure intensely gratifying to natures little removed above the vegetable kingdom."
I was rather mortified by this explanation; for, I must confess, I do like a little wine occasionally. Not that I was ever drunk in my life. No man ever was. Ask him next day --- ten to one he would swear his wife was when he came home at one o'clock in the morning, and made such a row when he arrived, for the life of him could he make out for awhile what the dickens was the matter with her. Another thing --- he thought some mischievous urchin had plugged up the check key-hole, for he was blowed if he could find it out; and as he entered the lobby he was sure there was the shock of an earthquake, for all the lobby chairs and the table came knocking up against him. Yes, and the shock so overpowered him, that he was glad to sit down on the floor till it was over, Finally, the fright had so unstrung his nerves, he could not steady his hand to get his watch-key into its proper place for winding up.
"How did you," I responded, "view such vices as were incident to your race, and how would you those, over and above, peculiar to us?"
His answer was: "You see, in our palmy days, we were a race of philosophers. We regulated all by a system of philosophic ideas or laws."
"Why so?" I said. "Seeing you don't believe in a God, why should you impose restraints upon yourselves? Surely it is foolish. I would have thought your motto would be --- "Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for by-and-bye we shall be reabsorbed in molecular elements."
"You misunderstand, my child," he responded. "Life is all the more precious that it is not eternal."
"You surprise me," I answered; "I would have thought it was proportionally less so."
"Foolish child!" he said, smiling. "The dread of impersonal reabsorption cannot have been studied by you, otherwise your thoughts would not run so smoothly in such grooves."
"And do you dread it?" I asked.
"Dread it! why, yes; and the longer we live we dread it the more. We yearn after immortality."
"Indeed!" I said. "Why, that strips me of all the philosophic equanimity your philosophy imparted. It is not equal to the philosophy of some in our own world. I have heard of one who, in his dying hours, exclaimed, 'Sprinkle me with perfumes --- cover me with roses --- for I go to my eternal sleep!'"
"That," replies the hermit, "is not surprising. Overlaid by so much of the animal nature, the intellectual is disqualified for realizing it; but when these awake to the Myu-me-ae-nian state, they will change their philosophy."
"Well," I responded," does not such craving after immortality proclaim that life is immortal? Some of our philosophers have drawn thence subsidiary arguments in proof of endless immortality."
"Tush! nonsense!" ejaculated the hermit, in bitterness; "it proclaims the immortality of matter --- that is all. The indestructibility of the molecular element is indubitable; but that any form of life is thereby predominant. Hush --- no more!"
Happy way of closing up difficulties! I immediately thought of Popery --- how it so comfortably clears every gulf and seals up every doubt by an anathema. This must be derived from the Myu-me-ae-nian nature. In fact, the longer I study the Myu-me-ae-nian world the more I am convinced that the Holy Roman Catholic Church is as near an incarnation of Myu-me-ae-nianism as can well be attained in this world. No wonder its votaries count by the hundreds of. millions; and no wonder it follows its own instincts in persecuting those who will not receive it, for it alone leads back to the true Myu-me-ae-nian nature, and when it bums or gibbets unbelievers it is but ridding them of the gorilla incumbrances, and leading them back by the shortest road to the Myu-me-ae-nian condition. Infidels call such murder; but it is no murder when done out of kindly zeal for their welfare. Ah! strange that Mother Church is so vilely lied on and misunderstood!
"There is a form of enjoyment," I added, "among us which is esteemed by many as brutal and degrading; but among other classes it is highly relished and assiduously practised. For example, bull-baiting, horse-racing, steeple-chasing, cock-fighting, prize-fighting, wild beast hunting, &c." Of course I had to explain all these various descriptions of amusement and their invariable accompaniments. I asked him if he could explain these in harmony with his gorilla theory.
His answer was --- "It is but animalism, in some of its lowest and fiercest types, adhering to the intellectual nature."
"Do we not derive it, in some measure, from our Myu-me-ae-nian nature?" I asked.
He admitted that we did, but it was in them an adherence more or less of the same. Here he drew a refined distinction. "The foundation elementary laws of being required exercise for its continued healthy condition. The chase was a noble thing; it had its foundation in nature; but, whatever was the special object of it most followed by the hunter, that revealed the chiefest adhering animal type."
I described to him a fox-hunt, and the peculiar character of the fox; also the lion; bear, gazelle, chamois, elephant, otter, &c.
"Rest assured," said the hermit, "those who delight chiefly in the fox-hunt are just those who have most of the fox nature in themselves; or if it be the lion any man loves most to hunt, then it is the lion nature predominates most in him; or if it be a hare, then that is indicative of a timid, limping, animal nature; and so on, of all others."
Since my return from the Myu-me-ae-nian world, I have been visiting the British Museum in London. There I came across the excavations from Nineveh. Among them I saw the lion-hunter, with the skin and head of the lion put on him. In those days least moved from the fountain head of man, this Myu-me-ae-nian tradition must have been fresh in the minds of our race. Hence this practice is indicative of the nature that man chiefly possessed.
"There is another question I wish you would help me to solve," I said. "There are certain minerals in our world we call gold, silver, &c. These are used as the counters of wealth, and employed largely in the commercial transactions of life. Now, would you believe it, the great mass of our fellow-creatures worship that gold and silver as if it were a god. In proportion as men have much or little of these, they are esteemed, humoured, fawned upon, followed, almost worshipped. Some hoard it up, denying themselves every comfort and enjoyment, that they may amass this mineral. One of our own poets has called it a 'cursed thirst of gold.' Very few men are exempt from this fearful mania. You may find many a poor wretch, that has scarcely a sixpence wherewith to bless himself, yet planning for it, dreaming of it, panting after it with a more fearful intensity than those who have a mint of it. Is it not humbling to you to think that descendants of yours should have such gross material propensities?"
"True!" he responded, "most true! But yet why should you be surprised? I have already explained to you that we, and more especially you, share in the lower types of life. But you, more especially, have also your deep original roots in the mineral and even primordial chaotic elements. These are the adamant bonds which hold you prisoner and in good faith for the reversionary time of submergence. They will drag you back through the various disintegratory stages till you are again resolved into primal chaos. This very cleaving of intelligent beings to sordid matter, whether gold or silver, shows the strata through which they have passed, and what adhering masses of these strata they have carried along with them. If there be a vast mineral proportion in the composition of any man, can you wonder if it should manifest itself to that degree in his life?"
"If such elements," I replied. "be in our nature, is it either sinful or humiliating to yield to them? They cannot help it. Why, then, not give way to it, and reap the natural fruits?"
"Your suggestion is natural," he responded, "but not wise. You have to consider that, in proportion as these lower conditions of life or materialism show themselves, it tells the rank of the individual in the scale of being. As you would not place a gorilla on the same level with a man or a Myu-me-ae-nian, so neither should you place a man who is a murderer, drunkard, liar, miser, gambler, &c., on the same level with a man who, through the aid of philosophy rises above these. No, no, my child; rank has a real meaning and value in it. It is not a figment --- at least it ought not so to be. True, alas! in Myu-me-ae-nia we have those at the highest recognized end of the scale of rank who ought to be at the lowest. All the foundations of society have been overturned; but even this fictitious rank pays an unwilling compliment to real rank."
"And what matters it," I added, "what your rank be, seeing all revert at length to the atomic or elementary condition?"
"Matter, my child!" says the hermit; "it matters every way, and very much. It matters in regard to pure enjoyment. It is just in proportion as you rise in intelligence, and get clear beyond the lower conditions of being, is life rendered exquisite. These grosser have their gratifications, boisterous and short-lived, because they exhaust the coarse fibres of organized materialism; but the other excites them in purity, richness, and ecstacy. More than that, life is lengthened as well as strengthened by the higher efforts and exercises of pure being. It is by it you can reach the only immortality we are capable of. It is by fusing these lower substrata into the higher --- obliterating every ostensible vestige of them by the incandescing fires of intellectual energy --- you not only ascend in the gradations of rank, but you keep in abeyance and drive further back the fatal era of submergence and final disintegration. The gross immoralities, as you call them in your world, ought to be put down, because they war with the highest and purest happiness of your race, and rob them of their only chance of a lengthened immortality."
"Have you," I asked, "a code of laws pointing in this direction?"
"Once we had," said the hermit; "not now. Hence the inferiority of our race. Our system was this: "The state had an ordinance that every Myu-me-ae-nian should wear ensigns on all his armour. It appointed officers, who superintended certain districts, and these watched the up growth, and carefully looked into the habits and dispositions of all the youth. At a certain age, after they had formed their opinion of them as to what were the points of their weaknesses and affinities with the lower conditions of being, they fixed on that as their armorial ensign. This had a twofold intent in it. The one was that the individual, knowing what his weaknesses or peculiar proclivities were, might take every means prevalent among us for throwing off, grafting on, and developing, so that he might round out in true nobleness of character; but, at the same time, it put society on its guard, that they might not be imposed upon or injured by that individual. This served as an additional buttress to the efforts of the individual, as it lessened the tendencies or danger of yielding, on his part, to his weaknesses, seeing he was watched in this aspect. It was thus we educed a noble race."
"To some," I replied, "this escutcheoning must have been very humiliating."
"True," he answered, "but not so much as you would suppose; for we all aimed at nobility of nature, and anything that formed a stepping-stone to that was hailed by us; yea, everything that served as a breakwater between us and the great outlying sea of chaos was looked on as a boon. This practice embraced all ranks of the nation; from the throne to the hut it was universal. Hence we marched, as a race, with simultaneous step, towards higher worth and life. It was a grand spectacle --- none grander. What a brilliant age! May it be that happier days are in reserve!" he added, with a sigh.
It was rather mortifying to me, in one sense, that my theory about the figures on the pillars of the Chamber of Peers was upset. I had conjectured it told of their real origin, each from the particular beast or vegetable, --- or compound of both --- which I saw. Theories are very dear to the theorist, as everyone knows from their own experience. The bantling of his brain he cannot think to give up to immolation on the altar of fact. I don't know, therefore, whether I should even yet resign my theory, seeing it formed such a weighty argument in proof of Darwinianism. But I have this consolation --- that if even I be forced to surrender it, Darwinianism finds a coadjutor in the Myu-me-ae-nian hermit and his theory.
After I had recovered from the reverie into which I had fallen, I again added --- " Cultivation ennobles the nature;' you say, "leads to its highest development and immortality, and these conduce to the highest happiness. Do not these suggest at any time higher difficulties? Is it not marvellous that the more moral --- as we in our world say --- the life is, it conducts to higher elevation, purer enjoyment, and longer life? Strange that a happy combination of the highest aggregate forces of matter should issue invariably in these! --- that matter should ever crop up towards Spiritualism --- that death should point blindly, yet instructively, to life --- chaos lead the way to highest and most perfect order --- how marvellous!"
"Most true," answered the hermit; "it is the greatest of all marvels, and nothing but the eternity of matter could explain it. The atomic force in its summation is exhaustless. Let its combinations into worlds or universes be resolved into their elements, they gather up anew in virgin combinations of order, beauty, and power. The combinations may lose their massed energy through the lapse of time; but these minute mainsprings are ever unrelaxed; the restless virtue and fervency that are in them are undecaying. Units cannot be divided or annihilated; their very unity necessitates their eternity."
"In our world we have keen disputes," I said, "among our philosophers as to whether the will is free or necessitated. What say you to that?"
"My dear child," responded the hoary sire, "it glads me much to find that there are cleaving to your race so many footprints of your past Myu-me-ae-nian origin. These disputes tell of a traditionary knowledge which has become broken into fragments while handed along the line of generations."
"But your disputes are fruitless, as they are founded on false assumptions. For example, they go on the ground that the two are antagonistic; whereas, they are the complements of each other. The human will is both free and necessitated; it is necessitated, as it is the offspring of matter. As a combined result of molecular forces it must strike you as an inseparable characteristic of its condition that it be necessitated. Every special kind of tree or beast is necessitated. All the animals or plants of that particular combination have a certain similarity. They have a similarity of form, appetites, habits, qualities. Hence you call one a lion, a bear, a wolf, a hyena. Each is necessited to be what it is. But within the limits of this necessitated condition there is a vast freedom. Just so with the human will. It is necessitated, by its very atomic origin, to be the will with all that bounds its character and energies; but, like a dog on its chain, within a certain range it has a great freedom."
"True," I answered, "I see all that. But the chief question that perplexes us is whether it is free or necessitated to act in the presence of divers motives --- chosing [sic] which to yield to without any absolute necessity, or not to act at all."
"Here again," replies the hermit, "there is the combination of freedom and necessity. If it act at all, it must be according to the necessary laws of its constitution. In this sense it is necessitated; and if it don't act it must be in obedience to the same subtle conditions. Your whole casuistry is about its freedom to act or not act --- or to act this way rather than that way, --- our willing obedience to the weaker rather than the stronger motive. Is it not so?"
"Well, yes; that is about it," I responded, "Do you not see that you overlook the fact that these are but appearances? To say it is necessitated when it obeys its nature, however apparently capricious, is to say what is true; to say that it acts freely, is to say true; for want of freedom is violence to its nature, but it cannot act at all save in accordance with its nature, however it act. The man feels he acts freely when yet he is conscious of acting under a necessity; and when acting freely he feels he acts under a necessity. So that your whole dispute is a quibble as to what, more or less, of his constitutional laws are called into play in any special act. Your very winds, which wander freely, wander under the necessity of certain inexorable laws."
"There is a subject occurs to me. I wish to talk to you of it ere I forget it. It so presses on my mind, I cannot attend to your explanation of the human will. We have a Church in our world called the Holy Roman Catholic Church."
"So I understand," he said. "I have heard your conversations about it with Me-ma-muia-yang. Will you let me hear more of it?"
"A nobler Church," I replied, "there could not be. Of course, according to your theory, its fundamental principle is wrong. It is built on the idea of the existence of a God; but if you knew how its teachings and practices emasculate that doctrine, you would find nothing in it to complain of. The beauty of its whole system lies in this --- that it is constructed so as to embrace in its communion all shades of doctrines, from that of absolute belief in a God down to the non-existence of a God; for while it teaches, in appearance, the doctrine of a Divine Being, in fact and practice it sets the doctrine wholly aside. So much is this the case, that those who are the truest sons of the Church don't believe in a God. Some of our most eminent Popes have said of it that it was the most profitable fable that ever was invented."(12)
"Will you explain to me," he said, "how they can both teach there is a God, and yet render it nugatory in practice?"
"Most willingly," I responded. "There is, for example, a head appointed over the whole Church. He goes by the name of Pope or Holy Father. He is the supreme authority for all faith and practice. No one, under pain of damnation, can believe any doctrine unless the Holy Father sanction it. By his authority he can prevent men believing even what goes under the name of a direct revelation from God. For example, the Bible tells men that you must do no murder, or, if you do, you must die and be damned; but the Holy Father says you may murder a man if he is a heretic, and, if you do, you will go to heaven. The Bible says thou shalt not steal; the Holy Father says you may steal if it is from a heretic. The Bible says that men are not to worship any but God, and that to worship any creature is a sin; but the Holy Father teaches us to worship the Virgin Mary, the apostles, and all the martyrs and saints that are placed on its calendar, and says if we do it not we must go to hell. The Bible tells us we are not to worship graven images; but the Holy Father commands us to worship images, and has the churches crowded with them. The Bible tells us that none can forgive sins, but God only; but the Holy Father tells us that he and all his priests can forgive sins. Now if that is not a setting up of himself higher than God, I don't know what is."
"And do they not make a semblance of worship to the God whom they profess to teach and believe in?"
"Yes," I replied, "a pompous and very imposing worship."
"And are they sincere in it?"
"Well, the ignorant and the superstitious are sincere; but the initiated aim at magnifying the authority and sacredness of the priesthood, but especially the Pope."
"So then it is at bottom," he added, "a mere materialism?"
"Exactly so," I rejoined; "at least I begin now to think so."
"Ah! if that be the case," adds the hermit, "I cannot admire it. It wants a candour that no ingenuity can redeem or rescue from contempt. It is at bottom a system founded on a lie; and you know my thoughts of lying. Starting with such a practical though underhand principle, it cannot ennoble or elevate; it can only foster a hesitancy --- a hesitancy that leaves the intellectual and moral life at the mercy of the lower vegetableism or animalism. The downward or relapsing tendency increases with an accelerating ratio. Better to proclaim and believe in a blank materialism than profess to believe in the opposite, but insincerely. I execrate an hypocrisy and baseness like that."
"Hold, father!" I exclaimed, "I will not stand to hear the Church of my fathers characterized thus. Hypocrisy! baseness! what blasphemy!"
"What do you wish me to say of it?" replied the hermit, in amazement. "I thought you wished my opinion of it. To the best of my judgment I have given it. If you can convince me that my judgment is wrong, I will readily apologize. But, by your own showing, it is founded on a lie; and a lie cannot but bring forth after its kind. Unless you throw different light upon it from what you have done. I must brand it as an abomination to be abhorred and scouted of all upright and intelligent beings."
I confess I was thrown on my beam-ends. All the instincts of my youthful training and associations were shocked by the verdict of the hermit; and yet I felt that either I had altogether misunderstood the whole Roman Catholic religion or the verdict of the hermit must be correct. Whether it was that the atomic theory of the hermit was taking root in me and bringing forth its legitimate fruit in me or no, I cannot say; but this was the first moment I became conscious that my faith in Mother Church staggered. I was now like a drowning man grasping at a straw. I thought I was in honour bound to defend the Church that I had described as the noblest Church on earth. Besides, like a man that will talk freely of his wife's defects, but let a stranger do the same, and then there is no accounting for early-rooted bigotry! I therefore cast about for arguments wherewith to rescue it from the contempt of the old hermit.
"Father," I said, trying to make amends for my former abrupt rudeness by milder language, "it has, at least, one custom in common with you of Myu-me-ae-nia; so that, if it is hypocritical it derives it, in some measure, from you."
"That may be," he responded; "but that does not, therefore, clear it of the charge. We are not faultless or infallible."
"But our Holy Father, the Pope, is infallible," I unguardedly exclaimed, with an air of exultant triumph; for I thought I had seasonably seized the weapon that was to defeat all his reasonings.
"Did not I say," responded the hermit, sternly and severely, "the fruit would correspond with the root? Infallible! Horrible lie! The offspring of atoms infallible! The bungled travestie of mineralism, vegetableism, animalism, intelligence and moralism infallible! The second or third rate intellectual resultant of primordial molecules infallible! Are you a fool, a knave, insane, or all together?"
"Neither," I answered, in piqued bitterness.
"Show me, then, how he can possibly be infallible."
"He says he is," I replied; "and I always believed it. I cannot say I am able to prove to your conviction how it is he must be so; but we are never allowed to doubt what he says. The key-note of our whole system is this --- 'To doubt is to be damned.' "
"And not to doubt," he adds, in bitter scorn, "is to be damned." I cannot tell you how enraged I felt. I thought with myself --- You old Pagan hermit, if I had you at Smithfield, I would ply you with warmer and more impressive arguments. But I thought it better to disguise my feelings.
"You have diverted me from my object," I said. "I intended informing you that your hermit life in Myu-me-ae-nia is the foundation of a system prevalent in our Church."
"How is this carried out, my child?"
"We have nunneries and monasteries to which men and women retire and spend their days in an enforced celibacy, that they may give themselves to a holy life. There they are shut out from the world, submit to bodily penances and mortifications, abandon their relations for ever. Others carry out the idea more strictly, and spend their days in deserts, caves, or on the top of a lofty pillar."
I entered fully into the history of monastic life as far as my knowledge went; but while I watched for a pleased smile of surprise lighting up the face of the old hermit, I was puzzled to find a gathering gloom. At length he broke forth in greater vehemence than ever, calling it all a lie.
"A lie!" I exclaimed, "a monastic life a lie! How, then, do you in Myu-me-ae-nia perpetuate such a lie?"
"We do it not," he added. "You misunderstand our customs. A life of voluntary or enforced celibacy is unknown among us. It is contrary to the whole laws of material being. Is there not the male and female in the vegetable, animal, or intellectual kingdom? To fruitfulness, must there not be a marriage between the two sexes? Is not fruitfulness the highest law, destiny, honour of being? To evade fruitfulness is to perpetuate a deceit --- a lie --- on nature. What merit is in that? It is an immorality --- it is a strangling of the highest efforts of life."
"No," he continued, "we never practise celibacy. We seek our natural complement, and only reabsorption separates us."
"But you have renounced the world," I said.
"Renounced the world, child! Why, I never was in so close community with it. I live in the very heart of it. I dwell in one of its nervous ganglia, feeling every pulsation of its great throbbing heart. We climb to higher nobility on the stepping-stones of other minds. Can you look around on my abode, and say I deny myself any physical gratification? If you would rise in the scale of being, it must be along the whole line of all its fundamental laws."
"Then you think there is no merit in mortifying any appetite or passion of our nature?" I asked.
"Certainly not," replied the hermit. "The only merit lies in its due management that it be kept within its own limits. But this is the grand difficulty of life --- viz., to round out each force of your nature so as to secure a perfect whole. How could you do this by destroying or eradicating, as far as possible, any of the forces or allowing any of them to shrivel up for want of nourishment? Pluck out your eyes, and see if that brings you nearer the perfect. Cut off a limb, or suffer it to become withered by disease, and will you be more nearly perfect?"
I admitted that I would not. "But then," I added, "surely there is a difference between such bodily maimings and those moral mortifications practised in our monastic institutions?"
"That is," he answered, "the maimings of the finer molecular combinations of your being are embellishments, while those of your grosser and gorilla nature are deformities. Your bodies are thus greater than your spirits. Mortify or mangle, in other words, your soul's forces or proportions, and you beautify and ennoble the soul; but pamper and round out your bodily organs, and you ennoble the body! Pshaw! The whole thing is founded on a lie. That is to say, monasticism with you is a lie."
"And you would say that there is no merit in cutting yourself off from the intercourse and enjoyment of society, in order to lead a reflective and undistracted life?"
"None whatever," he responded. "It is an outrage, in every way in which you can view it, on the deepest laws of being. Only fancy all the molecules isolating themselves from one another! Where would be the various mineral, vegetable, animal, and intellectual forms that surround us? There is aggregation of units in order to reach higher unities. What plant or animal but is an aggregation of units, though it is itself a unit? Fancy an arm, leg, eye, or ear isolating itself from the whole body and its other members, leading a separate existence in order that it might be a more perfect arm, leg, eye, or ear! Would it thereby reach it? If it possibly could, where would be its use? Where the man? And are not individual men or Myu-me-ae-nians as indissolubly related to one another? To reach a higher state of being than they could do as units, they must segregate; and the higher the platform of their ambition, the wider must be the area of units with which they segregate. Your monastic life runs in the teeth of this fundamental law, and is an attempt to palm off a lie on nature."
I cannot tell you the keen mortification I experienced on the annunciation of such conclusions. It riled me to think that the philosophy I had been inclined to adopt dealt a fatal blow to a faith I had drunk in with my mother's milk. What! was I to admit that the Pope's claims to be God's vicegerent was a cowardly superseding of God, and a setting of himself up in his stead? Was I to grant that his claims to infallibility were a lie on all the laws of being? Was I to allow that the celibacy of the priests and the monastic life was a lie? The struggle was severe. I could not overthrow the arguments of the hermit; but I was determined not to admit his conclusions, despite all the laws of fair logic. I could not --- I must not-give up Mother Church. The thought ever came back upon me, "To doubt is to be damned." I crept with horror. What is logic in the face of that? Away with logic! And then, again, I thought, "If even the Bible be true, you must doubt much that the Holy Father and his priests teach; so that you are damned by the Bible for not doubting, and you are damned by the Pope for doubting." Oh! horrible distraction. Where am I? What am I to believe --- the Bible or the Pope, or neither? Is there a God? Hush! have I not settled that already? But if so --- if there be no God --- then I am a materialist; if a materialist, I am no papist. But I am a papist, for my father and mother were so; and yet I don't believe in it --- and I do. I am therefore damned, and am not damned. There is a hen, and there is no hen. What! I am at logic again. Away with it! Curse it! Where are all your anathemas, Holy Mother Church? Hurl all your thunderbolts at logic till it is annihilated, and then doubting will cease, and the Church will flourish on its ruins!
Piqued into madness by such torturing thoughts, I aimed at baffling the hermit for once. I said ---
"Our Pope and the humblest of his priests have the power of converting a wafer into a God by a single word."
"Did not I say your whole system, from the base to the cope, was a unique lie? Listen to me calmly; for I see I have roused your prejudices more than your reason. If there be not a God, then their assertion that there is a God is a cursed lie --- none more so. But have you not agreed with me that there is no God?"
I reluctantly assented that I had.
"Well," he continued, "we are agreed, and cannot differ in our conclusions."
"But," I replied, hastening to interrupt him, "I did not see then the bearing of my admission on the faith of my early days."
"Child! child! art thou to be a child for ever? If age corrects youth, will mere prejudices make you refuse to accept and act on the ripened correction? But hear me further. Grant there should be a God --- a thing I have made up my mind never to admit; but, for argument's sake, let us grant there should be a God --- a great uncreated God --- a great first cause of all other causes and effects --- how can a secondary cause or effect of that great first cause create that first great cause? How can a priest create with a word an infinite and eternal being? --- for a God must be both infinite and eternal. Is it not a most impious and unblushing lie?"
"But, perhaps," he further added, "you use the word God in various senses. Will you explain to me how they make these Gods?"
I had to enter somewhat into the history of Jesus Christ, and show that he was, from all eternity, God; but that eighteen hundred years ago he had become a man, and that it was into this God-man, in soul, body, and divinity, the priests changed their wafers.
"Now supposing it were all true that you say about this God-man, Jesus Christ," he added, "how could the priests or Pope convert wafers into him? Do you believe they could do it?"
"I always believed it."
"Why?" he asked.
"Because they said it," I answered.
"Was that your only reason?"
"Did you never doubt it?"
"We dare not doubt it; for to doubt was to be damned."
"But if it be a lie, how could you be damned for doubting it?" he asked.
"It cannot be a lie?"
"How not?" he said.
"Because they assert it is not."
"And may they not assert a lie?"
"I should think not."
"You only think so. Have you no better guarantee than that?"
"My forefathers always, one and all, believed them."
"And were they incapable of being deceived?"
"We surely cannot all be in error."
"But what if I can demonstrate that you must all have been in error, and that you are all damned for believing a lie?"
"I challenge you to do it!" I said, rudely.
"Will you yield to the proof?" he asked.
I answered that I was willing to listen. to what he had to say, but he must excuse me if I refused to promise to risk being damned in obedience to the conclusions of mere logic.
"My child, I ask but the common sense of a babe to take in all the arguments that I will advance. You say that your Pope and priests profess to be able to convert a wafer into the very body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ. Now, how can they possibly do that? If there be a God-man, whom you call Christ, how can they make a wafer into him? Either he exists already, and so cannot be made, or he does not exist already. Take it either way, they teach a lie. If there be a God-man, Christ, they cannot make anything into him. They may make a likeness of him, but they cannot make him really and truly. It must be another body and blood, soul and divinity, than that of Jesus Christ, if they create any at all. If it is another, and not him, they should say so. But that would rob them of all the glory they aim at, and which is derived from his history. Hence they lie --- lie horribly, blasphemously! What say you?"
I replied that I was not surprised this great mystery puzzled and baffled all the rules of logic, for it was a thing not to be reasoned out but only to be believed. Our whole religion is founded on faith."
"Then faith with you is the contradiction of reason," he replied, ironically. "Whatever reason says, you are to take its diametrically opposite, and that constitutes faith."
"No, no, no!" I replied, laughing.
"What then?" he asked. "What is the ground of your faith?"
"The authoritative teachings of Mother Church," I replied, with an air of triumph, forgetting that that authority might be something very sacred to me though not to him.
"And what constitutes your Church?" he asked.
"The Pope, with all his cardinals, primates, archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons, &c., &c."
"No other authority than that?"
"Well, yes; subordinate to them is the authority of councils."
"Is that all?" he further asked.
"Subordinate to all these is the authority of the Bible, but only as it is interpreted by the two former fountains of authority."
"And so the word of God --- or of him whom you call God --- is least in authority?"
"In a sense it is," I replied! "for it is the Church which is to determine from the Word of God what is to be believed, and under what modifications and with what limitations they are to be believed. The people might otherwise fall into all manner of errors, as Protestants or heretics do."
"But may not the Pope, bishops, priests, &c., fall into error too? What protection have they against this that others have not?"
"Why, they are inspired of God, in consequence of their very office. God thus gives them security against error."
"What kind of a God must he be that gives a book written in such a way that ordinary readers of it are more led into error by it than truth? He must be a ridiculous God indeed that cannot make himself understood; and if he does such things may not his inspiration of them be as ridiculous? May he not as surely fail in so inspiring them that they may not lead into error too? For my part, I would no more trust to the interpreters of his book than I would to his book, if he cannot so write it that every one would understand it as well as another."
"But then you must know that this book was written in a language that is not now understood by everybody."
"And can every one understand it that learns the language?"
"Not unless they are priests, or get interpretations of its doctrines from the priests."
"Do you mean to say that the book does not interpret itself?" he asked.
"No; there are mysteries which only the priests can open up to the uninitiated."
"And how can they do it?"
"First, because they are inspired; second, because there are oral traditions handed down within the Church --- committed to the sacred and secret keeping of the Church."
"What a stupid God you make that God of yours to be. According to your own showing these priests or popes set aside his own teachings. They set themselves above himself. They damn men for believing what your own God damns them for not believing. They tell men they will get to heaven for doing things which your God says he will send them to hell if they do them: And yet they are inspired by himself to bring all these contradictory teachings and practices out of his own book, which, read plainly, teaches the very opposite. He truly makes himself a most ridiculous God. Are you not ashamed to profess belief in such a God? If I were bent on believing in a God, I would certainly not place him in an inferior position to his creatures; I would certainly try to place him in an aspect of grandeur that would throw all his creatures into the shade. But you make him the most self-contradictory, dodging idiot I ever heard of. You let your priests snub him, and make him a mere tool for their own glory and advantage."
"I am not surprised," I said, "that our religion staggers you. You apply reason alone to it; but here it is faith only that is equal to the mysteries of our holy religion."
"Well, now," he answered, "let me talk to you of reason. I have long felt that reason, while a noble thing --- perhaps the noblest power in the soul --- has its limits. This has staggered me more than anything, and led me to question of late whether there be not a nobler faculty still; and, if so, the true power whereby a real God may be discovered and rested in. I must admit that reason, at least, is weak. In cultivating it and following its subtle processes, I always come bracing up to the verge of a great unfathomed gulf. I could not go further nor see beyond. I have sometimes speculated as to whether there was not a real world beyond with its great thoughts and facts, if only I had the power to reach it. And since you have begun to speak to me of faith, I have been wondering whether that may not be a latent power in my nature waiting development --- a power whereby I might travel into those regions reason cannot penetrate. But this would set a well-defined line of separation between reason and faith."
"Will you please to show me that, as I confess I do not see it distinctly?" I said.
"Very gladly," he replied. "If you ask me to believe a thing that lies within the limits of my reason, and which my reason recoils from, then I say you are outraging the whole constitution of my existence. You have told me that the wafer-God of the priests remains, to all appearance, as much a wafer as before, and yet that it is no longer a wafer but the very body and blood, soul and divinity, of Christ. You say that faith alone can take it in; but I say that that is not a region for faith; it is a region for reason, for it lies within the world of sense. My reason tells me that the priest or Pope who teaches that that wafer is now a God, lies. My eyes tell me that, unless I am mad; my finger, when I touch it, tells me so likewise; my tongue tells the same. You see my difficulty. I could understand a world for faith, but certainly not the visible. If you can explain away my difficulty I shall be happy."
"Then we are not to believe anything but what our reason can admit?" I asked.
"I did not say that," responded the hermit. "I said you are not to believe what plainly outrages and contradicts reason. A thing may lie beyond reason, even in the visible world, like magnetism or gravitation, which does not contradict reason. But then you have some physical resultants which establish the existence of these occult forces. Let me take up your own ideas about your God. You have said that there was but one God, yet there were three persons in that God. There I would say reason is baffled, but not contradicted. I see effects all around me worthy of such a God as you speak of. So that it is not my reason makes me an unbeliever; nay, my reason would rather lead me to belief. My reason often leads me along the chain of causes to some great first cause set aback of all causes. But it is all a blank to me there. I have had no revelation of a God. Hence I speculate in the eternity of matter, and the atomic force, with its relapses and ever-renewings."
"But many in our world stagger at the teaching of a three-one God. They say, 'How can God be both one and yet three?' "
"Well, to my mind, that is shallow quibbling. As a proposition: To say that three is one and one is three is sheer nonsense and self-contradiction; but that three persons should form one God does not contradict reason. It is so high above reason that it cannot reach to the lowest fringe of the great mystery. If the thing is true you come to know it only as a revelation. You had not known it but for revelation. It needed to be revealed. But how can you speculate on what you could not know, save by revelation? It shows what conceited asses some would-be-wise men are. Besides, there are analogies that will enable you to rest satisfied with such a mystery. I know something of your sun's rays. Each ray is one; and yet to make that one ray there needed three distinct properties. These are light, heat, force. These are inseparable from each ray. Take away light, and it is not a ray; take away heat, and it is not a ray; and so also of force. And yet the light is not a ray; the heat is not a ray; the force is not a ray; the three together make a ray. Now, put three persons for three properties, and where is the difficulty? Now, just as if there be an eternal, infinite, intelligent cause of all things, you can only know this by a principle in our nature higher than reason, so of the nature or persons of that God."
"What do you think of our doctrines of a future state?" I added, "We believe in a place called heaven; another, purgatory; a third, hell." I here related our beliefs regarding each state, but asked his opinion especially concerning purgatory. It, however, fairly upset him. He asked me how fire could burn a bad thought out of one's brain, or one had passion out of his heart, or a lying propensity out of his tongue."
"Is fire not one of the disintegrant forces in the physical world?" he asked. "What you call a bad thought, or affection, or word, arises from a defective training and constitution. How, then, can you purge away these defects but by bracing up the forces within you, and conducting them, in their proper subordination and relation, to a higher development? It is the fusing heat of a vast sustained and indomitable energy, while making for a higher nobility of character, that is the alone purgatory."
I told him how we refined the gold, silver, copper, and other ores, by means of fire. I explained to him the several processes. After I had done so and when I had hoped to worst him, I was only mortified to find he more adroitly worsted myself.
"Why, then," he asked, "instead of having temples and churches as you describe, do you not set up furnaces in your world for purifying sinners? Why keep your fires for the next world? If fire is such an effectual refiner, you are greater and more eggregrious sinners for withholding from it till you drop your gorilla nature. But is it so that your bodies are more precious than your souls? Or is it not rather a priestcraft fiction? You say money purchases speedy deliverance from it --- the more money paid into the coffers of the Church the sooner the wretch escapes from the fires. But, if that be so, money has more power in cleansing than the fires. What a set of knavish scoundrels your priests must be!"
"Hold! you old wretch --- hold!" I exclaimed, in choking rage; "I can't and won't allow that holy brotherhood to be so blasphemously spoken of in my presence."
"Ah! my child," tranquilly responded the hermit, "it must be a bad cause that makes a man lose his temper in defending it. Truth is tranquil, and can afford a benison even for its enemies. If you lose your temper thus, then I will say you and your whole Catholic system cannot be too soon in the fires. But, mark what I say, if the fires of purgatory be really of virtue to purge a soul, then the longer in these fires the more purged and ennobled; the shorter in them, the less purged. If your priests count so much on purging and ennobling, as they profess, instead of shortening the time for money they should rather lengthen it. Or, if they had the power of shortening these fire lustrations without lessening the virtue, why not do it without money? Is it not an outrage on all right feeling to think of keeping souls wallowing in fire, when a word of your priests could extricate them? It is, out and out, a matter of gain. In a word, it is another great lie or imposition, which springs out of a system whose base and whole superstructure is a base lie!"
It would be impossible for me to describe to you the transport of rage this closing speech threw me into. I was unable to overthrow his conclusions and reasonings; I was unable to admit them, "for he that doubts is damned." So, between the miscarryings of my judgment and the blind instincts of my faith, I was sore put to. I felt I must either become an out and out sceptic, or I must trample all reason and logic in the dust, and cling to my faith. The hermit perceived my dilemma, but only a Catholic can know my madness. The hatred of a Catholic to a heretic is something fiendish. I have often wondered at it. Whether it be that the Roman Catholic religion is so pure and true that opposition to it calls forth the deepest instincts of the soul into mightiest play, or that it is but a deeply devised scheme skilfully laid alongside of the worst passions of the soul, I have not yet been able to decide. Sometimes I think the one, sometimes the other. But certainly Protestants do not show such an untameable hatred as we. Even while my heretic neighbour was loading me with unfeigned kindnesses, I could have torn his heart from his bosom with a keenness of gratification I could not have believed possible had I not experienced it. No reasonings could alter my feelings. It seemed this spirit was inwrought into the very grain and texture of our religion; so that if we would mollify our feelings we must abandon oar faith. But as to doubt is to be damned; I must be content to sacrifice heretics rather than my soul.
These thoughts were sweeping through me, when my ear caught the sound of voices approaching, chanting chorus-like. They sounded similar to what I heard not long after my landing on the shores of Myu-me-ae-nia, and while Ree-mia-me-an was nursing me. They came nearer and nearer, till I saw that it was the company of Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa, with her at the head of them. Hand-in-hand they advanced, making large circles as they minuetted along, and singing. The music was indeed very rich and melodious; in fact it was as near the seraphic as any human being could well imagine. It was so soft, insinuating, and well-modulated. It wandered around you in weird measures, coming at times as if wafted from ten thousand babbling and subduing echoes. You could have supposed that it melted down upon you from angelic choirs as they lay reclining on downy-lined clouds. It again deepened out to a fulness of tone that crashed like the organ-bass of a universe. It would be impossible to conceive of the effect of the voice, especially a Myu-me-ae-nian voice, on such elastic air as that world's. You seemed to have the command of the whole atmosphere.
I thought, as they advanced, that nature had exhausted its highest ingenuity in festooning them with every conceivable charm. The soul was wreathed in luxurious arms of pleasure as they neared you in smiles of recognition. Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa flung her arms around the neck of the aged hermit as if in an ecstacy of affection. His joy in receiving her, though mingled with a shade of sadness, seemed very, very great. He introduced her to me as his daughter, but poutingly complained that he saw little of her. He appeared both fond and proud of her, but there was an evident want of something in her to fill his yearning heart.
"What has become of the beautiful Ree-mia-me-an," she said, "that you are found in quarters so remote from her?"
"And do you think her beautiful?" I asked, because I thought it was the ground of her envy.
"Beautiful? She is the most beautiful in all Myu-me-ae-nia. Do you not think so?"
"I am but a poor judge," I replied.
"You are," she said, with an air of piquant merriment and sarcasm, "if you say and think not so. The palm has ever been accorded to her."
"And is all Myu-me-ae-nia proud of her because of her beauty?" I asked.
"I cannot say so," she responded; "she is too peculiar to be beloved."
"In what respects is she peculiar?"
"Well, in almost every respect. For example, she will not allow anyone to say she is beautiful or to praise her beauty. She affects to despise beauty. See thinks you but mean to flatter and deceive her --- nay, insult her by mentioning it. She asserts that there is no real and lasting beauty but what is in the soul; and that none can be beautiful who does not believe in a God and live in his fear. Now did you ever hear such nonsense before?"
"Oh! yes," I replied, "I have heard it thousands of times in our world. I confess I do think there is a great deal of nonsense in it; but then, what if you and I, and all others who think so with us, are wrong?"
"How can we?" she said tartly, though with a keener and more charming look of beauty she peered more closely into my face, till I felt the breath of her rosy lips upon it.
"It may be professed modesty, but certainly I think it heroic hypocrisy. It is a trick of profound deception. As if any one who was, by universal consent, proclaimed peerlessly beautiful, could not believe it --- would not admit it --- felt pained by the statement. Don't tell me that that is genuine humility," she added, with a look of scorn that was as if a scorpion glared out upon you from a bed of roses.
This was too much for me. I knew it was not true of Ree-mia-me-an that she was a hypocrite. If she had faults --- and even the sun has spots --- yet this was not one of them. I might differ from her in her judgment of material beauty, but most certainly I believed she was sincere in her opinions and statements.
"It is one of my weaknesses," I said, "to be too easily led away with the statements that come from the lips of beauty. But you must allow me to dissent from your findings on Ree-mia-me-an. She may be carried away with one-sided ideas, but I cannot allow myself to admit that she plays a double part."
"Oh! I perceive," she said, "your love blinds you. You perceive nothing but perfection in her. I am not surprised that all the maidens of Myu-me-ae-nia are without charms to you. She plays her part so well! It is so innocent to be seemingly unconscious of your own beauty. It gives a finish to the face, and grace, and movements that quite overpowers the other sex. There is in it a fictitious lustre and luxury that go far to surround the person with a mystery of subtle power. But, mark, would it be any merit in a flower to deny it was beautiful and had no fragrance? If there be a God, according to her conceited notions, would it be any compliment to him to say that he had not made her beautiful? I am not good at arguing on such subjects --- it is not for our sex to argue --- but I cannot help arguing so far."
"Well, you are right, so far," I answered. "I could not believe it, though all Myu-me-ae-nia said it, that you were not beautiful --- aye, in one sense, more beautiful than Ree-mia-me-an; but then I do think, with Ree-mia-me-an, that the beauty of the soul is infinitely superior to that of the body. I do think we ought to place infinitely more value upon the former than the latter, and cultivate it more than the other. I do not think you enhance the beauty of the soul by depreciating that of the body, nor vice versa. I am humbly of opinion that you err on the one side and she on the other."
"And you think me, in one sense, more beautiful than Ree-mia-me-an?" she said, with conscious pride. "Pray may I ask in what sense that is?"
"Well, unlike Ree-mia-me-an, you cultivate everything in manner, grace, attitude, and emotion, that would heighten your personal charms. You thus give them an intenseness and luxuriousness they otherwise would not have; you take every heart captive by a coup-de-main; you weave a soft dalliance about the soul that is of the most spell-binding character."
"And what of Ree-mia-me-an? Wherein does she outstrip me?" she asks.
"Her superiority, if it be such, is not readily appreciated by the multitude. It requires long observation to bring up into view the hidden veins of beauty that lie in ambush behind her personal charms. Seeing she cultivates the soul-forms of beauty, she neglects the external rather much. The eye is not detained, therefore, in her case as in yours; hovers not in wandering mood amid all the labyrinthine windings of decoying charms till lost in the mazes."
"And which would you say is the superior kind of beauty?" she further asked.
"Well, that is all a matter of opinion, or rather, I should say, opinions regarding that are very different. The multitude will praise your stamp of beauty --- the thinking few, hers."
"Because yours is so obvious --- so immediately captivating."
"Whose, then, has the advantage?"
"Here, too, opinions will differ. My own is hers, because hers is most permanent. You see the body at length fades --- the soul never; it rather gathers beauty."
"But they both perish eternally?" she added, rather inquisitively and impatiently.
"Well," I responded, "sometimes I think so --- sometimes not so."
"Ah! I understand," she retorted, "Ree-mia-me-an has caught you in her wiles. Yes, she is too deep for you. You are snared by her craft;" and as she said that she threw herself into an attitude of seeming tortured chagrin and jealousy. At the time I understood not that the whole was theatrically done. I was ignorant of being in the hands of a consummate actress and flirt. In my simplicity I believed she was in perfect love with me; and she so wore her charms as thoroughly to blind me for the moment to those of Ree-mia-me-an. I was caught in her snare. I fell at her feet, and protested that I adored her. I vowed, by every hair on my head, that my heart was hers. I swore, by the mountain of roses, the throne of Myu-me-ae-nia, and the doll of the king, that however beautiful Ree-mia-me-an was she was nothing to me compared with Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa. The effect was instantaneous. She changed her whole appearance; she gathered herself up as if in utter amazement. "She could not understand me," she said. "What had she said or done to call forth such a. rhapsody?" She thought I was the betrothed of Ree-mia-me-an. She miscalled me for being a flirt, a fickle and inconstant swain. "A pretty lover you are, to be sure! Is this all the requital to the beautiful, the adorable Ree-mia-me-an for all her kindness to an uncouth stranger? When all Myu-me-ae-nia would have expelled you from their coasts, she defended you. When none would come near to so outré a being she fondled you; when you were bleeding and helpless she was as a mother to you; when you writhed in agony she flung the odours of the Sim-simsee-see over you. She braved the suspicions of all the kingdom in order to minister to you; she provoked even an insurrection against her father's throne because she would harbour you. And yet this is how you carry yourself towards her! What a noble lord of the creation art thou! Begone, thou base traitor! Ere another leaf falls from the Tim-tim, Ree-mia-me-an shall know thee! Sing, my maidens, sing --- chant the Song of the Unfaithful!"
"Wir-wir woo'd and he won,
Ha! ha! the fair maiden's done;
Lovers love the newest and youngest,
Hate, hate such a base caste!
Maidenhood be my lot;
Fools take any sot!"
Such was the first stanza; and, as they sang, they minuetted away, hand-in-hand, from my presence, I felt as if I could sink into the deepest caverns of Myu-me-ae-nia, there to hide for ever my despicable head, The aged hermit saw my dejected condition, and began to rally me.
"My son," said he, "why are you so easily set up or set down by such fickle things as women are? You were too easily caught. Had you been more shy to my daughter --- more impassive --- you would more certainly have secured her respect. What care they, when they have once gained your admiration, for you or your admiration? Play shy with them --- lure them on with glimpses, now and again, as if you loved them --- but seem to freeze up again; keep them in a state of tantalizing suspense for a long time, and they become yours. But the truth is my daughter is my greatest stumbling-block to my own philosophic ideas, I never trained any of my children so thoroughly in Atheistic principles; and of all the hundreds of children I have had, never did anyone sit so loosely to me. I believe I have no more real love from my daughter Nim-rim than I have from the Lina-ma." (This was a kind of cross-breed between a dog and cat, or something as near to that as we have of beasts, and which followed the hermit as our shepherds' dogs follow them.)
Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa no sooner left me, with her sister choir, than she made for the royal palace. She knew the haunts of the Princess, and studiously threw herself in her way as if by accident. She took occasion, as it were in the most casual way, to tell her my conversation with her. Of course it was rendered in a most exaggerated manner. There was a varnish and a colouring that did not belong to the original, but which was designed for mortifying the Princess and for exalting herself. The Princess had heard more or less of our conversation herself; but, so far as she had heard it, she had approved of my sayings. She admitted there was a danger of running into extremes on both sides. She was altogether unaffected by my avowals of love to Nim-rim. She had thought it the most natural thing in the world that I should love her. As for herself, a higher love engrossed her. She had no jealousy; her thoughts were too spiritual for that. But she knew a history of Nim-rim I had to learn.
It was then for the first time there dawned upon me the conviction that there was nothing like being guided in your conduct by some fixed principles. It was mere passion --- feeling --- that swayed me in that unhappy moment with Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa. Feelings vary --- principles never. Feelings are like the waters of the ocean --- principles are the rocks that bound it, or rise up with their adamant forms or unchanging mood amid their surgings. I saw now how Nim-rim was the impersonation of the one, Ree-mia-me-an the impersonation of the other. And what was I? I had hitherto looked on myself as belonging to a superior race. Fah! I was a pendulum between two contradictions; I was neither one thing nor another. This was the beginning and cause of all my future trouble. It is to the present the source of all my failures. I have never been able so to lock the one into the other as to make them subservient for the interests of life. I write this for the benefit of future generations and more resolute and self-governing minds.
Much against the will of the hermit I now hurried away from his presence.(13) I felt humiliated and self-degraded by my own conduct. I could not brook to have the eyes longer on me that had witnessed to my passions and fickleness. Ah! I thought if there be a God, how much less could I brook to stand under the searching glance of his all-seeing eye.
Thoughts will arise. How strange it is! There are moments when, in spite of yourself, you are almost compelled to believe in the existence of a Supreme Being.
Musing after this sort, I wandered along among the mountains of Ai-ai. At length I came upon what seemed a forest meandered with guilesome walks. Now and again you came upon a green glade, intersected at all angles and after all fashions with flower-beds rich in varied colouring and perfume. You felt a tendency, or rather strong and overpowering temptation, to lie down and yield up your senses to the wealth of sensual pleasures that were there. A kind of enchantment hung over you --- you could not tell why or whence. By-and-bye I came upon, as it were, a band of weary travellers. A motley group they looked! One, of prodigious length, lay and yawned, and peered through heavy listless eyes; another, with enormous mouth and most lecherous eyes, sat talking, shouting, singing alternately, keeping others in merriment; a third, with great lanthorn jaws, deep-set eyes, lank and bony hands and feet, sat tearing from the bones, as it were, the flesh of the leg of one of the great Ai-ai cows; another sat chewing the bark off a branch of a Zeem-ze-na tree, looking as if dosed with opium; others were playing on enormous and strange musical instruments; while companies were winding through the mazy dance. But what struck me most was the immodesty of the females as they lolled, sported, or danced among and with the males. They all hastened to surround me on my appearing, taking me by the hand, and using liberties with me, and indulging in orgies of the most obscene character; yet, strange to say, though I was shocked at the unseemliness of the whole, I had not the least power or disposition to remonstrate; yea, the longer I was there I became less and less alive to the grossness of the scene. By-and-bye I got to really enjoy it, and finally revelled in it with a gusto equalling, if not surpassing any there. One female character that had struck me at first as the most hideous moral being I had ever witnessed, began to grow less horrible in my esteem. Eventually she sidled up to me, and wished me to taste of her Zeem-ze-na bark. She said it had a most luxurious effect. Not suspecting any harm from it, I tasted. No sooner had I done so than I wished for more, and more, and more still, till I became like one of the possessed at the ancient Bacchanalian orgies. I then became so enamoured of the hideous Myu-me-ae-nian as to make love to her. I vowed all manner of fidelity, when she consented to become mine on certain conditions. First, I was to give her all my curls; second, she was to write her name on my forehead with a certain twig, the juice of which only became visible if I became unfaithful. While I was consenting to these terms a voice whispered in my ear to demand of her to allow me to write my name also on her forehead as a mark of her fidelity. She endeavoured to resist my terms; but, finding me inexorable, she at length consented. I had now sunk to the same low brutified condition and appearance of the one I had at one time loathed the sight of. At times the consciousness of my degradation came back upon me, but whenever it did so I just had recourse to the stupifying effects of the Zeem-ze-na bark.
It was while wasting my life in such society and orgies that Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa and her companions came suddenly upon us. What was her look of horror and contempt! She now insulted me, and heaped every manner of opprobrious epithet upon me. She seemed to exult over my fall, while she feigned a virtuous horror and grief. She said ---
"Is it surprising that you have descended thus so low? Could infidelity to one so beautiful, faithful, generous, noble, and exalted as Ree-mia-me-an result in any other consequences? Could it be that, having taken one false step, it should not lead to others, and these to lower still? Shame on thee, thou false one! Fortunate Ree-mia-me-an, that she escaped from the toils of so consummate a villain!" she said, and withdrew in theatric scorn and reproach, her maidens following with chants to my confusion. What could I answer? I was silent. I knew I had fallen; I deserved all her taunts. But it riled me that she seemed to exult in my fall; but, like all in such sunk conditions, I returned to the stupifying effects of that which had helped so materially to degrade me. I now began, as one possessed, to take an extra supply, and became enormously amorous. I raved for my betrothed, but she was nowhere to be found. I gazed around me in astonishment, and found I was alone. I was abandoned of my very associates who had debased me. I became mad. I frenzied and raved, and vowed I would find them out. I travelled on and on, ever dosing myself with the Zeem-ze-na. At length I came upon a strange scenery. I was getting among scraggy brushwood, thorny-like brakes, and mangled, tilted, and distorted rocks. As I remember it to this hour, it pictures to my mind the only conception I can form of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. You would have thought that Nature had done her utmost to make one spot the most frightful that could be devised. Strange sounds greeted my ear, and strange sensations assailed my senses. I had not travelled far --- travelling there was certainly no luxury, but I was still labouring under the effects of the Zeem-ze-na --- when I thought the face of an extraordinary being peered at me over the rugged edge of a rock. I made towards it, when, to my amazement, I stood face to face with a company of living creatures resembling half-Myu-me-ae-nians and half-beasts. Nor was it that there was a half of the body representing a Myu-me-ae-nian and the other half a special beast; it was rather as if a Myu-me-ae-nian was merging into the shape of a particular beast or emerging from it. And you saw them at all stages --- some all but perfect Myu-me-ae-nians, others all but perfect beasts. I learned afterwards that it was the Myu-me-ae-nian developing into the special animal whose preponderance was greatest in him. And what horrified myself was that I felt my own hands and feet, as it were, shaping away into claws and talons. My very face felt as if beginning to draw down, lengthen out, flatten in, and my voice altering in its tones. I began to look about as a beast would for the grass, or vegetables which formed its natural food. I tore away at the Zeem-ze-na bark that I still retained more ravenously, and as I did so everything seemed to change more and more. It was at this juncture a voice woke behind like the music of the spheres, saying, "Moho-yoho-me-oo-oo, follow me." I turned and gazed, and lo! Ree-mia-me-an. One glimpse of her woke my steeped senses to consciousness. She beckoned me to follow, while she glided along in her chariot. I rushed as if borne on wings. She stopped not till we had emerged not only through that valley of Grim Ruin as it is called, but as well the enchanted glades and forest. As we neared the grotto of the hermit we encountered Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa and her company. What affected horror she displayed! But I was not now so blind to her deception as before. My eyes had been opened somewhat; they were yet to be more so. She began to chide Ree-mia-me-an for still extending her protection to one so unfaithful. "See," she said, "to what he has descended. See on his forehead the name of the most hideous Myu-me-ae-nian in our world, to whom he has betrothed himself. Read it there, as written with her filthy hands in the dye that can never be effaced, but will become ever more visible the longer he lives. See you not how brutified he has already become? He has entered upon the last and lowest stage of material and bestial development. He will soon be roaming among the Bir-wir-man-re-as, bursting the echoes of the Grim Ruin valleys with his roar. Cease, thou lovely daughter of the king --- thou fairest among the Myu-me-ae-nian maidens --- to encourage and solicit the embraces of an almost brute!"
It was while this two-edged speech was being delivered by Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa that the old hermit emerged from his grotto. He seemed to be puzzled by the whole scene. His mind had been so wrapt up in physical, mental, and psychological studies that he had not entered fully into the ways of Myu-me-ae-nian society, nor followed the movements of his daughter with the observation and surveillance that he ought. But what a revelation was now awaiting him! He gazed with pleased and intense delight and surprise into the face of Ree-mia-me-an. I could see that he admired her as a noble specimen of her race. He appeared quite taken aback, as if he beheld something in her above that he had ever expected or dreamt of. I never had the opportunity of learning this much from himself; but it was not needed. His face uttered volumes. But what a picture of horror and dismay he soon presented! It was while this new world of ennobled beauty opened up before his mind Ree-mia-me-an began her address to Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa in the following terms: ---
"Tell me, Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa, who has done more for the ruin of Moho-yoho-me-oo-oo than you have? But if there be a God, may he reveal you to us all in your true character." No sooner had she said this than Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa and her choral sisters relapsed into the real Bacchanalian company I had mixed with. There stood Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa before me, the truly hideous female I had become, in my degradation, so enamoured of, with my own name written on her forehead in great living letters. Thus they remained a second or two, when they further relapsed into the half-beast or vegetable and half-Myu-me-ae-nian form I had seen in the Valley of Grim Ruin.
Never could painter trace upon canvass nor historian in words the awful agony of feeling, chagrin, horror, dismay, grief, shame, loathing that flung their varied waves of lurid colouring over the old hermit's face. He shrank in horror from his own daughter. All soul seemed sucked out of him as by some fearful vampire. He looked at me and I at him. I approached him at this moment, and whispered, "Aged sire, what think you now --- is there a God or not?" "Oh! cursed philosophy," he whispered, "it has ruined my daughter, if not myself. A God! there must be. Philosophy is vain in presence of such inexorable facts. The logic of principles, as wrought out before me in these two outstanding personages, demonstrates the falseness of my dogmas. There, in that beautiful and adorable being (pointing to Ree-mia-me-an) you have the result of a faith in God; but there (pointing to his own daughter) is the fruit of Atheism. And yet it is an Atheism I have carefully instilled into her mind. Woe is me! What a curse have I inflicted on her! Oh! that I had foreseen the legitimate results of my own principles. Oh! what a ghastly wreck. Oh! my daughter --- my daughter!"
He would have said more, but Ree-mia-me-an cut short our colloquy by beckoning me to follow, while she rode forward. I was swept after her, as if borne on soft but swift and noiseless winds from Paradise.
When we had neared the city she guided me to the castle of Me-ma-muia-yang, the prime minister. She beckoned me to visit him, and drove away herself to the palace. Me-ma-muia-yang seemed to be waiting for me, he had expected me.
"And so you have been with the old king?" said Mema-muia-yang.
"You mean the hermit?" I replied.
He nodded assent. I thereupon added.
"What a profound thinker he is."
"A profound thinker! He thinks so himself. But better had it been for himself and for all Myu-me-ae-nia that he had been less profound. But, to tell you the truth, instead of thinking him a profound thinker, I look upon him as a shallow thinker. There is a thinking that seems profound, and yet is not. That thinking is not profound, in my humble estimation, that does not run down into the essences of things or along the lines of real laws, whether in matter or mind. For example, what is the fundamental idea that guides him in his whole, so-called, philosophy? It is that there is not a God. And even though he might have, by this time, seen the fallacy of his fundamental principle by the fruits it has yielded, yet he clings as pertinaciously as ever to it."
"What result do you believe to have flowed from it?"
"Results! Why, they are innumerable. His philosophy pervaded the nation till it broke loose from all government. The fear of a God being destroyed, the fear of a king followed. Anarchy reigned supreme. The king was driven from his throne and palace. The strongest ruled. The whole realm became a theatre of the worst and angriest passions. A reign of lawlessness and terror prevailed for ages; we are but emerging out of it --- but see with what difficulty. A noble race has degenerated into trivialness. We have no great works, undertakings, or employments; we have no manufactures, or commerce but in gossip, and that is only ministering to the lowest appetites of our nature. The very mental powers of the people are degenerated to almost the nil point. We have lost the lessons of history. Our libraries were burnt, our colleges were destroyed, our schools shut up. How to write our language we know not now. We would fain frame laws --- but what should they be? Even when we discover a point where a wholesome law might be beneficial, we cannot get two minds to view it in any one particular light so as to favour an enactment; and even what trivial laws we do pass the difficulty is to find out how we may get them enforced."
"But what think you of Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa?" he asked.
"Never was such a horrible revelation afforded me before," I replied.
"And to what is her character all due?"
"I cannot say. It' has been puzzling me ever since."
"I can say," he then added; "I have watched her history. I knew her once; and oh! she was fair and beautiful; but as the taint of her father's philosophy lighted more and more upon her spirit and life, she sloped downwards to a deceitful, artful, treacherous, and degraded character. She it was devised the Forest of Pleasure, and decoyed the males and females of our race to it as a resort where they abandoned themselves to carnivals; and it was while they yielded to these low pleasures they were transmuted into degraded types."
"Do you believe," I asked, "in a development theory?"
"Well, yes, I do," he replied, "but not as the hermit does. I believe that the mind acts upon the body, and as the mind degenerates in its tastes and passions, it develops the bodily forms into grosser types. Were you in the valley of Grim Ruin?"
"I was just entering it," I replied, "when Ree-mia-me-an reclaimed me. But oh! what awful sights I witnessed there!"
"Aye, but had you gone through it and passed into the region beyond, you would have seen more appalling sights still. You would have seen --- but why should I call up before you ideas or images that it injures the mind even to think of ?"
"Have you ever seen them?" I asked.
"No," he replied; "I have travelled no further than you did. Had I done so, I had never returned. Like you, I was passing into the shapes of those who inhabit the valley of Grim Ruin, when Ree-mia-me-an rescued me. A little longer, and I had been past recall. I shudder, when I think of it, with horror."
"Have none passed through these regions, and witnessed them, without being metamorphosed?"
"None," he answered, "save Ree-mia-me-an."
"And was she not affected by it like us?"
"No," he said.
"Because being, from a child, an unwavering believer in God, she carried in her spirit a disinfectant that counteracted all moral contagion; and because it is only through the deterioration of the soul-powers the body is brutified. She thus was fortified against what none else in all Myu-me-ae-nia are. She can wander freely through them --- freely does so; but not because she derives pleasure from it. Did she do so, then she, too, would be swept in and down this awful immoral vortex."
"Why, then, does she ever visit them?" I asked.
"For the same ends, as in your case and mine --- to rescue those that are willing."
"And what of Nim-rim-tan-wa-tan-wa? Why is it that she can appear in her own beautiful form as well all her company, and then, at others, in such hideous appearances?"
"Ah! many have wondered so too, and been thus snared by her; but her appearance is a deceitful one. Had you known, as I once knew her, you would perceive the difference; but it is by some witchcraft she puts that beautiful appearance on herself and her choral company. But her and their true appearance is what you saw in the Wood of Pleasure and the Valley of Grim Ruin. Her hatred against Ree-mia-me-an is bitter and fiendish, because Ree-mia-me-an snatches from her grasp many an unwary individual."
"And do you think that the Atheistic principles of the old hermit led to all these disastrous changes?"
"Do I think it? Why, the history of our world demonstrates it," he replied; "and had I no stronger evidence than what I have had from personal experience, I could not doubt it. I feel that from the hour I abandoned his Atheistic dogmas and embraced the Theistic principle of Ree-mia-me-an, I became a better being. I feel it braces the mind, and gives it a power and expansiveness that nothing else does."
"But I forgot to tell you," he added, after, a pause, "why I was so glad to see, and why Ree-mia-me-an went in search of you. The king, her father, wishes to resign his throne, and give himself up to a life of reflection. He desires to study the Theistic views of his daughter, and follow them out more thoroughly; but I believe the real secret is this --- he is now such a believer in Theism, that he cannot think of ruling any longer on Atheistic principles. But he does not well see or understand how to effect a change in harmony with his views. Since your arrival he began to think that a change might be more successfully carried on in the hands of an utter stranger. No person is so universally popular as yourself, having given such an impetus to the weaving of gossip; and as the multitude are more ruled by their passions than reason, while in the zenith of your popularity, you might surprise them into a new condition, and lead the nation by stealth into a higher career."
"Alas!" I said, "what am I? True, nothing would delight me so much as to do any service I could for ennobling a nation capable, as I now think, of great things, and if Ree-mia-me-an would be content to share the throne with me I would venture it."
"Let us repair to her," said Me-ma-muia-yang.
On arriving he stated to her my terms of accepting the throne. The thing pleased the king and queen, but Ree-mia-me-an demurred. On one condition alone would she do it; that was, that I could tell her more about God --- that I would get her the book I told her we had in our world, called God's Book.
After much parleying it was arranged I should accept the throne, and, after I had inaugurated my reign, should return to my own world for the book, after which she would become my queen.
I must confess I felt ashamed at the idea of reigning over a nation of gossip-eaters. It seemed to me as if I was degrading my manhood. I thought I would sooner have reigned over our primeval ancestors --- the monkeys, gorillas, &c. I was horrified! I thought of the Peers' Chamber, and shuddered. I thought of the great majority in the Elected Chamber, and sickened. "With such tools as these," I said to myself, "how can I rule a nation with credit to the superior race I belong to?"
Me-ma-muia-yang divined some of my troubles, but not the fraction of a fraction of them. He said his ambition was to make a great people of the Myu-me-ae-nians. How can we do it?" he asks, in all naivete. "You have seen our world --- you know our defects. Draw up a code, frame a new constitution if you please, but rescue us, if you can, from degeneracy." Were not these sentiments worthy an ancient Roman senator? But, alas! little he knew of the difficulties I saw ahead. To bring them abreast of our civilized condition was something more than a Herculean labour; but with a humility and magnanimity characteristic of all truly great minds, I did the best I could to grapple with the enormous difficulties of the situation. The sequel will show how triumphantly I vindicated my self-reliance.
My first difficulty was how to get the Peers' Chamber remodelled, and the most imbecile members drafted out of it. I fell on this expedient: I suggested to Me-ma-muia-yang that I discovered their world to be sadly defective. Unlike the highest conditions of civilization, they had no monuments recording great battles, whether on land or sea, such as in our world. "It was a sad defect," I said, "to the beauty of the scenery. Besides," I added, "nothing could contribute so much to the increase of trade. It would supply endless patterns for the manufacture of gossip." He asked me how that was accomplished. Of course that involved a long story about navies and standing armies. He remarked very wisely that they would be of no use to them, seeing they had no enemies to fight. I showed him how that difficulty might easily be got over --- how that it was only necessary to get up navies and armies to make sure of getting plenty to do. I told him that was how we got on in our world --- that we were all one race, but that, for purposes of war, we divided the race into nations, with a king over each, and from that hour our armies and navies got plenty of employment and glory.
He then wished to know how I would have them do. I explained to him how the Government should collect from the lowest classes of society all the laziest and most unprincipled vagabonds that could be found anywhere. They should divide these into small companies, and put the scapegrace sons of the wealthy middle classes over them. Then they were to collect these small companies into larger bodies, and place some of the noisiest and most unmanageable members of the Elected Chambers over them. These were to be gathered into still larger companies, and the most hopelessly imbecile members of the Peers' Chambers were to be set over them. Then the most imbecile member in the Peers' .Chamber was to be made commander-in-chief. The same thing was to be done in the navy. "By these means we shall not only raise the glory of the nation, but secure glorious positions for the highest orders of the Elected and Peers' Chambers." The idea greatly delighted Me-ma-muia-yang. He thought he saw the dawning of a new and brighter day in Myu-me-ae-nia. "But," said he, "you must propose this great scheme yourself to the two Chambers." The report soon got abroad. The whole kingdom was in the highest state of excitement. Gossip acquired a fresh impetus. Never was supply and demand in such a panic state.
On a set day, having invited the members of both Chambers to meet me in the palace --- a thing never known to be done in the history of Myu-me-ae-nia --- from my high throne I addressed the members of both Houses in a set speech. I intentionally compressed my ideas into the fewest possible words. I dwelt on some of the advantages that would accrue to the trade of Myu-me-ae-nia from the establishment of the new institutions I was about to propose. I showed how it would bring glory and emolument to all ranks in the State. Of course I carefully kept in the background the increased --- yea, enormous --- taxation it would entail. It was unkind to anticipate an evil they would soon enough feel the weight of. I pointed out the glory that might gather with an undying history about every titled family, and how enviable it was to be perpetuated after death in monuments of stone, the songs of national poets, and the pages of history.
Without any suspicion of self-praise, I may say it, Demosthenes could not have framed a speech more equal to the occasion. I feel to this very day overpowered by the memory of the eloquence, cogency, and oratorical effect of that speech. It took the members of the two Houses by surprise. Not one could shoot any arrow or remember his doll all the time I addressed them. This is the highest testimony a Myu-me-ae-nian could give of the highest order of eloquence. The results were eloquent of my lofty speech, for no sooner was my oration over than every member of both Houses hastened to offer himself for the services. In a short time Me-ma-muia-yang had more names than he had commissions for. A careful dispensation was made, whereby the most unmanageable of both Houses were fixed upon; still there was a cumbersome residuum, Something more needed to be done to clear both Houses sufficiently of unworkable members. It was necessary to have recourse to new expedients. My recollection of our own institutions came to my help. I told Me-ma-muia-yang how, in our world, there were two other institutions which lent great dignity and lustre to the nation. Need I say that these were the Church and the Bar? These also would supply an endless variety of patterns for gossip. I told him how, if his countrymen were in our world, they would never want for patterns from either of these institutions. Then I showed how that the rivalry would be intensely great among the peers to get the chance of such remunerative offices, and especially the dignities of pope, cardinal, legate, primate, archbishop, bishop in the Church, or lord chancellorship in the Law; at the same time there would be humbler offices in both eagerly coveted by many in the Elected Chamber. It pleased him well. It was submitted to, and approved by members of both Houses. Fresh draughts were swept away from both. Thus were the ranks terribly thinned, as if matrailled by chain-shot; yet enough was not done.
I next suggested to Me-ma-muia-yang that we adopt another system prevalent in civilized empires; that was, the legalizing of distillation, as well the whole traffic, especially as it is conducted in Great Britain. Unformed him what a rich source it was of revenue, but how it was valuable chiefly as providing very extensive employment to all ranks of the nation in the Excise and Customs department; how also it originated such noble institutions as gaols, penitentiaries, asylums, almshouses, bridewells, penal settlements, &c., which formed often the noblest buildings of a city or county, or appendices of an empire; it necessitated a whole system of police, law officers, governmental officials of a most extensive and complex character. This also took, and was adopted by both Houses. Fresh levies were drawn off from both Houses to fill the. new and lucrative situations.
I now proposed, for consideration of both Houses, vast changes in the condition of the empire. First, that the language of Myu-me-ae-nia should be reduced to a written form; second, that the synonyms of the language be minimized; third, that schools should be established for teaching the language in its improved and written form.
My aim in these innovations was to pave the way for bringing that nation into a more useful condition --- to reclaim it from such a trivial and frittered existence, but it would be impossible to convey to you an idea of the agitation created by these proposed changes, not only in the Peers' Chambers but throughout all Myu-me-ae-nia. While it gave fresh impulse to the trade, it did not sweeten the temper of the people. They instinctively felt, I have no doubt, that I aimed a blow at their inglorious trade with a view to supplant it with something more useful and honourable, if more laborious. I thought I caught the first sounds of a coming re-action and revolution. I felt I was watched by all classes with lynx and argos eyes; but I wavered not. I had but one end in view --- the ennobling of a people capable, ultimately, of great things and evolving a marvellous history. The excitement, during the debates in both Houses, was at fever heat; its equal had never been witnessed in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. The discussion was earnest and intense. My measures were carried by a narrow majority in the Elected Chambers, through the influence of Me-ma-muia-yang; but they were lost by an overwhelming majority in the Peers' Chamber.
It was now my course was clear. The die was cast. With me it was either abdication or a revolution. Had I coveted the crown I might, have hesitated; but I did not. Gladly would I lay it down, especially when I saw it was on an issue that would vindicate the infinite superiority of my own race. I determined what I should do. I would throw open the gates of the royal palace to all Myu-me-ae-nia. This had never been done before. I should summon an assembly of all the various communes into the royal presence, and present them with one of two alternatives --- either my own abdication or an entire change of the constitution. My resolution was no sooner taken than acted on.
The government pursuivants were hastened out through all the empire. A certain time was fixed; on the falling of the first leaf of the Yum-yum-ge-wang-me tree, they should assemble. Curiosity had reached its highest pitch. I knew among such a people it must have done so. To a child they were all present. Like monads they were all gathered on my palace-lawn before the throne --- thrice nine hundred millions. Not one in all Myu-me-ae-nia was absent.
At the time fixed --- the falling of the first leaf --- I appeared on the throne. I addressed them in a well-prepared speech. I related to them my arrival. I told them of the delight and surprise my visit to their world afforded. I thanked them for all the kindness they had so unexpectedly shown me --- a stranger --- in my journey through their marvellous country. I explained to them the differences that subsisted between their world and ours, and showed how easily they might outstrip ours if only they added certain customs to those prevailing. I assured them, in the most pathetic terms I could command, how overpowered I was by the tokens of their kindness and confidence in me --- a perfect stranger --- to make me king. But I laboured to impress them with the idea that I could have no other possible end in view in seizing the reigns of government than to elevate their nation; but if they thought the means I proposed were not suited to the genius of their world, I prayed them to release me from the responsible position to which they had called me. I would infinitely prefer, I said, that they would entertain me as a stranger than call me to their throne; but if they did prefer me on the throne they must allow me to govern according to what I considered for their advantage and glory. I told them how I had proposed a Bill necessary to their greatness as a people, and how it had been rejected by the Peers --- also how, in my travels among them, I had learnt the numberless grievances they had to complain of as proceeding from the Chamber of Peers. I informed them that I did not desire to alter the constitution of their country unless they saw it to be for their own special benefit, but that, after my experiences, unless they agreed either to suppress the Chamber of Peers or to make it an Elected Chamber --- which latter I would prefer --- I must be allowed to abdicate. I would not have the name of reigning when I was thwarted by such a body as the present Chamber was.
My speech was received with deafening cheers. Speeches were made and votes taken, when the following results were recorded. The abdication of Moho-yoho-me-oo-oo cannot be accepted. In the history of Myu-me-ae-nia he is undoubtedly the greatest of all our benefactors. Secondly, the present Chamber of Peers is suppressed. Thirdly, in lieu of it, a new Chamber of Peers shall be established, the members of which shall be elected in the various counties along with our members of the Commons' Chambers --- election to take place every falling of the leaf of Yum-yum-ge-wang-me. This constituted seven hundred members for both Houses; this was the number of divisions of the empire.
The whole nation was in ecstacies at the result of this unusual meeting; the only ones that grumbled, as was to be expected, were the peers; but that was only for a little time. They very soon came to see it was for the interest of the whole nation that these changes should be agreed to. The original propositions were re-introduced to the newly-elected Chambers, and were carried by a large majority in both Houses.
The next measure I prepared to introduce was a Bill for establishing a National Religion. But how to frame this Bill was my difficulty. I felt but imperfectly qualified for such a task. Besides, becoming more impatient to get possession of Ree-mia-me-an, and knowing the terms on which alone I could serve myself heir to such a possession, I made my arrangements accordingly. Amid universal wishes for my speedy return, I left for my own world. I need not here relate the pain and misgivings with which I left Ree-mia-me-an. Her anxiety for my return appeared not so much for myself as for the book I had promised to bring her.
It was at the time of the vernal equinox, just as the electric stream began its outflow from Myu-me-ae-nia, that I entered the boat in which I arrived at their shores. All Myu-me-ae-nia was gathered like motes on the beach to bid their king adieu and express wishes for his speedy return. No sooner had I weighed anchor than I was caught in the magnetic current. I was hurried on with an amazing speed. My duty consisted simply in guiding the helm through the countless emerald islands that studded in rich beauty that inland sea. But it was as I neared the frozen ocean my difficulties and dangers increased. Strange to say, however, that it was in the open channels that traversed between the great icebergs and the vast floes of ice that were rending and crashing with reports louder than thunder the electric current rushed and bore me through. In less than three days I was stranded safely, on the shores of Liakhov or New Siberia. A Russian nobleman, who was out on the hunt for white bears, passed the spot soon after my arrival. Attracted by curiosity to where I sat, he viewed me with surprise. My residence in Myu-me-ae-nia had vastly changed me, though I was unconscious of it. He looked upon me as belonging to some new race; and as I could now only speak in the Myu-me-ae-nian tongue, having forgotten my native tongue; it increased his wonder still more. I was, at his instance, surrounded by his serfs, and conveyed bodily to his castle. After exhibiting me to his wife he locked me up in a chamber, where food was supplied me daily. I was frequently taken out, and exhibited to those of the island who seemed to be on an equal rank with himself. After a few weeks I was transferred to a cage ribbed with strong bars of brass, placed in a corner of the large dining-room. It was now evident to myself I was looked upon as a kind of superior beast of the monkey or gorilla sort.(14) I became a peculiar favourite with the countess, who would sit by the hour and learn me to speak Russ. She would, when I began to understand her, ask me to speak in the Myu-me-ae-nian language, which, she said, was the most beautiful sound-flexion she ever had listened to. After I could speak in broken sentences I tried to give her an account of my history. She evidently looked on it as the wildest romance, for she used to call me henceforth her "dear little king."
Three whole weary years passed over me in this state of ennobled confinement. One evening she came to me in great excitement, saying that her husband was dead, and that she wished me to become her husband. I asked her how her husband had died, for I had seen him in health but a few hours ago. At first she refused to inform me; but on my telling her that I could not then be her husband, she said she had got him strangled for my sake. When she saw the look of horror that now took possession of my countenance, and heard me say, in terrible firmness, that I would sooner be strangled myself than be the husband of a murderess, her whole demeanour towards me changed. I saw evil was meditated. She left me, and shortly after I was loaded with chains, and placed in a cold, dark, dank dungeon, deep among the foundations of the castle. It would be endless to tell of my sufferings here. Six months rolled over me while I lay thus immured. How I longed for death! But it came not. I grew so sickly and feeble I could scarcely sit or stand. I began to wander in my mind, and used to fancy myself now beside Ree-mia-me-an, anon addressing my two Chambers of the realm. Release, however, came at last. It turned out that the nobleman's wife was an Italian, though wedded to a Russian. No sooner was her husband dead than she reverted to the Roman Catholic faith. Her confessor, brought from Italy, had gathered from her my story anent the Myu-me-ae-nian world. He became eager to see me and learn more of it, which she promised to do so soon as he could speak Russ. She did not wish to see me any more herself. Having acquired the language, he gained admission to me. At length he secured my release, on condition that I should be his property. On these terms he travelled with me to Rome, whither we arrived at the beginning of the Council. I soon learned the nature of this great gathering from the ends of the earth, and looked upon it as a marvellous providence my coming thither at such a time and in such an extraordinary way. It looked to me as if I had been swept to the very spot where all my difficulties were to be resolved in a twinkling, and I soon restored to my kingdom and queen elect. Having obtained admission to his holiness the Pope, I pressed upon his immediate consideration and that of the whole Council, through my interpreter, the priest, the kingdom of Myu-me-ae-nia. His holiness laughed heartily at me at first, as if I were a raving monomaniac; but, by-and-bye, it lay more upon his thoughts than the doctrine of his own Infallibility. It occupied many secret sessions of that great conclave, and hindered the progress of the Infallibility dogma. While the world outside wondered at the slow progress of this doctrine in the Council, they little surmised what was the real cause of the delay. It was pleaded by some of the English prelates that the Infallibility dogma was of the greatest importance. Cardinal Man said that it was the only thing that would convert that greatest nation on the earth --- the English nation --- to the ancient faith; and, if it were but converted, the whole earth would soon be embraced. But the French prelates scouted the idea. They asserted that the French nation was the greatest nation on earth; and though it was Catholic, and always had been, yet the earth was far from being converted. In fact, if this Infallibility dogma was proceeded with, the whole of France would become Infidel. But he now saw an outlet for the Roman Catholic faith in the kingdom of Myu-me-ae-nia. He was certain that the emperor would fit out an expedition immediately, and place it at the service of his holiness. Thus spake Cardinal Richieu and other dignitaries; but no sooner had they ended than the American prelates started to their feet, saying that the American nation could beat all creation. They ruled over a Continent greater than all France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Norway, Sweden, &c., put together. They would soon have all Canada, Mexico, and South America under the stars and stripes. If all that kingdom were converted to the faith the whole world would need to fall in with it, or they would whip them round eternity. Now nothing but the doctrine of the Pope's Infallibility could effect this conversion of the world. Hereupon some dignitaries from Vaterland sprang to their feet, shouting, "What is England, what is France, what is America to Germany?" At that instant a hundred Italian dignitaries, choking with rage, called to order, and demanded a hearing in the name of Italy and Rome, the mistress of the world. "Victor Emanuel for ever!" But what a scene ensued! Frenchmen caught Germans by the throats, Spaniards closed with Englishmen like tigers, and Italians grappled with Italians. One would have thought it was a menagerie of wild beasts that had been let loose, that were now howling, roaring, and yelling, as they fought together. Bishops, cardinals, legates, &c., from Abyssinia, China, Tahiti, Terra-del-Fuego, Turkey, Siberia, Tasmania, Poland, Portugal, Greece, Tartary, Nepaul, &c., &c., rushed in to separate the combatants; but not till many eyes were blackened, noses bleeding, faces fearfully scratched, and stoles, capes, cowls, robes, &c., were torn into shreds, was this effected. When, at length, all order was restored, his holiness rose from his throne, and addressed them: "My beloved sons in Christ, your zeal has somewhat outrun your discretion. It affects me much to perceive that you are all filled with such high and holy aspirations for the glory of the Spouse of Christ. Some of you would compass it one way and some another; but all alike aim at the salvation of souls. It pleases me much that each loves above all others his own native country. Continue to do so; for herein lies our hope of the world's conversion. But, my beloved sons, turn not your weapons against one another. Never forget that you have a higher allegiance to pay than to the government or aggrandizement of the nation to which you belong. So long as you can be Frenchmen, Englishmen, Germans, Dutchmen, Spaniards, or Italians, &c., without first ceasing to be Roman Catholics, duty and interest bind you to that allegiance. Remember, however, that you owe an allegiance to me, as the vicar of Christ, above all that you owe to your respective monarchs. They must have but a secondary place in your obedience and veneration. You remember how it is said, in the second Psalm, that 'the kings of the earth took counsel, and combined together against the Lord and his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands in sunder and cast their cords from us.' And when did kings of the earth take counsel against the Lord and his vicar as at the present hour? If, then, ye would not share in the judgment that is pronounced against them, draw closer together your bonds of affection and allegiance, as well that of all your faithful flocks, around your Lord and his anointed vicar. You remember the words of the malison, 'He that sitteth in heaven shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision,' and how he has promised to his vicar, 'Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth.'
"Now, my beloved sons, my judgment is --- and ye know I have the Holy Spirit --- that you proceed with the dogma of Infallibility. Thus you will set me, according to the will of God, above all men. My voice will then be as the voice of God on the earth. The blasphemy of unbelief will fade away from the earth in presence of my prerogatives, as pronounced by the Universal Church. And then, secondly, I will that this kingdom of Myu-me-ae-nia be searched out, so that I may rear my throne there, and from thence rule as king in Zion over all the nations of this world. Then shall ye all be princes, not in name only, but also in reality. Territories will be placed in your hands with revenues greater than those of any of the kings of this earth. A reign of peace and prosperity will dawn upon our globe, and the millennium predicted concerning Mother Church shall be inaugurated, wherein 'the wolf and the lamb shall feed together' --- that is, you and your flocks --- 'and the lion' --- that is, England --- 'shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.'"
When his holiless sat down the whole assembly sprang to their feet, exclaiming, "The voice of a God, and not of a man!" and then the whole place rang with cheers. For a whole hour they shouted and waved their handkerchiefs, and made the place crack with their enthusiasm; after that, French embraced Germans, Englishmen, Americans, Spaniards, Italians, &c., &c. When all was stilled, Cardinal Antoni rose, and said, "Fathers and brethren, right reverend in God, sons of his holiness our Lord, God, Pope, I beseech you hear me a little. It behoves us, at this critical hour, to adopt measures for securing perfect secresy in this great and providential matter. Ye know how these cursed hellhounds --- Mazzini, Garibaldi, V --- " (he was about to say Victor Emanuel, but the thought woke within him that he might rouse the ire of some of the Italian bishops, and so he ate it in) --- "are conspiring to wrest the sceptre of the States of the Church, with this august seat of Imperial and Sacred Rome, out of the hands of our priest-king. As Christ was slain of wicked men, so may his holiness. But why should we not enter upon a solemn oath of secresy, that the world may know nothing of this new world till we have placed his holiness, beyond the reach of these cut-throats, on the throne of Myu-me-ae-nia. I counsel, therefore, that we now, ere the doors are opened, enter into a solemn bond, under the eye of the vicar of Christ, that this matter shall not be mooted, and that if, by any untoward accident, this secret should get abroad into the world, we, one and all, call heaven and earth to witness that it is a foul calumny; and be careful to slander and so destroy the testimony of those who reveal it. The glory of Mother Church and the salvation of souls requires this. And if any of you should stagger at the thought of uttering an unblushing lie and calumny, remember what some of our greatest authorities have said --- 'Quidni non nisi veniale sit, detrahentes autoritatem. magnam, tibi noxiam, falso crimine elidere?' What is it but a venial sin to calumniate and forge false accusations to ruin the credit of those who speak evil of us? Look into the writings of Father John Gaus, Father Daniel Bastele, Father Henri, all the writings of the public and ordinary professors of Vienna and Gratz, besides Father Panalossa, Father Pilliceroli, Father Caramuel, Gaspard Hurtado, Dicastille, &c., &c."
After he had uttered these sentiments, some of the dignitaries grouped round him in whispers. I saw immediately that his eyes were lifted towards me in writhing distress; but composing himself, he came over to me with a smile, shook me by the hand, and requested me to follow him. I did so, and he led me away to his carriage, and drove to the Vatican. He said to me I was not to think that they intended taking from me my throne and authority in Myu-me-ae-nia. He knew that there were ambitious cardinals among them who would, for favour and reward, betray the secret to their various kings, and that they would soon wrest the throne from me. But by his naming the Pope for the throne, as ecclesiastics they were all bound by a higher law to him than their several kings. So much was this the case, that they were bound by a secret oath to compass the overthrow of their king if it stood in the way of the Pope's glory. But there was one royal knave he dreaded more than all the others --- that was the Emperor Napoleon. He had an insatiable lust of dominion; and if he could get scent of Myu-me-ae-nia, as sure as he had ships and armies he would pounce upon it. It was with a view to my safety and the safety of my kingdom he was now taking me with him. He would place me in safe quarters till all things were ready for the expedition.
While he was proceeding with these statements we arrived at the Vatican. I was led along through passages, up many winding staircases, and at length lodged in a small chamber, the walls of which were hung with arras and two or three ancient pictures. The only furniture was a couch, a table with a crucifix lying upon it, and a ricketty cane-chair. The small window of the apartment was so high that I could not get looking through it even when I placed the chair on the table and stood upon it. Here was I doomed to spend a solitary life.. For half-an-hour or so, every second or third day, the countess' confessor came and chatted a little with me --- professed to give me a faithful account of the plans that were being matured for our speedy departure. But one evening the door opened, and a female entered, when the door was locked upon us both. She drew aside her veil after we were left alone, and I discovered the nobleman's widow in my presence. A deep pallor was on her countenance; she could scarcely speak for emotion. She said she had followed me to Rome, as her life was miserable, and she dreaded my safety. Since she came she learned, through her confessor, that the magnates of the Vatican had determined that Myu-me-ae-nia should be the Pope's kingdom henceforth, that I was to be used as a guide to the borders of the kingdom, and then slain, lest the love of the Myu-me-ae-nians for me should defeat their scheme. They would then proceed, taking with them the pledges given me by Ree-mia-me-an, as a proof to the Myu-me-ae-nians that I had sent them. They were to take a copy of the Vulgate Bible with them, splendidly bound, and present it to the princess, informing her that they had come, having been sent by me, to instruct her about the true God. They were, at the same time, to present documents in which the Pope was deputed by me to reign in the throne of Myu-me-ae-nia till I returned, and failing my return, or in the event of my decease, should hold it in perpetuity. "Some such," she said, "is the substance of what I have gathered' as the secret plot. Now, if only you will go with me, I shall bribe the servants and secure your escape. I will then trust to your gratitude for making me your wife when you are free to make a choice."
I told her how surprised I was to find that his holiness and the conclave could be guilty of acts so base and unchristian. I related the story of Cardinal Antoni to me, also the statements from time to time of her confessor.
She smiled bitterly. "Ah!" she replied, "I have been their dupe since a child. I was basely betrayed by them. My father was a Roman noble. My mother died early, and I was left to the care of nuns and priests by my father. Being an only child and heiress to great wealth, they aimed at possessing themselves of it. They tried to sway my mind from infancy to a monastic life. Visions of bliss in connection with it were set before me, such as quite transported my youthful imagination. They mined their way carefully till they had it all ready for firing. I was wheedled into signing documents I knew not what, nor suspected. It turned out afterwards that this was no less than my whole property I had willed away. When my father died I was kept in more strict surveillance. A cousin of my own had won my affections, but we were rarely allowed to meet. We did contrive to meet by stealth occasionally. We had plighted each other's troth, but we had been discovered. Our resort was watched. A priest had skilfully concealed himself near the spot overheard the free utterances of our hearts. I was now hurried away from Rome, and thrown into a nunnery at Naples. I protested against this treatment, and vowed to expose it whenever I got the chance. They showed me the documents which I had signed with my own hands, in which I had willed my goods to the nunnery of St. Mary, and my soul and body to Jesus Christ. I protested against it as a base trick they had played upon an unsuspecting girl, who thought she was in the hands of holy men and women. They warned me to cultivate silence, lest my language might lead me into deeper troubles. I knew the meaning of their threats; it was the dungeons of the Inquisition they set before my eyes to quiet my reproaches. At length, after weary months, one came to me. He told me the Holy Father had granted me a dispensation from my solemn vows. He had negotiated with my cousin for my transference to his keeping as his spouse. He was sent to conduct me to him. We travelled by night for weeks. It was not till I reached Liakhov I discovered I was again betrayed. Through a grating in the convent cell the Russian nobleman had been allowed to see the nuns. He took a strong fancy for me --- offered immense sums for my person. I was sold to him to be his slave --- yea, even to abjure the Roman Catholic faith. This was my sorest trial; it sank deepest into my soul. I thought I had been sold to hell itself. I could not but hate the man that bought me on such terms. I vowed to slay him one day, and be free to escape from hell. But now a deeper hell is kindled up within me. His murdered face follows me night and day. No priest's absolution, no penances, no gifts to Mother Church can remove the load from my conscience. I think now to renounce a religion that has betrayed me so often. If you will flee with me to England I will give you home and protection, while we can both try what the religion of the Protestants can do for us."
My heart was drawn out to her in pity. I thought she became all at once lovely by unburdening her mind of her guilt. I promised, if she could effect it, to accompany her to England. She at length withdrew.
Three days passed away, and she returned not. I began to fear that her plot had been detected; and what if she now lay in the dungeons of Rome? My dreams partook of the horrible scenes I had read in my youth of the tortures of heretics. But while I was thus dreaming, at the middle of the third night a monk walked into my cell, and whispered in my ear. It was Theodora, the countess, in priest's habiliments. She unfolded a bundle that was under her cope, and threw it at my feet, urging me to dress without delay in them. It was a priest's attire. When my toilet was concluded I opened the door, behind which she had retired, to signify I was ready. With stealthy steps we were conducted by small, steep, winding stairs till we reached the ground. We obtained egress by a very small back door into a back court of the Vatican.
Crossing this court, we emerged by a gate through the dilapidated boundary wall, and stood in one of the narrow streets of Rome. A conveyance was waiting us outside the city gates, so that we had to hurry along through one low back street after another to escape the notice of the sbirri. We had all but reached the Porto del Popolo, when, turning a sharp corner, we stood face to face with one of the sbirri. His sword was raised at once, and one of us had been cleft to the ground in a moment, had our companion not said a few magic words and pushed some heavy pieces into his hand. We thus got passing freely by. The servant now hastened before us to the gate, and parleyed with the soldiers who guarded it. A golden key was used here, too, with good effect. He came back, urging us to hasten on as noiselessly as possible. The great gate was opened cautiously just as far as to allow us crushing through sideways. When out we hurried to the quiet nook beside a garden wall, where the cabriolet awaited us. We now drove off for Civita Vecchia. When we neared it the day was beginning to dawn. Having alighted from our conveyance and paid handsomely for our ride, we walked slowly towards the Port. Without any suspicion attaching itself to us we reached the quay. An English war frigate lay there. Having got on board, the countess revealed our circumstances --- our desire to reach England --- the danger of our lives if we were detected and brought again to shore.
"Here," she said, pointing to me, "is an Englishman, who claims by right the protection of your flag. As for me, I am an Italian, and so is this my servant. But, on the grounds of humanity, I claim it for us both likewise."
"And, on the grounds of humanity, you shall get it," said the noble-hearted captain. And, so saying, he conducted us down into his cabin. He gave us suits of clothes of his own, that we might dress in them; but when he learned that one of our number was a female he conducted the countess to his wife's cabin, by whom she was received and attired in her own raiment.
In a few days we left Civita Vecchia, and sailed for Portsmouth. Our voyage was calm and pleasant. By rail we reached London, and then drove out to the countess' residence. As she wishes to remain unknown, I cannot here inform the reader of its whereabouts.
My aim now is to reveal the horrible conspiracy of the Church of Rome, not only against the liberties of the kingdoms of this world, but also against my throne in Myu-me-ae-nia. I believe now, from my inmost soul, that the whole system is a huge fraud and conspiracy against humanity. But I trust that the crowned heads of Europe will enter into a solemn league and covenant to overthrow the Papal usurpation, and restore me, Moho-yoho-me-oo-oo, to my throne in Myu-me-ae-nia. As soon as this is arranged and agreed upon, I will enter into negotiations with them as to the terms on which their kind service shall be rewarded. One thing I will promise beforehand to all such as aid me in this great undertaking as against the Pope, that I shall open all the ports of my kingdom to an untarriffed traffic with those nations whose navies and armies help me to recover my rights. Furthermore, I shall enter into an offensive and defensive alliance with these various nations for all time coming.
Franklin tells that, among the American Indians of the far North, "it is considered extremely improper for a mother-in-law to speak or even look at her son-in-law; and when she has communication to make to him, it is the etiquette that she should turn her back upon him, and address him only through the medium of a third person."
Note A to Page 80.
Sir John Lubbock, in his "Origin of Civilization, &c.," says, "In Central Africa Caillie observes that from this moment" --- that is, from their betrothal --- "the lover is not to see the father and mother of his future bride. He takes the greatest care to avoid them; and if by chance they perceive him, they cover their faces as if all ties of friendship were broken. I tried in vain to discover the origin of this whimsical custom. The only answer I could obtain was, 'It is our way.'"
Chapman, in his description of the habits and customs of the Bushmen, recounts the same thing. But neither Caillie nor Chapman could find or give an explanation of this custom.
Sir John Lubbock ventures on a theory. Finding that marriage by capture prevails extensively among some savage tribes, he immediately infers THIS originated the etiquette referred to. But then the etiquette prevails among tribes where there is no capture. Sir John tides over the difficulty in the following easy way --- "When the capture was a reality the indignation of the parents was real; when it became a mere symbol, the parental anger would be symbolized also, and would be continued after its origin was forgotten."
A difficulty rises here --- "Whence the practice of marriage by capture?" Mr. McLennan, in his work on "Primitive Marriage," supposes that female infanticide, causing a paucity of marriageable females in the tribe, gave rise to the necessity of capture from other tribes on the part of the coelebs. But whence female infanticide?
It did not occur to me to question the hermit on these subjects; but, with my superior knowledge, there was the less necessity. Any disadvantage this places me under is easily overcome by the aid of a single supposition, and suppositions are the staple commodities of philosophers.
Marriage by capture originated with our existence as a race. This has been clearly revealed by the hermit; and as the study of Physiology has led so eminent an apostle of Natural Science as Mr. Darwin to our gorilla origin, apart altogether from my discoveries in the world of Myu-me-ae-nia, and at the very same time, it must take captive the convictions of all intelligent, unprejudiced, liberal, and philosophic minds, that the true clue to the solution of every unsolved human problem has at length been found. Marriage by capture found a precedent in the marriage of the gorilla with our common Myu-me-ae-nian mother. Did not her father turn his back with disgust upon his gorilla son-in-law? Hence the origin of the etiquette.
But it may be said by Sir John Lubbock and Mr. McLennan that marriage by capture has prevailed, more or less, for ages among some savage tribes. Is that to be wondered at with such a precedent? Such of the tribes as had in it a preponderance of the gorilla nature above the Myu-me-ae-nian, would, of necessity, obey the strong root instincts of the gorilla. This would impel them rather to marriage by capture, it being notorious to naturalists that the male gorilla selects by force its female companion.
Were it not that it would be looked upon as a digression, I could explain a difficulty that has perplexed some of our greatest philosophers, and given rise to many grotesque theories. It is how the human race shows such an inveterate tendency to relapse into barbarism or a stage little removed above the beast. But our common gorilla origin explains the whole. That root force is, more or less, vital in all --- in some tribes and individuals more so than in others. Hence the relapsing tendencies observable.
The origin of language has caused a like difficulty --- viz., whether man had a language originally or not, and how he came to form a language. The different languages --- some so full and rich, others so meagre, with all intermediate --- have been a most fruitful field for the wildest speculations. But Mammoth Martinet implores the attention of all ethnographists, philologists, and linguists to the following, as affording the only true key to the solution of language.
The children of our common parents would be of varied mental calibre. In proportion as one preponderated to the father's side in his nature his language would partake more of the gorilla cry than the correct speech of Myu-me-ae-nia. The speech that he did utter would not only be the most beast-like --- jabbering, hissing, or gutteral --- in its sound, but it would be confined to the fewest possible ideas adequate to a mind so little removed above the brute. This explains, too, how some languages have no words expressive of love or endearment, as in the language of the Tinne Indians and the Alonquins; and others have no word for God. The gorillaism of these tribes rejected the ideas of love. As for God, it was beyond their mental grasp.
The language of Greece is the nearest, in its rich musical intonations, of any language I know, to the Myu-me-ae-nian. All languages are but a graduated combination of, or oscillation between, the limpid vocables of the Myu-me-ae-nian and the harsh gutteral cries of the gorilla. One race has a richer language than another as their tribal stock graduated in mental calibre towards the purest type of Myu-me-ae-nianism. Let philologists take heed to this, and abandon those grotesque theories that have hitherto been foisted on them by wild visionaries.
I promised not to digress, and I must keep my word: Female infanticide has given rise, some say, to marriage by capture. But whence the origin of female infanticide? It has been supposed that it was the oppressed state of wives tempted mothers to destroy their daughters that they might escape their degraded life. But why did husbands countenance and permit female infanticide? Our theorists do not condescend on such difficulties, as they would spoil the force of their theories.
The true origin of female infanticide was this: --- Our common mother destroyed all her eldest daughters till her sons reached a marriageable age. She only spared as many of them as she had sons for. Her reason for this was lest any of her daughters should fall into the hands of a gorilla as she herself had done. Her married sons and daughters followed her example for the same reasons. And what is remarkable to this day is, that the practice of female infanticide has adhered longest to, and been practised most by, those tribes living in countries infested by the gorilla or monkey tribes, and fell into disuse first among those nations living in regions where the gorilla was unknown, or was dying, or had died out. This established origin of female infanticide solves another great difficulty; viz., the unity of the human race. The differences of colour, hair, &c., find solution otherwise than in original radical pairs. The hermit's theory of our material origin solves the difficulty. Our bodies, derived from the gorilla, only modified by the life-force of the Myu-me-ae-nian nature, is a compound representative of the whole animal world. The gorilla, being the highest development of all animals, is the highest summation of all these, combining, as it does in itself, the nature of all, in more or less minute proportions. Man's body being a higher animal development still, he also carries along with him all that is truly characteristic of all the subordinate ranks. But whilst this is the statement of the general law, yet it has to be explained that sometimes one animal type asserts itself above all the others, and sometimes another. This is obvious, for example, in the negro race. When men began to hive off into tribes the original stock of the African offshoot had, from amid the mixed animal assertions, the typal form of the sheep forced into prominence in the woolly hair. All other distinctions between races, which have staggered naturalists and physiologists, can be easily explained on the same principles.
Seeing I have satisfactorily disposed of original sin, that greatest bugbear and stumbling-block to most philosophers and scientific minds, and shown all sin to be mere physical defects, with the superaddition of gross gorillaism on our higher and Myu-me-ae-nian nature, I am confident I shall carry along with me the grateful assent of all liberal minds, while I establish a new philosophy and science on the ruins of previous ones. Let Moses, with all his myths --- which have burdened the consciences of all dishonest men since his days --- be dismissed, and let Mammoth Martinet, with his grand ally and apostle of Science and Natural History, Mr. Darwin, be followed. There need be no more figments created with a view to prove that the negro sprang from an original stock totally distinct from the European, or that the Chinese is as radically distinct from the South Sea Islanders as the giraffe is from the hippopotamus. It can, with perfect comfort and composure to the conscience, be admitted that, despite all the anomalies that exist, the various races sprang originally from a common pair, seeing there is no doctrine of sin in the way needing to be undermined. Men of science may resolutely go forward in their noble studies without losing their time and temper, and wasting their best energies in dealing irrelevant Judas-blows at so-called religion, seeing that continued faith in these now exploded religious ideas can only be the result of a vulgar prejudice, indicating in such subjects a preponderating assertion of the mule type from amid the mixed animal forms. Let philosophers accept the idea of their high Myu-me-ae-nian origin and destiny, and press forward under the guidance of this pillar of fire.
Note B to Page 133.
I overlooked a conversation I had with the hermit about the worship of the Holy Mother with her infant Son in her arms, as observed in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. He manifested a profound interest in all my statements as to the origin and history of Mariolatry. "She was born," I told him, "about 1800 years or more ago, was immaculate that is, absolutely free from all imperfection. Her son was divine, and was herself divine. She was worshipped as the Queen of Heaven." And more to that effect.
THE MADONNA AND CHILD; OR, MOTHER-WORSHIP.
When I had detailed to him all I thought essential to a correct and adequate conception of it, he replied: "What a race of misled and gullible beings you Roman Catholics must be! But listen, my child, to what I tell you, so that when you return to your own world you may test it by all the most ancient records you can lay your hands on. The worship of mother and child is of a date vastly remote beyond 1800 years. It came to my knowledge that my daughter originated it some considerable time after the decease of her gorilla husband. She aimed at eradicating from the memory and knowledge of her posterity her unnatural alliance with the gorilla. She instituted a great festival, that was to be celebrated once every year, in which she was worshipped with a child in her arms. The story of her arrival from another and brighter world was told, and how that she was the daughter of the great king. In token of this royal origin, a chaplet of gold, studded with large diamonds, I learned was placed round her head. When my daughter was freed from the gross materialism which her unhappy gorilla alliance burdened her with, and she reverted into her pure Myu-me-ae-nianism, they worshipped her as the Queen of Heaven --- supposing your moon was the world she had gone to, and was that to which she had long told them she must return. They fancied it was to reign there as she had done in your own world she was gone. Hence her worship as the Queen of Heaven."
He added much more, but I was so amazed that I could not attend to all he said. I inwardly resolved I should ransack the history of all nations in my own world, if ever I returned. I have done so as far as my opportunities have gone, and will now give my readers the results, which I pray them to give great heed to, and test for themselves.
In ancient Babylonian history I find the worship of mother and child; that is, at a period in the world's history upwards of 2000 years prior to the birth of the Virgin Mary. At a period not much, if any, later in date, the worship of Isis and Osiris, also represented as mother and child, was observed in Egypt. In India, to this day, from an antiquity that cannot be defined, Isi and Iswara, as mother and child, are worshipped. In ancient Pagan Greece, Couros and Demeter were worshipped as mother and child. In Asia, Cybele and Atys; in Pagan Rome even, Simele and Bacchus were so worshipped. Our Jesuit missionaries, when they first visited China, were surprised to find representations of the Shing Moo or Holy Mother and her child. The aureola round the head of the Shing Moo was so like to the Madonna's in Roman Catholic Chapels that the Jesuit fathers could have fancied them made by a Catholic. The Jesuit fathers found the mother and child also in Thibet and Japan.
What, then, does all this prove? That as far as history goes back you can trace Mother-worship. To say that Roman Catholicism, as it rallies round the Madonna and child, has anything to do with the Virgin Mary and her Divine Son further than in the way of mere accident, similitude, or analogy, is nothing less than a mean fraud. It ought at once to be honestly admitted --- yea, gloried in --- that it dates as far back in point of antiquity as the days of the famous Babylonian Semiramis --- a thing of easy proof. From this the transition would now be obvious to the common mother of us all, the daughter of the Myu-me-ae-nian hermit and wife of our great gorilla ancestor. History supplies all the needed links between Mariolatry and Semiramis worship; the travels of Mammoth Martinet supply the missing links between Babylonian Madonnaism or Mother-worship and our common mother.
Another striking proof of Roman Mariolatry and ancient Mother-worship in what men profanely call Pagan Babylon, Greece, Rome, Egypt, &c., being one and the same, is gathered thus. Talking lately with a Roman Catholic artist, he told me a singular discovery he had made when in Rome. It was this: --- All the pictures of the Holy Mother, prior to the time of Raphael, had blue eyes and golden hair. This was what he would not have expected to find in a representation either of an Italian or Hebrew maid. "Besides," he added, "the very features were neither Jewish nor Italian." Having stumbled, some time after this, on Sir Robert Ker Porter's "Researches amid the Ruins of Ancient Babylon," I learned that he found the Madonna representations there all blue-eyed and golden-haired, with aureolas exactly similar to the Roman Catholic Madonnas. Can this be accidental? Is not the proof irrefragable that Roman Catholic Mariolatry or Mother-worship --- and, consequently, the Roman faith --- is as ancient as the age of Semiramis? What a glorious antiquity this secures to the Catholic Church! How, much more venerable still when traced up, in the light of these Myu-me-ae-nian discoveries, to the fountain-head of the whole human race! This gives it a claim to be called Catholic far surpassing all that has ever yet been advanced by the Holy Father and all the hierarchy. Modern times have but changed the names, not the realities or objects, of worship. The names of Mary and Jesus have but unrighteously usurped the place of the Isis and Osiris or Horus of Egypt; of the Venus, Vesta, Simele, Cybele, Ceres, or Diana and the Cupid or Bacchus of Greece and Pagan Rome; of the Mylitta or Semiramis and Nin, Adonis or Nimrod of Babylon; of the Siva and Vishnu of India. How much more glorious, --- not to say honourable --- to have retained the ancient names.
Few seem to know that the reason why the Catholic Church is called Mother Church is just because it teaches men to worship the common mother of us all. Semiramis it was rescued this primal worship from the oblivion it was fast falling into in her day. The Brahminical religion of India, the Buddhist religion of China, Japan and Thibet, in the East, and the Roman Catholic religion in the West, are evidently but the three great branches of ancient Babylonian worship upholding to this day Mother-worship. Look for a moment at the coincidences. In the Brahminical religion, Brahma, the first person in the Trinity, is not worshipped. It is Siva, the female divinity, or Second Person in the Trinity, and Vishnu, the Third Person, who are propitiated. In the Buddhist religion, Buddha (Chaldee "Budeda," the solitary or exclusive one), the "Great Hermit," is not exclusively worshipped; and yet, in his worship, they adore "three holy ones," the image having one body with three heads. To what else can this allude but the Great Hermit of Myu-me-ae-nia, as Buddha and his daughter and her child --- the symbol of her whole race --- as forming the Trinity? In Pagan Rome it was the same. What were the Penates, or "household gods," as they were called? Penates, or Penades, was from Pen-Adad, "the face or image of the one only God." Now Ludovicus Vives asserts that "the Penates of all mankind" were threefold. In the holy Roman .Catholic Church there is a Trinity --- the Father, who is never directly worshipped; the Spirit incarnate in the Virgin Mary; and. the Son Jesus. In some Roman Catholic Churches, as in Madrid, you may see an image of the Triune God with three heads and one body. See Mr. Layard's "Nineveh" for a similar engraving of the ancient Babylonian Trinity. See Parsons' "Japhet" for a similar in Siberia. The cave temples of India have identical representations of the Trinity. The Trinity of Homer was of the same composition. Jupiter, or Jove, was the father of the gods. Juno, his wife, was the Second Person in the Trinity; her name was D'Iune, or the Dove. Who was this Dove? It is but a myth of our common mother flying across Deucalion's Flood to our world as a Dove. Ovid says, "Semiramis in Columbam," "Semiramis into a Dove." The Roman Juno and the Chaldean D'Iune, or Dione, were one and the same. (See Moses of Chorene.) Apollo was the Third Person in Homer's Trinity. Mr. Gladstone seems, in his great work on Homeric Mythology, perplexed with Apollo's place in the Olympian Mythology, because, though he is the son of Jupiter, he yet seems every way superior to his father. But so is Horus to Osiris in Egyptian Mythology, with whom Apollo has been identified. And let it be remembered that the Babylonian worship was a perverted commingling, overlaying, and caricature of the Messianic promises of Moses concerning the seed of the woman that was to bruise the head of the serpent. The story of the Python, or celebrated serpent, which sprang from the mud after the deluge of Deucalion, and that threatened to destroy his mother while pregnant with Apollo --- Apollo's killing it after he was born, and thereafter instituting the Pythian games --- point Apollo out as a fabulous or mythical exhibition and fulfilment of the Messianic promise.
Thus, from time immemorial, the Trinity in Babylon, India, China, Thibet, Siberia, Egypt, Greece, Pagan Rome, and Papal Rome, has been and is now worshipped as Father, Mother, Son. At the Nicene Council it was asserted that the Holy Trinity consisted of "the Father, the Virgin Mary, and the Messiah, their Son." In the Corso of Rome may be read this inscription over the door of one of its temples --- "Sacred to Mary, equal to God the Father." Speaking of the Nicene Council, Father Newman speaks thus: "Then there was a wonder in heaven; a throne was seen far above all created powers, mediatorial, intercessory, a title, a crown bright as the morning star, a glory issuing from the eternal throne; robes pure as the heavens, and a sceptre over all And who was the predestined heir of this majesty --- who was that wisdom, and what was her name? The mother of fair love. … The votaries of Mary do not exceed the true faith, unless the blasphemers of her Son come up to it. The Church of Rome is not idolatrous."
Whoever said the Church of Rome was idolatrous? What! is it idolatry to worship our great common mother? And is not both Father and Son superseded by Mary? It must now be clear as noonday that the Roman Catholic religion --- the religion of Homeric Greece, of ancient Egypt, Rome, Babylon, the religions of ancient and modern China, Japan, Tartary, Siberia, &c. --- yield startling corroborative evidence of the common Myu-me-ae-nian origin of us all. Just let us dwell on a few further proofs.
First, take Venus, the goddess of love. It is well known among scholars that she is the same with Vesta, Simele, Cybele, Ceres, Diana, Mylitta, Semiramis, Siva. One of her names is Aphrodite, because believed to be born from the froth of the ocean. What is this but a poetic way of describing the origin of our Myu-me-ae-nian mother? As she came from Myu-me-ae-nia, she appeared to rise out of the sea. The myth runs that her father, Jupiter, gave her, as a punishment, to that terrible monster Vulcan, who had Etna for his smithy and the one-eyed Cyclops for his journeymen. Is there not here a mangled tradition about her gorilla capture? Who was Vulcan? Vulcan is from Bolkhan, or priest of Baal or Bel. Who was this? History makes it out that Nimrod was the Bol-khan. Nimrod! Who and what is Nimrod? The name is a compound of "nimr" a "leopard" and "radah" "to tame or subdue." What more natural than that tradition has misplaced the names and personages? What more likely than that our common Myu-me-ae-nian mother's father was the real Nimrod, "the leopard-subduer?"
This will be seen more clearly if you consider Diana. She is the daughter of Jupiter too. Her amours with the horrid satyr, Pan, notwithstanding her father dedicated her to virginity, are well known. Take Venus and Diana as one, and you see the daughter of the leopard-subduer --- that daughter being a huntress and the goddess of hunting --- giving herself in marriage to a beastly monster. That it was a gorilla may as easily be believed as that it was in part a goat.
Now Diana, as worshipped in the great Temple of Ephesus, was represented with a great many breasts. On this account she was sometimes called Cybele --- that was "mother earth," or, rather, the mother out of the earth; that means the mother from Myu-me-ae-nia. This Cybele was also called Ama-Rheia; that is, "Mother-Rheia." Sometimes, as scholars know, the A is dropped from Ama; it then reads "Ma-Rheia." In Pagan Rome Ma-Rheia --- Mother-Rheia was well known. Now Rheia was the daughter of Coelum and Terra; that is, Heaven and Earth. How poetically descriptive of our common Myu-me-ae-nian mother as she came to our world! It was from a point between earth and sky: Her descendants in remote times, when the knowledge of her real origin was lost in myths, had retained some vague idea of an obscure beyond whence she came.
When Pope Damasus was changing the bald and tame forms of that apostacy called Christianity, and leading men back to ancient Ma-Rheia or Mother-Rheia worship, he adroitly took advantage of Ma-Rheia, and sounded it as Maria, so as to carry with him the Pagan worshippers and the Virgin Mary worshippers. Hence the "Ave Maria." Thus, through a clever play upon a name, all were led back to ancient Mother-Rheia or Ma-Rheia worship. Thus the way was paved, and that most successfully, for bringing back all the ancient ritualism, hierarchy, and essential doctrines of the ancient Babylonian Church with its Mother-worship; that is, the worship of our common mother, the daughter of the Great Hermit or Buddh," alias Nimrod, the leopard tamer, the First Person in the Babylonian, Grecian, Siberian, Chinese, Japanese, and Roman Catholic Trinity. .
But another name belonging to Venus, Diana, Cybele, or Ma-Rheia, was Ceres. Now who can read the story about Pluto, the god of the regions under the earth, seizing her daughter Prosperine, and taking her a way down into the lower regions, and not see that it is an obscure tradition of some connection with Myu-me-ae-nia? It is just a poetically obscured tradition of how our Myu-me-ae-nian mother was, by violence, made the author of our race.
If anything additional could place this proof beyond all doubt or cavil, it would be that form of worship common to all countries and antique religions called "the rosary of the sacred heart." It was observed among the ancient Pagan Mexicans; the Brahmins of India, Buddhists of Thibet, the Lamas of Tartary, the Ephesian worshippers of Diana --- that is, Cybele or Ma-Rheia --- and now in Papal Rome by the worshippers of Maria, or Mary.
The "heart" in Chaldee is Bel; Bel in Egypt was Osiris; but Osiris and the Babylonian Nin are the same. Osiris was the son of Isis. Nin was the son of Mylitta; that is, Mother, Madonna, or Semiramis or D'Iune; that is, Juno or the Dove, the woman in whom the spirit was incarnate. What then? "The rosary of the sacred heart" links up the Catholic worship with all the heathen worships of all countries and times.
Cupid, the winged boy of Venus, with his bow and quiver, is but a heathen form of the object worshipped as the sacred heart. What was this but an emblem of Nimrod, the mighty hunter? That our common mother, Diana, the wife of the monster Pan, trained her sons to the chase, was the most natural thing imaginable. That one of them did excel all the others is almost certain. That he was called. Nimrod, also, I think, is beyond dispute. Hence the confusion which arises from nimrod being at one time called her son, at another her father, at a third her husband.
No matter. It is now proved beyond debate Roman Mother-worship is the same with ancient Babylonian Mother-worship; that is, Ma-Rheia, Mother-Rheia, or Cybele worship. Here, then, through the religions of all countries and ages, we are brought face to face with the fact that Mother-worship is the most ancient of all. Cybele or Diana, the huntress, or Rheia, from Myu-me-ae-nia, is the mother of us all, through Pan, the great gorilla. Thus Mythology, Catholicism, Natural Science, under its high priest, Darwin, and the Travels of Mammoth Martinet; meet at one grand terminus --- Myu-me-ae-nianism versus Gorillaism.
N.B. --- Just as I was closing this note, a friend of mine, a most accomplished scholar, to whom I have been much indebted for brushing up my rusty knowledge about the ancient Mythologies, slipped into my room. and read, unobserved by me, the greatest part of the foregoing pages about Venus, Diana, Ma-Rheia, &c., being all one, and proving our common motherhood through Roman Catholic Mother-worship and ancient Babylonian worship. Just as I laid down my pen, he exclaimed, "What! leaving out the most crowning proof of all" Being still among the Roman Catholic and Babylonian gods in my thoughts, I sprang to my feet, gasping in great horror, as if the ancient gorilla had darted into my study. I gazed at him for a moment in utter unconsciousness, and. it was some time ere my fear suffered my eyes to take a correct impression of his form. He thought for a few seconds that I had gone mad, but smiled when he observed my returning consciousness.
"What objection," I said, "have you to the proofs I have advanced!"
"Why, this: that you forgot to tell who the husband of Ma-Rheia was, as related in ancient Mythology."
"Forgot!" I said. "Why, though I were to be shot for it, I cannot remember. Who was it?"
"It was Saturn, the father of Jupiter; and there lies proof for you that is most startling."
"Pray what is it?" I exclaimed, all impatience to get it.
"Well," he answered, "I will give it, if you take up your pen and write it while I speak, and give me your word of honour that you will retain every word of it in your Appendix to the Travels."
Little suspecting the trap he was going to get me caught in, I rashly promised. My friend is one who cares for no religion whatever; but as geologists now-a-days believe before Moses what they read of past creations as brought to light from the rocks, so he what he finds in the adamant layers of Mythology.
Taking up my pen I said, "'What, then, about Saturn?"
"Do you not know," he rejoined, "that Saturn is a Chaldean word. It is correlative with that other Chaldean term, 'Mystery.' 'Mystery' signified, in the ancient Babylonian worship, 'the Hidden System.' 'Saturn' meant 'the Hidden God.' Now you ought to know, as a Chaldee scholar, that Saturn is pronounced Satur, and consists of only the four letters --- Stur."
"And what about all that!" I exclaimed. "Who, of all my readers, will care to wade through the first part of my note, far less your learned deductions?"
"Let them, then," he replied, tartly, "lose the benefit. Write on as you promised. Take the letters Stur, as they represent Chaldee numerals: ---
"And what about that?" I asked, as I gazed aghast into his face.
"Ah!" he said, "thereby hangs a tale. According to Ovid and Pliny, Rome became the city of Saturn after Jupiter dethroned him. But Latinos, to whom Virgil refers the origin of the Latin race, was the same with Saturn. Lateinos, Latium, Latinus, Lateo, as you ought to know, all come from the Chaldee 'Lat,' 'the Hidden One.' Now as Saturn was, by his very name, the head of the Chaldee mystery, so is the Pope the head of the Roman mystery; for he presides over it in the ancient city of Saturn --- Saturnia --- and he hides the real doctrines of the Church under the Latin tongue. The letters of the word Lateinos make up 666. This is the number of a man arid the number of the beast, and so of the Pope."
I cannot tell you the rage this statement put me in. I dashed the pen from me, and said I would rather burn all my MS. about Myu-me-ae-nia than write any more such blasphemy about holy Mother Church.
My friend simply laughed at me, and said all he was about to do was to identify the Roman Church and the Babylonian Church as essentially one and the same, that I might establish Myu-me-ae-nianism. This cooled my temper; for you know, when men take up a crotchet, they would sacrifice everything --- their common sense, their faith, their religion, aye, their souls --- in grasping at proofs to establish it.
"What more, then?" I said, poutingly, as I resumed my pen.
"Saturn," continues my friend, is but the same with Janus, or Dagon, or Noah. Janus is from the Chaldee --- E-anush, 'the man.' As given in Greek, by Berosus, it is O-annes. The Babylonian Messiah was called 'the man;' and, as applied to a God, meant 'the God-man.' Janus, Dagon, or Noah, was the keeper of the gates of heaven or the two worlds. Now Janus and Cybele, or Ma-Rheia, were worshipped in Rome both before the time of Christ and after it for nearly 400 years. Janus had a key and Cybele had a key. The Pagan Pontifex Maximus, who was also the Emperor of the Roman Empire, had the power of the keys; but these same keys were given to Pope Damasus about 378 by the Emperor."
"And what," I asked, "has that to do with Myu-me-ae-nia?"
"Do you not see?" he replied. "Janus is Dagon or Noah --- half-man, half-fish. His high priest wore a mitre in the shape of a fish's mouth. Janus had the power of opening both worlds as he swam across Deucalion's Flood. Worshipped along with Cybele or Ma-Rheia --- Mother Earth --- it signifies that our race came by sea from another world. All the cardinals wear a fish-head mitre like the Pope, the same as the Assyrian sculptures show the Pontifex Maximus in Babylon did with his college of cardinals. See Layard's 'Nineveh and Babylon.' This proves that the Pope is heir to Janus, the man whose number is 666, and so is the Beast of the Apocalypse."
"Ah! but you mistake," I replied. "It was the keys of Peter the Pope now has --- Peter, who was first Pope at Rome."
"Peter, Pope of Rome!" he answered sardonically. "No; but there was a Peter long prior to the days of Christ's apostle at Rome. It was the interpreter of the Chaldean mysteries was called Peter; P.t.r. being the Chaldee for 'Interpreter.' The keys of Janus and Cybele were looked at as belonging to P.t.r., the Interpreter, because he unfolded their mysteries."
"Many," he added, "have often wondered why the Popes at Rome chose to have a married apostle, and one that denied his Lord, as the first Pope. But the reason now is plain. It was the Chaldean P.t.r. the Popes served themselves heirs to. See then how, through Ma-Rheia, you reach Saturn; that is, Janus or E-anus, the man whose number is 666, or Dagon, half-fish, half-man. If you don't now reach Myu-me-ae-nia, with all our race at your Catholic-Dagon tail, you deserve to perish."
So said my friend, and darted out of my room ere I could ask him any more. If he had led me a wild-goose chase, let the ablest scholars in Europe disprove, if they can, his statements. But before they challenge him publicly let them know their adversary is a very Goliath --- rather Achilles --- on the battle-field of Languages and Mythological Lore.
1. Infidelity is but the highest psychological development of, or emergence out of Superstition. Hence the recurrent resistless tendency, at times, of such highly developed minds to revert to their primal, generic, and rudimental type for a little, in presence of any new, unusual, and mysterious phenomenon. Byron, Rousseau, Voltaire, Shelly, Gibbon, afford eminent examples of this spasmodic mental relapse. It is constantly witnessed in Myu-me-ae-nia, and thus lends valuable confirmation to the soundness of the fundamental principle of Darwinianism.
2. See Note A in the Appendix.
3. This is the real root of the Development Theory. "The tree," said the hermit, in the course of our conversation, "contains the two root types of all things." "How?" said I; "What similarity is between a tree and a round world?" "What is a tree?" asks the hermit; "Is it not a heaping up, by the life force that is in it, of round cells? And though it strikes out into branches and roots, yet it returns to its original type in the fruit. Look around you. Everything you see oscillates between, gravitates toward, or combines the cell or tree shape. Consider you own body. Your feet and toes are the root type; your arms and fingers the branch type; your head the cell or orb type; your hair the arrested leaf. Look even at your rivers: their waters are but aggregations of round drops; but the channels which they have excavated for themselves are tree-shaped; their main trunk rests on the ocean --- their branches run up through the hills or through a continent. Thus he discoursed of everything, tracing the two primordial types till I, was silenced --- yea, convinced: I henceforth felt all impatience to return to my own world, that I might publish, in the interests of true science, this great discovery. Let none doubt henceforth the Development Theory. If Darwin should be avenged sevenfold, Mammoth Martinet seventy and sevenfold.
4. Let all our Scientific Associations take this information to Avizandum. What learned nonsense have they hitherto retailed about the moon.
5. I know there are sceptics who will believe nothing. This about the Myu-me-ae-nian life of man after his death will be sneered at as a raving fancy. But having laid my hands on a volume of the Chandos library since my return, I would refer all such sceptics to its pages. There they will find M. Nicolai, a member of the Royal Society of Berlin, giving an account of his experiences. He says, "I sometimes convened with my wife and the physician concerning the phantoms which at the time hovered round me. They did not always continue present.........They commonly passed to and fro like people at a fair, where all is bustle; sometimes they appeared as if they had business with one another. Once or twice I saw among them persons on horseback, and dogs and birds.........I began to hear them speak. Sometimes the phantasms spoke with one another; but for the most part they addressed themselves to me, and endeavoured to console me in my grief, which sting left deep traces in my mind. The speaking I heard most frequently when I was alone, though I sometimes heard it in company, intermixed with the conversation of real persons.........They did not excite the least disagreeable emotion, but, on the contrary, afforded me frequent subjects for amusement and mirth.
"On the 20th of April I was alone with the surgeon. During the operation the room swarmed with human forms of every description, which crowded fast on one another. About half-past four o'clock the .figures began to move more slowly.........By degrees they became visibly less plain.........Whole pieces remained for a length of time.........At about eight o'clock there did not remain a vestige."
"Now this was evidently a case in which the gorilla nature was more than usually overpowered by the Myu-me-ae-nian nature. Hence his ability to see and converse with the invisible world. Of course M. Nicolai referred this to a deranged system --- a very natural thing, in absence of the knowledge that Mammoth Martinet is honoured to divulge to his fellow-creatures. But let no one after this dispute spiritualism. M. Nicolai is an unwitting witness to the reality of a spiritual world existing all around us, in the midst of which we live and move. The ghost fears that cling to us from infancy have their foundations, in fact. Strange that we have been so long in recognizing it and studying it, so as to reduce it to a science and an art!
6. You may witness something like this in a setting sun sometimes. As it goes bowling down it throws off great rings, which are but plasms of itself. Comets do the same. So even astronomers admit.
7. While these pages pass through the press the gorillaism of man is strikingly and most opportunely exhibited in the savage fratricidal war waged in "the beautiful-city," Paris --- that queen of cities, the centre of civilization, the empress of the world. Darwin may point in proud triumph to the scenes enacted there as corroborative evidence of the soundness of his theory as to the origin of the human race. But Mammoth Martinet appeals to them as confirming his theory -- rather history --- a history supplemental to the crude conjectures of Darwin.
8. That is how Communism has failed in Paris. They thought to anticipate their Myu-me-ae-nian state by trying to grasp the subtler forms of material enjoyment. The attempt, however chimerical, was a noble vindication of their higher Myu-me-ae-nian nature and instincts. It tells how advanced is our age towards Millennialism. Only let loose the gorillaism of our city slums, and the reign of bliss begins!
9. How gratifying this thought must be to M. Thiers, in reviewing his wholesale and indiscriminate butchery!
10. "The manufacture of gossip was invented and legalized for this end by the upstart imbecile government," he said, "and has been fostered by every succeeding government since. This has done more than anything else to emasculate our race."
11. This relaxing he dated and traced from the social revolution described at page 99. What a commentary on Communism!
12. See "Lives of the Popes," especially that of Alexander VI.
13. See Note B in the Appendix. for a startling conversation with the hermit on the Madonna and Child, or Mother-worship, forgotten to be inserted in its proper place till these pages had passed through the hands of the printer.
14. Napoleon truly said, "there was but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous."
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