The Brick Moon
Edward Everett Hall
The Hidden Hemisphere
The Nearer Hemisphere
[Frank Herbert Loud]
THE BRICK MOON
[From the papers of Captain Frederic Ingham.]
have no sort of objection now to telling the whole story. The subscribers, of course, have a right to know what became of their money. The astronomers may as well know all about it, before they announce any more asteroids with an enormous movement in declination. And experimenters on the longitude may as well know, so that they may act advisedly in attempting another brick moon or in refusing to do so.
It all began more than thirty years ago, when we were in college; as most good things begin. We were studying in the book which has gray sides and a green back, and is called “Cambridge Astronomy” because it is translated from the French. We came across this business of the longitude, and, as we talked, in the gloom and glamour of the old South Middle dining-hall, we had going the usual number of students’ stories about rewards offered by the Board of Longitude for discoveries in that matter,—stories, all of which, so far as I know, are lies. Like all boys, we had tried our hands at perpetual motion. For me, I was sure I could square the circle, if they would give me chalk enough. But as to this business of the longitude, it was reserved for Q. to make the happy hit and to explain it to the rest of us.
I wonder if I can explain it to an unlearned world, which has not studied the book with gray sides and a green cambric back. Let us try.
You know then, dear world, that when you look at the North Star, it always appears to you at just the same height above the horizon or what is between you and the horizon: say the Dwight School-house, or the houses in Concord Street; or to me, just now, North College. You know also that, if you were to travel to the North Pole, the North Star would be just over your head. And, if you were to travel to the equator, it would be just on your horizon, if you could see it at all through the red, dusty, hazy mist in the north, as you could not. If you were just half-way between pole and equator, on the line between us and Canada, the North Star would be half-way up, or 45° from the horizon. So you would know there that you were 45° from the equator. Then in Boston, you would find it was 42° 20´ from the horizon. So you know there that you are 42° 20´ from the equator. At Seattle again you would find it was 47° 40´ high, so our friends at Seattle know that they are at 47° 40´ from the equator. The latitude of a place, in other words, is found very easily by any observation which shows how high the North Star is; if you do not want to measure the North Star, you may take any star when it is just to north of you, and measure its height; wait twelve hours, and if you can find it, measure its height again. Split the difference, and that is the altitude of the pole, or the latitude of you, the observer.
“Of course we know this,” says the graduating world. “Do you suppose that is what we borrow your book for, to have you spell out your miserable elementary astronomy?” At which rebuff I should shrink distressed, but that a chorus of voices an octave higher comes up with, “Dear Mr. Ingham, we are ever so much obliged to you; we did not know it at all before, and you make it perfectly clear.”
Thank you, my dear, and you, and you. We will not care what the others say. If you do understand it, or do know it, it is more than Mr. Charles Reade knew, or he would not have made his two lovers on the island guess at their latitude, as they did. If they had either of them been educated at a respectable academy for the Middle Classes, they would have fared better.
Now about the longitude.
The latitude, which you have found, measures your distance north or south from the equator or the pole. To find your longitude, you want to find your distance east or west from the meridian of Greenwich. Now, if any one would build a good tall tower at Greenwich, straight into the sky,—say a hundred miles into the sky,—of course if you and I were east or west of it, and could see it, we could tell how far east or west we were by measuring the apparent height of the tower above our horizon. If we could see so far, when the lantern with a Drummond’s light, “ever so bright,” on the very top of the tower, appeared to be on our horizon, we should know we were eight hundred and seventy-three miles away from it. The top of the tower would answer for us as the North Star does when we are measuring the latitude. If we were nearer, our horizon would make a longer angle with the line from the top to our place of vision. If we were farther away, we should need a higher tower.
But nobody will build any such tower at Greenwich, or elsewhere on that meridian, or on any meridian. You see that to be of use to the half the world nearest to it, it would have to be so high that the diameter of the world would seem nothing in proportion. And then, for the other half of the world you would have to erect another tower as high on the other side. It was this difficulty that made Q. suggest the expedient of the Brick Moon.
For you see that if, by good luck, there were a ring like Saturn’s which stretched round the world, above Greenwich and the meridian of Greenwich, and if it would stay above Greenwich, turning with the world, any one who wanted to measure his longitude or distance from Greenwich would look out of window and see how high this ring was above his horizon. At Greenwich it would be over his head exactly. At New Orleans, which is quarter round the world from Greenwich, it would be just in his horizon. A little west of New Orleans you would begin to look for the other half of the ring on the west instead of the east; and if you went a little west of the Feejee Islands the ring would be over your head again. So if we only had a ring like that, not round the equator of the world,—as Saturn’s ring is around Saturn,—but vertical to the plane of the equator, as the brass ring of an artificial globe goes, only far higher in proportion,—“from that ring,” said Q., pensively, “we could calculate the longitude.”
Failing that, after various propositions, he suggested the Brick Moon. The plan was this: If from the surface of the earth, by a gigantic peashooter, you could shoot a pea upward from Greenwich, aimed northward as well as upward; if you drove it so fast and far that when its power of ascent was exhausted, and it began to fall, it should clear the earth, and pass outside the North Pole; if you had given it sufficient power to get it half round the earth without touching, that pea would clear the earth forever. It would continue to rotate above the North Pole, above the Feejee Island place, above the South Pole and Greenwich, forever, with the impulse with which it had first cleared our atmosphere and attraction. If only we could see that pea as it revolved in that convenient orbit, then we could measure the longitude from that, as soon as we knew how high the orbit was, as well as if it were the ring of Saturn.
“But a pea is so small!”
“Yes,” said Q., “but we must make a large pea.” Then we fell to work on plans for making the pea very large and very light. Large,—that it might be seen far away by storm-tossed navigators: light,—that it might be the easier blown four thousand and odd miles into the air; lest it should fall on the heads of the Greenlanders or the Patagonians; lest they should be injured and the world lose its new moon. But, of course, all this lath-and-plaster had to be given up. For the motion through the air would set fire to this moon just as it does to other aerolites, and all your lath-and-plaster would gather into a few white drops, which no Rosse telescope even could discern. “No,” said Q. bravely, “at the least it must be very substantial. It must stand fire well, very well. Iron will not answer. It must be brick; we must have a Brick Moon.”
Then we had to calculate its size. You can see, on the old moon, an edifice two hundred feet long with any of the fine refractors of our day. But no such refractors as those can be carried by the poor little fishermen whom we wanted to befriend, the bones of whose ships lie white on so many cliffs, their names unreported at any Lloyd’s or by any Ross,
Themselves the owners and their sons the crew.
On the other hand, we did not want our moon two hundred and fifty thousand miles away, as the old moon is, which I will call the Thornbush moon, for distinction. We did not care how near it was, indeed, if it were only far enough away to be seen, in practice, from almost the whole world. There must be a little strip where they could not see it from the surface, unless we threw it infinitely high. “But they need not look from the surface,” said Q.; “they might climb to the mast-head. And if they did not see it at all, they would know that they were ninety degrees from the meridian.”
This difficulty about what we call “the strip,” however, led to an improvement in the plan, which made it better in every way. It was clear that even if “the strip” were quite wide, the moon would have to be a good way off, and, in proportion, hard to see. If, however, we would satisfy ourselves with a moon four thousand miles away, that could be seen on the earth’s surface for three or four thousand miles on each side; and twice three thousand, or six thousand, is one fourth of the largest circumference of the earth. We did not dare have it nearer than four thousand miles, since even at that distance it would be eclipsed three hours out of every night; and we wanted it bright and distinct, and not of that lurid, copper, eclipse color. But at four thousand miles’ distance the moon could be seen by a belt of observers six or eight thousand miles in diameter. “Start, then, two moons,”—this was my contribution to the plan. “Suppose one over the meridian of Greenwich, and the other over that of New Orleans. Take care that there is a little difference in the radii of their orbits, lest they ‘collide’ some foul day. Then, in most places, one or other, perhaps two will come in sight. So much the less risk of clouds: and everywhere there may be one, except when it is cloudy. Neither need be more than four thousand miles off; so much the larger and more beautiful will they be. If on the old Thornbush moon old Herschel with his reflector could see a town-house two hundred feet long, on the Brick Moon young Herschel will be able to see a dab of mortar a foot and a half long, if he wants to. And people without the reflector, with their opera-glasses, will be able to see sufficiently well.” And to this they agreed: that eventually there must be two Brick Moons. Indeed, it were better that there should be four, as each must be below the horizon half the time. That is only as many as Jupiter has. But it was also agreed that we might begin with one.
Why we settled on two hundred feet of diameter I hardly know. I think it was from the statement of dear John Farrar’s about the impossibility of there being a state house two hundred feet long not yet discovered, on the sunny side of old Thornbush. That, somehow, made two hundred our fixed point. Besides, a moon of two hundred feet diameter did not seem quite unmanageable. Yet it was evident that a smaller moon would be of no use, unless we meant to have them near the world, when there would be so many that they would be confusing, and eclipsed most of the time. And four thousand miles is a good way off to see a moon even two hundred feet in diameter.
Small though we made them on paper, these two-hundred-foot moons were still too much for us. Of course we meant to build them hollow. But even if hollow there must be some thickness, and the quantity of brick would at best be enormous. Then, to get them up! The pea-shooter, of course, was only an illustration. It was long after that time that Rodman and other guns sent iron balls five or six miles in distance,—say two miles, more or less, in height.
Iron is much heavier than hollow brick, but you can build no gun with a bore of two hundred feet now,—far less could you then. No.
Q. again suggested the method of shooting oft the moon. It was not to be by any of your sudden explosions. It was to be done as all great things are done,—by the gradual and silent accumulation of power. You all know that a flywheel—heavy, very heavy on the circumference, light, very light within it—was made to save up power, from the time when it was produced to the time when it was wanted. Yes? Then, before we began even to build the moon, before we even began to make the brick, we would build two gigantic fly-wheels, the diameter of each should be “ever so great,” the circumference heavy beyond all precedent, and thundering strong, so that no temptation might burst it. They should revolve, their edges nearly touching, in opposite directions, for years, if it were necessary, to accumulate power, driven by some waterfall now wasted to the world. One should be a little heavier than the other. When the Brick Moon was finished, and all was ready, it should be gently rolled down a gigantic groove provided for it, till it lighted on the edge of both wheels at the same instant. Of course it would not rest there, not the ten-thousandth part of a second. It would be snapped upward, as a drop of water from a grindstone. Upward and upward; but the heavier wheel would have deflected it a little from the vertical. Upward and northward it would rise, therefore, till it had passed the axis of the world. It would, of course, feel the world’s attraction all the time, which would bend its flight gently, but still it would leave the world more and more behind. Upward still, but now southward, till it had traversed more than one hundred and eighty degrees of a circle. Little resistance, indeed, after it had cleared the forty or fifty miles of visible atmosphere. “Now let it fall,” said Q., inspired with the vision. “Let it fall, and the sooner the better! The curve it is now on will forever clear the world; and over the meridian of that lonely waterfall,—if only we have rightly adjusted the gigantic flies,—will forever revolve, in its obedient orbit, the—
the blessing of all seamen,—as constant in all change as its older sister has been fickle, and the second cynosure of all lovers upon the waves, and of all girls left behind them.” “Amen,” we cried, and then we sat in silence till the clock struck ten; then shook each other gravely by the hand, and left the South Middle dining-hall.
Of waterfalls there were plenty that we knew.
Fly-wheels could be built of oak and pine, and hooped with iron. Fly-wheels did not discourage us.
But brick? One brick is, say, sixty-four cubic inches only. This moon,—though we made it hollow,—see,—it must take twelve million brick.
The brick alone will cost sixty thousand dollars!
The brick alone would cost sixty thousand dollars. There the scheme of the Brick Moon hung, an airy vision, for seventeen years,—the years that changed us from young men into men. The brick alone, sixty thousand dollars! For, to boys who have still left a few of their college bills unpaid, who cannot think of buying that lovely little Elzevir which Smith has for sale at auction, of which Smith does not dream of the value, sixty thousand dollars seems as intangible as sixty million sestertia. Clarke, second, how much are sixty million sestertia stated in cowries? How much in currency, gold being at 1.37 ¼? Right; go up. Stop, I forget myself!
So, to resume, the project of the Brick Moon hung in the ideal, an airy vision, a vision as lovely and as distant as the Brick Moon itself, at this calm moment of midnight when I write, as it poises itself over the shoulder of Orion, in my southern horizon. Stop! I anticipate. Let me keep—as we say in Beadle’s Dime Series—to the even current of my story.
Seventeen years passed by, we were no longer boys, though we felt so. For myself, to this hour, I never enter board meeting, committee meeting, or synod, without the queer question, what would happen should any one discover that this bearded man was only a big boy disguised? that the frockcoat and the round hat are none of mine, and that, if I should be spurned from the assembly, as an interloper, a judicious public, learning all the facts, would give a verdict, “Served him right.” This consideration helps me through many bored meetings which would be else so dismal. What did my old copy say?—
“Boards are made of wood, they are long and narrow.”
But we do not get on!
Seventeen years after, I say, or should have said, dear Orcutt entered my room at Naguadavick again. I had not seen him since the Commencement day when we parted at Cambridge. He looked the same, and yet not the same. His smile was the same, his voice, his tender look of sympathy when I spoke to him of a great sorrow, his childlike love of fun. His waistband was different, his pantaloons were different, his smooth chin was buried in a full beard, and he weighed two hundred pounds if he weighed a gramme. O, the good time we had, so like the times of old! Those were happy days for me in Naguadavick. At that moment my double was at work for me at a meeting of the publishing committee of the Sandemanian Review, so I called Orcutt up to my own snuggery, and we talked over old times; talked till tea was ready. Polly came up through the orchard and made tea for us herself there. We talked on and on, till nine, ten at night, and then it was that dear Orcutt asked me if I remembered the Brick Moon. Remember it? of course I did. And without leaving my chair I opened the drawer of my writing-desk, and handed him a portfolio full of working-drawings on which I had engaged myself for my “third”all that winter. Orcutt was delighted. He turned them over hastily but intelligently, and said: “I am so glad. I could not think you had forgotten. And I have seen Brannan, and Brannan has not forgotten.” “Now do you know,” said he, “in all this railroading of mine, I have not forgotten. When I built the great tunnel for the Cattawissa and Opelousas, by which we got rid of the old inclined planes, there was never a stone bigger than a peach-stone within two hundred miles of us. I baked the brick of that tunnel on the line with my own kilns. Ingham, I have made more brick, I believe, than any man living in the world!”
“You are the providential man,” said I.
“Am I not, Fred? More than that,” said he; “I have succeeded in things the world counts worth more than brick. I have made brick, and I have made money!”
“One of us make money?” asked I, amazed.
“Even so,” said dear Orcutt; “one of us has, made money.” And he proceeded to tell me how. It was not in building tunnels, nor in making brick. No! It was by buying up the original stock of the Cattawissa and Opelousas, at a moment when that stock had hardly a nominal price in the market. There were the first mortgage bonds, and the second mortgage bonds, and the third, and I know not how much floating debt; and worse than all, the reputation of the road lost, and deservedly lost. Every locomotive it had was asthmatic. Every car it had bore the marks of unprecedented accidents, for which no one was to blame. Rival lines, I know not how many, were cutting each other’s throats for its legitimate business. At this juncture dear George invested all his earnings as a contractor, in the despised original stock,—he actually bought it for 3 ¼ per cent,—good shares that had cost a round hundred to every wretch who had subscribed. Six thousand eight hundred dollars—every cent he had—did George thus invest. Then he went himself to the trustees of the first mortgage, to the trustees of the second, and to the trustees of the third, and told them what he had done.
Now it is personal presence that moves the world. Dear Orcutt has found that out since, if he did not know it before. The trustees who would have sniffed had George written to them, turned round from their desks, and begged him to take a chair, when he came to talk with them. Had he put every penny he was worth into that stock? Then it was worth something which they did not know of, for George Orcutt was no fool about railroads. The man who bridged the Lower Rapidan when a freshet was running was no fool.
“What were his plans?”
George did not tell—no, not to lordly trustees—what his plans were. He had plans, but he kept them to himself. All he told them was that he had plans. On those plans he had staked his all. Now, would they or would they not agree to put him in charge of the running of that road, for twelve months, on a nominal salary? The superintendent they had had was a rascal. He had proved that by running away. They knew that George was not a rascal. He knew that he could make this road pay expenses, pay bond-holders, and pay a dividend,—a thing no one else had dreamed of for twenty years. Could they do better than try him?
Of course they could not, and they knew they could not. Of course they sniffed and talked, and waited, and pretended they did not know, and that they must consult, and so forth and so on. But of course they all did try him, on his own terms. He was put in charge of the running of that road.
In one week he showed he should redeem it. In three months he did redeem it!
He advertised boldly the first day: “Infant children at treble price.”
The novelty attracted instant remark. And it showed many things. First, it showed he was a humane man, who wished to save human life. He would leave these innocents in their cradles, where they belonged.
Second, and chiefly, the world of travellers saw that the Crichton, the Amadis, the perfect chevalier of the future, had arisen,—a railroad manager caring for the comfort of his passengers!
The first week the number of the C. and O.’s passengers was doubled: in a week or two more freight began to come in, in driblets, on the line which its owners had gone over. As soon as the shops could turn them out, some cars were put on, with arms on which travellers could rest their elbows, with head-rests where they could take naps if they were weary. These excited so much curiosity that one was exhibited in the museum at Cattawissa and another at Opelousas. It may not be generally known that the received car of the American roads was devised to secure a premium offered by the Pawtucket and Podunk Company. Their receipts were growing so large that they feared they should forfeit their charter. They advertised, therefore, for a car in which no man could sleep at night or rest by day,—in which the backs should be straight, the heads of passengers unsupported, the feet entangled in a vice, the elbows always knocked by the passing conductor. The pattern was produced which immediately came into use on all the American roads. But on the Cattawissa and Opelousas this time-honored pattern was set aside.
Of course you see the result. Men went hundreds of miles out of their way to ride on the C. and O. The third mortgage was paid off; a reserve fund was piled up for the second; the trustees of the first lived in dread of being paid; and George’s stock, which he bought at 3 ¼, rose to 147 before two years had gone by! So was it that, as we sat together in the snuggery, George was worth well-nigh three hundred thousand dollars. Some of his eggs were in the basket where they were laid; some he had taken out and placed in other baskets; some in nests where various hens were brooding over them. Sound eggs they were, wherever placed; and such was the victory of which George had come to tell.
One of us had made money!
On his way he had seen Brannan. Brannan, the pure-minded, right-minded, shifty man of tact, man of brain, man of heart, and man of word, who held New Altona in the hollow of his hand. Brannan had made no money. Not he, nor ever will. But Brannan could do much what he pleased in this world, without money. For whenever Brannan studied the rights and the wrongs of any enterprise, all men knew that what Brannan decided about it was well-nigh the eternal truth; and therefore all men of sense were accustomed to place great confidence in his prophecies. But, more than this, and better, Brannan was an unconscious dog, who believed in the people. So, when he knew what was the right and what was the wrong, he could stand up before two or three thousand people and tell them what was right and what was wrong, and tell them with the same simplicity and freshness with which he would talk to little Horace on his knee. Of the thousands who heard him there would not be one in a hundred who knew that this was eloquence. They were fain to say, as they sat in their shops, talking, that Brannan was not eloquent. Nay, they went so far as to regret that Brannan was not eloquent! If he were only as eloquent as Carker was or as Barker was, how excellent he would be! But when, a month after, it was necessary for them to do anything about the thing he had been speaking of, they did what Brannan had told them to do; forgetting, most likely, that he had ever told them, and fancying that these were their own ideas, which, in fact, had, from his liquid, ponderous, transparent, and invisible common sense, distilled unconsciously into their being. I wonder whether Brannan ever knew that he was eloquent. What I knew, and what dear George knew, was, that he was one of the leaders of men!
Courage, my friends, we are steadily advancing to the Brick Moon!
For George had stopped, and seen Brannan; and Brannan had not forgotten. Seventeen years Brannan had remembered, and not a ship had been lost on a lee-shore because her longitude was wrong,—not a baby had wailed its last as it was ground between wrecked spar and cruel rock,—not a swollen corpse unknown had been flung up upon the sand and been buried with a nameless epitaph,—but Brannan had recollected the Brick Moon, and had, in the memory-chamber which rejected nothing, stored away the story of the horror. And now George was ready to consecrate a round hundred thousand to the building of the Moon; and Brannan was ready, in the thousand ways in which wise men move the people to and fro, to persuade them to give to us a hundred thousand more; and George had come to ask me if I were not ready to undertake with them the final great effort, of which our old calculations were the embryo. For this I was now to contribute the mathematical certainty and the lore borrowed from naval science, which should blossom and bear fruit when the Brick Moon was snapped like a cherry from the ways on which it was built, was launched into the air by power gathered from a thousand freshets, and, poised at last in its own pre-calculated region of the ether, should begin its course of eternal blessings in one unchanging meridian!
Vision of Beneficence and Wonder! Of course I consented.
Oh that you were not so eager for the end! Oh that I might tell you, what now you will never know,—of the great campaign which we then and there inaugurated! How the horrible loss of the Royal Martyr, whose longitude was three degrees awry, startled the whole world, and gave us a point to start from. How I explained to George that he must not subscribe the one hundred thousand dollars in a moment. It must come in bits, when “the cause” needed a stimulus, or the public needed encouragement. How we caught neophyte editors, and explained to them enough to make them think the Moon was well-nigh their own invention and their own thunder. How, beginning in Boston, we sent round to all the men of science, all those of philanthropy, and all those of commerce, three thousand circulars, inviting them to a private meeting at George’s parlors at the Revere. How, besides ourselves, and some nice, respectable-looking old gentlemen Brannan had brought over from Podunk with him, paying their fares both ways, there were present only three men,—all adventurers whose projects had failed,—besides the representatives of the press. How, of these representatives, some understood the whole, and some understood nothing. How, the next day, all gave us “first-rate notices.” How, a few days after, in the lower Horticultural Hall, we had our first public meeting. How Haliburton brought us fifty people who loved him,—his Bible class, most of them,—to help fill up; how, besides these, there were not three persons whom we had not asked personally, or one who could invent an excuse to stay away. How we had hung the walls with intelligible and unintelligible diagrams. How I opened the meeting. Of that meeting, indeed, I must tell something.
First, I spoke. I did not pretend to unfold the scheme. I did not attempt any rhetoric. But I did not make any apologies. I told them simply of the dangers of lee-shores. I told them when they were most dangerous,—when seamen came upon them unawares. I explained to them that, though the costly chronometer, frequently adjusted, made a delusive guide to the voyager who often made a harbor, still the adjustment was treacherous, the instrument beyond the use of the poor, and that, once astray, its error increased forever. I said that we believed we had a method which, if the means were supplied for the experiment, would give the humblest fisherman the very certainty of sunrise and of sunset in his calculations of his place upon the world. And I said that whenever a man knew his place in this world, it was always likely all would go well. Then I sat down.
Then dear George spoke,—simply, but very briefly. He said he was a stranger to the Boston people, and that those who knew him at all knew he was not a talking man. He was a civil engineer, and his business was to calculate and to build, and not to talk. But he had come here to say that he had studied this new plan for the longitude from the Top to the Bottom, and that he believed in it through and through. There was his opinion, if that was worth anything to anybody. If that meeting resolved to go forward with the enterprise, or if anybody proposed to, he should offer his services in any capacity, and without any pay, for its success. If he might only work as a bricklayer, he would work as a bricklayer. For he believed, on his soul, that the success of this enterprise promised more for mankind than any enterprise which was ever likely to call for the devotion of his life. “And to the good of mankind,” he said, very simply, “my life is devoted.” Then he sat down.
Then Brannan got up. Up to this time, excepting that George had dropped this hint about bricklaying, nobody had said a word about the Moon, far less hinted what it was to be made of. So Ben had the whole to open. He did it as if he had been talking to a bright boy of ten years old. He made those people think that he respected them as his equals. But, in fact, he chose every word, as if not one of them knew anything. He explained, as if it were rather more simple to explain than to take for granted. But he explained as if, were they talking, they might be explaining to him. He led them from point to point,—oh! so much more clearly than I have been leading you,—till, as their mouths dropped a little open in their eager interest, and their lids forgot to wink in their gaze upon his face, and so their eyebrows seemed a little lifted in curiosity,—till, I say, each man felt as if he were himself the inventor, who had bridged difficulty after difficulty; as if, indeed, the whole were too simple to be called difficult or complicated. The only wonder was that the Board of Longitude, or the Emperor Napoleon, or the Smithsonian, or somebody, had not sent this little planet on its voyage of blessing long before. Not a syllable that you would have called rhetoric, not a word that you would have thought prepared; and then Brannan sat down.
That was Ben Brannan’s way. For my part, I like it better than eloquence.
Then I got up again. We would answer any questions, I said. We represented people who were eager to go forward with this work. (Alas! except Q., all of those represented were on the stage.) We could not go forward without the general assistance of the community. It was not an enterprise which the government could be asked to favor. It was not an enterprise which would yield one penny of profit to any human being. We had therefore, purely on the ground of its benefit to mankind, brought it before an assembly of Boston men and women.
Then there was a pause, and we could hear our watches tick, and our hearts beat. Dear George asked me in a whisper if he should say anything more, but I thought not. The pause became painful, and then Tom Coram, prince of merchants, rose. Had any calculation been made of the probable cost of the experiment of one moon?
I said the calculations were on the table. The brick alone would cost $60,000. Mr. Orcutt had computed that $214,729 would complete two flywheels and one moon. This made no allowance for whitewashing the moon, which was not strictly necessary. The fly-wheels and water-power would be equally valuable for the succeeding moons, it any were attempted, and therefore the second moon could be turned off, it was hoped, for $159,732.
Thomas Coram had been standing all the time I spoke, and in an instant he said: “I am no mathematician. But I have had a ship ground to pieces under me on the Laccadives because our chronometer was wrong. You need $250,000 to build your first moon. I will be one of twenty men to furnish the money; or I will pay $10,000 to-morrow for this purpose, to any person who may be named as treasurer, to be repaid to me if the moon is not finished this day twenty years.”
That was as long a speech as Tom Coram ever made. But it was pointed. The small audience tapped applause.
Orcutt looked at me, and I nodded. “I will be another, of the twenty men,” cried he. “And I another,” said an old bluff Englishman, whom nobody had invited; who proved to be a Mr. Robert Boll, a Sheffield man, who came in from curiosity. He stopped after the meeting; said he should leave the country the next week, and I have never seen him since. But his bill of exchange came all the same.
That was all the public subscribing. Enough more than we had hoped for. We tried to make Coram treasurer, but he refused. We had to make Haliburton treasurer, though we should have liked a man better known than he then was. Then we adjourned. Some nice ladies then came up, and gave, one a dollar, and one five dollars, and one fifty, and so on,—and some men who have stuck by ever since. I always, in my own mind, call each of those women Damaris, and each of those men Dionysius. But those are not their real names.
How I am wasting time on an old story! Then some of these ladies came the next day and proposed a fair; and out of that, six months after, grew the great Longitude Fair, that you will all remember, if you went to it, I am sure. And the papers the next day gave us first-rate reports; and then, two by two, with our subscription-books, we went at it. But I must not tell the details of that subscription. There were two or three men who subscribed $5,000 each, because they were perfectly certain the amount would never be raised. They wanted, for once, to get the credit of liberality for nothing. There were many men and many women who subscribed from one dollar up to one thousand, not because they cared a straw for the longitude, nor because they believed in the least in the project; but because they believed in Brannan, in Orcutt, in Q., or in me. Love goes far in this world of ours. Some few men subscribed because others had done it: it was the thing to do, and they must not be out of fashion. And three or four, at least, subscribed because each hour of their lives there came up the memory of the day when the news came that the——was lost, George, or Harry, or John, in the——, and they knew that George, or Harry, or John might have been at home, had it been easier than it is to read the courses of the stars!
Fair, subscriptions, and Orcutt’s reserve,—we counted up $162,000, or nearly so. There would be a little more when all was paid in.
But we could not use a cent, except Orcutt’s and our own little subscriptions, till we had got the whole. And at this point it seemed as if the whole world was sick of us, and that we had gathered every penny that was in store for us. The orange was squeezed dry!
II.—HOW WE BUILT IT
he orange was squeezed dry! And how little any of us knew,—skilful George Orcutt, thoughtful Ben Brannan, loyal Haliburton, ingenious Q., or poor painstaking I,—how little we knew, or any of us, where was another orange, or how we could mix malic acid and tartaric acid, and citric acid and auric acid and sugar and water so as to imitate orange-juice, and fill up the bank-account enough to draw in the conditioned subscriptions, and so begin to build the MOON. How often, as I lay awake at night, have I added up the different subscriptions in some new order, as if that would help the matter: and how steadily they have come out one hundred and sixty-two thousand dollars, or even less, when I must needs, in my sleepiness, forget somebody’s name! So Haliburton put into railroad stocks all the money he collected, and the rest of us ground on at our mills, or flew up on our own wings towards Heaven. Thus Orcutt built more tunnels, Q. prepared for more commencements, Haliburton calculated more policies, Ben Brannan created more civilization, and I, as I could, healed the hurt of my people of Naguadavick for the months there were left to me of my stay in that thriving town.
None of us had the wit to see how the problem was to be wrought out further. No. The best things come to us when we have faithfully and well made all the preparation and done our best; but they come in some way that is none of ours. So was it now, that to build the Brick Moon it was necessary that I should be turned out of Naguadavick ignominiously, and that Jeff. Davis and some seven or eight other bad men should create the Great Rebellion. Hear how it happened.
Dennis Shea, my Double,—otherwise, indeed, called by my name and legally so,—undid me, as my friends supposed, one evening at a public meeting called by poor Isaacs in Naguadavick. Of that transaction I have no occasion here to tell the story. But of that transaction one consequence is that the Brick moon now moves in ether. I stop writing, to rest my eye upon it, through a little telescope of Alvan Clark’s here, which is always trained near it. It is moving on as placidly as ever.
It came about thus. The morning after poor Dennis, whom I have long since forgiven, made his extraordinary speeches, without any authority from me, in the Town Hall at Naguadavick, I thought, and my wife agreed with me, that we had better both leave town with the children. Auchmuty, our dear friend, thought so too. We left in the seven o’clock Accommodation for Skowhegan, and so came to Township No. 9 in the 3d Range, and there for years we resided. That whole range of townships was set off under a provision admirable in its character, that the first settled minister in each town should receive one hundred acres of land as the “minister’s grant,” and the first settled schoolmaster eighty. To No. 9, therefore, I came. I constituted a little Sandemanian church. Auchmuty and Delafield came up and installed me, and with these hands I built the cabin in which, with Polly and the little ones, I have since spent many happy nights and days. This is not the place for me to publish a map, which I have by me, of No. 9, nor an account of its many advantages for settlers. Should I ever print my papers called “Stay-at-home Robinsons,” it will be easy with them to explain its topography and geography. Suffice it now to say, that, with Alice and Bertha and Polly, I took tramps up and down through the lumbermen’s roads, and soon knew the general features of the lay of the land. Nor was it long, of course, before we came out one day upon the curious land-slides, which have more than once averted the flow of the Little Carrotook River, where it has washed the rocks away so far as to let down one section more of the overlying yielding yellow clay.
Think how my eyes flashed, and my wife’s, as, struggling though a wilderness of moosewood, we came out one afternoon on this front of yellow clay! Yellow clay of course, when properly treated by fire, is brick! Here we were surrounded by forests, only waiting to be burned; yonder was clay, only waiting to be baked. Polly looked at me, and I looked at her, and with one voice, we cried out, “The Moon!”
For here was this shouting river at our feet, whose power had been running to waste since the day when the Laurentian hills first heaved themselves above the hot Atlantic; and that day, I am informed by Mr. Agassiz, was the first day in the history of this solid world. Here was water-power enough for forty fly-wheels, were it necessary to send heavenward twenty moons. Here was solid timber enough for a hundred dams, yet only one was necessary to give motion to the fly-wheels. Here was retirement,—freedom from criticism, an escape from the journalists, who would not embarrass us by telling of every cracked brick which had to be rejected from the structure. We had lived in No. 9 now for six weeks, and not an “own correspondent” of them all had yet told what Rev. Mr. Ingham had for dinner.
Of course I wrote to George Orcutt at once of our great discovery, and he came up at once to examine the situation. On the whole, it pleased him. He could not take the site I proposed for the dam, because this very clay there made the channel treacherous, and there was danger that the stream would work out a new career. But lower down we found a stony gorge with which George was satisfied; he traced out a line for a railway by which, of their own weight, the brick-cars could run to the centrings; he showed us where, with some excavations, the fly-wheels could be placed exactly above the great mill-wheels, that no power might be wasted, and explained to us how, when the gigantic structure was finished, the Brick Moon would gently roll down its ways upon the rapid wheels, to be launched instant into the sky!
Shall I ever forget that happy October day of anticipation?
We spent many of those October days in tentative surveys. Alice and Bertha were our chain-men, intelligent and obedient. I drove for George his stakes, or I cut away his brush, or I raised and lowered the shield at which he sighted and at noon Polly appeared with her baskets, and we would dine al fresco, on a pretty point which, not many months after, was wholly covered by the eastern end of the dam. When the field-work was finished we retired to the cabin for days, and calculated and drew, and drew and calculated. Estimates for feeding Irishmen, estimates of hay for mules,—George was sure he could work mules better than oxen,—estimates for cement, estimates for the preliminary saw-mills, estimates for rail for the little brick-road, for wheels, for spikes, and for cutting ties; what did we not estimate for—on a basis almost wholly new, you will observe. For here the brick would cost us less than our old conceptions,—our water-power cost us almost nothing,—but our stores and our wages would cost us much more.
These estimates are now to me very curious,—a monument, indeed, to dear George’s memory, that in the result they proved so accurate. I would gladly print them here at length, with some illustrative cuts, but that I know the impatience of the public, and its indifference to detail. If we are ever able to print a proper memorial of George, that, perhaps, will be the fitter place for them. Suffice it to say that with the subtractions thus made from the original estimates,—even with the additions forced upon us by working in a wilderness,—George was satisfied that a money charge of $197,327 would build and start The Moon. As soon as we had determined the site, we marked off eighty acres, which contained all the essential localities, up and down the little Carrotook River,—I engaged George for the first schoolmaster in No. 9, and he took these eighty acres for the schoolmaster’s reservation. Alice and Bertha went to school to him the next day, taking lessons in civil engineering; and I wrote to the Bingham trustees to notify them that I had engaged a teacher, and that he had selected his land.
Of course we remembered, still, that we were near forty thousand dollars short of the new estimates, and also that much of our money would not be paid us but on condition that two hundred and fifty thousand were raised. But George said that his own subscription was wholly unhampered: with that we would go to work on the preliminary work of the dam, and on the flies. Then, if the flies would hold together,—and they should hold if mortise and iron could hold them,—they might be at work summers and winters, days and nights, storing up Power for us. This would encourage the subscribers, it would encourage us; and all this preliminary work would be out of the way when we were really ready to begin upon the Moon.
Brannan, Haliburton, and Q. readily agreed to this when they were consulted. They were the other trustees under an instrument which we had got St. Leger to draw up. George gave up, as soon as he might, his other appointments; and taught me, meanwhile, where and how I was to rig a little saw-mill, to cut some necessary lumber. I engaged a gang of men to cut the timber for the dam, and to have it ready; and, with the next spring, we were well at work on the dam and on the flies! These needed, of course, the most solid foundation. The least irregularity of their movement might send the Moon awry.
Ah me! would I not gladly tell the history of every bar of iron which was bent into the tires of those flies, and of every log which was mortised into its place in the dam, nay, of every curling mass of foam which played in the eddies beneath, when the dam was finished, and the waste water ran so smoothly over? Alas! that one drop should be wasted of water that might move a world, although a small one! I almost dare say that I remember each and all these,—with such hope and happiness did I lend myself, as I could, each day to the great enterprise; lending to dear George, who was here and there and everywhere, and was this and that and everybody,—lending to him, I say, such poor help as I could lend, in whatever way. We waked, in the two cabins in those happy days, just before the sun came up, when the birds were in their loudest clamor of morning joy. Wrapped each in a blanket, George and I stepped out from our doors, each trying to call the other, and often meeting on the grass between. We ran to the river and plunged in,—oh, how cold it was!—laughed and screamed like boys, rubbed ourselves aglow, and ran home to build Polly’s fire beneath the open chimney which stood beside my cabin. The bread had risen in the night. The water soon boiled above the logs. The children came laughing out upon the grass, barefoot, and fearless of the dew. Then Polly appeared with her gridiron and bear-steak, or with her griddle and eggs, and, in fewer minutes than this page has cost me, the breakfast was ready for Alice to carry, dish by dish, to the white-clad table on the piazza. Not Raphael and Adam more enjoyed their watermelons, fox-grapes, and late blueberries! And, in the long croon of the breakfast, we revenged ourselves for the haste with which it had been prepared.
When we were well at table, a horn from the cabins below sounded the reveille for the drowsier workmen. Soon above the larches rose the blue of their smokes; and when we were at last nodding to the children, to say that they might leave the table, and Polly was folding her napkin as to say she wished we were gone, we would see tall Asaph Langdon, then foreman of the carpenters, sauntering up the valley with a roll of paper, or an adze, or a shingle with some calculations on it,—with something on which he wanted Mr. Orcutt’s directions for the day.
An hour of nothings set the carnal machinery of the day agoing. We fed the horses, the cows, the pigs, and the hens. We collected the eggs and cleaned the hen-houses and the barns. We brought in wood enough for the day’s fire, and water enough for the day’s cooking and cleanliness. These heads describe what I and the children did. Polly’s life during that hour was more mysterious. That great first hour of the day is devoted with women to the deepest arcana of the Eleusinian mysteries of the divine science of housekeeping. She who can meet the requisitions of that hour wisely and bravely conquers in the Day’s Battle. But what she does in it, let no man try to say! It can be named, but not described, in the comprehensive formula, “Just stepping round.”
That hour well given to chores and to digestion, the children went to Mr. Orcutt’s open-air school, and I to my rustic study,—a separate cabin, with a rough square table in it, and some book-boxes equally rude. No man entered it, excepting George and me. Here for two hours I worked undisturbed,—how happy the world, had it neither postman nor door-bell!—worked upon my Traces of Sandemanianism in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries, and then was ready to render such service to The Cause and to George as the day might demand. Thus I rode to Lincoln or to Foxcroft to order supplies; I took my gun and lay in wait on Chairback for a bear; I transferred to the hewn lumber the angles or bevels from the careful drawings: as best I could, I filled an apostle’s part, and became all things to all these men around me. Happy those days!—and thus the dam was built; in such Arcadian simplicity was reared the mighty wheel; thus grew on each side the towers which were to support the flies; and thus, to our delight not unmixed with wonder, at last we saw those mighty flies begin to turn. Not in one day, nor in ten; but in a year or two of happy life,—full of the joy of joys,—the “joy of eventful living.”
Yet, for all this, $162,000 was not $197,000, far less was it $250,000; and but for Jeff. Davis and his crew the Brick Moon would not have been born.
But at last Jeff. Davis was ready. “My preparations being completed,” wrote General Beauregard, “I opened fire on Fort Sumter.” Little did he know it,—but in that explosion the Brick Moon also was lifted into the sky!
Little did we know it, when, four weeks after, George came up from the settlements, all excited with the news! The wheels had been turning now for four days, faster of course and faster. George had gone down for money to pay off the men, and he brought us up the news that the Rebellion had begun.
“The last of this happy life,” he said; “the last, alas, of our dear Moon.” How little he knew and we!
But he paid off the men, and they packed their traps and disappeared, and, before two months were over, were in the lines before the enemy. George packed up, bade us sadly good-by, and before a week had offered his service to Governor Fenton in Albany. For us, it took rather longer; but we were soon packed; Polly took the children to her sister’s, and I went on to the Department to offer my service there. No sign of life left in No. 9, but the two gigantic Fly-Wheels, moving faster and faster by day and by night, and accumulating Power till it was needed. If only they would hold together till the moment came!
So we all ground through the first slow year of the war. George in his place, I in mine, Brannan in his,—we lifted as we could. But how heavy the weight seemed! It was in the second year, when the second large loan was placed, that Haliburton wrote to me,—I got the letter, I think, at Hilton Head,—that he had sold out every penny of our railroad stocks, at the high prices which railroad stocks then bore, and had invested the whole fifty-nine thousand in the new Governments. “I could not call a board meeting,” said Haliburton, “for I am here only on leave of absence, and the rest are all away. But the case is clear enough. If the government goes up, the Moon will never go up; and, for one, I do not look beyond the veil.” So he wrote to us all, and of course we all approved.
So it was that Jeff. Davis also served. Deep must that man go into the Pit who does not serve, though unconscious. For thus it was that, in the fourth year of the war, when gold was at 290, Haliburton was receiving on his fifty-nine thousand dollars seventeen per cent interest in currency; thus was it that, before the war was over, he had piled up, compounding his interest, more than fifty per cent addition to his capital; thus was it that, as soon as peace came, all his stocks were at a handsome percentage; thus was it that, before I returned from South America, he reported to all the subscribers that the full quarter-million was secured: thus was it that, when I returned after that long cruise of mine in the Florida, I found Polly and the children again at No. 9, George there also, directing a working party of nearly eighty bricklayers and hodmen, the lower centrings well-nigh filled to their diameter, and the Brick Moon, to the eye, seeming almost half completed.
Here it is that I regret most of all that I cannot print the working-drawings with this paper. If you will cut open the seed-vessel of Spergularia Rubra, or any other carpel that has a free central placenta, and observe how the circular seeds cling around the circular centre, you will have some idea of the arrangement of a transverse horizontal section of the completed Moon. Lay three croquet-balls on the piazza, and call one or two of the children to help you poise seven in one plane above the three; then let another child place three more above the seven, and you have the core of the Moon completely. If you want a more poetical illustration, it was what Mr. Wordsworth calls a mass
“Of conglobated bubbles undissolved.”
Any section through any diameter looked like an immense rose-window, of six circles grouped round a seventh. In truth, each of these sections would reveal the existence of seven chambers in the moon,—each a sphere itself,—whose arches gave solidity to the whole; while yet, of the whole moon, the greater part was air. In all there were thirteen of these moonlets, if I am so to call them; though no one section, of course, would reveal so many. Sustained on each side by their groined arches, the surface of the whole moon was built over them and under them,—simply two domes connected at the bases. The chambers themselves were made lighter by leaving large, round windows or open circles in the parts of their vaults farthest from their points of contact, so that each of them looked not unlike the outer sphere of a Japanese ivory nest of concentric balls. You see the object was to make a moon, which, when left to its own gravity, should be fitly supported or braced within. Dear George was sure that, by this constant repetition of arches, we should with the least weight unite the greatest strength. I believe it still, and experience has proved that there is strength enough.
When I went up to No. 9, on my return from South America, I found the lower centring up, and half full of the working-bees,—who were really Keltic laborers,—all busy in bringing up the lower half-dome of the shell. This lower centring was of wood, in form exactly like a Roman amphitheatre if the seats of it be circular; on this the lower or inverted brick dome was laid. The whole fabric was on one of the terraces which were heaved up in some old geological cataclysm, when some lake gave way, and the Carrotook River was born. The level was higher than that of the top of the fly-wheels, which, with an awful velocity now, were circling in their wild career in the ravine below. Three of the lowest moonlets, as I have called them,—separate croquet-balls, if you take my other illustration,—had been completed; their centrings had been taken to pieces and drawn out through the holes, and were now set up again with other new centrings for the second story of cells.
I was received with wonder and delight. I had telegraphed my arrival, but the despatches had never been forwarded from Skowhegan. Of course, we all had a deal to tell; and, for me, there was no end to inquiries which I had to make in turn. I was never tired of exploring the various spheres, and the nameless spaces between them. I was never tired of talking with the laborers. All of us, indeed, became skilful bricklayers; and on a pleasant afternoon you might see Alice and Bertha, and George and me, all laying brick together,—Polly sitting in the shade of some wall which had been built high enough, and reading to us from Jean Ingelow or Monte-Cristo or Jane Austen, while little Clara brought to us our mortar. Happily and lightly went by that summer. Haliburton and his wife made us a visit; Ben Brannan brought up his wife and children; Mrs. Haliburton herself put in the keystone to the central chamber, which had always been named G on the plans; and at her suggestion, it was named Grace now, because her mother’s name was Hannah. Before winter we had passed the diameter of I, J, and K, the three uppermost cells of all; and the surrounding shell was closing in upon them. On the whole, the funds had held out amazingly well. The wages had been rather higher than we meant; but the men had no chances at liquor or dissipation, and had worked faster than we expected; and, with our new brick-machines, we made brick inconceivably fast, while their quality was so good that dear George said there was never so little waste. We celebrated Thanksgiving of that year together,—my family and his family. We had paid off all the laborers; and there were left, of that busy village, only Asaph Langdon and his family, Levi Jordan and Levi Ross, Horace Leonard and Seth Whitman with theirs. “Theirs,” I say, but Ross had no family. He was a nice young fellow who was there as Haliburton’s representative, to take care of the accounts and the pay-roll; Jordan was the head of the brick-kilns; Leonard, of the carpenters; and Whitman, of the commissariat,—and a good commissary Whitman was.
We celebrated Thanksgiving together! Ah me! what a cheerful, pleasant time we had; how happy the children were together! Polly and I and our bairns were to go to Boston the next day. I was to spend the winter in one final effort to get twenty-five thousand dollars more if I could, with which we might paint the Moon, or put on some ground felspathic granite dust, in a sort of paste, which in its hot flight through the air might fuse into a white enamel. All of us who saw the Moon were so delighted with its success that we felt sure “the friends” would not pause about this trifle. The rest of them were to stay there to watch the winter, and to be ready to begin work the moment the snow had gone. Thanksgiving afternoon, how well I remember it,—that good fellow, Whitman, came and asked Polly and me to visit his family in their new quarters. They had moved for the winter into cells B and E, so lofty, spacious, and warm, and so much drier than their log cabins. Mrs. Whitman, I remember, was very cheerful and jolly; made my children eat another piece of pie, and stuffed their pockets with raisins; and then with great ceremony and fun we christened room B by the name of Bertha, and E, Ellen, which was Mrs. Whitman’s name. And the next day we bade them all good-by, little thinking what we said, and with endless promises of what we would send and bring them in the spring.
Here are the scraps of letters from Orcutt, dear fellow, which tell what more there is left to tell:—
“. . . After you left we were a little blue, and hung round loose for a day or two. Sunday we missed you especially, but Asaph made a good substitute, and Mrs. Leonard led the singing. The next day we moved the Leonards into L and M, which we christened Leonard and Mary (Mary is for your wife). They are pretty dark, but very dry. Leonard has swung hammocks, as Whitman did.
“Asaph came to me Tuesday and said he thought they had better turn to and put a shed over the unfinished circle, and so take occasion of warm days for dry work there. This we have done, and the occupation is good for us. . . .”
“I have had no chance to write for a fortnight. The truth is, that the weather has been so open that I let Asaph go down to No. 7 and to Wilder’s, and engage five-and-twenty of the best of the men, who, we knew, were hanging round there. We have all been at work most of the time since, with very good success. H is now wholly covered in, and the centring is out. The men have named it Haliburton. I is well advanced. J is as you left it. The work has been good for us all, morally.”
“. . . We got your mail unexpectedly by some lumbermen on their way to the 9th Range. One of them has cut himself, and takes this down.
“You will be amazed to hear that I and K are both done. We have had splendid weather, and have worked half the time. We had a great jollification when K was closed in,—called it Kilpatrick, for Seth’s old general. I wish you could just run up and see us. You must be quick, if you want to put in any of the last licks.
“Dear Fred,—I have but an instant. By all means make your preparations to be here by the end of the month or early in next month. The weather has been faultless, you know. Asaph got in a dozen more men, and we have brought up the surface farther than you could dream. The ways are well forward, and I cannot see why, if the freshet hold off a little, we should not launch her by the 10th or 12th. I do not think it worth while to wait for paint or enamel. Telegraph Brannan that he must be here. You will be amused by our quarters. We, who were the last outsiders, move into A and D to-morrow, for a few weeks. It is much warmer there.
I telegraphed Brannan, and in reply he came with his wife and his children to Boston. I told him that he could not possibly get up there, as the roads then were; but Ben said he would go to Skowhegan, and take his chance there. He would, of course, communicate with me as soon as he got there. Accordingly I got a note from him at Skowhegan, saying he had hired a sleigh to go over to No. 9; and in four days more I got this letter:—
“Dear Fred,—I am most glad I came, and I beg you to bring your wife as soon as possible. The river is very full, the wheels, to which Leonard has added two auxiliaries, are moving as if they could not hold out long, the ways are all but ready, and we think we must not wait. Start with all hands as soon as you can. I had no difficulty in coming over from Skowhegan. We did it in two days.”
This note I sent at once to Haliburton; and we got all the children ready for a winter journey, as the spectacle of the launch of the Moon was one to be remembered their life long. But it was clearly impossible to attempt, at that season, to get the subscribers together. Just as we started, this despatch from Skowhegan was brought me,—the last word I got from them:—
Stop for nothing. There is a jam below us in the stream, and we fear back-water.
Of course we could not go faster than we could. We missed no connection. At Skowhegan, Haliburton and I took a cutter, leaving the ladies and children to follow at once in larger sleighs. We drove all night, changed horses at Prospect, and kept on all the next day. At No. 7 we had to wait over night. We started early in the morning, and came down the Spoonwood Hill at four in the afternoon, in full sight of our little village.
It was quiet as the grave! Not a smoke, not a man, not an adze-blow, nor the tick of a trowel. Only the gigantic fly-wheels were whirling as I saw them last.
There was the lower Coliseum-like centring, somewhat as I first saw it.
But where was the Brick Dome of the Moon?
“Good Heavens! has it fallen on them all?” cried I.
Haliburton lashed the beast till he fairly ran down that steep hill. We turned a little point, and came out in front of the centring. There was no Moon there! An empty amphitheatre, with not a brick nor a splinter within!
We were speechless. We left the cutter. We ran up the stairways to the terrace. We ran by the familiar paths into the centring. We came out upon the ways, which we had never seen before. These told the story too well! The ground and crushed surface of the timbers, scorched by the rapidity with which the Moon had slid down, told that they had done the duty for which they were built.
It was too clear that in some wild rush of the waters the ground had yielded a trifle. We could not find that the foundations had sunk more than six inches, but that was enough. In that fatal six inches’ decline of the centring, the Moon had been launched upon the ways just as George had intended that it should be when he was ready. But it had slid, not rolled, down upon these angry fly-wheels, and in an instant, with all our friends, it had been hurled into the sky!
“They have gone up!” said Haliburton; “She has gone up!” said I;—both in one breath. And with a common instinct, we looked up into the blue.
But of course she was not there.
Not a shred of letter or any other tidings could we find in any of the shanties. It was indeed six weeks since George and Fanny and their children had moved into Annie and Diamond,—two unoccupied cells of the Moon,—so much more comfortable had the cells proved than the cabins, for winter life. Returning to No. 7, we found there many of the laborers, who were astonished at what we told them. They had been paid off on the 30th, and told to come up again on the 15th of April, to see the launch. One of them, a man named Rob Shea, told me that George kept his cousin Peter to help him move back into his house the beginning of the next week.
And that was the last I knew of any of them for more than a year. At first I expected, each hour, to hear that they had fallen somewhere. But time passed by, and of such a fall, where man knows the world’s surface, there was no tale. I answered, as best I could, the letters of their friends; by saying I did not know where they were, and had not heard from them. My real thought was, that if this fatal Moon did indeed pass our atmosphere, all in it must have been burned to death in the transit. But this I whispered to no one save to Polly and Annie and Haliburton. In this terrible doubt I remained, till I noticed one day in the “Astronomical Record” the memorandum, which you perhaps remember, of the observation, by Dr. Zitta, of a new asteroid, with an enormous movement in declination.
ooking back upon it now, it seems inconceivable that we said as little to each other as we did, of this horrible catastrophe. That night we did not pretend to sleep. We sat in one of the deserted cabins, now talking fast, now sitting and brooding, without speaking, perhaps, for hours. Riding back the next day to meet the women and children, we still brooded, or we discussed this “if,” that “if,” and yet others. But after we had once opened it all to them,—and when we had once answered the children’s horribly naive questions as best we could,—we very seldom spoke to each other of it again. It was too hateful, all of it, to talk about. I went round to Tom Coram’s office one day, and told him all I knew. He saw it was dreadful to me, and, with his eyes full, just squeezed my hand, and never said one word more. We lay awake nights, pondering and wondering, but hardly ever did I to Haliburton or he to me explain our respective notions as they came and went. I believe my general impression was that of which I have spoken, that they were all burned to death on the instant, as the little aerolite fused in its passage through our atmosphere. I believe Haliburton’s thought more often was that they were conscious of what had happened, and gasped out their lives in one or two breathless minutes,—so horribly long!—as they shot outside of our atmosphere. But it was all too terrible for words. And that which we could not but think upon, in those dreadful waking nights, we scarcely whispered even to our wives.
Of course I looked and he looked for the miserable thing. But we looked in vain. I returned to the few subscribers the money which I had scraped together towards whitewashing the moon,—”shrouding its guilty face with innocent white” indeed! But we agreed to spend the wretched trifle of the other money, left in the treasury after paying the last bills, for the largest Alvan Clark telescope that we could buy; and we were fortunate in obtaining cheap a second-hand one which came to the hammer when the property of the Shubael Academy was sold by the mortgagees. But we had, of course, scarce a hint whatever as to where the miserable object was to be found. All we could do was to carry the glass to No. 9, to train it there on the meridian of No. 9, and take turns every night in watching the field, in the hope that this child of sorrow might drift across it in its path of ruin. But, though everything else seemed to drift by, from east to west, nothing came from south to north, as we expected. For a whole month of spring, another of autumn, another of summer, and another of winter, did Haliburton and his wife and Polly and I glue our eyes to that eye-glass, from the twilight of evening to the twilight of morning, and the dead hulk never hove in sight. Wherever else it was, it seemed not to be on that meridian, which was where it ought to be and was made to be! Had ever any dead mass of matter wrought such ruin to its makers, and, of its own stupid inertia, so falsified all the prophecies of its birth! Oh, the total depravity of things!
It was more than a year after the fatal night,—if it all happened in the night, as I suppose,—that, as I dreamily read through the “Astronomical Record” in the new reading-room of the College Library at Cambridge, I lighted on this scrap:—
“Professor Karl Zitta of Breslau writes to the Astronomische Nachrichten to claim the discovery of a new asteroid observed by him on the night of March 31st.
App. A. R. App. Decl.
Bresl. M. T. h. m. s. h. m. s. ° ´ ´´ Size.
March 31 12 53 51.9 15 39 52.32 —23 50 26.1 12.9
April 1 1 3 2.1 15 39 52.32 —23 9 1.9 12.9
He proposes for the asteroid the name of Phœbe. Dr. Zitta states that in the short period which he had for observing Phœbe, for an hour after midnight, her motion in R. A. seemed slight and her motion in declination very rapid.”
After this, however, for months, nay even to this moment, nothing more was heard of Dr. Zitta of Breslau.
But, one morning, before I was up, Haliburton came banging at my door on D Street. The mood had taken him, as he returned from some private theatricals at Cambridge, to take the comfort of the new reading-room at night, and thus express in practice his gratitude to the overseers of the college for keeping it open through all the twenty-four hours. Poor Haliburton, he did not sleep well in those times! Well, as he read away on the Astronomische Nachrichten itself, what should he find but this in German, which he copied for me, and then, all on foot in the rain and darkness, tramped over with, to South Boston:—
“The most enlightened head professor Dr. Gmelin writes to the director of the Porpol Astronomik at St. Petersburg, to claim the discovery of an asteroid in a very high southern latitude, of a wider inclination of the orbit, as will be noticed, than any asteroid yet observed.
“Planet’s apparent α 21h. 20m. 51s.40. Planet’s apparent δ —39° 31´ 11".9. Comparison star α.
“Dr. Gmelin publishes no separate second observation, but is confident that the declination is diminishing. Dr. Gmelin suggests for the name of this extra-zodiacal planet ‘Io,’ as appropriate to its wanderings from the accustomed ways of planetary life, and trusts that the very distinguished Herr Peters, the godfather of so many planets, will relinquish this name, already claimed for the asteroid (85) observed by him, September 15, 1865.”
I had run down stairs almost as I was, slippers and dressing-gown being the only claims I had on society. But to me, as to Haliburton, this stuff about “extra-zodiacal wandering” blazed out upon the page, and though there was no evidence that the “most enlightened” Gmelin found anything the next night, yet, if his “diminishing” meant anything, there was, with Zitta’s observation,—whoever Zitta might be,—something to start upon. We rushed upon some old bound volumes of the Record and spotted the “enlightened Gmelin.” He was chief of a college at Taganrog, where perhaps they had a spyglass. This gave us the parallax of his observation. Breslau, of course, we knew, and so we could place Zitta’s, and with these poor data I went to work to construct, if I could, an orbit for this Io-Phœbe mass of brick and mortar. Haliburton, not strong in spherical trigonometry, looked out logarithms for me till breakfast, and, as soon as it would do, went over to Mrs. Bowdoin, to borrow her telescope, ours being left at No. 9.
Mrs. Bowdoin was kind, as she always was, and at noon Haliburton appeared in triumph with the boxes on P. Nolan’s job-wagon. We always employ P., in memory of dear old Phil. We got the telescope rigged, and waited for night, only, alas! to be disappointed again. Io had wandered somewhere else, and, with all our sweeping back and forth on the tentative curve I had laid out, Io would not appear. We spent that night in vain.
But we were not going to give it up so. Phœbe might have gone round the world twice before she became Io; might have gone three times, four, five, six,—nay, six hundred,—who knew? Nay, who knew how far off Phœbe-Io was or Io-Phœbe? We sent over for Annie, and she and Polly and George and I went to work again. We calculated in the next week sixty-seven orbits on the supposition of so many different distances from our surface. I laid out on a paper, which we stuck up on the wall opposite, the formula, and then one woman and one man attacked each set of elements, each having the Logarithmic Tables, and so in a week’s working-time the sixty-seven orbits were completed. Seventy-seven possible places for Io-Phœbe to be in on the forthcoming Friday evening. Of these sixty-seven, forty-one were observable above our horizon that night.
She was not in one of the forty-one, nor near it.
But Despair, if Giotto be correct, is the chief of sins. So has he depicted her in the fresco of the Arena in Padua. No sin, that, of ours! After searching all that Friday night, we slept all Saturday (sleeping after sweeping). We all came to the Chapel, Sunday, kept awake there, and taught our Sunday classes special lessons on Perseverance. On Monday we began again, and that week we calculated sixty-seven more orbits. I am sure I do not know why we stopped at sixty-seven. All of these were on the supposition that the revolution of the Brick Moon, or Io-Phœbe, was so fast that it would require either fifteen days to complete its orbit, or sixteen days, or seventeen days, and so on up to eighty-one days. And, with these orbits, on the next Friday we waited for the darkness. As we sat at tea, I asked if I should begin observing at the smallest or at the largest orbit. And there was a great clamor of diverse opinions. But little Bertha said, “Begin in the middle.”
“And what is the middle?” said George, chaffing the little girl.
But she was not to be dismayed. She had been in and out all the week, and knew that the first orbit was of fifteen days and the last of eighty-one; and, with true Lincoln School precision, she said, “The mean of the smallest orbit and the largest orbit is forty-eight days.”
“Amen!” said I, as we all laughed. “On forty-eight days we will begin.”
Alice ran to the sheets, turned up that number, and read, “R. A. 27° 11´. South declination 34° 49´.”
“Convenient place,” said George; “good omen, Bertha, my darling! If we find her there, Alice and Bertha and Clara shall all have new dolls.”
It was the first word of pleasantry that had been spoken about the horrid thing since Spoonwood Hill!
Night came at last. We trained the glass on the fated spot. I bade Polly take the eye-glass. She did so, shook her head uneasily, screwed the tube northward herself a moment, and then screamed, “It is there! it is there,—a clear disk,—gibbous shape,—and very sharp on the upper edge. Look! look! as big again as Jupiter!”
Polly was right! The Brick Moon was found!
Now we had found it, we never lost it. Zitta and Gmelin, I suppose, had had foggy nights and stormy weather often. But we had some one at the eye-glass all that night, and before morning had very respectable elements, good measurements of angular distance when we got one, from another star in the field of our lowest power. For we could see her even with a good French opera-glass I had, and with a night-glass which I used to carry on the South Atlantic Station. It certainly was an extraordinary illustration of Orcutt’s engineering ability, that, flying off as she did, without leave or license, she should have gained so nearly the orbit of our original plan,—nine thousand miles from the earth’s centre, five thousand from the surface. He had always stuck to the hope of this, and on his very last tests of the Flies he had said they, were almost up to it. But for this accuracy of his, I can hardly suppose we should have found her to this hour, since she had failed, by what cause I then did not know, to take her intended place on the meridian of No. 9. At five thousand miles the Moon appeared as large as the largest satellite of Jupiter appears. And Polly was right in that first observation, when she said she got a good disk with that admirable glass of Mrs. Bowdoin.
The orbit was not on the meridian of No. 9, nor did it remain on any meridian. But it was very nearly South and North,—an enormous motion in declination with a very slight retrograde motion in Right Ascension. At five thousand miles the Moon showed as large as a circle two miles and a third in diameter would have shown on old Thornbush, as we always called her older sister. We longed for an eclipse of Thornbush by B. M., but no such lucky chance is on the cards in any place accessible to us for many years. Of course, with a Moon so near us the terrestrial parallax is enormous.
Now, you know, dear reader, that the gigantic reflector of Lord Rosse, and the exquisite fifteen-inch refractors of the modern observatories, eliminate from the chaotic rubbish-heap of the surface of old Thornbush much smaller objects than such a circle as I have named. If you have read Mr. Locke’s amusing Moon Hoax as often as I have, you have those details fresh in your memory. As John Farrar taught us when all this began,—and as I have said already,—if there were a State House in Thornbush two hundred feet long, the first Herschel would have seen it. His magnifying power was 6450; that would have brought this deaf and dumb State House within some forty miles. Go up on Mt. Washington and see white sails eighty miles away, beyond Portland, with your naked eye, and you will find how well he would have seen that State House with his reflector. Lord Rosse’s statement is, that with his reflector he can see objects on old Thornbush two hundred and fifty-two feet long. If he can do that he can see on our B. M. objects which are five feet long; and, of course, we were beside ourselves to get control of some instrument which had some approach to such power. Haliburton was for at once building a reflector at No. 9; and perhaps he will do it yet, for Haliburton has been successful in his paper-making and lumbering. But I went to work more promptly.
I remembered, not an apothecary, but an observatory, which had been dormant, as we say of volcanoes, now for ten or a dozen years,—no matter why! The trustees had quarrelled with the director, or the funds had given out, or the director had been shot at the head of his division,—one of those accidents had happened which will happen even in observatories which have fifteen-inch equatorials; and so the equatorial here had been left as useless as a cannon whose metal has been strained or its reputation stained in an experiment. The observatory at Tamworth, dedicated with such enthusiasm,—“another light-house in the skies,” had been, so long as I have said, worthless to the world. To Tamworth, therefore, I travelled. In the neighborhood of the observatory I took lodgings. To the church where worshipped the family which lived in the observatory buildings I repaired; after two Sundays I established acquaintance with John Donald, the head of this family. On the evening of the third, I made acquaintance with his wife in a visit to them. Before three Sundays more he had recommended me to the surviving trustees as his successor as janitor to the buildings. He himself had accepted promotion, and gone, with his household, to keep a store for Haliburton in North Ovid. I sent for Polly and the children, to establish them in the janitor’s rooms; and, after writing to her, with trembling eye I waited for the Brick Moon to pass over the field of the fifteen-inch equatorial.
Night came. I was “sole alone”! B. M. came, more than filled the field of vision, of course! but for that I was ready. Heavens! how changed. Red no longer, but green as a meadow in the spring. Still I could see—black on the green—the large twenty-foot circles which I remembered so well, which broke the concave of the dome; and, on the upper edge—were these palm-trees? They were. No, they were hemlocks, by their shape, and among them were moving to and fro — — — — — flies? Of course, I cannot see flies! But something is moving,—coming, going. One, two, three, ten; there are more than thirty in all! They are men and women and their children!
Could it be possible? It was possible! Orcutt and Brannan and the rest of them had survived that giddy flight through the ether, and were going and coming on the surface of their own little world, bound to it by its own attraction and living by its own laws!
As I watched, I saw one of them leap from that surface. He passed wholly out of my field of vision, but in a minute, more or less, returned. Why not! Of course the attraction of his world must be very small, while he retained the same power of muscle he had when he was here. They must be horribly crowded, I thought. No. They had three acres of surface, and there were but thirty-seven of them. Not so much crowded as people are in Roxbury, not nearly so much as in Boston; and, besides, these people are living underground, and have the whole of their surface for their exercise.
I watched their every movement as they approached the edge and as they left it. Often they passed beyond it, so that I could see them no more. Often they sheltered themselves from that tropical sun beneath the trees. Think of living on a world where from the vertical heat of the hottest noon of the equator to the twilight of the poles is a walk of only fifty paces! What atmosphere they had, to temper and diffuse those rays, I could not then conjecture.
I knew that at half-past ten they would pass into the inevitable eclipse which struck them every night at this period of their orbit, and must, I thought, be a luxury to them, as recalling old memories of night when they were on this world. As they approached the line of shadow, some fifteen minutes before it was due, I counted on the edge thirty-seven specks arranged evidently in order; and, at one moment, as by one signal, all thirty-seven jumped into the air,—high jumps. Again they did it, and again. Then a low jump; then a high one. I caught the idea in a moment. They were telegraphing to our world, in the hope of an observer. Long leaps and short leaps,—the long and short of Morse’s Telegraph Alphabet,—were communicating ideas. My paper and pencil had been of course before me. I jotted down the despatch, whose language I knew perfectly:—
“Show ‘I understand’ on the Saw-Mill Flat.”
“Show ‘I understand’ on the Saw-Mill Flat.”
“Show ‘I understand’ on the Saw-Mill Flat.”
By “I understand” they meant the responsive signal given, in all telegraphy, by an operator who has received and understood a message.
As soon as this exercise had been three times repeated, they proceeded in a solid body—much the most apparent object I had had until now—to Circle No. 3, and then evidently descended into the Moon.
The eclipse soon began, but I knew the Moon’s path now, and followed the dusky, coppery spot without difficulty. At 1.33 it emerged, and in a very few moments I saw the solid column pass from Circle No. 3 again, deploy on the edge again, and repeat three times the signal:—
“Show ‘I understand’ on the Saw-Mill Flat.”
“Show ‘I understand’ on the Saw-Mill Flat.”
“Show ‘I understand’ on the Saw-Mill Flat.”
It was clear that Orcutt had known that the edge of his little world would be most easy of observation, and that he had guessed that the moments of obscuration and of emersion were the moments when observers would be most careful. After this signal they broke up again, and I could not follow them. With daylight I sent off a despatch to Haliburton, and, grateful and happy in comparison, sank into the first sleep not haunted by horrid dreams, which I had known for years.
Haliburton knew that George Orcutt had taken with him a good Dolland’s refractor, which he had bought in London, of a two-inch glass. He knew that this would give Orcutt a very considerable power, if he could only adjust it accurately enough to find No. 9 in the 3d Range. Orcutt had chosen well in selecting the “Saw-Mill Flat,” a large meadow, easily distinguished by the peculiar shape of the mill-pond which we had made. Eager though Haliburton was to join me, he loyally took moneys, caught the first train to Skowhegan, and, travelling thence, in thirty-six hours more was again descending Spoonwood Hill, for the first time since our futile observations. The snow lay white upon the Flat. With Rob. Shea’s help, he rapidly unrolled a piece of black cambric twenty yards long, and pinned it to the crust upon the snow; another by its side, and another. Much cambric had he left. They had carried down with them enough for the funerals of two Presidents. Haliburton showed the symbols for “I understand,” but he could not resist also displaying .. —.—, which are the dots and lines to represent O. K., which, he says, is the shortest message of comfort. And not having exhausted the space on the Flat, he and Robert, before night closed in, made a gigantic O. K., fifteen yards from top to bottom, and in marks that were fifteen feet through. I had telegraphed my great news to Haliburton on Monday night. Tuesday night he was at Skowhegan. Thursday night he was at No. 9. Friday he and Rob. stretched their cambric. Meanwhile, every day I slept. Every night I was glued to the eye-piece. Fifteen minutes before the eclipse every night this weird dance of leaps two hundred feet high, followed by hops of twenty feet high, mingled always in the steady order I have described, spelt out the ghastly message: “Show ‘I understand’ on the Saw-Mill Flat.”
And every morning, as the eclipse ended, I saw the column creep along to the horizon, and again, as the duty of opening day, spell out the same:—
“Show ‘I understand’ on the Saw-Mill Flat.”
They had done this twice in every twenty-four hours for nearly two years. For three nights steadily I read these signals twice each night; only these, and nothing more.
But Friday night all was changed. After “Attention,” that dreadful “Show” did not come, but this cheerful signal:—
“Hurrah. All well. Air, food, and friends! what more can man require? Hurrah.”
How like George! How like Ben Brannan! How like George’s wife! How like them all! And they were all well! Yet poor I could not answer. Nay, I could only guess what Haliburton had done. But I have never, I believe, been so grateful since I was born.
After a pause, the united line of leapers resumed their jumps and hops. Long and short spelled out:—
“Your O. K. is twice as large as it need be.”
Of the meaning of this, lonely I had, of course, no idea.
“I have a power of seven hundred,” continued George. How did he get that? He has never told us. But this I can see, that all our analogies deceive us,—of views of the sea from Mt. Washington, or of the Boston State House from Wachusett. For in these views we look through forty or eighty miles of dense terrestrial atmosphere. But Orcutt was looking nearly vertically through an atmosphere which was, most of it, rare indeed, and pure indeed, compared with its lowest stratum.
In the record-book of my observations these despatches are entered as 12 and 13. Of course it was impossible for me to reply. All I could do was to telegraph these in the morning to Skowhegan, sending them to the care of the Moores, that they might forward them. But the next night showed that this had not been necessary.
Friday night George and the others went on for a quarter of an hour. Then they would rest, saying, “two,” “three,” or whatever their next signal time would be. Before morning I had these despatches:—
14. “Write to all hands that we are doing well. Langdon’s baby is named Io, and Leonard’s is named Phœbe.”
How queer that was! What a coincidence! And they had some humor there.
15 was: “Our atmosphere stuck to us. It weighs three tenths of an inch — our weight.”
16. “Our rain-fall is regular as the clock. We have made a cistern of Kilpatrick.”
This meant the spherical chamber of that name.
17. “Write to Darwin that he is all right. We began with lichens and have come as far as palms and hemlocks.”
These were the first night’s messages. I had scarcely covered the eye-glasses and adjusted the equatorial for the day, when the bell announced the carriage in which Polly and the children came from the station to relieve me in my solitary service as janitor. I had the joy of showing her the good news. This night’s work seemed to fill our cup. For all the day before, when I was awake, I had been haunted by the fear of famine for them. True, I knew that they had stored away in chambers H, I, and J the pork and flour which we had sent up for the workmen through the summer, and the corn and oats for the horses. But this could not last forever.
Now, however, that it proved that in a tropical climate they were forming their own soil, developing their own palms, and eventually even their bread-fruit and bananas, planting their own oats and maize, and developing rice, wheat, and all other cereals, harvesting these six, eight, or ten times—for aught I could see—in one of our years,—why, then, there was no danger of famine for them. If, as I thought, they carried up with them heavy drifts of ice and snow in the two chambers which were not covered in when they started, why, they had waters in their firmament quite sufficient for all purposes of thirst and of ablution. And what I had seen of their exercise showed that they were in strength sufficient for the proper development of their little world.
Polly had the messages by heart before an hour was over, and the little girls, of course, knew them sooner than she.
Haliburton, meanwhile, had brought out the Shubael refractor (Alvan Clark), and by night of Friday was in readiness to see what he could see. Shubael of course gave him no such luxury of detail as did my fifteen-inch equatorial. But still he had no difficulty in making out groves of hemlock, and the circular openings. And although he could not make out my thirty-seven flies, still when 10.15 came he saw distinctly the black square crossing from hole Mary to the edge, and beginning its Dervish dances. They were on his edge more precisely than on mine. For Orcutt knew nothing of Tamworth, and had thought his best chance was to display for No. 9. So was it that, at the same moment with me, Haliburton also was spelling out Orcutt & Co.’s joyous “Hurrah!”
“Thtephen,” lisps Celia, “promith that you will look at yon moon [old Thornbush] at the inthtant I do.” So was it with me and Haliburton.
He was of course informed long before the Moores’ messenger came, that, in Orcutt’s judgment, twenty feet of length were sufficient for his signals. Orcutt’s atmosphere, of course, must be exquisitely clear.
So, on Saturday, Rob. and Haliburton pulled up all their cambric and arranged it on the Flat again, in letters of twenty feet, in this legend:—
RAH. AL WEL.
Haliburton said he could not waste flat or cambric on spelling.
He had had all night since half-past ten to consider what next was most important for them to know; and a very difficult question it was, you will observe. They had been gone nearly two years, and much had happened. Which thing was, on the whole, the most interesting and important? He had said we were all well. What then?
Did you never find yourself in the same difficulty? When your husband had come home from sea, and kissed you and the children, and wondered at their size, did you never sit silent and have to think what you should say? Were you never fairly relieved when little Phil said, blustering, “I got three eggs to-day.” The truth is, that silence is very satisfactory intercourse, if we only know all is well. When De Sauty got his original cable going, he had not much to tell after all; only that consols were a quarter per cent higher than they were the day before. “Send me news,” lisped he—poor lonely myth!—from Bull’s Bay to Valentia,—”send me news; they are mad for news.” But how if there be no news worth sending? What do I read in my cable despatch to-day? Only that the Harvard crew pulled at Putney yesterday, which I knew before I opened the paper, and that there had been a riot in Spain, which I also knew. Here is a letter just brought me by the mail from Moreau, Tazewell County, Iowa. It is written by Follansbee, in a good cheerful hand. How glad I am to hear from Follansbee! Yes; but do I care one straw whether Follansbee planted spring wheat or winter wheat? Not I. All I care for is Follansbee’s way of telling it. All these are the remarks by which Haliburton explains the character of the messages he sent in reply to George Orcutt’s autographs, which were so thoroughly satisfactory.
Should he say Mr. Borie had left the Navy Department and Mr. Robeson come in? Should he say the Lords had backed down on the Disendowment Bill? Should he say the telegraph had been landed at Duxbury? Should he say Ingham had removed to Tamworth? What did they care for this? What does anybody ever care for facts? Should he say that the State Constable was enforcing the liquor law on whiskey, but was winking at lager? All this would take him a week, in the most severe condensation,—and for what good? as Haliburton asked. Yet these were the things that the newspapers told, and they told nothing else. There was a nice little poem of Jean Ingelow’s in a Transcript Haliburton had with him. He said he was really tempted to spell that out. It was better worth it than all the rest of the newspaper stuff, and would be remembered a thousand years after that was forgotten. “What they wanted,” says Haliburton, “was sentiment. That is all that survives and is eternal.” So he and Rob. laid out their cambric thus:—
RAH. AL WEL. SO GLAD.
Haliburton hesitated whether he would not add, “Power 5000,” to indicate the full power I was using at Tamworth. But he determined not to, and, I think, wisely. The convenience was so great, of receiving the signal at the spot where it could be answered, that for the present he thought it best that they should go on as they did. That night, however, to his dismay, clouds gathered and a grim snow-storm began. He got no observations; and the next day it stormed so heavily that he could not lay his signals out. For me at Tamworth, I had a heavy storm all day, but at midnight it was clear; and as soon as the regular eclipse was past, George began with what we saw was an account of the great anaclysm which sent them there. You observe that Orcutt had far greater power of communicating with us than we had with him. He knew this. And it was fortunate he had. For he had, on his little world, much more of interest to tell than we had on our large one.
18. “It stormed hard. We were all asleep, and knew nothing till morning; the hammocks turned so slowly.”
Here was another revelation and relief. I had always supposed that if they knew anything before they were roasted to death, they had had one wild moment of horror. Instead of this, the gentle slide of the Moon had not wakened them, the flight upward had been as easy as it was rapid, the change from one centre of gravity to another had of course been slow,—and they had actually slept through the whole. After the dancers had rested once, Orcutt continued:—
19. “We cleared E. A. in two seconds, I think. Our outer surface fused and cracked somewhat. So much the better for us.”
They moved so fast that the heat of their friction through the air could not propagate itself through the whole brick surface. Indeed, there could have been but little friction after the first five or ten miles. By E. A. he means earth’s atmosphere.
His 20th despatch is: “I have no observations of ascent. But by theory our positive ascent ceased in two minutes five seconds, when we fell into our proper orbit, which, as I calculate, is 5,109 miles from your mean surface.”
In all this, observe, George dropped no word of regret through these five thousand miles.
His 21st despatch is: “Our rotation on our axis is made once in seven hours, our axis being exactly vertical to the plane of our own orbit. But in each of your daily rotations we get sunned all round.”
Of course, they never had lost their identity with us, so far as our rotation and revolution went: our inertia was theirs; all the fatal, Fly-Wheels had given them was an additional motion in space of their own.
This was the last despatch before daylight of Sunday morning; and the terrible snow-storm of March, sweeping our hemisphere, cut off our communication with them, both at Tamworth and No. 9, for several days.
But here was ample food for reflection. Our friends were in a world of their own, all thirty-seven of them well, and it seemed they had two more little girls added to their number since they started. They had plenty of vegetables to eat, with prospect of new tropical varieties according to Dr. Darwin. Rob. Shea was sure that they carried up hens; he said he knew Mrs. Whitman had several Middlesexes and Mrs. Leonard two or three Black Spanish fowls, which had been given her by some friends in Foxcroft. Even if they had not yet had time enough for these to develop into Alderneys and venison, they would not be without animal food.
When at last it cleared off, Haliburton had to telegraph: “Repeat from 21”; and this took all his cambric, though he had doubled his stock. Orcutt replied the next night:
22. “I can see your storms. We have none. When we want to change climate we can walk in less than a minute from midsummer to the depth of winter. But in the inside we have eleven different temperatures, which do not change.”
On the whole there is a certain convenience in such an arrangement. With No. 23 he went back to his story:—
It took us many days, one or two of our months, to adjust ourselves to our new condition. Our greatest grief is that we are not on the meridian. Do you know why?”
Loyal George! He was willing to exile himself and his race from the most of mankind, if only the great purpose of his life could be fulfilled. But his great regret was that it was not fulfilled. He was not on the meridian. I did not know why. But Haliburton, with infinite labor, spelt out on the Flat,
CYC. PROJECT. AD FIN.,
by which he meant, “See article Projectiles in the Cyclopædia at the end”; and there indeed is the only explanation to be given. When you fire a shot, why does it ever go to the right or left of the plane in which it is projected? Dr. Hutton ascribes it to a whirling motion acquired by the bullet by friction with the gun. Euler thinks it due chiefly to the irregularity of the shape of the ball. In our case the B. M. was regular enough. But on one side, being wholly unprepared for flight, she was heavily stored with pork and corn, while her other chambers had in some of them heavy drifts of snow, and some only a few men and women and hens.
Before Orcutt saw Haliburton’s advice, he had sent us 24 and 25.
24. “We have established a Sandemanian church, and Brannan preaches. My son Edward and Alice Whitman are to be married this evening.”
This despatch unfortunately did not reach Haliburton, though I got it. So, all the happy pair received for our wedding-present was the advice to look in the Cyclopædia at article Projectiles near the end.
“We shall act ‘As You Like It’ after the wedding. Dead-head tickets for all of the old set who will come.”
Actually, in one week’s reunion we had come to joking.
The next night we got 26:
“Alice says she will not read the Cyclopædia in the honeymoon, but is much obliged to Mr. Haliburton for his advice.”
“How did she ever know it was I?” wrote the matter-of-fact Haliburton to me.
27. “Alice wants to know if Mr. Haliburton will not send here for some rags; says we have plenty, with little need for clothes.”
And then despatches began to be more serious again. Brannan and Orcutt had failed in the great scheme for the longitude, to which they had sacrificed their lives,—if, indeed, it were a sacrifice to retire with those they love best to a world of their own. But none the less did they devote themselves, with the rare power of observation they had, to the benefit of our world. Thus, in 28:
“Your North Pole is an open ocean. It was black, which we think means water, from August 1st to September 29th. Your South Pole is on an island bigger than New Holland. Your Antarctic Continent is a great cluster of islands.”
29. “Your Nyanzas are only two of a large group of African lakes. The green of Africa, where there is no water, is wonderful at our distance.”
30. “We have not the last numbers of ‘Foul Play.’ Tell us, in a word or two, how they got home. We can see what we suppose their island was.”
31. “We should like to know who proved Right in ‘He Knew He was Right.’”
This was a good night’s work, as they were then telegraphing. As soon as it cleared, Haliburton displayed,—
BEST HOPES. CARRIER DUCKS.
This was Haliburton’s masterpiece. He had no room for more, however, and was obliged to reserve for the next day his answer to No. 31, which was simply,
A real equinoctial now parted us for nearly a week, and at the end of that time they were so low in our northern horizon that we could not make out their signals; we and they were obliged to wait till they had passed through two-thirds of their month before we could communicate again. I used the time in speeding to No. 9. We got a few carpenters together, and arranged on the Flat two long movable black platforms, which ran in and out on railroad-wheels on tracks, from under green platforms; so that we could display one or both as we chose, and then withdraw them. With this apparatus we could give forty-five signals in a minute, corresponding to the line and dot of the telegraph; and thus could compass some twenty letters in that time, and make out perhaps two hundred and fifty words in an hour. Haliburton thought that, with some improvements, he could send one of Mr. Buchanan’s messages up in thirty-seven working-nights.
own to a certain mortification in confessing that after this interregnum, forced upon us by so long a period of non-intercourse, we never resumed precisely the same constancy of communication as that which I have tried to describe at the beginning. The apology for this benumbment, if I may so call it, will suggest itself to the thoughtful reader.
It is indeed astonishing to think that we so readily accept a position when we once understand it. You buy a new house. You are fool enough to take out a staircase that you may put in a bathing-room. This will be done in a fortnight, everybody tells you, and then everybody begins. Plumbers, masons, carpenters, plasterers, skimmers, bell-hangers, speaking-tube men, men who make furnace-pipe, paper-hangers, men who scrape off the old paper, and other men who take off the old paint with alkali, gas men, city-water men, and painters begin. To them are joined a considerable number of furnace-men’s assistants, stovepipe-men’s assistants, mason’s assistants, and hodmen who assist the assistants of the masons, the furnace-men, and the pipe-men. For a day or two these all take possession of the house and reduce it to chaos. In the language of Scripture, they enter in and dwell there. Compare, for the details, Matt. xii. 45. Then you revisit it at the end of the fortnight, and find it in chaos, with the woman whom you employed to wash the attics the only person on the scene. You ask her where the paper-hanger is; and she says he can do nothing because the plaster is not dry. You ask why the plaster is not dry, and are told it is because the furnace-man has not come. You send for him, and he says he did come, but the stove-pipe man was away. You send for him, and he says he lost a day in coming, but that the mason had not cut the right hole in the chimney. You go and find the mason, and he says they are all fools, and that there is nothing in the house that need take two days to finish.
Then you curse, not the day in which you were born, but the day in which bath-rooms were invented. You say, truly, that your father and mother, from whom you inherit every moral and physical faculty you prize, never had a bath-room till they were past sixty, yet they thrived, and their children. You sneak through back streets, fearful lest your friends shall ask you when your house will be finished. You are sunk in wretchedness, unable even to read your proofs accurately, far less able to attend the primary meetings of the party with which you vote, or to discharge any of the duties of a good citizen. Life is wholly embittered to you.
Yet, six weeks after, you sit before a soft-coal fire in your new house, with the feeling that you have always lived there. You are not even grateful that you are there. You have forgotten the plumber’s name; and if you met in the street that nice carpenter that drove things through, you would just nod to him, and would not think of kissing him or embracing him.
Thus completely have you accepted the situation.
Let me confess that the same experience is that with which, at this writing, I regard the Brick Moon. It is there in ether. I cannot keep it. I cannot get it down. I cannot well go to it,—though possibly that might be done, as you will see. They are all very happy there,—much happier, as far as I can see, than if they lived in sixth floors in Paris, in lodgings in London, or even in tenement-houses in Phoenix Place, Boston. There are disadvantages attached to their position; but there are also advantages. And what most of all tends to our accepting the situation is, that there is “nothing that we can do about it,” as Q. says, but to keep up our correspondence with them, and to express our sympathies.
For them, their responsibilities are reduced in somewhat the same proportion as the gravitation which binds them down,—I had almost said to earth,—which binds them down to brick, I mean. This decrease of responsibility must make them as light-hearted as the loss of gravitation makes them light-bodied.
On which point I ask for a moment’s attention. And as these sheets leave my hand, an illustration turns up which well serves me. It is the 23d of October. Yesterday morning all wakeful women in New England were sure there was some one under the bed. This is a certain sign of an earthquake. And when we read the evening newspapers, we were made sure there had been an earthquake. What blessings the newspapers are,—and how much information they give us! Well, they said it was not very severe, here, but perhaps it was more severe elsewhere; hopes really arising in the editorial mind that in some Caraccas or Lisbon all churches and the cathedral might have fallen. I did not hope for that. But I did have just the faintest feeling that if—if if—it should prove that the world had blown up into six or eight pieces, and they had gone off into separate orbits, life would be vastly easier for all of us, on whichever bit we happened to be.
That thing has happened, they say, once. Whenever the big planet between Mars and Jupiter blew up, and divided himself into one hundred and two or more asteroids, the people on each one only knew there had been an earthquake when and after they read their morning journals. And then, all that they knew at first was that telegraphic communication had ceased beyond—say two hundred miles. Gradually people and despatches came in, who said that they had parted company with some of the other islands and continents. But, as I say, on each piece the people not only weighed much less, but were much lighter-hearted, had less responsibility.
Now will you imagine the enthusiasm here, at Miss Hale’s school, when it should be announced that geography, in future, would be confined to the study of the region east of the Mississippi and west of the Atlantic,—the earth having parted at the seams so named. No more study of Italian, German, French, or Sclavonic,—the people speaking those languages being now in different orbits or other worlds. Imagine also the superior ease of the office-work of the A. B. C. F. M. and kindred societies, the duties of instruction and civilizing, of evangelizing in general, being reduced within so much narrower bounds. For you and me also, who cannot decide what Mr. Gladstone ought to do with the land tenure in Ireland, and who distress ourselves so much about it in conversation, what a satisfaction to know that Great Britain is flung off with one rate of movement, Ireland with another, and the Isle of Man with another, into space, with no more chance of meeting again than there is that you shall have the same hand at whist to-night that you had last night! Even Victoria would sleep easier, and I am sure Mr. Gladstone would.
Thus, I say, were Orcutt’s and Brannan’s responsibilities so diminished, that after the first I began to see that their contracted position had its decided compensating ameliorations.
In these views, I need not say, the women of our little circle never shared. After we got the new telegraph arrangement in good running-order, I observed that Polly and Annie Haliburton had many private conversations, and the secret came out one morning, when, rising early in the cabins, we men found they had deserted us; and then, going in search of them, found them running the signal boards in and out as rapidly as they could, to tell Mrs. Brannan and the bride, Alice Orcutt, that flounces were worn an inch and a half deeper, and that people trimmed now with harmonizing colors and not with contrasts. I did not say that I believed they wore fig-leaves in B. M., but that was my private impression.
After all, it was hard to laugh at the girls, as these ladies will be called, should they live to be as old as Helen was when she charmed the Trojan senate (that was ninety-three, if Heyne be right in his calculations). It was hard to laugh at them because this was simple benevolence, and the same benevolence led to a much more practical suggestion when Polly came to me and told me she had been putting up some baby things for little Io and Phœbe, and some playthings for the older children, and she thought we might “send up a bundle.”
Of course we could. There were the Flies still moving! or we might go ourselves!
[And here the reader must indulge me in a long parenthesis. I beg him to bear me witness that I never made one before. This parenthesis is on the tense that I am obliged to use in sending to the press these minutes. The reader observes that the last transactions mentioned happen in April and May, 1871. Those to be narrated are the sequence of those already told. Speaking of them in 1870 with the coarse tenses of the English language is very difficult. One needs, for accuracy, a sure future, a second future, a paulo-post future, and a paulum-ante future, none of which does this language have. Failing this, one would be glad of an a-orist,—tense without time,—if the grammarians will not swoon at hearing such language. But the English tongue hath not that, either. Doth the learned reader remember that the Hebrew—language of history and prophecy—hath only a past and a future tense, but hath no present? Yet that language succeeded tolerably in expressing the present griefs or joys of David and of Solomon. Bear with me, then, O critic! if even in 1870 I use the so-called past tenses in narrating what remaineth of this history up to the summer of 1872. End of the parenthesis.]
On careful consideration, however, no one volunteers to go. To go, if you observe, would require that a man envelop himself thickly in asbestos or some similar non-conducting substance, leap boldly on the rapid Flies, and so be shot through the earth’s atmosphere in two seconds and a fraction, carrying with him all the time in a non-conducting receiver the condensed air he needed, and landing quietly on B. M. by a precalculated orbit. At the bottom of our hearts I think we were all afraid. Some of us confessed to fear; others said, and said truly, that the population of the Moon was already dense, and that it did not seem reasonable or worth while, on any account, to make it denser. Nor has any movement been renewed for going. But the plan of the bundle of “things” seemed more feasible, as the things would not require oxygen. The only precaution seemed to be that which was necessary for protecting the parcel against combustion as it shot through the earth’s atmosphere. We had not asbestos enough. It was at first proposed to pack them all in one of Professor Horsford’s safes. But when I telegraphed this plan to Orcutt, he demurred. Their atmosphere was but shallow, and with a little too much force the corner of the safe might knock a very bad hole in the surface of his world. He said if we would send up first a collection of things of no great weight, but of considerable bulk, he would risk that, but he would rather have no compact metals.
I satisfied myself, therefore, with a plan which I still think good. Making the parcel up in heavy old woollen carpets, and cording it with worsted cords, we would case it in a carpet-bag larger than itself and fill in the interstice with dry sand, as our best non-conductor; cording this tightly again, we would renew the same casing with more sand; and so continually offer surfaces of sand and woollen, till we had five separate layers between the parcel and the air. Our calculation was that a perceptible time would be necessary for the burning and disintegrating of each sand-bag. If each one, on the average, would stand two-fifths of a second, the inner parcel would get through the earth’s atmosphere unconsumed. If, on the other hand, they lasted a little longer, the bag, as it fell on B. M., would not be unduly heavy. Of course we could take their night for the experiment, so that we might be sure they should all be in bed and out of the way.
We had very funny and very merry times in selecting things important enough and at the same time bulky and light enough to be safe. Alice and Bertha at once insisted that there must be room for the children’s playthings. They wanted to send the most approved of the old ones, and to add some new presents. There was a woolly sheep in particular, and a watering-pot that Rose had given Fanny, about which there was some sentiment; boxes of dominos, packs of cards, magnetic fishes, bows and arrows, checker-boards and croquet sets. Polly and Annie were more considerate. Down to Coleman and Company they sent an order for pins, needles, hooks and eyes, buttons, tapes, and I know not what essentials. India-rubber shoes for the children Mrs. Haliburton insisted on sending. Haliburton himself bought open-eye-shut-eye dolls, though I felt that wax had been, since Icarus’s days, the worst article in such an adventure. For the babies he had india-rubber rings: he had tin cows and carved wooden lions for the bigger children, drawing-tools for those older yet, and a box of crochet tools for the ladies. For my part I piled in literature,—a set of my own works, the Legislative Reports of the State of Maine, Jean Ingelow, as I said or intimated, and both volumes of the “Earthly Paradise.” All these were packed in sand, bagged and corded,—bagged, sanded and corded again,—yet again and again,—five times. Then the whole awaited Orcutt’s orders and our calculations.
At last the moment came. We had, at Orcutt’s order, reduced the revolutions of the Flies to 7230, which was, as nearly as he knew, the speed on the fatal night. We had soaked the bag for near twelve hours, and, at the moment agreed upon, rolled it on the Flies and saw it shot into the air. It was so small that it went out of sight too soon for us to see it take fire.
Of course we watched eagerly for signal time. They were all in bed on B. M. when we let fly. But the despatch was a sad disappointment.
107. “Nothing has come through but two croquet balls and a china horse. But we shall send the boys hunting in the bushes, and we may find more.”
108. “Two Harpers and an Atlantic, badly singed. But we can read all but the parts which were most dry.”
109. “We see many small articles revolving round us which may perhaps fall in.”
They never did fall in, however. The truth was that all the bags had burned through. The sand, I suppose, went to its place, wherever that was. And all the other things in our bundle became little asteroids or aerolites in orbits of their own, except a well-disposed score or two, which persevered far enough to get within the attraction of Brick Moon and to take to revolving there, not having hit quite square, as the croquet balls did. They had five volumes of the “Congressional Globe” whirling round like bats within a hundred feet of their heads. Another body, which I am afraid was “The Ingham Papers,” flew a little higher, not quite so heavy. Then there was an absurd procession of the woolly sheep, a china cow, a pair of india-rubbers, a lobster Haliburton had chosen to send, a wooden lion, the wax doll, a Salter’s balance, the “New York Observer,” the bow and arrows, a Nuremberg nanny-goat, Rose’s watering-pot, and the magnetic fishes, which gravely circled round and round them slowly and made the petty zodiac of their petty world.
We have never sent another parcel since, but we probably shall at Christmas, gauging the Flies perhaps to one revolution more. The truth is, that although we have never stated to each other in words our difference of opinion or feeling, there is a difference of habit of thought in our little circle as to the position which the B. M. holds. Somewhat similar is the difference of habit of thought in which different statesmen of England regard their colonies.
Is B. M. a part of our world, or is it not? Should its inhabitants be encouraged to maintain their connections with us, or is it better for them to “accept the situation” and gradually wean themselves from us and from our affairs? It would be idle to determine this question in the abstract: it is perhaps idle to decide any question of casuistry in the abstract. But, in practice, there are constantly arising questions which really require some decision of this abstract problem for their solution.
For instance, when that terrible breach occurred in the Sandemanian church, which parted it into the Old School and New School parties, Haliburton thought it very important that Brannan and Orcutt and the church in B. M. under Brannan’s ministry should give in their adhesion to our side. Their church would count one more in our registry, and the weight of its influence would not be lost. He therefore spent eight or nine days in telegraphing, from the early proofs, a copy of the address of the Chautauqua Synod to Brannan, and asked Brannan if he were not willing to have his name signed to it when it was printed. And the only thing which Haliburton takes sorely in the whole experience of the Brick Moon, from the beginning, is that neither Orcutt nor Brannan has ever sent one word of acknowledgment of the despatch. Once, when Haliburton was very low-spirited, I heard him even say that he believed they had never read a word of it, and that he thought he and Rob. Shea had had their labor for their pains in running the signals out and in.
Then he felt quite sure that they would have to establish civil government there. So he made up an excellent collection of books,—De Lolme on the British Constitution; Montesquieu on Laws; Story, Kent, John Adams, and all the authorities here; with ten copies of his own address delivered before the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Society of Podunk, on the “Abnormal Truths of Social Order.” He telegraphed to know what night he should send them, and Orcutt replied:—
129. “Go to thunder with your old law-books. We have not had a primary meeting nor a justice court since we have been here, and, D. V., we never will have.”
Haliburton says this is as bad as the state of things in Kansas, when, because Frank Pierce would not give them any judges or laws to their mind, they lived a year or so without any. Orcutt added in his next despatch:—
130. “Have not you any new novels? Send up Scribe and the ‘Arabian Nights’ and ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and the ‘Three Guardsmen,’ and Mrs. Whitney’s books. We have Thackeray and Miss Austen.”
When he read this, Haliburton felt as if they were not only light-footed but light-headed. And he consulted me quite seriously as to telegraphing to them “Pycroft’s Course of Reading.” I coaxed him out of that, and he satisfied himself with a serious expostulation with George as to the way in which their young folks would grow up. George replied by telegraphing Brannan’s last sermon, I Thessalonians iv. II. The sermon had four heads, must have occupied an hour and a half in delivery, and took five nights to telegraph. I had another engagement, so that Haliburton had to sit it all out with his eye to Shubael, and he has never entered on that line of discussion again. It was as well, perhaps, that he got enough of it.
The women have never had any misunderstandings. When we had received two or three hundred despatches from B. M., Annie Haliburton came to me and said, in that pretty way of hers, that she thought they had a right to their turn again. She said this lore about the Albert Nyanza and the North Pole was all very well, but, for her part, she wanted to know how they lived, what they did, and what they talked about, whether they took summer journeys, and how and what was the form of society where thirty-seven people lived in such close quarters. This about “the form of society” was merely wool pulled over my eyes. So she said she thought her husband and I had better go off to the Biennial Convention at Assampink, as she knew we wanted to do, and she and Bridget and Polly and Cordelia would watch for the signals, and would make the replies. She thought they would get on better if we were out of the way.
So we went to the convention, as she called it, which was really not properly a convention, but the Forty-fifth Biennial General Synod, and we left the girls to their own sweet way.
Shall I confess that they kept no record of their own signals, and did not remember very accurately what they were? “I was not going to keep a string of ‘says I’s’ and ‘says she’s,’” said Polly, boldly. “It shall not be written on my tomb that I have left more annals for people to file or study or bind or dust or catalogue.” But they told us that they had begun by asking the “bricks” if they remembered what Maria Theresa said to her ladies-in-waiting. Quicker than any signal had ever been answered, George Orcutt’s party replied from the Moon, “We hear, and we obey.” Then the women-kind had it all to themselves. The brick-women explained at once to our girls that they had sent their men round to the other side to cut ice, and that they were manning the telescope, and running the signals for themselves, and that they could have a nice talk without any bother about the law-books or the magnetic pole. As I say, I do not know what questions Polly and Annie put; but—to give them their due—they had put on paper a coherent record of the results arrived at in the answers; though, what were the numbers of the despatches, or in what order they came, I do not know; for the session of the synod kept us at Assampink for two or three weeks
Mrs. Brannan was the spokesman. “We tried a good many experiments about day and night. It was very funny at first not to know when it would be light and when dark, for really the names day and night do not express a great deal for us. Of course the pendulum clocks all went wrong till the men got them overhauled, and I think watches and clocks both will soon go out of fashion. But we have settled down on much the old hours, getting up, without reference to daylight, by our great gong, at your eight o’clock. But when the eclipse season comes, we vary from that for signalling.
“We still make separate families, and Alice’s is the seventh. We tried hotel life and we liked it, for there has never been the first quarrel here. You can’t quarrel here, where you are never sick, never tired, and need not be ever hungry. But we were satisfied that it was nicer for the children and for all round to live separately and come together at parties, to church, at signal time, and so on. We had something to say then, something to teach, and something to learn.
“Since the carices developed so nicely into flax, we have had one great comfort, which we had lost before, in being able to make and use paper. We have had great fun, and we think the children have made great improvement in writing novels for the Union. The Union is the old Union for Christian work that we had in dear old No. 9. We have two serial novels going on, one called ‘Diana of Carrotook,’ and the other called ‘Ups and Downs’; the first by Levi Ross, and the other by my Blanche. They are really very good, and I wish we could send them to you. But they would not be worth despatching.
“We get up at eight; dress, and fix up at home; a sniff of air, as people choose; breakfast; and then we meet for prayers outside. Where we meet depends on the temperature; for we can choose any temperature we want, from boiling water down, which is convenient. After prayers an hour’s talk, lounging, walking, and so on; no flirting, but a favorite time with the young folks.
“Then comes work. Three hours’ head-work is the maximum in that line. Of women’s work, as in all worlds, there are twenty-four in one of your days, but for my part I like it. Farmers and carpenters have their own laws, as the light serves and the seasons. Dinner is seven hours after breakfast began; always an hour long, as breakfast was. Then every human being sleeps for an hour. Big gong again, and we ride, walk, swim, telegraph, or what not, as the case may be. We have no horses yet, but the Shanghaes are coming up into very good dodos and ostriches, quite big enough for a trot for the children.
“Only two persons of a family take tea at home. The rest always go out to tea without invitation. At 8 P. M. big gong again, and we meet in ‘Grace,’ which is the prettiest hall, church, concert-room, that you ever saw. We have singing, lectures, theatre, dancing, talk, or what the mistress of the night determines, till the curfew sounds at ten, and then we all go home. Evening prayers are in the separate households, and every one is in bed by midnight. The only law on the statute-book is that every one shall sleep nine hours out of every twenty-four.
“Only one thing interrupts this general order. Three taps on the gong means ‘telegraph,’ and then, I tell you, we are all on hand.
“You cannot think how quickly the days and years go by!”
Of course, however, as I said, this could not last. We could not subdue our world and be spending all our time in telegraphing our dear B. M. Could it be possible—perhaps it was possible—that they there had something else to think of and to do besides attending to our affairs? Certainly their indifference to Grant’s fourth Proclamation, and to Mr. Fish’s celebrated protocol in the Tahiti business, looked that way. Could it be that that little witch of a Belle Brannan really cared more for their performance of “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” or her father’s birthday, than she cared for that pleasant little account I telegraphed up to all the children, of the way we went to muster when we were boys together? Ah well! I ought not to have supposed that all worlds were like this old world. Indeed, I often say this is the queerest world I ever knew. Perhaps theirs is not so queer, and it is I who am the oddity.
Of course it could not last. We just arranged correspondence days, when we would send to them, and they to us. I was meanwhile turned out from my place at Tamworth Observatory. Not but I did my work well, and Polly hers. The observer’s room was a miracle of neatness. The children were kept in the basement. Visitors were received with great courtesy; and all the fees were sent to the treasurer; he got three dollars and eleven cents one summer,—that was the year General Grant came there; and that was the largest amount that they ever received from any source but begging. I was not unfaithful to my trust. Nor was it for such infidelity that I was removed. No! But it was discovered that I was a Sandemanian; a Glassite, as in derision I was called. The annual meeting of the trustees came round. There was a large Mechanics’ Fair in Tamworth at the time, and an Agricultural Convention. There was no horse-race at the convention, but there were two competitive examinations in which running horses competed with each other, and trotting horses competed with each other, and five thousand dollars was given to the best runner and the best trotter. These causes drew all the trustees together. The Rev. Cephas Philpotts presided. His doctrines with regard to free agency were considered much more sound than mine. He took the chair,—in that pretty observatory parlor, which Polly had made so bright with smilax and ivy. Of course I took no chair; I waited, as a janitor should, at the door. Then a brief address. Dr. Philpotts trusted that the observatory might always be administered in the interests of science, of true science; of that science which rightly distinguishes between unlicensed liberty and true freedom; between the unrestrained volition and the freedom of the will. He became eloquent, he became noisy. He sat down. Then three other men spoke, on similar subjects. Then the executive committee which had appointed me was dismissed with thanks. Then a new executive committee was chosen, with Dr. Philpotts at the head. The next day I was discharged. And the next week the Philpotts family moved into the observatory, and their second girl now takes care of the instruments.
I returned to the cure of souls and to healing the hurt of my people. On observation days somebody runs down to No. 9, and by means of Shubael communicates with B. M. We love them, and they love us all the same.
Nor do we grieve for them as we did. Coming home from Pigeon Cove in October with those nice Wadsworth people, we fell to talking as to the why and wherefore of the summer life we had led. How was it that it was so charming? And why were we a little loath to come back to more comfortable surroundings? “I hate the school,” said George Wadsworth. “I hate the making calls,” said his mother. “I hate the office hour,” said her poor husband; “if there were only a dozen I would not mind, but seventeen hundred thousand in sixty minutes is too many.” So that led to asking how many of us there had been at Pigeon Cove. The children counted up all the six families,—the Haliburtons, the Wadsworths, the Pontefracts, the Midges, the Hayeses, and the Inghams, and the two good-natured girls, thirty-seven in all,—and the two babies born this summer. “Really,” said Mrs. Wadsworth, “I have not spoken to a human being besides these since June; and what is more, Mrs. Ingham, I have not wanted to. We have really lived in a little world of our own.”
“World of our own!” Polly fairly jumped from her seat, to Mrs. Wadsworth’s wonder. So we had—lived in a world of our own. Polly reads no newspaper since the “Sandemanian” was merged. She has a letter or two tumble in sometimes, but not many; and the truth was that she had been more secluded from General Grant and Mr. Gladstone and the Khedive, and the rest of the important people, than had Brannan or Ross or any of them!
And it had been the happiest summer she had ever known.
Can it be possible that all human sympathies can thrive, and all human powers be exercised, and all human joys increase, if we live with all our might with the thirty or forty people next to us, telegraphing kindly to all other people, to be sure? Can it be possible that our passion for large cities, and large parties, and large theatres, and large churches, develops no faith nor hope nor love which would not find aliment and exercise in a little “world of our own”?
[The Brick Moon originally appeared serially in The Atlantic Monthly, as “The Brick Moon” (October, November and December, 1869) and “Life in the Brick Moon” (February, 1870). Edward Everett Hale referred to the work in a number of his other writings, and some of the characters also appear in other stories. But the Brick Moon also inspired a pair of sequels, in Hale’s magazine, Old and New, “The Hidden Hemisphere” (July, 1870 and January, 1871) and “The Nearer Hemisphere” (February, 1871). Walter McLeod, the author of the sequels, was actually Frank Herbert Loud (1852-1927), who wrote them while he was a student at Amherst College. He went on to become a mathematician, astronomer, Esperanto advocate, avid cyclist, early Pike’s Peak settler and longtime professor at Colorado College.]
THE HIDDEN HEMISPHERE.
BY WALTER MCLEOD.
he writer has recently returned from a journey of considerable extent and interest. The places visited have probably never been reached before by the foot of man; yet they were found replete with industry, skill, and intelligence. Is it asked, Where are the places so remote, so difficult of access, that neither savage nor civilized man had ever before beheld them? This I am about to tell you; but first let me relate a little of my previous history, which has an intimate connection with my subject.
From early youth I have been much interested in the science of Physical Astronomy. While not very partial to mathematical calculations of the orbits, motions, &c, of the planets, I have seized with eager interest every fact, or even every mere guess, relating to the structure of these bodies, or their similarity or dissimilarity to their sister planet, the earth. I have often wished—as who has not?—for some means of communication with the intelligent beings who I was sure inhabited them. Among the conjectures which appealed to this natural taste was Hansen’s celebrated theory respecting the moon’s more distant hemisphere. My readers are of course aware that the moon always presents substantially the same face to the earth, and that nearly one-half of the surface is therefore constantly hidden. Astronomers have great difficulty to account for this fact; but one plausible explanation is afforded by the theory that the form of the moon is not exactly globular, but spheroidal, the longest diameter being pointed towards the earth. Hansen, from a careful study of the moon’s motion in her orbit, drew a conclusion which not only supports this independent theory, but adds to it an important item; viz., that the opposite side is heavier than the nearer, so much so as to bring the centre of gravity thirty-three mile? beyond the centre of form. Once admit this statement to be true, and immediately it clears up almost all the dark problems, otherwise unsolved, that may be propounded concerning our satellite.
Why should the nearest of all the planets, our earth’s attendant on her yearly course, be of all the most unlike the earth? That it is so, we hare only to point to the most important features of our earth’s surface,—the atmosphere, the ocean,—features known to be possessed by every other planet near enough for our observation, but entirely wanting from the visible hemisphere of the moon. Why should a globe so evidently convulsed by volcanic action be utterly devoid of gaseous matter, which is the cause of all such action on the earth, or, at least, is always associated with it? Hansen’s theory answers all such questions completely; for, if it be correct, every particle of air and every drop of water must eventually find its way to the opposite hemisphere, never to return. There an atmosphere and an ocean probably exist, with all the resulting beauty of fertile soil and abundant animal and vegetable life, in startling contrast to the bleak and barren desolation of the visible surface.
This was the theory as I learnt it in my boyhood; and I have since witnessed, as you will see, its complete vindication. But my conviction of its truth, now that I have the evidence of my senses to prove it, is scarcely more complete than was my faith in it before I made, or even anticipated, the voyage; for it was thither, as my readers have doubtless perceived, that my journey was made.
But all the strength of my faith would have been of no avail, had it not been for the assistance of Richard Wenstock, my early and most intimate friend. He sympathized with my evidence in Hansen’s theory, and my eager desire to prove it; and through him at last the trial was made. Several years since, he was employed in his business of engineering, under George Orcutt, the man whose wealth and mechanical skill were so generously bestowed on the enterprise of the “Brick Moon” lately described by Mr. Fred. Ingham. Wenstock was with him all through the period of its construction, and was of the utmost service to the builders; for in skill and ingenuity he was scarcely second to Orcutt himself. Of course, I became intensely interested a the enterprise, especially when Wenstock pointed out its obvious connection with our own pet project; and we often talked of sending up another smaller globe, nay, of going in it ourselves, and landing on that fairy-land as yet unseen but by the eye of fancy. Wenstock spoke of doing this as soon as the first Brick Moon should be successfully launched; but when the terrible news came to us of its unexpected flight, and the vain attempts that had been made to find it, we of course abandoned all thought of so hazardous a project. No sooner, however, was it announced that the satellite had been found, that the men and women who had been unexpectedly carried in it were alive and well, having made their journey in perfect safety, than our courage became as strong as ever, and our resolution was formed.
As soon as possible we began to construct a new Brick Moon, similar to the original in every respect but size. It was only sixty feet in diameter; and the openings in each of the outer spherical chambers were made small, and filled with long cylinders of glass, thus completely excluding the outer air. The chambers were stored with abundance of provisions; for though Wenstock intended to make the trip in a short time, yet there was a possibility that the place of our destination would be as barren as the same planet’s nearer side is known to be. Wenstock also took pains to furnish them with living plants of various kinds, in order to counterbalance the effect of our respiration on the air within, in case we should be obliged to depend on this for a long time. The plants, he said, would exchange the carbon of our breath for oxygen, and thus render the air always pure and wholesome. The machinery for propelling the globe was to be the same as had been employed for the former one; and Wenstock had used his influence, when it was erected, to make it suitable for our purpose, by causing the weight of the northern fly-wheel to preponderate, instead of the southern as was first intended. This circumstance, with the smaller size of the new globe, caused the expense of starting it to be much less than that of the first; and we were so fortunate as to be able to defray this without depending upon outside subscription. Much of the necessary funds were contributed by Wenstock’s cousin, Clitus, who, with his courageous wife, intended to accompany us.
We were furnished with tools and instruments of many kinds; and with such ‘perfect forethought were they selected, that scarcely any need, either for our own comfort or for purposes of scientific observation, was afterwards found to have been neglected. Mr. Haliburton, one of the leaders in the former enterprise, was very helpful to us in this respect, and manifested in every way a great interest in our project. His wife’s younger sister, Elsie Davenport, became, through conversation with Clitus’s enthusiastic lady, eagerly desirous to share with her in the glory and pleasure of the journey. So the party consisted of five members all told. Wenstock sustained the duties of mathematician and engineer, and was, in fact, the chief of the expedition. Clitus and his wife represented various important branches of natural science, as chemistry, zoology, botany, &c.; while Elsie’s enthusiasm and hopefulness was a very mainspring to the energies of all. As for myself, I am now discharging the most important of my duties, as historian to the company.
Wenstock calculated the day when the moon would be in the proper direction from the place of our departure, so that the projectile apparatus, already in place and ready to work, would send us without fail to the desired haven. On that day—Jan. 6, 1869—we were assembled with a few most intimate friends at the ever-memorable spot in “ Number Nine, Third Range.” All our preparations were complete; and at the appointed hour we were ready to bid farewell, for the time, to earth, and embark on our adventurous journey through the air and through the depths of space, a quarter-million of miles.
The morning on which we started was quite cold, but the air was very clear and still. Possibly, had it been otherwise, the motion of the air might have so deflected our coarse, during the short time that we remained within the earth’s atmosphere, as to have driven us altogether away from our destination. The moon was already past her quarter; and, as we entered the globe, we could see her looking down upon us as though in calm contempt of our effort to penetrate her secrets. But, hopeful in the means we had employed, we entered, and closed tightly the opening. Wenstock had arranged in the central chamber a sort of platform, attached by springs to the walls in every direction, in order to break the sudden force both of starting and of falling. Upon this we gathered; and, at the appointed moment, Mr. Haliburton released the fastening without which held the globe in place. It slid rapidly down upon the flies; and in an instant, too soon for thought to comprehend it, we were darting away through the air, swifter than the lightning’s flash. In a very few moments we were far out of sight of the few friends below, from whom we had just parted, but to whom who could surely say that we should ever return?
As we passed through the atmosphere, the friction against the globe must have produced intense heat without; but in the interior we perceived no evidence of it, except that the fused surface gathered around the farther edges of the long glass cylinders that served us for windows. Brick is an excellent non-conductor of heat; and it afterwards preserved us as well from the intense cold which prevails in empty space.
Through the cylinders just mentioned, we saw, on our journey upward, a sight that cheered and encouraged our hearts—then almost despondent—in more ways than one. Mr. Haliburton had telegraphed to the inhabitants of the Brick Moon all about our intended journey; and it so happened that their little world lay very nearly in our path to the farther satellite. The two bodies were both so small, that their attraction, though they were in close proximity, affected the motions of either but very little; and complete allowance had been made for that little in Wenstock’s calculations. The time had now come when we were most nearly together; and, as we looked we saw distinctly the whole outline of the little satellite, and could even make out with the naked eye the figures of the men and women upon it, waving their hands, and making all the gestures and signs of encouragement they could devise. Wenstock had brought with us a small telescope tidied to an instantaneous photograph-apparatus,—one of those wonderful instruments which give you a distinct photograph of the ball just issuing from the cannon’s mouth,—which he intended to use in observing the nearer side of the moon when we approached it. He now pointed it at this smaller moon, and obtained a representation wonderful for its clearness and truth. Mr. Haliburton has assured us, since our return, that he can recognize every one of the faces, and that some are as accurate likenesses as any he has seen. Of course, the right of these people and their sympathy was very pleasant to all, but Wenstock was especially gratified; for he knew from the appearance of the Brick Moon how far it is, and, comparing this with his computed distance, found that we had gone in just the direction that he intended and desired.
In this part of our voyage, although the sun was shining in full splendor upon one side of the globe, the opposite side was shrouded in the blackest darkness,—much darker than any midnight on the earth. The stars and planets shone with surprising brilliancy, and could be as distinctly seen very near the sun as in any other direction. The moon’s brightness also transcended all our previous experience, and continually increased as our distance grew less. Wenstock now began his observations on the nearer hemisphere; but, while each photograph which was obtained showed more clearly than the previous one those minor irregularities of the moon’s surface which could never have been observed from the earth, yet the crescent-shaped figure which they represented grew more and more narrow as we approached. The reason was, we were passing the moon on the dark side, and consequently the illuminated portion was going every moment out of sight. From the same cause, the direction of the moon in the heavens grew every moment nearer that of the sun. While the “silver bow” was waning, Wenstock noticed several interesting facts in regard to it, which at some future time I may describe to your readers. At length the visible surface of the moon was reduced to a mere thread, now extended sufficiently to enclose whole constellations. In another moment it had vanished; and, in a moment more, the face of the sun began to be rapidly shut off from our view. Soon his light was altogether hidden behind the broad disc of the moon. This fact was, of course, evident enough to those who were looking towards the sun, or into the interior of our globe; for when the sun’s rays were shut off, our day was instantaneously changed to midnight: but to Clitus, who was looking at Venus through another window, the change was altogether imperceptible; for, as I have already mentioned, the appearance of the whole sky, except the exact place of the sun, was constantly that of total darkness. About this time we first became sensible of the moon’s attraction. Hitherto, for quite a while, we had felt no attraction but that of our own little globe, which was hardly perceptible. The absence of weight caused sensations quite amusing. By merely pressing our feet to the floor, we would rise to the ceiling, like a cork in water. We had little inclination, however, to try experiments of this nature, but endeavored to keep as close as possible to the brick floor, where we felt that we belonged. Now, however, we welcomed returning weight, and found it gradually increasing till we reached our journey’s end. We passed nearly around the moon while the eclipse continued; but when the sun and moon again appeared, we saw, as Wenstock had told us to expect, that the attraction of the latter had very perceptibly bent our course, and that we were now approaching in a curving path the edge of the illuminated portion. Wenstock now became almost wild with delight as he noticed and pointed out to us the indisputable signs of an atmosphere oh the side now becoming visible to us; and, later, a round sea in the centre of the disc, with lakes lying here and there about it. But our joy at these things was soon moderated as we saw the bright orb which now represented to us the earth we had left, gradually becoming eclipsed behind the body of the moon, as the sun had been just before. We knew that we should see it no more while we remained in our new home; and, as it rapidly sunk out of sight, the tears stood unbidden in our eyes.
Wenstock now reminded us to hasten to the platform in the central chamber; and, as we took our places upon it, the globe rushed whizzing through the atmosphere of the moon, till presently the shock informed us that we had reached the ground. We then all turned to the chamber we had just left,—the lower one as the globe now stood; when, imagine our astonishment at finding it completely dark, though we knew we had landed beyond the edge of the bright hemisphere! We climbed from this through the passage-way which connected the chambers; but, as we entered one after another, we found them all alike: total darkness reigned. At this inexplicable and terrible phenomenon we stood horrified; despair seemed taking possession of our hearts, just before filled with eager hope and expectation.
This was a sad opening for our eagerly anticipated visit. As we hastened to one after another of the little chambers which formed the globe, none of us could say why we expected or hoped to find one of them different from another, since no one could imagine the cause of the singular darkness. At length we reached the highest chamber of all. Elsie opened the door, and, almost before she spoke, we felt a thrill of joy, as though already conscious of her discovery. There was light! Dim, indeed; but it seemed bright to us, for some had began to despair of seeing another ray. Through the cylinder-window we saw a patch of blue sky overhead, and what seemed to be a black, irregular wall, rising on every ride of as to the height of ten or twelve feet Then first we comprehended the cause of our alarm, and laughed at our own stupidity, it was so plain. We had fallen on a tract of marshy land, which was soft and free from stones; and the heavy globe, impelled with an immense velocity, had penetrated the soil as aerolites do, and buried itself below the surface. Thu was Wenstock’s explanation, and it satisfied all. And, now that we saw the clear sky above us, nothing remained but to go forth and explore our new home. We immediately began to transform our window to a door, by cutting away the glass cylinder from the wall. This accomplished, Clitus’s test of the atmosphere was next in order; for, of course, we had M yet no means of knowing that it vas composed of good, wholesome air. Clitus was not satisfied with merely exposing an animal to its influence: he wanted a regular chemical analysis. For this purpose he had Arranged various solids and fluids, of different names and properties,—all mysterious to the rest of us,—in an air-tight box, which he now lifted to the place of the cylinder, and exposed them to the outer air. While within the globe, they had been kept in vacuo; fat now the action of the various gases produced visible effects upon them, by observing which, Clitus inferred the composition of the atmosphere. The others were more interested in watching the movements of a little mouse suspended in a cage in the same box, who was nibbling his piece of cheese as unconcernedly as if he were at no greater distance than two feet, instead of two hundred thousand miles, from his hole in the pantry wall. Clitus soon announced his result, saying that the action of the atmosphere was very similar to that of the earth’s: he thought there might be a little less nitrogen, but the difference was trifling. Wenstock noticed, that, as soon as an opening was made in the wall by the removal of the cylinder, the barometer which we carried at once indicated reduction of pressure; showing that the atmosphere was less dense than our own. This barometer contained no mercury, bat the motions of its index were regulated by a very delicate spring within it. A mercurial barometer would have been unreliable, because the weight of the mercury would have undergone a change.
All our precautions having been duly taken, we erected a rude ladder, and, one by one, climbed forth upon the soil. Elsie was first, by unanimous vote; then Wenstock, then Clitus and his wife, and last myself. We had all, for many weeks, looked forward to this moment, and anticipated our emotions at so extraordinary an epoch of our lives; but we found, contrary to our expectations, that we were quite calm and collected, scarcely conscious of any emotion whatever, unless one may dignify by that name a strong feeling of curiosity. Looking around, we saw a cloudless sky tinged with the familiar blue of our native home, and the sun shining from it with his wonted brightness, apparently about an hour high. Immediately below him was the darker blue of a sea, which we could just distinguish in the distance, and perhaps should not have noticed, had we not observed it during our descent. Nearer, we saw a varied landscape of hills, valleys, and woods; and, as the eye still descended, it rested at last upon the level meadow on which we stood. It was, indeed, a pleasant scene; but we were almost surprised at its resemblance to what we were accustomed to see on our native planet. The grass at our feet was indeed of a new variety, as we saw on closer examination; but its color was the same dark green we knew so well before: and, on looking abroad over the plain, we should not have known it from a terrestrial one. This analogy held good in almost every thing we observed; minor features were new, but the essential qualities were generally unchanged. Sometimes, however, the difference was so marked as to suggest the comparison of a new picture in an old frame.
Thinking that we could distinguish a river-channel not more than a mile to the north of our position, we walked slowly in that direction, noticing as we went every little thing that was new to us, and at the same time conversing on our voyage just completed. Our average speed had been, as Wenstock intended, nearly equal to that of the planet Venus in her orbit; so that we accomplished the distance in about three hours. We started with a much greater velocity, indeed, the greatest of any part of our course; but, before we reached the Brick Moon, this speed was greatly reduced, and it continued to diminish slowly till near the end of the journey, when the moon’s attraction rapidly accelerated our motion. The spot on which we had landed—as Wenstock found some time afterwards, by observations of the sun—was about a hundred miles north of the moon’s equator, and therefore just within the tropics, since these circles on the moon are only two hundred and forty-five miles apart.
The first specimen of animal life which we noticed in our walk was found by Clitus, who suddenly dropped the axe he was carrying, to snatch up something from the ground, laconically announcing, “Grasshopper!” Quite as quickly he let it fall again, in deference to a sting with which the insect revenged itself for its captivity. As it was making good its escape, I seized it again with more care; and, holding it so as to prevent the use of its weapon, we examined it at leisure. It was small, of a bright blue color, wingless, and rather longer in shape than its cousins of the neighboring planet. The most marked diversity, in Clitus’s judgment at least, was the presence of the sting, which inflicted a wound as painful, at first, as that of a wasp; but it caused no swelling, and the pain lasted but a few minutes. These little insects were quite abundant; and we noticed several other singular species.
In a short time we arrived at the hank of the river, which we found to be a stream of moderate width, and about three feet in depth. Its waters were very clear, and proved to be heavier than those of earth; that is, they would support a greater weight. Wenstock had in his pocket a piece of wood loaded with lead so that it would just sink in water,—but here it floated; and, on being forced beneath the surface, it slowly rose. At the same time, the river-water, in common with all other bodies on the moon’s surface, partook of the reduction of weight occasioned by the feeble attraction of the planet. The moon attracts bodies on its surface with exactly one-sixth as much force as the earth. This diminution of weight was at first a cause of great inconvenience to us. We always found our muscular strength apparently six times as great as it had been before; for to that extent it was out of the accustomed proportion to our own weight, and that of familiar objects. Thus Wenstock, the heaviest of our party, found his lusty energies matched with a frame of thirty pounds in weight; and all of us together were scarcely heavier than the lightest had been alone.
As I had become thirsty, I stooped to drink of the water, but was surprised at finding a singular taste, winch was, however, not strong, nor altogether unpleasant. I know of no other flavor with which I can compare it, so as to give a correct idea. It was a little sweet, but this was by no means the prominent characteristic. The others, on tasting it, were divided in their judgment,—some pronouncing it quite tolerable, while others were disgusted; but we all learned to like it on becoming accustomed to its flavor. We supposed at first that this water must be of different chemical combination from that of the earth; but afterwards toad that its taste was merely owing to certain elements of the lunar toil, which occur much less frequently in that of the earth.
After walking a little farther down the stream, we came to a sort of bar of hard rock, like granite, which extended across the course of the stream, and was, in fact, the cause of the formation of the alluvial meadow above. It had anciently dammed up the river at this point, causing a urge lake, in which the detritus of the stream was deposited. By this means the lake was gradually filled up, and converted to a marsh, over which the water flowed only in seasons of flood.
On the opposite side of the granite bar was a series of picturesque lipids and cascades; after which the rim flowed onward as calm and deep as ever. Here we found a thicket of tall canes, similar to bamboo, but less in height; being only from thirty to forty feet tall, while the bamboo grows in Southern Asia to the prodigious height of a hundred feet. The stems were as thick as those of ordinary trees, and quite as strong, though very light. At Clitus’s suggestion, we cut a few of them down, and made a raft, on which we embarked, and were soon floating down the stream. The rudely-shaped oars, with a very slight exertion of our strength,—which, remember, was now increased six-fold,—would give us a speed quite sufficient for our desire; and so we journeyed at our own will, checking our progress now and then, or occasionally touching the shore to examine the various objects of interest scattered along our path.
The wood soon became dense around us as we floated onward; and we saw that it would have been impossible to penetrate it on foot. We judged, from the appearance of the river-banks, that the water was now somewhat below its usual level. This, as we afterwards learned, was owing to the periodic character of the rains of this region. The day of the moon is nearly as long as our month, so that the sun is above the horizon a fortnight together. As soon as he rises upon the hemisphere which is covered with air, winds like our “trades” are at once set in motion, and blow towards the equator, where the sun is always nearly vertical. Within the narrow tropical region there is a continual calm, like that found on the earth in places where the sun is, for the time, directly overhead. Here the moisture brought by the trade-winds is deposited; but because such immense machinery of winds and storms requires a length of time to get into operation, the periodic rain does not begin till nearly noon. It continues—at least within the tropics—till after sunset, a continual pour; which, of course, fills all the streams to overflowing, and in some places daily floods the country for many miles. During the night the sky is clear; and, by early morning,—which was the time of our arrival,—the streams are at their lowest point. The nature of the water here is different from the earth’s; its freezing-point is much lower,—otherwise the long, cold night would convert the whole surface of the country to a sheet of ice. The heat given out by this water, in cooling, moderates in a great degree the temperature of the night, and prevents injury to vegetation or to animal life.
The character of the forest through which we were now sailing was such that we were sure we were within the tropics; though Wenstock had not had time as yet to prove this by astronomical methods. The deep green of the foliage, the luxuriance of the vegetation, the thick growth of large trees and underwood,—all suggested the jungles of India. And yet, on examination, we saw that every thing was provided with some means of protection from cold. The great leaves were green only on one side, while the other was covered with a dense brown coat, so that, when they folded at night, the tender fibres of the inner surface were kept safe from the cold air. Large fruits of a luscious appearance, and bright red, yellow, or green in color, were abundant, and frequently hung from vines which extended from branch to branch, and from tree to tree, and sometimes spanned the river over our heads; but they were all provided with thick husks, which now were opened, and exposed the fruit to view, but would close over it in the night, and cover it completely. Most of the trees we noticed were endogenous, like the sugar-cane : that is, the growth was altogether internal; not effected, as in the case of the oak, maple, elm, &c, by successive growths of wood just under the bark of the tree. The exceptions to this rule appeared to be of the pine family, and were surrounded with a very thick bark. Clitus remarked that the absence of all species of vegetation except endogens and pines, was a characteristic of the earth’s forests in those remote periods of her history whose record is preserved to us in the beds of coal. But the animals that we noticed here, though all quite small, were of a much more perfect type than any that existed in the coal-forests. The earth at that time produced no higher forms than fish and swimming reptiles. Here, however, we noticed occasionally a quadruped feeding on the leaves or the bark of trees; and there were many birds of brilliant plumage, though they rarely excelled in song. Insects of various kinds, still more gaudy in their appearance, were flitting in gay companies over the river. The reptiles were quite abundant. Some small animals, similar in appearance to crocodiles, were at first a terror to the ladies, and, in fact, an unwelcome sight to all, until we discovered that their jaws and teeth were adapted only for vegetable food.
Some parts of the river, among the thick woods, abounded in fish; and we noticed that they often came to the surface to seize certain white blossoms which fell occasionally from the trees, and floated on the water. We were not slow to obtain the idea of angling; and with bent pins furnished by the ladies, and baited with these blossoms, we soon captured quite a large number. A little farther on we found a suitable place to make a fire; and having cooked oar prey with some difficulty, on account of the “primitive” style of our apparatus, we returned to the raft, and ate our meal while still floating down the stream. We did not dare to add to our repast the tempting fruits which hung around us, for we feared that some of them might prove poisonous; but Clitus said there was no reasonable doubt that the fish would be wholesome food, provided they were palatable. Thu they certainly were; and experience proved his opinion true.
At our meal we discussed the probability of finding here intelligent beings like ourselves. We had not for a moment doubted, before our arrival, that, if the suspected atmosphere and ocean actually existed, with the life they would render possible, we should find beings to fill, in this world, the place of man in ours. But now the appearance of every thing seemed to point to the ancient periods of geology, thousands of years before earth felt the tread of the “lord of creation;” and, in consequence, our faith began to fail. We did not forget that the animal life was evidently far in advance of vegetation; but, on the other hand, we could not deny that the highest ‘ran we saw appeared very imperfect The form of the quadrupeds somehow suggested that of birds,—a lower order of animals; and then they were all so small! There were no strong lions, no fierce tigers, no majestic elephants. We were inclined, therefore, to abandon our expectation, and to surmise that our expedition might result in adding a new province to the dominion of the human race. But in this idea we were disappointed.
We had floated down the stream for nearly twelve hours by our watches before any break appeared in the continuous forest. Several times we were obliged to make a way for our raft, on account of the fallen trees and other obstructions which lay in our path. Sometimes skilful use of the poles and oars was needed to avoid the numerous “snags;” at other times the channel, for a great distance, was entirely free from obstacles to our progress. The general direction of our course was eastward, towards the sun: and, in all this time, his rays scarcely changed their inclination; but he appeared at nearly the same height in the heavens as when we set out.
At length the forest began to appear less dense, and then we began to see stumps of pines near the stream, which looked as though the trees had been felled and floated away, since the tops were nowhere visible. We had not yet decided whether this indicated intelligent workmen, or was merely the work of beavers or similar animals, when suddenly the forest seemed ended altogether, and we saw a wide trench,—evidently the result of manual industry,—which separated the woods from the arable land beyond. The country hero was very level; and the trench extended back from the river as far as we could see. After we had left this behind, we came to a large extent of land which was thickly covered with trellises. These were made of the cane of which our raft was constructed, and covered with vines, some of which were in blossom, others loaded with large fruits like those we had noticed in the woods; but, if possible, still more tempting in appearance. Occasionally a tree was seen, supporting one end of a trellis; and we saw that they were of a fruit-bearing kind. Our wonder was great, to behold so large an orchard or vineyard—for such it certainly was—just at the edge of that dense forest; and we were surprised, too, that we saw no trace of the owners, nor any sign of their abodes. But we did not make any search for them, for we were by this time very tired. We resolved to explore these fields, and make trial of the fruits, before going any farther: but concluded to postpone both till we could be refreshed by sleep. We were not hungry, having made two meals of the fish we had taken; and we knew of no reason why we could not well afford to wait. So we fastened our raft in the middle of the stream by forcing down poles into the bed on both sides of the raft, as well as below it. This was done, of course, to avoid danger from the shore. Five piles of green leaves were then arranged upon the raft: and recumbent upon these, with our faces turned from the sun, we were soon under the power of “all-subduing sleep.”
[The first part of this article was published in our last volume (Old and New Vol. II., p. 66), and gave the account of the arrival of the enterprising party at that previously-unexplored region, the side of the moon which is turned away from the earth; and of some of their first observations there. The following chapters begin with the adventures of the party after their first night’s sleep upon our satellite.]
From the moment of our waking may be dated our proper introduction to the newly-discovered world. The scene which then met our eyes I can hardly describe; it seemed to us that the resemblance to fairy-land, which we had already remarked in our new home, was completed in its occupants, who were now clustering around us. Some were swimming toward us across the stream; others had carefully taken their places on the raft, and were endeavoring to prevent any motion which might disturb us; all were bent on getting the nearest possible point of observation, but very stealthily, lest they might waken us. They had undertaken, however, more than they could perform; the jarring of the raft soon roused us all, but we had presence of mind to remain perfectly quiet, gazing at them with a curiosity fully equal to their own. They were crowded on every side,—little creatures not more than three feet high, but so closely resembling in other respects the “human form divine,” that I can scarcely avoid giving them the name of men. That they were rational beings,—the “lords” of this new-found creation,—there could not be a moment’s doubt. The curiosity exhibited in their looks was not that of the ape; it was rather that which our men of science would now exhibit, had I succeeded in bringing some of these little creatures home with me.
They had made a discovery in us which far distances the most extravagant claims of the Cardiff Giant; and they were evidently gloating over it, and wondering what to do with us, or to us. The opening of our eyes at once attracted their notice; and, knowing that we were now completely awakened, they gathered at the end of the raft for consultation. Soon a leader among them, of venerable aspect, advanced, and touched the hand of the nearest of our party. This happened to be Elsie, who rose at the summons thus given; and finding, to our surprise, that the action caused no alarm among them, we followed her example. At their desire, communicated to us by the language of signs, we took away the stakes which confined one side of the raft, pushed it ashore, and disembarked. They led us on through their orchard in most gleeful procession, the captain, as Wenstock styled him, still keeping fast hold of Elsie’s finger, the rest of us following her closely, and the fairy throng hurrying on before us, and behind us, and beside us, evidently in the highest spirits.
Clitus and I found opportunity, on the way, to compare impressions of our new friends. He shared my surprise, of course, at their perfect fearlessness; which appeared to indicate, that, in all phrenologies of their acquaintance, the bump of destructiveness had been omitted. And, indeed, we found no traces of its effects throughout our visit. Carnivorous animals had never been heard of here; nor did “wars, nor rumors of wars” exist among the superior inhabitants. In this respect, their world is widely diverse, not only from the present world of man, but from any of the aspects which our planet has presented during the ages which geology describes. On the earth, as Hugh Miller tells us, animals were, from the earliest times, divided as they are now, into the two great classes of devourers and devoured; but here nature seemed formed on a different plan; and, in fact, our own dinner of fish was probably the first instance that land had seen, in which the body of one animal became the sustenance of another. Had we known, at the time, how we were interrupting the harmony of this universe, we should not have partaken with such relish of our delicate meal. In consequence of the absence of blood-thirsty instincts, the myriad types of weapon and armor, so universal in the forms of terrestrial life, were entirely wanting here. An apparent exception we noticed in one or two species of insect provided with stings, as we called them, but in fact with hard and sharp ovipositors; which, when by accident the animal found itself in need, were capable of performing a service outside of their normal use, as Clitus once experienced. Their essential difference from the true sting was apparent from the fact that they caused no inflammation; and the pain, though at first violent, almost immediately ceased, thus showing that the insect, unlike the bee or wasp, was provided with no poison to insert in the wound.
Our knowledge of this entire absence of violence was of course acquired at a later date; but we discussed its probability as well as we could, together with several other questions suggested to us by the novelties we constantly observed. Clitus also remarked, that the diminutive size of the animals we had thus far seen, both rational and inferior, was a complete refutation of the idea advanced some years ago, that the supposed inhabitants of the smaller planets ought to be animals of very great size and weight; since the attraction of a small globe would be feeble upon bodies of a moderate size. This suggestion seems to me best answered, by supposing the principle it involves carried to the extreme, which would oblige us to decide that a magnificent globe, like Jupiter, is fit only for an ant-hill; while a boy’s marble, sent circling through the abyss of space, would be appropriately inhabited by a giant some miles tall.
With such conversation, and with so many objects of interest on every side,—I wish I could find time to describe them,—it is not surprising that our walk, though of considerable length, seemed soon accomplished. Its end was of course at the dwellings of our little guides; from which, as soon as we were within sight, the entire population swarmed forth to meet us. The crowd was now immense; and so eager did each appear to see and to touch us, that at first we were fearful if not for our own safety, at least for that of the weaker ones of the multitude. But Elsie’s guide was at once aware of the necessity of interference; and, after a few words from him, the assembly began to take on an appearance of order. A number of marshals were immediately at work; and the populace, more docile, I think, than as many of Adam’s race would be, suffered themselves to be formed into a procession, which was allowed to march around us at the distance of a few feet, and was then dispersed to the various houses about. This operation lasted for two hours or more; and, during its continuance, we felt ludicrously like wild beasts in a menagerie. An excellent opportunity, however, was afforded us for reciprocating the inspection; and we did not fail to improve it. I have already alluded to their resemblance to the human race in form and features. The likeness was more exact than I had expected. Still, though built as it were on the same plan, a nearer view could not fail to distinguish them as a different species. They were not less comely, even in our judgment, than human beings; while the perfect transparency of expression, revealing every thought as it passed within, impressed us, especially in our subsequent intercourse among them, with the idea of perfect sincerity and purity of character. The two sexes had each, as with us, its characteristic mould, expressive of the qualities of strength and grace; nor could we fail to detect at a glance the various types peculiar to the different periods of life, the child, the youth, the aged. The clothing of all was of one general pattern, resembling the talma, but of a complete circular form, without cleft or seam, save those of the sleeve, and was confined about the waist by a broad zone. The ample folds thus produced were often disposed with the most perfect taste; and their comeliness and grace is unsurpassed by any style of clothing I have elsewhere observed. Yet, while the basis of form was thus universal, the various minor points, which make up in a great degree the character of the dress, were varied altogether at the pleasure of the wearer. We saw no indication of that despotism of .the general preference over the individual, that tyranny of fashion, to which the human race everywhere bow down. The material of these garments seemed to resemble linen; and we afterwards found that it was prepared very much as that is prepared; but their evening or winter clothing is of a heavier and warmer material, obtained from the fibres of certain kinds of bark.
The tedious inspection being at length concluded, we found that they intended to divide our party among the various magnates of the village, each taking one to his own habitation; but this idea did not entirely please us. We took each other by the hand, and succeeded in showing them that we chose to remain together. Their faces expressed some disappointment; but they yielded to our desire. And, by common consent, the house of the one who had conducted us, and had taken the lead in every previous movement, was selected for our reception; and, in a few minutes more, we found ourselves in the interior of his spacious residence.
We all considered the dwellings to which we were now introduced as the most remarkable of the many wonders we had thus far seen. They were low; and the material of which they were constructed does not meet the popular idea of elegance. It was, in fact, mud; and yet these dwellings were by no means mud huts. We may have thought them such before we entered; but the interior convinced us of our mistake. Indeed, the people have no other suitable building material; for none of their trees are of the kinds that furnish hard wood, and their pines are quite rare; while, at the same time, a wooden wall, unless of great thickness, would scarcely meet the prime necessity of their abodes,—protection from the violent changes of heat and cold. So they make the framework of large stones, and carefully fill up the interstices, covering the whole with a kind of mortar or cement, which renders it at once entirely impervious to rain, and a sufficient barrier against the severest cold. This which appears from without is merely the roof; while the greater part of the dwelling is below the surface of the ground, and thus preserves a uniform temperature. Each is entered by a single door, which opens upon a small entrance-room, separated from the rest by walls nearly as massive as the external ones. Next is the family living room; and the contrast of the elegance and convenience of this apartment with the rough appearance of the exterior was to us quite startling. The occupants themselves compare it to the different appearance of their beautiful flowers when open to the sun, and again when the rough calyxes close over them to protect them from the cold of night. The rooms are furnished in a manner quite similar to those of our own civilized world, and are ventilated by small tubes extended through the walls, as the windows are not intended to open. For convenience in introducing air and light, the houses, like those of the modern Sybarites, are built with a single story. The windows are of the same cylindrical construction we had used in our brick globe, but are much more transparent than any we could obtain. The lunar glass-makers quite excel the terrestrial in the working of their beautiful material; and, in fact, the arts in general are further advanced and more skilfully practised there, in consequence, no doubt, of the complete tranquillity which prevails.
We had an illustration of this truth, as well as of the perfect taste of the people, in*the elegance of each object of the apartments now thrown open to our view, and the more than pleasing ‘effect which they produced as a whole. Nor did this happy impression fail to be sustained in the kindness and hospitality of the inmates. As soon as we entered, the host brought us to the table, and placed before us luscious fruits, just plucked from the vines. We had become quite hungry; and the temptation thus presented was more than we were willing to resist. Clitus remarked, that, if their food should prove noxious to us, there was no help for it; and, as it was apparent that the other alternative might be starvation, we ventured, with some misgivings, upon the trial. We received no injury, either at this time or afterwards, from food or drink partaken of during our stay. All the vegetable products of the soil are eaten by the inhabitants; and they have in their vocabulary no word for poison.
And this brings me to one of the most singular of the many marvels belonging to this new land,—their language. Our host perceived at once our wish to acquire a knowledge of it; and, being as desirous of intercourse as we were, the work was soon commenced in good earnest, and, in a comparatively short time, we could speak it with tolerable readiness. Not that we were ever able to converse with every one we chanced to meet; many of the sounds they used we found ourselves utterly unable to imitate; but our attempts at length became intelligible to our instructors, who interpreted for us when we wished to communicate with others. The language, as spoken by those who were native to it, is quite musical, and contains a great profusion of vowel sounds, with several different breathings. Its etymology and syntax are, as may be imagined, widely different from ours. Inflection is of the simplest kind, and consists of affixing to the root-word a particle which has generally an independent use as an adverb. Verbs and nouns only are inflected; the former take a prefix to express voice, and suffixes for mode and tense, which their system to a great degree confounds; the latter have prefixes for number and gender, while the annexed particles perform the office of cases. The inflection of nouns has the peculiarity of extending in each word through the three genders. In speaking of any thing without life, either masculine or feminine is used, according to the characteristic intended to be expressed, whether force or delicacy; and the neuter, if no possible allusion to either trait can be detected. To borrow an illustration from the Latin, in the simple declaration that the wind was south, the appropriate expression would be notum: while notus would be used only when a gale of some violence was implied; and nota would signify a gentle southern breeze. The laconic brevity of the spoken language might be considered quite remarkable; but, when written, this characteristic is increased tenfold, and renders their literature extremely difficult to decipher. It is of a different nature from that of any written language of the earth, having no more relation to alphabetic than to hieroglyphic families. By methods, which, in a sketch so short as this, must be left entirely unexplained, characters, which stand for the ideas themselves rather than - the sounds conveying them, are combined in so brief expressions, that often a single line contains a series of thoughts that could not, in English, occupy less than a page. This fact may be partially explained by the great scarcity of writing materials, as each sheet of their paper consists of a single leaf of a rare species of vine, prepared with great labor. Books are formed by connecting the leaves like the links of a chain; and, when not in use, they are readily folded together. During our visit, we acquired enough knowledge of the principle of the language to be able to translate it, but with such slow and laborious progress that we accomplished scarcely any thing. Wenstock, however, by far the most skilful of our party in deciphering it, has brought home some works of great interest, which, within a few years, he will probably publish in English.
As soon as we were in the least able to express our thoughts in their words, we were beset on every hand by curious questions as to who we were, whence we came, by what means we had reached them, and so forth. It was soon clear, that, if we were to tell the truth, we should have no peace through all our visit, but must spend our time mostly in informing them of the nature of our planet,—a world which, notwithstanding its proximity, they had never seen, nor even had imagined to exist. We therefore stated that we had arisen from beneath the ground, on the day we were discovered, and that previously we had no recollections of existence anywhere on their world. They understood us as we meant they should; and, throughout all our stay, believed, yet without a particle of envy or fear, that we were the progenitors of a newly-created race, formed to share with them their own inheritance. Not even our clothing, nor the knives, watches, and other things that we carried, convinced them of their mistake; for voluntary deception was to them a thing utterly unknown and inconceivable.
Our knowledge of the language, meagre as it was, proved to us the key of the whole planet; for it is all of one language and one speech. Several of the inhabitants of the first-found village accompanied us in our excursion as guides, and gave us all the assistance in their power to become acquainted with the character of their world, both social and physical.
The habitable part of their globe lies in a circle round the sea, which occupies the point most distant from the earth. The cities near its shores are the oldest, largest, and most wealthy; and a large amount of commerce is carried on over its waters. Each of these cities is an independent republic; and the same is true of all the smaller towns and villages throughout the whole extent of country. The houses of the people are always gathered in compact clusters of at least two or three hundred; and the entire assembly of citizens is readily convened for any species of business. All important matters, however, are really at the disposal of the senate, or council,—a body of advisory power, consisting of the oldest and most-respected members of the community. While thus politically distinct, the cities are geographically grouped into four classes, as they are situated on the northern or southern coast of the sea, or on the two great equatorial rivers.
The arrangement of labor and kindred matters must of course have a character entirely diverse from ours, since there is practically no year distinct from the day; and the period which sustains this double relation is equal in length to our month. In all the region where wealth and culture abound, viz., that within and around the tropics, the day is measured from sunrise to sunrise, and divided into five equal parts, each corresponding to nearly six days of the earth. The first period is that during which the sun is unclouded; at its close, the periodic rains set in, and continue through two periods, until some time after sunset. The remaining two compose the night, when the sky is clear, and the stars visible. Each of these periods is divided decimally; the tenth being equal to fourteen hours, or nearly one of our summer days; the tenth of this, about an hour and a half, and the hundredth part of the latter, answering to our minute, or, more exactly, to fifty seconds. The day thus divided is of course assumed at the average length; and instruments for measuring time are constructed somewhat similar to the clock, but even more useful than our time-pieces, on account of the extremely slow motion of the sun and stars. The time which they indicate for sunrise often varies from the truth to an extent which we should think very considerable; but the difference is of less importance in comparison with the length of day. We found, somewhat to our surprise, that our new acquaintances needed but one period of rest, and one of labor, during all this length of time, as we do in our space of twenty-four hours; their powers being matched to their necessities. The out-door work belongs to the first division of the day, and consists mainly, except in villages that have just been settled, of plucking the ripened fruit from the trees and vines. These all have the peculiarity ascribed to the orange, of producing at the same time flowers and fruit in all stages of maturity. Every morning some are found ripe; and a short exposure to the sun renders them perfect for use. The rainy season is the time universally chosen for the education of the younger portion of the families, and in-door work of the older members; for, as every one has his part in the tillage and harvest of the village orchard, so almost every one has some other business to which the latter portion of the day is devoted. Then a short time is given to social pleasures and amusements, as well as gatherings for religions purposes. On the striking similarity of the latter meetings to those held by our own churches of the Sandemanian order, I have not now time to remark. The last third of the day is spent by the people in continuous sleep, and to myself and companions was a season of seclusion, though of great enjoyment, as we were obliged to be awake a great part of the time; while all the world beside were deep in slumbers, and the landscape covered with perpetual darkness. We passed the time as pleasantly as possible, watching the slow progress of the stars, conferring with one another on our individual discoveries and theories, and occasionally assisting Wenstock, who was endeavoring, for amusement, to compute the aspects of the planets. This calculation is much more difficult when the moon is taken for a centre than when they are viewed from the earth; because the centre of their actual motion, the sun, does not lie in the plane of the moon’s orbit. The sun’s own course is quite irregular, resembling that of Jupiter as viewed from the earth. The lunar astronomers,—for such there are,—find extreme difficulty in solving the problems their heavens present, and no wonder; for the key of the whole matter is hidden from them by the fact that they never see the earth, the centre of their own motion. They have learned to discriminate the effect due to parallax; but this has only led them deeper into error; for they naturally suppose that the difference of their actual positions, at an interval of half a day, must be the diameter of their planet: and, as they have a tolerably accurate measurement of its dimensions, they assign for the size and distance of the sun quantities about two hundred times too small. The phenomena they have to account for are complex enough in themselves; but, by carrying throughout this erroneous measurement, they are continually involved in inexplicable enigmas.
Although astronomy is but poorly comprehended by the lunar savans, in other branches of physical science their knowledge is quite complete; especially in the matter of electricity and the kindred forces, in which their advancement greatly exceeds our own. In fact, their advantages in this respect are as much superior to ours, as in astronomy they are inferior; for several striking phenomena common there, are, from the circumstances of the case, impossible to our planet. The most important of these appears to result from the unknown principle of connection between electricity and gravitation. The earth is nearly always in a line with the axis which passes through the moon’s centres of figure and of gravity; but when the sun also comes into this line, extraordinary electric action takes place at the opposite extremity, in the centre of their wide but shallow sea. These occasions are, of course, coincident with total eclipses of the moon as seen from the earth; and the more nearly central the eclipse, the grander is the display there witnessed. There is one circumstance, however, which affects the action of the electricity, but has no influence on the eclipse; viz., the sun’s declination over the moon’s equator, which should be zero for the maximum of electric power. This exhibition of force apparently had occurred from the earliest times as often as the sun neared the nadir. A long time ago it had caused great agitation of the sea, and resolved into its elementary gases great quantities of water, which injuriously affected the air; but a lunar Franklin—centuries before the birth of the illustrious Bostonian,—pointed out the remedy in a huge pillar, properly secured, which was sunk into the sea at this point, and actually succeeded in transmitting the dangerous enemy direct to upper air. From the little island formed by the summit of this pillar, the most vivid flashes of lightning now play; and when the various conditions are most fully met, the point appears the base of a column of fire shooting high up into the heavens, and forming the most sublime spectacle conceivable. We, of course, derived our knowledge of this from the reports of the inhabitants; and much fruitless guess-work did we expend on the question, whence the force to accomplish all this was produced, or from which of the moon’s motions it was derived. But Wenstock remarked, that, on account of the rare occurrence of the more striking displays, the effect of the whole, if acting as a check upon the moon’s rotation, might not be more than that of the tides upon the earth, which may he said to exist only in theory, since no result has ever been actually observed. May not this action be connected with the supposed influence of the earth’s attraction in so swaying the great pendulum mass of the moon as to equalize its periods of rotation and revolution ? That no practical use had been made of this profusion of force is not surprising; it would seem almost as feasible to utilize the fires of Stromboli. Nevertheless, a certain person, only a short time before our arrival, had pointed out a simple plan by which almost all the electric energy could be converted into mechanical force. The only fault to be found with his discovery was, that the action was so instantaneous and so powerful that it was difficult to imagine to what purpose it could be applied. But when Wenstock by accident heard of the plan, it occurred to him that he could suggest an application of the power exactly suited to its characteristics; viz., that it should be used to project us from the moon’s surface back to earth. He accordingly obtained an interview with the inventor, and together they accomplished their purpose. It was necessary, in the first place, to find at what time an opportunity for the trial would occur; and this Wenstock soon determined by calculation. Much to our regret, it appeared that the only such occasion which would take place within a long period, would be due so soon, that it would leave us scarcely any time for the explorations and discoveries we were longing to make. Clitus, especially, who was studying the zoology and geology of the region with intense interest, and was finding new wonders and new analogies day by day, at first declared himself positively unwilling to give them up. Wenstock replied, that this mode of return seemed the only feasible one, since the fly-wheel method,—for various reasons unforeseen,—was entirely unsuited to our present circumstances; and at length persuaded him, though reluctant, to abandon his projected explorations, and consent to a speedy return. We then separated, each departing to his special branch of study, with a determination to make the most of the short time remaining.
Meanwhile, our return-globe was fashioned by crowds of little workmen, all ignorant of its intended use; for Wenstock had assigned a false purpose for its construction, and, having obtained the entire management of the affair, was arranging it to suit our needs. Had any beside ourselves been aware of our intention, it is hardly probable that they would have consented to carry it out. But, as the work progressed, the thought of return, at first so distasteful, grew more and more pleasant to us who were engaged in preparing for it; that is, Elsie, Wenstock, and myself. To Clitus, however, and his wife, it was apparently less and less so, when they saw in how unfinished a state their discoveries must be left.
At length the last day came; and, on the following midnight, we were to depart. The two “explorers,” as we had come to call them, being determined to lose no opportunity, were out in different directions prosecuting their respective labors. But this eagerness for knowledge, on the part of the lady at least, was too strong for her prudence; for she was yet at a considerable distance from the village, when the periodic rains set in, and poured in torrents. The drenching and consequent chill which she experienced brought on, in spite of the efforts of her husband, a violent fever. When at length she was restored from delirium, and appeared to be past danger, her strength was so reduced that we saw it was impossible for her to accompany us. On consultation, however, we decided it not best to abandon our intention; so, leaving only her husband with her, the remainder of the party, at the appointed hour, gathered with sad hearts in the hollow globe. Soon followed the blinding flash; and we knew we were again on our way through space. The joy with which we again looked upon our mother earth, our apprehension as we neared it that the ocean would receive and bury both ourselves and all the fruits of our journey, our happy release from this fear, and arrival on terra firma near the banks of the Nile, the passage home kindly procured for us by the American consul at Alexandria, all these my reader can easily imagine; and I will not weary him with a description.
Suffice it to say, that our whole collection of curious and wonderful things has been brought safely home; and, as it consists mainly of selections made by Clitus just before our departure, from his own and his wife’s well-filled cabinets, it cannot fail to be of great interest and importance to the scientific world. The specimens of living animals and plants, skeletons, and pressed flowers and leaves, are now in the hands of some of the most learned men in our country, who will doubtless soon report on the striking diversities and analogies they suggest.
If the remainder of our party shall live to the next opportunity of return, and shall accomplish it successful!y, I cannot doubt that the hidden hemisphere of the moon will be as completely and accurately known to our naturalists as the visible surface is to our astronomers.
THE NEARER HEMISPHERE.
BY WALTER MCLEOD.
[In the last number of “Old And New,” we published the explorations made by (he courageous adventurers, whose memoirs we have in hand, on that hemisphere of the moon which cannot be seen from this earth. So soon as they trespassed on the hemisphere nearer ours, their observations have a value for young students of astronomy, to which we call especial attention. We should be sorry to have these observations dismissed as a mere play of fancy.]
The wonder and excitement occasioned at our return, my readers can imagine, without attempt on my part to describe it. Men of science were perhaps most interested in the vindication of Hansen’s hypothesis, which had been discredited by later theorists; but the popular enthusiasm was far more excited by the fact that communication had been opened with another planet, meagre as was the information we could give concerning it. The fate of Clitus and his wife, and the possibility of securing some sort of correspondence with them, were subjects of constant thought. But all our effort was fruitless; and when, after long years, communication was indeed commenced, the beginning was made on his part: for since the great obstacle lay in his own position,—in a region always concealed from our view,—it was necessary that he should take the first steps by putting himself, by some means, within sight of earth. To accomplish this, he naturally thought of the manner in which we had made our journey to the moon; and, as our own thoughts had run in the same direction, we were not surprised, but overjoyed and grateful, when we heard at last that a small planet had emerged from behind the moon’s disc, and was apparently within the attraction of the larger body. We were in doubt, at first, whether the new globe was not intended to convey our friends to earth; but its course soon showed that it was to revolve about the moon, and serve merely for communication with us. Clitus had so impelled it that its orbit would approach very near the moon on the side of the hidden hemisphere, but stand out far from the surface as it approached the earth. At the former point, he had contrived means to descend from the globe, or reach it from the moon’s surface, without arresting its course; and thus he could easily converse with either world at will. For telegraphing with us, he used an apparatus for producing electric light, which he arranged so that it could be moved quite rapidly along a straight line; and, from this, the letters of Morse’s alphabet were flashed across the void to the telescopes and friendly eyes waiting to receive them.
But there was still a difficulty in the way,—the same that has long prevented a perfect view of all the heavenly bodies,—that great veil of air which ever shades the face of earth. Here our old friend the brick moon again proved his value; for it was not till the great lens was mounted there that the vast gulf was fairly bridged. Then Clitus’s globe on one hand, and Orcutt’s on the other, stood between the larger spheres as interpreters; and a ready path was prepared for the thoughts and feelings of each. There was plenty to be said on both sides; for the intervening years had been eventful with us as well as with them. That Elsie and I were married; that Wenstock had gone West, and his adventures there,—these, and many other items that we had to communicate, were no doubt interesting to our absent friends; but, as my present readers would scarcely find them so, I will pass at once to Clitus’s story, which I will give as completely as possible in his own words, compiled from the numerous despatches which we received, and carefully recorded. The first important adventure which he met after our departure was a visit to the nearer hemisphere, with a party of lunar savans, for exploring purposes; and, as this event affected deeply his whole life in his new home, he has described it at length.
“The night after you left us was a gloomy time indeed for me, as you may well believe. For a full week, as you reckon time, while the sun was beneath the horizon, we two were alone in that underground house; Sarah sick, and myself scarcely better; our companions gone, and with them our best chance of ever seeing our home again. Is it wonderful that we were despondent? But the return of the sun, and the presence and sympathy of our host and his family, cheered us in a measure; at least, it relieved the terrible loneliness of the night. After a short time, spent in classifying the specimens and the information we had already obtained, we concluded to visit the largest city on the shores of the central sea,—the London of the lunar world. Resolving to be no longer dependent for our support on the liberality of the people, we fortunately soon found an opportunity to earn a livelihood, while reserving the most of our time for observation of nature. This advantage was procured by means of my physical strength, which appeared gigantic to the pygmy inhabitants of this planet: and well it might; for, beside the superiority given me by my larger frame, my present muscular power in raising weights, &c, was six times that I had exerted on earth. An intelligent engine of such power as this found ready appreciation; and by agreeing to work at certain regular intervals, embracing only a small portion of my time, I earned enough for our support. In the course of a short time, we made friendships among our new neighbors, which we have enjoyed ever since, especially one with a distinguished physician of this city. His first visits were in the line of his profession; for he wished to investigate the supposed lusus naturæ exhibited in our colossal proportions; but the acquaintance soon assumed a more agreeable form. After some time, he informed me that he, with several other naturalists, was planning a visit of exploration to the great desert region surrounding their habitable world. The plan of the expedition, as he explained it to me, was based upon a singular though plausible theory of the lunar geography. It appears that astronomers, in order to find the figure and dimensions of their planet, had lately been measuring lines along its surface. One was measured across the sea, by taking advantage of a chain of islands, and found to be, as you would suppose, the arc of an exact circle. Another was measured along the shore; and it was found that this also was the arc of a circle, but of a larger one, so that the curvature was not so rapid. This, as you and I know, results from the fact, that, while the sea is collected round the moon’s centre of gravity, the land surface corresponds to the centre of figure, which is some thirty miles further from the surface of the sea. Now, if you recollect, that every thing on the moon’s habitable surface seems to gravitate towards this central sea, every river flows toward it, and, as you recede from it, even the air grows thin, you will be scarcely surprised to hear that the astronomers supposed that they had been measuring their arcs on the inside instead of the outside of a globe; that is, that their world rounded in instead of out, or they regarded it not as a ball, but as a bowl. At the bottom of the bowl, they supposed the sea to be collected; about this the air reaching partly up tho sides; beyond that, nothing till you reach the sky which covers over the top. As they had found the curvature to be less rapid just on the shore .of the sea than across its waters, they supposed that it grew less and less as you advance up the sides of the bowl, till finally the latter spread out into a vast elevated plain, barren, and devoid of air. Their idea of the possibility of inhabited worlds beside their own was, that there might be other depressions in this barren surface into which air and water had been poured by the Creator’s hand, and life thus rendered possible. To the orbs of heaven they attached no such idea, regarding the sky merely as a vast, solid concave, supported on an axis lying horizontally along this plain, and revolving once in six hundred and fifty-six hours. Astronomy has here been the least cultivated of the physical sciences; and not even the motions of the planets have been satisfactorily explained. But these motions appear from here, as you know, much more irregular than when seen from the earth.
You can now understand the principal objects which our expedition had in view. First, to determine the curvature of the land surface, which they proposed to do by means of a pendulum. The rate of vibration of this instrument, compared with its known rapidity at the city, would give, as they thought, their height above the bottom of the bowl; would actually give the distance of the surface from the centre of gravity. Second, to determine whether the great elevated plain actually existed, and to explore it as much as possible, in the hope of finding some other world-bowl, inhabited by another race. The prime requisite for these discoveries had already been prepared,—an air-tight carriage, capable of motion over an uneven surface, by power applied from within, and furnishing its passengers the means of respiration, as well as storage for the necessary food, &c. All that science could do had been employed in every detail, to render the whole compact as well as complete; and when, after many failures, the work was done, it was a very wonder for its perfection. Yet it was foreseen, that, in traversing very rugged surface exigencies might arise which the most delicate machinery could not reach, and where it would be necessary to have a considerable power, under the immediate control of a single mind. How to meet this want was a great question, till the physician, of whom I have spoken, thought of the store of energy reposing in my own arm; and, at his suggestion, the leader of the party offered me an opportunity to accompany them. I did not hesitate to accept his invitation, and in due time was instructed in even’ part of the mechanism. After one or two short trial trips, we took in our load of provisions, instruments, and explorers, and began the eventful journey.
The point from which we set out was on the western edge of the inhabited circle, near the head-waters of one of the great equatorial streams. The scenery here was suggestive of great elevation; the air was cold; and vegetation had a stunted appearance. The barometer, too, showed a reduced pressure. My companions made a careful record of the indications both of this instrument and of the pendulum, and continued to do so at intervals, till all traces of the presence of an atmosphere had ceased. These observations exhibited the exact relation of atmospheric pressure to height. They were made frequently during the first part of our course; but quite soon we found them no longer possible, and knew, from the bare and utterly lifeless appearance of all the rocky surface of the ground, that we had indeed entered upon the desert, a greater and more terrible wilderness than any upon the earth. The effects of the gigantic earthquake throes which have convulsed the lunar surface are here preserved in all the rough wildness of their original form, uninfluenced by the smoothing and beautifying power of water. The general color of the soil was whitish, or rather ashen; and the reflection of the bright sunlight upon it was extremely painful to the eyes. As one of our number was constantly employed in watching the ground in advance, in order to select the most level and direct path for the car, it was found necessary that he should use a mirror, to moderate the intensity of the light.
The sun was now directly behind us, for we started in the early morning; and our westward motion was sufficiently rapid to retard perceptibly his progress up the sky. You may think this implies a very high speed, as indeed it would if I were speaking of motion on the earth’s surface. The sun passes over your equator at the rate of more than a thousand miles per hour; so that a ship starting at noon on a voyage from east to west along the equator must sail at that prodigious rate, in order to have a vertical sun over it throughout its course. But to attain the same result on the moon’s surface, a speed of only nine and six-tenths miles per hour is necessary; because the moon, having a circumference one-fourth as great as the earth’s, revolves with about a thirtieth of its velocity. Had our average hourly speed been equal, or even near, to nine and six-tenths miles, we might have made the entire journey by daylight; but the inequality of the ground put this out of the question. Not even the electric power which moved our car could surmount such obstructions as we constantly met; and the long détours which we were often obliged to make were the most serious hinderance to our westward progress. All our changes of direction, and the distances traversed, as nearly as we could compute them, were carefully recorded; for, without them, the most important facts which the expedition was to reveal would have been lost.
The sun, then, gained rapidly upon us; and, in proportion to his increasing height, the heat of his beams grew in intensity. We felt this the more, in consequence of the absence of air around us; for one of the great benefits which an atmosphere confers is its equalizing effect on the temperature of day and night.
At length the rays ceased to fall from behind us, and we saw the sun high over the unexplored western horizon. It was then, long after all traces of air had been left behind, that I first caught sight of earth, and knew we had left the “hidden hemisphere.” At first, we saw only a bright object on the horizon, appearing like the summit of some distant hill shining by reflection from the sun. Such my companions at first supposed it really was, though they wondered at its regularity of outline. But, as we proceeded, it rose from the horizon, beginning in the centre; while the right and left followed gradually, till at length its complete crescent form was seen, both horns pointing directly downward. Before this time, of course, I knew the face of my native planet; and, strange as was the form in which it appeared, I was moved as though I had met a long-absent friend. My companions did not notice my emotion, being occupied with gazing and wondering at the strange object, the sight of which was to them, of course, entirely unexpected. When I began to- listen to their conversation, I found they were discussing ‘whether it had probably some connection with the ground, or was really a heavenly body. The weight of opinion inclined to the former view, for the latter had nothing to support it save the apparent suspension of the body above the land, and its brilliancy, surpassing that of the stars. We could easily compare the two; for the lack of atmosphere enabled us to see every star and planet as plainly by day as by night. The reasons for the opposite theory were; first, that the new body had never been seen before, while all the stars by which it was surrounded were familiar acquaintances; second, the fact, that, instead of rising in the east like the sun and stars, it appeared in the direction exactly opposite; third, its crescent form was unlike any thing ever seen with the naked eye in the lunar heavens. The conclusion was, that it was some electric display, like the Aurora; and this belief was confirmed when the breadth of the crescent was seen to be decreasing, as though it were about to fade away. At length, however, it was noticed that the stars which encountered the crescent as they set were lost to view behind it; but, instead of reappearing beneath its lower edge, they remained invisible till they had passed the entire circle, of which the bright bow formed the upper part. The sun himself now approached it; but, before the edge was reached, the illuminated portion, which had long been growing more narrow, entirely vanished, leaving only a dark circle, in which no stars were visible. The sun soon reached the limit of this charmed circle; when, to the astonishment of my friends, his edge appeared to be eaten away, as though by some corroding influence. The cause, however, was so plain, that none of the party could be more than briefly alarmed; though what they saw had never before been so much as imagined by any of their race. In fact, a total solar eclipse, which is never known in the hidden hemisphere, is by no means an every day occurrence on the visible one; it takes place whenever a lunar eclipse is seen from the earth. It was fortunate that we saw it as we did, for it furnished the strongest possible proof that the object which cut off the solar light was really a dense, solid body. Without this proof, the sight of our mother planet might have been regarded till now, by the lunar world, as a singular result of electric action. As the sun’s surface became rapidly hidden, the motion of our car was stopped; and we silently awaited the total darkness. At length, as the last ray was shining, we saw the shadow coursing rapidly towards us from the west along the ground. Every object, as it was reached, instantly vanished, swallowed up in the black night. Another moment, and we saw no more, ourselves ingulfed in the same darkness. I have witnessed a total eclipse on earth; but I must admit that this was much more impressive,—the darkness was so intense, and the change so sudden.
The silence which followed the departure of light was at length broken by one of our number, who said that he had noticed the time a star had been obscured by the same marvellous body, namely, about two hours; and he supposed the sun would be invisible as long. The event proved him right; though, if we had been in the centre of the earth’s shadow, the time might have been extended to nearly three hours. No total solar eclipse, as seen from the earth, can possibly last longer than eight minutes; but the size of the obscuring body will explain the difference in the duration of this which we were observing.
As soon as the sun re-appeared below the obscuring circle, we made preparations to resume our journey; for the eclipse had excited in all an intense curiosity to see more of the wonderful object which had been its cause. We therefore made all haste towards the west; but a new obstacle soon appeared in the gradual approach of night. Rapidly as we advanced, the sun was more fleet than we; and, ere long, we saw him vanish from before us, leaving us to halt again in the heart of the wilderness.
The approach of darkness at sunset would have been as sudden as the eclipse, had not the landscape been illumined by the earth, which had now resumed the crescent form, with horns pointing directly upward. After admiring for a while this new phase of the extraordinary luminary, my companions retired to their long night’s sleep, leaving me alone. My own sleep could not be regulated, like theirs, by the course of the sun; I could not so readily forget the habits of my home on earth, where but twenty-four hours make the day. Twenty times already since the journey commenced, I had been obliged to leave my post for sleep; though of course I could be wakened at once, if my services were needed. It would now be necessary to pass a proportionate time awake and alone, while the rest were sleeping. But the increasing light afforded by the earth relieved me from this necessity, while as yet the night was not one-quarter gone. I awoke the chief of the expedition, and called his attention to the brilliant illumination of the ground; and he at once agreed with me that no further delay was necessary. The excessive, blinding splendor of the solar light was absent; but this was an advantage rather than otherwise. So, with just so many on duty at once as were necessary to attend to the engine, observe the pendulum, and record the course, we set out anew. Our path was now over less uneven surface than we had before found. We were north of the moon’s equator, just entering one of those tracts of land so smooth and free from mountains that the early astronomers of earth mistook them for seas. We therefore made rapid progress; and, before the circle of the earth was filled out with light, we had advanced so far as to see it high above the horizon.
Its position in the heavens depended solely on our motion; while we halted, it was stationary; when we advanced, it rose: for the effect of rotation on its apparent place is neutralized by the moon’s revolution in its orbit. Hence, from any one point on the moon’s surface from which the earth is visible, the latter would never appear to rise or set, but be constantly fixed in one part of the heavens. At the time of “full earth,” the entire party was called together to observe the rotation, which could now be seen with great distinctness, as Asia, Africa, Europe, and America, passed in stately procession before our eyes. The sight,—to myself a new remembrancer of home,—was again only a new marvel to my companions; and, as they returned to their interrupted sleep, their theories respecting the nature of the planet were still more wild and inconsistent than ever. The principal objection now to admitting it to the list of heavenly bodies was its great size; for it occupied more than ten times as much space in the sky as the sun himself, whom they were unwilling to degrade from his ancient pre-eminence. But their objections were doomed to speedy demolition; for, before day dawned, we passed directly under the new planet, without observing any perceptible change in its size, or any thing that would indicate that we were nearer than when we first saw it. Thus disappointed in their hopes of discovery, the most of the party would probably have decided to return by the way in which we came, had not a new motive appeared to attract us onward: for the records of the pendulum now showed that our course had ceased to ascend; that is, as my companions interpreted it, we had entered upon the vast elevated plain, depressions in which formed the inhabited worlds of the universe. We could not turn back from so rich a field of exploration, attained with so much difficulty.
But, as we advanced, the surface began to increase in roughness; and the mountains appeared more large and numerous than in our previous course. In the early morning, we saw, far to our left, the circular summit of the crater, or ring mountain, called by terrestrial astronomers, Hipparchus, which has a diameter of about a hundred miles. A little later we came in sight of Ptolemy, still farther to the south, but of ampler dimensions. How strange to be myself among the mountains which years ago I often observed with the telescope! In the tables I then used, I remember this mountain Ptolemy ranked as third in the list of lunar craters, with a diameter of one hundred and fifteen miles. Still more familiar to me was Copernicus, a smaller crater, but one very conspicuous to the terrestrial observer. Now that I had come into the midst of this group, I took great interest in identifying them: and this was easy to do; for the earth’s apparent height and direction from my own position showed the place on the moon’s disc, as seen from the earth, which that position would occupy. In the neighborhood of Copernicus, the surface of the ground was extremely rough, and was intersected here and there by broad crevasses, filled with glassy rock. They diverged in all directions from the crater itself, and were evidently the beds of lava-streams in the ancient volcanic period of the planet. As they offered a smoother path for our car than we could elsewhere find, wo traced one for a number of miles, till, at length, we were brought to the edge of the crater itself. It is a circular opening, surrounded by the mountain, and having a breadth of no less than fifty-five miles. The height of the mountain above the surrounding plain is 11,000 feet, and the depth of the crater within it is even greater; while its descent is almost perpendicular. At the foot of this tremendous precipice lie volcanic rocks and scoriæ, which are piled up in the centre of the crater, forming a conical mountain of no small height. We could not linger long to enjoy the terrible sublimity of the scene, especially as my fellow-adventurers were now beginning to hope that we were entering another bowl-like depression, where they might expect to find a new world, inhabited by beings of an alien race. This hope was excited by the motion of the pendulum, which had indicated, before we commenced the ascent of the mountain, that the average surface of the ground was becoming gradually lower. We hastened onward, then; but soon after passing the smaller mountain, Kepler, we were overtaken again by night. For a while we were able to continue our journey, as before, by earthlight, but were at length obliged to halt, and wait for the day. On the re-appearance of the sun, we again advanced, and ere long lost sight of earth behind the mountains in our rear. The descent still continued, and increased in rapidity, till we were startled and delighted at noticing the barometer arouse from the lethargy in which it had lain, and again give token of the presence of a rare atmosphere. This evidence of a habitable world could not be mistaken; and it was soon confirmed by many others. All the forms of vegetable life which we had observed in the commencement of our journey were now repeated in reverse order; the only wonderful thing about them, in the estimation of my companions, being the lack of new and strange forms. The truth was, of course, that we had entered their own country again from the opposite side; but, as this fact was utterly inconsistent with their geographical theories, it never occurred to them. At length we met with people of their own nice, speaking their own language; and, in conversation with them, the real state of the case, wonderful as they deemed it, became too plain to be doubted. They were bitterly disappointed, and seemed to regard their expedition an utter failure; but, failure or no, the event proved its usefulness beyond what they had conceived. They had planned it to prove the truth of their bowl theory, and investigate the questions it left open; but it resulted in the demolition of that hypothesis, and the discovery and establishment of scientific truth.
One of the most obvious results of the expedition was a better knowledge of the figure of the moon itself. The point at which our journey terminated, as well as that from which we set out, was exactly known; hence the records of our course furnished the means of determining with considerable accuracy the nature of the surface over which we had passed. It was found to be nearly spherical, with a radius of rather more than a thousand miles. As the natural consequence of this discovery, another of scarcely less importance succeeded, in regard to gravity and the direction in which bodies fall. Under the old theory, all vertical lines were supposed by the lunar astronomers to be parallel; and the words “up” and “down” were used to express distance either above or below a fixed unvarying plane. Had this idea been correct, the most of our journey would necessarily have been on the under side of the lunar globe; or rather we should have been obliged to abandon it near its commencement, through fear of falling from the ground into the sky. The mere fact of the expedition, then, showed that gravity must tend in different directions towards the interior of the globe; but, by the help of our observations with the pendulum, its law could be more exactly discovered. Having determined the altitudes of many stations on the moon’s surface, we found that each of these corresponded exactly with the distance of the station from a single point within the moon, at a distance of thirty-three miles from its centre. This was the same position at which their previous computations had fixed the centre of the spherical surface of the lunar sea; and naturally the coincidence increased their confidence in our reports, and in their deductions from them. Still further assurance was gained when they knew the peculiarities of that diameter of the moon which passes through the same important point. It was found that one extremity lay in that famous electric island in the middle of their sea, from which you effected your return; while the other pointed directly to that strange earth-globe, whose appearance formed so prominent a feature of our journey, and hail already excited so much fruitless conjecture.
This circumstance made it again the object of universal attention; the more so, as astronomers began to suspect that here they might find the key of many mysteries as yet unsolved. Fortunately, the constant visibility of the stars about it enabled us to determine with considerable accuracy its position in the heavens; and it was found that our motion during our journey had changed its place among the stars to the extent of almost half a degree. This fact furnished the means of determining its distance, which was computed at two hundred thousand miles; and, as its apparent breadth had been about two degrees, its real diameter must be nearly four times that of the moon.
The conclusions which I have thus far mentioned, though not exact, were reached by correct methods of reasoning; but there were others which involved enormous error. Long before our journey, astronomers had noticed a slight displacement of the nearer planets as they approach the horizon. They now endeavored to account for this by the fact that they viewed the heavenly bodies from a point remote from the axis of rotation; and hence each appeared moved from its true place to an extent depending on its distance from the moon. Believing that the axis of rotation passed through the centre of the moon, which they knew to be situated a thousand miles from its surface, they thought they had discovered an easy method of calculating the distance of the planets.
Now, if they had been the inhabitants of a primary planet, instead of a satellite, this reasoning would have been quite correct; for this is the very process by which the astronomers of earth compute planetary distances. But, in the case of the moon, the displacement noticed depends on the distance of the observer, not from the centre of the moon, but from that of the earth. As the latter quantity is more than two hundred times the former, the results of this computation and all others based upon it included the same great error. They gave the sun a diameter only half as large as that of the newly-discovered earth, and placed him at about double its distance. They concluded, that, in some parts of their orbits, the planets Venus and Mars were much nearer the moon than the earth was; and consequently could not be a thousandth part as large as the moon itself. In short, their mistake led them into a perfect maze of contradictions and absurdities; and though, in endeavoring to escape from them, they expended a vast amount of labor and ingenuity, their efforts seemed entirely fruitless. Their perplexity impressed me more deeply than ever with a fact I have noticed during my whole stay,—the great disadvantage under which astronomers here labor, mainly on account of the invisibility of the earth, the centre of their own planet’s motion. A single hasty glance at it had brought up such a crowd of new truths, so carelessly observed as to overset all their previous theories, without affording them much aid in establishing new ones; yet, had they been able to observe it accurately and constantly, they could have accumulated all the information necessary to conduct them to a true idea of the solar system.
I, therefore, resolved to aid my friends in their difficulty by revealing to them my origin, and the advantage which my former home had given me in understanding the very topics now under discussion. A few words were sufficient to state the true explanation.
“Your world is not fixed as you suppose it, neither does the axis of the universe pass through its centre; but it is a globe which has three distinct motions: a rotation on an axis of its own; a revolution around the earth, accomplished in just the same time; and still another revolution with the earth around the sun, which is the central body about which all the planets move.”
Thus easily was the proposition stated, but not so easily believed. Had I remembered that it was the same theory, which, when announced on earth, had caused the imprisonment of Galileo, and the excommunication of every adherent to his system, I might have been less ready in thus helping my lunar friends from their dilemma. But their opposition to the new doctrine did not lead to measures so violent, which would have been entirely at variance with their mild and liberal natures. Besides, I had claimed an origin which seemed to them celestial; and as my claim was supported by the difference of my organism from their own,—a difference marked enough to prove me of another race,—this very circumstance entitled my opinion to their respect. So it happened, that, after weary months of examining, arguing, and combating, the strange theory gained one and another adherent, till ultimately it became universal.
My wife and I, of course, were now the centres of considerable attention; and our friends were never wearied in hearing us describe the strange world beneath their feet. But these descriptions, and the opinions which our audience formed of our mother-planet, I must give you at another time. Meanwhile, though you cannot doubt that we shall ever think lovingly of our native earth, and of you, our brothers, yet we wish to assure you that we find our new home pleasant, and our new friends dear; and, if we can but hear from you again, our satisfaction is complete.
Such was the message of the exiled Clitus, which was flashed, night after night, from the electric light of his little orb. As it reached its close, the month was nearly finished; and the waning moon steadily approached the strong splendor of the sun, which at last hid it from our sight. When the new moon appeared, we looked for further tidings; but, though the globe was still seen in the heavens, the signals which were sent from it had ceased. Of all the moons that have waxed and waned, that was the first that ever held converse with men; and, at present, none may say, but it may also be the last.
A CORVUS EDITION
 Wherever Q. is referred to in these pages my brother Nathan is meant. One of his noms de plume was Gnat Q. Hale, because G and Q may be silent letters.
 “Every man,” says Dr. Peabody, “should have a vocation and an avocation.” To which I add, “A third.”
 The St. Leger of these stories was Francis Brown Hayes, H. C. 1839.
 Maria Theresa’s husband, Francis, Duke of Tuscany, was hanging about loose one day, and the Empress, who had got a little tired, said to the maids of honor, “Girls, whenever you marry, take care and choose a husband who has something to do outside of the house.”
 The glassy lava-streams here described by Clitus must be the occasion of the remarkable streaks of light which are shown by the telescope, diverging from the craters Tycho, Kepler, Copernicus, and Aristarchus. These have been an unsolved problem to astronomers; though several theories have been offered for their explanation, among the most common of which is the one Clitus has discovered to be true