FROM THE NOTE BOOK OF AN UNPOPULAR PHILOSOPHER
[Lucifer, Vol. II, No. 7, March, 1888, pp. 83-84]
The world of science has just sustained a heavy loss, an irreparable one, it is feared. The blow falls especially heavy on two men of science. For the great calamity which deprives at once humanity of a new and lovely, albeit gelatinous forefather, and the German Darwin of the very topmost leaf from his crown of scientific laurels, strikes simultaneously Messrs. Haeckel and Huxley. One, as all the world—except ignoramuses, of course—knows, was the fond parent of the late lamented Bathybius Haeckelii—just passed away—or shall we say transfigured?—the other, the god-father of that tender sea-flower, the jelly-speck of the oceans. . . .*
“Woe is me! for I am undone,” cried Isaiah [vi, 5], upon seeing the “Lord of Hosts” appear as smoke. “Woe are we!” exclaim both Messrs. Huxley and Haeckel upon finding their occult progeny—the Moneron—Bathybius that was—turning under pitiless chemical analysis into a vulgar pinch of precipitate of sulphate of lime! And, as with a great cry, they fall into each other’s arms:
“They weep each other’s woe. . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . .
O woeful day! O day of woe! . . . . .”
repeat, Greek-chorus-like, all the learned bodies of the two continents, of the Old and of the New World.
Alas, alas, young Bathybius exists no more! . . . . Nay, worse, for it is now being ascertained that he has never
* Vide first number of Lucifer, page 78, “Literary Jottings.”
had any existence at all—except, perhaps, in the too credulous scientific brains of a few naturalists.
Requiescat in pace, sweet, dream-like myth, whose gelatinous appearance befooled even two great Darwinists and led them right into the meshes of crafty Maya! But—“De mortuis nil nisi bonum”—we know, we know. Still it is not saying evil of the poor ex-Bathybius, I hope, to remember he is now but a pinch of lime. Horribile dictu: in whom shall, or can we, place henceforth our trust? Whither shall we turn for a primordial ancestor, now that even that jelly-like stranger has been taken away from us? Verily, we are stranded; and humanity, an orphan once more, is again as it was before—a parish-babe in Kosmos, without father, mother, or even a second-hand god in the shape of a Bathybius as a foundation-stone to stand upon! Woe! Woe!
But there may be still some balm left in Gilead. If our ever to be lamented ancestor, breaking under a too severe analysis, has ceased to be a protoplasmic entity, it is still a salt. And are we not assured that we “are the salt of the earth?” Besides which we are salt-generating animals anyhow, and therefore may still hope to be related with the late Bathybius. Decidedly, mankind has little to lament for. Haeckel and Mr. Huxley are thus the chief and only sufferers.
No wonder, then, that the Royal Society is said to go into deep mourning for a whole lunar month. Moreover, the “F.R.S.’s” should not fail to send Dr. Aveling to Berlin to carry the expression of their deep collective sympathy to poor Dr. Haeckel for the bereavement they have caused to him. For, firstly—who fitter than the eminent translator of the Pedigree of Man to offer consolation to the eminent German naturalist, the author of Anthropogenesis and other inspired volumes? And secondly—it is a case of “Science versus Science.” It is the right
hand of Science which has robbed her left hand of her promising progeny—the Bathybius Haeckelii. We have but one more instance like this one in history—namely, the sad case of Count Ugolino. Walled-in, in the famous tower, in company with his family to starve, the generous and self-sacrificing nobleman fearing to leave his children orphans—devoured them one after the other—“lest they should remain fatherless,” explains the legend.
But I perceive—too late, I am afraid—that the case as above cited has little, if any, analogy with the case in hand. Ugolino ate his sons, and Haeckel—did not eat his son, Bathybius? Yet Well—I give it up! *
MEMO—Apply to the pellucid Solipsism of the Hylo-Idealists to get me out of this bog of the two sets of “sons”—the sons of Ugolino and the “first-born” of Haeckel. . . . .
Here would be the right place for another MEMO.—“To ask the Bishop of Canterbury,” etc., etc. But his Grace, I fear, will refuse to enlighten me.
* [Reference is here to Ugolino della Gherardesca (1220-89), Count of Donoratico, who was the head of a powerful family, the chief Ghibelline house of Pisa. After the defeat of the Pisans by the Genoese in 1284, he was accused of treason. Civil war broke out in Pisa in 1288, stirred up by Ugolino’s rival the archbishop Ruggieri, who captured the count, his two sons and nephews, and starved them to death in the Muda, a tower belonging to the Gualandi family. According to a curious legend, Ugolino devoured his sons, in order “to keep alive for them their father”! Dante has portrayed his sufferings in his Inferno, where he represents Ugolino as voraciously devouring the head of Ruggieri, both of them being frozen in a lake of ice.—Compiler.]
I have just finished reading the excellent article in Lucifer’s French contemporary, l’Aurore, on the ten lost tribes of Israel. It would appear from the weighty proofs in the context that it is the English, the Anglo-Saxon nation, after all, which are those lost tribes. Well, may they prosper better in the bosom of Abraham than they are likely to in that of Christ. But there is a little difficulty in the way.
Ecclesiastical History teaches, and profane science does not deny, that since the days of Tiglath-pileser, who carried three tribes and one-half a tribe beyond the Euphrates (2 Kings, xv, 29; 1 Chron., v, 26); and Shalmanaser, King of Assyria, who carried also beyond the Euphrates the rest of the tribes, there was “the end of the Kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel.” In other words, no one heard of them any longer. “The tribes never did return,” the good old Crudens tells us. Nor were they ever heard of. This was in 758 and 678 B.C.
But—and here comes the rub. If this is so, then the Septuagint—the ark of salvation of all the Protestant Churches and its hundreds of bastard sects—is a living lie, name and all. For what is the history of the famous Septuagint? Ptolemy Philadelphus, who lived some 250 years B.C., curious to read the Hebrew law in Greek, “wrote to Eleazar,* the high priest of the Jews, to send him six men from each of the twelve tribes of Israel to translate the law for him into Greek.” Thus say Philo Judaeus and Josephus, and add that six men of each tribe were sent, and the Septuagint written.
Query: Considering that ten tribes out of twelve had been lost nearly 400 years before the day of Ptolemy, and had “never returned”—whom did Eleazar send to Alexandria? Spooks may have been rife in those days as they are in ours?
* Or is it Ariamnes II? For historical chronology is muddled up. . . .
I have seen mediums (for “fire and flame phenomena” as they are called in America) take burning live coals in their hands and closing their fingers upon them never even get a burn. I have seen others handle red-hot and white-hot lamp-glasses, pokers, and have heard from several trustworthy eye-witnesses that the medium D. D. Home used to cool his countenance, when entranced; by burying his face in a bed of live coals in the grate of the fire-place, not a hair of his head being singed; and he took up handfuls of burning coals with naked hands and even gave them to other persons to hold—without any injury.
And having seen all this, and heard all this, what am I to think, when I find Isaiah saying (vi, 6), “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the TONGS from off the altar.”
Query: Why such precautions?
Why should a seraph need tongs? A seraph is higher than a common angel—for he is an angel of the highest order in the celestial hierarchy. Moreover, the plural of the word seraph means “burning, fiery,” hence of the same nature as the fire. Shall we infer from this that spiritual mediums are of a still higher hierarchy than even seraphs?
A Heathen Brother, a high graduate, writes: “This week a zealous padri pestered us with questions I could not answer. He clamoured to be told why if we write after our names, ‘M.A.’s’ and ‘B.A.’s,’ we persist in believing various doctrines taught in the Purânas. ‘How can you, O foolish Gentiles,’ he exclaimed; ‘Why should you, O god-forsaken, unregenerate idolaters,’ he cried, ‘believe that not only did your Brahmâ form birds from his vital vigour, sheep from his breast, goats from his
mouth, kine from his belly, horses, deer and elephants from his sides, whilst from the hairs of his body sprang herbs, roots, plants, etc.; but even that sun and moon, fishes in the seas and fowls in the air, stones and trees rivers and mountains, that all the animate and inanimate nature, in short, talks with your false god and praises, making puja (obeisance) to him!’ What could I answer to this irate father, who called our sacred scriptures silly fairy tales, and proclaimed the supremacy of his religion over ours? Already visions of Jordan and baptism have begun to haunt my restless dreams. I cannot bear to be laughed at by one, the doctrines of whose religion seem so infinitely superior in matter of Science to ours. Advise and help me. . . .”
I sent him in answer the Book of Common Prayer, according to the use of the Church of England. I marked the “Morning Prayer,” No. 8, the Benedicite, omnia opera Domini, for him with a red cross, to read to his padri at the first opportunity. For there, filling over three columns, we find: “Oh, ye Sun and Moon, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever.” “Oh, ye Whales and Wells, Seas and Floods, Fowls of the Air, and all ye Beasts and Cattle, Mountains, and Green things upon the Earth, Ice and Snow, Frost and Cold, Fire and Heat, etc., etc., bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever.”
This, I believe, will moderate the zeal of the good missionary. The difference between the fish and fowls cereals, plants and whales, and other marketable product of sea and land of the Heathen, and those of the Christian, seems quite imperceptible to an unbiassed mind.
Decidedly, the promise of the Jewish God, “I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance,” seems premature.