Cassandra And Cosmology


The water-jug being empty, Ayrault took it up, and, crossing the

ridge of a small hill, descended to a running-brook. He had

filled it, and was straightening himself, when the stone on which

he stood turned, and he might have fallen, had not the bishop, of

whose presence he had been unaware, stretched out his hand and

upheld him.

"I thought you might need a little help," he said with a smile,
/> "and so walked beside you, though you knew it not. Water is

heavy, and you may not yet have become accustomed to its

Saturnian weight."

"Many thanks, my master," replied Ayrault, retaining his hand.

"Were it not that I am engaged to the girl I love, and am

sometimes haunted by the thought that in my absence she may be

forgetting me, I should wish to spend the rest of my natural life

here, unless I could persuade you to go with me to the earth."

"By remaining here," replied the spirit, with a sad look, "you

would be losing the most priceless opportunities of doing good.

Neither will I go with you; but, as your distress is real, I will

tell you of anything happening on earth that you wish to know."

"Tell me, then, what the person now in my thoughts is doing."

"She is standing in a window facing west, watering some

forget-me-nots with a small silver sprinkler which has a ruby in

the handle."

"Can you see anything else?"

"Beneath the jewel is an inscription that runs:

'By those who in warm July are born

A single ruby should be worn;

Then will they be exempt and free

From love's doubts and anxiety.'"

"Marvellous! Had I any doubts as to your prescience and power,

they would be dispelled now. One thing more let me ask, however:

Does she still love me?"

"In her mind is but one thought, and in her heart is an

image--that of the man before me. She loves you with all her


"My most eager wish is satisfied, and for the moment my heart is

at rest," replied Ayrault, as they turned their steps towards

camp. "Yet, such is my weakness by nature, that, ere twenty-four

hours have passed I shall long to have you tell me again."

"I have been in love myself," replied the spirit, "and know the

feeling; yet to be of the smallest service to you gives me far

more happiness than it can give you. The mutual love in paradise

exceeds even the lover's love on earth, for it is only those that

loved and can love that are blessed.

"You can hardly realize," the bishop continued, as they rejoined

Bearwarden and Cortlandt, "the joy that a spirit in paradise

experiences when, on reopening his eyes after passing death,

which is but the portal, he finds himself endowed with sight that

enables him to see such distances and with such distinctness.

The solar system, with this ringed planet, its swarm of

asteroids, and its intra-Mercurial planets--one of which, Vulcan,

you have already discovered--is a beautiful sight. The planets

nearest the sun receive such burning rays that their surfaces are

red-hot, and at the equator at perihelion are molten. These are

not seen from the earth, because, rising or setting almost

simultaneously with the sun, they are lost in its rays. The

great planet beyond Neptune's orbit is perhaps the most

interesting. This we call Cassandra, because it would be a

prophet of evil to any visitor from the stars who should judge

the solar system by it. This planet is nearly as large as

Jupiter, being 80,000 miles in diameter, but has a specific

gravity lighter than Saturn. Bode's law, you know, says, Write

down 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96. Add 4 to each, and get 4, 7, 10,

16, 28, 52, 100; and this series of numbers represents very

nearly the relative distances of the planets from the sun.

According to this law, you would expect the planet next beyond

Neptune to be about 5,000,000,000 miles from the sun. But it is

about 9,500,000,000, so that there is a gap between Neptune and

Cassandra, as between Mars and Jupiter, except that in

Cassandra's case there are no asteroids to show where any planet

was; we must, then, suppose it is an exception to Bode's law, or

that there was a planet that has completely disappeared. As

Cassandra would be within the law if there had been an

intermediary planet, we have good prima facie reason for

believing that it existed. Cassandra takes, in round numbers, a

thousand years to complete its orbit, and from it the sun, though

brighter, appears no larger than the earth's evening or morning

star. Cassandra has also three large moons; but these, when

full, shine with a pale-grey light, like the old moon in the new

moon's arms, in that terrestrial phenomenon when the earth, by

reflecting the crescent's light, and that of the sun, makes the

dark part visible. The temperature at Cassandra's surface is but

little above the cold of space, and no water exists in the liquid

state, it being as much a solid as aluminum or glass. There are

rivers and lakes, but these consist of liquefied hydrogen and

other gases, the heavier liquid collected in deep Places, and the

lighter, with less than half the specific gravity of ether,

floating upon it without mixing, as oil on water. When the

heavier penetrates to a sufficient depth, the interior being

still warm, it is converted into gas and driven back to the

surface, only to be recondensed on reaching the upper air. Thus

it may happen that two rains composed of separate liquids may

fall together. There being but little of any other atmosphere,

much of it consists of what you might call the vapour of

hydrogen, and many of the well-known gases and liquids on earth

exist only as liquids and solids; so that, were there mortal

inhabitants on Cassandra, they might build their houses of blocks

of oxygen or chlorine, as you do of limestone or marble, and use

ice that never melts, in place of glass, for transparence. They

would also use mercury for bullets in their rifles, just as

inhabitants of the intra-Vulcan planets at the other extreme

might, if their bodies consisted of asbestos, or were in any

other way non-combustibly constituted, bathe in tin, lead, or

even zinc, which ordinarily exist in the liquid state, as water

and mercury do on the earth.

"Though Cassandra's atmosphere, such as it is, is mostly clear,

for the evaporation from the rivers and icy mediterraneans is

slight, the brightness of even the highest noon is less than an

earthly twilight, and the stars never cease to shine. The dark

base of the rocky cliffs is washed by the frigid tide, but there

is scarcely a sound, for the pebbles cannot be moved by the

weightless waves, and an occasional murmur is all that is heard.

Great rocks of ice reflect the light of the grey moons, and never

a leaf falls or a bird sings. With the exception of the mournful

ripples, the planet is silent as the grave. The animal and plant

kingdoms do not exist; only the mineral and spiritual worlds. I

say spiritual, because there are souls upon it; but it is the

home of the condemned in hell. Here dwell the transgressors who

died unrepentant, and those who were not saved by faith. This is

the one instance in which I do not enjoy my developed sight, for

I sometimes glance in their direction, and the vision that meets

me, as my eyes focus, distresses my soul. Their senses are like

an imperfect mirror, magnifying all that is bad in one another,

and distorting anything still partially good when that exists.

All those things that might at least distract them are hollow,

their misery being the inevitable result of the condition of mind

to which they became accustomed on earth and which brought them

to Cassandra. But let us turn to something brighter.

"Though the solar system may seem complex, the sun is but a star

among the millions in the Milky Way, and, compared with the

planetary systems of Sirius, the stars of the Southern Cross, and

the motions of the nebula, it is simplicity itself. Compared

with the splendour of Sirius, with its diameter of twelve million

miles, the sun, measuring but eight hundred and forty thousand,

becomes insignificant; and this giant's system includes groups

and clusters of planets, many with three times the mass of

Jupiter, five and six together, each a different colour,

revolving about a common centre, while they swing about their

primary. Their numerous moons have satellites encircling them,

with orbits in some cases at right angles to the plane of the

ecliptic, so that they shine perpendicularly on what correspond

to the arctic and antarctic regions, while their axes are so

inclined that the satellites turn a complete somersault at each

revolution, producing glistening effects of ice and snow at the

poles. Some of the moons are at a red or white heat, and so

prevent the chill of night on the planets, while they shine with

more than reflected light. In addition to the five or six large

planets in each group, which, however, are many millions of miles

apart, there is in some clusters a small planet that swings

backward and forward across the common centre, like a pendulum,

but in nearly a straight line; and while this multiplicity of

motion goes on, the whole aggregation sweeps majestically around

Sirius, its mighty sun. Our little solar system contains, as we

know, about one thousand planets, satellites, and asteroids large

enough to be dignified by the name of heavenly bodies. Vast

numbers of the stars have a hundred and even a thousand times the

mass of our sun, and their systems being relatively as complex as

ours--in some cases even more so--they contain a hundred thousand

or a million individual bodies.

"Over sixty million bright or incandescent stars were visible to

the terrestrial telescopes a hundred years ago, the average size

of which far exceeds our sun. To the magnificent telescopes of

to-day they are literally countless, and the number can be

indefinitely extended as your optical resources grow. Yet the

number of stars you see is utterly insignificant compared with

the cold and dark ones you cannot see, but concerning which you

are constantly learning more, by observing their effect on the

bright ones, both by perturbing them and by obscuring their rays.

Occasionally, as you know, a star of the twelfth or fifteenth

magnitude, or one that has been invisible, flares up for several

months to the fourth or fifth, through a collision with some dark

giant, and then returns to what it was in the beginning, a

gaseous, filmy nebula. These innumerable hosts of dark monsters,

though dead, are centres of systems, like most of the stars you

can see.

"A slight consideration of these figures will show that,

notwithstanding the number of souls the Creator has given life on

earth, each one might in fact have a system to himself; and that,

however long the little globe may remain, as it were, a mint, in

which souls are tried by fire and moulded, and receive their

final stamp, they will always have room to circulate, and will be

prized according to the impress their faces or hearts must show.

But Sirius itself is moving many times faster than the swiftest

cannon ball, carrying its system with it; and I see you asking,

'To what does all this motion tend?' I will show you. Many

quadrillions of miles away, so far that your most powerful

telescopes have not yet caught a glimmer, rests in its serene

grandeur a star that we call Cosmos, because it is the centre of

this universe. Its diameter is as great as the diameter of

Cassandra's orbit, and notwithstanding its terrific heat, its

specific gravity, on account of the irresistible pressure at and

near the centre, is as great as that of the planet Mercury. This

holds all that your eyes or mine can see; and the so-called

motions of the stars--for we know that Sirius, among others, is

receding--is but the difference in the rate at which the

different systems and constellations swing around Cosmos, though

in doing so they often revolve about other systems or swing round

common centres, so that many are satellites of satellites many

times repeated. The orbits of some are circular, and of others

elliptical, as those of comets, and some revolve about each

other, or, as we have seen, about a common point while they

perform their celestial journey. A star, therefore, recedes or

advances, as Jupiter and Venus with relation to the earth. The

planet in the smaller orbit moves faster than that in the larger,

so that the intervening distances wax and wane, though all are

going in the same general direction. In the case of the members

of the solar system, astronomical record can tell when even a

most distant known planet has been in opposition or conjunction;

but the earth has scarcely been habitable since the sun was last

in its present position in its orbit around Cosmos. The curve

that our system follows is of such radius that it would require

the most precise observations for centuries to show that it was

not a straight line.

"We call this the universe because it is all that the clearest

eyes or telescopes have been able to see, but it is only a

subdivision--in fact, but a system on a vaster scale than that of

the sun or of Sirius. Far beyond this visible universe, my

intuition tells me, are other systems more gigantic than this,

and entirely different in many respects. Even the effects of

gravitation are modified by the changed condition; for these

systems are spread out flat, like the rings of this planet, and

the ether of space is luminous instead of black, as here. These

systems are but in a later stage of development than ours; and in

the course of evolution our visible universe will be changed in

the same way, as I can explain.

"In incalculable ages, the forward motion of the planets and

their satellites will be checked by the resistance of the ether

of space and the meteorites and solid matter they encounter.

Meteorites also overtake them, and, by striking them as it were

in the rear, propel them, but more are encountered in front--an

illustration of which you can have by walking rapidly or riding

on horseback on a rainy day, in which case more drops will strike

your chest than your back. The same rule applies to bodies in

space, while the meteorites encountered have more effect than

those following, since in one case it is the speed of the meteor

minus that of the planet, and in the other the sum of the two

velocities. With this checking of the forward motion, the

centrifugal force decreases, and the attraction of the central

body has more effect. When this takes place the planet or

satellite falls slightly towards the body around which it

revolves, thereby increasing its speed till the centrifugal force

again balances the centripetal. This would seem to make it

descend by fits and starts, but in reality the approach is nearly

constant, so that the orbits are in fact slightly spiral. What

is true of the planets and satellites is also true of the stars

with reference to Cosmos; though many even of these have

subordinate motions in their great journey. Though the

satellites of the moons revolve about the primaries in orbits

inclined at all kinds of angles to the planes of the ecliptics,

and even the moons vary in their paths about the planets, the

planets themselves revolve about the stars, like those of this

system about the sun, in substantially the same plane; and what

is true of the planets is even more true of the stars in their

orbits about Cosmos, so that when, after incalculable ages, they

do fall, they strike this monster sun at or near its equator, and

not falling perpendicularly, but in a line varying but slightly

from a tangent, and at terrific speed, they cause the colossus to

rotate more and more rapidly on its own axis, till it must become

greatly flattened at the poles, as the earth is slightly, and as

Jupiter and Saturn are a good deal. Even though not all the

stars are exactly in the plane of Cosmos's equator, as you can

see they are not there are as many above as below it, so that the

general average will be there; and as all are moving in the same

direction, it is not necessary for all to strike the same line,

those striking nearer the poles, where the circles are smaller,

and where the surface is not being carried forward so fast by the

giant's rotation, will have even more effect in increasing its

speed, since it will be like attaching the driving-rods of a

locomotive near the axle instead of near the circumference, and

with enough power will produce even greater results. As Cosmos

waxes greater from the result of these continual accretions, its

attraction for the stars will increase, until those coming from

the outer regions of its universe will move at such terrific

speed in their spiral orbits that before coming in contact they

will be almost invisible, having already absorbed all solid

matter revolving about themselves. These accessions of moving

matter, continually received at and near its equator, will cause

Cosmos to spread out like Saturn's rings till it becomes flat,

though the balance of forces will be so perfect that it is

doubtful whether an animal or a man placed there would feel much


"But these universes--or, more accurately, divisions of the

universe--already planes, though the vast surfaces are not so

flat as to preclude beautiful and gently rolling slopes, are

spirit-lands, and will be inhabited only by spirits. Then there

are great phosphorescent areas, and the colour of the surface

changes with every hour of the day, from the most brilliant

crimson to the softest shade of blue, radiant with many colours

that your eyes cannot now see. There are also myriads of scented

streams, consisting of hundreds of different and multi-coloured

liquids, each with a perfume sweeter than the most delicate

flower, and pouring forth the most heavenly music as they go on

their way. But be not surprised at the magnitude of the change,

for is it not written in Revelation, 'I saw a new heaven and a

new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed

away'? Nor can we be surprised at vastness, sublimity, and

beauty such as never was conceived of, for do we not find this in

His word, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered

into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for

them that love Him'? In this blissful state, those that feared

God and obeyed their consciences will live on forever; but their

rest can never become stagnation, for evolution is one of the

most constant laws, and never ceases, and they must always go

onward and upward, unspeakably blessed by the consciences they

made their rule in life, till in purity and power they shall

equal or exceed the angels of their Lord in heaven.

"But you men of finite understanding will ask, as I myself should

have asked, How, by the law of hydrostatics, can liquids flow on

a plane? Remember that, though these divisions are astronomical

or geometrical planes, their surfaces undulate; but the moving

cause is this: At the centre of these planes is a pole, the

analogue, we will say, of the magnetic pole on earth, that has a

more effective attraction for a gas than for a liquid. When

liquids approach the periphery of the circle, the rapid rotation

and decreased pressure cause them to break up, whereupon the

elementary gases return to the centre in the atmosphere, if near

the surface, forming a gentle breeze. On nearing the centre, the

cause of the separation being removed, the gases reunite to form

a liquid, and the centrifugal force again sends this on its


"Is there no way," asked Bearwarden, "by which a man may retrieve

himself, if he has lost or misused his opportunities on earth?"

"The way a man lays up treasures in heaven, when on earth,"

replied the spirit, "is by gladly doing something for some one

else, usually in some form sacrificing self. In hell no one can

do anything for any one else, because every one can have the

semblance of anything he wishes by merely concentrating his mind

upon it, though, when he has it, it is but a shadow and gives him

no pleasure. Thus no one can give any one else anything he

cannot obtain himself; and if he could, since it would be no

sacrifice on his part, he would derive no great moral comfort

from it. Neither can any one comfort any one else by putting his

acts or offences in a new light, for every one knows the whole

truth about himself and everybody else, so that nothing can be

made to appear favourably or unfavourably. All this, however, is

supposing there is the desire to be kind; but how can spirits

that were selfish and ill-disposed on earth, where there are so

many softening influences, have good inclinations in hell, where

they loathe one another with constantly increasing strength?

"Inasmuch as both the good and the bad continue on the lines on

which they started when on earth, we are continually drawing

nearer to God, while they are departing. The gulf may be only

one of feeling, but that is enough. It follows, then, that with

God as our limit, which we of course can never reach, their

limit, in the geometrical sense, must be total separation from

Him. Though all spirits, we are told, live forever, it occurs to

me that in God's mercy there may be a gradual end; for though to

the happy souls in heaven a thousand years may seem as nothing,

existence in hell must drag along with leaden limbs, and a single

hour seem like a lifetime of regret. Since it is dreadful to

think that such unsoothed anguish should continue forever, I have

often pondered whether it might not be that, by a form of

involution and reversal of the past law, the spirit that came to

life evolved from the, mineral, plant, and animal worlds, may

mercifully retrace its steps one by one, till finally the soul

shall penetrate the solid rock and hide itself by becoming part

of the planet. Many people in my day believed that after death

their souls would enter stately trees, and spread abroad great

branches, dropping dead leaves over the places on which they had

stood while on earth. This might be the last step in the awful

tragedy of the fall and involution of a human soul. In this way,

those who had wasted the priceless opportunities given them by

God might be mercifully obliterated, for it seems as if they

would not be needed in the economy of the universe. The Bible,

however, mentions no such end, and says unmistakably that hell

will last forever; so that in this supposition, as in many

others, the wish is probably father of the thought."

"But," persisted Bearwarden, "how about death-bed repentances?"

"Those," replied the spirit, "are few and far between. The pains

of death at the last hour leave but little room for aught but

vain regret. A man dies suddenly, or may be unconscious some

time before the end. But they do occur. The question is, How

much credit is it to be good when you can do no more harm? The

time to resist evil and do that which is right is while the

temptation is on and in its strength. While life lasts there is

hope, but the books are sealed by death. The tree must fall to

one side or the other-- there is no middle ground--and as the

tree falleth, so it lieth.

"This, however, is a gloomy subject, and one that in your heart

of hearts you understand. I would rather tell you more of the

beauties and splendours of space--of the orange, red, and blue

stars, and of the tremendous cyclonic movements going on within

them, which are even more violent than the storms that rage in

the sun. The clouds, as the spectroscope has already shown,

consist of iron, gold, and platinum in the form of vapour, while

the openings revealed by sun-spots, or rather star-spots, are so

tremendous that a comparatively small one would contain many

dozen such globes as the earth. I could tell you also of the

mysteries of the great dark companions of some of the stars, and

of the stars that are themselves dark and cold, with naught but

the faraway constellations to cheer them, on which night reigns

eternally, and that far outnumber the stars you can see. Also of

the multiplicity of sex and extraordinary forms of life that

exist there, though on none of them are there mortal men like

those on the earth.

"Nature, in the process of evolution, has in all these cases gone

off on an entirely different course, the most intelligent and

highly developed species being in the form of marvellously

complex reptiles, winged serpents that sing most beautifully, but

whose blood is cold, being prevented from freezing in the upper

regions of the atmosphere by the presence of salt and chemicals,

and which are so intelligent that they have practically subdued

many of these dark stars to themselves. On others, the most

highly developed species have hollow, bell-shaped tentacles, into

which they inject two or more opposing gases from opposite sides

of their bodies, which, in combination, produce a strong

explosion. This provides them with an easy and rapid locomotion,

since the explosions find a sufficient resistance in the

surrounding air to propel the monsters much faster than birds.

These can at pleasure make their breath so poisonous that the

lungs of any creatures except themselves inhaling it are at once

turned to parchment. Others can give their enemies or their prey

an electric shock, sending a bolt through the heart, or can

paralyze the mind physically by an effort of their wills, causing

the brain to decompose while the victim is still alive. Others

have the same power that snakes have, though vastly intensified,

mesmerizing their victims from afar.

"Still others have such delicate senses that in a way they

commune with spirits, though they have no souls themselves; for

in no part or corner of the universe except on earth are there

animals that have souls. Yet they know the meaning of the word,

and often bewail their hard lot in that no part of them can live

when the heart has ceased to beat.

"Ah, my friends, if we had no souls--if, like the aesthetic

reptilia, we knew that when our dust dissolved our existence

would be over--we should realize the preciousness of what we hold

so lightly now. Man and the spirits and angels are the only

beings with souls, and in no place except on earth are new souls

being created. This gives you the greatest and grandest idea of

the dignity of life and its inestimable value. But it is as

difficult to describe the higher wonders of the stellar worlds to

you as to picture the glories of sunset to a blind man, for you

have experienced nothing with which to compare them. Instead of

seeing all that really is, you see but a small part."