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Cassandra And Cosmology

Part of: SATURN
From: A Journey In Other Worlds

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."

Next: Doctor Cortlandt Sees His Grave

Previous: The Spirit's Second Visit

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